Thursday, 7 March 2013

Retour sur le wagon....

.....back on the wagon...the wagon of diet and excercise that is.

(An apology...this has turned out to be a rather lengthy post. It's really a letter to my future self, in advance of when I fall off said wagon, to help me climb back on. I understand if you don't want to read me warbling to myself, musing over diet and fitness issues, so I've divided it up under headings so you can cut to the most interesting bits.)

That's right, like all brides to be I'm on a mission to lose weight before the big day. This last 2 or 3 years I have gone from being probably the fittest and slimmest I've ever been, going to boot camps and running every day. Then, slowly but surely I let the excercise slip, said 'what the hell' to one too many snacks or rich foods and certainly enjoyed rather more glasses of my favourite wines than I should....and the sneeky little pounds have piled on.
I'm now about a stone and a half heavier than I was at my fittest (including muscle weight that will have been replaced by fat when out of condition) and certainly one or two dress sizes bigger.

Now, I'm just going to put in a little caviat here for tall girls. I'm 6ft 10" and no beanpole. I have broad shoulders, good childbearing hips (unlike my little sis who got all the narrow hip genes, darn it!), my boobs are relatively in proportion, but I accepted a long time ago that I'm never going to be a little slip of a girl - and I don't say that in a bad way either. I got curves, which is great, I'd just like them to be a bit less bumpy and a bit more svelt please. So, even at my fittest* I was no less than a 12/14 (when you're tall and broad you generally have to take a bigger size than a proportionally smaller person to allow for limb length....tall girls you will understand) and no lighter than about 12st 7lbs. I wish they'd never made such a fuss about telling children they were 'just big boned' when I was younger, rather than saying they were carrying a little puppy fat. Because now people scoff when I say I genuinely AM big boned! My bones are clearly long and probably weigh about 8 stone on their own!

*I say this rather than 'slimmest' as I do think 'slimness' is really relative to how you feel. 

Ok, tall girl rant over. What I'm trying to say is that I want to lose about a stone and a half before July and get back to around size 12/14. But, this really is relative and I'm not going to have a bridal eppi over a couple of pounds or the number in the back of a dress. What I'm aiming for is to get back my fitness and feel slimmer, and that will be enough for me!

Sur l'alimentation:

(On diet)

So, we're about 5 months off now and luckily for me, when I put my mind to it I usually manage to lose weight pretty efficiently. I've been messing around with the Dukan Diet for the past couple of months after losing half a stone on it very quickly last summer (all of which I put back on in Corfu I hasten to add.) You can learn more about Dukan here or on their Facebook page, but basically it's a 100% no carb diet based around alternating pure protein days, where you eat only lean or low fat protein foods, and veg-protein days, when you introduce some low carb vegetables alongside the protein foods. It does work, but it's very much all or nothing, you can't cheat at all and I'm clearly too much of a big cheater for it to work at the pace it should be. I've been having far too many glasses of wine (serious Dukan no-no!) and have now reached the point where I've been sneaking far too many days of veg-protein as my body just hates the pure protien days, it makes me feel very weird. Then today I woke up to this article on the BBC about the dangers of eating too much processed protein  as they are likely to cause cancers (exactly what Dukan encourages - i've been eating PACKETS of wafer thin ham!).

Ce que j'ai appris du Docteur Dukan:

(What I learned from Doctor Dukan)

So, I'm stopping the all-out Dukan diet as of today. BUT, it has tought me a couple of lessons that I am definitely sticking to in my weight-loss plan.

1) I don't actually NEED carbs. Though I craved them initially, having almost completely cut the carbs for over a month now I realise I don't actually need them. I feel much less bloated for not eating processed carbs like white bread and pasta, and although it was a bit odd to begin with, you can have a perfectly fulfilling evening meal without a carb accompaniment like rice, noodles, pasta or potatoes. It's also far less easy to high-calorie snack without really realising - no toast for me whilst my dinner's cooking!
So I shall continue to largely cut out carbs completely. I'll allow myself about one or two 'slips' per week to allow for meals out and days doing large amounts of excercise (more on that in a bit), where you might need to carb-load beforehand. Other than that I will continue to be a carb free zone!

2) I've discovered Oat Bran. Dr. Dukan prescribes two tablespoons of Oat Bran per day, to help the dietary tract and for it's absorptive properties. You can eat it how you like. Many 'Dukaners' use it to make carb-replacements like Dukan Bread or Dukan Crackers. My absolute favourite is to mix it with a couple of tablespoons of 0% fat Greek yoghurt and a teaspoon of sweetener. I have that for breakfast and I honestly do feell full and satisfied till lunch, with nothing else at all.
So, I am definitely continuing with this.

3) Aspartame based sweeteners are very useful in cutting out the calories. I've had Candarel and the like in the past when I first did weightwatchers in my teens. But for some reason I've always shied away from them since. Maybe due to cost or having been scared off by, since 100% disproven, research suggesting they may be carcinogenic. Dukan has brought me back to them. I don't really eat a lot of sugar in my diet anyway (I'm a crisps and savouries kind of snacker) but when I do need a sweetening agent Aspartame works just as well for me. Don't get me wrong, it tastes pretty weird in its pure form in a cup of tea, for example. But, to sweeten up a salad dressing, roast veg or a sauce it's ideal. I also make my own low suger Tomato ketchup by cooking through a couple of tablespoons of tomato puree in a pan, adding a splash of balsamic vinegar and some water to loosen it, then adding sweetener to taste. I'd go as far as to say it's more flavourful than the stuff from Tesco.
So, Aspartame will be staying with me now. (In fact that reminds me, I'm nearly out of it.)

4) I've discovered the power of cornflour. Turns out you don't have to use a calorific roux to make (particularly white) sauces. A little cornflour, mixed with a little water and added to a hot sauce will thicken it just fine. Bang, calorie count drops in one fell swoop!

Sur vous paser

(On weighing yourself)

I learned this from Doctor Dukan too but think it deserves its own special section. Unlike many diets I'd previously encountered with their weekly weigh-ins, Dukan advocates weighing yourself every day, even several times a day if you can.
The idea behind it is that during the initial stage of his diet (the Atack stage where you eat only protein for 5 days) you lose weight very quickly and can see it drop off on the scales, which is so encouraging that you stick to it. Then for the remainder of the diet your weight will fluctuate, which is entirely natural. You might be disconcerted when you put a couple of pounds on one day, but then you might find that you lose them again, plus extra, the following day. This is especially true for women who can seriously retain water at certain times of the month (as I remember from weightwatchers days, when my weight could vary by half a stone between two weekly weigh ins!). If you plot your weightloss on a graph it would not be one smooth downward line. It will have little spikes and troughs, but as long as there is a general downward trend this is what you need. The other benefit is that weighing yourself every day means you can't ignore a general upward trend if that starts to happen too! (which is how I got here in the first place!)

I am definitely still weighing myself daily and would certainly encourage anyone else to do the same. Now when I see that dial go up a pound or two I don't panic and give up in a huff, heading for the nearest packet of Monster Munch, as I once might. Instead I think 'well i'll make sure it goes back down tomorrow' and maybe put in an extra ten minutes in the gym, or have a smaller portion for my dinner. And, so far, sure enough it has gone back down and I am starting to see that oh so precious general downward trend.

Sur l'excercise:

(On excercise)

I have a very odd relationship with excercise. I'm definitely one of those people put off by the way 'PE' was taught at school. At my school excercise meant hockey, netball, cross-country running on the beach or, in the summer, tennis, rounders and track athletics. Whatever it was it had to be competitive. Now I know it's fashionable at the moment to boast about how competitive you are, for example how you will stop at nothing to be told 'you're hired' by an angry little balding man. However, I'm quite comfortable in the fact that I am just not a competitive person. I like to work with other people, not beat them. So, the only time I remember actually enjoying excercise at school was when one PE teacher put on weekly step-aerobics classes. Excercise purely for you - no competition involved whatsoever. I was a regular every week!
Fortunately for my junior self I had quite a physical life outside of school. When I wasn't on a horse I was on a bike. When I wasn't on my bike we'd be walking up a hill in the Lake District. So, I kept fit without realising.

This, I realise, is the common factor in all the excercise I have enjoyed over the years. I have to be sort of distracted and not quite aware of how hard I'm working. Most of the time once I actually start, I really enjoy myself. It's just the starting that's the difficult bit. If I could instantly materialise on an excercise bike fully kitted out in my running gear and Ipod I'd be just fine. Unfortunately, in reality there's a whole process that gets in the way....of going home, getting changed, tearing myself away from the cup of tea and catch up on our days with Mr Peach, walking or driving to the gym.
However, two weeks ago I suddenly had a revelation. It was like somebody just flicked a switch in me and I actually wanted to get back into excercise again. I think it's partly the appearance of some slightly warmer weather shaped like spring, knowing that pretty summer dresses and bare arms will be here again soon, and partly a kind of 'now or never' thing now that our wedding is so close there's only just time to get in shape beforehand.

So, I've been back in the gym. Last week I managed a somewhat disappointing three workouts (but then three is far better than zero!) This week I'm on track for six! Plus, yesterday I realised I've reached that lovely little mini-breakthrough where you're starting to feel just that little bit fitter. It doesn't quite feel like i'm going to bust a lung on the cross trainer and I don't feel quite so sore the next day. So, I must be winning!(what was that about not being competitive?)

I really want to get back into running. But I feel I need to wait for some ever so slightly warmer weather for that as I find running on the treadmill boring and thus a struggle and I know it will just put me off full stop. By the same principle I want to lose that initial half a stone and boost my fitness just a little first too, so I don't just crash & burn. I usually like to start running at about the same time as the daffodils come up (I associate their scent with running, since I regularly slogged my way past fields of them in training for a 10k several years ago!). If you take into account the rest of this week and possibly next still in the gym, that would leave me pretty much on target all ways round for daffodil time - yey!
I'll let you into a little secret too - I have actually signed up for the Manchester 10k again at the end of May and am hoping to just about fit in enough training to be able to beat my previous time of 1hr 13mins. Here's hoping!!

Hier, j'ai fait:

(Yesterday I did:)

So - this is what I'm currently doing in the gym (in French too because it sounds much less hard work that way!). Hopefully I'll be able to look back and laugh at my pitiful first steps in a few months, or possibly pat myself on the back for getting started when I was so unfit!

Le velo eppiltique (Cross trainer) : 30 mins at level 12. Came to just over 5k. 350 cals.
Le velo excercise (Upright Excercise Bike): 20 mins at level 12. Came to just over 5k. 210 cals.
Le rameur (Rowing Machine): 10 mins at max resistance (level 10). Came to just over 2000 meters 100 cals.
3 reps of 10, 10kg resistance, on the bingo wing weight machine (sure it has a proper name too but I wasn't going to translate either into French!)

And for reference:
Le tapis de course (Treadmill)
Le velo lateral (Lateral Bike)
Le machine d'escalier (Stair Machine)

So - that came in at just over an hour and today I really don't feel too sore at all. I'll be ready to do it all over again at 5pm!

My plan is to repeat the above today, tomorrow, Saturday and Sunday. Possibly start with my first outing pounding the streets on Monday. Then alternate gym with running training and possibly even do a bit of both on the days when I'm feeling particularly energetic in the morning!
I also plan to get my beloved bike out and repaired in time for the warmer days too!


Here's a couple of bloggies I found to inspire on excercise and weightloss:

How I Lost Weight - By a mum who lost 2 stone in 2 months through diet and, unsuprisingly, running.

Can you Stay for Dinner? - 27 year old Andie lost 135lbs six years ago - mainly through healthy eating and running like billi-o (now mainly walking). Brilliant 'before and after' story but beware - she's also a massive foodie so don't go there if you're peckish....not all the recipes are healthy ones either!

Ok - well I think that's quite about the longest post I might ever write (let's hope so...i can hear you all thinking it!). Congratulations if you made it to the end! I'd love to hear your stories on diet, weightloss and fitness too.

Now I just have to go and do all those things I said I would....I'll keep you updated on my progress!

Adieu, Mlle Peche graisse x

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Sarah x

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