It’s been a while, and things have slowed down

22 Sep

Life has really picked up pace over the last week or so, my life seems to be spent permanently in lectures or meetings at the moment. I like being busy, but it means that things like this blog have had to take a back seat- being paid as I am to teach and all of the associated admin that goes along with it.

However, it is not just my blog writing that has slowed down. I was very proud of my 11lb loss during the first week- and I think rightly so, but during the second this slowed to a respectable and still very good 5lb, then this morning I was horrified to discover a 2lb loss this week. I do realise that horrified is a silly attitude, 2lbs is still good, and using a past reference point it is still four packs of butter. Also, if I average 2lbs a week then I will have lost what I want within a year- and at the moment, after three weeks, I’m averaging 6lbs. I think my horror was that if I had lost just a pound and a half more I would have gone under one of the stone barriers. Remembering when I’ve lost weight before it always seems that crossing those stone markers is always difficult.

I have to say that I have been good this week- I’m actually still enjoying the food that we have. I was chatting to my wife about the various foods we have been eating, and all of them we would continue to eat even if we weren’t on a diet. I know it’s only been three weeks, but it is not unusual to try a new recipe and think never again, but we haven’t faced that yet. It does help of course that some of the meals are the same as before we started. Some of the new ones that we have tried over the last week courtesy of the Hairy Bikers have been chilli ginger salmon with salad and sweet and sour chicken. The sweet and sour recipe was tweaked a little bit by adding mange tout and baby corn while taking out the chestnuts. This was one of my efforts as my wife had taken the children to various after school activities- I have to admit that it was gorgeous and so much better than anything we’ve had from the local takeaways. Apart from the proliferation of vegetables, it wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet, in fact because it had chilli flakes in it we felt it had the slight kick of a Szechuan which made it so much nicer- the children loved it too. Sometimes the sauce can be a little syrupy when we’ve had it before- not so in this meal.

I’ve also realized that my terms of reference in life have changed- usually when I meet a new class of students for the first time they introduce themselves with things like favourite chocolate bar, favourite ice cream flavour, and favourite pizza topping. Maybe because I couldn’t face hearing all these gorgeous things, but I unconsciously changed how they did this- much more focused away from food. We’ll have to see if this continues.

I’m also still at the stage where people haven’t noticed any change in my size (people who know I’m dieting don’t count) but I have started to feel better about myself. In addition to the 18lbs I’ve lost I have also reduced my waist size by 5 inches- this means that some of my clothes are hanging better and I don’t feel as self conscious. This is not to say that I don’t feel fat, just happy that I’m on the right track. Indeed, last night we had the missionaries from our Church round for dinner who asked me why I was on a diet. My answer? Because I’m fat!! There’s no chance I’m deluding myself I’m anything but that with 83lbs still to lose, things are heading the right direction however.


Comfort Eating

13 Sep

I’ve had conversations with friends before who say something like “I eat when I’m down”- down could be interpreted in many ways- fed up, annoyed, and so on. My usual response was “Yeah, I eat when I’m down, and when I’m happy, and when I’m neutral, in fact I just eat.” Another example of deflecting my fatness with a poor attempt at humor. Why do I raise this now- the last couple of days has seen my to do list explode and a couple of other bits at work which have made me a bit fed up- and do you know what? My friends were right, when I get fed up I want to eat-  I see the crisp cupboard and want to eat them, I get diesel and I want to buy some chocolate- I have another friend who tells me that chocolate releases happy endorphins- don’t know about that but that almost became a justification. What is it that makes the immediate reaction to such circumstances to want to eat? I guess, again I need to train my body that there are alternative reactions to certain situations- this isn’t the easiest thing in the world. What helps is my lovely wife who is on this journey with me and understands there will be bumps in the road to a new lifestyle, and fortunately doesn’t experience the weak moments at the same time as me. Also, a reality check helps- I have a fabulous life and I need to see the wood for the teas- this immediate moment might be a bit bobbins, but you know what life is good and there are millions of people who have far worse things to cope with- my bumps and bruises are nothing really and just a bit of self pity gone mad. I guess life will always be full of periods of time where I get fed up over nothing- but how I react will be a new experience for me as I won’t eat the food that is so tempting. I know that there is no harm in eating things occasionally, but at this early stage (has it really only been nearly two weeks?) my body and mind need training not to fall back on the default position of eating:)

That said, my evening meal was gorgeous last night- it was full of flavour, filled me up and included things that I’d never experienced before. We had another Hairy Dieters’ meal- Harissa Chicken. Chicken breast with Harissa paste as the marinade/ flavour with bulgur wheat salad. I had never had either Harissa or bulgur wheat before- but they were both very nice experiences for my palette. The bulgur wheat salad included spring onions, garlic, lemon juice, tomatoes, cucumber and lemon zest- if we had any criticism the salad was a bit lemony but that’s easily sorted.

A new lifestyle lesson learned- healthy food can be just as much a comfort eating experience as chocolate (though I still would have preferred a Twirl or Ben and Jerry’s- I might sound like a paragon of virtue but I’m still doing this because I have to with the side benefit of enjoying the good, rather than enjoying every moment of it).

I have the body of a god:)

12 Sep

This statement, that I have seen on t-shirts, makes me laugh for two reasons:

  • It is funny
  • It is wrong

On so many levels this is wrong. For sixteen years I have taught Religious Education, and I have studied and taught about world religions for most of my adult life. It is wrong because as it refers to the Buddha, almost all Buddhists do not see the Buddha as a god, rather as an exemplar. Buddhism is a religion that has no god, and could be termed atheistic. It has a very good moral code, and can help a person train the mind but it has no reference to a divine being. I am aware that I am making sweeping statements, and there will be pockets of popular Buddhism that will be theistic but the vast majority do not worship with any reference to a deity. The second reason this is wrong is that when people refer to the Buddha, they undoubtedly refer to Siddhartha Gautama- and the image image portrayed is not of him. The Buddha taught the Middle Way of neither asceticism nor indulgence and is much thinner than this image. This image is possibly of Budai, seen by some some Buddhists as a bodhisattva- a being who has put off enlightenment to help others.

Enough of the RE lesson, thinking about this set me off down a train of though about my own views of the body. Paul taught that the body is a temple of God, something that should be taken care of, enhanced and not abused. There are many things that are easy for me to avoid, such as unnecessarily sticking needles into my body. But one implication of the body being a temple that I have assiduously avoided is the overindulgence of it. I usually joke that I’m building a larger edifice! However, in my faith we have a health code/ commandment called the Word of Wisdom. some aspects are immediately noticeable and fairly straightforward for me to keep:

  • No alcohol
  • No tobacco
  • No tea or coffee
  • No harmful drugs

There are also positive aspects that I don’t struggle with too much:

  • Eat grains and pulses
  • Eat meat sparingly

However, implicit in the commandment is also to exercise moderation in all things. I’m not sure whether my eating habits met this criteria. I think I keep the letter of the law, but if I truly see my body as a temple then I need to take care of it a little bit more.

Reading this makes me sound like some religious zealot, I am not saying that this view will be true for all people of my faith- but in establishing this lifestyle change it is another motivator for me, and hopefully will help me develop a healthier relationship with food and my body.

Goodness me, that was a heavy post!!! Unlike my food intake for the day, where I forgot to take my lunch to work and therefore didn’t eat it until 3pm, followed by a tea of some homemade soup- Stilton and celery-mmm mmm.

Couch to 5k

11 Sep

After my moan the other day about exercise, three of my friends suggested Couch to 5k- I had heard of this before but was sceptical. Each of these friends sang its praises and told me it was doable.

About 8pm I decided the house was quiet enough, and it was dark enough outside to have a go. I had downloaded the C25K app for my iPhone which would time each segment, had put my sports gear on and was ready. Then, the heavens opened, rain such as this had not been seen since the time of Noah- I exaggerate somewhat, but here was the excuse I needed. However, I decided to proceed- oh my goodness we got soaked- I was fortunate that I had a friend to keep me company in the rain. Did you know that when you have hair gel in and it rains a lot that the gel runs into our eyes and stings ever so slightly? It’s just one of life’s little truths that I’d avoided until today. The programme wasn’t unpleasant, with a brisk 5 minute walk, followed by 60 seconds of jogging, followed by 90 seconds of walking repeated 6 times, we were able to complete a 2 mile circuit. My limbs ached, but I wasn’t as shattered as the other night when I ran and walked a mile. I have to do this twice more this week to keep up with the programme, but I really think it might work (famous last words?).

Today also saw a return of the Hairy Dieters- they have a section in their book called “Fakeaways”- essentially providing recipes that provide low fat alternatives to takeaways. One of the things that we are very conscious of as we diet is that our children are not on diets, and so they shouldn’t really notice a difference or deterioration of the quality and taste of the things they eat. Curry is something we have regularly and I am very fortunate to have a wife who makes most things from scratch, and has taught me and the kids to do the same. So the transition to cooking a Korma from scratch isn’t a change to the way we do things, it is just the recipe that is different. The recipe suggested that it feed 4, but with six in the family we added half again of every ingredient (including the glorious array of spices) and still had lots lefts over to freeze. We all thoroughly enjoyed the meal- it was warm, but not uncomfortably so- it was a lovely meal (I really need to develop a wider vocabulary of adjectives). I’m really surprised that everything we’ve tried from the Hairy Dieters we’ve all really liked, needless to say I did not have the ice cream that my children had for pudding.

Coping with birthdays when you’re on a diet!

10 Sep

I have mentioned before that my wife is an exceptional cook; I read in a book once how two of the characters were a perfect match because “she likes to cook, and he likes to eat.” I think my wife and I haev many other things that make us a perfect match, but that synchronicity was always a side benefit. When she makes cakes, flap jacks, cheese ckaes, and all of the gorgeous savoury dishes I am in heaven! With us both starting this lifestyle change I was beginning to feel a bit guilty about the birthday present I bought her over the summer- a Kitchenaid Mixer- that it would not get as much use as we expected it to. I shouldn’t have worried- I forgot birthday season was coming up. Our four children all have their birthdays over the next two months- starting on day 9- meaning yesterday- our youngest turned 6 and wanted a devil’s food cake for her family dinner.

So before Church my wife made Nigella’s devil’s food cake (see here for the recipe if you don’t have the book). We also have another tradition that the birthday boy/girl chooses the tea for that day- pasta carbonara was the choice of the day!!! Not exactly slimming especially when combined with the pasta parcels that were requested. How would the lifestyle change cope? Well, while 3 of the children ate carbonara, we had chicken and mushroom pesto with pasta (using yesterday’s leftover chicken)- a lower fat alternative. And to celebrate the birthday it would have been rude not to have a sliver of the birthday girl’s cake:) Once in a while isn’t going to hurt! It also helped that apart from breakfast and fruit this was the only meal of the day- let me explain, it was not through any form of penitence for the cake- our Sundays are always a bit weird foodwise- we go to Church from 1030am to 1:30pm- usuallya rriving home after chatting between 2 and 2:30pm. If we prepare and eat our main meal (as we did today) when we come in it is not unusual for us to have something light or snacks much later; alternatively we eat something light and have a main meal later. Either way, I seem to eat less on a Sunday- so another added bonus:)

I could say I slipped slightly today- but one piece of cake to celebrate my daughter’s birthday is not going to cancel out everything else we’re doing. I also have to point out that there were some more cakes on offer immediately following Church which I resisted. A naughty sliver of cake isn’t the end of the world- I’m sure there will be worse things to come that won’t be so easy to justify:)

11 down… 90 to go!

9 Sep

Saturday- day 8… This could only mean one thing- weigh in day- and I had lost 11lbs:) That’s amazing- at this rate I’ll be done in 9 weeks- oh if only that we’re true! I do realise that it works out a little bit differently than that. However looking at the equivalent weight I’m really pleased and gobsmacked- for example our youngest child weighed 10lb 2oz- she was huge and I lost more than her- 22 packets of butter*!!! Very chuffed- its motivation to carry on. Don’t get me wrong I’m a still a fat bloke but it’s a start.

The rest of the day went by in a busy blur- taekwondo lessons (not mine), dancing lessons (again, not mine), birthday party, shopping and I organized a quiz night at Church for tonight. We had a roast chicken dinner for tea- but we used fry light for the roast potatoes (which were very nice), and the cheese sauce for the cauliflower cheese was made with cornflour in milk, rather than butter, flour and milk. So a light option- especially as we had to forego the Yorkshire puddings:

I though the quiz was going to be the hardest- I’d bought refreshments of Doritos, Costco muffins and Danishes- but actually if I ignored them it was fine. I enjoyed my day 8:)

*Thanks to Emma B. who pointed out the error in my original calculation of 11 packets of butter- oops!

Drinks again!!

9 Sep

Having stropped about drinks the other day, I thought I had exhausted the topic and then my wife and I went out for lunch today. And by out for lunch I mean we popped into Costco for a couple of bits for Church activities and had a baked potato and chilli while we were there. The “soda” on offer were all coke products- so sprite and Fanta were available- unfortunately there were only sugary versions. So it was either diet caffeinated or sugary non-caffeinated. Until I noticed they sold fruit smoothie- I asked a dumb question- what’s in your smoothie- the response “just fruit” as if I was rather thick- so I went ahead. The lovely cashier had forgotten to mention the tonne of added sugar!!!!! Come on people- I can get diet soda and water at the shops but for some reason not in certain take outs or restaurants (obviously I use the phrase restaurants loosely).

As it was day 7 it means that the day was preparing for weigh in tomorrow. We had a lovely stir fry for tea- lots of veg and a small amount of chicken prepared from scratch so we knew exactly what was going into it. A very busy day with work, shopping and other bits but the lifestyle change stayed on course (minus the exercise).