Sunday, 21 December 2008

On and off the wagon

So, I was doing wonderfully, swimmingly well. I had stuck to my plans of action: was eating (just enough) food that was both healthy and delicious and taking long walks around London. I lost 5lb or over 2kg in less than a week - and this was on not much conscious exercise.

And then, I went on holiday. A week of that saw the reversal of the weight loss. I probably weigh now what I weighed right at the start of December. It's my own fault. I just can't resist all you can eat breakfast buffets! My only consolation is that, although I may have eaten a lot of food, it was all very healthy food - lots of salads, fruit and various Middle Eastern dips.

So now, to start all over again.

Except that it's Christmas and I'm going home in a couple of days' time to my mum's scrumptious food (so much better than my own pathetic efforts!). I do want to take full advantage of each and every opportunity to have proper food. I'm very tempted to say that I'll write off the next 10 days and start in earnest in the New Year. However, apart from the fact that aiming to lose weight in January is such a cliche (!), if I do unlimited eating with no exercise until 1st January, how much weight am I going to gain and how disgusting will I feel? Plus, I lost weight before when I was living at home - mind you, then home cooking wasn't such a temptation!

I'm going to have to just suck it up and restrain myself as much as possible. The trick (or so I hear) is to be satisfied with small quantities of delicious food rather than feeling you have to scoff the whole lot in one. Bit hard though...

Friday, 5 December 2008

My Initial Plan of Action

1) Reduce alcohol to 5 drinks a week
That's 5 drinks not 5 nights of drinking! I could cut out alcohol altogether. It wouldn't be too difficult from a personal point of view and it does give the so-called empty calories. However, try living in the UK and being known to drink and all of a sudden not drinking! I spent the whole month of October completely alcohol free - the number of people who would ask in a very concerned way. I think they thought I was in some way alcoholic and trying to wean myself off the dreaded booze. Plus, I like a glass of wine/ gin & tonic/ pint of beer now and again. Also, this is not about putting in place habits until I lose weight and abandoning them all afterwards but rather about making gradual change that will hopefully last long-term.
Perhaps 5 drinks a week seems like a lot. As I see it, it comes to 5 glasses of red over 5 nights or 3 pints on Tuesday and 2 glasses of rum and coke on Saturday or a whole bottle of red Friday night. For me, that's realistic.

2) No food after 12am
I have this terrible habit of going out with friends and not eating dinner at all and coming back home at 1am starving and making pasta. Encourages bad practices when it comes to spacing of meals/ going to sleep full etc.
Yes, it's late to be eating even at 11pm and I know that some people have the whole no carbs after 9pm rule. Again for me, right now, 12am is realistic. Perhaps in a month or so, this will change and I can keep bringing it forward until it gets to 10pm, which I see as a good cut-off point.

3) No eating after dinner
Another dreadful habit of mine is to eat dinner with friends at 7pm and then come home around midnight and have a couple of slices of toast with cheese. Completely pointless. I just eat for the sake of eating. Has to stop.

4) When hungry eat fruit and/or vegetables
Having a stock of readily available fruit and veg in the office and at home has really helped this week. I'm going to try and keep both my kitchen at home and the cupboards at work stocked in the future.

5) When hungry drink water
Apparently your body sometimes gets the thirst and hunger functions mixed up so when you feel thirsty you actually need food and vice versa. I drink a lot of water anyway but in future, whenever I feel hungry I'm going to head to the kitchen, fill up a glass of water and grab an orange. That should keep me going until the next meal. If not, I'll have another orange/ apple/ pear. I'm not going to put any limit on the amount of fruit and vegetables I eat.

6) Ignore the better buy
Sometimes I want chocolate/ cake/ biscuits. Fair enough as long as it's not every day. But I have to stop going for the 3 for 2 offers and the big bars of Cadbury's for 99p, which invariably end up with me sitting on my bed scoffing the whole lot in one night. If I want chocolate, I'll buy a small bar. I know myself and I really can't be trusted with anything larger than that. If it's in the house, I'm going to eat it.

7) Reduce cheese and bread
Argh! This is going to be hard. I love cheese. I can easily have lashings of cheese with every meal. Case in point: I just changed 'no cheese' to 'reduce cheese.' I think I'm going to have to do a slow withdrawal with this one. It's in everything I eat - sandwiches, pasta... And bread. Gorgeous toast. Melted cheese sandwiches. Bread and scrambled eggs. Mmmmmm....... I have a lot of bread too. Some nights I have been known to have 4 slices of toast with cheese and pesto for dinner.
I think the problem is also that when you're in a rush or have finished work and on the way to meet a friend at 8pm when you're completely starving, often the only food you can have is a sandwich. This is not ideal. A cheese ploughman sandwich from the Coop (Wednesday night's dinner) does not a proper meal make but if I say I'm not going to eat bread from now on, lots of nights, I'm not going to eat anything in the evening. Either that, or I'm going to break and end up at 2am boiling water for pasta.
OK, I have it. From now on, I'm not going to buy cheese or loaves of bread to have in the house. Making chapatis and buying pita bread/ tortilla wraps is fine but the only cheese that I'll have is that in food when I go out to eat and only bread shall be in sandwiches that I buy outside. Too many sandwiches are boring anyway. I'd much rather make a quick meal when I'm at home.

I know that some people if they read this would be shocked at how little I'm planning and what this says about what I eat at the moment: "What does she mean, she has a whole 500g bar of chocolate in one night?" etc. I think everything I've written above is something that I should be able to do fairly easily. Once I've started doing all this and it becomes second nature, I can start being a little better.

I'm not going to think about exercise for the time being. I'll start with getting the eating habits sorted first. Come January I'll put my exercise plan of action into motion. At the moment, I'm thinking a combination of the gym for discipline and progress and dance classes for fun and socialising.

Good Intentions

I realise that I started this blog almost 3 weeks ago and haven't posted a single entry since that day. That's because I suck and have no willpower.

Ever since that day I wake up at 6.30am with my alarm and what do I do? Reset it for an hour later. Obviously this gives me no time to go to the gym before work. So then I take my gym clothes with me to go to the gym after work instead. The nights that I don't already have plans with friends, I walk straight past the gym without going inside.

I started thinking last week that this gym membership is a waste of time and perhaps I should start off slowly with regulating my eating (and drinking!) habits and focusing the exercise on dancing, which I love, rather than going to the gym, which I do not.

Then on Saturday night, one of my friends called me and we started talking. S went up from a size 12 to a size 18 because she couldn't be bothered doing anything to stop this happening. She was the one with whom I used to do the Tesco lunchtime run when we were revising and who would tempt me into buying doughnuts (I have this tendency to compare my eating with that of my friends/ family - if she/he is eating it, then it must be OK). She decided in May that things have to change - she spends about 6 hours in the gym a week, hasn't eaten bread since May and continues to lose weight.

She really inspired me. I'm still not going to the gym. That's OK though. I go on holiday this week and am only in London for about 6 days between now and the New Year. However, the major change I have made in my life is in my eating habits. Before, I wanted to lose weight so would vaguely watch what I ate. Now, I've started a spreadsheet detailing what I eat, the food group and the number of calories and take away the number of calories I burn.

I seem to have settled into quite a nice rhythm.
- for breakfast, I have berries and yoghurt
- soup for dinner
- oranges/ cherries/ cherry tomatoes for snacks
- and a bit more latitude for tea, depending on whether I go out with friends or am cooking at home

The main reason for the change seems to be that I've now started to keep my breakfast and lunch food at work, meaning I don't just grab whatever is easiest in the morning on my way out the door, that I don't just end up in the queue at Gregg's in my lunch break and that I don't go on chocolate runs if I feel a bit peckish come 11am/ 4pm. I have fruit and yoghurt for breakfast; vegetable soup for lunch and my snacks are oranges, cherries and tomatoes that I just munch on whenever I feel like it and which seems to fill me up quite nicely.

It's all about the planning really. Luckily, when it comes to food, my willpower seems to be sticking at the moment (much more so than when it comes to waking up in the morning to go to the gym!).