Smells like Krav spirit…or is that sweat?

How in the world do you blog about a group of people who have quite literally changed your life?
13606656_10156979276515411_756404044872232427_nI wasn’t going to write this just yet.  I’m not 100% sure why, exactly.  I have a few reasons I guess, I wanted there to be more of a change in me, I wanted to make sure I stuck at it for an extended period of time and I wasn’t convinced that eight weeks was enough time to gauge, well, anything really.
Plus? Let’s just throw it out there now, but when it comes to talking about my amazing little Krav family? I get hit square in the feels (as long as it’s not the jaw, right?)

But, my time here in Houston is drawing to a close over the next couple months, and this new lifestyle and these new people have already had such a profound impact on my life, I thought “screw it”.  I figure that there’s really no harm in sharing this new chapter of my life on this blog.  Especially considering that the mental changes within myself, far outweigh any current visible, physical changes.  I’ve even gone so far as to have already looked up somewhere to continue my training when I go home, and Col has looked for somewhere in India.

I officially have “the bug”.
13516350_10156973497185411_7002291917759849473_nOn Thursday, May 5th, (so just over a month ago as I start to write this), I, in what felt at the time, like a moment of utter insanity, drove North of the city to try a free Krav Maga class.  I didn’t know much about the self defense system, other than it was more instinctual and less “organized”, than say, Tae Kwon Do, and really a little more akin to street fighting even.  So, off I went.
I got there a little early so I could watch the end of the previous, intermediate/advanced class, train and had I listened to the not-so-quiet voice screaming loudly in my ear to think again about what in the name of all that is holy I thought I was doing, I’d have bolted.  Part of me wanted to.  Not a small part either.  There was absolutely no way in hell I could ever do what those people were doing, right? But they’d all seen me come up the stairs, there was no escape – believe me, I considered it.
Hold up.  Let’s rewind a little, we all know that I’ve posted any number of fitness, weight loss, or healthy eating posts since I started this blog.  I’ve yoyo-ed the same 10lbs for years and my self-image hasn’t ever been stellar.
I abhor exercise.  Despise it.  I’ll leave a collection of things on the stairs that needs taken up, because I’m just too out-rightly lazy to add an extra flight of steps into my day.

And then something clicks.

It’s the same process every time, right?
I’ll get so sick of seeing my reflection in the mirror and I’ll hit something full pelt.  I’ll eat 1600 (-1800) calories a day (GP approved before any of you give me grief), drink 2 liters of water, eat 5 a day and start some form of exercise, Les Mills Body Attack or C25K have been the most notable favourites to date.  I’ll go 3-5 times a week, give my all, and after the first week or two of quick body-shock progress, eating like a hangry ankle-biting rabbit and working out more than any sane person should, in my lazy land of couch potato, I’ll hit some dumb plateau, the scales won’t move and I’ll lose my patience with it.  Or? Better yet? I’ll get my period, use it as the worlds lamest excuse to curl up in the corner and avoid the gym like the plague.  It really doesn’t take much for me to quit and go back to being unhappy with myself.
Typically.
I know myself, I know my patterns.

Or so I thought.

Anyways, back we go to Las, sat on the floor of the Krav loft, trying to look calm – when all she really wanted to do was jump in the car and drive home – stretching, because from the look of the intermediate class, it seemed like that was a smart thing to do, and praying, praying hard, that no one laughed at my mere presence there.
Then it occurred to me, the (I’m reluctant to call them educated, but on the subject matter I guess they are) person (people) who encouraged me to go to Krav in the first place? Wouldn’t have done so from an unkind place, or to make fun of me somehow.  They encouraged me to go because they thought I was capable – in spite of enjoying my couch potato lifestyle.  They thought that it was, perhaps, something I would enjoy, and maybe even go to a second class.  They believed in me, even if I didn’t believe in myself.
13510781_10156955669315411_8653724555621343230_nMy first class was pretty “low-key” (I’m also reluctant to say low-key, because I still ended up a sweaty mess and my calf hurt for three days after training).  It was all footwork, (stance is the most important thing!) and I spent most of the 60 minutes face to face with an orange belt, called Jen, who I’d seen training at the end of the previous class.  Neither she, nor Mike (the instructor), laughed at me for being there, they didn’t scoff, or ask what I thought I was doing, and, despite us giggling for the guts of an hour, Jen taught me more than I realised.
In spite of not being able to walk very well the next day (my calf protested being off the floor for an hour), I was sufficiently intrigued.  I signed up for a monthly, unlimited class membership and attended a two-hour monthly women’s self defense seminars, just two days later, that Saturday morning.
13319719_10156865174375411_9113199934113673980_nIn the eight weeks since that first night? My goal in May was 9 classes (two per week) I finished the month on 13.  I’ve attended a 3 hour Kali/Escrima (knife skills) workshop, two (soon to be three) 2-hour women’s self defense seminars and a 3 hour Muay Thai workshop with the best Muay Thai coach in the US.  I’ve not only tried an intermediate class, but I’ve done a number of back to back inter/beginner classes in the last few weeks, and I’m hungry for more.  Why? Not just because I enjoy it – sure, that’s a huge chunk, but these people I’m training with? They help me find belief in myself that I’m CAPABLE of more.
Crazy as it sounds, (and I know it’s a long shot, but we all need goals, right?) I’m training with the aim of testing for my yellow belt before we leave the US.  My goal for June was 13 classes, 3 per week and I finished on 22 Krav classes and 1 cardio combat class, I’ve not skipped a single class simply because I have ovaries (as a friend’s better half pointed out “an attacker doesn’t care if you’re sick or have your period”) and I’ve even managed to simultaneously train through a chest infection, just fine.
13307453_10156865174365411_3685887745969475778_nIt’s incredibly hard to capture, on a computer screen especially, the kind of people, or atmosphere, that Fight Back Fit has managed to harness, and I find it just a little laugh-out-loud-funny that I’m getting ‘totes emosh’ about a group of seriously bad ass fighters, however, I really am.  Last week? I trained for two hours before we went out for post-training tacos.  We typically close out the places we go to eat, mostly, I think, because the other patrons are afraid that our special kind of crazy is contagious and don’t want to be within a city block of our hysterical giggling.  Anyways, I had a not-so-minor breakdown on my way home, worked up and upset that I’m leaving this great group of people in a short matter of weeks.  It bothers me, a lot.
In class, no matter who I pair with in training, I learn something.
Everyone has something to teach.
Everyone is vested in everyone else’s training.  Everyone wants to make you a better fighter and no one cares that you’ve only been there a short number of weeks and suck at hooks, your left elbow flares when you strike, or that you punch with the wrong part of your fist – they just want you to be better.

Every class.

13528802_10156942683145411_1999757221268620819_nFighting and fitness aside? The folks I train with have a pretty social element to their training, they typically eat out after class a couple times a week (this has become after every time I train because I have a long drive home and am so hungry I could eat an entire cow when I’m finished), we’ll sit, laugh (there’s always lots of laughing), talk, share stories and re-fuel after a tough work out that we push each other to kick ass in.
I know you’re skeptical, I would be too had I not experienced it first-hand, there’s no way anyone could accidentally happen upon such a ready-made group of great friends, right? Wrong.  Aside from the Krav-ing, and the post-Krav eating (which, in the interest of being up front if you’re thinking of joining us, can last for hours), we have also hung out socially, I’ve been shooting with them, we’ve had lunch together on non-Krav days, and we’re working on throwing together a bucket list for my last eight weeks here in Houston and have a few fun things like karaoke and go-karting on the list for us to try our hands at.
13615046_10156987121315411_4232918578577866323_nWe even landed around to my Krav friend Kathy’s house (toddler and all!) and invaded for a bbq for the 4th, with two of my other fave Krav friends (Kate and Jen) with Kathy’s sister and her family.  If someone starts a sentence with ‘Hey, why don’t we…?’, or ‘Does anyone want to…?’ chances are at least four of us will be there.
They pick me up when I fall (literally), build me up when I’m low, push me through when I feel like I can’t do something and tell me I’m getting skinnier while punching me in the chest – what’s not to love? 😉
13606503_10156989125330411_3121260125936346466_nWanna know how hard I love these folks? Sunday night on my way to my volunteer shift at Ronald McDonald, I hit a pot hole – and I was scared to my core that I’d busted out my tyre, was going to get stranded at the hospital (I had the car seat in my car, so Col couldn’t come rescue me, had I been in trouble), but I knew that without a doubt, I could have called any of a handful of Krav people and they’d have busted their behinds to help me get myself figured out.  Thankfully, I didn’t need it, but it’s a very, very reassuring feeling to know that someone’s got your back.
While a large part of me is devastated that I didn’t meet these people seven years ago when we first moved to H-Town, a larger part of me is so damn thankful that I got to meet them at all.  That I got over myself, my inner demons, my self-hatey and crappy self esteem to take a chance, try something new, and that I get to spend my last four months in Houston, doing something I love, with people I love even more.
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From fat…to less fat.

I haven’t always been fat.

I had a few rare years of dramatic theatre time when I was svelte.  But one tends to remember being fat, more than not.  Especially when fat is the current state.

Those are the hardest times.
I can already hear my sister and my coach Taylor, screaming at their screens.  “You are NOT fat! You HAVE fat”, it’s a mindset I’d love to have, and that I’ve vowed to try and adapt, however, for now, I am fat.
I am aware of it, every single minute, or every single day.
I see it every time I look I the mirror, or catch my fat ass reflection in a window, or see my rotund shadow when it’s sunny (which is a lot in Houston).
I see it, always.
I hate it, always.
I’ve written blogs like this, at least once a year.  New beginning, new me.  It trails off.  It flops.  I quit.  And I’m normally not a quitter.  I HATE to quit.
This time it’s different, this time it’s for real.
It never is.  I stay fat.
Since Lewis was born, I’ve lost 33lbs and counting.  It hasn’t been easy, or quick (he’s nearly a year old).  Breastfeeding seems to be hindering, rather than helping and, since January 5th, I’ve been working so hard that I almost expected the weight to fall off me.  But I’ve been here before, I know the drill, sometimes you just have to put your faith in the science.  Eat less, move more and it will happen.  It WILL.
But it’s hard.
I’m trying so hard to eat cleaner, high protein, low carbs, low sugar, and as of this week, no carbs after 3pm.  I’m doing my best, for once, I’m giving it my all.  I really am.  No kidding myself this time.  It’s a struggle every time I open my mouth to eat.  At every meal.  It’s a conscious choice to self improve, to make the better choice, and to inch just a little closer to my goal.
What’s my goal? Well, I started at 268lbs, my first major goal is 180, and I’ll reevaluate the next one, when I get there.  My first interim goal, however, is to lose 30lbs by our wedding anniversary cruise in October.  I want to be 213lbs, (which is the weight I was on my wedding day), for my anniversary.  It’s an achievable goal, theoretically, and bet your ass I’m going to give it my all.
I have an inspirational chart taped to my pantry (aka the infamous pantry penis) that I color in with my Crayola markers every time I lose 1lb.  I have photos from my wedding taped to it, to constantly remind me of my goal.  Where I want to be.  Who I want to be.  So every time I go in to that cupboard for food, I have a choice to make.
What do I want more? The chocolate, or to color in the chart.
What’s my food plan? Like I said above, high protein (lean meats), low carb (100g rice/potato or a tortilla wrap), low sugar (berries rather than citrus).  Three meals (I’m not a breakfast person so this is tough) two to three snacks (nuts, Greek yoghurt, rice cracker, small Apple with peanut butter) and prayers.  ‘Cause, I love my food, I hate any sniff of feeling deprived.  I’m doing my best to feel satisfied and occasionally allowing myself a ‘treat’, cause while although I’m not a dog, it needs to be sustainable for this to work for me.  The odd pizza, or the wings, I still indulge in my diet coke and I’m trying to keep it reasonable, sustainable.  A lifetime thing.
What are my activities? I went back to Body Attack 2-3 times a week for a few weeks, put my back out, got the flu, and got really weak.  So started walking with my boys, and C25K last week, to try and ease back in to working out.  I’ve signed up for not one, but TWO 5k walks/jogs this summer, both at night (oy vey! I couldn’t handle the day time heat!!) with my girl Taylor and I hope to do them in a ‘respectable’ time, but I’ve not yet set a goal, because snails are currently faster than I am.
I’ve stuck to it for fifty days.  5-0.
That’s a record.
What’s my secret weapon? My secret weapon is three-fold.
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Firstly, my crazy sister, she has this knack of ‘bigging me up’ *right* when I need ‘bigging’, sending food suggestions, meal ideas, encouragement and most importantly, she’s always there to kick my ass when I’ve found my way to the wrong side of the tracks, or, often more importantly, to keep me from straying before it happens.  I talk to her daily, not always about food, but she’s there, like a strong silent, rock, waiting to hit me in the face if I go near a pizza 😉
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Secondly I have a great ‘coach’, she helps me set realistic goals, she helps me learn about food, she encourages me when I am feeling weak, she cheers me when I do good and she bucks me up when the scales don’t move.  She gives me exercises to do at home when I can’t get out, or one of us is sick.  She guilts me into taking Lewis for a walk when the weather is glorious and she’s stuck in an office – oh, yeah, did I not mention she has a full time job?
She is nothing short of amazing.
Her name is Taylor, I met her by accident a few years ago when I needed a door prize donation for an SSA event and she is FAB.  I send her photos of all my food, she texts at least once every single day, if I’m wavering, I’ll text her and say ‘I want to eat crap’ and she’ll have a come to Jesus meeting.  She keeps me focused, asks about the progress of my pantry penis and pushes me.  Pushes my limits.  I need it, cause some days I’d be like ‘f*ck it!’ but she reminds me of my goal, and helps me get there.
My most important secret weapon, is my eleven month old little boy – I almost wrote baby – but he’s no longer a baby.  He’s transitioning into ‘toddler mode’ and he’s doing it quickly.  He’s crawling, sure, but he’s also pulling himself up, walking with a walker, moving between objects and as of today, he’s started to stand up solo for a few seconds – this kid will rule the world.
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He will soon be running, chasing, kicking a football, playing sports – and I don’t want to be the lard-ass trudging mother who can’t keep up with her toddler (and beyond).  I don’t want to have to watch him play in the park, wondering why mama can’t chase him, or why she needs to sit down every few minutes.
I want to be healthy, for my boy.  I want to be active for my boy.  I want to be FUN, for my boy.
8lbs down, 22lbs to go by October 30th.
This time I won’t quit.  I can’t quit.  I won’t let my son follow the same path as me, I want to teach him healthy choices, healthy activities and I want him to enjoy family time, walking, cycling, swimming…I want him to have a healthy relationship with food, understand its purpose and eat the right things.  I can’t expect him to do it, if I don’t do it.
The buck stops here.
It’s on, like Donkey Kong*…
…*and if I fall down, Taylor (and a few other people) will drag my ass up off the dirt and help me dust myself off, and start again.  Cause that’s what badasses do.

The answer to my prayers…Houston Farmers market number II!

For those of you who read my blog regularly, you’ll have seen my post about Sugar Land Farmers Market, last Saturday.  I’d definitely consider it more of a mini-craft market than a farmers market, so my search to find the best place to buy fruit and veggies continued.

One of my newest friends Tammi, invited me out to another market, she guaranteed that it would be better than the Sugar Land one, it also happened to be the same market that a Twitter buddy of mine had recommended, so I looked it up, Canino Produce on Airline road.

Busy market place

It’s about a 35-45 minute drive from my house to North Houston/The Heights.  As distance and ‘time to get there’ goes in Houston, it probably falls on the ‘below average’ side of the scale.  But let me tell you it was well worth the trip!

The product list is extensive, there are plenty of vendors to choose from and when you go, go prepared with a pocket full of one dollar bills, because this place is cheap!

Buckets of veggies!

Each stall has flower-pot like buckets lined with plastic bags and filled with fruit and veggies.  When you shop, you pull the bag out of the pot and hand over a few bucks.  From memory, grapes were $1.50/lb, strawberries $2/bucket, bell peppers $2/bucket, some places even had a $1 table, buckets of okra, zucchini, green bell peppers and other yummies for only $1!

Like I said, it’s cheap!

Across the street from the market, is the most dangerous place I’ve happened upon in Houston, in three years.

It was a bakery, we hoped it’d be some kind of sandwich place, but when we got inside, it was so much more.

Tortilla station

I stood inside the door and told the girls I’d wait there.  But the longer I stood smelling those smells and seeing people piling trays high, the less I could stand it!

I grabbed a mah-oosive pizza tray, a set of tongs and I started to load up.  I got half a dozen lunch rolls for Col (hot and fresh out of the oven) for 30c a piece, I got half a dozen of the smaller rolls for 20c a piece to make mini garlic bread loaves with dinners, I got two huge macaroons, a giant snow ball, two cookies and a custard filled pastry all for around six bucks.  Bargain!

The cabinets don’t provide much protection…

Cakes, tortillas, bread rolls and walls lined with glass cases filled with pastries, cakes, flans, muffins and cookies – at seriously low prices.  It was fantastic!

Fresh bread rolls

Linds and I split a roll on the way home, it was hot, crunchy and the bread inside was light, fluffy and delicious.  The boys have just had paninis made with them and they both enjoyed them immensley.

I’m going back on Monday with Magz, to do *actual* shopping as opposed to just a reconnaissance trip.  I can’t wait – and I’ll definitely tell y’all about that when I get back.

I can’t believe it’s taken me THREE YEARS to find this place, it’s going to become a regular in my weekly pilgrimages!!!

Sticking to the Slimming World plan while on the road…

I won’t lie, it’s hard, maybe not so much hard, but tricky – and you often appear to be that crazily fussy punter asking for food to be cooked an overly specific way…

“I’ll have the *insert menu item here* please, but with no *insert butter, cheese, milk, cream* and not cooked in *oil, butter* please”

or, asking a serious amount of questions, that very often requires a trip, by your server, to visit the chef to ensure that what the menu says, is actually what you’re getting on the plate…

“What’s in the mash potatoes?”

“How is the meat cooked?”

“Can I substitute?”

I thought it’d be harder, and was pleasantly surprised at how many options there were for me to enjoy while being on the road and eating out of restaurants for our main meals.

Monday I had weigh in, then we had lunch with Col’s nana and dinner at my folks house.  We hit the road on Tuesday evening, but during the day we went to Col’s mum’s for lunch.  We thought we were going out, so I’d planned on having a baked potato with beans and cheese, however, we ended up eating in her house instead, and I had to eat what there was, and syn it.  It was a higher syn value than I’d have liked, but it is what it is.  For dinner, en route to the ship, we had dinner with a friend of ours in Nandos, I tried to chose what I thought would be the lowest syns.

I came ‘off the wagon’ twice in the last week, once on Friday lunch time and the second time was Saturday while in Manchester visiting friends.  I’ve said why in previous posts, but for new readers, I’ll tell you why, I haven’t been home to N.Ireland in two years, I’ve not had a curry chip in two years, I’ve not had a sausage supper in two years, I’ve not had a decent Indian or Chinese in two years.

There’s so many things you can’t get while over in the states, proper chips, decent sausages and bacon, a good curry, curry sauce, good bread the list is endless!  When we leave in early June, it’ll be December time before we come back again and I want to still enjoy the food I love, the food I’ve missed, while I’m here.

I joined Slimming World while I was home, to restrict the amount of eating out we did while here (cause, let’s face it, it could have gotten grossly out of hand) and, for the first two weeks we ate out every day, at least once, somewhere ‘bad’.

However, I didn’t fully subscribe to the plan.  I wanted to learn how to do it, stick to it as best I could while I was here, but still enjoy the odd dinners out, here and there, where I wasn’t counting syns and where I was enjoying the foods I have been dreaming about for the last two years – yes, I’m that sad.  All I wanted when I got off the plane was a curry chip and sausages!

This is my 3rd week of Slimming World and while I’m still eating out a lot more than I’d have liked to (and more than I would be if I was back at home), for the most part, my choices are a LOT better than they would have been before I signed up to the programme.  For sures!

I also found it so hard to stick to plan, when hubby was ordering stuff like this,

Steak pie and chips with onion rings…

or this:

Fish’n’chips with onion rings

Here’s my food diary starting Monday, it’s not great, in fact, it’s pretty poor in places, however, I recognise where I’ve gone ‘wrong’, I know that I can follow the plan, and I have learned, this week, that I can still eat out in restaurants and stick to the plan at the same time – this, is very important to us as we enjoy eating out with friends and Col’s colleagues, and I go out a lot at lunch times with friends etc back in Texas.

If you pay particular attention to the days (and ‘total syns’) that have been highlighted Fuchsia, this is a good example of a perfect eat-on-the-road menu.  It was easy to find, stick to and order while in restaurants.

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Slimming World: Three-Tin chicken curry

I’d heard about this curry, both in my Slimming World group and on a blog or two online, I was curious!  My hubby doesn’t like mushy peas, baked beans, nor curry, really, but I figured this would be a more mild curry and he’s not too bothered about those.

It’s pretty quick to make, you can absolutely pack it full of vegetables, the ‘base’ is already 1/3 super-free with the tinned tomatoes – however, don’t be fooled into thinking that because one third of the base of the curry is super-free, that you’ve hit your quota for that meal.  Chuck in whatever veggies you like!

Three-Tin chicken curry

The finished product!

Ingredients

1 tin mushy peas
1 tin baked beans
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
Sprinkle of Chinese Five spice
3 medium chicken breasts – diced

Las’s additions – I discovered the curry was quite thick, (depending on how long you’ve been simmering it for).  I added a chicken stock-pot (vegetable would have done too) and 1-2 cups of water, depending on how ‘runny’ you’d like your curry!

I also added,

2 large carrots – sliced/diced and boiled a little first
Handful of mangetout
1 medium onion

Method

Pour each of the 3 tins into a large pot, blitz together using a hand blender until mostly liquid remains.

Add in spices, stir, add vegetables and leave to simmer (Ideally if I’d thought about it, I’d have chucked some boiled potatoes in the curry too)

Fry off chicken in some FryLight and add to curry.

Serve over a bed of rice, syn-free chips, or both!!  As a dinner, it was nice, filling, full of flavour – you couldn’t taste the beans or peas in it.  It wasn’t an earth shattering curry, but it definitely hits the spot when you’ve got a hankering for a curry 🙂

Slimming World: My first week…

Well tonight I’m settling down with a Club orange to watch some Big Bang Theory with my hubby after my first week of Slimming World.  I’d love to say that it was so much work, that it took forever, that I painstakingly weighed every piece of food that crossed my lips.

That’s what a diet is, right? Hard work, weighing every bite, not being able to eat out – all those labour-intensive, difficult sacrifices, right?

Wrong!

Aside from visiting the supermarket more often, and an increased rotation in our dishes, it has not been difficult.

In the last seven days, I have attended a non SW-friendly hen party (and eaten a variety of party foods, including cocktail sausages, cocktail sausage rolls, bhajis, samosas, cheesecake and a chocolate fountain) and eaten out thrice (once was chicken in black bean sauce with steamed rice, one was chicken curry with noodles and one was roast chicken, with mash potatoes, spinach and asparagus).  I have still eaten crisps and chocolate, I haven’t reduced my portion size, in actual fact, they’ve gotten bigger, and every day bar two, my syns have been (marginally) over my allowance.

However, I think because I stuck to the plan, for the most part, and my syns were WAY less than they normally are, my body was sufficiently enough shocked that I ended up with a very encouraging 5lb loss.  I had hoped for a 2-3lb loss, but I was very surprised with a 5lb loss.

There was a girl at my group who lost 9.5lbs.  I have to confess, I’m definitely one of those “lose 1-2lbs per week, it’s healthier and more maintainable” kind of people.  I’ve suffered with gallstones as a result of a large weight-loss in a short space of time, I’ve lived through the agony of crash dieting and I am definitely an advocate of a slow loss.  In all honesty, I’d have been thrilled with a 1-2lb loss.

The lady who weighed me, seemed hugely impressed and congratulated me, I’m not sure if that’s her permanent ‘yay you’ve lost weight’ face, or, if she was genuinely happy for me, either way, it was then I realised, I’ve taken the first step, which, I didn’t think I’d be able to do while at home, ‘on holiday’ and surrounded by all of the food that we haven’t had in more than two years.

However, I’ve done it, I’ve stuck with it for a week, I’ve bought groceries for the next week (ok, well, few days really, given how fast this fruit and veg is disappearing), I’ve set a target (I want 2lbs off in the next week to hit my 7lb/half-stone award).

I’m commited, I’m excited and I, too, want to be one of these success stories that you read about on peoples blogs and in magazines, however, I think with all of my ‘false starts’, I’m resigned to never being one of those people.  I’d love to be, someone who doesn’t shop in the fat-shops, who doesn’t struggle to find things to wear, who doesn’t hide in big hoodies and who has actual clothes to wear, not just 3 pairs of trousers and a variety of graphic tees.

Speaking of Blogs, I have a couple of people that you should check out,

Sera over at Sera’s Slimspiration, she’s lost over 10read about her journey, here!

Secondly, a more recent blog I’ve happened upon, is Georgie, over at A Day in the life of a Monkiesox, read about her Slimming World journey, here!

Both of these ladies post recipes and help with the Slimming World way of life!

For those of you who are interested, here is my meal plan for Week 1 of my Slimming World journey, click the names of the meal to link you to the recipe 🙂

I confess, I didn’t stick 100% to plan, I did what I could, what with being home and visiting with friends and family.  I tried my best.  I confess that I wrote down raw ingredients on my meal plan so some of these meals I’ve guessed from memory – most of my hunger was filled by fruit and packing my meals full of vegetables, and, on one occasion during the week, I even ate an entire melon by myself!

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Trying to put humpty dumpty back together again…

I’d normally write this kind of post on my ‘private’ journal, but I don’t use that much any more and I’ve discovered that some people who read my public blog (though they don’t comment much) take some kind of comfort from it.  It’s no secret that I’ve had a weight problem since I was 11 years old, nor that I’ve been trying to get pregnant for a while now, I guess this is one of those moments where I’m being ‘frank’.

I’m trying so hard not to fall into the depths of self pity, I’m not seeking pity, or being in any way over-dramatic.  It just so happens I find writing cathartic, cleansing and today, right now, it’s all I have to keep me from retail therapy, food therapy, sitting in a dark room crying and any other unhealthy therapy for my not-shrinking waistline or hubby’s credit card!

You never think you’re going to have a tough time getting pregnant.  No one ever tells you that it’s not easy, no one tells you that it takes more than coming off birth control coupled with a well timed romp in the sheets to achieve the finished product.

So, after my first trip to an American ‘ER’ (post Here) and being on the chopping blog (post here), I came off my weight loss medication in a bid to get pregnant.  I’d made a huge step in the right direction weight wise, I was feeling good about myself, fitting in to clothes I forgot I’d even bought, it was time to start trying for a baby.

Twelve months later, I’m clearly not pregnant, nor am I in any way the same size I was last year.  In fact, I’ve gained back every single ounce of the 2+ stone I lost last year for our wedding.  I’m bitter as hell, I’m disgusted at myself and I’m drained of all energy, I honestly don’t know how much fight I have left in me any more.  I’ve been fighting this battle for 15 years now and I’m genuinely very close to just admitting defeat and letting ‘it’ win.

The only thing that could possibly shake me the hell out of this, is the fact that I can’t stand the sight of myself and the utter misery that comes with being so unhappy with myself…that, and the look on my husbands face last night when he said, ‘I miss you’.  I’ve been very absent this month, removed and just not myself.

I’m back to baggy T-shirts, big hoodies, the only two pairs of trousers that fit from my selection (and it’s not a particularly big selection to begin with) not getting changed in front of him, hell I barely let him hug me at the moment.  Yes, it’s that bad.

Before November, I’d been doing pretty well with ‘doing all the right things’, my five a day, 3+ litres of water, 3-4 hours of exercise a week, tracking everything I ate, I’d stopped obsessively weighing myself twice-weekly and I started November with the 5 mile Houston Heart Walk (post here) and committing to a November challenge (post here).

It was all going very well, I was feeling good, positive, I was active and though I wasn’t doing as well as I *could* or *should* have done, I was doing better than I’d *ever* done (in spite of the weight not coming off)  until I made a fatal error.

After my challenge post, I hopped on the scales, for an updated ‘starting weight’ and whatever good intentions, ‘life changes’ or good faith efforts I’d made, came stalling to a halt in an instant.  All my hard work hadn’t made a fidge of difference and, infact, the number had increased.

I’ve been battling with self hate, self pity and an overwhelming sense of failure ever since, especially since I’m surrounded by people who are doing so well, 2 stone lost here, 5 stone lost there, baby weight lost, heavily pregnant and haven’t gained much weight at all, I’m surrounded by success and I feel nothing but a failure.  Especially since the methods they’re using to succeed, are methods I’ve used in the path, religiously and failed with.

It’s so demoralising.

I normally hold on to some glimmer of hope, but these last 24 hours, I’ve felt completely hopeless!

My goal of a 5 hour exercise week in November went to hell the day after I posted that blog, I doubt I’ve hit 1 hour a week in each week of November, shame on me! My tracking of foods is also down the shitter, I’ve barely drank 3 litres of water this week, let alone all in one day and I imagine I’ve gained about a stone in the last 4 weeks alone, from doing absolutely nothing to stop it.

I’ve not been particularly naughty with regards to what I’m eating, but my routine was broken – and yes, my spirit was broken also, I’ve not been tracking my foods and 4 weeks later, I’m huge, my clothes aren’t fitting and I’m feeling lethargic, tired and just down-right lazy.

My spirit is well and truly broken.

I don’t remember the last time I felt this absolutely appalled by myself.  For the first time in a long, long time, I’m losing this battle and am dangerously close to giving up.  Diets don’t work (I’ve done Atkins, Weight Watchers and Slimming World), I’m not allowed back on weight loss medication (by order of hubby, friend and everyone in the hospital who treated me when I had surgery), I’m not allowed weight loss surgery (by order of aforementioned hubby and friend) though I’m not sure I’d *really* sign up for that kind of thing if I could, it’s just something that I dream is the fix I’ve been searching for for over a decade.

People who don’t have a weight problem don’t ‘get’ it, they can’t understand why ‘stop eating’ doesn’t work, or how self image can have such a detrimental effect on every day life.

My hubby says to me, ‘I don’t see what you seem to see’, my answer is always the same, ‘it doesn’t matter what you see, it matters what I see’.  He tries, bless him, he really does, but regardless of what he tells me, I’m so deeply unhappy with myself at the moment and at my wits end how to make it work once and for all.

They say stupidity, or insanity I can’t remember which, is repeating the same pattern of behaviours and expecting different results.

Eight hours sleep, five portions of fruit and veg a day, high protein, low fat, low carbs, three litres of water a day, 1400 calories a day, track everything, combined with just over 30 minutes of exercise a day (3-4hours per week).

On paper, it’s a recipe for success.

In reality, it’s failed to produce results for me, more than once.

It is seriously chipping away at my soul, one tiny little piece at a time.  Why won’t this work for me? What in all that’s holy am I doing wrong? What’s it going to take to make this work? ‘They’ all say it’s a recipe for success, so it’s time to start over.

Rinse.

Repeat.

I can’t even look at myself in the mirror.

People say that all the time, I know, but last night, Col and I are in the bathroom getting ready to brush our teeth and I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror.  Whatever ‘brave face’ I was putting on, crumbled and I just burst into tears, I cried heaving sobs for close to an hour.  Col just let me cry it out and, between sobs, I tried to communicate what has been wrong with me lately, he didn’t realise it was such a deep issue.

This time last year, this exact week last year, I was happy, I was healthy, I was fitting in to my clothes, I was able to look at myself without feeling nauseous  or angry at myself.

I’d hoped I’d feel even a little better today, but I don’t.

The crying last night has left me exhausted and stuffy this morning.  What I DO know though, is that I’m going back to Body Attack first thing on Monday morning (I’m busy tonight, 9-3 tomorrow and I have a choir performance on Sunday afternoon so can’t go before then!)

I don’t know if you know, but my going to Body Attack is a pretty big commitment, it’s a 30-45 minute drive each way.  It takes a considerable amount of time out of my day, (2-3 hours, for a 1 hour work out).  I’ve done it in the past because I love it, because it’s worth it and because it helps me feel better about myself.  Lately, with choir commitments increasing, I’ve found it more and more difficult to find that 3 hour slot of time to get to the Y to work out.

Ultimately I wish my YMCA, it’s literally half a mile from the house, would host more of a variety of Les Mills classes, like the Trotter and Clay Rd YMCA’s that I go to.  Right now, they only have Step and Combat, I don’t think I have the coordination for Step and I didn’t enjoy Combat as much as I do Attack and Pump.  However, I wonder if they DID do the classes would I be inclined to get up off my self pitying ass and go to them? I guess I’d at least have one less excuse to make…

I’ll fight back eventually, I always do, but right now I’m wallowing, it’s a rare occasion and I can’t say I enjoy it in the least…maybe the positive energy on Monday from Attack will help pull me out of this dark place, but for now, I’ll just avoid our master bathroom and it’s judgmental wall of mirrors!

November healthy lifestyle challenge!

Alright readers, my friend Liz and I have embarked upon challenging ourselves every month.  Our challenges vary, from improving the quality of our lives at home (cleaning), improving our palates (cooking) to the crap you’re supposed to do, but never seems to get done (procrastinating).

This month, I’m trying a triple-thread attempt, in the hopes that I’m not taking on too much and that trying to keep so many balls in the air, won’t result in splattered balls on a hard floor!

1. Exercising

Originally, my game plan was three hours of exercise per week and I got in to a routine doing that.  Three classes of Body Attack a week for the last few months is a pretty good achievement, and I’m proud of myself for making exercise a regular part of my life, (especially now that my heart rate monitor tells me I burn anywhere from 550 – 725 cals per class!) I’m feeling fitter, my heart rate is returning to normal faster and I’m all round, just a little more chipper and feeling mentally fitter as well.

However, I’ve decided that it’s time to push myself a little further and to increase the burn.  My new aim, is five hours of exercise per week, four hours of cardio (Body Attack, RPM, Water Aerobics) and one hour of toning/strengthening (Body Pump).

I’ve tried Body Pump twice now, and I’ve decided I like it.  It’s harder than I originally thought it’d be (there’s a few times when my arms are burning so much I think they’re going to snap off at the elbow), but I’ll get there.  I have to keep reminding myself that my first few classes of Attack, left me in a pool on the floor!

My only concern with Pump is that the place on the top of your back, where you rest the bar, is exactly on top of my disc/back injury and it gives me some discomfort.  Sally has suggested I put a folded towel along the top of my back to see if that eases the pain.

My only concern with four hours of cardio, is my calf injury.  It’s been injured since mid-July, if I strap my calf up like a mummy and do an Attack class every couple of days, it’s not so bad, I can take it.  However, if I do back to back Attack classes, then my calf screams like crazy.  For example, today I hurt due to my back to back Wednesday/Thursday Attack classes – it’s not fun.

The answer to that, then, I think, is to try for three hours of Attack per week and have one ‘swing’ class, a not-fixed class that I can do to provide some respite for my leg.  At the moment, my only option there is water Aerobics (which I used to do three times a week during my first year or more living here), but hopefully, after a trip to Academy sports for a gel bike seat cover, I’ll add some RPM to my rotation as well.

This is a big deal for me, I’ve gone from never exercising, to a regular three hours a week and increasing it by 75% again is going to be a tough challenge, but, I think I’m ready for it and I know I have my YMCA ‘trainers’ Sally, Jeni, Juli, Vicki and most recently Kirsten right behind me encouraging me every step of the way, (not to mention my cheerleading friends too!)

I’ll check back after four weeks of attempting this, hopefully I’ll hit December in a five hour a week swing and not look back! I’ve even scheduled five hours a week in my diary up until December 18th!

I have weighed in and Col will be taking measurements tonight, hopefully after a month, I’ll have at least changed shape a little!

Wish me luck!

2.  Back on ‘track’ with food

I’ve not fallen off the wagon per-say, but, I have been slacking a bit as far as tracking goes and, the last two months have seen a few too many unscheduled trips to various restaurants.

For this part of my challenge, I’m going back to menu planning (which also helps to save $ cause you only shop for the ingredients you NEED for the week) and to trying one new recipe a week – this has worked well for us in the past and has kept our meal times interesting so neither of us get bored and decide to go pick up a takeaway!

I now just need to make the time to sit down and make meal plans, I also need to take some time to pre-make dinners so they are in the freezer and ready to go.  Lately we’ve been so busy and out so much, that by the time we get home, it’s almost too late for dinner, we’re too exhausted to cook and then we just call something in, being prepared ahead of time is the key – I’ve always believed that, I just ebb and flow on that one!

Lasagne, chicken noodle bake and cottage pie

As a result, I did a bit of a cook-in the other night, so have started a freezer stockpile!

Track, track, track!

I’ve become somewhat of a slacker on this bit, I do track regularly, but sometimes I don’t get the exact foods I’m eating, I guess-timate or whatever and I want to become better at tracking every bite.  I’ve logged in to Myfitnesspal now for 35 days running and I want to continue that good foundation and log all my food, every day!

3. How clean is your house?

My third and final self-set challenge for the month of November, is to get the house in some semblance of an order.  October was my downstairs challenge, and, in my defense, the lower level of our house was lovely in October, however, after the chaos of the last few weeks, it’s kind of gone to pot (aside from my lovely back hall progress!)

The problems with this task are never ending, firstly, our spare bedroom is currently a Christmas present haven, the place is coming down with little piles of presents for people, this is going to be difficult to ‘fix’ properly until January, but things like making the spare bed up, Col putting his ‘halloween costume’ hockey kit away etc are easily fixed.

My craft room/Col’s office hasn’t been re-set-up since Heather’s baby shower, as we said we’d keep it ‘dismantled’ until Thanksgiving when we’ll need the tables again, but that means the room is out of commission, and a like a bomb’s hit it.

Therefore, we both agreed (you know it must be royally peeving Col off if he agreed to change it!) that we’d buy two more folding tables from Walmart and have a semi permanent fixture up in the craft-office.  The tables were ordered this morning.

Our bedroom, I started on the other day, it just needs a polish, dust and a tidy…and, since Col has commandeered the TV from our room for F1, I now need to figure out how to get it back!!!

Both bathrooms upstairs need a good clean and we need some furniture for downstairs to get the piles of things off the floor (where a unit ‘would’ go, if we found the time, cash and inclination to brave an Ikea trip).

I’m going to do what I can, but November is most definitely the month that the McMaster abode is getting a deep clean!!

What are your November challenges?

Down-sizing?

So, it’s been two weeks since I posted my ”Confession is good for the soul” post about my battle with weight loss.  I can’t say I’d have predicted the out-pour of feedback I got from it, or the number of hits the post would received.

I guess, even now, the subjects of weight issues, diet, healthy eating etc are all still somewhat taboo subjects, so when someone addresses the issue, people realise that there are other people out there with similar skeletons in their closets, they are not alone.

Following that blog post, I received a few messages, thanking me for my frank writing about my own issues…

Hey Las,

Just wanted to drop a wee msg to say ‘thanks’ for your blog on your weight-loss challenge.

It was a real eye-opener for me.  I have been struggling with my weight for more years than I can count and still I can’t seem to manage to get motivation to make the change.
Your frank and honest detailing made me sit up and realise I’m not alone.

I can’t say I’m going to swap every meal for fruit starting this second but it made me feel a bit more human and to stop being so hard on myself.

Thanks 🙂

I am so proud of you. Your story is inspiring me get by booty moving again. You are an amazing, beautiful person and you will achieve your goals. Thank you very much for writing that piece.

—-

Feel every word of it with you xx

—-

I love reading your blogs Las, you will get to all of your goals, I believe you will, you’re an amazing person x

I’m still eating as well as I can, trying to make the right food and exercise choices daily.  It’s a struggle.  I still have my treats, I still bake and I still eat out – as I say every time I get back on the wagon – I refuse to put myself through hell and rabbit food, just to lose weight.

Ok, I don’t like myself, ok I’m not happy with how I look, however, I love food.  If I get hit by a bus tomorrow, I don’t want to have ‘suffered’ and stopped myself from eating things I love to eat.

If I want cheese, I’ll eat cheese, if I want crisps I eat crisps.

Everything in moderation – otherwise it’s not maintainable for me.

If I cut out ‘bad’ things permanently, it won’t be permanent.

In a few weeks, a month, maybe even a few months (if I’m lucky to last that long!) I’ll crave something I love and cave.

It’s then a fast, downward spiral from there.

If I still indulge in the things I love, I find that I am a LOT more likely to stick at it.

It’s not a diet.  It’s a life change.

I have changed from eating a block of cheese, to being satisfied with a slice or two.

I have changed from eating a 6 pack of crisps (ok, maybe not all 6 at once! but come on ladies, admit it, you’ve done this before too!), to being satisfied with one packet every now and then.

I have changed from eating out five or more times a week, to once, maybe twice if there’s a lunch with friends – and being more aware of what I order when I DO eat out.

If I do pick something unhealthy, I just compensate over the course of that day, or the following few days, to make up for my indulgence.

I track (or, at least used to, I admit I’ve gotten lax with my tracking lately!) everything I eat on myfitnesspal (I’m icemaiden013 on there if you want to add me!).

For the most part, I’ve gotten my water consumption up to an average ~3lrs/day but aim for 3.5lrs/day.

I’m attending at least two Body Attack classes per week (am in the process of trying to kick that up to three, or adding a Body Step class in to the mix – even in spite of my busted calf which still hasn’t healed from Iowa and is slowing me down a bit!)

For those of you who don’t know what Body Attack is, check it out here.

I can’t say it’s been easy.  Sunday, for example, Magz and Sam were down and it was hard to leave to go workout with friends around to hang out.  But I did it and both Col and Magz gave me props for doing so – and I felt better when I’d finished.

I have downloaded the ‘Couch to 5K’ ap for my ‘droid and am procrastinating daily.  Haven’t yet started it, in spite of it only taking up 30 mintues 3 times a week.  Oy!

Two weeks on since my post and I still haven’t stepped on the scales or picked up a tape measure (I’ve not weighed-in since I started exercising).

This has probably been the hardest part for me.

I’m used to 2 weigh-ins a week (one mid-week on Monday, to show me how I’m doing and whether I’m on track for a 1-2lb loss and as a result, whether I need to work harder! And the other one on Thursday as my weekly weigh-in).

courtesy of google images

Magz has outlawed weigh-ins (as with exercising, the scale isn’t always reflective of the changes), she’s also said no to measuring myself.  As a result, it’s hard to track any progress I’m making (she says to use an old T-shirt that doesn’t fit, but will end up fitting).

courtesy of google images

The only thing I have to go by, is my friend Crystal, who hasn’t seen me in a month, said to me yesterday that she can see a difference and I’m looking good.

That was a big moment for me!

At the moment, I’m putting faith in science and the experts, regular exercise, eating healthily, combined with a huge dose of will-power, self belief and some fantastic support at home from Col and from my friends and hope that it’ll be enough – not to lose weight, but to get healthy.

I think that’s the biggest lesson I’m trying to learn, because until now, it’s always been about the numbers…

However, it’s not about the numbers on the scale, it’s about being unhealthy – and right now, I’m trying to keep that goal in mind, every single day!

Cookin' up a Mandarin Pork storm!

Alright, I blog about our travelling, our ups and downs, my day to day events, my friends, my family, but, to date, I haven’t blogged much about cooking.

Although I do cook quite a lot, I’m most definitely a novice.

I was raised in a family where the majority of meals were ‘simple’, meat (nothing too adventurous), veg (nothing fancy) and potatoes.  We never had a lot of money, we couldn’t afford any exotic ingredients and my dad was never one for ‘fancy feeding’.

It wasn’t until my teenage years that I started trying other things, Chinese food, Italian food (pretty much lasagne and pasta – whoohoo! Adventurous or what?) and it wasn’t until I went to university up in Belfast, that I tried Indian food (yay! Indian Ocean *sniff*) and some basic elements of Mexican food (Fajitas anyone?).

By this stage, I’d started to cook for myself – nothing crazy, or ‘out there’, because, as a student, I still didn’t have any money for ingredients to experiment with recipes.

Heinz 57 beans were a common element in my diet.

Since moving to Texas two years ago, pretty much straight on the back of getting out of university, I’ve started to cook a lot more.  It’s been a combination of things, having the time, a decent kitchen, an accommodating husband, enough money for decent, fresh groceries and the overwhelmingly easy access to an exorbitant number of recipes.

It’s becoming quite the hobby and Col hasn’t once told me ‘don’t make that again’ or ‘I don’t like that’, I guess that’s as good a testament as I could ask for!

Tonight, I tried, a recipe from the 2009 Taste of Home healthy eating cookbook.  A month or two ago, Taste of home had a $5 cookbook sale (down from around $20) and I picked a few of them up.

It’d been a while since we had pork, so I picked the recipe for the Mandarin Pork Chops to try out, this was the first recipe I tried from the T.O.H books and it looked pretty simple.

Picture courtesy of Tasteofhome.com

  • Prep/Total Time: 30 min.

Ingredients:

  • 1 can (11 ounces) mandarin oranges
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 5 green onions, sliced (I substituted and just used regular onions)
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar (I only had apple cider vinegar on hand)
  • 1 teaspoon prepared mustard (I used honey dijon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 whole cloves (I didn’t have any of these on hand so didn’t use them!)
  • 6 boneless pork loin chops (4 ounces each)
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Directions

  • Drain oranges, reserving juice; set oranges aside. In a small bowl, combine cornstarch and 3 tablespoons reserved juice until smooth; set aside. In another small bowl, combine the onions, brown sugar, ketchup, vinegar, mustard, salt, cinnamon, cloves and remaining juice; set aside.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, brown pork chops in butter on both sides. Add onion mixture; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 8-10 minutes or until a meat thermometer reads 160°, turning chops once.
  • Remove pork and keep warm. Discard cloves. Stir cornstarch mixture into pan juices. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 1-2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in oranges. Serve with pork chops. Yield: 6 servings.

Recipe from here: www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/Mandarin-Pork-Chops

While making it, I have to say I was a bit concerned, tomato ketchup and sugar? ugh.  I really was heart scared that Col wouldn’t like it (or me for that matter), but in actual fact, it came out quite tasty!

It was seriously easy to make, quick and tasty – what more do you want from a recipe?  Col says he enjoyed it (actually he gave me a thumbs up) and would like me to cook it again.  He did, however, make a good comment that it ‘flirted’ with being too sweet, it was JUST on the border, but, since we both cleared our plates, it stayed on the right side of the ‘too sweet’ line.

I did defrost too much pork for the recipe, so today (or tomorrow), I’m going to try the Taste of Home Maple ginger pork chops with some noodles or rice…