The summer so far

Hello! Yep, I’ve done my usual summer disappearing act. I don’t know what it is about July but I seem incapable of blogging through it.

So, a brief update on what I’ve been up to…

-Weaning… I really wanted to get going on the fun process of giving Sid proper food, so (sshhh, don’t hate me), we started a little bit before the recommended six months. From about five and a bit months, I started offering up little tastes of various fruits and veggies, and for quite a while he was entirely uninterested, until one day, he stole the quesedilla I was eating for lunch off of my plate and stuffed it in his mouth. We’ve been doing food ever since! It probably deserves it’s own post in full, because there’s a lot to talk about. I really really wanted to do baby-led weaning (where you give small baby sticks of food and let them get on with it), but it was SCARY! So we’ve settled on a mixture of finger food and spoon feeding, but over the course of the last three weeks, we’re slowly moving more towards self-feeding, which is cool.

-Holidays… Not yet, but next week, we’re off to Devon with my family. Probably in for a week of drizzle and windswept beaches, but that’s what holidays in England are all about, right? I’m currently making multiple packing lists, in an effort to try not to just pack up the contents of the entire house.

-History… For several years, I’ve been threatening to do another degree, and after putting it off thinking ‘oh, but in a few years, I might want to start thinking about babies, and then where will I be?’, I finally realised that I had the baby and my life really hasn’t changed that much, so there was no reason not to follow the dream. What I don’t have is the cash to fund it, so unfortunately for me, after signing up with the Open University, I have had to put it on hold for six months while I save up the funds. In the meantime, I’m doing lots of interesting reading about medieval history (and watching lots of Time Team… which is history in itself- in one of the early episodes they had to explain what GPS was!).

-Yoga… I’ve been doing post-natal yoga classes for the last three months or so and was interested in doing more, so I did a very very brief search on youtube for beginners’ yoga videos and happened across Yoga with Adriene. I was instantly in love- her teaching style is right up my street and I started doing one of her videos about three times a week, as well as starting on her ’30 days of yoga’ series. Inevitably I fell off the bandwagon, and had a week or so off, but I started again today on day 1 and am going to make a promise to do the 30 days consecutively (rather than every so often, like I had been).

-Slimming down… In the six months since Sid was born, I resolutely hung on to six or so pounds that I wanted to get rid of to get back to where I was before I was pregnant. This was no  stubborn weight that was impossible to lose, it was me eating the world out of crisps and biscuits, so it actually turned out to be no big deal to shed the weight. I signed up to myfitnesspal again and started tracking my calories, and signed up for a buggy workout class and got back to where I wanted to in four weeks.

-Buggy workout… Deserves its own little mention- Twice a week I’ve been joining a group in running round a park with a group of other ladies, with babies in buggies. As well as the running, there’s some pretty punishing hill work, plus circuit training type stuff like tricep dips, press ups and the like. It’s brilliant, a nice bunch of people and is definitely working, given how much my various body parts ache the day after! My only slight worry is that I’m stuffing my decidedly pansy-like wrists up by pushing a reasonably heavy buggy

-Hair dye… I had sort of decided that when I was on maternity leave, I’d dye my hair red again, so I did. That’s it really. It’s a bit of a sod on the upkeep, and needs redoing every three weeks (courtesy of Mr Mark- I can’t afford that many salon visits!), but I’m very much enjoying being a red head, rather than my natural blonde

Yep, I think that’s enough of an update! I shall be back more regularly, honest!


5:2: Getting bored

So I’m now 7 weeks into my 5:2 diet and weight-loss-wise, it’s going fine- Start weight- 9 st 5, current weight 9st 2- so I’m only 1 lb off of what I wanted to be and it really hasn’t been too much of a slog. Yes, I’ve gotten hungry, but no, I haven’t cheated- most of the time I come in at around the 480 calories mark, rather than the 500, but sometimes I’ve gone a few over (like 10-15 or so) and haven’t really minded too much as it’s balancing itself out overall.

In the interests of being honest, I’m going to say that I don’t think it’s been life-changing- I’ve not found myself with boundless amounts of energy or a massive uptake in my mental agility or anything like that- Things have pretty much continued as normal, save for a vaguely smug feeling when I complete a fast day, and the warm glow of knowing that eating three kebabs in a weekend won’t scupper my figure… oh and to put things bluntly, there has been a slight lack of poo on fast days- no idea why, but I’m going to be making more of an effort to eat extra fibre on the feast days to balance things out!

I think because of the lack of life-changing-ness that the diet’s brought me, I’ve got as far of week 7 and am feeling a little bit… well, bored… not enough to give up or anything, but it’s not quite as much fun as it was in the early days. And yes, it WAS fun- trying to find maximum food for minimum calories was a challange, but now I’ve got a good idea of what the best things are, I’ve found myself falling into a bit of a pattern food-wise, which has got a little bit dull:

  • Breakfast- half a boiled egg plus half a tomato, 100g mushrooms, 2 rashers turkey bacon (to do in the microwave at work)- 130 calories
  • Lunch- salad with prawns or tuna- 120 calories
  • Dinner- a bit more varied- current staples are ratatouille, chickpea and butternut squash curry, veggie burgers with BNS chips or broccolli topped with puttanesca sauce- just shy of 200 calories
  • Snacks- two cups of tea (I only have a splash of milk, so 10 cals per piece) and a rich tea biscuit if I’m ridiculously hungry- 33 calories

So I’m making the effort now to go find some different things to eat- Sainsburys sweet and salty popcorn was my find for today- 80 calories per bag, if you can limit yourself!- I had soup for lunch today, just to get something different to salad, and tescos has had some superb deals on quorn products recently, so we’ve had quorn burgers (which taste like smokey bacon crisps) and there’s ‘chicken’ pieces for tonight’s dinner to be served with broccoli and sweet chilli sauce.

On the positive side, I do think that I’m more likely now to not eat just because it’s mealtime, and I’m definitely snacking a little less at work… at least, I’m taking less food to work with me, and thus eating less of it- I’m not sure what my will power would be like if I had a drawerful of snacks but wasn’t particularly hungry. Lets face it, work is sometimes pretty boring and the only thing to get you through the day is the thought of a cup of tea and a bar of chocolate- Who am I to deny myself that?!

Mark has lost almost half a stone, and he wants to lose another three quarters, so I’m going to carry on with the 5:2 for a little bit longer at least, until he’s at his target weight, and after that a decision will have to be made whether to carry on down this road, or whether we’re bored of it

Checking in- 5:2 week 3

The results of my weekly Monday morning weigh in are in- Drum roll, please:

Current weight- 9st 5

Starting weight- 9st 5

Current loss… errm, well, nothing!… although I have lost half a lb from last week, so I’m happy enough

Anyhow- last week, I had a bit of a boob, in that I only managed 1 fast day- there was just too much other stuff going on, that rather inconveniently included food! Crawfish, barbeques, picnics and lots of other nice things. I did think about doing three fast days this week to make up for it, but I’ve decided just to put it down to experience and start afresh this week.

Pretty pleased that in spite of eating A LOT, I still managed to record a half a lb loss from last week (although my monster eating and non-fasting was also combined with a couple of miles of running on Saturday morning and a 6 mile bike ride on Sunday morning, so perhaps that helped to counteract any gain!)

I’m settling into a nice pattern with fast days at the moment (having one today) of having a boiled egg and some fruit for breakfast (120 calories), a salad for lunch with a low cal protein (prawns have been a revelation, although I have tuna today) (130 calories) and something that’s 200 calories for dinner (non specific!- so far I’ve been having fish or a small portion of chicken and vegetables, or veg and bean curry/stew).That comes in at around 450 cals, giving me 50 left over for a couple of cups of tea, or if I’ve been really frugal, a rich tea biscuit

Dinners have been a tricky one as I’m more than happy to eat the same lunch every day for months, but I like a bit of variety in the evenings- I’m going to make ratatouille this eve possibly with a tiny portion of rice, depending on how the counting goes.

So with two fasts this week, and no real reason to go particularly overboard on feast days, I’m crossing my fingers for another half lb loss this week!

We-wednesday feastings

In my ongoing week-long roundup of how I’m attempting not to scupper myself by going mental on 5:2 feast days, here’s my Wednesday:

For some reason, my body is out to sabotage me- I’m actually reasonably fine on fast days, but on feast days, I’m ravenous literally the whole day- Today has been no different, and I’m wondering if it might be worth not eating my breakfast at home any more, and bringing it to work with me, so I eat an hour and a half later than I would usually? Might be worth a punt anyway.

So far, today’s eatings aren’t too dissimilar to yesterday, save for the fact that I misread the dreemy bar packet and they’re actually 70 calories a piece, not 90, so that’s a nice surprise. In full:

Breakfast- fruit and fibre with semi skimmed milk- 250 calories

Lunch- as yesterday- big old smoked haddock and potato salad with mustardy dressing- 300 calories

Snacks- 1 piece of turkish delight- 40 calories (all gone now- booo), 1 dreemy- 70 calories, small bunch of grapes- 50 calories

Dinner- not sure yet as I’m returning to the mothership for dins tonight, so I’ll have to report back, but I hope it’s substantial as I’m bloody starving!

Total so far: 710– going to take some kind of lard injection to blow the budget today, hoorah!

On a side note, I did indeed try out my new running machine yesterday- there was something vaguely satisfying about running in the comfort of the garage, while watching an episode of ER, but I don’t think it’ll replace pounding the streets permanently. Plus, the machine’s stuck on an incline, which means the whole run was up-hill, and thus even more knackering than it was meant to be!

End of day update

(Just to add my dinner on and give an official calorie count):
Chicken and mushroom pie- 410 calories (oops!)
Small portion of new potatoes with butter- 225 calories
Broccoli- 40 calories
Sweetcorn- 80 calories
2 scoops phish food ice cream- 230 calories
Total- 985 calories- wow- more than the rest of the day put together!

Grand total- 1695
Phew- still inside my anticipated amount of 1800 calories, but shows how easy it is to blow it with one pie-based dinner- If I’d had any more snacks or a less healthy breakfast, I would have been well over!

An attempt to not scupper the 5:2- Feast day


As you may know from my previous post, I accidentally managed to screw up my first week of the 5:2 diet, resulting in putting on a lb, rather than losing any weight!

I’m hoping it’s due to some overzealous feast days, so this week, I’m trying to be a bit more careful- and so, I’m going, for one week only, to vaguely record my feast days just to make sure I’m not going off piste.

A caveat- It’s Mr Mark’s birthday on Saturday and we’re having a barbeque. Then our respective families are coming over for dinner on Sunday, so I’m not going to be trying too hard at the weekend, but I’m going to have a count up during the week at least and see how we go.

I have been freaking starving today- Infinitely hungrier than I was at any point yesterday (fast day), which is very annoying. Here’s the plan for the day:

Breakfast- fruit and fibre cereal with semi skimmed milk- 250 calories

Lunch-  adapted from a good food magazine recipe (it’s this month’s edition, so not online yet)- Smoked trout (I used haddock- where on earth do you get smoked trout from- I couldn’t find it!), runner bean and new potato salad, with mustardy dressing. I added a few extra salad veggies so I’m going to record this as 300 calories

Snacks- Aldi Dreemy bar- a teeny weeny bite-size milky way- 90 calories; small handfull of cashews-  130 calories; three pieces of turkish delight (thanks boss who’s been on holiday!)- 120 calories= total of 340 calories

Expected dinner- large jacket potato with tuna mayo and cheese and butter (from costco- gotta go pick up meat for the aforementioned barbie!)- probably in the regions of 600 calories- I’m not kidding myself here!

Drinks- 2 cups of tea with a splash of milk- 20 calories

TOTAL- 1510 calories

Cool! That’s not so bad- my estimated daily calorie expenditure is around the 1800 mark (If I mark myself as ‘lightly active’- It’s 1550-odd if I’m being lazy, so I suppose that means I better go for a run before costco… woohoo- might go for an extra piece of turkish delight!


Yep… that’s done- total calories- 1550

5:2 – One week in

On my third fast day of the 5:2. Friday (fast day number two) was a load harder than the first one but I’ve no idea why- I ate pretty much the same thing (different dinner, but I was utterly ravenous by the time it got to dinner, so it didn’t even make a dent) and I feel that I must report my rather dissappointing weight loss for week 1-

I always weigh in first thing on a monday morning, so decided to stick to that, rather than weighing in after one of my fast days, which might have given a better (if more inaccurate) picture of the state of play, and oh dear, mega oops:

Starting weight- 9 st 5lb

Current weight- 9 st 6lb

Oh yes- I put on a pound in the first week. Oops and oops again! I can only assume that I fell into the trap (which I was insistent that I wouldn’t fall foul of) and ate more than I would normally on my feast days, so consequently, I’m going to not let myself go mental this week, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll have to start calorie counting on the other five days of the week. Not giving in just yet thought!

It’s 1.30 now and I’ve just stopped for lunch, which isn’t bad going- On a usual day, I get hungry by 12.30 but I’ve managed to hold out for a fair while longer, thanks to a combination of being busy, and having a strategic cup of tea at midday. The afternoon isn’t looking any quieter, so fingers crossed I should be ok til dinner!

The day’s food:

Breakfast- 1 medium boiled egg, small bunch of grapes- 121 caloriesLunch- prawn salad- mainly salady bits, with 100g of small prawns, two tablespoons of low fat mayo and a sprinkle of paprika- 140 calories
Dinner- the super duper butternut squash curry- Made extra last week, so I just need to zap it tonight- 200 calories

Total so far- 461 calories

UPDATE- Have just agreed to partake in a bit of cinema action tonight- Man of Steel, oh yes! As it’ll be nigh on impossible to go to the flicks without a snack, I had a look for some healthy ones, and how lucky is this- air-popped corn is only 30 calories a cup (no idea how much you’d get in a cup- I’ll have to investigate, but still- hoorah!) That gives me a few calories left to take into account the cups of tea I had earlier, and I’ll sprinkle the popcorn with chilli flakes and a squirt of spray oil which I reckon will put me ever so slightly over my limit, but only by about 5 calories- what’s that between friends, eh?

An even later UPDATE- Got home and found out I must’ve thrown away the popping corn, which at the time was a bit boo, but on the plus side, I just  sucked on the icecubes and had an occasional slurp of  Mark’s diet coke and all was well in the world, so including my two cups of tea, I think I came in at under 500!

Omnom Quick Butternut Squash curry

butternut squash and chickpea curry

As promised, here’s my dinner from the first day of my 5:2 diet shenanigans (Apologies, slightly blurry picture courtesy of my rubbish phone!)

Adapted from this recipe in Good Food Magazine, it comes in at a shade under 200 calories per portion (by my reckoning) and was very filling to boot!

Interested? Here’s how it goes:

Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Spinach Curry
(Serves 4)

-1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cubed (320ish calories- hard to be exact unless you weighed it)
-4 tomatoes (64 calories)
-200g spinach (46 calories)
-1 tin chickpeas, drained (290 calories)
-couple of squirts of spray oil (4 calories)
-300 ml stock- I used marigold reduced salt boullion (20 calories)
-Tablespoon of curry paste- I used tescos rendang paste- it was in the cupboard, so it got used- If you want something hotter, feel free to go with it! (18 calories)

Total calories per portion- 190.5 (which means you’re free to finish it off with a tablespoon of low fat greek yoghurt, should you desire!- it makes the whole thing a bit saucier)

The method

1- Fry the butternut squash cubes with the spray oil for 4-5 minutes until they go a bit crispy round the edges

2- Add the curry paste, stir for a minute, then add the stock. Bubble that on a low heat for 15ish minutes, or until the squash is soft

3- Tip in the tomatoes and chickpeas, continue cooking for 3-4 minutes, until the toms start to break down

4- Add the spinach and stir til it’s wilted

5-Eat and feel a bit smug at your low cal dinner

5:2- The beginning

Hello hello, I’ve been in Nottingham for a week, organising a conference (because that’s what I do, you know). One bad thing about conferences, and the venue I went to in particular, is the food- It was EVERYWHERE! You get far too used to having a cooked breakfast at the hotel, a pastry when you get to the venue, a cooked lunch, afternoon snacks and then for the most part, a three course dinner, topped off with copious amounts of booze! Consequently, I realised that something had to give- I’ve been eating like an absolute beast since I went to San Francisco at the start of May and am in very real danger of spilling over my trousers

Conveniently, my boss was reading a book on the ‘5:2 diet’. I had a quick glance and as well as seeming very do-able and sensible, it apparently has added health benefits like you get to live longer and nice stuff like that.

Disclaimer- Please don’t take these posts as medical advice or anything, because they’re just my opinion!

OK, the basic premise:

5:2 in a nutshell means that you eat normally for five days of the week, and you pick two days where you restrict your calories to 500 (600 if you’re a boy). NB- when I say ‘normally for five days’, what I actually mean is that you eat within your TDEE- total daily energy expenditure (or, put another way, the amount of calories you’ll burn just by living your life). Here is a calculator, should you be interested:

While I don’t have a huge amount of weight to lose- just half a stone or so- I’ve been trying to do it for the last year. I’ve actually been recording my weight every Monday, and looked back to see what I was this time in 2012- Exactly the bloody same as I am now!

I like the sound of 5:2 because where I usually try to eat a healthy diet and attempt to come in at about 300 calories under my TDEE, I regularly scupper myself with cake, takeaways, booze, snacks and so on, and probably end up averaging the TDEE in the end anyway, so two days of restricted living will hopefully bring my average down a bit, if that makes sense.

I read a lot of blogs alongside the books, and it seems most people try for just two meals a day, but I don’t think I’d be able to cope with that, so I’ve gone for three small ones

Here’s my day 1:

Breakfast- Medium boiled egg- 88 calories,  apricots- 22 calories- Total 110 calories

Lunch– Half a carton of Sainsburys’ creamy vegetable soup- 109 calories

Dinner- Butternut squash, spinach and chickpea curry- 215 calories (this was a find- ridiculously filling and adapted from a recipe in Good Food magazine- will post up my adapted version soon)

Plus– 2 cups of tea with milk- 30 calories

Total= 464 calories

I’m pleased to say, the first day went well. I got hungry, but because I planned three meals, I knew I never had to go too long before the next one, and I drank tea or water when I was thinking about it too much which helped too, and I went to bed feeling a little bit smug (although apparently no lighter, so said the scales)- Will weigh in next week and let you know how it went,

Like the sound of it? Have some stuff to read– There’s plenty out there about the benefits of the system, although from what I gather, no study on humans has been big enough or long enough to prove conclusively that it definitely does work better than other diet plans, but still- Worth a shot, right?!
First- the cautionary tale from the NHS

Health benefits (The sciencey bit)

Positives and negatives