Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
Dear Skinny Latte,
I have closely followed your adventures since the beginning, and have found you to be a wonderful source of inspiration.
Having lost nearly thirty kilos yourself, I was wondering what advice you would give someone who has a small amount of weight to lose (say, five to ten kilos) and already eats a fairly healthy diet and exercises regularly. I understand that at the start of a weight loss journey, the weight can come off quite quickly (at least to start with) with the adoption of new healthy habits. But what if these habits are already in place? What do you think is the best approach for an already relatively healthy and active person with a little weight to lose?
A Little To Lose
Dear A Little To Lose,
Thank you for such a nice letter!
I think your situation is not unusual - and it can be confusing when you already live a healthy life and eat well, to think "how can I already improve on what I'm doing?" It complicates things a little further if you want to actually lose a little too.
Basically, my weight loss of nearly 30kgs came down to three things:
- Exercise six days out of seven, minimum
- Eat healthy, good foods and pay attention to portion sizes
- Honest tracking of my progress
The approach I would advise would be to look at what you're already doing and see how you can make things better. Keep what is working for you, and revamp what isn't.
The first place I would start is with your eating. Track your eating every day for a week, and then sit down and review it. Look for gaps, look for places where you might have been able to pick a healthier option, or eaten things you didn't really want/need. How much takeaway do you eat? How many times do you go to Starbucks/Costa's to get a latte each week? How much alcohol do you drink? Are you eating the full fat versions of dairy products, soft drinks, etc. when there are lower fat/calorie alternatives? Are you getting enough essential nutrients? If you're vegetarian/vegan, are you making sure you're getting sufficient protein and iron?
For example, this was a typical week day for me a few months ago, before I started half-marathon training:
B: Homemade muesli with strawberry yoghurt and fresh strawberries
S: Starbucks soy hazelnut hot chocolate (work meeting)
L: Vegetarian chow mein with noodles, chinese greens and tofu (takeaway lunch from Hare and Tortoise); strawberries and grapes
S: Cup of tea, 2 chocolate wafer biscuits
D: Tikka masala made with Quorn pieces, courgette and brocolli; medium serve brown rice; one medium piece of naan bread; 1 glass white wine
It's not exactly the cheesecake-for-breakfast menu that I had prior to April 2005 but there is room for improvement! These are the questions I would ask or notes I would make for myself:
B: Was the yoghurt low-fat? How much muesli was it - 1 cup, 1/2 a cup?
S: Have a skinny cappucino or latte instead of hot chocolate
L: Seems fine, but don't have too many takeaways each week, limit to 1 per week maybe? Could you have brought leftovers from home, or had a salad sandwich instead?
S: Don't have chocolate wafer biscuits at work, always keep fruit at your desk or in the work fridge to have if you're hungry
D: Did you use low fat coconut milk in the curry? Just have rice OR bread, not both.
You certainly don't want to be really hard on yourself and cut everything pleasurable out of your diet, but if you want to lose some weight you will have to be a bit more mindful. I find that asking myself "do I really want this / need this?" before the food goes in my mouth is very helpful. In that way, I'm not forbidding anything or making myself feel bad, but rather asking myself in a reasonable and supportive way if this is what I really want or need. It's all about being aware.
Also, the portion sizes are usually the biggest problem for people who already have a healthy diet but can't quite figure out why their jeans are a bit tighter than usual. That was the biggest eye-opener for me when I first started losing weight. I thought my portions were pretty reasonable - uh...NO! Half a tub of icecream is not one serve! Half a plate of mashed potato is not one serve! A whole packet of pasta is not one serve! You get my drift.
What I had to start doing was measuring food, so that I could get used to what one serve (or 30g, etc) actually was. As long as I continued deluding myself about how much I was actually eating, I had no hope of getting my weight under control. So out came the trusty kitchen scales! I weighed everything - meat (when I used to eat it), grated cheese, potatoes, cereal - and I was so shocked when I realised that I'd actually been eating mostly triple what the "standard serving" was!! No wonder I'd ended up where I had! As time went by, eventually it became second nature to me what 30g of low fat cheese looked like on top of a pizza, etc. so I didn't need to rely on the scales as much. It is really worth re-educating yourself about what a standard serve actually looks like.
Some other things that might help you:
• Make vegetables the main ingredients of your meals. They are nutritious, filling and absolutely delicious! Corn on the cob was a lifesaver for me when I first started losing weight – instead of the mountain of potatoes I used to serve with a main course, I would serve salad and corn instead.
• Try to have fruit as a snack during the day instead of biscuits, crackers, etc.
• Drink at least 2 litres of water per day. Avoid soft drinks, but if you must have them, only have the diet/light versions.
• Use only low fat dairy products.
• Eat whole grain breads where possible. Try to cut out refined sugars and processed foods from your diet.
• Include cheap and healthy sources of protein such as lentils and beans in your diet, as an alternative to eating meat at every meal.
• Make your house a JUNK FREE ZONE. Not only will it save you a lot of money, it will also mean that you don’t have the food at your disposal tempting you. Give yourself an environment where you cannot fail.
• Try to limit or avoid takeaway food where possible. If you do eat out, don't think of it as a night off healthy eating, but a night off cooking and cleaning up instead, and go for the healthiest possible option.
It might also be worth looking at how much alcohol you drink. If you're having a glass of wine with dinner every night, and then at least one night out with the girls every week, then that's a lot of empty calories! I am certainly a social butterfly and very rarely turn down a night out with friends, so these are tips that help me:
• If I know I have a night out coming up, I try to limit my drinking earlier in the days preceding it to compensate.
• I try to save alcohol for weekends and special occasions only, and try to resist the relaxing end-of-day G&T that became a regular part of my early days in London! I go for a run after work instead!
• It's the oldest trick in the book, but alternate every alcoholic drink you have with water. I go even better, and do it this way: glass of wine or beer, glass of water, glass of lime and soda then I have more alcohol. Lime and soda is great if you want to look like you're drinking but you're not. Just make sure your friends don't misunderstand and think you said vodka, lime and soda as they head up to the bar! (happened last Friday! ha ha!)
Up the ante with your exercise. If you are already a runner, do what I'm doing and register for a challenging race, like a half marathon! If you're an all-round athlete, think about doing a triathlon - it's loads of fun, and really gets you out of your comfort zone. So many people I know have lost weight, and kept it off, through taking up triathlons. Join a sports team like football, netball, hockey, water polo - your social life will improve too! Whatever you've been doing to maintain a healthy lifestyle, expand on it. Find ways to make it more challenging. Add running to your walks, do strength training when you come in from a run (tricep dips, pushups, etc), or find a different route for your walk/run that involves more hills or more distance. Step it up!
To keep yourself motivated, measure progress however you feel comfortable - whether this is on the scales, hip/waist/bust measurements, how your clothes fit, or with photos. Keep a record of how you're going, and have a diary/tracker that you can refer back to and look over and feel proud of!
I hope this helps, A Little to Lose! Focus on being happy and having as healthy a life as possible; eat well for good health, exercise for the joy of being active, do something to really challenge yourself physically and keep yourself motivated - and you'll probably find that pesky 5kg will disappear all on its own.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Claire's post on Tuesday got me thinking about my favourite movies about writers and artists, and also about movies that are just inspiring stories that make me want to pick up a pen or gravitate towards the keyboard, even if it's 1am and I've had a few gins.
Growing up, I was just like Jo in Little Women - always thinking about writing, involving my sisters (yes, I have three too!) in various secret societies or games that I had made up, writing my own magazine, putting on plays for my parents and their friends, or spending long hours lusting over books in libraries. When I was going through a particularly romantic Jane Austen/Charlotte Bronte phase in my mid teens, I used to write by candlelight in a long white nightgown, as per the picture above! The pages of my 1998 journals are liberally stained with candle wax. I would write late into the night, long after everyone had gone to bed, or I'd get up early before school and labour over my various tales. I wish I had such industry and determination now. I can't really function before 8am these days!
Little Women is my comfort writing film - it always makes me feel dreamy and snuggly. And it's also got one of the best lines ever, that always comes to me when I'm not sure about something I've written. Friedrich says this to Jo after she reacts badly to his honest opinion about her work:
"There is more to you than this. If you have the courage to write it."And then once Jo gets her great idea, she just sits and writes, until it's done. I need to remember that!
Other films that I love and always want to write something after I watch are:
- Frida (my favourite film)
- Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
- Love is The Devil
- The Kid (a recent discovery, thanks to TS, the Chaplin scholar)
- Lost in Translation
- Under the Tuscan Sun
While on the subject of films, in a desire to inspire ourselves, and get out of the house, TS took me to see Slumdog Millionaire last night, which I thoroughly recommend. TS's sister is currently living in Mumbai, so now when she talks about where she lives and what she sees each day, I can actually picture it all, the pulsing melting pot of crowds, smoke, heat and colour.
I am still absorbing it, and there are many who will write more eloquent reviews than I, but there are images from it that I can't get out of my mind - the dazzling colours of the clothes the women wash in the garbage-strewn river, the way the camera blurred and jumped as the young hero and his brother ran for cover from a fire-wielding mob, and of course the music, that vibrant, soulful, makes-you-want-to-dance Indian music. Sensory overload, really. I have not enjoyed a film at the cinema so much for a very long time. Do go and see it.
Other movie/literature inspiration:
- The Private Press is currently calling for poems inspired by David Lynch's Blue Velvet.
- 5 Weird and Wonderful Movies about Writers
- Ten tips for writing your own movie
- I always enjoy misonou's thoughts on cinema
- The Guardian film blog
- Top 100 Movies based on books (this is a topic I feel very strongly about, but I'll go into another time!)
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
I got this recipe from my new favourite blog, Ripe London. I adapted it a little - cut out the oil it originally called for, etc - and the curries I normally make are along these lines anyway, but I always enjoy trying something new. It makes a world of difference making it "from scratch" rather than shoving frozen spinach and a can of chickpeas together, like I normally do when getting home at 7pm!
Pre Pub-Crawl Curry
1/2 organic Jerusalem artichoke, peeled and cubed**
1 large organic sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, smashed and chopped
Thumb-sized piece of root ginger, grated
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon garam masala
2 cups cooked or canned chickpeas, drained
1 cup vegetable stock (I use Marigold)
2 tablespoons vegetarian curry paste
1 can reduced-fat coconut milk
Handful chopped coriander
the juice of half a lemon
**NB: I couldn't find this in my local ASDA, so I used half a large swede instead, still very good.
Add the artichokes (or swede) to a heavy-bottomed pan of salted, boiling water. After five minutes, add the sweet potatoes. Boil until both vegetables are just tender (about five minutes). Drain and flush with cold water to stop cooking.
Coat a large heavy-bottomed pan with cooking spray, add the onion, garlic, ginger and dry spices and fry gently for 5 minutes. Add the chickpeas, stir well and pour in the stock. Bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
Heat the remaining oil in a saute pan. Add the curry paste and fry gently for 3 minutes. Add the artichoke and sweet potato and stir-fry another 3 minutes. Add the coconut milk and the vegetables to the chickpeas and return to the boil. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the coriander and lemon juice. Taste and adjust the seasonings. Serve with steamed basmati rice.
PS: We just bought a rice cooker and it made the best rice ever to go with this curry! Rice cookers are fabulous, go and get one if you haven't already got one, you'll never go back!
Monday, January 19, 2009
This week, "L.A.Z.Boy" writes:
"Skinny Latte, I love your recipes - but my problem is that I just don't have time to cook! What advice would you give to someone who wants to eat healthy but has a time deficit?!"
First of all, if you don't mind me suggesting so, I would just have a teensy look at where your time is going and why you find it so hard to find time to cook a healthy meal. I personally just feel so much better within myself when I make time to cook a healthy meal (and do my exercise).
When I find myself saying "I'm too tired" or "I'm too busy", it's usually a trigger to me that I'm avoiding something or trying to let myself off the hook in some way. Ironically, it's when I'm feeling tired, stressed or busy that I should be exercising and eating well, to help me cope with everything better. My mental well-being suffers incredibly when I don't get out for my run, and I always feel like crap if I haven't had healthy food or drunk enough water during the day. It's all about your priorities and what is important to you. We all have the same 24 hours in each day.
But fortunately in this day and age, if you are time-poor you can get a lot of food prepared where the most that's required of you is to put it in the oven or open the microwave door. Certainly when I moved to the UK I nearly died when I saw how much is available in the pre-prepared "ready meal" camp! And most of it looks quite appetising!
If you live in the UK, there is a plethora of ready made healthy meals, available from every supermarket. My preference for taste and good use of fresh vegetables would be M&S or Waitrose. You could literally buy every meal of the week there, and not get bored, or suffer from any deprivations, vitamin and nutrient wise. Most of them deliver to your door as well, if you can't get out to the supermarket.
The thing with pre-prepared meals is that they are always going to be just that bit more expensive than the raw ingredients. It's up to you whether you can bear that extra cost or not.
I personally really enjoy cooking and like doing it at the end of the day. It helps me unwind. I love having my kitchen filled with delicious smells. I love checking out supermarkets for new foods to try, and reading food blogs to get ideas. But that's just me and I appreciate not everyone goes wild over their food the way I do!
So, here's a few ideas from me for quick and healthy meals. A lot of these feature regularly on my week day dinner or lunch menu.
Meals you can make quickly from the supermarket:
- Soup: you can buy ready made soups in the chilled section of the supermarket. My favourites are M&S Spicy Red Lentil and Waitrose Fresh Tomato and Basil. What I do is heat this up and add a few handfuls of fresh baby spinach leaves to it as it's heating. I also add a few handfuls of small pasta (like macaroni) to the Tomato and Basil one to make it more substantial.
- Salad: buy a pack of salad that has other vegetables in it (like Waitrose Sweet and Crunchy, which has carrots, peppers and red cabbage in it) and use it to make wholesome wraps. Choose a wrap or pitta bread that is wholemeal or has seeds in it. Spread with low-fat hommus or other low-fat dip, put salad on the top and roll up. In the summer, this is a typical week day lunch for me.
- Felafel and salad: most supermarkets have ready-made felafel. Buy a pack of salad to go with it, and just heat the felafel in the microwave until warm. Drizzle with low fat tzatiki or hommus.
- Baked beans: for a quick and supremely cheap winter lunch, I zap a can in the microwave and add some spinach to it.
- Pasta: get some fresh pasta from the chilled section of the supermarket. Toss with a packet of fresh rocket, some grilled peppers or aubergine (not packed in oil) and a small piece of fetta or goats cheese.
- Spinach and chickpea curry: coat a nonstick pan or wok with cooking spray. Chuck in a diced onion, 1/2 jar of korma curry paste, 1 can of drained chickpeas, 8 discs of frozen spinach (or fresh if you have it), 1 can light coconut milk, stir, bring to the boil. Cook until spinach is defrosted and the sauce is thick. Add milk or stock if you need it thinner. Serve with easy-cook brown rice, any pre-cooked rice, or couscous.
- Tuna pasta: cook pasta as per normal. When it has five minutes to go, throw in a packet of pre-prepared vegetables (carrot, broccoli, cauliflower). Drain everything and put it back in your pan. Put pan back on the hob, with heat low. Add one can of drained tuna in brine, 2 tablespoons of pesto, some olives if you have/like them (not in oil though), some light Philly cream cheese if you have it, and a small handful of grated parmesan.
- Vegetarian wraps: coat a nonstick pan or wok with cooking spray. Chuck in an onion, 1/2 a packet of frozen vegetarian mince, 1 packet fajita seasoning, 4 discs frozen spinach and enough boiling water to stop the mince sticking. Stir, cover and cook for about 10 minutes or until the mince is cooked and spinach has defrosted. Serve with salad, salsa and tortilla wraps.
- Noodle soup: make a packet miso soup or boil some vegetable stock. Once boiling add a packet of udon noodles or dried buckwheat soba noodles and 6 small mini dim-sims (easy to get in the supermarket) or vegetarian dumplings. Boil 5 minutes or so or until the dumplings are cooked through. Add a packet of supermarket Asian vegetables (fresh is best, but frozen is fine) and a dash of sweet chilli and soy sauces to your taste.
- Omelette: when it comes to fast food, you don't get much faster than eggs. Take 2 eggs and beat together in a jug with salt, pepper, any fresh herbs you have handy, and 1/2 a small grated courgette (zucchini). Heat a pan and when it is smoking hot, pour in the egg mixture. Let it sit there for about 10 seconds, or until you can see a “frill” on the outside. Then pick up the pan by the handle and tilt it about 45 degrees. With the aid of a spatula or pancake turner, move the liquid egg in the centre of the pan out to the other area of the pan. Keep tilting the pan and moving the liquid egg into the free space so that the entire base of the pan is covered. Use the spatula to hold the egg that has set in place while you move the liquid egg to a “free” area in the pan. Then turn the heat down to low and leave the omelette to cook until nearly all the liquid egg is gone (about 20 seconds) and then add 2 tablespoons of grated low fat cheese in a line through the centre of the omelette.
With the aid of your spatula or pancake turner, start folding the omelette. Begin from the right and fold it into the middle, and then fold it again on to the remaining portion. Serve with some nutty wholegain toast.
- Red curry vegetable soup: saute an onion and a little minced garlic and ginger in a stockpot with cooking spray. Add 2 tablespoons red curry paste, 1 packet supermarket preppped chopped root vegetables (potato, carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin, etc) and 1.5 cups vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Boil for 5-10 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add 1.5 cups light coconut milk, 1 chopped courgette (zucchini) and 1 cup spinach leaves. Cook for 2 minutes. Sprinkle with fresh coriander just before serving, if you have it.
- Chickpea, tuna and rocket salad: Mix together in a bowl 1 can of sweet chilli or tomato and basil flavoured tuna, 1 can of drained chickpeas, 1 packet of washed rocket leaves and the juice of 1 small lemon. Add low-fat feta cheese if you have it, and any other fresh vegetables.
- Haloumi and couscous salad: Make couscous according to directions on packet (it takes about 5 minutes or so). Cut half a block of haloumi into slices and flash fry until golden brown on each side. Mix a dressing of juice of 1/2 a lemon and sweet chilli sauce to taste. Mix in a bowl (or in the saucepan the couscous has cooked in) couscous, 1 small packet of washed rocket leaves, fresh mint leaves (if you have it), chopped dried apricots or red pepper (if you have them), the dressing and the haloumi slices. Grind a little black pepper over the top.
- Pizza: Spread a supermarket naan bread or a piece of wholemeal Lebanese bread with tomato paste or pasta sauce. Top with your choice of vegetables - I like slices of courgette (zucchini), diced red and yellow peppers, mushrooms and some kalamata olives - and then a handful of low fat cheese to sprinkle over. Top with some dried Herbes de Provence or oregano if you have it in the cupboard. Bake in a hot oven (190C) for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Other fabulous resources for quick, healthy meals you can make in minutes:
- Donna Hay's 10-Minute meals (I think it might be out of print now) and No Time To Cook
- Limes and Lycopene's Quick Meals
- Channel 4 Healthy Recipes
- iVillage Dinners in a Flash
- Quick and Healthy Recipes for Kids
Enjoy! I hope this has been helpful, and you know that it doesn't really matter if you don't have time to cook - it's having time to yourself to relax, rejuvenate and do the things that make you happy that matters. Cooking just happens to be one of mine :)
Sunday, January 18, 2009
"I sometimes wonder whether all pleasures are not substitutes for joy...."
- C.S Lewis
A delicious, full and busy week has passed, most of it spent in London's Book House on a course for work. Enjoyed polishing my editing skills, but enjoyed being in Wandsworth and its Aladdin's cave of excellent cafes, pubs and immaculately decorated townhouses (I love it when people leave their curtains open!) even more. Maybe I live in the wrong part of London...?
Simple pleasures are indeed the last refuge of the complex, as my beloved Wilde put it. Here are some of my last refuges over the past week:
Finally, although I have no picture to show for it, and it's an odd thing to put in a post titled "pleasures" but I got my first rejection letter for 2009 this week too. Normally I would have to go in search of a comforting article to read on One Night Stanzas (!) and even though it's never great to see your own handwriting on an envelope lying on the floor as you walk through the door (I was a little bit tipsy as well, having just come in from farewell drinks for a few work friends), I was fine with it, because the letter was not only handwritten from the editor herself, but really nice too! She made a few suggestions on how I could better the pieces I submitted, and urged me to try again. So I think I will.
Here's to another week filled with pleasures.
Wednesday, January 14, 2009
I have been at goal for nearly three years. A little look into my pantry, fridge and freezer might give you some ideas as to how I've managed to maintain, what sort of foods I enjoy and what I think are the essential ingredients for anyone who wants to be slim and healthy, but enjoy life at the same time.
Since reaching goal, I have also been vegetarian for two years (since May 2007). My partner is also vegetarian, and prefers to eat dairy-free as well where possible, and so a lot of my chosen foods reflect this.
In the fridge:
♥ Soy milk
♥ Bottles of filtered tap water
♥ Dairy free organic spread
♥ A variety of cheeses - dairy free for my man, fetta for omelettes and salads, haloumi for a weekend breakfast treat, parmesan for pasta
♥ Yoghurt - I love the thick Greek style yoghurts made by Total. For breakfasts, Yeo Valley and Rachel's Organic are my brands of choice. I love the rhubarb, coconut and greek honey flavours
♥ Beer - it's not an every day occurence, but I do enjoy a beer on the weekend if I've earned it
♥ Wine - again, not an every day occurence, but nice to have in there
♥ Hummus - I can't get enough of this, since getting hooked on it in NYC nearly two years ago, where there was a divine middle-eastern takeaway right by where I was staying. I have this on toast with avocado for breakfast; spread on wraps or grainy bread with salad for lunch; or as a snack with wholemeal pitta bread or raw carrot/cucumber/cauliflower.
♥ Fresh pasta - this is mostly there for "those" nights where you just can't be bothered waiting half an hour for dinner, and just want something in 10 minutes! I cook the pasta and toss with a packet of spinach or rocket and a few dollops of pesto. Not too regular an occurence these days, but nice to have as an emergency. Lasts for ages too.
♥ Various condiments - sweet chilli sauce, oyster sauce, red miso paste, Japanese mayonnaise (best by far), maple syrup, mint sauce, wholegrain mustard
♥ Curry pastes - keep one of these on hand at all times! Thai red and green, and Indian Korma are the most regular ones I use
♥ Pesto - an every day essential
♥ Apple and orange juice, although lately we've been making our own with our juicer (which is much nicer!) and haven't bought it for weeks
♥ In the summer, we had a stash of organic cola cans in there, but it's far too cold to drink soft drinks now!
♥ Olives - for pizza and jazzing up pasta dishes or casseroles
♥ And of course, a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables - I try to have fresh spinach, courgette (zuchinni), peppers and carrots in there at all times. In the summer there are a lot more salad ingredients in there. At the moment, being winter, there are leeks, brocolli, swede and pumpkin in there too.
In the pantry:
Dry goods for baking (because I do still love to bake! Mostly it's just pancakes for Sunday breakfast though, these days):
♥ Seed and Grain bread flour (I make all my own bread now)
♥ Plain and self raising flours
♥ Baking powder and baking soda
♥ Vanilla extract
♥ Ground almonds
Other dry goods:
♥ Spare soy milk
♥ Spinach lasagna sheets
♥ Wholewheat linguine or spaghetti
♥ Wholewheat penne
♥ Small pasta for soups
♥ Noodles - vacuumed-packed udon, and dried buckwheat soba noodles
♥ Red lentils
♥ Tortilla wraps
♥ Dried japanese mushrooms for soup and stir-fries
♥ Carnaroli rice for risottos
♥ Brown basmati rice
♥ Ordinary basmati rice (we've just bought a rice cooker! It rocks!)
♥ Readymade naan bread or wholemeal pittas, for pizza bases, or hummus dipping
♥ Porridge oats
♥ Chocolate and strawberry protein powders (My man puts the former on his cereal, I put the latter in fruit smoothies to drink on the tube on the way to work)
♥ Homemade muesli (better than anything I've ever bought)
♥ Flaxseeds - for homemade muesli and also for adding to pancake mix
Snacks, canned goods and spreads
♥ Baked beans
♥ Other beans such as cannellini or borlotti, for soups
♥ Coconut milk
♥ Crisps, crackers and chocolate digestives (these are my man's snacks, I don't touch them!)
♥ Polo mints
♥ Not normally in there: A honey cake and a tin of Belgian biscuits (I went to Brussels last month!)
♥ Not normally in there: Chocolates and other stuff leftover from Christmas
♥ Not normally in there: A small bar of Green and Black's Butterscotch....only two rows gone so far!
♥ Homemade jam
♥ Organic smooth peanut butter
♥ Ethiopian spice mix and chana masala spice mix - both are fabulous with chickpeas
♥ Korma spice mix
♥ Herbs de Provence
♥ Dried lemongrass
♥ Various standard spices like cinnamon, cumin, nutmeg, etc.
♥ Vegetable stock powder (Marigold)
♥ Pepper and Maldon sea salt
♥ Italian olive oil from M&S
♥ Special japanese garlic soy sauce, excellent for marinating tofu, etc.
♥ Cooking spray
In the freezer:
♥ A little plastic bag with offcuts of carrots, brocolli stems, celery, etc. to make homemade vegetable stock, when I get the time and inclination
♥ ASDA meat free mince
♥ ASDA "chicken style" pieces
♥ Quorn vegetarian bacon
♥ Vegetarian sausages
♥ Frozen mango pieces for smoothies
♥ If they're on special, occasionally we get Skinny Cow ice creams (my favourite is the mint one) or Swedish Glace dairy free ice cream. For a really special treat, we get Ben and Jerry's Half-baked (chocolate and vanilla icecream with cookie dough and brownie pieces!), but that hasn't made an appearance for quite a while (I think it was a birthday in October)!
On the window sill and sideboard:
♥ Fresh herbs - whatever will grow in the London climate, really - at the moment I have parsley, mint, coriander and rosemary.
♥ Fruit bowl filled with seasonal fruit - at the moment we have bananas, oranges, pears, lemons, limes and two avocadoes.
So there you have it - a maintenance pantry! I try to eat as "clean" as possible, and when I say "clean" I mean fresh food wherever possible, supplemented with lots of grains and pulses, and with highly processed foods and excess sugar/salt kept to a minimum. I try to have fresh fruit or vegetables with every meal, and feel really rotten when I don't!
I feel so much better about myself when I eat well. And I train so much better too! Now that I've got my sights on a half marathon, I've been watching my diet a lot more carefully and eating well for performance as well as nutrition.
But, you may have noticed, the maintenance liquor cabinet was not presented for your inspection here!! Ha ha!!
Tuesday, January 13, 2009
These are two dishes that emerged from my kitchen this weekend:
I used puff pastry in this recipe because it was all my local M&S had (and I had done two training runs for my half marathon, so I didn't think it would do too much damage!) - but I would have preferred filo if I could have got it. This was so delicious, and only needed simple green vegetables on the side.
2 Quorn vegetarian fillets or 2 small chicken breasts
100g goats cheese or fetta cheese
2 handfuls baby spinach leaves
2 tablespoons red pepper and walnut pesto (or any pesto you have handy)
1 sheet puff pastry or filo pastry
1 cup of your favourite tomato-based pasta sauce, heated, to serve
Steamed seasonal green vegetables, to serve
Preheat the oven to 200 C.
Cut the sheet of pastry in half.
In the middle of each sheet, place a little pile of spinach leaves about the size of your fillet. Top this with the goats cheese or fetta.
Place the fillet on top. Spread with the pesto.
Fold the pastry over the filling and make sure to seal the edges firmly.
Bake in the oven for about 25-30 minutes or until golden brown. It might need longer if you're cooking chicken.
Spoon over the heated pasta sauce and serve with green vegetables.
These are a favourite of mine when eating at Wagamama's or Yo Sushi in London - and I've always wanted to make my own at home. When shopping at the Japan Centre in Piccadilly the other night I saw gyoza wrappers and suddenly was filled with inspiration to make my own on the weekend. It was surprisingly easy, and lots of fun, especially when my darling boy got involved and pretended to be Keith Floyd (I video-ed him making the first one, it was hilarious!). We fried them first, then steamed them, as the recipe on the back said and they were great - but I think next time I would steam them first, and then just quickly sear them each side (which is what I've suggested here). Either way, they were sensational!!
You can of course add finely grated onion, garlic and spring onion to the mixture, but I find those things give me bad breath so I steer clear of them ;)
1 packet gyoza wrappers
1 medium carrot, grated
Small knob of ginger, grated
1 small courgette, grated
Handful of baby spinach leaves, torn up finely
6 water chestnuts, drained, chopped finely
2 teaspoons each of soy sauce, oyster sauce and mirin
Squeeze the grated carrot and courgette of any excess juice and place in a bowl. Add the spinach, water chestnuts and grated ginger. Add the sauces and stir so that everything is well combined.
Have the gyoza wrappers ready with a little bowl of water.
Place a teaspoon of the mixture in the middle, moisten the edges of the wrapper with water, and then fold to enclose the mixture, ensuring the edges are well sealed. You can get all fancy with the edges and do them pleated style, like the restaurants do!
For a great little photo tutorial on how to do it, have a look here.
When all your little gyoza are ready, take them over to your steamer, which you'll have ready and waiting. Steam the gyoza for about five minutes or until the wrappers look translucent when you check them. Drain them briefly on paper towels.
While they are draining, heat a frying pan or wok that you have coated with cooking spray. Once the pan is hot, gently place the gyoza in and sear until golden on one side. Then turn and do the other side.
Serve on a warm platter with sweet chilli and soy sauces for dipping.
Variations: you can of course use whatever vegetables you might have handy - cabbage, mushrooms, etc. just make sure they are diced or shredded finely. You can also add minced pork or chicken to the mixture if you eat meat.
For a filling and delicious healthy lunch, I don't bother with the frying part and drop the gyoza into a pot of simmering miso or vegetable soup, add some soba or udon noodles, soy sauce, some green vegetables such as pak choi, asparagus, baby spinach or even brocolli, and let it simmer for a few minutes until the noodles are tender and the vegetables are cooked. Delicious, great for a winter's day, and a nice bit of nostalgia for me as I think about my days in Melbourne at the Shanghai Dumpling House.... ;P
Monday, January 12, 2009
"I have lost 8.5 kilos over the last couple of months (about 20 more to go) but have been a bit stuck this past week (mentally mostly, not my body). I decided to take another look at your blog to try and find some more motivation.
Do you have any tips for anyone who has fallen off the wagon a bit, on ways to get back on?"
Having "fallen off the wagon" more times than I can count in my dieting history, I can sympathise with anyone who feels this way. I guess everyone's journey is a very personal thing - how they manage to keep motivated, how they keep going through the hard moments, it's all very different.
What I can say is that what I learned when I was working towards my goal weight in 2005/2006 was that there is no "falling off the wagon" as such. There is no "being good", "being bad", all or nothing - there is just life, and you live it as healthily and as well as as you can. You don't "start again", you just keep going. Sounds simple enough - and it really is!
But I appreciate that saying "just keep going" is easier said than done - it's no secret that you'll meet some hefty obstacles on your way to your goal, I certainly did. Some things that really helped me when I hit a few rough spots in the journey were:
- Re-reading my favourite blogs and drawing small nuggets of inspiration from them, writing down quotes from them in my tracker, seeing what other people were doing, and what I could learn from them.
- Doing something new with my exercise - really challenging myself and getting out of the comfort zone. I had reached a point where the weight loss had slowed right down and I had to accept that if I didn't up the ante a bit then the weight was never going to come off. It was as simple as adding running to my daily walks. I could only manage one light pole to another at first. At the end of 2006 I was doing triathlons, and now, in 2009, I'm going in a half marathon!
- Having different foods, trying new dishes, and having a different breakfast every day. See my breakfast post for ideas!
- Reminding myself each and every day, and especially when things got tough and the Black Forest chocolate in the fridge was looking very tempting, why I was doing this. I had the awful fat photos to hand so I could look at them to remind me that I didn't want to look like that anymore. I had a list of "reasons why" which I had in my tracker that I could look at any time I needed to. Staying focused on the goal, and knowing that I could do it if I really wanted to, and also seeing other people succeed, kept me going.
It was hard. But it was also very easy, believe it or not, because the longer I stuck to it, I grew more and more proud of myself as the days went by, because I was finally taking control. And once I reached goal, those feelings of pride just intensified. I was so happy, because I knew that food was just food, I exercised for the love of it, I was confident, and, for the first time in my life, I had a lot of respect for myself. It was very, very empowering. I didn't want to give up!
I think there is a reason why some people are successful and others aren't. The people who are successful are the ones who don't give up, who just keep going, even when they've had a crappy day and all they want to do is curl up with a block of chocolate. We've all had times when we've wanted to throw in the towel, but that is when you need to remind yourself why you're doing this and how bloody fantastic will you feel once you achieve your goal!
I've said it before, and I'll say it again - if I can do it, there's hope for everyone!!
Don't give up, I know you can do it!
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I will eventually write about what the last year has held for me, but for now I just want to quote something from Shauna that basically I could have written:
"I finally had my DUH moment. Maintenance was really no different from weight loss. Sometimes it is fabulous and sometimes it sucks. And that's okay.
I think part of me thought that writing THE END on my manuscript would mean The End of the struggle and The End of learning stuff. Surely after six ridiculous years of lard-busting I'd have figured out my Issues for good? But life doesn't stop when you close a book. The story plows on, the character keeps evolving. Holding on to that happy ending is hard work.A few months on I feel at peace with the realities of maintenance. I'm starting to live and breathe that happy ending again, albeit without the delirium of the first year! Life is still stupidly busy, but I remembered the best thing I learned in the weight loss phase - the journey is easier when you make it enjoyable. Last year I was falling back into the arms of my old dieter's mindset - all or nothing thinking, expecting perfection, dwelling on mistakes and not savouring the good stuff. But now I want to celebrate how far I've come, instead of feeling overwhelmed by it or taking it for granted. Maintenance doesn't seem like such a drag when I take time out to find the joy in the little things."
Amen to that.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Breakfast is probably my favourite meal of the day, and is probably the easiest to make point friendly and healthy. I especially look forward to it on the weekends after a lazy lie-in and I can stumble towards the kitchen with the possibilities of the day in front of me, the incredible smell of homemade bread wafting through the air...(I love having a breadmaker I can put on a timer!)
When I was experiencing a gruelling plateau during my weight loss journey, one of the most overwhelming pieces of advice was to vary my diet, especially breakfast. So I ditched my usual 2 pieces of raisin toast and started experimenting! It worked!
My usual week day breakfast is yoghurt and muesli. Since moving to the UK in 2007, I hadn't found a brand of muesli that I liked - apart from the make your own muesli bar at Wholefoods in Kensington, which I sadly don't live anywhere near anymore - so for the last year or so my dear mother had been sending Carman's Classic Fruit over from Australia for me!! [I think some bigger Sainsbury's stores now stock it but haven't seen it anywhere so far] My supply finally ran out at the end of summer 2008, and so I decided to try Kathryn's delicious sounding recipe. I'm so glad I did! I've modified it slightly from her original recipe.
This has been my favourite breakfast for about five months now, and it is with delight that I share it with you:
* 6 cups rolled grains – I use a five-grain porridge mix as the base (Waitrose brand is my
* 1.5 cups seeds – I use pepitas (pumpkin seeds) and sunflower seeds
* 1 cup chopped nuts – I use almonds
* 1/2 cup lecithin granules – available from health food shops
* 3 cups dried fruit – I use a combination of apricots and cranberries
* 1 cup ground flaxseeds - – available from health food shops
* 4 teaspoons (in total) spices – I use cinnamon and nutmeg
Combine all the ingredients and store in an airtight container. Lasts for months - but you'll eat it all way before then!
I have this with greek yoghurt and berries for breakfast. It is even better than Carman's, I think! The best thing about it is that you put in what you like best! If you hate raisins, leave them out. If you love hazelnuts, cram them in! Lecithin granules are made from soya beans and help your body break down fats properly (really good for those watching their cholesterol) and flaxseeds provide Omega 3 and 6. All in all, it's a great way to start the day! Once you start making your own, anything shop bought will never be as good.
But of course, there are days where my stash of muesli in my desk drawer has run out, or my yoghurt pot has been scraped empty, so I need a quick, fast and healthy alternative. One of the perks of employment in Britain is your place of work might have a staff canteen - like mine! - where, if you're running late (like I normally am) and haven't even put your makeup on let alone had breakfast, you can wander down and get a bowl of porridge for 25p! Bargain! That has been my lifesaver over the past week, I have to say!
So yes, my weekdays contain fairly predictable breakfasts - yoghurt and muesli, or porridge. But on the weekends, different story! I usually sleep until all hours, so brunch might be a better way of describing my first meal of the day! On the menu is usually one of the following:
- Homemade 9 grain bread with mashed avocado, sea salt, black pepper and Quorn bacon (vegetarian bacon)
- 9 grain bread with spinach and poached eggs, topped with Total 0% Greek Yoghurt and sweet chilli sauce
- Omelette made with grated courgette (zuchinni) and filled with spinach and fetta cheese
- Haloumi cheese with fresh mint and sweet chilli sauce, served with toast and sauteed spinach
- Full vegetarian brunch (if I am very hungry or very hungover!) - 9 grain bread, poached eggs, sauteed spinach and mushrooms, baked beans, vegetarian sausages, and maybe a toasted potato waffle or two....
As you may have guessed, I do love breakfast, and talking about it! It's nice to have something delicious to look forward to first thing in the morning.
More breakfast ideas:
Monday, January 5, 2009
Welcome to the first ever Ask Skinny Latte! Every week I will post an answer to a question sent in by a reader. By sharing our issues and hard times, we can get there together!
If you'd like me to answer a question, please let me know - the answer could be here for you next week!
My first ever question comes from a lovely girl who'd like to be known as H. She writes:
" I am writing to you because in 2006/2007 I managed to successfully lose almost 15kg, going from bmi of 'obese' to the healthy weight range and then maintained it for about six months - the problem is that, much to my frustration, I somehow let myself put 2/3 of it back on again. I was so determined, and I don't know how I let this happen, other than that after reaching goal, I went through many life changes including meeting my future fiance, changing careers and moving house (none of which is an excuse).... I feel so upset with myself for going astray.... "
First of all - well done on losing 15kg and getting to goal. That is an amazing achievement!
I really do sympathise with your maintenance issues - I think everyone who has reached goal has had to struggle with the "oh I'm at goal, I don't need to do all this anymore!" kind of mentality. We're on such a high from getting to goal and achieving such a wonderful thing, so the initial aftermath of getting to goal is so easy! We think "I can live this way forever!". In fact, sometimes even more weight comes off - without us even trying! You think, "yeah, I've really cracked it this time!"
But then a little more time passes, maybe a year or so. Life isn't lived in fish tank, so there will undoubtedly be some major life changes during that time, and of course we let those take priority, once we no longer have the goal of losing weight to focus on.
I did the same with my life - I started travelling, moved to London, got a new job, settled into a new city, have moved house about five times in the last year, met an amazing man, so yeah...big changes, and that tends to be when your focus lapses a little. Of course I was still eating well, exercising and feeling pretty darn good in general, but it was just a lot of little things that started creeping back into my lifestyle and made me take stock of everything again.
And, let's face it, this whole diet thing gets a bit boring after a while! You get tired of it. You do these things for so long, and they lose their initial excitement and mystery. I went through a stage early last year where I was like that. Bored with always saying no to chocolate, fish and chips, biscuits, etc while watching everyone else tuck in. Bored with going for a run every night in the freezing cold, and resentful of the time it took away from my enticing pile of library books and my writing. Bored with yoga. Bored with pushups and situps and tricep dips. Bored with triathlons and fun runs. I had done it all before, and it had lost its initial allure, so I just started caring a bit less. I also had a lot of stressful things to deal with at the time, which made me more inclined to go for a drink rather than a run after work!! It also didn't help that my boyfriend is a skinny guy with a fast metabolism who loves chocolate and sitting around watching films!! So a lot of his habits creeped into my lifestyle - which is only natural, given how much time we spend together, but again, I could have kept a bit more of a check on what was going on.
It's terrifying how easy it is to put weight back on. I think us maintainers can sometimes get out of the habit of asking ourselves, "do I really need/want this?" before opening the chocolate, walking into the fish and chip shop, or knocking back our third beer of the hour. Before you know it, six months have gone by, and the size 10 jeans are too tight. Gulp.
I think it's all about becoming aware again. Getting back to basics, as they say. In general, the things I'd recommend doing, if you want to get in the zone and psyched up again are:
- Start tracking again, even if it's just for a few weeks. Track everything, and be honest. There's no point otherwise.
- Make a real effort to eat well and watch where you be loading up on the points/calories again, where you could quite easily have low point/calorie alternatives. For example, instead of having naan bread with my bowl of hommus of an evening, I have raw cauliflower, cucumber and carrot sticks. And remember that old trick - ask yourself if you're really hungry before you go in the kitchen!
- Cut down on alcohol. Keep it for weekends or social occasions only, and alternate alcoholic drinks with soda water or plain water.
- While we're on the water subject, make sure you drink heaps of it! I drink on average 4 litres a day, which is probably more than enough (!), but I really think that my water consumption is one of the main reasons I've been able to maintain.
- Start doing something really exciting with your exercise. Something that you've been wanting to try for ages - yoga, pilates, joining a running club, aqua aerobics, karate, ballroom dancing, start training for a fun run....there's loads of stuff out there, and we know we can have fun and get fit at the same time!
- Also, try to work in as much incidental exercise into your day as possible. For example, I always go up the stairs at the train station and at work, and try to have a lunch time walk (if it's not too cold!). It also helps that I don't have a car in London and actually have to walk everywhere!
- Remember how you did it before. If you have a tracker or a diary you kept, get it out, read it, draw inspiration from your own achievements and willpower! You did it! You can do it again!
- Always have a goal. Always have something in the back of your mind that you want to achieve. Whilst life on maintenance doesn't have the same urgency and fire-cracker like motivation that it does when you're working towards your inital goal, there are always things to achieve in life, and there are always reasons to get excited about life and where you're headed. Those who succeed long-term are those who reassess, reevaluate and make new goals once they've achieved their first ones. These lovely ladies are perfect examples, off the top of my head:
Mary reached goal in September 2005. Since then, she's experimented with hoola-hooping and archery, studied yoga and meditation, become vegetarian, and is now enrolled in a diploma of Nutrition with the goal of becoming a fully qualified nutritionist in a couple of years.
Shauna, as well as writing a kick-arse book about her journey, has achieved an orange belt in kickboxing.
Kathryn has gone in heaps of fun runs and has been offered a job in Japan teaching English!
But anyway, the "how to's" are only part of the picture, aren't they? There are also a lot of psychological and emotional issues to deal with as you wind your way down Maintenance Road. It's hardly Easy Street! And I know how it feels to have worked so hard to get there, only to feel like you're right back where you started. It's hard not to feel betrayed and disappointed in yourself. Some things that have really helped me are:
- Owning your situation and your emotions. Not blaming circumstances, or events, or anything else for the way things have turned out. But most importantly, not blaming yourself either. So you've allowed life to get in the way a bit. It doesn't matter - you're certainly not the first person in the world to do that. Just remember that YOU are in the drivers seat, YOU are in control and the buck always stops with YOU. You are far more likely succeed long term if you can cultivate a healthy self esteem and positive attitude.
- While we're on that, do whatever it takes to keep your self esteem and motivation high! Easier said than done, I know, and I'll write more about this in due course, but the most obvious things are treat yourself well, give yourself credit where credit's due, try not to take things personally and surround yourself with loving, wonderful people who will support you. There's a wonderful quote from one of my favourite films, Love is the Devil, where Francis Bacon says "champagne for my real friends, and real pain for my sham friends", which I think is brilliant, and it kind of sums up my attitude. If there are negative, jealous or bitter people in your life who are trying to drag you down or take their bad day/life out on you on a regular basis, you need to address that. Being surrounded by negativity is the Number 1 self esteem killer.
- Concentrate less on losing weight/getting back to where you were and more on being healthy and creating a lifestyle you can actually maintain. There is no point going for a run every day if, in actuality, you don't really want to do that long term. If you enjoy the lifestyle that you have while you're losing weight and getting healthy, then you are far more likely to keep those changes going once you reach your goal.
- The principles of intuitive eating are excellent and relevant for the maintenance toolkit. I've found that being able to tell myself "if you want it, you can have it, but do you really feel like it?" has been really helpful. It is a very freeing thing to think that no food is forbidden - if I want a sweet treat with my morning cup of tea, I can have it, but I think about it first. Am I eating this because it's there? Is there something else that I would prefer to have? It's so important to enjoy your food without feeling guilty. For more on intuitive eating see this excellent web site.
- Don't compare yourself to other people. Everyone's happy ending is different. Not everyone moves overseas/gets married/gets famous/runs a marathon, etc (!) once they get to goal. Getting to goal isn't like being given a set of keys to a secret world where everything is wonderful, you get everything you've ever wanted and everyone likes you and nothing ever goes wrong. Far from it! It's still life, and you're still you. The difference is that you're happier, more confident, more open to new people and new experiences, more motivated, and more in control.
- Remember how far you've come. I think a lot of us on maintenance, particularly if it's been years since we reached goal (in my case!), forget that. You set a goal, and you stuck to it, and got there! You proved to yourself that you could do something if you really set your mind to it. You got up and kept walking, no matter how many times you fell down along the way. You're awesome and amazing and should be SO PROUD!!! You did it, and you can keep doing it!
People think losing weight is hard - but it's not. Losing weight is easy. It's keeping it off where the real work begins.
I hope this has helped you, H! Pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get moving again. Don't give up. Life is a constantly changing and evolving thing. Nothing stays the same, and the way we will continue to succeed on our maintenance journey is by being flexible both in our expectations of ourselves and of life. Roll with the punches, as they say, and don't expect perfection of yourself. Always reassess, reevaluate and set new goals. Smile and laugh as much as you can. Spend time with people who help you do those things! And set the switch on your life to HAPPY.
All the best! I know you can do it!
Sunday, January 4, 2009
TS and I started 2009 as we mean to go on - I got him (well, us!) membership to the Tate for a Christmas present, so our first foray into the London art scene was Friday where we decided to see the Francis Bacon exhibit on its last few days. As did the rest of London. Gaaaah. [imagine an image of me as Edvard Munch's 'The Scream'].
After we got over the sheer volume of the crowds, it turned out to be a fascinating and absorbing exhibition. My favourite piece was Triptych -In Memory of George Dyer (above). Loved wandering around, allowing every piece to flutter and come alive. Thinking about art as love, as memory, as mourning, as sorrow, as anger.
I bought a postcard of my favourite piece, to hang on my inspiration corkboard. TS bought the DVD of Love is the Devil, the movie by John Maybury of the story of Francis Bacon and George Dyer. My favourite films seem to be about the lives of artists - Frida is my favourite film of all time - so I knew I would enjoy this. I love the way the art is brought to life- literally - on film.
We watched it with beer that we'd had chilling on the balcony (-2 that night, I believe) and then followed it with Basquiat which we'd mostly bought to see David Bowie playing Andy Warhol (!), and then talking about life and art until the night was so black and London's breath was low and icy as the stars froze. TS has actually touched a Basquiat before, when he briefly worked at Christies in South Kensington. There was a photo of him in the Sunday Telegraph with it, white gloves and all.
Last night we watched Frida - because we love it - and then bits and pieces of Pollock and Sylvia. The latter I'm not a huge fan of - I vowed and declared I'd never see it because of my firm support of Frida Hughes's stance on the subject, but then I was appearing on an Australian game show The Einstein Factor with my special subject as Sylvia Plath, and thought I'd look a right idiot if the film was mentioned and I hadn't seen it. So I saw it, am glad I did, but there was such a crucial part of the film missing - her poetry. Obviously, the estate had not granted permission to use it, and I think that should have been a warning sign. How much richer and more vibrant the film would have been with it.
We were going to round off the long weekend's art overload with a visit to the Tate Modern today, but were turned off at the thought of negotiating several tubes and then a walk in the cold to get there (it's 3 degrees as I write this, and we're expecting snow tomorrow - TS and I have shoved bits of newspaper into all the cracks in the flat's windows and doors to keep the chill out!) so we did our usual Sunday walk into our local High Street, to our favourite bookstore where I picked up four books and TS one, and then sipped a latte as we discussed the Twilight series (I've not read it yet, has anyone and would you recommend it?) and our writing projects before taking the bus home.
2009 is off to a great start for me - I've finished another short story over Christmas, the novel is coming ahead in leaps and bounds (more to come on that) and I just feel so inspired.
Back to the novel now. More soon dear readers. Happy new year!
Thursday, January 1, 2009
What are your goals for 2009? What would you LOVE to do this year? What are some positive changes you're going to make in your life over the next twelve months?
Some things I would love to do this year are:
♥ Train for and run a half marathon
♥ Go on a yoga retreat somewhere amazing (maybe this one in Spain! Ooh eer! Mary, want to join me?)
♥ Completely clean out my wardrobe and get rid of anything that doesn't fit/suit my lifestyle anymore and get a cool, funky, late-20s look happening (late 20s! Gulp!)
♥ Use my juicer more often. I started 2009 off right with a fresh juice of clementines (mandarins), apple, carrot, mango and fresh ginger after my morning run. It wasn't the usual b*tch cleaning job, which is what turns me off using it more often, so I feel far more motivated to get it out more regularly. I love fresh juice and experimenting with different fruits and vegetables.
♥ Join one of the Sweaty Betty running clubs (which will help with Goal #1)
♥ Buy a new pair of runners - my old ones were $30 from Highpoint Harris Scarfe in February 2007 and they are just FERAL now! (which will also help with Goal #1)
But most of all, in 2009 I want to cultivate a positive attitude, especially in my attitude towards myself and my achievements.
The last year saw me give in to the negative self talk in a big way. Whatever I tried to do in terms of fitness was never a good enough effort (in my mind) and as such all my exercise which I'd previously enjoyed became torture.
I have to remind myself of what I have achieved (ie: been at goal for three years this April! Wow!) and that anything I'm not 100% happy with can be changed, with hard work and dedication and a positive attitude. I think the reason that I succeeded with my weight loss in the first place was because I was so upbeat and motivated, and always looked for the silver lining, even when the scales said the same weight four weeks in a row. And I was proud of myself for what I was doing and what I had achieved, even if it was just resisting the chocolate in the fridge or going for a walk after work even if I was tired and didn't feel like doing it.
I miss feeling proud of myself. I have kind of lost sight of how far I've come, and need to refocus.
And one thing I've learned over the last couple of years is that it's never too late for a fresh start. Never. And if you're not happy with something in your life, you have the power to change it, if you really want to.
I don't know what it is about the new year clocking over, but it always brings about a mental shift in me. Turning a page, a fresh start. Everything that weighed me down in the year before, all of a sudden it's gone, and there's only empty pages there, for me to fill with whatever I want.
Here's to 2009 being filled with happiness, strength, positivity and joy.