Tag Archives: keep weight off

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???

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 www.middle-aged-spread.com). 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

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.

Love your holiday and still watch your weight!

So, its holiday time again. I love summer holidays, but they can be a mare when it comes to managing my weight. And spending hours in shorts and a swimsuit isn’t good for my mood if I feel I’m bigger than I want to be. But at the same time, a holiday is not a holiday if I cant enjoy myself and food and drink is such a massive part of that. Some people even lose weight on holiday! So here are my top tips for having a great holiday and still watching your weight.

1. Got a smart phone, get an app!
My last holiday was in Portugal. So before I went I bought a translation app that could work without WiFi or 3G. I put in a load of phrases to be translated into Portuguese to help me ask for my food how I want it. So phrases like ‘Please cook in as little oil as possible’ or ‘Please do not put cheese on top’ made it really easy to order brilliant food.

2. I’ll manage the day so I can enjoy the evening….
Having lovely meals out and a fair few glasses of red wines is all part of a holiday for me. So I manage my breakfasts and lunches then I don’t worry about the evening. I took some sugar free muesli with me which I had with fruit for breakfast. I booked self catering so I could make my own lunch. When I’m not self catering I’ll buy salad stuff each day. Drink lots of water during the day and you’ll be set up nicely to enjoy your evening out.

3. Don’t compare….
Bad habit on holiday No 1. Looking at other women and thinking how much slimmer they are then me. The reality is always that some are, some aren’t. And so what?

What’s important is that we all feel good about ourselves and learn to love ourselves as we are. Remember no one else can be you. So what if they are a different size or shape?

4. When eating out still make sensible choices….
Some things are better to chose when eating out and managing your weight. Click here for a guide.

I’m a real pudding girl and holidays are no exception. In Portugal often I’d go to the ice cream stall and choose some fresh fruit covered in dark chocolate. Lovely. And I used the little freezer compartment in the fridge in our room to freeze some fruit to eat in the afternoons rather than ice-lollies. And of course I kept a nice stocked fruit bowl in our room.


Even with the most rubbish equipment you can still cook your own

5. Beware the all you can eat buffet….
The truth is that going all-inclusive or to all you can eat buffets everyday on holiday is going to make it really hard to manage your weight. So if you are all inclusive or going to all you can eat buffets, still try to watch what you eat and still bring your own more healthy alternatives. Use a small plate, only put small amounts on your plate at a time, take a break between going back to fill up your plate, and drink lots of water. Don’t eat just because the food is there. 


6. Stay active….
Even if you are going for a total chill-out holiday by the pool, its still possible to keep up some activity. Swim as much as you can and walk everywhere rather than getting lifts or a bus; in the sun its lovely and there’s nothing nicer than walking home in the sunset after a great meal and evening out.

If you can and its your kind of thing, go dancing to dance off your evening meal. And if your on holiday with the right person then remember that getting active in the bedroom uses up lots of calories; even more when its hot!!

7. Be grateful for all you eat and drink…
I believe that how we feel about things effects how our body responds. I’m convinced my body deals with food better when I feel good & not worried about what I’ve eaten. So be grateful for everything you eat or drink and for your brilliant holiday. Before you eat think about how good the food you’ll have is for you. Be determined to enjoy everything you eat and drink and to have a brilliant holiday.


The best ways to enjoy the Easter holiday and still keep weight off

Holidays and big occasions can always present challenges when you are watching your weight. And Easter can be particularly difficult if you have any chocoholic tendencies! So what’s the best way to have a fab Easter but not pile on the pounds?

1. If you want to eat chocolate eat the right kind! Go as dark as you can!!
Many nutritionists credit dark chocolate (not milk, sweetened or white, but dark chocolate with a minimum of 70% cocoa, preferably 80% or 90% cocoa with being a ‘fat burning food’. (Fat burning foods are foods which cause a reaction in your body which means that your body uses many of the calories in the food in processing it.) But it won’t surprise you to hear that these fat burning properties are only in moderation and so you do have to watch how much you eat. However chocolate is also a low GI food, with much documented research into the beneficial effects on health and mental health, not least as a source of iron. Research seems to suggest that a small amount of dark chocolate cdoes not cause the sugar spikes caused by other chocolate; it may even help to regulate insulin and help to keep you feeling full for longer when eaten after a meal. Indeed, scientists have found that eating a couple of squares of dark chocolate at a snack can mean you eat 18% less calories at your next meal.

So when you buy your egg or chocolate bar, check the cocoa content and make sure you go for at least 70%; more if you can. Lindor even do a 99% bar.

But remember, in moderation is the key. I’ve tested it out and even for me who can eat chocolate for ever couldn’t eat too much of really dark chocolate as its so rich. So maybe moderation is easier than you think!

2. If you are eating milk or white chocolate, go easy….
I know, though, that there are load of other chocolates around. For me, every year I have to have at least one Crème Egg; its just ritual. Plus I love Cadbury’s Mini-Eggs. So I have bought one Crème Egg and one small bag of Mini-Eggs. I will savour, love and enjoy them. But I’ve decided that’s all this year.

3. Make your own Easter cakes…
Yesterday I bought my Easter hosts some wonderful looking cake from Betty’s in Harrogate. It looks amazing- full of dried fruit and marzipan. I may have a small amount. Or more likely I’ll make my own version using sugar substitute or natural sugars such as honey and maple syrup and brown flour. I even can make a sugar free marzipan – here’s my favourite recipe; I just swap the sugar with splenda.

 4. Get active!
Try and work off any extra chocolate or cake by joining in a kids egg hunt. Check the web for activities near you, or if you have children in your life offer to organise an egg hunt – that way you have the activity of both hiding the eggs and also helping the kids to find them! One person I know will be dressing up as an Easter bunny this weekend for a hunt they are organising in their local park. Even better as he’ll be so hot in his suit he’ll be bound to sweat off a bit extra!

4. Expect a sugar slump afterwards….
If you do eat lots of chocolate and cake, expect you will probably have sugar cravings in the days afterwards. So when they come, just know what they are and decide in advance not to give in.

4. And lastly – just have a lovely Easter.
Enjoy yourself and enjoy your food.

Peg xx

Staying positive when life is crap

Earlier this week I have had a major setback in my life. The week then seemed to just go from bad to worse. I didn’t get a job I wanted, I had a horrendous expereince travelling, I put on weight even though I’m on a very low calorie diet. I’ve started worrying about money and haven’t slept very well. I even managed to get bitten by something when I was in a café and have been in pain since. And, all of this has come after a very difficult few moths following a house fire. But despite all this, I am feeling OK. Actually I’m feeling even more than OK and I’m looking forward to next week. Because even when life is really really crap it is possible to try and make yourself feel a little bit better.

For me, feeling good about life and me is completely linked to my ability to manage my weight. If I feel rubbish then I am less likely to make good decisions about food because I can feel I’m not worth it. I’m more likely to think I should ‘treat’ myself with calorific food or a real blow-out. Plus I tend to stay in more and have less energy. And that again makes me want to eat more sugary food which, of course, is a vicious cycle because it actually makes me more sluggish. Keeping weight off is as much about how we feel as it is about the food we eat.

So how can you feel better when things are really hard? Well here’s my top 10 tips.

1. Allow yourself to feel sad or down. Have quiet ‘me’ time if that’s what you want, cry and get it out. But after you have, tell yourself its time to change how you feel.

2. Do it gradually. Don’t expect to feel positive overnight. Go for small steps and know each time you feel a bit better you are moving forward.

3. Smile and think of nice things, no matter how small or insignificant to help you feel better. Last thing at night is a great time.

4. Make a list of all the things that are good in your life, no matter how small. When you feel down get out your list. Keep adding to it.

5. If your initial response to a difficult situation is ‘chocolate’ or ‘take away’ or similar, just stop and think before you eat it. Think about it they will probably actually will make you feel worse. Instead, eat good foods, like blueberries, that make you feel fantastic.

6. Treat yourself and be proactive. If you know you are facing a tough situation plan something nice to do afterwards or to have the support you need ready in place. Treats don’t have to cost and don’t have to involve food. Try a lovely long bubble bath or a walk, or a great bunch of flowers. Remember taking exercise releases hormones that make us feel better too.

7. Think about the things you love in life and put them around you. Put on some upbeat music or watch a film you love that always makes you smile. Looking at art or images that you like produces brain hormones which make you feel happier. So really look at pictures you have on the wall or at photos of people or places in your life. Even have a scrap book of images you love to look at when times are tough.

8. If something goes the wrong way for you try not to be bitter and angry. As hard as this can be, when we are, it is generally only us that suffers. Instead, try to look at situations in a different way. Do a ‘that feels better exercise’. Write down what you are feeling about the situation and then do a tick, x or ? at the end of each statement to see if it makes you feel worse, neutral or better. As you start to find ideas that make you feel better keep going. Smile and you will find that you soon start to feel a little better.

9. Have an action plan for how you will move forward. Steps can be very small and achievable and this will help you not feel ‘stuck’.

10. Ask for help; it’s not a failure, in fact it shows strength. Ask your friends, family and colleagues, and seek professional help if this is what you need.

Lastly, remember there are always good things that happen even in the midst of rubbish if you look for them. A few months someone stole my husband’s golf clubs. I said before we buy some new ones let’s ask people on Freecycle if they have any they need to get rid of. So a few weeks ago I posted the request. No response initially, but this week we got an email offering us a set that were even better than the ones that were nicked. He’s been on the driving range this morning and it’s put a big smile on his face. No matter how rubbish some things can be, remember there are always nice, good people in the world.

Have a great week. Peg xx

Binging when dieting? – Why, oh why, oh why?


As February starts I realised my new year diet has simply not been working. Not surprising as I realised I’ve actually been binging this January. So not only have I not been losing weight, I’ve actually put a little bit of weight on! I know I can diet when I’m motivated so why have I found it so hard to lose weight this January? And how am I going to get back to good habits?

Some of us just struggle around food…
We all have different reasons why we struggle around food. Do you live to eat or eat to live? Me, I love eating. I just don’t have an ‘off-switch’ and I like to just eat and eat and eat. What I’ve learned over the last 4 years since losing nearly 8 stone in weight, and keeping most of it off since is that I will just keep on eating unless I actively manage my food and make deliberate decisions about when to stop. I also have other strategies, particularly making sure that if I want to stuff my face I do it on food that doesn’t matter – like fat burning foods and calorie neutral or Low GI foods.

I’ve also learned that when I allow myself free-reign I lose all boundaries and can’t stop. Before Christmas I made some very, very calorific Florentines (they had 3 bars of choc in and a whole packet of butter). The idea was to take them to the family we were visiting over Christmas. I did take them places but guess who ate most of them? Piece by piece, I just couldn’t stop. The same on Christmas day – I kept eating till I was almost sick!!

New year diet resolution just not working…
I believe that when keeping weight off you have to occasionally re-balance as it’s inevitable you put some weight back on – particularly at a time like Christmas. But even going on my little catch-up diet on 1st January hasn’t stopped me from eating too much! I bought a new Hypnosis book and CD (The Hypno Diet) and have been listening every morning. It is telling me to reduce portion size. So a week ago, totally in the name of research you understand, I went to the most difficult place of all for me – the all you can eat international buffet! I was determined to follow my own advice on how to manage the buffet. Did I? Of course not and I ate and ate until no more could go in.

Back in normal life, I’ve been trying to keep to Slimming World. But sadly, the ‘free food’ concept has not helped – I’ve been eating fruit no-stop even when I am full, let alone hungry. It may be fruit but too much is starting to tell. And worringly, the hypnosis CD is not at this moment helping me.

Taking action…
So I’ve decided I have to take action
. And that is the key for us all I think. If a diet or how you are with food isn’t working, take some time to really think about what it is that isn’t working. A food and activity diary for a few days will help you see what needs to change.

1. Work out what isn’t working.
For me clearly I’m binging and I’m allowing myself to binge on foods I wouldn’t normally have.

2. Think about why it’s not working.
Is it comfort, is it just habit. Why are you feeling less able to make good decisions with food than normal? For me, I have had a lot of disruption at home over the last couple of months and I know I am on the verge of major change in my life. Is it so surprising this might make me want to comfort eat?

3. Work out what you can do to change these habits.
The answer to this one is different for us all. Maybe its just about changing what you do or a routine – for example if you are eating too much rubbish whilst watching TV, maybe try not to watch TV for a few nights or sit in a different seat. Or maybe you need to decide to follow a different eating pattern, eating different foods.

My solution…
For me, I know I need to shift some weight as I do each year (this time about a stone) and I need to stop the binging. So I’ve gone back on Lighterlife Lite for a few weeks. That way I don’t eat food at all during the day (you eat food replacement packs) and what I do eat is strictly measured. Then when I’ve lost the weight I’ll follow a programme to get me back to eating sensible amounts. Sounds drastic but for me it works.

What works for you…
Of course that’s the thing – what works for one person doesn’t always work for others. But once you have found what works for you, stick with it. Take it hour by hour if you have to do, or day by day. Take all the support and help you can from friends and family. And just love how you clothes feel better each day.

Follow the ‘21 Keys to Keeping Weight Off’…
And once you are back where you want to be, well remember to check out my 21 Keys to Keeping Weight Off to help you stay there.

Let me know how you get on.

Quorn – brill for dieting and to keep weight off

When it comes to your new year diet or if you want to keep weight off, quorn is simply brilliant. Really versatile, it can be made into almost anything you would normally make with meat. And best of all it is really very low fat, low GI, high in fibre, high in protein, keeps you feeling fuller for longer, is fat burning and very low calorie. So all in all, a brilliant diet and weight maintenance food.

If you haven’t been converted yet, read on…..

What is quorn?
Quorn is a micro-protein, made by adding oxygen, nitrogen, glucose and minerals to a fungus called Fusarium venenatum which is described as being like mushrooms and truffles. Many quorn products also contain eggs. Quite disturbingly it was originally used to make material and animal feed! However it was quickly realised that because it has a good texture (some say its like it has been ‘knitted’) it is possible to shape it into various formats. By adding flavours it’s made into a meat-free alternative for everything from chicken fillets to fish fingers; from sliced deli-ham to a meat free pate.

What can you get…..
Quorn products which are great for slimming and watching weight include:

Need to be cooked:

  • Mince
  • Sausages
  • Chicken style pieces
  • Chicken style fillets
  • Beef strips
  • Swedish style and Italian style meatballs
  • Burgers
  • Pepper steaks
  • Lamb steaks.

Deli food ready to eat:

  • Sandwich meats – ham, chicken, beef, turkey
  • Fajita strips
  • Roasted fillets
  • Tikka fillets.

There are loads of other products too but not all are low fat or good for slimming. For example the bacon and Southern Style Burgers taste great but have more calories (though they are still relatively low calorie). And many of the ready meals or products can actually be quite calorific. So you need to check those carefully.

Really easy…..
Two great aspects of quorn which make it even easier to use are that it keeps quite well out of the fridge for a day or so if you are having food on the go. So I will often make a packed lunch/tea of deli products and a tub of salad.

Also you are OK to defrost and re-freeze. So even if I make a meal with frozen quorn I often re-freeze the cooked meal to have when I need something quick and easy.

Good on diets…..
Quorn should fit well with your diet. On Slimming World mince and pieces are superfree foods; on Weight Watchers  basic quorn products are low in Pro Points. It is also a low GI food so will fit with your low GI diet. Just check your particular diet for more details.

You do need to cook slightly differently though…
Believe me, if you slightly adapt how you cook quorn you can give it to unsuspecting meat eaters and they will often not know. The trick is to use more liquid than with meat and add in some additional flavours such as herbs and spices, marmite, Bisto, balsamic and other vinegars, Worcester sauce, fish sauce, soy sauce, lemon juice, stock cubes or bullion etc.

A note of caution…..
However there is a note of caution with Quorn. Some people are violently allergic to quorn and it is thought this is linked to people who are allergic to certain fungi. I have a friend who will be really sick within hours of eating any quorn – tough for him as he is a mainly veggie! Although its believed the numbers of people allergic are relatively small, if you are new to quorn and you are ill after eating it (or if you get ill after eating a lot) then maybe you are one of those people.

So what are you waiting for? How about trying quorn soon in….
Bolognaise, curry, chilli, lasagne, stir fry, pasta sauce, with couscous or rice, sausage casseroles, cottage pie, roast dinner, fry-ups, steaks on their own with salsa and salad, meat loaf, paella, risotto, Thai curry….