Category Archives: Diet, Dancing, Health and Fitness

Diet in Denial

Today my friend gave me a nice top she’d bought on a whim but then decided it ‘was not her colours’. Great I thought, until I got it out of the bag – it was huge!

Convinced it was going to swamp me I tried it on.

REALITY CHECK!!!

I could barely get it over my head. Further reality check, once on I could not get it off!

Seriously…

So what are my options?

I’ve tried most diets and all fail because I love my food and enjoy wine. Life is for living, right?

So can I have my cake and eat it?

Atkins Diet

I tried the Atkins Diet for a couple of weeks and lost 8lb. More importantly I was never hungry because while I could not drink alcohol I could eat as much of certain food as I liked. Although I was banned from eating carbs such as bread, potatoes, pasta, rice etc. or even fruit, milk and some vegetables in the early stages I never missed them.

But with every upside there is a down: the potential side effect of bad breath constipation, nausea, insomnia, dizziness to name a few, did not rest well with me. Plus the experts evaluation of the Atkins Diet was not that encouraging for long term health.

Weight Watchers

A non-starter for me I’m afraid. There are no classes where we live and I’m not going to pay £12.95 per month to join an online class. I need ‘people motivation’.

SlimFast

You buy ‘shakes’ etc to replace meals. This is a fad diet.

Slimming World

I actually like the idea of this diet because:
“There are no gimmicks, no special food to buy, no pills, no shakes, no tiny portions and no calorie counting.” BUT unfortunately there are no classes near us and I’m loathe to pay £60.00 for a three month online class when I need ‘people motivation’

The 5:2 fast diet

With this diet you eat normally for five days and restrict calorie intake to 500 calories per day on the other two. I can manage this. I found an online support group for this diet and it’s FREE. I’ve now signed up and set my goals and started a diary.
thefastdiet.co.uk

Diet starts tomorrow with 500 calories.

Anyone want to join me?

FitBit and Senior Moments

I accept I’m not the sharpest tool in the drawer when it comes to mastering technology and digital gizmos, but even I had to groan at this particular ‘senior blond’ moment.

Wanting to lose weight I invested in a FitBit Charge HR. So far so good.

Much to everyone’s surprised snickers I managed to ‘set it up’ and more importantly, and much to my surprise, I even synced it with my iPad which enabled me to monitor daily steps, distance walked, pulse, stairs and all sorts of other useful data. This is turn enabled me to take part in Challenges with family and friends. Hey, I was on a roll… or so I thought.

The FitBit became part of my daily routine and I became obsessed with steps walked and distance covered. Even to the point I would run round the house ten times to increase my daily steps if I was not on target. Yes, I actually did that on several occasions especially when my daughter and I were participating in a challenge.

Then disaster struck. It stopped syncing with my iPad and it could not collect the data.

I contacted FitBit customer service via Twitter and after twenty emails offering support and directions they cut their losses and sent me a new FitBit (It was probably costing them more in man-hours than the value of a replacement)

My new FitBit arrived, I charged it and then tried to set it up.

The FitBit arrived pulse set at 135

The FitBit arrived pulse set at 135

I kept pressing the button on the side of the Fitbit, but the data on the screen remained on 135. It was stuck. The back of the watch was flashing green but the screen data remained static.

FitBitCharge HR - I pressed the button and the screen lit up but numbers remained static

FitBitCharge HR – I pressed the button and the screen lit up but numbers remained static

I contacted customer services again and you could almost sense it was a case of ‘oh no, not that woman again’ Emails bounced back and forth offering various suggestion until I finally admitted defeat and passed it to Mr. Piglet.

He looked at the FitBit and then asked why I had left the Surface Protection film over the screen.

‘What…what film?’ I asked.

He peeled back the printed film to expose the screen and then laughed.

FitBit Charge HR - Beware it arrives with printed surface protection film

FitBit Charge HR – Beware it arrives with printed surface protection film

I was not amused.

Please, Mr. FitBit. Can you send an Idiot’s guide with your product or at least a note reminding people to remove the SPF.

PS

If anyone wants to link up for a Weekly or Daily Challenge please let me know!

Fat Clothes for Fat People

Or should that read Outsize clothes for Oversized people?
I’m sorry if this is not politically correct but I’m fat. I also come from an age where we did not cloak the truth in jargon as in: “I’m bodily challenged”. The harsh reality is that I’m a porker a porklet of grand proportions and I’ve been in denial for years. And I’ve had enough.

Fat clothes

Fat clothes

The final straw came when I was trying to buy some new clothes for Christmas and New Year celebrations. Okay, we are not exactly spoiled for choice for ‘fat’ clothes in the Algarve but I do expect shops to have a little more on offer than jumpers with horizontal stripes (or hooped jumpers as I call them), and round neck tops, both of which accentuate my bulging proportions rather than playing them down.

So here’s a plea to fashion designers: I beg you, please don’t design clothes that make us porkers look fatter. I can eat more cake and chocolate for that privilege. Design clothes that make us ‘appear’ thinner. I realise you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear but I beg you to at least try.

Why the horizontal stripes on all the tops and cardigans? Do you really want to make us look as wide as we are tall? Are you the designers skinny minnies laughing at our body shape?

Will it make me look fat?

Will it make me look fat?

What happened to the flattering V neck tops and dresses? I’m looking for fashionable tops to slim me down to make me feel good about myself. Not some shapeless sack.

And flattering does not include dresses and tops which make me look like a marquee. I want style!

Nor do I want to be perusing the maternity fashion rails. Have you tried this? Sigh…

Please share your fashion horrors… or fashion tips.

Eat Less and Move More…

As I’m in “D” crisis after piling on the pounds, a good friend recommended: I Eat Less and Move More…

However, in my case it has proved to be: Move More and Eat More.

I understand the principle: the more you move the more calories you burn, but you try explaining that to my growling stomach after I’ve dragged it round four miles at a brisk walk. It demands food!

The problem I have is that all the weight I lost last year and all the effort involved to remodel my body shape through dieting, Pilates, swimming, walking and Zumba has all been in vain. After my Mum passed away in January, I had an eating orgy for six months and I became a couch potato. During the winter months the wheels fell off and I hid under tracksuits and baggy clothes; I was in ‘dieting denial’. Now summer has arrived my attire of clingy tops and swimwear emphasize my bulging proportions as I flatly refuse to buy a larger size. I don’t want to wear tops the size of a Marquee but neither do I want to wear tops that are so tight they resemble a condom.

Sigh…I know I need to do something and it’s only something I can do. But what? Wire my jaw or undergo liposuction? No way! So it’s the dreaded “D” word…sigh.

At least I’ve started Pilates again and once I’ve found a new Zumba class with a teacher who does not dance like a gorilla on speed, I should will be cooking on gas.

Anyone else having problems with the dreaded “D” word?

Still, on a positive note:

Fat people are harder to kidnap

Fat people are harder to kidnap

Who says you can’t have your cake and eat it?

In January I started my diet (RUDE word, but needs must).
My goal: lose 42lb in 21 weeks.
Achievable? Climbing Everest is achievable!

My personal trainer convinced me it was possible “Anything is possible if we put our minds to it.” That’s diet of course, not climbing Everest, which of course would not. She’s obviously a good saleslady, because like a lamb to the slaughter, I agreed. Doh Dumb blond, syndrome…

Piglet in the pink

Piglet in the pink

I did have a plan..sort of…

#Exercise every day!

I already walked twice a week with friends as a form of exercise, however, it’s a combination of walking and exercising our jaws – talking. Or as our husbands have aptly renamed it “Twalking”, or in my case “Twaddling”.

Ha Ha…this Twaddling has proved very hit and miss because I won’t walk alone because of the wild dogs, and fellow Twalkers overslept or can’t be assed, so more often than not, there is no exercise for Piglet.

Mr Piglet has kindly dusted off my exercise bike and moved it from the garage into the house.

The mind was willing but the body was having none of it! Wow did it make my hips ache; I could not walk for a week. No I don’t have replacement hips, but would have needed them if I’d continued pedaling that bike. I used it twice then sold it.

I opted for a Zumba class instead, and love it. In fact, I enjoy it so much I’d like to attend twice a week. Unfortunately, it’s a 45 minute drive away. *Sigh* my time may be free but diesel is expensive.

I also go to Pilates once a week for toning and stretching. Yep, this is excellent as I can now touch my toes and look at the world behind me, stand on one leg like a flamingo and twizzle my head like Worzle Gummage.

Hmmm… what else…oh yes, I bought a balance board for my Wii, so now I wii myself fit (that’s wii, not wish). Well I started off with good intentions. I need to get back on the wagon.

#Change my eating habits – Oh food glorious food – and oh yes, drink less wine

Drinking less wine was a bit of a non-starter–lasted maybe three days. And as for food, I’ve decided I don’t eat because I’m hungry. I eat because Mr.Piglet insists on his meat and two veg. Unfortunately, my stomach does not send signals to the brain to let it know when it’s full. Eventually food squirts out of my ears.

Basics
#No Bread, cakes, pastries, chocolate or potatoes (except sweet potatoes)
#Restrict intake of red meat to preferably once a week.
#No Dairy products such as cows milk, cheese or butter.

Least said about bread, cakes, pastries, chocolate or potatoes the better. I have a sweet tooth that needs feeding!

#Portion control – stop being a pig and eat less.

I need to serve my meals on a saucer!

Did I lose weight?

Yes, I’m pleased to say that so far I’ve lost 6kg which is 12.2lb.

Have I starved myself? No
Have I eaten more healthily(apart from wine and cake)? Yes
Have I eaten cake? Yes
Have I drank wine? Yes
Have I exercised? Yes

So my best advice is “Move more”

Related Posts: Take your snout out of the trough Piglet!

Winey Chicken

This recipe is courtesy of Greedy Girl’s Diet: Eat yourself slim with gorgeous, guilt-free food with permission of the author, Nadia Sawalha

I am always keen to try new recipes especially those which are filling yet with not too many calories. My biggest problem with losing weight is that I usually only have to look at food and I pile on the pounds! However, at only 211 calories per serving this recipe from the “Greedy Girl’s Diet” is not only low in calories but absolutely delicious! Tip for busy dieters: Winey Chicken is simple to make AND if you cook enough, as I did, you can reheat the following day and hey presto a “Ready Meal”! I love the little heart croutons (I cut these by hand) and have stored the idea in the old memory banks for next Valentines day.

Winey Chicken

Winey Chicken

Winey Chicken

(211 calories per serving)

SERVES 4
½ tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion peeled and very finely chopped
about 100g • 3½ oz button mushrooms halved or left whole
2 tsp tomato purée
small glass of white wine (I said ‘small’!) about 100ml • 3½ fl oz
250ml • 9fl oz chicken stock made from liquid concentrate
4 chicken thighs or breasts (skin removed) sliced or left whole
1 tsp cornflour mixed with a little cold water
sea salt and black pepper
TO GARNISH
4 tbsp finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
FOR THE PRETTY CROUTONS
3 slices of brown bread
olive oil spray

Heat the oil in a non-stick casserole and fry the onion really slowly until soft but not coloured. If the oil doesn’t seem to be enough, splash a little chicken stock in, too. Throw in the mushrooms and cook for a few minutes, stirring all the time.

Now add the tomato purée and, still stirring, fry for 30 seconds. Pour in the wine and bring up to the bubble, then add the stock and the chicken. Simmer over a really low heat for 25-35 minutes until cooked through. (If you are using breasts, they will take less time – approximately 15-20 minutes – and even less if sliced.)

While the chicken is cooking, make the pretty croutons. Using a cookie cutter, cut the bread into little heart shapes. Spray with oil and fry in a hot non-stick frying pan until golden brown, 2-3 minutes per side; set aside.

Little heart toasts

Little heart toasts

When the chicken is cooked through, take it out of the sauce and set aside on a plate while you thicken the sauce. Whisk the cornflour mixture into the pan and simmer until the sauce thickens.

To serve, put the chicken back into the sauce, taste and season if necessary, sprinkle with the parsley and adorn with your beautiful heart-shaped croutons.

ENJOY!

If you like the idea of eating yourself slim do check out Nadia’s book.

Greedy Girl's Diet

Greedy Girl’s Diet

Greedy Girl’s Diet: Eat yourself slim with gorgeous, guilt-free food

Related post: Delicious Cumin-spiced Carrot and Butternut Squash Soup

Delicious Cumin-spiced Carrot and Butternut Squash Soup

This recipe is courtesy of Greedy Girl’s Diet: Eat yourself slim with gorgeous, guilt-free food with permission of the author, Nadia Sawalha

I am always keen to try new recipes especially those which are filling and with not too many calories. My biggest problem with losing weight is that I only have to look at food and I pile on the pounds! I tried this recipe from the “Greedy Girl’s Diet” book and it was absolutely delicious!

Despite Mr. Piglet’s moaning and “tutting” the whole time I was cooking the soup that he did not like ginger or cumin, even he, despite his earlier reservations, agreed it was absolutely scrumptious!

Cumin-spiced carrot and butternut squash soup

Cumin-spiced carrot and butternut squash soup

199 CALORIES PER SERVING

SERVES 4
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion peeled and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves peeled and finely chopped or crushed
1 red chilli (optional) deseeded if preferred and chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp ground ginger
500g / 18oz carrots peeled and cut into chunks
1 medium butternut squash peeled and cubed
1 litre / 1¾ pt chicken or vegetable stock
1 tsp whole cumin seeds
finely chopped fresh coriander to garnish

Heat the oil in a large heavy-based saucepan and gently fry the onion until soft but not coloured, then add the garlic and chilli (if using) and give it all a good stir. Sprinkle in the ground cumin and ginger and stir well to release their aromas. Throw in the carrots and butternut squash, pour in the stock and bring up to the boil. Cover and simmer gently for about 10 minutes until the vegetables are cooked and tender.

Meanwhile, dry-fry the cumin seeds in a small pan to release their aroma. Pour the soup into a blender and blitz until smooth. To serve, ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle the toasted cumin seeds over the top and scatter over some fresh coriander to taste.

Greedy Girl's Diet

Greedy Girl’s Diet

I like the thought of eating myself slim!

Greedy Girl’s Diet: Eat yourself slim with gorgeous, guilt-free food

Beetroot and Orange Salad

Beetroot and Orange Salad

Beetroot and Orange Salad

I wanted something to serve with basic tinned tuna. Yes, I know it is better to eat fresh but I’d been out all day so this is my interpretation of a healthier “ready meal”.

Ingredients
1 small cooked beetroot
1 orange
Fresh chives
Ground black pepper

Method
Peel and thinly slice orange and beetroot and arrange in a circular pattern on the plate. (I added the 2 tablespoons of tuna to the centre of the salad) Chop up chives or herbs of choice and sprinkle over the salad. Season with ground black pepper.

Prep time less than 10 mins!

Facts about Beetroot

According to Self Nutrition Data beetroot is

“Very low in Saturated Fat and Cholesterol. It is also a good source of Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Magnesium and Potassium, and a very good source of Folate and Manganese.”

But I also learn from the About.com Guide

“Beetroot has one of the highest sugar contents of any vegetable. Up to 10 per cent of beetroot is sugar, but it is released slowly into the body rather than the sudden rush that results from eating chocolate.”

Sounds good to me providing I practise portion control!

Do you have any beetroot or Orange recipes to share?

(I tried to reblog this from Piglet’s Healthier Eating blog but there was a technical hitch in that it changedd all my top posts photos in my sidebar to the picture above…curious… so I will post here in full.

Take your snout out of the trough Piglet!

Take your snout out of the trough Piglet you're on a diet!

Take your snout out of the trough Piglet you’re on a diet!

If you’re a porker like myself, you may be in denial by genuinely believing as you take a cursory glance in the mirror that you’re really not that fat. Like me, you probably hold your breath as you turn sideways and “suck in” your bulges. But the camera does not lie –  Oh no! Caught off guard we suddenly see ourselves as others see us. In my case, round and blobby and no longer sylph-like and sexy.

If I’m brutally honest with myself the family Christmas photographs and videos are a stark reality check. A serious wake-up call as I stare at them in horror. Who is this stranger staring back at me? I ask myself. No longer a cute piglet I now resemble a prize porker fattened and ready for market. How did this happen? – you’ve got it in one – overindulging; too much food and wine and not enough exercise.

But why do I always have these guilty weight issue obsessive reality checks in January? Is it just me?

Living in semi-rural Portugal I can hardly pop down to my local Weight Watchers or Slimming World groups for moral support as they do not seem to exist here. Shame, because there are so many overweight or if I’m politically correct and say “bodily challenged” expats that these groups could probably make a fortune. Perhaps I should start one! In the meantime, I will create with the help and encouragement of my friends and followers, my own healthy eating and exercise plan.

I need a plan!

Reading Jake’s Sunday post this week, it’s all about goals.

My friend, who lost a mammoth amount of weight earlier in the year, kindly volunteered to be my “personal trainer” and encourage me. I’m not sure what this will entail as yet but it’s good to have moral support.

My Goal

I want to be a size 14. Is this achievable? Hell, in my mind’s eye I’m still a size 10 so it’s only mind over matter. Well in my case there’s one hell of lot of “matter” to lose – three stones worth! My personal trainer reckons I could easily lose 2lb a week. I tentatively agree. Sounds easy in theory. By her reckoning that’s only 42lb in 21 weeks which should take me to a size 14.

Lose an average 2lb per week for 21 weeks

HOW?

#Exercise every day!

I  already walk twice a week with friends as a form of exercise, however it’s a combination of walking and excercising our jaws – talking; our husbands have aptly renamed it “Twalking” or in my case “Twaddling”.

Mr Piglet has kindly dusted off my exercise bike and moved it from the garage into the house.

#Change my eating habits – Oh food glorious food – and oh yes, drink less wine

I hate the thought of using powders, pills or potions as a dieting aid so it has to be food based.

Basics
#No Bread, cakes, pastries, chocolate or Potatoes (except sweet potatoes)
#Restrict intake of red meat to preferably once a week.
#No Dairy products such as cows milk, cheese or butter.

My first New Year’s resolution to abstain from wine for a month lasted just three days because I felt miserable. Drinking wine in a country where it is cheaper than a cup coffee is very much part of the lifestyle. Portuguese wine is also Very good! Hmmm so I can do without chocolate but not the occasional glass of vinho! My Personal Trainer pointed out that my previous month’s abstention last January resulted in zero weight loss, so the occasional glass of wine when I go out for a meal, is not going to make any difference so why make myself more miserable by total denial? She has a point.

#Glass or two of red wine allowed when I go out for a meal.

Another tip was to wear tight trousers (ones that once fitted me and are now a tadge to tight) Why? Well in my case I wore them when we went out for a meal yesterday so I could not eat as much. This resulted in me bringing half my meal home in a doggy bag! So tighter fitting waistbands are excellent incentive for portion control.

Alternatively, I could always have my jaws wired!

#Wear tight trousers when going out for a meal so I don’t physically have much room to expand. The tighter waistband as it cuts in serves as a reminder.

#Portion control – stop being a pig and eat less.

Another friend who lost over 2 stone also made a couple of suggestions.

#Cut out my morning cereal and eat fruit instead.
#Fill up on fruit and vegetables and not carbs.

Which brings me to the The Piglets Healthier Eating Blog which  I created in October 2011 with my daughter Piglet in France. The blog was originally a place to share our Gluten and dairy free recipes as part of an Anti inflammatory diet. At the time I did lose weight and felt better, but the diet was too restrictive and complicated living where we do as there is a very limited choice of gluten-free ingredients. Maybe it’s better in the city or big towns but we live in the country.  And when I did manage to source ingredients or products from German Health shops they were prohibitively expensive. OK enough excuses Piglet!

I mentally need to review this and instead of thinking of my new regime in terms of losing weight I’m going to change my focus and redefine the dreaded diet as an opportunity to research and then experiment with new foods and recipes (OK, I know it’s still a diet and I’m just kidding myself but please humour me).

If you have posted a healthy low-fat recipe to your blog which I can reblog or you have any useful tips, please share below.

Who else is on the “D” word and how are you progressing?

Diet books worth a mention!

Greedy Girl's Diet by Nadia Sawalha

Greedy Girl’s Diet by Nadia Sawalha

I like the thought of eating myself slim!

Greedy Girl’s Diet: Eat yourself slim with gorgeous, guilt-free food
PS my son’s wedding is in July and I’d rather not be mistaken for one of the marquees!

Pilates on the Beach

I love Zumba classes, so how on earth did I end up ‘doing’ Pilates I ask myself. All those impossible body-contorting exercises don’t feel in harmony with my body shape – my legs and arms just aren’t long enough! Neither can I seem to master the special breathing or find my “inner-core”. Do we all have a core? Mine appears to be missing, perhaps I should consult Mr Google! what do you think?

Pilates on the beach

Pilates on the beach

As a complete beginner the principles of Pilates are still very much a mystery to me as I struggle to coördinate my breathing and body.

And another thing, why are most of the other women in these classes so flexible and slim? Forget the cute little piglet image you may have of me in your mind’s eye because in reality I resemble a prize hog ready for the spit-roast. My friends are very good sales people, and while they tell me Pilates will “tighten my mid-drift” and all my other “dangly-bits” I feel they just drag me along to make up the numbers. If I go “AWOL” for even one class I usually receive at least one email and or telephone call enquiring why I did not go. There’s no escape!

Yes, I know this type of exercise is good for me and we are lucky a Portuguese teacher is willing to take the group. So, stop making excuses Piglet and grasp this opportunity with both hands. However, I still can’t believe I pay good money to torture my body in this way.

I’m reflecting on all the above while driving to the beach for this week’s lesson. Pilates on the beach sounds quite hip and I like the idea. Maybe I will even discover my inner-core. Unfortunately, I soon discover Pilates on the beach in the midday sun is far from “hip”. With a skin tone of Piglet pink I play safe, and exercise in my sunglasses AND a baseball cap which is definitely not hip. My body is well oiled with sun-protection lotion which makes me look and feel a bit of a wimp. I wonder is this really a good idea in practice.

As we all trudge along the beach in the hot mid day sun to find a suitable place for the class and lay out our mats I pause to look out to sea. The effect of the sunlight dancing on the water releases the tension within, my doubts recede and I begin to relax. Perhaps Pilates on the beach is hip. But the sun is hot. I’m hot.

Sigh… I don’t want to whine, so I smile.

Finally, a spot is chosen on the hard sand and we lay out our mats and towels in a big circle. It feels almost hypnotic as I again study the sunlight dancing on the water and listen to the rhythmic sound of the waves gently lapping on the shore. A feeling of inner peace washes over me…

However, as we are about to start the lesson my friend suddenly leaps from her mat and darts across to something she has spotted in the centre of the circle. “What’s the matter?” I ask.

“We’ve formed the circle of peace round a pile of dog’s pooh” she joked, as she covered the offending matter with some large stones. “I couldn’t face staring at that all through the lesson and if you’d have spotted it you would have had a blue fit!” She replied laughing.

She is right. I look out to sea for inspiration while trying to avoid eye-contact with the mound of stones. The lesson begins and we start to contort our bodies. I roll around in the sand my legs and arms held out at angles beyond the mat. The sand sticks to the exposed body parts covered in sun protection lotion – I feel like a pork chop coated in “Paõ Rolado” (bread crumbs) Joy!

“What AM I doing here?” I ask myself as I search desperately for inspiration.

The lesson continues until the teacher decides we will split into groups of three to “give massage”. The two Portuguese women I’m partnered with are like stick-insects. I massaged their backs and legs, but it feels like I’m massaging their bones.

“You are so nice and slim” I say as I admire their beautiful toned bodies . “I wish I was slim” and sigh wistfully as I make a mental note to cut out all the buns.

It’s now my turn for a massage and as I lay face down in the sand like a grounded whale, I mutter “There is just so much of me”.

“Si, but even big fat people has muskcales” one of the Portuguese women replied. I laugh, but feel mortified.

As the lesson draws to a close a little boy wanders over to the pile of stones in the sand. My friend opens her mouth to speak, but too late. We watch in horror as he discovers why they are there…

Do you fancy joining me for Pilates on the beach?