Author Archives: Peg

Quick weight loss: Tried all sorts. What worked?


So I needed some really quick weight loss in a very short time. Time for drastic action and trying a load of different techniques. But what worked???

Choosing the best New Year Diet for you….

FruittouseJanuary is the month when most people go on a diet spurred on by new years resolutions to lose weight and regain a slimmer figure. Most of us will have put on weight over Christmas and sadly most will not lose it. The start of the new year is a great time to decide to, at the least, shift any new festive season weight, and maybe to shift a few extra pounds as well. But how do you decide what is the best diet for you? And how can you keep motivated when your diet becomes hard?

January is ‘diet month’:
Research suggests that 30 days is enough time for most of us to develop new habits. So if you tell yourself that January will be diet month this may help. 30 days is really not a long time to try something different as this brilliant (and short) talk on explains.

Decide which diet based on your habits and likes and dislikes:
We also know that people are more likely to diet successfully if you do one of the formalised diets, and especially if you have a group to go to or a way to check in with your diet and actual weight loss progress with someone else. But how do you decide from the plethora of diets out there? I am not aligned to any particular diet as I think different diets work for different people. But we all need impartial information, so, bearing that in mind here are some ideas to help you decide:

  • Think about what you find hardest when dieting. If you can’t stand being hungry or find that when you are all you think about is fattening food then go for a diet which allows you to eat as much as you want of some foods – for example Slimming World, the Atkins or Dukan diets or maybe by following a diet based on watching GI or GL. Other popular diets include ones based on similar science to the Paleo Diet where you totally cut out wheat and grains and eat a diet similar to our historic ancestors. Remember that on any of these diets some foods and food groups will be restricted.

If you are the kind of person who needs to have a taste of lots of different foods and you can cope with eating just small amounts of foods you like then choose a diet which allows this in small portions, such as Weight Watchers or many of the calorie restricted diets you find in magazines.

And if you can cope with being hungry for short periods of time knowing that you can eat at other times then the 5:2 diet could be for you, eating just 500-600 calories and no carbs 2 days a week.  Just remember not to over-eat on your non fasting days.

  • Think about how much weight you want to lose and how long you want to lose it over. To lose a lot of weight quickly you’ll probably need to do what’s called a Very Low Calorie Diet (VCLD) such as LighterlifeCambridge Diet or Celebrity Slim. I’ve done and am currently doing a top up on Lighterlife. It’s brilliant for me because you get counselling as well but you do need to be really committed to not eat other food and you need to think about what you will do afterwards to not just put the weight back on afterwards. VCLDs where you have no food at all aren’t for everyone, but they do work if you keep to them.
  • Think about what happens after the diet. Do you also need your diet to help you change your eating and activity habits after you finish the diet? If so think about what it is you need to change and choose a diet which will help you do this. Or it maybe you decide to mix diets – to choose a diet which is not too challenging at first to get that initial weight loss and then to change to one which will help you change your habits afterwards. You could also choose a diet which has a maintenance phase such as the South Beach Diet, or a Low Gi diet which is a lifelong eating plan.

fatburncroppedDon’t go it alone:
If you need support from others choose a diet that offers a group near you and at times that suit you. Most of the big diet companies have loads of local groups. It’s worth repeating – all the research shows you are more likely to succeed if you are part of a group or a structured programme, not just going it alone.

What’s right for you – not your mates or someone else you know:
Having said its much better to diet as part of a group I truly don’t go along with ‘my mate suggests’ or ‘its worked for them’ as the best or only way to decide a diet for you. The reality is that what works for one person doesn’t work for another. If you want to succeed you have to find what is right for you. The thing that worked for your mate, or your mum, or your brother or uncle might not be what works for you. Men and women lose weight differently – for example some research suggests the 5:2 diet works far better on men and may be trickier for women over 40. I find total abstinence on Lighterlife far easier than calorie counting which I could never do – but other people I know couldn’t do as I did in the run up to Christmas – going to Christmas parties or meals out and not eating. I don’t mind eating the same things day after day but other people go crazy without variety. So make it right for you. You can still be support to other people without doing the same diet. And if the same diet does work for you and your nearest and dearest how wonderful.

Lastly – don’t give up!
If you choose a diet and you find it’s not for you, don’t assume that you can’t diet and just give up. Instead, sit down and think about what you find hard and then look at other diets to see if they might be easier for you to stick with.

Remember everyone has bad days when dieting so don’t let a bad day be the end of yours. Don’t beat yourself up, accept you’ve had a bad day, smile and just tell yourself it will be better tomorrow.

Good luck and let us know on here how you get on!

Surviving Christmas and New Year….

Peg Alexander worried about XmasIs it possible to still have a brilliant Christmas and New Year without becoming the Christmas pudding yourself and putting on loads of weight? Can you indulge without the budge?

Well it’s that time of year again – Christmas and New Year – the time when according to reports most people put on the most weight; up to 10lb over the festive season some research suggests. For anyone who watches their weight, Christmas and New Year can be a really tricky time. Or even harder for anyone who is actually dieting, which is what I am still doing trying to shift my travel weight so I can get back in my clothes! (1 stone down so far, another to go).  Eeek! 🙂

But there are ways to help us all to cope with it and still have a fab time. I have developed what I call ‘5 Golden Rules of Christmas’.  At the heart – whether you’re just watching your weight or actually dieting – is the concept that you need to think in advance about how you will manage your festive season, to agree a plan with yourself and then to stick to it. And I hope my 5 Golden Rules can help you put together your own plan and still have a great holiday.

In the meantime, if you want to hear the rules in a lighthearted way just click here. And remember to share your tips and ideas on here and Facebook too.

Good luck, and have a fab Christmas and New Year.

Peg xx

In Memory – remembering Anne who inspired my journey to a normal weight life



Several years ago I watched two of my work colleagues literally shrink before my eyes. I hadn’t known that they were dieting, but the rapid change in their size meant they could not hide it. I asked them both what they were doing and one of them told me she was doing a food replacement diet called Lighterlife. I was 16 stone and a size 22 at the time and I was fascinated, particularly because both of them smiled so much and looked so happy on the diet. I had to think they were onto something. A few months later, I myself would embark on Lighterlife, on a journey that would result in me losing over 100lb myself and totally changing my life for ever.

As it would turn out, I would end up sharing my weight loss journey with them both. But particularly one of them, Annie, who I ended up working alongside in complementary jobs and who became a really good friend of mine. We both talked about why we had got into problems with food and we both supported each other through working out our own solutions. And when we both finished Lighterlife we helped each other work out how we would maintain our weight loss. We understood how important managing our weight was to us and how it would always be part of our lives, even when our brains were pretty full of the high powered, very stressful jobs we held at the time. I will always credit Annie with being the person who inspired me to lose weight, who gave me the belief and confidence to think I could actually do it. Who helped me see I could maintain my weight loss but also someone who always supported me to not give myself a hard time if I couldn’t stay as small as I might want to be.

Annie moved back to her native Australia a few years ago. Before she went she gave me a present of a note book which had lemons on the front, a reference to our weight-loss counselling. She said it was to be a book for me to write my new weight conscious recipes in. That book is still my main book for my low fat, sugar free recipe development.

With Anne in Australia you can imagine that one of the highlights for me of my recent round the world trip was that we would stay with her. It was all arranged, but then, in March, she sent me a devastating email. She had been diagnosed with leukaemia and was having chemo. So when we were in Melbourne, we were lucky enough to spend one afternoon with her in April. She had lost her hair but she actually looked really well. She was still the same very beautiful Annie I’d always known. She sounded determined to beat the disease and was putting on a very brave face. So it was an appalling shock to find out earlier this week that Annie had lost her fight. I cannot tell you how sad I am about this; the world has been a far bleaker place this week knowing she is no longer in it.

It wasn’t just me she connected with. Facebook messages with other work colleagues showed how much she also impacted on many of them too. Words used over again like so kind and caring, so thoughtful, graceful, generous, warm, human, inspirational, positive and wonderful at her job came up time and time again in messages.

The day I heard about her death, before finding out, I moved home to a place I don’t really want to live and I’d spent the morning moaning about it. Talk about putting things in perspective. I am also still on a food replacement diet to lose my travel weight, and to be honest I’m finding it really hard going. So of course, I hear the dreadful news and throughout the day I just want to eat – not just to eat good healthy food, but comforting, sugary, fatty food.

Instead I went for a swim. As I swam up and down I thought about what Anne would have said to me if I’d said that too her. She would have laughed and kindly chided in a very nice way for running so true to type – stress or upset and I eat. Then she would have said in her calming ozzie lilt, that it would be up to me not her. If I did decide to eat, to enjoy it and to not beat myself up over it. But then, to not let it be the start of the end either and think this means the diet is out of the window. She would have reminded me how I can do it, how strong I have been about dieting in the past, and to be kinder to myself.

At this workplace we were in the business of developing really innovative solutions to a major problem of public policy and practice. It was a place that espoused a no blame culture. We used to have this saying. “We are where we are”; our challenge was to work out how to move on from the current position. It’s the same with dieting or keeping weight off.

I think that approach is sage advice for anyone who is trying to diet or manage their weight and falls off the wagon now and then.

So in memory of the wonderful, beautiful, inspirational Anne, lets all determine to be kinder to ourselves and kinder to each other. To be grateful for our health and for all the wonderful, healthy amazing food we can eat. To remember our own strength and not always just give in, but if we do to not beat ourselves up about it. To not sweat the small stuff.

I am so grateful Annie that I knew you and was your friend. I will miss having you as a friend more than you probably ever knew.

Sleep well
Peg xxx

Around the world in 80 pies – Can you diet and keep weight off when traveling?



Leaving home. Oct 5th 2012.

Leaving home. Oct 5th 2012.

I know, I know, I’ve been rubbish at posting anything about how to keep weight or dieting off on this blog for the last few months (though I have been posting on Facebook). The reason – well I’ve been travelling the world! Really!! Since last October my husband and I have been backpacking around the world. We’ve been living on a tiny budget, living in hostels and cheap accommodation, and mostly eating in cafes, restaurants and other cheapo eating houses. So it won’t come as any surprise that I’ve therefore been what I call doing a ‘Miss Jean Brodie’; doing as I say and not as I do. Basically, for the last 9 months I’ve not been following my own advice, and guess what? My weight has gone up. Not out of control but more than I like.

A higher starting point…
I’m in this trip because basically life was not going well for me and Patrick my husband. So we decided that we needed to do something different and set off on what we have called our ‘mid life crisis global adventure’. It’s been amazing and we have a travel blog and Facebook page with loads of stories and pictures. Lots of things happened to cause us to decide to do something so drastic. The final straw was that at age 43 I unexpectedly got pregnant again, and again had a miscarriage. Of course during this time I put on weight, even though it was very early on. I tried to lose it afterwards, even joining a local Slimming World group. I did really well at first but the round of goodbye parties proved too much and so I set off on our trip about 10lb more than I like to be. Now I’m more than that – probably about 28lb too heavy. I can still fit size 10 clothes I left the UK with but Blimey they are tight. If I don’t get a hold now soon the size 12s won’t fit.

Now I know I’m still a long way off being the size 22 I used to be. But I am not happy at this size and I do have an element of body dysmorphia. When I’m bigger and I look in the mirror I see the 16 stone me. I struggle to see anything in between. And it makes me really unhappy. So I have to get control. But how did this happen? Well it’s been interesting learning about foods around the world and it makes me realise how British my diet normally is, and how lucky we are in Britain to have such good food and such a variety. Also as a vegetarian some parts of the world are easier than others to watch your weight…..

So, a potted mini global tour:

First stop Turkey!

A medieval meal at theme restaurant in Tallinn. At the time I was worried this was calorific. Little did I know what was to come....

A medieval meal at theme restaurant in Tallinn. At the time I was worried this was calorific. Little did I know what was to come….

After a few days in Tallinn, Estonia with my mum, we spent a month in Turkey. Here people are generally smaller than in Europe. But their diet is very meat based. Patrick had a blast eating lots of Kebaps (as they call them), and stews. But they love their pastry (Boreks are a kind of pasty) and overall the diet is very bread based, all white bread. I couldn’t find brown rice or pasta anywhere and fat free foods were hard to come by. For me that meant many meals of …. white bread, sometimes with eggs. Nuts were plentiful but not cheap. I also developed a real taste for Helva (sugar and sesame seeds) and Baklava which whilst very fatty pastry at least has real honey and nuts. I defiantly left Turkey larger than we arrived.

Next stop was India and I thought the weight would fall off me so quick I’d almost be able to see it happening. At first it did! I got a dose of Delhi Belly within the first few days, ending up in hospital as a result of a fall caused by fainting where I banged my head. 9 months later I am still suffering with dizziness from the fall. I had been hoping to live off cheap street food with basmati rice (the lowest GI of any rice so slower to release its energy so keeps you feeling fuller for longer), but suddenly that was out of the question. Rice is actually one of the foods most prone to food poisoning if left out in the warm.

We ate all kinds of new fruits. Most delicious but we hated Durian - Asia's marmite!

We ate all kinds of new fruits. Most delicious but we hated Durian – Asia’s marmite!

Indian eateries lived up to reputation and I dread to think about cleanliness in most places. I became terrified of eating at all for a time. In the end I just went for fried food and no rice. Which meant just loads and loads of bloody bread – roti, and naan. I must be the only person in the world who managed to put on weight in India!

We spent 2 months in Thailand with a break in Vietnam in between. O everywhere we’ve been Thailand was by far the easiest place to manage my weight. I didn’t manage to lose any (though I kept trying) but despite eating every meal out I pretty much held my own. I think Thai food is the best in the world – fresh food cooked in coconut oil, pad Thai, lots of peanuts and fresh fruit, not much dairy. I got totally addicted to Green Papaya Salad – a really healthy low fat food with lots of fat burning ingredients like chili, lime juice, fresh veg. I avoided the rice though for safety reasons and also as jasmine rice is high GI so turns to fat on you more quickly. I also started drinking coconut water and eating a fresh coconut each day, often with a small bar of 80% dark chocolate, both of which help to manage your weight.

Eating with chopsticks is brilliant. You have to eat slowly.

Eating with chopsticks is brilliant. You have to eat slowly.

It probably helped that portions were TINY!! In fact so small that I would still be starving after a meal. After a few days I worked out though that Pat’s meals were bigger and I decided that they do men’s and women’s portions. So then Pat started ordering all our food and I started to get a little more on my plate! Any rice came shaped in small bowl helpings. Makes you think though. You don’t need much rice with a meal. A small bowl is plenty!

The only downside is they put sugar in EVERYTHING! Getting sugar free yoghurt or cereals impossible, all shakes and drinks have sugar syrup and condensed milk in – even omelette’s have condensed milk and sugar. But if I asked most places could just about cope with leaving it out.

Whilst I was in Vietnam and for our 2nd month in Thailand I tried out going wheat free. On this diet if you avoided wheat, grains, carbs and sugar it didn’t matter about fat and oil. So strange as it may sound in a rice based cuisine it was really easy. I ate loads of omelette’s (often fried in lots of oil so I’d previously tried to avoid them),  nuts, and in Vietnam a lot of tofu. I’m sure I actually did lose weight.

With food like this its no wonder people are tiny

With food like this its no wonder people are tiny

It was a good job. In South East Asia most people are tiny and I felt huge, which even as a size 10 comparatively I was. I couldn’t buy any clothes and would find I was very big for things like seats on buses. It was not good for my self esteem and I actually became really unhappy despite being in such beautiful places. But this is starting to change. As we headed south towards Singapore, the places we visited became more developed, and there was more western food. And the people, including kids, started getting bigger and bigger. I fear, this is not progress.

Malaysia & Singapore
In Malaysia my wheat free regime fell apart as it was almost impossible to get tofu or veg based meals with enough ballast and protein – they just didn’t do veggie food. So I ended up eating lots of rice and noodles. We loved Malaysia itself (it was one of our fav places) but food wise it was a disaster. Thank goodness we could get porridge oats though as they kept me going, eating them with nuts and coconut milk. Scrummy!!

Down-under; Australia and New Zealand
In Asia there is no such thing as food replacement diets. After all why would you do this when their food is so healthy and keeps you small. But with increasing western foods available – doughnuts, burgers, sandwiches, milk based foods – people are putting on weight. So instead you can buy all sorts of supplements to burn fat or boost metabolism. I would drool over them in chemists, wishing I could get some. But they were expensive, as expensive as in the west, and our budget tiny. I couldn’t even afford to get my hair cut and dyed!

We loved Melbourne - but its all cafe society. Hard when trying to avoid pies and cakes!

We loved Melbourne – but its all cafe society. Hard when trying to avoid pies and cakes!

Down under was a totally different story. In every large pharmacy type store you can buy endless diet bars, protein meals and VCLD (Very Low Calorie Diets) packs without any medical advice. Australia is arguably the most expensive country in the world at the moment so I decided once we got there I would do a VCLD to shift some weight. My healthy, fresh food diet would be way beyond our budget so me going on a VCLD would help our pockets as well as my waist line.

On the plus side once we got here I started to feel attractive again. I bought some warmer clothes that I liked, fitted me and I felt good in. I could buy a home hair dye that would be OK on my western hair and was a fairly bright colour. And I looked a normal size. Such a relief after being so comparatively big.

Our shopping basket whilst living in a campervan in NZ. My food on the left; Pat's on the right

Our shopping basket whilst living in a campervan in NZ. My food on the left; Pat’s on the right

Feeling good, I did really well at first, despite being taken out for meals and seeing amazing deli food everywhere. But…. astonishingly for Australia we were cold. And VCLDs make you even colder. Plus the one I’d bought didn’t taste as nice as the ones I’ve used in the UK. I got cold, my hair and nails were bad anyway from travelling and I felt rubbish. Temptation was everywhere so it became too much and I ended up eating. I tried instead to do 5:2 Fasting – using the packs for my 500 calories on 2 fast days every week. I think this helped.

The same when we went to New Zealand. For 2 weeks we were fed the most amazing breakfasts and lunches, but they were very bread based. As they were free and us so poor I didn’t feel able to say no so I tempered this with fasts. Then as we travelled round in a camper again I ended up eating all sorts of fatty, carby, unhealthy food, with the occasional fast. Thanks to the packs and fasting I left New Zealand probably around the same kind of size I arrived. Still too big, but still fitting in the shorts I set out with.

Oh dear …this is where it all falls down. USA here we come….
The USA started well for me. First stop Hawaii. And I kept to my VCLD packs with the odd salad for an evening meal. I was so shocked by how huge people were, even after Oz and NZ, both of which say they have an obesity problem. I would see lots of people unable to walk simply due to their size. If I was ever determined to not become morbidly obese again myself, this first place in the US gave me all the motivation I could ever need. I posted on Facebook LINK how easy it was to make the right choices. Then it all went wrong…. 🙂

This was a small breakfast in LA

This was a small breakfast in LA

First we got to Hollywood and my first taste of an American Breakfast. Amazing pancakes, maple syrup, omelette’s, endless coffee and diet pop refills. Bliss. I chose whole-grain with bananas and pecans and was fit to burst. I didn’t need to eat again all day. They became the best way to start in day and so became our routine. In Hollywood we had a kitchen so had a small healthy evening meal to counteract the breakfast, but as we moved around the US our evening meals became less healthy and as we had at this point run out of money, by necessity cheaper. Refined food is pretty cheap in the US; fresh fruit and veg and healthy non processed food really pricey. Before you know it, it’s pancakes and omelets for breakfast, a burrito or burger for tea. And an extra dress size on me thank you very much!

This poster on a bus in Hawaii. Soda is a huge problem due to corn syrup

This poster on a bus in Hawaii. Soda is a huge problem due to corn syrup

The other thing that makes everything so bad in the USA is high fructose corn syrup. It is in everything in the US. Described as more addictive than crack its arguably the worst substance known to humanity to make you put on weight, especially on your belly. I think it is why the US has the worst obesity crisis in the world and people here are just so much bigger than elsewhere. Basically if you buy any processed food it is in it – from non diet fizzy pop, to salad dressing, to even a tin of tomato and veg pasta sauce. It’s in every single cookie, sweet, doughnut, and bread, even in bars promoted as healthy such as oat or granola bars or maple syrup! The reasons why it’s so prevalent in the US are well documented and are to do with trade deals made with certain food producers and lobby groups. You can buy food without it but it’s very expensive. They also have ‘pink slime’ here, put into processed meat products. Food with corn syrup and pink slime is fairly cheap. I think it’s hard to be slim and healthy in the US.

We thankfully don’t have HFCS so much in the UK where its called Glucose Fructose syrup. But it is around. I’ve seen it in yogurts, some shop cakes and biscuits and worryingly even in Diet meals. I’ve been checking every label I can here before eating but I’ve still not been able to avoid it. Pink slime hasn’t made it yet to Europe but some companies are trying. We need to make sure neither of these things make it over.

Just can’t get enough….
I’ve also noticed how eating refined food makes you want to eat more. At home I just don’t want to eat crap – like shop or cafe cakes, or biscuits, or chips, or fried food, or sugary yogurt and the like. In fact I get really angry and upset if I have no choice but to eat it, always wanting to have a salad or veg/Quorn based food or fruit and sugar free puddings. But here I can’t get enough. It’s so true that once you start, it’s harder to stop. Going sugar and carb cold turkey isn’t pleasant but truly once you do, you just don’t want to eat that kind of food.

Final stop, Canada…..
My next stop is Canada where I will be staying with relatives for around a month. And with a kitchen! Although money is tight I’ll need to find away to start eating healthily again, cooking my own meals, aiming for loads of fresh veg and fruit if we can afford them and choosing high protein low carb meals. And then hopefully by the time I get back to the UK in about 6 weeks I’ll be around the same size as when we left!

During the trip I managed to finish the draft of my book all about how you keep weight off. Time to start following my own advice!!

So what have at learned from all this to share…..
Well firstly, once again it’s proved to me that my 21 Keys to Keeping Weight Off which I normally follow really do work. It’s when I don’t follow them that I start to get bigger than I want to be. But following them does need me to be able to cook and shop.

I’m going to increase the amount of coconut in my diet when I get back home as it makes such good food and helps regulate your weight. I’ve been a bit scared of it, even though I do use virgin coconut oil in cooking but I’m going to have more coconut milk and flesh. I’m also going to allow myself high cocoa black chocolate, just a small amount each day.

I’m going to eat using chopsticks at home when I can to slow down my eating.

Also I think I’m going to be less worried about other non refined oils. For years I’ve not had olive oil in my salad dressings and have cooked without oil. But again I need to be less scared of it when it’s good, unrefined oil.

At home I do self monitor how much wheat I have. I only ever have unrefined and generally only in food I cook. And often I’ll avoid the rice or pasta in a meal. I’ll keep with this but may use almond or coconut flour more in my own cooking.


Just today on the most westerly coast of Canada

Just today on the most westerly coast of Canada

Lastly, as I’ve traveled the world it could not have been starker to me what the effects are of eating a high carb, high release fatty diet of processed and refined food. This trip has just reaffirmed why I don’t eat it at home and actually how I don’t miss it when it’s not there. It’s made me all the more determined to do my little bit to help others to have a good diet. So I’d better get a move on, shift my extra weight and get my book sold….. 🙂

Different diets for different times of our lives – trying Wheat Free

So I desperately need to lose about 1 and a half stones or 20lb. I’ve needed to lose this weight for a while now – ever since a 2nd unsuccessful pregnancy last summer followed by a load of consequent comfort eating. Plus, as many of you know, before I’d shed my extra weight, me and my husband set off on a year’s backpacking around the world. (We have a travel blog at We’re living in hostels & cheap hotels so I’m unable to follow my own normal advice – my ’21 Keys to Keeping Weight Off’. So desperate times mean desperate measures. And looks like I’ve found winning solution. Going wheat free! 

Different times, different diets
I believe that different diets work for us at different times un our lives. We can’t assume that because one diet worked once for us or a friend, that’s the only possible answer. Our lives change and so I think the answers to managing our weight changes through time too.

Veg and protein. Perfect for wheat free

Veg and protein. Perfect for wheat free

I’ve really been struggling to find a diet I could do whilst traveling. Food replacement diets have worked for me in the past but are no good on the other side of the world. Slimming World has also worked for me but it relies on UK shops and being able to cook your own meals which I can’t do. Low fat isn’t going to work when it’s hard enough to order veggie food when there’s a language barrier and the shops just don’t stock it. Alternate day fasting could be an option – but to be honest it isn’t an option when meals are the only thing that break up our days. And really it’s not fair on Patrick during this trip. Even just eating wonderful, healthy Thai food and lots of fresh fruit for a month didn’t shift any extra weight. People back home have been telling me to just stop worrying about my weight. But I can’t as it makes me unhappy to be the size I am now. It’s how we feel ourselves that matters.

So I’ve decided to try and diet that is totally alien to me and what I normally do. And guess what? 2 weeks in its really working!!!

Gone wheat free
Strange as it may sound, writing this in Vietnam, but I’ve found this diet really easy here. Basically, I’ve cut out all wheat and most carbs and sugar, and don’t worry about fat or fried food. Whilst this means no rice or noodles (I know, sounds strange) its been easy for me to get meals that are veg and protein, like stir frys or omelettes. I’m snacking on low GI fruit and loads of nuts – including loads of fresh coconut and coconut water to drink – so never hungry. I’m even having full fat milk I’m coffee (just getting milk without sugar is a challenge here!!).

And I’m having a little dark 70% chocolate bar most days. Sounds alright doesn’t it. When we get to thailand I’ll also be able to have fabulous Papaya Salad too. 🙂

Changing my mind too

Hostel bunk bed living - listening to downloads on headphones is easy

Hostel bunk bed living – listening to downloads on headphones is easy

I’m also listening to a short download every day which is telling my subconscious mind that I don’t want to eat wheat or carbs and that I want to be slimmer again. It’s certainly having an effect. I have started to get bloated drinking fizzy pop and I’m getting full really quickly so want to eat a lot less. Mind you, eating with chop sticks might be helping with this too!


My make-shift waist measuring devise. The first week I could cut off a good piece!

My make-shift waist measuring devise. The first week I could cut off a good piece!

The results? Well I don’t have any scales so I’m monitoring my waist using a piece of string we used to tie up our mossie net in our last bungalow and a ruler app i downloaded onto the ipad! The first week I cut off about 4cm. This week just over 1. Not bad heh?

For ever?
The programme I’m following says you have to cut wheat out for ever. I’m not so sure as I successfully ate whole grains in moderate amounts whilst keeping weight off for a number of years ; indeed it’s one of my 21 Keys. So I’ll have to see what I decide to do once Im back to a size I’m happier with. But it sure is working for me at the moment.

Goes to show – different approaches work at different times in our lives.

New Year, new diet?



Happy New Year!!  Hope you have had a great festive season and feel good about life. Now as we enter 2013 of course it is time for setting those resolutions about what we will do in the next year. And for a large section of the population, time to start dieting. And I’m afraid I am no exception. My big, fat diet starts here! 

Chose the right diet for you….
So if you too are thinking about dieting then the biggest tip I have is to chose the right diet for you. I’ve found that what works for one person doesn’t always work for others. So just because your friend swears by a particular diet it doesn’t mean it’s the best for you. On the other hand, research shows that if you diet with mates it’s more likely to work. We are social animals so doing things in groups means we are more likely to stick with it.  That’s also why research shows you are more likely to succeed with one of the diet programmes rather than going it alone. I know the pressure of the weekly public weigh-in kept me on track last time I did slimming world.

I also think its about accepting that diets work best for us as different times of our lives. So don’t be dismayed if a diet that was once brilliant for you doesn’t work another time.

Instead my tip is that if a diet programme isnt working for YOU then maybe you need to try a different programme rather than just giving up dieting. Of course, though, they all require will power and giving things up. And sometimes in life we just aren’t able to diet…..

Just not able to diet…
21 Keys to keeping weight off That’s my position at the moment. Over the summer I put on weight through a failed pregnancy. Then we decided to go backpacking around the world for a year or so. I failed to lose the pregnancy (and misery eating that followed) weight before we went, and since travelling its been impossible for me to keep to my normal weight maintenance way of life (using my ’21 Keys to Keeping Weight Off)! let alone diet.

Sightseeing in Mumbai

Sightseeing in Mumbai

First we were in Turkey where vegetarian food is harder to come by and where white bread forms a huge part of the diet. (I also struggled as the filler part of breakfast was boiled eggs which I can’t stomach so eat too much bread and butter with jam). Then we came to India. Really easy to get veggie food, but fear of bacteria in boiled rice (that’s another story to follow), curries cooked in ghee, sugar and cream with little fresh veg and naans and roti all made with refined flour, and not being able to eat fruit unless I can peel and wash in filtered water, means dieting or maintaining my weight has been impossible. Plus because I’m off my normal ways I’ve said sod it, and keep letting myself just for it – puddings with meals and too many chocolate bars! My size 10s still fit, just – if they are on the large size – and really I’m a size 12 and will be more unless I get a grip.

Action is needed….
I have to do something about this. Not because I think size 12 is too big but because I don’t feel happy about myself at this weight. Thankfully we start new year in Thailand where losing weight should be easy – loads of fresh fruit that’s safer to eat, meals full of veg and cooked in coconut oil. I just need to remember I am dieting too and not eat so much chocolate or pudding, sticking to fresh fruit and low fat yoghurt.

I’m also doing a lot of visualisation work too – when I wake up and before I go to sleep picturing how I will look when my travelling clothes are baggy. Plus to spur me on I’ve put a photo of me at a size I loved at my hen party on my phone wallpaper. It makes me smile when I see it – I was so happy, I loved my size and I liked sticking to my 21 keys programme.

Find the right way for you…
So, if you want to diet, find the right way for you, that fits with your life now; you are far more likely to stick to it. Stay focused on your goal and be really kind to yourself, thinking happy thoughts about how great it will be to be slimmer rather than berating yourself for not being as slim as you might want. Smile and your willpower will come more easily.

Keep us updated on here with how you get on and any other thoughts you have about new year dieting.

Peg xxx

Old dog. New tricks?

Photo by Ernst Vikne.

When I lost my weight on Lighterlife I spent over a year thinking about my relationship to food and working out how I would need to change it if I were to keep the weight off. Four years later I have kept weight off – but at the moment it’s more of a struggle than I think it’s ever been. And sadly, I can see some of my old food habits returning far to fast for my liking, even after all this time. So why is it that it can be so hard to change our habits with food?

I honestly believe that the answer to keeping weight off is to work out what our own particular issues are with food and then to ways to manage based on our own lives, like and dislikes etc. For four years I’ve been able to do this, keeping my weight within a stone or so of my ideal size and basically staying a size 10.

But there’s been 2 occasions when I’ve gone beyond a size 10; when I’ve had two unsuccessful pregnancies. The first was the catalyst for me developing my 21 Keys to Keeping Weight Off. After the miscarriage I started eating differently to how I’d eaten ever since losing weight, and I realised just how many changes I’d made. But after the stress of the miscarriage I was back to old habits really quickly.

This summer the same has happened and I’ve had another unsuccessful pregnancy and miscarriage. This time it’s been harder for me and my husband to cope with as many other things in our lives have not been going our way of late. So we have made a momentous decision to go travelling round the world for up to a year. We go in less than 2 weeks. At the moment we are trying to sort out renting out the house, packing up all our stuff, saying goodbye to all our mates and family. We have no idea what the future holds.

Bloody hell – we are super stressed! And guess what – I cant stop eating!

This, despite me not having lost my pregnancy/post pregnancy extra weight and having gone up a dress size and feeling terrible about how I look. I can’t keep to any diet and I’m madly veering from binging days through to fasting days. So it seems when the pressure is on, even after all this time, I’m returning to form and old habits have kicked in.

I’ve always said it’s inevitable that at times you put on weight; the question is how much you allow yourself to put on. I don’t want to be any bigger than I am now but I just don’t seem to be able to sort it out at the moment

Maybe that’s what happens at times for all of us who have ever had a weight problem – when life is tricky we go back to old habits. However I do know I can’t continue like this and I know once we go traveling I will be more active and so will start to get this under control. Maybe this is just part of understanding how I am with food and knowing myself. After all, after the first pregnancy I lost the weight again when the time was right, so I know I can do it again when the time is right. And in the meantime, I’m making sure I’m not putting on any more weight.

The thing is that we all get to know ourselves and to work out what our own tolerance levels are and when we feel able to do things about it. And to trust that we can and will. And of course, to have our own point at which we say to ourselves – STOP!!! 

I’ll be keeping people up to date on here and also on our new travel blog – – tales of mid life crisis travel, people and food (whilst not getting fat!).

2 weeks into my diet – but is it for me?


I’m now 2 weeks into my diet. When keeping weight off, it’s inevitable that you put weight back on. Keeping weight off does not mean not putting any weight on at all, it’s about when do you decide to do anything about it. Due to medical reasons I’ve put on nearly 2 stone more than I want. So now I’m dieting to lose this.

I’ve chosen to do Slimming World this time and I’ve now been to 3 classes. I really like the leader and the people are very nice but truth be told I’m struggling with it. All the research shows that you are more likely to succeed with a diet as part of a group. But 3 groups in, I’m honestly wondering how many more groups I’ll be able to stand……

Eating out
I had an OK week. On the Saturday I went to one of the best and poshest restaurants in the UK and negotiated a meal in advance that was OK. On the Sunday I went to a BBQ. Slimming World says 1/3 of your meal should be fruit or veg so I had a slice of cake with some salad!!!

Your ‘success’ or not is public
When I went to a Lighterlife group for nearly 2 years, your weigh-in is private. At Slimming World it’s the opposite – read out to the whole group. If you lose you get applause; maintain or add and you get sympathetic noises. And despite that the fact that generally I’m open about my weight I’m struggling with this. The first week I just maintained and I honestly felt totally humiliated at the prospect of this being read out. It felt better having a loss of 3lb read out but I was still nervous.

Making sure 1/3 of my plate was fruit or veg!!

It’s a whole life change
Having spent so long thinking about why I got fat in the first place, and reading the research about how what we eat as children effects our weight later in life, I’m struggling with the fact that there are loads of kids at the class who seem to all be eating sweets, crisps and other processed foods; I’ve not seen any eating fruit, or raisins or carrot sticks for example. And so I find it frustrating that some of the excellent messages the leader is giving about healthy eating and this being about a whole life change don’t seem to be cascading down to the kids. Maybe I’m being unfair or just haven’t noticed; I do hope so.

Bodies are so unpredictable
Hearing how people have done and then they talk about the week they have had it’s also so clear how the human body is so unpredictable. Some people stick to the plan and put on weight; others eat all sorts and still lose. Time of the month really effects me and it all leaves me feeling a lot that weight is not the best judge as it seems so arbitrary; how our clothes feel or how we feel about ourselves I think are much better judges.

But despite all this I think the group is working
I sat in the group making notes surreptitiously on my phone for this blog, noting how I don’t feel motivated by competitions even if it seems to work for others. And then she announced that I was Slimmer of the Week!! And guess what – that has felt pretty motivating after all!!! And if I’m honest the public nature of the weigh-in is having an effect. This morning I’ve been on the scales and my weight is slightly up so I’ve said no to going out to eat this evening which I probably would have done if there was no group to go to.

Horses for courses
Ultimately, although I’m finding this hard, it is making me think and it is changing my eating habits. And I can’t argue with the thousands of people for whom it works week in, week out.

I think it’s a case of horses for courses. What suits one person doesn’t always suit another. And what suits you at one point in your life may not be the right solution at another. The trick is when anything doesn’t motivate you or you find it feels ‘heavy’ inside, stop. Don’t just give up. Maybe it’s just not for you and no doubt there is another way for you.

Sometimes when keeping weight off you just have to diet…..


I’ve been ill recently and as a result I’ve not been following my own advice about eating, eating what I ever I fancy without thinking. I’ve been scoffing bread which I normally don’t have a problem at all only eating occasionally, and wolfing down cheese which again I don’t normally eat. Dunkin’ Donuts have been calling me, as have a few too many cakes and crisps. Add to that some pizzas and a few take-aways and basically I’ve put on about 1½ stones (21lb or just under 9kg) in a the space of a few weeks. If I ever needed proof that my ’21 Keys to Keeping Weight Off’ work it has been how quickly I’ve put weight back on when I stopped following them! Time to go on a diet. 

So now time for action….
Key 18 ‘Accept your weight and size will go up and down’ is all about this. How it’s inevitable that we put weight back on. The question is how much and when do we take action to re-balance? All studies of people who keep weight off long term find that they have a way to keep a check on their weight and they have ways to re-balance when needed. I do that all the time.

But now I’m facing a far bigger challenge. All my clothes are too tight and I reckon I have gone up a dress size to a 12. I still look OK (being over 40 my face probably looks better), but the hardest part is I feel terrible. So, for me, I need to not just cut back a bit, I need to proper diet.

Instead of just using meal replacements at home, this time I have decided to join Slimming World and lose the weight more slowly by eating normal food. Another dieting fact – people who join a group are far more successful than those who go it alone – so I’ve signed up for at least 6 weeks of the group and last Wednesday went to the first session.

My only other experience of diet groups was Lighterlife with whom I lost nearly 8 stone. This group was very different – not better or worse – just different. I took to the leader straight away. She is really knowledgeable about the programme and I loved the way she challenged people in the group about their eating – quite direct but also with a smile in hour voice. One woman who had not done so well blamed it on going to the seaside (exactly where I’d been and also piled on the pounds to be fair). The leader asked ‘why does going to the seaside put on weight?’ The woman admitted with a laugh it was not going to the seaside but her eating choices whilst there. And we were given recipes for puddings which suited me fine! The women were all really nice but as with any weight group I suspect there are some who are more serious, and some more able to make the necessary changes needed than others. My challenge will be to not let others inability to keep to the programme make me worry that I wont. I know I can ; I have since then except a mate’s BBQ yesterday where the cake got the better of me. But at least only a small slice (or two).

The most important thing for me, though, is to remember it’s not a failure that I’m having to go back to a weight loss group. I’ve been ill and I needed to relax my eating habits for a while. I’ve just put some weight on, that’s all. I’m not a failure, or worthless, or a loser. And now I feel better, I’m getting back on top of it.

So if you are ever in the same boat do not feel bad or blame yourself. Accept it, love yourself and just decide to do something about it. 

Lets just hope my resolve shows on the scales at my first group weight in………