Thursday, 19 November 2009

Good Habits

Well after a week of being 100% on track, cooking everything from scratch, resisting all temptations and pitfalls, and standing at a party nibbling celery and cucumber, I gained a pound. Ain't dieting great?! But no matter, I will admit to a little despondency after weigh in on Monday, which led my hand to stray too the sweetie jar - a few times. But by Tuesday morning I was totally over that and back in the zone. I'm not going to get knocked off track by a measly 1 pound gain, nope, not me!

I was ranting recently that bad habits seem to form as if by an invisible force, and return in the blink of an eye, but good habits never ever seem to become actual habits and are shaken off just as quickly as the bad sneaks back in. But since I said all that, I've noticed a small but hopefully positive change. Cooking from scratch seems to have become very normal for me, and easy. I've never been a natural cook. I've enjoyed following recipes and trying new things but it has always taken a big effort. But for the last few weeks I've been knocking up pasta sauces, soups,curries, chillies etc without a second thought, substituting and altering ingredients according to availability and taste. In part this is attributable to planning and organisation, and also increased confidence. But also, I think, maybe, possibly, it's become a habit!

In other news, this seems to be the week when I get lots of free stuff! On Tuesday I was in town getting some materials for making Rebecca a fancy dress costume for Children in Need day at school. Part of her "look" was she wanted to wear glasses, and I wasn't happy to pay lots for them. So I went round all the opticians on the high street asking whether they had any old frames they were just going to be throwing out. Most just said no, without bothering to look. But the guy at Vision Express went to look and came back with a pair of Armani frames that they couldn't sell because of some tiny flaw that I can't see. And then he had some plain glass lenses put in for her, and charged me nothing at all, bless him. So big up for Vision Express, and if you see me in new glasses anytime soon I've probably pinched them from the dress up box....! Then, on the way home, we walked past the flower seller as he was packing up for the day and he thrust 2 big gorgeous bunches of flowers in my arms to take home, which really lifted my day I can tell you!

Yesterday I had my groceries delivered and was very disappointed by the short use by dates on the meat so rang to complain. Sainsburys refunded me the cost of the meat and asked me to please tell them if it happens again, so it would be churlish not to be happy with their customer service, and finally (so far!) thanks to Money Saving Expert, I was able to get a free album download (I got Robbie Williams new one, love it!) from Sky Songs.

Quite a haul, and most pleasing the week before pay day I'm sure you'll agree!

Friday, 13 November 2009

Death by Chicken

It would have been astonishingly easy to fall off track yesterday. First of all I was seriously tired after having no sleep for over 24 hours. Plus I had a busy evening, with the "do your homework!" nagging which can go on for a long time, and looking after the 2 dogs and 2 hamsters, and I had to go to a meeting at school, and I had to get Rebecca to Cubs. All in all, the temptation to grab something quick and less than optimal was great.

But what stopped me was the fact that I am overly familiar with that slippery slope. It's not that a cheese sandwich would have exactly been the end of the world on it's own. It's the fact that the voice in my head would have said "ah well, you've had the sandwich, may as well have a glass of cider now. And you'd be wanting a bag of nuts with that. May as well get a bag of chips too. Ah what the hell, you've blown the week, may as well pig out till Monday night now!"

So instead of falling into that oft visited trap, I made plans involving left over chicken and some nice veg. But that nearly killed me. Reheated, the chicken was so dry that it lodged itself firmly in my throat and wouldn't move. For what felt like forever I couldn't breathe! So the chicken was binned and that left me using tonights planned meal instead - spag bol I'd made for the freezer.

I did have to settle my stressful evening with a nice cup of coffee and a fun size Milky Way before bed. Syns duly counted and still totally on plan despite the universe conspiring against me. If I can survive that, hell I can survive anything!

I'm off to make something to replace the spag bol now.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Hello Mojo!

Woot! Another pesky 3lbs shed, and I'm back where I was about 6 weeks ago! Let's ignore the fact that I'm still about a stone heavier than I was last winter, and my winter coat doesn't fit - minor details dear readers, minor details!

I need to share a wonderful winter warming recipe with you. Very healthy and possibly the nicest soup I've ever tasted. It was on the table at SW on Monday so I apologise for not knowing who to credit it to. Also, this is kind of a rough approximation of what it actually said, since I just jotted the outline, but it works!

Tomato and Pepper Soup

1 large onion
2 large red peppers
2 tins of tomatoes
1 teaspoon of chilli powder (I used more, adjust to personal taste!)
1 tablespoon of sweetener
3/4 pint of stock
Frylight


Chop the onion and peppers (I did them chunky since they get blended anyway!) and gently fry them. Add the chilli powder and a bit of the stock if needed and fry for 3-4 minutes.

Chuck in the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 15 mins.

Blend, serve, go back for seconds!

I expect sales of red peppers and tinned tomatoes to go through the roof once you've tried this, it is perfect.

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Just checking in quickly to let you know that I lost 5 fatty pounds (weigh in was Monday - I'm so slack at reporting in here!) and I remain fully fired up and 100% on track. What I'm loving is that I am feeling the excitement of losing weight again - it's felt like a dreary, if not agonising, chore for a long time if I'm honest. But now, nothing is more thrilling than seeing the numbers fall, feeling the clothes get a little looser, and nothing is more satisfying than knowing that I have all my meals planned, and if I go in the kitchen right now for a snack, there's a good choice of fruit, yoghurt, cereal bars or if I fancy something more substantial there's left over turkey chilli to keep me away from the bread bin!

My new discovery and possible saviour is online grocery shopping. I have thought about it before but always lacked the kind of organisation that gets the job done. But at the moment my car is off the road so I'm kind of dependent on Mark for being able to get the weekly shop done (I'm capable of walking to the corner shop for immediate essentials!) Anyway, on Tuesday, having planned my meals for the week and written a shopping list, I was aiming to get my hands on his car at around 5pm, but sadly it didn't happen and I had to rustle up a meal from what was in the cupboards (thank god for pasta!)

It then occured to me to consider having my shopping brought to me instead of me going to it! I logged onto mysupermarket.com which is a site I highly recommend, and whizzed through my list in no time. The website compares prices between the 4 main online supermarkets (Asda, Tesco, Sainsburys and Ocado), suggests swaps you can make for a cheaper product or a lower calorie product and shows all current discount codes available for each store. Once you have decided which store to use, it then transfers the contents of your trolley to that store's trolley with a nifty little gif showing that happening to keep me happy :) The next day a nice man carried all my shopping including 15kgs of dog food up the hill to my front door, where it took him a few moments to recover enough to speak. I know how he feels, and I'm glad that I have discovered I won't have to do it anymore!

On the writing front, I've written 3 chapters and am seriously behind schedule but haven't had much time to knuckle down to it really. I need to press on instead of rabbiting on here!

Friday, 30 October 2009

All fired up!

Hello again! Sorry I fell off the radar after my last post - I hate blogging about failure, it makes me feel like I've let everyone down! Also I have been fairly busy, what with half term, a birthday trip to London and just real life in general.

We had a fabulous time in London. We went last weekend, hopped on a train at the crack of dawn on Saturday morning and returned home late Sunday evening. The hours between are a blur of tourism - open top bus tours, river cruise (my favourite bit!), London Eye, Trafalgar Square, National Gallery, Science Museum, St Pauls Cathedral, London Monument, tubes, escalators, platforms, queues, taking photos, and we even managed to sleep a little bit too! We saw so much, yet left so much more to be seen next time. 2 days was just not enough for our wonderful capital city!

I gained a pound, but hey, we were on a tight budget, it was cheap chips and value butties all the way!

The happy news about dieting and stuff is that this week I am totally excited about it all over again. I had the good sense to stay to class on Monday, and accepted the Speed Food Challenge, which requires me to cook from scratch, keep a strict food diary and eat at least 5 speed foods every day. Speed foods are pretty much covered by most fruit and veg so it's not so hard, but it's some much needed structure that has me fully motivated and running with it again. I hope I can report an impressive loss on my next post!

I'm also a little bit excited about something else. For a long time I have had people telling me I should write. I've written work related articles that I have been advised to submit for publication, but never had the courage to do it. This blog is my first foray into writing for public consumption, and has generated many more comments from people who know me, urging me to try to write a book or a column. I'm still not brave enough to try that, but I have just signed up for NaNoWriMo which runs for the month of November. I basically have to produce a 50,000 word novel in a month! That's a little bit scary, but I enjoy stretching my brain, I enjoy writing, and hell, it's a month to find out whether I do in fact have a book in me!

I may not have time to eat, I may be reporting excellent weight losses for the next few weeks!

Sunday, 11 October 2009

I need a map!

I fell off the rails last weekend, and now I can't even find the damn rails!

I knew I was going to have a bad weekend because I went with my friends to a hotel for a "girls night in" which lasted for approximately 24 hours, and never in all my life have I eaten or drunk so much. Ever! A wonderful time was had by all and I heartily recommend it, but it's bad for your health, no matter how much "use of the spa facilities" is allowed!

Then Monday rolled around and I couldn't face the scales. I swore to myself that I was just going to miss the weigh in, but I'd be back on the rails. But when I turned around, the rails were gone. I'd drifted so far off course that I didn't even know which way to go to find them. I still haven't found them and now I'm feeling sick at the the thought of weigh in tomorrow.

So if anyone has a map showing me the way back to the rails, I'm ready to climb back on. Google Earth is no help. Can anyone show me the way?

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

28th September
Weight: 18st 4lbs
Gain this week: 2lbs
Total Loss: 4st 7 1/2lbs
Blood Pressure: 125/87

Well at least my blood pressure's gone in the right direction!

I was a bit gutted at the scale on Monday, I wasn't expecting a 2lb gain. But standing back and looking at things in the cold light of day, I can see how it happened.

First of all, couple a woman with PMT with the week before payday, and you tend to get a sub-optimal diet! I took in a lot of poor quality carbs over the weekend, mainly in the name of staving off the chocolate cravings, but I will confess to having cup-a-soup and *gasp* white bread! (The cupboard was bare, I had the choice of that or tinned peas....)

And then there is the whole cholesterol thing. I have found that the food I am supposed to eat to reduce bad / increase good cholesterol is highly likely to actually have increased my calorie intake. For example the Benecol yoghurts are 2 syns each, and you're meant to have 3 servings per day for the health effect to kick in. And I don't normally tend to have the Healthy Extra A choices, but now I'm eating porridege every morning, that's lots of milk (calories!) my body isn't used to having. And that "little" glass of red wine a few nights a week - well the syns are mounting up at an alarming rate!

So my plan for this week is to be more careful! I've found the Benecol drinks - only 1 serving per day required, and still 2 syns each, which means I can go back to my Muller Lite yoghurts which are syn free. And I'm going to have to measure that glass of wine ;)

I am away at the weekend - we are having a girly night in a hotel, which will include drinks and "snacks" so the scales may not be a cause for celebration next week either. But at least I'll be giving it my all for the rest of the time - the balance will be better!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Weights and Measures.

21st September
Weight: 18st 2lbs
Loss this week: 4 1/2lbs
Total Loss: 4st 9lbs
Blood Pressure: 181/103

Today I have started medication (2.5mg Lisinopril)for the blood pressure, so I'm taking the liberty of using my blog as a diary for that as well as my weight. And since I'm being cheeky, the least I can do is return to comprehensive detailing of my actual weight and loss. So there it is in black and white, for all time.

I told you being catapulted into middle age was good for focus! 4 1/2 lbs off and Slimmer Of The Week (SOTW). Mind you, there were others in the class with losses as good, and better than mine, my advantage was only that I also had a loss last week. So well done to them too. Part of the SOTW prize booty is a bag of assorted fruit and other food donated by the class members. One of the items is a bag of beetroot crisps which apparently comes in at 3 syns. I'm eyeing them with interest and caution..if they satisfy crisp cravings then they are a wonderful discovery indeed. But beetroot?! Well, I'll try them, maybe tonight at work, and report back.

I have also left class today with a wealth of tasty fish recipes - lots of delicious suggestions and I can't wait to try some of them. I'm particularly looking forward to baked salmon with sweet chilli sauce, and fish curry. I do like a nice curry! I am loving Porridge at the moment, made with Scott's Porage Oats. What a tasty hearty breakfast, it properly sets me up for the day. It's a slight faff to make when you are running round in the morning trying to get even 1 small child to school in time, but very worth it I feel, on balance.

There's a shiny new recipe book in my bag - if all goes well, I shall do a recipe post later this week. If it doesn't go so well, I can tell you about that too ;)

Friday, 18 September 2009

Mirror, Mirror on the wall.....

Well there's nothing like being launched into "high risk for cardiovascular disease" to focus the mind - I could no more eat a pizza right now than fly to the moon. (when I say right now, I use the term loosely since it's barely 9:30 in the morning!)

In addition to the high blood pressure, I now know I have high bad cholesterol and low good cholesterol. The odds are stacking against me. Good job I don't smoke and am not diabetic, or I'd have the full set of risk factors!

So, cholersterol then. I'm struggling to think of what I can now cut out to help matters. I scarcely touch meat these days, maybe once a week maximum. I can't remember the last time I used any kind of fat other than Fry Light to cook. I eat tons of fresh fruit and veg, pulses, grains, a variety of beans and only very low fat dairy products. Even when I was off track and gaining, I wasn't down the chippy every night, nothing even close to that unhealthy.

Raising the good cholesterol concerns me a little bit too - oily fish seems to be the way forward but I'm not a huge fish fan (although I did actually have fish for tea last night before I even knew this latest news.)I will have to do my research!

Many years ago, when I was a student nurse, we were taught about Maslow's Hierarchy Of Needs, the premise of which is that as humans we need our physiological need for food, water, shelter etc fulfilled before we are able to address our higher needs such as the need for love and personal achievement. It's all a bit woolly now, it is 23 years since I looked at it! But I've remembered it this week because I have found myself floundering at the lower levels involving health, and so unable to focus on any higher needs. It's astonishing how much these simple test results have adjusted my own view of myself. I feel mildly embarrassed about myself and suddenly the reflection in the mirror looks like an imposter - that person who I still perceive as being young and full of opportunity in my reflection bears no relation to the person who's blood pressure is 166/118 and has high cholesterol. The two identities are incompatable.

So I'm looking a little bit harder at the mirror, and who is that I see? Why, it's my mum!

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Too Little, Too Late?

A very lovely 3lb loss this week, definitely in the right direction now!

But is it too little, too late? Well it's never too late as they say, and apparently every little helps! But maybe if I had done a lot more a lot sooner I wouldn't now be back from the GP with a raft of blood tests to be done, and the strong probability of a lifetime of medication for high blood pressure.

The high blood pressure was an accidental finding, although if I'm honest I've been feeling less fit, more tired, maybe even a little breathless on relatively little exercise of late. I put it down to the slight increase in my weight over the summer. I felt as though I'd crossed an invisible line between fit and unfit, that one particular pound gained must be a pound too far. And maybe that is so, and maybe in a few weeks this problem will magically melt away with the pounds.

What happened was this:

I had a crack in my tooth at the start of the summer holidays, and I preferred to wait if I possibly could until Rebecca was back at school before I had the dental work done. This meant I was taking Ibuprofen regularly for some weeks, and eventually I suffered some painful gastric side effects. So I popped off to the doc for a remedy for that, and while I was there she checked my BP. The reading was very high, but at that point she dismissed it as being her "useless machine", prescribed my some meds for my gastric pain and sent me on my way. However, I'm a cardiac nurse with a pretty strong family history of cardiovascular disease, and I wasn't happy to just be fobbed off, so over the last week or so I have been using the Coronary Care equipment to monitor my own BP while I've been at work and readings have without fail been depressingly high.

So I trotted back to the GP with a list of my recent blood pressures this morning and I have to have lots of blood tests, get an eye health check, keep monitoring my BP, and return when the results are back. I can't decide whether it would be better to find something (treatable!) wrong with the blood tests that would explain the BP, or for it to just be one of those things and for the BP to need lifelong treatment. But I know I feel utterly weird about a future that includes me having to say, when asked about my health, "I have hypertension".

Reading that back, it sounds like a cascade of health issues and I sound so unhealthy - I have never been unhealthy and poor health would be a very bad fit on me. I won't stand for it!

But I lost 3lb this week :)

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Cut off at the Legs!

Well I haven't literally been cut off at the legs, but it certainly feels like it. My car isn't working - the radiator is like a leaky sieve, and since it's already been patched up a couple of times recently, I'm starting to think a new radiator may be the way forward. So in the meantime I am having to walk everywhere or rely getting a lift at the odd time I can. The walking part isn't so bad in itself, all good exercise. The trouble arises when you've got the shopping, and you forgot the car wasn't in the car park, and home is all uphill...oh, and don't forget the whining child who thinks the world is ending because you've got to walk the mile or so home! Walking for leisure and exercise is lovely. Walking home from town with the groceries is, I have discovered, a form of hell on earth.

So what I am doing a lot of at the moment is trying to make a tasty healthy meal out of whatever is in the cupboard and that is remarkably hard! My cupboards are very full, but somehow nothing seems to come together to make a meal. The other day I was thwarted for the want of an onion - how frustrating is that!

What I need is some planning, organisation and a good stock of useful ingredients rather than random tins of soup and veg. I don't even like tinned veg, they are an abomination! If I do some meal planning, I can do my grocery shopping online and have it delivered to my kitchen - a process I have resisted until now because I like to go and choose my own produce, but all of a sudden this seems like a damn fine idea!

I went to SW last night (late, because of no car!) and lost 4lb. This is a nice chunk of my summer holiday gain gone. I've got nothing standing between me and success from now until the end of October, when I've got a weekend in London planned. So I'm hoping to be down a stone or so in time for London.

I'm sad to have to confess to having to buy a pair of jeans a size bigger, but they have a belt and I look forward to tightening it!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Badly as it turns out!

All my hard work and high expectations has led to some delicious home grown food, but a fair bit of disappointment too.

The lettuce has been a great success - minimal effort has yeilded a steady plentiful supply of delicious fresh Lollo Rosso throughout the summer, with no sign of waning yet. The blackberries that tried to take over the whole garden are sweet, delicious and have contributed greatly via tasty homemode puddings to my current weight situation (which is being dealt with even as I speak - Quorn, welcome back to my life!) Spring onions worked well despite repeated snail attacks. And the strawberries keep on growing and ripening, but we can never get them before the slimy critters, so I have no real clue whether they were a success or not! If success is measured by meals on the table, then clearly not!

Sadly the tomatoes perished. I don't know whether it was weather, disease or just neglect, but on return from one of our short breaks in August, the plants were all dead. Some of the fruit continued to ripen, bizarrely, but doesn't look healthy or appetizing, so mark that down as an abject failure. I did taste 1 tomato before the fatalities, and it was divine. But effort certainly didn't match yeild!

If nothing else it's been a learning experience. Next year I will be more successful! And actually, it has been something else - 2 other things. It's been fun, and it's been great exercise, so you can't say fairer than that!

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Summer Holidays

Let us not speak of dieting and weigh ins! Instead, let us speak of summer and sunshine and fun!

The summer is of course awash with excuses for eating ice cream and burgers and I am not immune to these tasty temptations, but be assured that I am fulfilling my "turning up for weigh in" obligations when I am not away, and will be a good girl again very soon!

So far this summer we have had 3 trips away, with a 4th happening later this week. We are jumping on a train to Bournemouth to stay with my best friend from junior school - we've not set eyes on each other for over 30 years, but we found each other again thanks to the wonder that is the internet and the grand reunion is on Thursday! I'm excited and scared in equal measure and I bet she is too! But she has lured us to Bournemouth with the promise of endless sunshine, and after a quick look at the grey sky here, well who am I to argue!

Speaking of meeting people, I have been in the presence of greatness! I went camping with some friends and had the very great pleasure of meeting Spence Kennedy who writes Siren Voices. I have to admit to feeling pretty much star struck. I love the way Spence writes, the way he paints the picture with his words, and that he never ever passes judgement on what he has seen. There is no political debate, no angst at the issues that rage within the NHS, just stories about people. So I was in the presence of a great author, and all my words deserted me. He probably thought I was quiet or standoffish or something because the best I could do was smile and say hello most of the time - how embarrasing! But he's one of the good guys so I doubt he'll hold it against me. And he did try to help me jumpstart my car, and left me with a pack of wet wipes so I could clean my hands once I'd managed to get going again.

I should have got him to autograph the wipes - one day this guy will have his writing in print, of that I am certain!

Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Light Bulb!

Weight: 18st 1.5lbs
Loss: l.5lb
Total loss 66lbs

A little smaller loss than I would have liked but I am totally determined to see any loss as a good thing and not allow myself to fall because I became downhearted. So yay!

I had a little lightbulb moment this week. Without a doubt we all know that its important to eat breakfast and drink plenty of fluids. And usually I put this into practice because rules are rules after all. But one day this week I got involved in a busy day without eating or drinking before I began and as the day wore on I found myself battling severe cravings. I wasn't hungry. I couldn't have sat and eaten a big meal or anything. But I wanted chocolate or cake oh so badly. Badly enough that that my husband/enabler found me standing peering into the fridge frantically drumming my fingers on the fridge door. When he pointed out what I was doing I reverted to standing wringing my hands as I tried to head myself off at the pass. I call him enabler there because, bless him, with the best intentions in the world, he rushed out to buy me chocolate. I am proud to report here that I didn't eat it. It remains, 4 days later, uneaten and now hidden from me.

So when I looked back at my day, I very quickly saw where I had gone wrong. No breakfast, a rushed lunch, and shockingly little to drink. In fact once I realised how little I had drunk, I poured myself a huge glass of diet coke (yeah I know, it should have been water, but I was resisting chocolate in the actual house at this point you know!) and very quickly my cravings were suppressed.

I can't claim I will never make this mistake again, but at least I know there is a readily availble solution to the problem, and that's pretty empowering. Better than a Chunky KitKat!

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

That's what I'm talking about!

Weight: 18st 3lb
Loss: 5lb - oh yeah baby!
Total Loss: 64.5lbs (according to my ticker!)

We're heading in the right direction once again, and it feels good. And as well as feeling good, it feels comfortable. I achieved that loss eating well, filling up on healthy food, and using between 5 and 10 syns per day. I used to try not to use my syns, but I've decided this time round that syns are there to use, and they make things much more tolerable in the long term, so syns will be used. I've mainly used them for salad dressings or sauces to perk things up a bit, but the odd cereal bar or slice of toast has been a big help too, and I think could well provide the answer to the age old problem of the 24 hour days I often endure when working.

It helps that there is so much delicious food in season right now. Peaches and nectarines have never been sweeter or juicier, melon is divine, strawberries to die for.

And my most exciting purchase this week? A salad spinner just like my nana used to have!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Something Awesome

I was just catching up on some Blog reading, and I read a brilliant post (one of many!) on Jack Sh*t, Gettin' Fit and I thought it would be a crime not to share it with you. Go, read, enjoy. I imagine you'll be gone for some time!

http://jackfit.blogspot.com/2009/07/reversing-it.html

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Improvisation

Last night I was looking for a syn free snack, and I had a couple of Healthy Extra A choices in need of being used. I ended improvising with some ingredients from the fridge and cupboards, and it was fabulously tasty so I thought I'd share!

Ingredients:
Corn on the cob
Fry Light (the "butter" version)
Sea salt
Laughing Cow Light cheese triangles
Peppers
Tomatoes
Sainsbury's Be Good To Yourself Sweet Balsamic and Smoked Garlic dressing (0.5 syn)

I sprayed the corn with the fry light, wrapped it in foil and bunged it in the oven for 10 minutes. Once cooked I sprinkled it with some sea salt. While it was cooking I finely chopped the pepper and tomato and mixed them in with the cheese, and added a splash of the dressing to loosen the mix a little. And then I just ate and enjoyed - simples! Obviously it was totally improvised using what was in my house, I'm sure the veg, dressing and cheese variety could be varied without any loss of enjoyment.

I'm happy to report I'm doing well so far this week. 100% on track, no problems to report and I'm peeing for England which is always a good indicator halfway through week one! I'm about to go and make sweetcorn soup for lunch - link to recipe over there <--

Can't wait for Monday now!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Homecoming

Week - what the heck is it now? Shall we call it Week 1?
Weight: 18st 8lbs
Total Loss: Shall I start at zero again? I'll come back to this!

Shiiiiiit! But it's OK, because the reason I have this knowledge is that last night I went back to Slimming World. Is there a way of portraying a wide grin on a blog post? I feel so relieved to be back! I got a lovely warm welcome when I walked in, and I just felt like I'd come home.

So today I have had a lovely familiar Green day, and I have eaten salad freshly picked from my own garden, new potatoes picked last night from my own garden and lots of colourful tasty healthy food. Beige is banished!

I have a happy glow today, all's well in my world, how about you?

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Home Grown


I'm not sure whether I've mentioned it before, but I embraced the "grow your own" philosophy this year, and since March I've worked hard in the garden to turn it from a muddy quagmire that I was too embarressed to let visitors into for a smoke, into a haven of lovelinees that can provide us with food and flowers, and be a venue for chilled out afternoons in the sun. It was very hard in the beginning, but it's been worth it I can promise you. I love sitting in my garden now and surveying my little kingdom.

And now it's yeilding actual food! How exciting is that! I have lots of little green tomatoes waiting for some sunshine to ripen them, a reasonable amount of strawberries from plants that I didn't expect to flower until next year, carrots, a host of spring onions, potatoes, lettuce, sweetcorn and enough brambles to keep us in pies and jam for a long time to come! I had some coriander too but the very hot weather recently caused it to go all leggy and flower so now it just looks nice in it's pot. Nothing wrong with looking nice! I've enjoyed having fresh cut flowers from my garden adorning my house too.

This year my intention was to learn from my mistakes, so that next year I could produce successful crops, so anything we get to eat this year is a bonus really. My biggest learning curve in this has been that everything grows much much bigger than I expected! Teeny tiny seeds grow into very large plants! So next year I will sow less and be more prepared to give them room to grow. And I need frogs and birds in my garden to deal with numbers of snails that would give me nightmares if I let myself think about it :shudder:! I lost a lot of my early efforts to the snails and now have to have a daily snail patrol. 6 months ago, if you'd told me I'd be picking snails up with my bare hands I'd have run screaming from the room. Now I just go out there and pick the litle sods of my gorgeous plants and hurl them away.

Dietgirl Shauna has been gardening too, and she has managed to come up with some clever reasons why gardening is like weight loss. This is why she has a book and I don't ;)

Monday, 13 July 2009

Short Circuited.

Wow I'm bad at this blogging malarky lately! It's because I have nothing [good] to report really. I gave WW up because it messed with my head very very badly. I should have seen the signs, it's not the first time it's happened, the "can't stop thinking about food" post was the big clue! So I ended up on a binging spree, which I'm not proud of. But I'm over that now, and levelling back out into normal eating again. Let this be a lesson to me!

Naturally a 3 week binge means I've gained weight :eyeroll: so I'm not loving myself overly much at the moment. My SW exile ends in 2 weeks time though, thank god!

I'm pondering at the moment. What is it that last year made healthy eating seem so very easy, and this year it seems all but impossible for me? Clearly I'm wired up wrong and a fuse has blown somewhere. Someone needs to invent a diet that can fix my head!

Thursday, 2 July 2009

It's all about fear.

First of all my apologies for the delay between posts - a busy life coupled with a problem logging in has caused the radio silence. Hopefully the login issue is resolved now, because here I am!

Today I have mostly been wondering what holds us in the grasp of diet plans such as Slimming World and Weight Watchers, or more specifically what makes us shy away from other methods such as very low cal diets (Lighter Life, Cambridge etc) or even surgery?

I'm sure that I'm not the only diet blogger to receive numerous messages suggesting amazing solutions to my problem, or asking me to recommend things to my readers. It's the reason I have my comments set to moderate, and those messages tend to be binned as spam. However I have recently received such a message from a person that I know, used to work with in fact. So this gave him a unique chance to be heard. The message was pretty much the same as everyone else's if I'm honest - scientifically proven shakes, bars and supplements, FDA approval, success stories, and some emotive language thrown in. I'm sure that the "2 shakes and a bar" method of dieting would be effective so why don't I want to try it (yet!)?

Well first of all, I like food. Liking food is of course what has put me where I am today, but I'm not blaming the food for that, and I'm not going to shun it. Every day I have to prepare meals for my family, and that remains true even if I personally am not eating them. I struggle to see how me not eating food would set any kind of positive example for my impressionable 7 year old, and I also fail to see how doing that would in anyway help me learn how to eat healthily. But those concerns aside, there's something else stopping me.

I remember a few years ago, on a diet forum, one lady was having great success on a liquid diet, success I freely admit to envying. But among all the congratulatory posts, there was one member who was a consistent voice of doom. "It's not good for you, it's not healthy, it isn't sustainable, you'll regain all your weight as soon as you start eating" and so on. We all know someone like that don't we?! I don't know whether the person was jealous of the lady's success, genuinely concerned for her health, or just a bit of a bitch. But I do know that there is a perception that anything that is in anyway different from normal is cheating or wrong in someway and a huge part of me wants to avoid any hint of that attitude.

In darker moments I've considered bariatric surgery (gastric band). Witness the outrage and scorned heaped up the lovely Fern Britton when the press revealed that she had undergone bariatric surgery. Why on earth anyone thinks life threatening surgery rendering you unable to enjoy a hearty meal ever again is in any way the easy option or cheating is just beyond me. Fear of death is what keeps me from asking for surgery. Fear of derision isn't far from the door either.

So largely it's about keeping up appearances then. Or certainly avoiding bringing any more negativity into my ife than I have to. It's about fear of the unknown, it's about fear of being hungry, and maybe most of all it's about fear of failure. Imagine how much of a failure I would be if I failed at those last resort options!

I'm not ready for last resorts yet!

Sunday, 21 June 2009

Summer Solstice



So it's not going so well. After my last post, I had actually lost a pound, but then for whatever reason, I slid backwards, I can't even pretend I tried to stay on track, and I have had some horrible binges. I know when I've eaten badly because I'm woken from my sleep choking on stomach acid. This used to happen to me a lot, but hasn't been a problem since I started losing weight at Slimming World last year. This week it has happened, and I'm horrified.

I lay awake in bed this morning trying to sort things out in my head. And I've come to the conclusion that I am desperate to be able to get back to my SW class. I miss it. I miss Heather, I miss the support. I miss the food. When I look back, it worked so well for me for months, and when it stopped working so well, that was my own fault.

There's only a few more weeks now of me not being able to get to that class, so I am going to carry on with WW just for damage limitation, and then as soon as I can, I'm going to be back to SW. I know WW has worked so well for so many of you, but for whatever reason it messes with my head. I do think it was starting to reduce my appetite though, right before the binging! So if I can get it back under control then when I return to SW it will be with a smaller appetite and therefore a greater hope of success.

This week in June always seems to represent a turning point for me. I can think of many major changes in my life that have occured around the summer solstice. It is a year ago today since I did the Race For Life, and also a year ago this week since my first weight gain on SW. So I hereby vow that this will be a new turning point and a change for the better. I don't want to binge, I don't want to taste acid, I don't want to be fat, I don't want to die young, I don't want to feel out of breath walking down the road.

I will NOT press that red button!

Monday, 8 June 2009

Beyond The Edge Of Reason

I can't stop thinking about food. I lie in bed awake thinking about food. I sit at my computer looking for ways to make my Points go further. Even as I eat each meal I'm wondering when I can eat the next. I spend ages furtling through my cupboards working out the Points value of each product and wondering how I can possibly utilise it in a low Point meal. Hunger is never far away, and I'm resorting to bizarre food combinations - couscous sandwich? Yum! The best news all week is the discovery that I like my porridge made with water so I can eat more porridge for the same Points - result!

I feel like an alcoholic, constantly seeking my next drink, scary stuff! I'm really wishing this phase would hurry up and be over, my appetite suitabley reduced and my weight steadily falling. I understand that this is a process I need to go through, but Weight Watchers has totally sent me over the edge!

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

10 Things You Should Know...

No diet blog would be complete without a comment on the BBC programme "10 Things You Should Know About Losing Weight" which was aired on 27th May and is available on BBC iPlayer for just a few more hours now.

I watched it with a notebook and pen in my hand, and scribbled several pages of notes as I watched. I have made less notes at uni lectures! It was actually full of very interesting information, not all of it necessarily obvious even to the lifelong dieter that I am. For those who have watched, share your thoughts in comments! For those who have not, here's the 10 things, plus a few bits of further information, and maybe a comment or 2 from me!

1: Don't skip meals.

OK we all know we should at 3 meals a day because that's what we've always been told. But now we've been told exactly why skipping meals is so very counterproductive to healthy eating. Through brain scans, scientists have been able to show that there is increased brain activity when starved subjects are shown pictures of high calorie, high fat foods, verus low cal food. When the subject had eaten, there was no difference in brain activity. So in other words, when we starve ourselves, our brains compel us to seek high calorie food to make up for the lost meal. Sounds pretty obvious when you put it like that, but it's nice to be told that it isn't merely a matter of willpower!

I can eat regularly, it will take discipline, because currently I don't. But I can.

2: Use a smaller plate.

Again, we know this don't we? An experiment was shown where people were given either a large or "small" bucket of popcorn while watching a film, and instructed to eat their fill. Apparently the buckets were all large enough that everyone could eat as much as they wanted, and still leave some food. They found that those with the large bucket ate a lot more than those with the small bucket, possibly the size of the container leaving them unable to recognise their full signals? The conclusion was that by reducing plate size it is possible to cut calorie intake by up to 22% without even trying!

I have 3 different size dinner plate in my cupboard. From now on I will certainly choose the smallest even if only eating a salad.

3: Count calories.

Calories, points, yep that's fine. Common enough knowledge. It was interesting though to see all the different ways of consuming 300 cals - a large bowl of fresh fruit salad (a popular choice of mine!) or a small pork pie, a chicken dinner or a smoothie - those healthy treats (every Friday after school, delicious!) certainly do add up!

4: Don't blame your metabolism

OK I'm sure many of us must, at some time or other, have tried to blame slow metabolism for our inability to shed pounds. So what the programme makers did was send a lovely volunteer, actress Debbie Chazen, a lady who eats a healthy diet and gets plenty of exercise but is still overweight, for a metabolism test. And the result was normal which must have been a bit of a blow really! She then had to keep a video diary, plus a written food diary (written at the time of eating the food!) and in addition she was given a special water to drink that would enable scientists to analyse her urine and calculate her calorie intake and output.

Now personally I'm just not sure about the special water! But the result of the test claimed that Debbie was under reporting her food intake by 43%, even when writing her food diary at the time of eating. Isn't that a little bit astonishing? I mean, if I am keeping a food diary, and I have chicken, veg and rice for a meal, how am I going to miss 43% of the meal off the list? I know from doing an SAS log a while ago that I tend not to look at food values until I have already eaten them, but that's a whole different issue.

So if we believe in the magic water, then this lady with a healthy diet is actually overeating by around 1000 calories per day, and portion sizes are the main problem. I can't argue with portion sizes, and that leads back to points 2 and 3.

5: Protein staves off hunger pangs.

Now this one is interesting! Eating 10% more protein at each meal floods our brains with a hormone called PYY and causes the brain to think we are full. That's pretty useful information. If I choose a boiled egg for my breakfast, that means, allegedly, that I should feel fuller for longer than if I choose toast or more usually fruit and yoghurt. This is going to come back to discipline though, making the effort to have a little bit of protein with every meal - it's a small change but new habits do take a while to sink in.

Atkins fans must be delighted by this information now I think about it!

6: Soup keeps you fuller for longer.

Wow, this one really is quite surprising in my opinion. This theory was proven by giving the exact same meal to 2 groups of people. I think it was chicken, rice, veg and a glass of water. Group 1 ate the meal and drank the water. Group 2 had the water mixed with the food and liquidised it into a soup before eating. Then they had scans done of their full bellies, and the soup group had full stomachs for longer than the solids group. We are told that this is because when the glass of water is drunk seperately, it briefly inflates the stomach but then leaves quickly, leaving the much smaller volume of solid food left to digest. But when the liquid is mixed with the food and consumed as soup, it isn't able to pass through the stomach as quickly, leaving you fuller for longer. Result! I love soup, I have a blender, happy days!

7: The wider the choice, the more you eat.

Apparently we are absolutely hardwired to eat more when there is greater choice. The prrof presented to us was in the form of 2 bowls of sweets. 1 multicoloured, the other all one colour. They were left on a table with a hidden camera in a public place. The multicoloured sweets were rapidly eaten, while the single colour sweets were largely ignored. Hmmm. Again, not sure about this - the evidence is a bit flimsy there really. Multicoloured sweets look more appetising, in the same way that a multicoloured salad looks much nicer than a plate of beige food. I'm not convinced restricting choice has any connection to that. But I agree with them that at a buffet table there is a tendency to overeat because there is so much choice. Hmmm. What do you think?

8: Low fat dairy helps you excrete more fat.

Wow, low fat dairy works like Xenical! Apparently the calcium binds fat molecules in the small intestine and transports them undigested from your body - brilliant!

Well that's me in trouble then because I consume very little dairy. I hate milk, I don't even use milk in hot drinks. I take my coffee black. I do love cheese, but cheese is a real danger food for me so I don't buy it. No point buying it if I'm going to end up eating my own body weight in the stuff - I doubt it's *that* magical! I eat yoghurt, but not loads. And especially not now on WW because there's no particular incentive to do so. I ate more on SW because, as any SW member can tell you, Muller Lights are free food!

So give me your top dairy consuming tips, pretty please!

9: Exercise goes on burning fat even while you sleep.

Here's some heartening news. For hours and hours and hours after you step off the treadmill, your metabolism remains higher, and the fat keeps on burning. But we already knew exercise is good for us in so many ways. It is nice to know it just keeps on giving though hey!

10: Keep moving and lose weight!

Yep, and writing a blog isn't using that much energy, so I'm off to walk my dogs!

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

A catalogue of bruises!

Wow, what gorgeous weather we are having! I've managed to get a teeny bit sunburned, even though I've really not spent ages in the sun. I suppose accumulated time must count almost as much as lengthy roastings on hot beaches. If you take into account 20 minutes or so twice a day to school and back, plus dog walks, plus pottering in the garden, plus sitting in the garden reading for half an hour, plus whatever else I do outside, and not forgetting being in the car with windows and sun roof open, there is a fair chunk of exposure, and my shoulders know it!

There isn't much of me that doesn't hurt right now. 10 days ago I had a couple of falls while skating. My own fault entirely for getting carried away and joining in a game of British Bulldog (a game that I believe is banned from school playgrounds but is alive and well and on skates at the leisure centre every Saturday!) I bruised my hands, my wrists ached, but primarily my coccyx hurt. A lot. It still does. I can't sit properly, any sitting position has to be carefully considered and arranged so that my weight is taken on one cheek or the other, but never on my coccyx. Levering myself out of the car involves hauling myself up a little on the handy handle above the door (why *is* that there anyway??) so that I can exit the vehicle with the least possible pressure on my bottom. I'm semi reclined on the sofa, on my right hand side even as I type. Thank God for laptops!

So there's the bruised coccyx and mild sunburn. And then there's the bruises all down my left side from when I fell of a wall onto a bike. That happened Friday I think. It's hard for me to explain how, but I was sober and it only happened because I was wearing a skirt. Had I been in jeans, my stride would not have been curtailed halfway through my leap and I would have landed on my feet on the path, instead of face down in a bike halfway down some steps. So my left arm is a criss cross of brusing (think bicycle wheel spokes!), plus there are 2 cuts on my elbow, and further bruising to my left thigh, which hurts deep into the muscle! Oh and a couple of less dramatic bruises to my right shin.

So I'm moving like an old and very infirm woman. At church on Sunday I had to give serious though to whether it would be wise for me to kneel for communion, but in the end the call of leaving my hard seat for a few minutes was too great and I went for it.

It's a good thing I have no pride, because if I had any, you can bet that would be hurting most of all!

Friday, 29 May 2009

Holiday Snaps.

We're back!

We ended up coming home a day early because we had a day and a half of horrible weather, high wind, driving rain and so so cold, so in the end we gave up, packed up and headed for a day trip to Blackpool on the way home instead. As it happens, the weather turned and the sun shone that very afternoon, but I still think we made the right decision because we were getting tired and grouchy in a cold wet tent. And the tent suffered a modicum of damage, in the form of a rip to a seam, so water was getting in. But I am actually very happy with the tent's performance - it really was getting battered by the wind, enough that I was up in the night walking round checking everything was still pegged down. The wind can sound scary in the dead of night when you can feel the groundsheet underneath you trying to lift off the ground!

Anyway, photo time!

We had a visitor in the form of Barnaby Bear from school, and our task is to create a photo diary of Barnaby's half term, so the first photos are of Barnaby at a ballet class, and the following day at church.



We went to a lovely camp site near Morcambe, called Red Bank Farm. We've been before, and loved the wide open spaces, but found the facilities just a little bit too basic. But since then there has been an upgrade, and the facilities are lovely now. There is even a lovely cafe on site, which was very handy for a warming breakfast after a night of holding the tent down. No Points counted I'm afraid, my excuse was I was cold to my very core and if I didn't warm up I might die!

Here's the view from our tent.



Gorgeous isn't it!

Rebecca playing, plus the required inclusion of Barnaby!



The weather looks fab there doesn't it! How could I possibly need a hot breakfast bun plus hot chocolate then?





I think you can actually see the chill in the air in those shots!

But we went on to have a blast in Blackpool, walking along the beach, playing with the waves, fair rides etc, and I think these pics show that we found fun in the end!






We camped with friends, but obviously I have not used photos with them in, since I haven't asked their permission to plaster them all over the internet!

Oh yes, this is my diet blog so I had better mention it! I found a Weight Watchers class in Morcambe and trotted along to get weighed - I lost 4 1/2lbs! I can't complain at that at all, it makes it all worthwhile.

Hope you enjoyed my holiday snaps!

Monday, 25 May 2009

I'll have a banana!

Well, this Weight Watchers malarky is quite a revelation! Early signs are that it is easier to eat the wrong things on WW, whereas it is easier to eat to the point of gluttony and beyond with SW. So I guess what works best will depend on what your particular vice is. I did a good job of learning to make wise food choices with SW, but the portion control side of things was out of the window. So in that regard, WW is proving to be a good thing, although I'm not in love with feeling hungry!

Here's what I mean about eating the wrong things though. In a direct choice between a banana and a packet of WW cheese puffs, the right choice is clearly the banana. But the banana is a higher point value than the cheese puffs, so the person who has a bigger appetite won't need much persuading to take the orange coloured maize snack. I could have 3 packets of them for the price of 2 bananas!

That said, I'm enjoying making different choices to when I did SW. It's easier to eat on the go - I can buy a ready made sandwich if I need to and just work out the points. It really never seemed so easy to work out the values of the same meal on SW to be honest. Your experience may vary.

I am off camping tomorrow. I've printed out a list of the nearest WW classes to my campsite, so all things being equal, I should be getting weighed while I'm gone, but I won't be able to tell you about it until I get back at the weekend. I'm crossing my fingers for a decent loss, because the portions of rice I have been eating have made me feel ravenous! A bad result will hurl me into the pit of despair and I don't like that pit one little bit.

Thursday, 21 May 2009

From SW to WW - It isn't Easy!

Oh man, Weight Watchers is hard! The concept is easy enough: Eat this many points worth of food per day and you will lose weight. It's the execution that has my head spinning. I need to forget everything I ever thought I knew about eating and start from scratch. No longer can I grab an apple, or gorge on a punnet of strawberries because fruit is not free food! It all has points, and it's going to take me a while to adjust to that cold hard fact!

And as for portion sizes, well I'm feeling faint at the WW concept of a medium portion of rice, pasta, cereal etc. This is what I expected though. I ate a LOT of these foods before, I filled my boots. And now I can't. 'Tis a fair shock to the system!

The truth is, I am currently feeling properly hungry, but stupidly I don't need to be. I have points left. But I also have to go to work tonight, and I don't want to leave myself short of meal options for there.

Here's what I've eaten today:

Breakfast was a sachet of Oatso Simple with 180mls of semi skimmed milk. As fas as I can tell, this is 4 points worth. I would love to be corrected if I'm wrong!

Lunch was a handy WW ready meal consisting of 5.5 points. It was delicious. It fitted on a side plate. I followed this with a tasty WW yoghurt at 0.5 points.

For tea I had a WW pizza (3.5 points) and filled up with a massive salad, including about 1 points worth of coleslaw. I don't intend to survive soley on WW branded products, but I'm just trying to feel my way in to it. Tomorrow I will cook from scratch. Probably. I have also had a sugar free jelly (nil points) and an orange (0.5 points)

That's 15 points. My usual points allowance will be 26, but I think I'm meant to be having 18 this week, for the Fast Start thingy. That leaves me 3 for the night shift then. I'm pretty certain that the only way I can survive it is to take a day, whatever sort of day, work or otherwise, to be midnight to midnight meaning I can take a cereal bar and some fruit to eat after midnight, and still be able to have a mini pitta with tuna and salad before midnight.

It's all very complicated. I needed to wear my glasses to do the grocery shopping today, because I spent all my time reading food labels and trying to work out the points.

I implore all the WW followers in Blogland to come to my aid and give my your best tips!

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Very Conflicted!

My last weigh in at SW was 13th April, and I weighed 17st 5lbs. Since then I have let one bad habit after another slip back in. I'd be in Tesco buying lovely salad inrgedients, and then a Chunky Kit Kat would fall into my basket. The call of white bread proved too strong, and in particular toast suddenly became part of my daily diet again. And then the convenience of the vending machine at work, which I hadn't visited for well over a year, suddenly became essential!

So it goes without saying that the pounds have crept back on, and that's why I've not blogged - I didn't want to blog about gaining weight, and I couldn't just chatter inanely and ignore the big fat weak willed bloater in the room! So I kept logging on to my blog, starting a few sentences and then clicking the cross in the corner and leaving it "for now..."

So what brings me back? Well I couldn't allow this to go on for another day, so I've taken a drastic step. One that I feel very conflicted about. I've been this morning and joined Weight Watchers. I had a voucher out of the newspaper making this week a freebie, so I went with the "nothing to lose" mindset. The reason I'm so conflicted about this decision is that a: I know SW works as long as you do actually stick to it, and b: I really really miss being inspired by Heather and the members of my old SW class. But I can't get to my old class. Heather does a class on another day too, but for all sorts of reasons a Weds morning class is actually very convenient for me. And I did say when I was on the eternal plateau that I needed to change something, so let's give WW a go. I need to sit down and look at the points, shake the SW plan out of my brain and work on some meal plans now.

Oh, you probably want to know about the weigh in. It is with deep, deep regret that I have to inform you that I weigh 18st and half a pound this morning. I could blame my heavy denim skirt, or that "last meal" breakfast I ate before I went. Or I could even say the scales are probably wrong because they are on carpet and definitely wobbled when I stood on them. But what I'm actually going to say is 9 1/2lbs on? It could be a hell of a lot worse actually, I gained 7 in Xmas week alone! We are away next week for half term, so I'm going to have to find a class to attend to get weighed while we are away. I could have waited until we got back to join, it would have been easier in a way. But I couldn't just keep sliding for another fortnight. Today's the day I take myself in hand!

And now I'm going to find the WW forum and look for some inspiration and ideas. Wish me luck!

Monday, 4 May 2009

A Wonder Pill?

Ack, too much time has slipped by since my last post, that's no good!

So how has it been going? Well, I've made some good choices, some OK choices, and some bad choices. I feel as though I'm relearning how to function at the moment which is a bit mad. I need to focus now though or things will slide away from me. I got weighed in Boots shortly after my last post, and according to their scales I had lost 1lb. Obviously I have no idea how their calibration compares to the SW scales, so I'm just going to have to take that weight (17st 4lb) as the baseline and see how I go from there.

Interestingly, the day I went to weigh myself, use of the scales was free. This was due to an instore promo for the release of the over the counter diet pill, Alli. As far as I can gather, Alli is the little brother of Xenical, containing half the strength of the active ingredient, Orlistat, making it available for over the counter sales. I've taken Xenical, oh yes! I'm sure you will have read all about the heinous side effects of that little wonder drug...most notably, and horrifyingly the way the fat is expelled, often without prior warning, from your body. I didn't suffer that particular unacceptable side effect, I tend to think this is because while I was taking them I followed a very low fat diet. I shudder to think what would have happened if I had fancied a curry one night....

The crux of the matter though is that they didn't prove to be the answer. Yes I followed a low fat diet for a while, but as soon as I fell off the wagon, I just stopped taking them. I probably have the unfinished pack somewhere. Would I take them again? I wouldn't rule it out, I would consider all the options available to help me get to a healthy weight. I would by far prefer to do it without pills or surgery or witchcraft, but I had a lightbulb moment after writing about wanting to be in Slimming World magazine. It's meant to be about me losing weight, not glory seeking. I don't need to appear in print to be a success. I just need to lose the damn weight! So I will give due consideration to any and all possible solutions. What I won't be doing however is paying £1 a day for a pill that is half the strength of the version available for the price of a prescription. There is a recession on after all!

Friday, 24 April 2009

School Days

A copy of my school report from when I was a tender 13 years old fell into my hands the other day. I was almost scared to read it, after all it was addressed to my parents! But read it I did, and it was quite interesting to look back on, knowing how my life went on to turn out. My best subject at 13 was Human Biology. I had no plans at that age to become a nurse but it's nice to see that i was already keen in the subject that would be most useful in my adult life.

I wasn't massively shocked to read that in Games I was "inactive and self concious" Hell yeah, I was horribly self concious! I felt like a big lumbering giant alongside my peers, of course I was self concious! What a shame though. The reality is that if I could have got over my self conciousness and enjoyed running around a tennis court or whatever, then maybe my adult self wouldn't have been writing this blog now....hmmmm, I like writing my blog though, so maybe all things have led to this creative point in my life, who knows!

We went to see 17 Again at the weekend, a film in which a disillusioned father of teens wishes he could go back to relive his High School days and do it differently this time around. And so, with the magic of movies, he does. It was a good film, i enjoyed it greatly. But would I want to go back to my own teen years and put them right? Erm, no. I can honestly say I hated those years. I don't recall them as anything other than miserable and excruciating. I didn't start to find my way in life until I began my nursing career. It would be cool though if I could go and tell my younger self to run around, lose her inhibitions, have fun and don't start dieting because I swear if I had not started dieting at 15, I would never have climbed to nearly 22 st.

Never mind my awful teen years, how about now? Well this is a very good week so far, food wise. I'm happy with my food choices and full of renewed enthusiasm. I look forward to leaping off this plateau very soon!

Wednesday, 22 April 2009

Ramblings.

Thank you all for the lovely comments on my last entry :-) Lots of support and useful tips there for me. Outlaw, I may nip into town later and investigate this smart card to get weighed in Boots. I'm not going to weigh myself weekly though. Maybe monthly. My idea is to remove arbitrary deadlines, free myself to enjoy the odd special occasion without the fear of damaging the weekly weigh in, and therefore lose the "I've blown it now anyway..." mentality. God knows I've worked hard on that for the past 16 months but somehow it has remained entrenched deep within my psyche.

PLUKlurker I like the look of the book you suggest. I'm not offended, I'm not easily offended anyway and I see nothing to be offended by in your suggestion. Have you read the book and benefited from it yourself? I will probably buy it when I've been paid, so will get back to you on how that works.

Lots of comments on the portion control issue, which is interesting. I'm glad I'm not alone in finding that a concern. I'm not here to slag SW off, god knows it's been good for me, I do still weigh 5 1/2st less now than I did in January 2008 so it clearly does work. And there are lots of target members at my class. So maybe it depends on the cause of your weight problem. Maybe if you are someone who eats a fairly normal amount of food but the wrong type of food then SW is going to get you to target. But if you are someone with a big big appetite who can and does eat to the point of gluttony, then SW is going to have it's limitations. The big problem I see is that if my appetite doesn't reduce, then when I do fall off the wagon from time to time, it's a big fall because I can eat a lot. A lot of grapes may not be too damaging but a lot of pizza is a bad bad thing!

So how am I doing so far? Well, I had a couple of days of "relaxation". I didn't go berserk, I didn't want to have to report back here that I am in fact a weak willed bloater! I vowed to myself that I would be eating healthily from Tuesday morning. On Monday evening, while Rebecca was at her dance class, I nipped to Somerfield to get something for tea and because of the rushed nature of the evening I opted for a pizza with salad and garlic bread. I chose the healthier option for the garlic bread. I'm such a saint ;-) I had just drifted into the chocolate aisle and was considering a chocolatey treat when I bumped into the lady who takes the money at my SW class. I felt so embarrassed to be caught in the chocolate aisle with pizza in my basket that I made a hasty exit without any chocolate, so I was saved from myself by SW even though I don't go anymore.

I'm happy with what I ate yesterday. I decided to take a "low fat" approach, so I ate 2 crumpets for breakfast, with a smear of jam. No butter of course. This is much less breakfast than I was eating on SW, but because it was something I truly fancied, it was enough. Lunch was a jacket potato and beans, and for tea I was very lazy. I made chickpea curry using a jar of low fat (<3%) sauce. Snacks were fruit and yoghurt. Oh, and I made an effort to drink more water too. That is something I had let slip before.

Today I have had the yummy crumpets for breakfast again, for lunch I have a lovely salad and jacket spud lined up, and for tea I will be having leftover curry and boiled rice.

I realise my 5 a day was a bit absent yesterday, I've sorted that now by going shopping.

So I hope I'm on track. I'm certain that I am eating physically less with these meals which is a primary target for me. I think I am aiming to eat food that is less than 5% fat, that should keep me out of major danger. But does allow me a little bit of what I fancy which is a very good thing indeed.

Right I think I'll nip to Boots and get a baseline weight before I eat my lunch.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

The Big Decision

You may recall I recently posted that I was considering my options. Well, a decision has been reached, and in a way it has been based on events slightly outside my control.

I am taking a break from Slimming World.

I'm quite scared of being out in the wilderness on my own, but I know the plan off by heart so no excuses for not being able to apply my knowledge. The reason I've come to this momentous decision is that Rebecca has a dance class every Monday at the same time as my SW class, for the forthcoming term. I don't want to Pay & Weigh, I can't see the point in that. So if I can't stay to class, then this seems like the right time for a natural break. Mind you I hovered for ages over the "Send" button when I was emailing Heather to let her know..as I said, it's scary!

It is going to be interesting to see how I deal with food without the spectre of a weigh in hanging over me. What I'm hoping is that less pressure will actually have a positive effect, rather than a negative one. I'm hoping I still make wise choices and don't pile any weight back on. My work uniform is very snug fitting, I can't really take even a few pounds gain and still hope to fit in it, so that will be my monitor. If, god forbid, I find I can't fit in my uniform then I will be back at class faster than you can say "weak willed bloater"! I've thrown my big uniforms out, just to make sure.

I suppose I also need to decide whether to stick to the SW "rules" or try just a bit of common sense eating. What I'd like to try out is learning a little bit of portion control. If SW lacks anything it's portion control. It's a wonderful thing to think that you never have to feel hungry and you can gorge yourself on as much of the right food as you like, but I worry that my appetite has stayed huge and that's the cause of my immense plateau.

So smaller portions, healthy choices, more exercise, no weigh in so no pressure. But lots of blogging to help keep me focussed.

It's a new beginning of sorts.

I'm almost too scared to hit the "publish" button now - once I do that, it's true!

Friday, 17 April 2009

The Good Life

I am afraid I have to confess that I had another gain this week, but only 1lb, and I had actually taken the whole week off dieting! This wasn't intended, I woke up each day with all good intentions but fell by the wayside for one reason or another. So with that in mind, 1lb isn't too bad really.

I'm sitting at work at the moment. It's 5AM (yes, there really are two 5 o'clocks in a day!). I've just read an article in Glamour magazine that tells me that I can lose 10lbs without even changing anything about my diet or exercise. All I have to do is one very simple (and lovely!) thing. And that thing is go to bed at the same time each night and get 7 1/2 hours sleep every night. Hurray!

Oh, wait....!

How I would love that! My god, earlier this week I actually spent 4 hours out of 60 in bed. No wonder then, that I opted to feed us on Macdonalds that day (which day? I don't even know which day it was, I was so bleary!). Even if I'd had the energy to choose a healthy meal, I sure as hell couldn't have summoned up the strength to shop and cook for it. Planning may have helped, in that I would have had ingredients in. But you are talking about the person who forgot that the shops don't open on Easter Sunday....still, can't beat tinned soup for a special Easter dinner ;)

On the subject of planning and ingredients, I'm morphing into Felicity Kendall in The Good Life. I've been doing some gardening and am trying to grow some fruit and veg. I feel stupidly excited at the idea of nipping into the garden when I need some carrots, and I'm gazing adoringly at my lovely little strawberry plants every day. We may have corn growing in the lawn shortly though because the wind blew my little "greenhouse" over the other night and scattered my seedlings wherever they blew. So it will be fun and exciting to see what pops up, and where!

I'm going to a retirement party later tonight - it has a 1970s theme so I will be there in my maxi dress and turquiose eyeshadow - more Margot than Felicity I think. I'm quite excited about it though, it feels like playing dress up when I was little. I used to prance around in my nana's evening gowns and fur coats, how very glamourous she was! My life lacks that glamour. Maybe one day.....

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

If you do what you've always done, you get what you've always got.

Week 65

Weight: 17st 4lb
Gain This Week: 2.5lb
Total lost: 77.5lb

Clearly something has to change. I'm just not sue what yet. I was determined, utterly singlemindedly determined this week to get below 17st. Other than the slight screw up midweek with that once recipe I don't think I put a foot out of line, so no way in hell should I have gained 2.5lbs. 2.5lbs is something like 8000 calories allegedly! This means that either I'm doing something catastrophically wrong and I just don't know what it is, or this is the longest plateau that mankind has ever seen, or maybe, just maybe, there is some other reason why I can't lose it now.

I've never ever tried to blame anything other than eating too much and moving too little for my weight. But now I'm starting to consider all possible options, and maybe there is an underlying problem. I don't know. I doubt it to be honest, but I was driven to Google this morning. I didn't know what search term to try, since overweight, obesity, weight loss would all bring up the obvious diet sites, and no doubt blogs like mine. So I tried "Weight gain" and discovered 310 possible causes. That's a pretty long list! Many of them I can rule straight out for myself. I know I don't have heart failure, I'm not a growing adolescent and I'm not pregnant. I haven't quit smoking (I don't smoke, maybe I should start!) I haven't sustained a brain injury and I don't think I'm depressed, but I could be if this carries on much longer!

So how about things I can't rule out? Well there's a handful of gynaecological conditions in the list which I can't absolutely rule out, since I am actually experiencing some abnormal to say the least cycles at the moment. And then there's hypothyroidism - I don't have all the symptoms, but I have enough to make me think it may be worth a trip back to the doctors.

Truthfully I don't think there's anything much medically wrong with me, but I am searching because I don't want to throw my hands in the air and give it all up. I don't know whether I need to try something other than Slimming World, but I feel slightly weak at the thought of a plan that involves weighing and measuring and counting points! Maybe I should speak to my GP about medication? But I feel weird about even thinking that. It's like I'd be cheating or something if I did that! I wouldn't be able to go to class every week because I wouldn't be on a level playing field. And I wouldn't be able to be in the magazine when I reach target either, and I bloody well plan to be!

Aaaarrgh I'm being driven insane by my body! Where's the weight loss fairy when you need her most?!

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Arrabiata Sauce

Following my plea for recipes earlier this week, I was delighted to receive some fab ones! Loth's lentil and chickpea curry sounds divine, and I'd be willing to hop up to Scotland to try it ;) I'm a bit scared of recipes that don't tell me how much of what exact thing to use though. I need to be braver!

One Too Many has given me a very exotic spinach and ricotta pasta recipe which I will definitely be trying. Pasta is one of my favourite ingredients, and as a bonus it's free food on green days. Perfect!

Tat looks to have some most excellent recipe ideas on her blog too, as well as lovely turf. I have major turf envy Tat!

But the recipe I am posting for your pleasure tonight came from my friend Debbie. She got it from a Slimming World recipe book I believe, and it is just gorgeous!

Arrabiata Sauce

1 onion, chopped
1 chilli, chopped and deseeded
Garlic Puree (I used very lazy garlic, it's syn free!)
400mls Passata
200mls stock made with chicken Bovril

Fry off the onion, chilli and garlic for 5 minutes, then add the passata and stock, and simmer for about 20 minutes. Job done.

Debbie suggests adding Chorizo or spicy sausage. I added a chopped red pepper and reduced fat smoked pork sausage which is hefty syn wise, but I didn't know that until I'd eaten it! Also, I chucked a bit of sweetener into the mix, and the result was a wonderful rich sweet and spicy and smoky blend, which I served with penne pasta.

I'm confused about the sausage, I could have sworn it was on the low syn table at class on Monday. If I don't have a loss this week, at least I'll know why!

Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Seeking Recipes

Week 64

Weight: 17st 1.5lb
Loss This Week: 3lb
Total lost: 80lb

I got weighed wearing my jeans, and still lost 3lb, I'm happy with that, oh yeah!

So I end March weighing exactly the same as I did at the start of March - am I good at maintaining or what?! I consider this all good practice for when I'm trying to maintain my weight at 9st something hehehe!

The version of the plan I followed last week was the "desperate for Payday" plan. Poverty is good for weight loss apparently. This week I will be following the "Just been paid and gone mad in Sainsburys" plan and it will be interesting to compare and contrast the 2. Will I fare better on fresh melon and raspberries, or naked pasta and savoury rice? I know which one makes me feel healthier, but there is something quite nice and comforting about the kind of food you find at the very back of the cupboard. There's some mushy peas there calling my name just now, hmmm, what shall I have with them?

My aim for this week is a nice conservative 2lb loss. Slowly, slowly, ever so slowly. Let's not forget, it was the tortoise who won the race with the hare.

I have been trying to keep the spark alive by trying a new recipe every week (except that final empty purse week of the month!) so do me favour, lay your recipes on me. I am open to any suggestions, veggie or otherwise. I'll have to come up with an incentive for you, a competition or something. If I do that, I'll feel like a proper blogger! In the meantime, if I use your recipe I'll review it here, and of course link to your blog - how does that sound?

Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Aiming For The.....?

Week 63

Weight: 17st 4.5lb
Loss This Week: 2lb
Total lost: 77lb

Yay for a 2lb loss since I last stood on the scales. Bearing in mind the Birthday Weekend that occurred between then and now, I'm very pleased with that result!

This week I'm mostly wondering about how our high expectations can affect how well or badly we do at weight loss. There has been more than a handful of weeks where I've thrown myself heart and soul into The Plan, with the desire to shed 3 or more pounds, or to reach some transient goal, only to be disappointed. And disappointment can take me in one of two directions. It can either make me even more determined the following week, or it can make me throw my hands metaphorically in the air (to actually do it would be better for toning my upper arms though) and slide back into bad habits faster than you can say hot buttered crumpets.

Now, I've never been someone to set my sights low. I firmly believe that you have to aim for the stars to reach the moon. But even I can see that repeatedly setting myself up to fail may, in the long run, prove slightly detrimental to the overall goal. I know I'm not the only slimmer who is hard on themselves when they don't lose as much as they hoped for, and in the cold light of day, away from the emotion of the weigh in, I think it's a shame when we can't be kinder to ourselves. So this week, I aim to lose a nice steady pound or 2. I took years to get fat so I can afford to spend a fair bit of time getting slim too. I'm not going to set unrealistic targets, I'm not going to beat myself up for tiny losses and maintains when I have stuck to The Plan. And I am most certainly not going to fall by the wayside just because it's taking me a long time to get to where I want to be. I believe I have proved I'm in it for the long haul now, so there's no point stressing about how long that may turn out to be.

A final thought. Apparently it has been proven that owners tend to look like their dogs. What part of me looks in any way like either of my skinny greyhounds? Maybe the me we will see one day :-)

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Long Time No See...

Wendy looks around furtively to check no one's looking, and runs back in!

Hiya! Fancy seeing you here!

OK, I confess, I didn't blog because I gained weight and ran out of ways to say so. But I miss my witterings, so I'm blogging despite that fact now! So what's been happening in the fortnight since I last put erm, fingers to keyboard?

Well I've had lots of fun! Last week I went to a Ceroc class which I've wanted to do for aaaaages! I finally decided to just do it and dragged a friend along for good measure. It was really good fun, and good exercise too, so I will be going back for sure, although not this week as I'm working that night. Can I just say though, if you are a man reading this, please go and join your local Ceroc classs! The class I was at was seriously short of men, and it's a man-led dance so we need you!

It was my birthday yesterday, and was preceded by a girls day / night out in Manchester on Saturday. We went to all the "nice" places, including cocktails at the Midland Hotel, which makes me feel sooooo sophisticated! And my friends (I was out at the front of the group somewhere and managed to miss this!) saw a boxer called Ola Afolabi leaving the Radisson Hotel on his way to a match. He went with some top girly training tips ringing in his ears (try and kill him, and if you think you're going to lose, walk away!) and he went on to beat his opponent which was apparently a bit of an unexpected result! So maybe my friends have missed their vocation and should be ringside telling boxers to be careful!

As the nicer weather has started to peep out, thoughts turn to the garden. My "lawn" was a disgrace, thanks to the work of 2 dogs. I decided the only thing I could do was fence it off to keep them off it totally, dig it up and start from scratch. My first plan involved paying someone to do it. But I'm not rolling in cash, and it's hard graft rather than rocket science so I've been doing it myself. The fence is a cheap and cheerful affair, low enough for me step over, but high enough to confuse 2 long legged greyhounds who have no idea of the concept of jumping. Digging the old lawn up was a massive task, but I finished it yesterday in the sunshine and am rather proud of my efforts. Today I have raked in some fertiliser, and now I'm torn between buying some turf for instant gratification, or grass seed. The decision comes down to cash really, but I'm going to be unhappy if the birds eat all my seed, that's all I'm saying!

So I've not been the most committed dieter these past couple of weeks, but I've certainly been doing the "move more" part of the equation. And as always, I'm delighted by my ability to do these things. I'm healthy and active, and that's what's important.

Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Hair, Makeup, Wardrobe, Action!

Week 60

Weight: 17st 1.5lb
Loss This Week: 1lb
Total lost: 80lb

That was a week of herculean effort for 1lb, but hey, I won't complain at a loss, just hope for a bigger one next time!

This week it's all about my look again. I just feel very "meh" about my hair and wardrobe at the moment. I've got clothes that will do rather than clothes I love and that just isn't good enough! I've been browsing clothing collections online and in catalogues and I don't even know what look I want to be in! I kind of know what I like, but I'm not finding it. And as for my hair, well you can all see the state of that - the picture over there <------- shows it in it's true colours. It is pretty frizzy if not well tamed. It can look lovely when the natural curl falls just right, but a bit of rain or humidity and I'm a wreck. If I have it cut shorter the curl becomes more prominent but I'm never convinced I suit short hair.

On the plus side I'm happy with my face right now. I don't know whether you had noticed but I've done a bit of work on my blog, sorting out links to posts so recipes, photos etc are easy to find. In doing so I was forced to confront my "before" pics and it really showed me how far I've come! My face is so so different now. My skin is pretty good too, and in the last week or so I have made the effort to wear a bit of make up every day. I have had so many people telling me that I look "well", "healthy", "fresh", etc that I know it's more than worth the few minutes a day it takes to do.

Of course, all this means shopping. A hard job, but someone has to do it.

Thursday, 26 February 2009

3 Bean Chilli

One of the staples of my eating these days is 3 Bean Chilli. It's delicious, nutritious and very very filling. As an added bons it' totally free on Green days and Extra Easy.

Here's the recipe.

1 onion
3 garlic cloves
400g can of red kidney beans
400g can mixed beans
200g can chickpeas
small handful of fresh coriander or 1 tbsp dried
Fry light
1-2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cinnammon
2 tbsp ground cumin (I half that!)
2 X 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 tsp artificial sweetener
salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 tbsp very low fat natural fromage frais
Pinch of paprika

Method

1. Finely chop the onion and garlic cloves. Drain and rinse the beans and chickpeas. Roughly chop the coriander.

2. Spray a large pan with Fry Light and place over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and stir fry for 2-3 mins.

3: Add the chilli powder, cinnamon, cumin, tomatoes and sweetener. Bring to the boil. Season well, cover tightly and cook over a low heat for 10 mins.

4: Add the beans and chickpeas. Mix well. Return to heat for further 10 mins.

5: Serve in warmed bowls. Spoon over a tablespoon of fromage frais, sprinkle with paprika and garnish with coriander.

I am casual with this ingredient list. I use whatever bean selection is in my cupboard, including baked beans and it's fine. I often chuck fresh chilli in, which is great. If I don't have any fromage frais in then I just miss that part off and it's still fine. The fromage frais is delicious though! I serve it with boiled rice and it goes a very long way! It's a brilliant midweek, close to payday store cupboard ingredient meal and allegedly costs only 75p per serving so perfect in the current economic climate.

(I have copied this recipe directly from Slimming World Magazine.)

SAS Swoops In!

I mentioned on Monday that this week I would be doing an SAS Log. Here's how it works. On 1 side of the page is a list of daily aims and potential danger areas, plus space to write any of your own thoughts. On side 2 is a sort of food diary, but as well as writing down what you've eaten, you tick to say whether it was Free Food, Healthy Extras or Syns. And whether you planned to eat it or not, whether you knew the Syn value before eating it, whether you accurately measured or estimated for Syns and Healthy Extras, and whether you are writing at the time of eating, or later.

I'd say most people would claim to have a clue about their eating habits. Certainly I'd say I knew what I was eating pretty much every day. If I was trying to appear virtuous I would tell you that I nearly always stick to plan 100%, and that most days I have less than 5 Syns. If I was being honest I would admit to the odd spoonful of cereal or square of chocolate, or bite of toast. I would still be adamant that my Syns were minimal.

Well not any more! The SAS Log has sprung my eyes wide open. Day 1 revealed it, Day 2 confirmed it and Day 3 is making me try to change it.

Here's what I'm doing. I am regularly (as in most of the time!) eating things with a Syn value without knowing what the Syn value actually is. I estimate, I eat, I forget. Or as in this week I estimate, I eat, I look it up and recoil in horror! Yesterday I consumed around 8.5 Syns in this way. This would be OK if it was always so low and I never went over the 15 Syns per day allowance, but this week I am being very careful to write down everything I eat, so when I snaffled a crisp it was one crisp, not a handful. On a normal week I can well imagine I am going well over on some days, and it certainly brings last week's gain into perspective.

Knowledge is power! I guess I'm armed and dangerous now then.

Monday, 23 February 2009

I love dieting, I do.

Week 59

Weight: 17st 2.5lb
Gain This Week: 1.5lb
Total lost: 79lb

*Bangs head repeatedly on desk*

Okaaaaay. My frustration knows no bounds! I thought I'd been on track this week. I was on a high from last week. I was intent on seeing "16st something" on the scales. I went to a friend's house for dinner and we did a SW meal, each of us providing one course. I did the Strawberry Dream pudding. That's really making an effort, that is! Now OK, I'm going to admit here, there was nachos and dips too, and I did have some, but I didn't drink. And it was my only indiscretion of the week so I don't think I "deserved" the gain. Stupid scales!

Upon reflection, I think maybe some unwise eating behaviour may have been in evidence. It was half term and I was off work so I spent several days reorganising my house, shopping at Ikea, building flat pack furniture and going back and forth to the tip. All good body magic mind you - one morning I screwed 56 screws and banged in 104 dowels! My bingo wings should be in great shape! But what was happening was I was getting up, throwing on my scruffy clothes, making a coffee and getting straight to work. Add in the dog walks, and most days I didn't have time to eat anything until teatime. And of course by then I was hungry enough to eat the table I was sat at! I think I may have accidentally slipped into old habits like eating some of whatever I was making for Rebecca while I was in the kitchen, and lots of little things to tend to add up to a big disaster!

So I'm not downhearted, I've recovered from the misery of the weigh in. I have a plan for this week that involves an SAS log (for non SW readers, this is like a food diary but for behaviour, to pick up on any little bad habits you don't know you have!) And I think I'll go back to my green days again. I hate meat. Yes, I really really do. Chickpeas rock!

Friday, 20 February 2009

Photo Tag

Thanks to Rosiero for tagging me and giving me a nice midweek blog entry! Here's the deal. I have to go into my photo collection, take the fourth folder and the fourth picture in that folder and explain it. Then tag four more bloggers to do the same.

With trepidation at what might emerge from the wasteland of my Pictures folder, I started clicking.....



OK that's not too bad!

This photo was taken in September 2005. It is my daughter Rebecca, shortly before her 4th birthday, and it was taken in Canada, my favourite place in the whole world. I had wanted to go and visit Prince Edward Island because we were considering emigrating to there, but Mark couldn't take any time off work at that stage (being self employed sucks!) Not to be deterred, I booked flights, hotel room for the night we arrived, and car rental for just me and Rebecca, and planned a roadtrip round Nova Scotia and PEI - how exciting!

When we arrived at Halifax (Canada!) airport after a 7 hour flight in the middle of the night, we didn't know the problem about to befall us. We headed gaily to Passport Control, only to be directed to Immigration. Feeling a little anxious, and with Rebecca bursting for a wee, we went over to the desk and discovered that they were not happy that I was arriving in Canada with my 3 year old child, but not her father. I'm not sure how single parents navigate this problem! Apparently I should have taken a letter from Mark giving his permission for me to take her abroad. (Permission! My hackles rise at the very word!!) Anyway, They wanted to see our passports, our return flight tickets and our hotel reservations. This made it worse because of course I had only booked 1 night. The plan was get in the car, drive to wherever we wanted to, find a motel and stay however long suited us. In the eyes of the Canadian Immigration official with a gun on his hip, this made me irresponsible. I resisted the urge to argue that it merely made me adventurous! They wanted to speak to Mark, to make sure that I wasn't in the process of kidnapping my own daughter, so I had to think where he would be (in the pub watching football!) and give them his phone number. To be fair, the scary man did smile when I told him where Mark would be! I was worried that being in the pub, he might be slightly drunk, think the phone call was a joke, and say something stupid that would see us on the next flight home, with a police escort!

We where sent to wait in a stark little room, and I finally got Rebecca to the loo - too late though and her Disney Princess knicks were despatched to the bin! After what felt like a lifetime we were told we could go, but not without a stern lecture on how irresponsible I was to travel so far from home with my 3 year old child on my own, and without hotel reservations for the whole visit. I took my lecture meekly and off we went!

Despite the "memorable" start, we had a wonderful wonderful holiday, we got to all the places we had planned, and managed to find somewhere to sleep every night without any great difficulty, and I discovered that this was truly my spiritual home. I hope we will return for good one day.

As a PS to this story, Mark says they didn't phone him at all, so they must have decided to let me suffer a little bit just for the hell of it! Huh.

I've enjoyed revisiting this memory, thanks Roisero! Now who shall I tag...hmmmmmm...

OK I've decided to take the lazy way, and say if you are reading this, you are tagged! If you like the idea, go forth and post your photo, and leave a comment to let me know you've done it - I look forward to seeing your memories.