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My blogging absence…. meet Firework

Big Fat Positive

Big Fat Positive

I have been way too sporadic in my blog posts of late – and most of you know why. Welcome Firework – due November 5th. Of course, blogging seems like the ideal pregnancy activity, except that every moment not spent sleeping / fighting nausea I have spent trying to keep up to date with my work (have I managed? 90% there. I am getting better). Most people know about little Firework, but superstition stopped me revealing on my blog until 12 weeks (although the pics on facebook are somewhat of a public giveaway). Anyway –  a blogger’s tradition and a little Q&A to meet Firework.

Dates

LMP was January 30th, Firework was conceived on Feb 14th, and I found out I was pregnant 6 days before my next period on Feb 24th.

Why I tested so early?

Because it was Wes’ birthday 🙂

How I found out 

Well, I had had some weird early pregnancy symptoms – a 4-day headache, a pain in my lower back like I had been kicked, and my *ahem* went a weird dark red /purple colour (yes! really! it freaked me out and I was like ‘is this normal? Did it always look like this? Surely I would have noticed?’), plus I felt a pretty sharp implantation pains (I always feel ovulation as well). I knew the very earliest I could test fell on Wes’ birthday, so I figured: why not? It was the first month we had tried, so I bulk bought a pack of pregnancy tests, promising myself that when I got the inevitable negative I wouldn’t test until I was late, and then not again until I was late the following month. I didn’t tell Wes as I didn’t want to seem like a ‘crazy baby lady’ 🙂

Woke up before Wes on his birthday – POAS (peed on a stick) – put it down, set a timer and made myself leave the room. When the timer went off came back, and could not believe I saw a (very faint) pink line..

Barely visible first test (yes, I still have it)

Barely visible first test (yes, I still have it)

How I told Wes

I waited until he woke up, then found him drinking milk straight from the carton. I just went up to him and said “You know how we aren’t doing presents until later? I have an early one for you” and showed him the stick

What Wes said

He was overjoyed. Said it was definitely the best birthday ever. We are not really criers, plus were in a bit of shock. He smiled and was happy and asked how I was feeling (which back then was pretty normal).

How Wes has been

Awesome. He was cooking me dinner every night until I started throwing it up. He asks me every single night if there is anything he can bring me (and will travel for random stuff) and is more than happy to run about after me, just because I “can’t be bothered to get off the sofa”. It’s kinda true what they say: women become mothers when they are pregnant, men become fathers when the baby is born. It is so true, but it works, because while I worry and fuss about the baby, Wes worries and fusses about me. He hates seeing me sick, and can’t do enough to make me more comfortable. He’s a great father-to-be.

Emotional meltdowns:

Just three (I think that is less than usual). One: Early on when I was trying to let a drunk Wes into the house and I was struggling to find the key on his ring and he said “it’s the same as on yours” which was absolutely. the. meanest. thing. ever. Luckily some rational part of my brain decided that perhaps there were worse things, and before Wes could see I ran to the back of the house to ‘read in peace’ i.e. sob myself to sleep.

Two: I walked to breakfast with my friend Stella, giving a small heave on the way. They said the wait for breakfast was 40 mins, I was not happy but agreed. After 1 hour of waiting I put my head between my legs and sobbed uncontrollably. Stella took it well – offered me chocolate and space – and we were seated pronto. I got my ginger pancakes and all was well.

Three: I went into the boot (trunk) of the car and the lid-thing came down and hit – OK, tapped – me on the head. I started crying and didn’t stop for 40 minutes at the whole injustice of the thing. Wes remained calm, amazing sympathetic (if slightly bemused) and bought me crepes.

My parents:

Have been awesome. So excited – Mum is knitting a shawl and when I mentioned that I was waiting for payday to buy new bras that fit, my dad (DAD)whispered to my Mum and she said “we’ll get you some”. They have sent out  Dairy Milk, and my Dad (I repeat: DAD) rummaged around BHS for 32E bras for me 🙂

How the first trimester has been

Shiiiiiiiity (pardon my french). The first 6 weeks were fine – a lot of tiredness and mild nausea that just made me feel nice and pregnant and I thought was cool. I was actually more productive at work as I had stopped training for the 1/2 marathon when I found out (yes…. this is why I didn’t run) and was well rested. Then the real morning sickness hit, and I couldn’t keep liquids down, was throwing up at home, at work, out of the car…. I couldn’t focus at work, as I was just fighting waves of nausea…. I couldn’t keep down protein or vegetables, only cake, pasta, fries, bread, some cheese – which made me miserable. Then the Dr convinced me to take anti-emetics and my life came back. Now I am tired and sometimes nauseous, but my life is back. Now I quite enjoy it.

Exercise / eating

Yeah… I had this plan that I would go fully paleo when pregnant. Not at option when you can’t keep protein of veggies down. I also couldn’t therefore really lift, and after this epidemiological study decided not to run. Yes, Dr.s do say that it is fine to keep running, if your body is used to it, and yes, there have been many women who ran throughout pregnancy with wonderful, healthy pregnancies. And I applaud any women who decides to keep her fitness routine going. It is a personal choice and seemed to me that you were told not to run if your pregnancy was ‘high risk’ – however it also seemed to me that you only know if you are ‘high risk’ if you have signs of impending miscarriage, and sadly, by then, sometimes it is too late. So, for the first trimester only, as I didn’t know if there were any problems with the pregnancy or not, it was swimming only weeks 6-10. Now I have added heavy lifting back in (slightly lower weight for things like squats, absolutely no compromise in form, and no lifts above the head), and with my ob/gyn’s clearance will go back to running, doing couch to 5 K, hopefully this week.

Oh, and diet. Honestly? Atrocious. I crave carbs and sweets and often it is the only thing that quells the nausea. I start with a super healthy breakfast and so my best to stay that way – but I tail off when the nausea hits again.

Weight gain

1.5 – 2 lbs. Hopefully no muscle mass loss, as my strength has not taken a hit. That being said, I am a whale very early on bump-wise though – check out how quickly my belly ‘popped’.

5 weeks - 134 lbs

5 weeks - 134 lbs

11 weeks - 135.5 lbs

12 weeks - 135.5 / 136 lbs. How did this shoot out??

Scans

We got 2 scans, one at 8 weeks where we saw the heartbeat (and Firework looked like a squished frog). This was when we chose to tell everyone.

Squished froglet

And today, we had a nuchal scan (all looked good) at 12 weeks. Apparently I have a huge uterus – every u/s technician comments on it. It wasn’t always big, just grew very quickly. It’s a good thing – lots of room for Firework to move around. But Firework chose today to scrunch his / herself into the very smallest corner and hide away. The u/s technician tried to goad Firework into moving, but poking my abdomen repeatedly with probes and fingers, but this just made Firework scrunch up and hide even more and kick his / her legs (which was incredibly cute) while sucking his / her thumb (ditto on the cuteness). Firework is like Daddy: shy and likes to hide out in their own space. My invasive / exhibitionist genes are not showing yet 🙂

Scrunched child

Cravings:

Loads: berries with cream, mini eggs from Britain, ketchup, donuts (so bad for donuts), buffalo wings, oranges, ketchup, watermelon, ketchup, chips (fries) with malt vinegar and ketchup. More Ketchup.

Best thing I have bought for pregnancy so far:

My belly band is pretty rocking. But I am in love with a rented doppler. I was told not to get it, as some people say it is impossible to hear the heartbeat on your own early, or to distinguish it from other sounds such as your own heartbeat, or your pelvic blood flow. I called the company, and they said that if you are slim, you can hear it from 10 weeks – and it was just $25 a month, so I went for it. I heard the heartbeat the first night! It was easy to distinguish my sounds from Firework’s: my heartbeat and thus blood flow is 66 bpm – Firework’s is over 140! It is a little harder to distinguish between Firework’s blood flow and Firework’s heart beat, but hear you have 2 options: (1) listen for two separate but similar sounds or (2) accept that both are equally signs of a healthy baby. I didn’t use it too often – not a good idea in the first trimester, but lest there are any doubters, I did listen to the heartbeat and measure it as 154 bpm – and the Dr measured it as 155. So – proof that for me it worked. Here is little Firework’s heartbeat 🙂

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Less food… more life…?

Very interesting talk on caloric restriction in rhesus monkeys at the UAB Nutrition Obesity Research Center yesterday from Dr. Rozalyn Anderson, Ph.D. an Assistant Professor, at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

I am super busy at the moment, I am not going to whinge, but I’m in those very exciting last 2 weeks of a grant submission, while trying to get at least one faculty job application off my desk per week, and maintain my papers submission (i.e. not piss off the co-workers whom will write my letters of reference). I refer you to Stella for a nicely scholarly and full discussion of the lecture. I’ll just give you a precis of my take home messages, focusing on the more surprising findings:

When rhesus monkeys were on 25% caloric restriction (without malnutriton) from their ad libitum weight maintenance diet:

*Death from all cause mortality was signficiantly reduced, after a period of ~10 years

*Death from age-related mortality was even more significantly reduced across the whole lifespan

*Almost all forms of senescence were significantly delayed. Interestingly Dr. Anderson really delved into depth here, showing for example how muscle fibres did not show age-related changes

*Fat mass was significantly reduced

*Despite caloric restriction: lean body mass did not decline

*Organ size did decline, but only as expected for a smaller animal

*Despite caloric restriction: basal metabolic rate did not drop. The CR monkeys only saw a drop in the amount of energy used to perform activities, i.e. they became more efficient

*The CR monkeys looked amazing to the naked eye. Their fur remained thick, and so luscious – I was amazed. They made the non-CR monkeys look like they had been rescued from a situation of neglect.

I was very interested in the discussion afterwards. Two points, specifically:

*Dr Anderson was asked whether the macronutrient that was restricted (fat / carb / protein) made a difference. She said that in the absence of malnutrition, and excluding some disease-specific effects, no. Her informal observations was if you were either ~25% under, or 25% over your caloric needs, it didn’t matter much what you ate. If you were under: your body would adapt and use everything. If you were over: you were going to cause yourself trouble whatever you were overeating. My personal experience with the latter backs this up (overeating protein as a ‘free’ food). It is just if you are somewhere in the middle; eating around your caloric needs, that macronutrient balance might make a difference.

I wonder if this could partially explain why some people can eat fast food endlessly, and remain metabolically well? These tend to be slimmer people, so I could guess they were eating less than their caloric needs: at this point, it doesn’t matter what they are eating. Then take individuals who eat around their caloric needs from junk food, and are suffering metabolic dysfunction: is it because they are in the ‘somewhere in between’ zone where what you eat matters? If you are going to always eat poorer quality food or fast food, do you need to calorically restrict to remain healthy? I don’t know – pure anecdotal speculation (it’s my blog. I’m allowed 🙂 )

*She didn’t recommend this for humans. Stella touches on this: she says the psychological harm from restricting herself outweighs any physical benefit. This was Dr. Anderson’s point: do you want to take away a glass of wine after a hard day? Something yummy to eat to look forward to? I don’t agree with these views. I think we have come so far from what is good for us, in terms of exercise and eating, that drastic measures are needed. My example: I need ~19000 calories to ‘maintain’ , given my lean body mass (I lift), and general activity level (possibly slightly more since I have been regularly practising HIIT, but let us be conservative). Throw in my daily activity, and I burn, on average, 2,200 calories a day. I currently eat 1,300 a day. It sounds  small, but I eat a large breakfast (oatmeal), a filling snack (Banana and PB or Larabar, sometimes apple and nutella.. mmmmm….), lunch (carbs, protein, veg, sometimes fruit), snack (fruit + nuts or veg and hummus) and dinner (protein, lots of veg, salad and a good whollop of MUFA e.g. 1/2 an avocado). I have energy for all my workouts (when I am not suffering allergies, but that doesn’t count 😉 ).  I am clearly building muscle. I am rarely hungry. It’s easy. I only exercise 20 mins – 1 hour 5 times a week. And I am on a 40% restriction. I can add in some wine, or a beer (I don’t like beer), or I can ‘eat out’ (with appropriate portion sizes), or I could have some cake or chocolate ontop of all this… and still be on 25% restriction or less. It is not that hard for me. I am not sure when we started touting that this sort of behaviour was so wildly out of the norm, or so crazy, or so hard to follow. And I am not sure that helps people who feel they want to follow a different dietary lifestyle, but find it daunting.

Just a thought. Just a thought from someone who recently put on 25 lbs 🙂 Take it with a pinch of salt and do respond honestly, but please don’t flame me 🙂

The seminar is likely to be posted here soon.

DAMY weeks 3&4, training week 4 and a new oatmeal. Oh my!

Clearly, it has been too long since I wrote, as there is much to update. As this is fairly self-serving, I am sweetening the deal with a new ‘Oatmeal of Awesomeness‘ at the end. I betcha can’t wait.

DAMY weeks 3&4

So.. DAMY weeks 3 and 4. These have been HARD! Week 3 I could not understand why I was feeling hungrier… why I really needed a late night snack… then along came TOTM. So, that would explain it, then. It made me flake out on one workout. Week 4 was hard for a different reason: I received some extremely sad news early on, which threw me a bit of a curve ball. Then, I got bitten by a fire ant and discovered I am extremely, anaphylatically allergic to such things. Even just one bite. 2 steroid shots (one not being enough, apparently), a Benadryl shot, several steroid tablets and an additional bottle of Benadryl later we can safely say: Ants: 1 Lekki:0. I HATE steroids. Yes, they let me live (which is indeed a benefit), but they also make me grumpy, paranoid and mess with my appetite and sleep (up the former, drop the latter. Boo). They also utterly inhibit my ability to repair from sports (just at a time when I need sports to chill me out).

Then work went crazy with my K99 score coming back ‘on the border of funding’ (the right side of the border for last year – but who knows what this year will be?). It was so anti-climactical, and disappointing, and frustrating and exhausting. So… it has been wonderful to be on DAMY (surprisingly). I have had 2 weeks of healthy, tasty meals planned and prepared that I have got to eat without thinking about them. No stress. I have also (due to a dip in sports – see below) been able to focus on the journey to a healthy body and mind, and look long-term, rather than focus on every day, and every minutiae. Huzzah!

So, those stats. Starting / after 2 weeks / after 4 weeks:
Weight: 143.5 lbs. / 138.5 / 135.5

Chest: 38 / 37 ” / 37 ”

Waist: 30″ / 29″ / 28″

Hips: 38″ / 37″ / 37″

So, I lost 3 lbs in the last two week, for a grant total of 8 lbs in 4 weeks and am very happy. I am much more toned and looking forward to starting on weeks 5-8 (phase 2).

Training for Tough Mudder – week 4.

Hmmmm…. in terms of achieving my goals, this was an utter disaster! With exhaustion, hospital visits, inhibited recovery and all the goal of: “To just do it and not stress about it” – i.e. follow the plan. Yeah. Well, plan and actuality went like this:

Thursday:  DAMY weights A, 45 min kickboxing – DONE!

Friday – DAMY HIIT on the track (yuck) – Changed. Dropped due to TOTM exhaustion

Saturday – Steady state (5K, running for Diabetes) and DAMY weights B – DONE

Sunday – REST (double yuck) – Changed due to dropping Friday. Did a trail run: 1.5 miles uphill, jog back down. Stretch. Repeat. Took me about an hour and half (!)

Monday: Steady state cardio (5K run if knees OK, dreaded elliptical if not) + weights (workout C) – Changed Dropped due to allergy! Too many shots, too much need to recover. Like Friday, I sat on my lazy butt! I actually did this Tuesday.

Tues: DAMY interval training with bodyweight exercises – Changed, as was doing Monday’s workout. I did this Wednesday.

Weds: REST – changed as I was doing Tuesday’s workout.

So, I did not stick to the plan at all! And it has knocked my week 5 training plan out, as I tried to workout on Thursday, but dearly needed a rest. Hmmm. Actually, an accumulation of all the above: I seriously need some rest for body and mind. Tough Mudder is 4 months away: I have some wriggle room. As long as I keep my long runs up, I should not lose too much fitness. That being said, here is my

Week 5 plan:

Thursday:  DAMY weights A, (DONE!)

Friday – REST (yuck) –

Saturday – Steady state 6 mile jog

Sunday – Steady state cross train (30 min trail run; 2 hour hike); weights DAMY B

Monday: 30 min interval run; Weights DAMY D (legs)

Tues: REST

Weds: Steady state (4 miles); DAMY C.

This is not ideal, as it misses out a lot of my HIIT. But, I think I have to sacrifice that for r ‘n’ r and hope it makes me come back stronger. Next week we have my first trail run 🙂

A new Oatmeal.

Mmmmm…. this is so good. Definitely worth listening to that one giant moan for 🙂

Apple crisp Oatmeal:

1/2 sharp green apple (like granny smith)
1/2 cup oats
1 1/2 cups Water
1/2 scoop Vanilla protein powder (I use ON casein creamy vanilla)
cinnamon to taste
1/2 tsp all spice
toasted pecans

Bring water to the boil. Stir in oats. Grate in apple and stir. Stir in cinnamon to taste and all spice. Let cook for 4 minutes, stirring all the while. When cooked, stir in protein powder and add water to desired consistency. Top with walnuts. Enjoy the deliciousness. It tastes really like the artificially flavoured versions, but is pretty ‘clean’. The apple adds a nice texture too.

How to exercise for fat loss

There is a lot of popular press telling you that exercise will not help you lose weight… in fact, you may *gasp* gain weight. The main study sparking this off back in the early 2000s if I recall correctly, got two groups of women and put them on treadmills. One group completed ‘high intensity’ and one group ‘moderate intensity’ exercise, then they were all given a free-for-all buffet, and they all replaced 90% of the calories that they burned leaving the researchers to conclude you will eat all the calories you complete in exercise and ergo – exercise doesn’t lose weight. This was followed by a slew of anecdotal (and possibly some empirical) evidence that people starting an exercise plan do not lose weight. I’ll give some criticisms of these conclusions, but as I do believe there are valid lessons to learn, give some tips of how to exercise and still maintain fat loss.

So, in the experiment above (which I think is a useful pice of scientific evidence) I have two main problems.

1. From a psychological point of view: The lack of ecological validity. This was not people ‘planning’ to conduct exercise for fat loss, it was thrust upon them. If someone said to me ‘I have forced you to burn 500 extra calories’, well, I too might think ‘OK then, I can eat 500, no problems!’. Also, the buffet situation. This does mirror some aspects of ‘real’ life, especially with all the talk of our food cornucopia and obesogenic society. BUT, an unexpected buffet, provided by someone else, as a one-off, is quite different to your home pantry, even if you do have a million restaurants down the road. Even an expected buffet leads me to eat quite differently than when I am at home.

2. From a physiological point of view: there are other, beneficial, metabolic changes related to exercise, which may aid fat loss. These may include, but are not limited to: increased insulin sensitivity, changes in leptin and grehlin, increase in metabolic rate (although this has been over reported), increase in muscle mass.

Note that I keep talking about ‘fat loss’ not weight loss, because I want to step outside of worrying if the scales don’t budge because you are getting bigger muscles, or you are increasing the glycogen they hold, or you have some mild inflammation resulting from the exercise, which may also increase water storage. So, what can we do about it? Here are a few tips:

1. Watch what you eat! Keep a food diary and make sure you are not having larger portions. There is plenty of good advice out there (check out Runner’s World) about how much extra food (if any) you need for different types, and different intensities of exercise.

2. Think about your food timing. The pre- and post- exercise windows are good eating times (30 mins and 1 hour respectively). To both fuel your exercise and to then restore and repair, when your body is most receptive to food and likely to use it for these functions, not convert it to fat. Think about shifting your meal times to work with this, rather than eating extra.

3.Weight lift. Add some strength training as your form of exercise. There is evidence that this will help prevent muscle loss AND aid fat loss.

4. Make sure your exercise hurts. Yup. Bodies quickly adapt to exercise, and evidence is mounting that it is the intensity of exercise that really helps fat loss and post-exercise burn. So, if you are lifting weights, make sure that final rep is really hard. If you are running: make sure you are out of breath by the end. Set a goal and whether that means you go further or faster or for longer, make sure it is hard to complete your goal (I advise a mix of all types of goals). A light jog for 20 mins a day may well have some beneficial effects on your psychology and physiology, and if it is all you can bring yourself to do: go for it! But if you can, make the exercise hard, make it hurt, and make it suck. You should see a steady improvement in your ability, and if not, question if you are pushing yourself enough.

5. Related to 4, but so important it deserves its own point: try HIIT. There are many protocols out there for any type of exercise. Evidence is really mounting that this is the best for fat loss and after exercise burn. I quite like it actually, so give it a try.

Good luck to y’all.

Sorry for the long wall of text and lack of pictures, I am in a rush as I am off for a leisurely bike and hike. Tomorrow the real exercise resumes 🙂

Week 1 of DAMY Health

Woo hoo! I have successfully completed the first week of what Wes calls “The most sensible diet [I] have ever been on”.  I can’t share my progress as we’re not supposed to weigh or measure ourselves for the first 2 weeks, which I think is a good thing. Although we do have to share our ‘progress pictures’ with Amy. Eeeek! Accountability in its highest form. I personally feel slimmer, and I am pretty sure the trousers I am wearing today (which OK, still have a muffin top, and still leave red welts at the waistband, but whatever) I couldn’t even do up last Thursday. Overall, I feel extremely positive about his diet (or maybe I am supposed to be calling in ‘new way of eating’?).

A light supper anyone?

The biggest thing I have learned is portion control. Seriously. Given that I was eating pretty clean before, I would say this could account for 85% of my 25 lb weight gain. It would be nothing for me, previously, to eat 2 chicken breasts (no skin) for dinner. That is 16 oz. Amy has me eating 4 oz. And I am not hungry. I have also learned not to be too scared of any macronutrient (like fat, or carbohydrate) but to focus on making balanced daily intakes from healthy, fresh foods.

Overall positive points:

*The food is great – I can be quite limited in my cooking ideas, but Amy sends out really yummy and easy recipe ideas. And there are ‘decadent’ foods allowed daily like a Larabar or a banana with PB.

*I actually have manageable hunger. I have been able to stop eating all the frikkin’ time. I have been able to stop thinking about food all the time, and actually concentrate on work.

*I have been able to complete a lot of workouts, and my energy levels have not suffered.

*Broken my gum and diet coke addiction! (Well, stayed off those two for a whole week without too much difficulty).

*No banned food groups – woo hoo. Likely if you want something, you’ll be able to have it soon.

*The food is clearly ‘healthy’. I don’t think a nutritionist in the world would disagree with any aspect of the plan, which makes me feel good. I think the only question they may have is the relatively low caloric intake (~1,400 a day), but as I don’t feel hungry and feel I am getting all the nutrients I need I am not worried.

*The workouts are short. The weights take me 20-30 mins. The cardio is capped at 30 mins (I do more as I am training for a half marathon).

*Amy is wonderful. When I forgot to bring my workout to work… she emailed it to me. When I messed up my eating times, she fixed it and got me back on track. She is positive and encouraging and sunny, and I am really looking forward to working with her as I complete this program.

*I found it very easy to stick to the program 100%.

Negative points this week:

*No alcohol. You can have one glass of wine once a week in this ‘phase’ if you like, but I didn’t bother.

*I wonder if my grocery bill went up a little? It seemed expensive, but I was not buying gum and diet coke in between, nor eating out at all, so it might have balanced out.

*It is pretty strict. I am not sure you can eat out on it, except for your once-a-week ‘treat’ meal. I am not sure what I would do if a friend invited me over.

*I wonder how sustainable this long term, mainly for the above reason. But, I do trust that Amy will help me figure out something that works for me long term with my lifestyle.

So, overall, you can see that the positives far outweigh the negatives 🙂 Anyone interested can contact Amy, or read about the program here.

Oh, and those starting stats? Ahem. OK.

Weight: 143 lbs.

Chest: 38″

Waist: 30″

Hips: 38″.    Not terrible, but not me 🙂

The lies we tell ourselves… and a new diet: The Amy Layne Paradigm (DAMY health)

“It will never happen to me”. A dangerous thought; this reckless abandon for oft-well known facts and data often accompanies smoking, not having a savings account and unprotected sex. Or, in my case, weight gain. Known ‘risk factors’ for the fairer sex (either anecdotally or empirically): moving to the US, moving to the Southern States, turning 30, moving in with a MAN, getting married, taking birth control, owning a car. I did the first 2 two years ago, and the latter 5 all within the period of June-August. But of course, it wouldn’t happen to me, I wouldn’t get fat.

Ahem.

I had heard, heard of the excuses people can make as their BMI shuttles ever closer to ‘I’m not fat, its glandular’ zone, but I would not make them – surely? I mean, I absolutely believed that as my newly instated husband-housemate had started doing the laundry that he was shrinking my clothes. And I honestly believed that because I do a fair amount of sport, if I was fairly cognizant of what I ate; I’d be OK. And I believed that the ever increasing numbers on the scale were ‘muscle gain’ (although I haven’t lifted a weight, unless 1.5 litre bottles of champagne count, for 4 months). And I absolutely believed my friends here who said “you look no different to me”. Until I hit England, when my British friends jaws literally dropped. Not fitting back into my wedding dress was one thing, and my friends kindly said (before they saw me) “you were very thin at your first wedding – now you are just thin’. But, not being able to even do up the jeans that were too big when I left for the US was another. Jaws literally dropped. Concern reigned. More than one person really pushed the ‘are you pregnant?’ issue. In fact, my mother was so worried, that despite me having my period at the time, I took a pregnancy test, leaving me with no choice but to wail “I’m not pregnant! Just fat!”.

I took it fairly well, I think. I cried once – for about 20 seconds. Then I smiled, borrowed my Mum’s elasticated-waist pants for the journey home (seriously we could not even get any of my trousers to do up) and enjoyed 2 weeks of alcohol, cider, pic n mix, meringue, fish n chips, chips, more chips, and some chips. Oh, and wedding cake, Colin the Caterpillars, M&S mini bites and more than a few Almond Croissants. But now, now something must be done. All my yo-yo dieting of the past year has clearly not worked (go figure). And while I have enough nutrition knowledge to sink a battleship, I am no good at following it. I do thingds like panic and try to live off lemon juice and salt water for 10 days. Atkins is tempting, but was not enormously successful last time, and despite the experience of just about everyone else, low carb does not stop me troughing vast portions of anything allowed (a whole chicken for dinner? SURE). Plus, Atkins (and Primal, which is low-ish carb) make it hard for me to keep up with my 1/2 marathon training, zumba, kickboxing and long hikes. The Zone was good, but too hard to stick to long term as I couldn’t come up with more than a couple of recipes. Plain old low calorie effective, but… eh…. I cheat. I need a plan. Somethign simple that I can be held accountable to. So, I am giving Amy Layne’s DAMY Bikini body a go.

I can’t reveal the details of the plan, as Amy charges $98 for the food and exercise plan (+ plus 3 months support and newsletters). But basically, diet wise it is portion control, healthy fats only and no carbs after dinner. There are a few finer points, she tapers the diet and exercise over 12 weeks, has prescribed snacks and eating timings and so on. But, it is not rocket science, I doubt that there is anything here that people don’t ‘know already’. Having said that, that is why I chose the plan: I need something to help me lose weight in a sensible fashion. No tricks, no ‘quick drops’, no easy-outs, no severe restrictions. And  needed something simple; here I just pick foods from 2 / 3 out of 5 lists for each meal. Done.

Oh, and I have to check in each week. Which necessitated ‘starting’ weights and measurements. Where my 30″ waist came from I have no idea (scene this morning):

Lekki: “Wes will you measure my waist for my journal?”

Wes: “Sure… 30 inches”

Lekki: “No, not there, the thinnest part”

Wes: “It says 30…”

Lekki: “Give it here! Measure it here! See! It says…. 30…. dang”.

But I am game, and happy to stick to it. So far (one day!) I am pleased:

-The food is fairly filling

-The food is varied

-Even Wes said the food looked tasty

-My grocery bill wasn’t too bad

-I get a pre bed snack! I so need snacks.

-Amy has responded to every email really quickly, and even interacted with me on facebook! So, I feel good that she will help me tweak it if it isn’t working. She seems super supportive, and is very jolly and positive.

-The newsletter recipes are yummy.

So, aside of throwing in my 1/2 marathon training for the Tough Mudder race in Feburary, I am following it to the letter. Even the things I don’t believe… Amy says no diet coke (HOWL)? Then no diet coke. Amy says 8 hours sleep? I am off to bed early now. Amy says fake tan? I am actually using it!! Jergens healthy glow… smells good. I am not fussed about my end weight, but my goal is to get my waist to 26.5″ in 12 weeks. And the longer term goal is to develop healthy eating habits (that I had before I moved I think, but seem to have lost along the way) that stop this yo-yo dieting.

Wish me luck!! I’ll report back weekly!

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Carrot cake oatmeal

Cake-taste for breakfast

A new oatmeal. This is not so good post-running as it doesn’t have the casein protein that helps keep me full, and I thought could help fat loss if ingested after exercise., but now I find this unsubstantiated in the literature. Anyway, this oatmeal was created when I woke up on Saturday and really wanted to go to iHop for pancakes for breakfast, but am trying to stickk to my ‘only eating out twice a week’ rule. I wanted something decadent, and healthy. It did well.

1/2 cup pre cooked oats oats in water
1/2 cup milk – I used 1%
1 cup grated carrot (10 baby carrots)
1/4 cup egg whites (makes it creamier)
1 tsp nutmeg
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp all spice
Sweetenerof your choice – e.g. 1 tbsp sugar / brown sugar OR agave OR 1 tsp splenda

Fill the pan with the oats and carrot, but sort of half and half so the carrot is on one side and the oats on the other (as above)
Pour the milk on the carrots
Simmer over a low heat for 5 mins (don’t worry if the ingredients mix a bit)
Take off the heat and stir in the rest of the ingredients
When well mixed return to the heat and cook until the egg white is thoroughly cooked

Optional toppings: pecans; flax seed (my choice); cottage cheese blended with sweetener and cinnamon

More appealing in taste than sight.

Indulge, guilt free 🙂 (Disclaimer: food should not come with guilt blah blah blah).

266 calories – 3.8g fat / 42.3g carbs / 14.75g protein