Ups and Downs

I’m a little bit disappointed with myself this weekend. Last weekend I lost a pound and a half, losing all of my holiday weight gain. I felt really positive, and like my ultimate goal was within my grasp. This weekend – not only did I not inch closer to a weight which is getting tantalisingly close, it actually got further away. I put on a pound.

During my weight loss I have very, very rarely put weight on. I have often not lost as much in one week as expected, or stayed the same – but putting on is a bit of a kick in the teeth. Initially I felt a bit dejected about this, especially as I feel that I was still eating well. I did have 2 dinners out, and perhaps didn’t chose as well as I could have, so I think this must be why. I’m feeling much more positive now though and it’s given me a bit of a kick. I WILL make sure that I get back of track this week.

This started on Saturday, when we went for a big birthday lunch. This is always a bit tricky, eating with a large group. We walked all the way from Kings Cross to the restaurant and back – a round trip of 4 miles – since it was a lovely sunny day, for the exercise. I made my lunch my main meal, chose a vegetable starter, grilled fish main and coffee in place of pudding, then only had fruit for dinner later. This evening, I’ve had a delicious and healthy dinner.

Salmon, with spinach, beans, chorizo and pear
Salmon, with spinach, beans, chorizo and pear

By and large this week I will be factoring in nutrition more than taste to really get myself back on track. Two stone is just so close now!

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Enjoying a Holiday on a Diet

I’m recently back from a wonderful 2 week long holiday. HL and I had a lovely time – we took in Mexico, Florida and Las Vegas. It’s quite a while since we had a 2 week holiday, usually going away for 1 or a long weekend – it was awesome to have such a long period.

For me going anywhere different – be it another country or even a different region, is wrapped up in trying local dishes and specialities. I love to travel, and part of what I love is trying delicious food which I either don’t see often at home or (even better!) have never seen at all.

So how does going on a 2 week trip and losing the half half stone go together? Well, actually much better than I thought! I was certain of one thing – I was going to enjoy my holiday. I love holidays, and I wasn’t going to resent my new lifestyle by not allowing myself to enjoy it fully. I decided to be realistic – I would eat nice things, try local dishes but not gorge myself silly and try to be active. I told myself I was allowed to put on 3 pounds over the 2 weeks, then I had to lose them within 2 weeks of my return. In reality, I actually got home to find out that I had only put on a pound! I’m really, really happy about this, and think it shows that you can enjoy food and still maintain a healthy weight with a few sensible steps.

All Inclusive In Mexico

We stayed for 5 nights in an all inclusive resort in Mexico. I was clear with myself that this meant I could have whatever I wanted – NOT whatever I could. I had a lot of wonderful fish, which was incredibly fresh, delicious and good for me. I tended to have a large breakfast, starting every day with a huge plate of fresh fruit, then moving on to exciting things. There was so much – tacos, French toast, omelettes, pancakes, pastries etc. After the fruit, I had one plate of a good sized portion of something each day, but not everything every day as I would have done last year. I tried a different breakfast option each day, so I got to try everything.

Every day we went for a long walk along the beach before breakfast – while the beach was quiet and before the sun got too strong. This is about the best and most relaxing thing you can do, but also decent exercise. There was also an aqua aerobics class every day, in a pool overlooking the beach – if only exercise was always that much fun!

Handmade gnocchi with squid
Handmade gnocchi with squid

America

America – a land of big portions and delicious food. Most days I only had two meals. Two delicious meals was all I felt I needed. We also did a LOT of walking – we had 4 days in Universal Studios hanging out with Harry Potter, and my Fitbit pedometer averaged about 25000 steps just doing normal walking around the theme parks. We also did a lot of walking in Las Vegas to get about and see everything.

Chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake
Chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake

I had this cheesecake for lunch. Just the cheesecake, nothing else. Yummy lunch.

Blueberry pancakes
Blueberry pancakes

Delicious pancakes for breakfast. I ate two of the three, because after two I felt stuffed. These were so yummy, and lasted me until dinner.

I think my top tips for enjoying a holiday on a diet would be – appreciate the food you eat; when there is something you want then have it and enjoy it; don’t eat excessive amounts – when you are full then stop; try to build in as much activity as possible.

Chicken Two Ways

Oh dear. I did not lose anything at my weigh in this weekend. Not even half a pound. This is a shame, and I do feel a little deflated, but I know it is just because I am getting close, have much less of me to lose and therefore it’s more difficult. It just means I have to try even harder this week.

I roasted a chicken on Sunday. I actually followed a Jamie Oliver recipe which was in the Sunday newspaper magazine. It was served with a tomato, red onion, basil and crouton salad. I added a stuffed mushroom and some sweet potatoes. Delicious.

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Part of the joy of roasting a chicken is that you get to have the leftovers for dinner the next day. I served it with baked sweet potato chips and a salad.

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I worked from home today, so was able to make a courgette omelette for lunch, which I had with some smoked salmon. I slice the courgettes with a potato peeler so they are like ribbons – that way you get lots and lots of them and feel like you are eating lots!

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It lost it’s structural integrity a bit, but was still yummy and very low in calories yet filling and nutritious.

Recreating restaurant meals

On Monday I had the day off work and I went to Brighton with my parents. It was wonderful – the sun was shining, the pier was buzzing and the Lanes were as full of lovely things as ever. I really love Brighton. I also love the wealth of independant restaurants and cafés.

We went to Food For Friends for dinner, which is one of our favourites. Both my mum and I had their haloumi, mango and avocado salad with wasabi cashew nuts. Utterly delicious.

The restaurant version
The restaurant version

This evening I was very lucky as my mum decided to try and recreate it for us. Below is her take on the same thing. Also delicious. It’s a brilliant flavour combination – salad leaves, mango, avocado, grilled haloumi. Mum added red pepper as well since we had one.

Try it at home version
. Try it at home version

Who said eating out couldn’t be both healthy and delicious?!

Weigh In

Something brilliant happened.

My watch has been pretty loose over the last couple of months from the weight I’ve lost so far. It was starting to get silly, slipping about all over the place. I went into a jewellers and they altered for me so that it fits! That was a pretty good feeling and has left me on a bit of a high.

Last night I made bolognese. It was very good. It’s not typically considered either a gourmet or healthy meal. But mine was both delicious and had quite a bit of goodness in.

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I dry-fried extra lean mince – no need to have any oil as even the extra lean has a fair bit of fat, so it cooks nicely in that. Added a chopped red onion once it had started to brown. I left that to cook on a medium heat for a few minutes. Then I added lots of chopped mushrooms and some tomato purée. After stirring it around I added a glass of red wine. I left it for a minute or two to start absorbing. Then I added a can of chopped tomatoes. I turned the heat to low and let it simmer. Near the end I added some crushed garlic – I always add this near the end so it doesn’t cook out as much and tastes stronger. Then I added one spoonful of the pasta cooking water which gives it a nice silky texture from all the starch.

One key trick, is I fill the bottom of my bowl with spinach. Then I put in some pasta. Then the sauce over the top. This has many benefits and I really recommend. The heat from the cooked food makes it wilt a bit, but not completely so it doesn’t go soggy. It bulks out the dish, and tricks your eyes – the bowl looks very full so you feel like you have a big meal, but lots of it is spinach. Plus the spinach is very good for you, and goes really well with the bolognese.

I’m very happy to be back from my weigh in, where I found out that I’ve lost a pound!

Meat Free Thursday

I like good vegetarian food. Sometimes I like to go meat free – because it’s good for me, because it’s good for the environment, and because I can’t stand our entitlement culture where everyone thinks they somehow deserve meat with every meal – and never mind the consequences of mass production on the scale needed to make that a reality. So while I could never give up meat entirely, I do make sure I don’t guzzle it like there’s no tomorrow.

It’s been a really good food day – both for my taste bubs and for my health. For lunch, I went to Borough Market. It’s one of the most famous markets in the country and it’s 5 minutes from my office, so I’m pretty lucky. I actually find Borough market a bit hit and miss- some things are incredible, but I’ve also had some rather expensive disappointments. I probably pop over to pick up an interesting lunch about once a fortnight. Today was amazing. There was a new stall selling healthy Indian street food. I had a lentil crepe filled with spiced potatoes, served with chana Marsala. Delicious.

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Dinner was a red pepper stuffed with lentils and spinach and a little feta, with sweet potato baked fries and half a stuffed mushroom (HL had one and a half). Yummy.

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Surviving The Pudding Club

Last weekend HL took me to The Pudding Club. This is held every Friday evening in a delightful small hotel in the Cotswolds. It pretty much does what it says on the tin – gives you lots and lots of puddings. Glorious puddings – 7 of them to be precise.

Now, 7 traditional British puddings all served with lashings of custard isn’t really a recommended way to lose The Last Half Stone. It is a marvellous way to spend a Friday evening however. I thought about how best to approach the situation – it was a lovely gift, and so I didn’t want to be preoccupied worrying about weight. I decided it was a one off experience, and to simply have everything I wanted while there, but be extra good the week before and the week after.

Below you can see just some of the pudding I enjoyed – sticky toffee, lemon sponge and syrup sponge, plus a big jug of custard.

 

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I managed 5 of the 7 puddings on offer during the Pudding Club. HL managed all 7! It was a lovely break from London, and a lovely break from losing the last half stone. It was just a one evening break though.

In the week afterwards, here are a selection of some of the delicious but very healthy meals I’ve been eating.

Sea bass stuffed with olives, served with roasted tomatoes and courgettes
Sea bass stuffed with olives, served with roasted tomatoes and courgettes

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Grilled salmon, pea and watercress salad and two pieces of ravioli
Grilled salmon, pea and watercress salad and two pieces of ravioli

I didn’t weigh the week of the Pudding Club because I woke up on Saturday in the Cotswolds. There was therefore a 2 week break between my last two weigh ins. I was delighted – and a tad surprised – that this Saturday I had lost half a pound! Now, that isn’t a huge amount for two weeks, but considering I spent last weekend eating 5 different heavy puddings I rather think that proves that if you are normally sensible, the odd foodie treat now and then is compatible with weight loss.