Monday, 30 March 2015

Weightloss - Celebrating the taboo

So I've been losing weight for a few months now, and I'm pleased to say that I've lost nearly 1.5 stone.  Pretty good going.  And I'm pleased.  Pleased.  It's an achievement.  So why is it that there is this awkwardness in celebrating that?

I had a colleague come up to me at the photocopier (yes, really) and look me very seriously in the eye... in order to congratulate me.  His praise was genuinely heartfelt, I was delighted.  I'm immensely grateful for that little metaphorical slap-on-the-back, but it seems that giving the praise didn't make my colleage feel quite so delighted.  He cavetated heavily with a 'Don't take this the wrong way' and a 'I hope you don't mind me mentioning it'... and he waited until we were alone and away from desks in case I was embarassed.

Now, I've always been a big girl, but I'm not keeping my diet a secret - I'm open about it in the office, I make jokes about weigh-day, 'Fat Club', supportive clapping, because, hey, I'm proud.  I've made a decision, I've stuck to it, and I'm riding the entire wave as it goes along.  So why is it, that this celebration needs to stay at the weekly weigh-in?

We get the certificates, the stickers, the support, we have the facebook group, the highly supportive consultant and the new friends we've made - but why is it that out achievements make other people feel uncomfortable?  If I'd stuggled with running, and then decided that I'd take part in a marathon, there would be celebrations and flag-waving along the way.  Hit the wall?  No problem.  Your supporters will be by your side driving you on towards that finish line.  But weight is different, its just too close to the line of being 'rude to mention' and so we end up in a strange dance of 'Oh you're looking well' (which either means you genuinely look well, or in Fat-Girl-Ease that you've put on loads of weight), or 'have you done something to your hair/makeup/clothes' - heaven help anyone to mention the fact that you may have had a few pounds to lose, and my goodness you've taken the bull by the horns and shifted them!

Weight is a taboo.  I've been on the other end of name calling, and it's something that I myself have been very sensitive about in the past, so when someone makes a positive change, it shouldn't be hidden under a bushel.  I'm proud of how far I've got so-far, and look forward to basking in more compliments as I continue to trim.

So to all you dieters out there:  Go you!  Great stuff!  Be proud!

Monday, 9 February 2015


I can still sometimes feel the grass underneath my feet.

 I can't quite remember if I was wearing my school uniform, or whether it was the weekend, but other little details are etched in my memory as clear as if it was yesterday.  I remember the sky.  It was blue, not the bright blue associated with high-summer, but an off-grey-blue, something that promises a change in the weather, and it was streaked with growing clouds.  

I remember the rust on the swing that hung in my parents back garden, and I remember how the breeze tugged at it that afternoon and made the hinges squeak.

But most of all, I remember the stifling sense of frustration - what I don't remember is why.  In the way of childhood, I'd fled from the house and the responsibilities that had been placed on me (usually to tidy my room or such like), and had fled into the freedom of the garden.  I remember standing there and screaming as the tears flowed down my cheeks that I wanted it all to end, and wishing my hardest that the ground would swallow me up.

I don't remember what happened after.

I hadn't been yelled at or abused in anyway, but I'd felt trapped by life, and I had grasped the chance at freedom with both hands.  I'm pretty sure that I then picked myself up, shook myself off, and trudged back to what ever the perfectly reasonable task I had been asked to complete was.

It does make me wonder though, whether sometimes as adults, we aren't impulsive enough?  Yes, we all have responsibilities, yes, they take up our time and often keep us away from seeing the people we love, but they also give us the contrast to see those times when we're free of those responsibilities.  As a child I bucked against the chains that my parents tied to put on me, and in that moment created a memory so vivid that I can remember it decades on.  Eventually I calmed and accepted the instruction, and have continued to obey as I've got older... but, I have to wonder, as adults would we benefit from a little more 'childish' emotional investment?

Why does growing up have to be about completely conforming?  I'm not suggesting I want anarchy, but the world is such a rich and vibrant place, that sometimes you need to take a step out of the pattern you've created in order to really take-stock of your situation and to see the bigger picture.

As a youngster screaming for the earth to end it all, yes I might have been a bit over dramatic, but I also remembered looking up to the idea of adulthood and the freedom that came with it.  It's only now, as an adult, that I realise that it is that impulsive child who is really free... and that as we grow, we increasingly accept our roles.  

I studied a lot about innocence and experience in A-Level English, but I'm not really thinking about it at that level...  there are just some moments in life that shape you, and that those moments can happen at any time.  You might wish to be more innocent, or experienced depending on your stage of life, but the key thing is to always grasp your life with both hands.

Thursday, 5 February 2015

Recipe: Slimming World Scotch Eggs

I'll be honest - the title of this blog says it all really.  Scotch Eggs.  That you can eat whilst dieting.  It's like heaven.

My absolute Achilles heel in the whole dieting shenanigans is a buffet.  Sit me in front of some mini sausages, a quiche and a pile of salted peanuts and the idea of counting syns/points/calories just flies out of the window.

Just last week I attended a baby shower, and came face-to-face with temptation, with all these golden treats calling to me.  Being really early in my return to Slimming World, I exercised all the self control I could muster and physically sat as far away from the bite-sized savory snacks and firmly kept tucking into carrot sticks.

Now I'm sure you'll agree that I deserved a treat for all that abstanence, so this weekend I decided to roll-up my sleeves and cook up something Slimming World friendly, that wouldn't look out of place on a buffet table - the result: Slimming World Scotch Eggs.

8 x eggs
8 Sainsburys Be Good To Yourself (Less the 3% fat) Cumberland Sausages - I spent a long time researching this.  These are currently (please check if you read this is a few months as syn-values change all the time) the lowest-syn sausages around  (1 syn per sausage).
2 pieces of wholemeal Nimble torn into crumbs

  1. Hard boil the eggs, plunge into cold water and once cold, peel away the shell.
  2. Take a sausage and squeeze the sausage meat out of the sausage 'skin' - it's a bit like squeezing out meaty toothpaste.
  3. Carefully flatten the sausage meat in the palm of your hand, and wrap around you de-shelled boiled sausage.  This can be tricky.  I found it easiest to wrap the sausage meat around the middle of the egg, and then massage the meat up and down so it covers the whole egg.  Another tip is to make sure your hands are cool and slightly wet, as it stops the sausage from sticking to your fingers.
  4. Carefully roll your sausage-encased egg in the breadcrumbs - be gentle, otherwise the sausage meat could slip off
  5. Place on a baking tray sprayed with FryLight (or similar) and cook in a 200 degree C oven for 10 - 20 minutes, or until the sausage meat has cooked, and the breadcrumbs are golden.
These sausage rolls will be the star of any picnic, or in my case the envy of colleagues when you unearth your packed lunch.  They really won't believe you're on a diet!

Each scotch egg is 2 syns (1 for the sausage, and 1 for the breadcrumbs) - and I don't think you'll find a tastier two syns!

Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Recipe: Quick and Easy Mushroom Risotto

When I was at university, my housemates and I agreed to share the burden of shopping/cooking by collectively eating together each evening.  It was great - generally Hubby (although we weren't married then) and I cooked, and the other two took the challenge of washing up.  It was a good arrangement.  Everyone was happy.

Then there were the occasions, when we would swap roles.

One of my housemates was quite willing to cook... fbut wasn't the most refined of chefs.  Her dish of choice was risotto. But she didn't like the way that risotto rice 'got all wet', and as we were students and we worked our pennies hard, the main feature of a risotto-a-la-housemate was frozen, cheap as they come, sausage.  Lets just say, the memory of gritty uncooked rice and bland meat has meant that the idea of risotto just hasn't ever tempted me...

Except this week.

You see, the thing is, I bought a few too many mushrooms... (even I agree that 4 packs between 2 people is a bit excessive).  So I decided to see what I could whip up that was Slimming World friendly.  The result?  Something so delicious and simple that its made me completely re-think my dislike of risotto.


Mushrooms, mushrooms, mushrooms (seriously, many many mushrooms - I used 300gm of closed cup mushrooms and 200gm chestnut mushrooms)
250gm risotto rice
600ml chicken bovril
1 onion (chopped)
2 cloves of garlic
2 extra light laughing cow triangles
1 tablespoon of fat free fromagefrais

  1. Chop the onion, mushrooms and the garlic and cook in a small amount of the chicken bovril until soft.
  2. Add rice and fry for 1 minute
  3. Add more stock so that is just covers the rice and stir occasionally
  4. Once most of stock has been absorbed, gradually add more.  Reduced and add more stock until all the stock has been included and the liquid has reduced
  5. Whilst hot stir in the two cheese triangles and fromage frais, once melted, add salt and pepper to taste and serve.
(Try not to scoff the lot... because seriously, it's awesome).

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Things No One Told You About Being a Home Owner

There is a lot of pressure to get that first step on the property ladder - the theory goes that if you're renting you're only paying someone else's mortgage, so you're just forking our 'dead' money into a bottomless pit. 

There's a lot of focus about how you're best to get that foot on the property-rung, but what about after you've picked up the keys?  Hubby and I have been in our first home for just over a year now, and we've discovered that the learning doesn't stop after you complete.


What happens when you move in to your new home and discover that the kitchen sink is rotten, or that someone had sawn through the floorboards in the spareroom or that only thing stopping the water-tank from crashing through the ceiling is one small plastic crate?  We uncovered all of the above in the last 12 months.  It also seems that the people we bought our house from had a thing for No-More-Nails.  No job too big for No-More-Nails... including sticking the bathroom light to the ceiling, fixing curtain rails, hanging curtain rails...

A little part of your New-Home-Owner brain makes you assume that your lovely new home will be shiney and new... the bubble quickly bursts when you're scrambling around in your loft trying to build a wooden frame around the header tank.

Be prepared to flex your DIY muscles - never assume that the people who were there before you didn't cut corners.

Maintaining boundaries

Your survey, and your solicitor will have told you which boarders you have responsibility for, so you're prepared to replace fence panels if they blow over.  But what you might not expect is your neighbour to complain to a door-to-door hedge-trimmer-man that the evergreens in your backyard are interrupting their Sky signal...

Tradesmen: It's not what you know, it's who you know

Sometimes no matter how much Googling you do, or Youtube videos you watch, the task remains beyond your DIY skills.  When that happens, your only option is to call in the big-guns.  But where do you start?  If you're like me and move to a new area away from family, how do you know where to turn to?

I have to recommend sites such as Mybuilder - you post the job you need completing on a board, and interested parties can 'bid' for your business (you can read reviews and see photos of previous work), all without sharing your personal details - or Trust A Trader where you can find the details of recommended tradesmen and women.  I've found a fantastic plasterer and a super double-glazer - and I'm not afraid to ask for more help when I need it.

I guess I really am a grown up.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Slimming World Breakfast Ideas

So here's the thing - I normally skip breakfast.  It's not that I try and side-step the calories, I just don't really like it.

I have really vivid memories of conversations with my mother trying to persuade me to eat in the mornings.  I was pretty good as a youngster, but hitting my teens saw my interest in breakfast food just dry up.

Its a bit of a standing joke with my husband that even going into the cereal aisle of a supermarket makes me twitchy.  All those over bright cartoon staring faces seem to be a little bit judgmental...  I can't stay there for long before having to take refuge in the baked-bean aisle.

I know I have to turn over a new leaf if I'm to lose the weight I want to... so I'm trying to persuade myself that breakfast isn't just about cardboard or over-sweetened cereal.  So for anyone else who struggles with the first meal of the day, here are my thoughts for taking on breakfast and staying on-plan with Slimming World:


What could be a better start to the day than a big bowl of fruit? Having tried a few combinations of fruit, I have to say that anything with strawberries makes me a very happy bunny.  

I've also been using my daily Healthy B to have cereal with it (in an attempt to get over my distaste you understand...) and make my Healthy A last longer by not having milk with it.  I top it all off with fat free yogurt, fromage frais, sometimes even a Muller Light.  It's really tasty, quick to make in the mornings pre-work, and lot more filling that cereal alone.

I've also prettied this up by serving layered fruit, yogurt and crushed bran flakes in glasses for a super-quick-and-easy dessert.

Sexy Eggs

There's no point beating around the bush on this one.  It turns out that I could eat this every day.  For every meal.  Scrambled eggs (2 minutes in the microwave, no milk), two pieces of wholemeal Nimble bread (Healthy B), topped with flaked smoked salmon.  I mean who wouldn't...

And then to make sure I had my third-of-a-plate of super-free foods, I stuffed-my-face with mushrooms (again another 2 minutes in the microwave) and fresh rocket.  Oh. my. god.  Yes. Yes. Yes.

And what makes this even better? It's totally Syn-Free.

The Classic Full-English

This has got to be one of the major selling-points of Slimming World has to be the fact that you can have a massive Full-English and still be on-plan.

This is the second weekend that I've tucked into an amazing hot breakfast.

Bacon (with the rind removed), scrambled eggs, baked beans, and frozen Quorn Sausages... This breakfast might be Syn-Free, I'm not actually sure... There are many different types of Quorn sausage listed on the Slimming World website, these were the frozen variety... but in an 8 pack, which isn't actually listed, so I'm not entirely sure if these Quorn Sausages are the Syn-free ones or not.  To be on the safe side I counted 0.5 Syns (10 pack), just in case.

For those people who may have tried Quorn sausages in the past and found them either underwhelming or tasteless (Hubby has described them both ways), will find the current packs of sausages much herbier and therefore much tastier.  I'm not suggesting that if you served them up no one would be able to tell the difference, but possibly if they were in something (a casserole, an omelette, a quiche) then you might just about get away with it...

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Starting new chapter with Endometriosis

It's been a while since I posted.

To be honest, a lot of things have changed - so this is the start of a new chapter.  Hubby and I finally sorted out our housing issues and moved into our first home (that's another story), we adopted a couple of cats, we've tried our hand at DIY, I changed jobs.  And I was diagnosed with endometriosis.

When I first started this blog, it was as a way of documenting my way through pregnancy, and eventually parenthood... but sadly that wasn't to be.  And now endo is going to further muddy the waters of my motherhood journey.

So what is Endometriosis?

Believe it or not but Endometriosis is the UK's second most common gynecological condition, but very few people have heard of it.  It's one of those invisible illnesses, and I've tried to 'grin and bare it' for years.  Even in the medical field it is misunderstood. I've been pushing for a gyne referral for years, without luck - thank goodness for the locum I saw who wasn't afraid to admit that he didn't know everything and agreed to my referral after a few minutes on Google.

In a nutshell Endometriosis is when cells from inside the womb end up elsewhere in the body (usually in the abdomen), and causes chronic pain.

A lot of women know what a 'bad' period is, but imagine that pain being completely debilitating - hotwater bottles and heat packs don't touch it, you're constantly popping pain killers but the pain is still enough to make you faint and vomit... Add in the constant tiredness, the struggle to sleep and the sometimes pregnancy-resembling bloat, and it's a really pretty picture.

I'm currently on the waiting list for surgery, but the truth is, there is no cure.

So why am I going under the knife?

Apparently the fact that I have been pregnant before is a good sign, but endo is can have implications for fertility, and the truth is unless a specialist takes a look, there is no way we can say what the chances are.  Both hubby and I are remaining hopeful.  I'm going to do everything I can to make this work.

And for me this will start by me trying to lose a few pounds.  I'm not sure if weight would have a big impact on the endo, but it can only help with the surgery.  So I've cleared the cupboards of junk, and joined Slimming World...  I've always tried to think a few steps ahead - that's why I'm Learning Early.