Free at Last! September 9th 2016.

I finally managed to get back to where I was in April – those ten pounds that have dogged me forever finally gave up the ghost and as the scales began their final glorious inexorable descent, I dared to believe that this time my journey really is a different one.

In fact I am now down three stone and a quarter of a pound – that’s a very important quarter – it suggests the descent is not yet over.

Before this I have often lost weight successfully for several months – the story every dieter can tell you – you get a burst of enthusiasm, diet madly and lose maybe a couple of stone – that’s quite easy to do if you have seven or eight to lose. And then you have a bad week and the scales go in the opposite direction. And again. And again. And slowly but surely you watch helplessly as those dreaded scales remind you of the failure you feel inside – that you are just fat and nothing you can do will change that.

It’s not true though! I can tell you – this time it’s not true! I have managed to hold the gain at ten pounds forever it seemed – without giving up the ghost altogether – and there’s a very good reason for that – the food I am eating. The reduction of carbs is significant – but the complete removal of sugar is empowering. It has even resulted in a clean bill of health at the dentist’s yesterday – no decay since last year – I told her and she was impressed – living proof of yet another benefit of giving up sugar.

If you had said to me a year ago that I would be quite happy to have lost only half a pound from April to September I would have laughed. I have always set great big goals for myself – projecting big losses into the very near future – planning a stone or two in a month. Now I have no such expectations. I would like to lose six and a half pounds between now and September 30th but I’m okay if that doesn’t happen – that will get me into a new stone – one I haven’t seen for a very long time. I hit a plateau – and boy it was a big one – it stretched forever – but it’s gone and new adventures lie ahead.

If even one person seeing my story gets to change their story then I will be happy – the weight loss journey is as unique to each one of us as our DNA – and yet each is made of the same ingredients – a mixture of hope and despair – the trick is to make sure the hope hides the taste of despair long enough for you to believe in yourself – you can do this! I can do this!

Bant!

I had a friend at work bring me some freshly pulled rhubarb this week – and I was delighted to see that it is very low carb so fine for me to eat.  I love rhubarb and I love crumble so I went on the hunt to find a crumble recipe – and came across a link somewhere for a crumble topping that included flax seeds – I didn’t have any so I just made my own version of the recipe and it was lovely.

 

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Banting rhubarb crumble

Heat oven to 160 fan.

Ingredients

  • rhubarb – eight stalks approx
  • 25 gms xylitol – or more to taste
  • 1.5 tblsp ground chia seed

Mix these three together – chop the rhubarb and place in pot with the xylitol and  ground chia, and coo on a medium hob until melted and soft through. Set aside.

  • 100gms ground almond
  • 35 gms dessicated coconut
  • 1/2 tsp each of all spice and mixed spice
  • 10 chopped pecans – optional really – I added them one day, not the next

Mix all dry ingredients together

  • 50gms melted butter
  • tsp vanilla extract

Add the vanilla to the butter then mix into the dry ingredients and keep mixing until the butter is fully absorbed into the dry mix. Pour the mixture out onto a parchment sheet on an oven tray and pat down so it is flat.

Cook for about 16 minutes and then check – remove from the oven when the sides start to crisp.

Leave to cool then put some rhubarb into a bowl and crack off a piece of the topping and crack it over the fruit. Serve with freshly whipped cream.

Truly divine!

I made it again this evening and accidentally put xylitol into the topping as well – it tastes so sweet! Not a good addition! You could add hazelnuts or buttered nuts – think I mentioned those before – I heat some butter in the pan and throw in the packet of Lidl nuts with some spices – they would be lovely with it I’d imagine too. Macadamia are too soft and would burn easily – hazelnuts might be a bit too hard – play about and see what works for you.

 

 

If I can do this anyone can – you owe it to yourself to banish sugar from your life – try it for a month – you will be amazed.

Orla

 

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Almost back there! September 3rd 2016.

I said I’d post when I was getting back to my best weight again. Well today I am two pounds off that. It has been an enormous struggle not to lose the run of myself over the summer and just give in to – well basically – laziness in terms of eating patterns and let it all go. I let go on the last three days of the holiday in Spain in June and since then I have not had a full week when I stayed completely banting pure all summer. I really have tried to stay on track and remember how far I have come. My biggest fear is that I will do as I have always done – get so far and then just go back up. My ocean – my fear of losing sight of the shore!

Not this time. I am in my busiest time – I’m back to school and it is hectic and chaotic – I have about twenty things to do at any given moment – I’ve been making out sheets for a workbook we are making for our second years all evening and I was busy all day before that – but – but – I am on a banting roll. It is so much easier to stay in focus and on track when busy. I had five of the ten gone  when I posted last time and I played about with that for weeks – last Monday I headed into work with seven on and my yogurt tub in hand. I haven’t looked back.

I also set up a challenge on my Facebook page – Banting in Ireland – very small – I challenged myself to two things – no eating at night after 8.00, and just two meals a day. That seems difficult to do – but honestly – ask my mother – I was never a breakfast person so banting allows me to wallow in that luxury – I hate eating in the morning and now I don’t. I have my lunch at work at 1.00 and then dinner at about 7.00 and that’s me done for the day. I had a great day yesterday – dinner was simply a big beautiful lump of fresh salmon, simply baked in the oven with olive oil drizzled over. Before that I had eaten a pot of Greek yogurt with some nuts I had prepared last week – tell you in a minute – and some blackberry compote – Mary at work brought me some fresh berries from her garden and I boiled them with a small bit of xylitol and then added ground chia seed when I took it off the heat. The combination of the three is really spectacular. The nuts are simple to make – I bought a bag of Lidl mixed Nuts and heated about 1.5 ozs of butter in a small frying pan then threw in the nuts and added a big dash each of mixed spice and all spice. They taste great – not greasy at all and they really up the fat content of my food without adding to the protein quantities which is where I am going wrong.

When I stood on the scales this morning I was delighted. Five pounds down – and I felt amazing. I got up at 5.30 one morning this week because I had so much energy – I sound a bit manic but it’s not that kind of energy! – and worked like a demon all the way through till 11.00. My energy levels are high, my skin is glowing and today I got into my skinny summer jeans that I only managed to wear once last May and then reluctantly put aside because they just didn’t fit. I’ve been in them since 9.00 and I’m still in them 13 hours later – a real sign of success!

My next aim is to get down below the next stone – that’s big – it’s ten years coming. I never thought I’d see this weight again and it is a real barrier to get below where I’m at – but you know I do my best work from now to December so I’m going to make it. I don’t know if I will get to my ideal weight by next May which is my fiftieth but I will be closer than I am now.

It’s funny. I’m a totally different shape now. I was so heavy before but couldn’t see it myself. Now however I see my weight but recognise the difference in my shape. I met a past pupil today who told me I was looking really well, and I said thank you – no explanation of “Oh I have loads more weight to lose” just – thank you. I can buy clothes easily – I just don’t have any money to do it with! Children have that effect, not that I am complaining for one second! But it’s wonderful to just step into a shop and not feel like the assistant’s eyes are boring into you willing you to understand the message that there’s nothing there to fit you. I will never forget that feeling – I have felt it too often. It happened once a very long time ago in Madame Kay’s in Dundalk for any of you that know it – the shop assistant actually said the words “I don’t think we have anything here to fit you Madam”. First off I was 24, and secondly I was actually looking for a Christmas present for my much skinnier sister. The shop is long gone, but the memory lingers and it can be difficult to shake off that feeling. I wonder will it ever truly disappear…

I’m on the cusp of the next step in my journey. I feel like it’s going to happen this time. I’ll let you know how it goes. My goal is to be into the next stone for October. I still haven’t taken the running challenge… That’s a tough one…

I’ll also post a few recipes the next time. I made a few new things but I’m not eating much sugar at the moment so I’ve no interest in posting about them!

 

Getting there! April 13th 2016.

I said I’d post when I had news! Well today I reached my first tangible goal – three stone off. It doesn’t sound like a whole lot but believe me it is. It is 42 pounds or 19 kilos. The difference is enormous. I have reduced my BMI from 43.64 to 36.55. I have dropped from a size 24 to a size 18 – I’m a teenager again! That is so significant – that means I can now go shopping in regular shops again instead of having to search out shops for larger sizes only.

It has been slow but so worth it. I had a small blip over Easter and then decided to really try to go with the intermittent fasting. I have no food until about 1.00pm any day – honestly that is no hardship as I was never a breakfast person anyway – and then I eat a second time at about 7.00pm and I eat a hearty feed I promise – and that’s me done until the next day again. It means I eat a very big meal both times and I make sure to have lots of fat. I also keep a tin of nuts on my desk at work so that if I don’t get my lunch for any reason I have something banting friendly to fall back on. I am not evangelical. I am trying to make this lifestyle work for me. I have started buying the Lidl Almonds with chilli – they are not perfect – but God they taste great and I feel like a sinner when I eat them! So much tastier than crisps and so much more banting suitable! I think I’ve bought most of the stock in the three local shops I can get to! I got five tins today – the joy of it is my children love them – and if they will reach for those instead of crisps or buns I’m very happy.

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They are so spicy – and that’s what I realise is missing in my food when I want to go off course. I need strong flavours. So of course I went back to cooking – we have two hectic weeks in our house so I spent Saturday cooking so that when we arrive home from work there is something banting friendly to eat even if we only have half an hour to eat and go. I never managed to empty my third freezer – I will over the summer but I’m glad to have it this week.

I cooked a double batch of my Thai Green curry and of my normal curry and the pesto and white wine chicken – notice the theme running through all three?! They were great to have and so everyone got to choose their favourite one for tea on Saturday while I headed out with my buddies for steak and red wine.

I made a new recipe. The Late Late show here in Ireland – an institution of a Friday night programme – ran an item on what goes into sausages – I’d still eat them anyway – reminds me of the horsemeat scandal – my children were horrified to find that Burger King burgers contained horse – they said they’d happily eat them anyway  – but I decided to try again to make a sausage replacement with no wheat.

This is what I came up with – and they are so delicious that I had one for my tea this evening sliced and fried in butter and scramble thrown in on top. It is not a sausage – it is technically a pork burger but next time I may make sausage shaped ones – or even invest in a sausage maker…

Pork burgers

  • 1lb pork chops minced – ask your butcher to do that for you.
  • 1 egg
  • a dash of tabasco – adjust to your own tastes – I like spice!
  • salt and pepper
  • spices – I used my current favourite – the chip one – see below.

 

Simple as that. Mix all together and shape into either patties or little sausages. I baked mine in the oven at 180 degrees celsius in a fan oven for twenty minutes. Yo could leave them in longer if you wanted them to be browner but I did them for the freezer so I left them a little lighter. Gorgeous. I would say they’d be even nicer on the pan in a bit of coconut oil and a dollop of butter. Not that these got to the freezer – I did about double the batch and got to put away four only. My gang don’t like cheese put in anything but these would be delicious with real mozarella torn into them as well I think – but then they are moving from the realm of sausage flavour to burger.

I had this for lunch on Saturday with a slice of mature red cheddar melted over the top and Paddy had Bellingham Blue cheese over his – they were voted a success by all five tasters.

I found a great recipe for an alternative to fajitas the other day – have a look – this is the link – I’m definitely trying this one out next weekend.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dreaded plateau – and chicken delights. February 19th 2016

It’s been a lean few months in terms of weight loss. I have my 35 pounds off but since I reached that milestone I have stopped losing again. It’s frustrating to say the least of it. I have continued with the banting lifestyle – I just haven’t seen any improvement to my shape in recent times. I’m back to playing with the same three pounds up and down now for weeks.

I also stopped tracking. I broke out twice since Christmas – one major blowout involving wine, which is okay, but then crisps and chocolate biscuits too. Not a good evening – I got no sleep that night, and on a work night too! The second one was only little – I had a small piece of chocolate cake over the mid term – so not worth it. I didn’t particularly enjoy the flavour – it was very sweet, but I did it anyway. It didn’t set me back but I’m definitely not feeling the healthy lean feeling I had come to enjoy on the plan before this.

In an effort to get this whole thing moving again – I have a goal which is next May 2017 – my fiftieth birthday – I need to address a few issues. So here is my list of Not So New Year Resolutions – I’m hoping posting it here will help me to keep to it! I sat down this afternoon and watched the week four programme on the real meal page and it discussed plateaus and how to deal with them – so armed with that knowledge this is my plan.

  • First off I need to go back to tracking for a few weeks. I track on the real meal website – https://banting.realmealrevolution.com but there are apps out there that will track your food for you too if you don’t sign up for the course – there is a great one for iOS users – it’s from MyFitnessPal and it tracks your carbs, proteins and fats for you – it has more than 5 million foods in there so it should be pretty helpful! Ironically I went to download it and realised I had it from years ago – but never used it. Maybe I’ll start – it’s handy on the phone – and I do love my gadgets – it might be more fun that loading up the web page all the time.
  • I have gotten back into the habit of having about 40gms of Green and Black’s 85% Chocolate most evenings. It’s delicious and I love it. Now I’m thinking it’s maybe not such a great idea. I have definitely found I crave more food in general recently. I haven’t fallen off the banting wagon but I definitely snack more than I did before. I found Lindt 90% Chocolate in Sainsbury’s in Newry yesterday – and it is lovely – the carb content is much lower – have a look at the nutrient information.

    I was blissfully happy eating the 85% chocolate as it has only 14gms of sugar per 100 gms – so that is say 6gms of sugar a day – but look at the carb content! 22gms? That’s very high – too high for an everyday event. the interesting thing is that it is like a drug alright – you find the taste far too bitter to start and then you adjust and suddenly it tastes sweet and delicious and you’re getting that sugar rush all over again – no wonder I broke out twice in the last month! No more chocolate until Easter I think – that’s going to be hard but I want to get moving again so it has to be done! On a positive note I have no interest in any of the treats that appear with grim regularity at work – welcome as they are and generously given, I have no problem resisting as it is milk chocolate full of sugar – and to me at this stage it feels like I’d be ingesting poison. Result!

  • Having listened again to Prof Noakes about fasting I think this is something I need to try. he talks about our appestat all the time – the part of our brain that tells us when we have eaten enough – and suggests that when women plateau – and it is invariably women it happens to most – it is because our appestats are confused. We have spent so long too-ing and fro-ing  with every conceivable diet plan known to woman that it is difficult to teach it when we are genuinely full. SO fasting is a way to readjust the appestat. Mine is not happy at present. I am snacking all day – not eating a huge amount at any one time and so I’m not gaining any weight – but my body cannot tell me when I am hungry or when I am full. I need to pull back so I can experience genuine hunger again so that little part of my brain can get back into shape so I can too. I don’t think I could actually fast for days on end – people fast sometimes for up to five days – I’m not saying that I’ll do that but I will certainly try to snack less and fast more – have an eight hour window every day when I eat and then fast for the other 16 hours. That sounds drastic but it’s actually quite easy –                                             https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DALqoZYWig8&feature=youtu.be –              this is the link for a very interesting talk by an Australian doctor on the subject – I think I posted it before.
  • Because I had a dodgy knee for a while after Christmas I stopped doing my 11,000 steps every day. The knee is mostly fine again – I still get a twinge when I come down the stairs sometimes, and if I wear one particular pair of boots – I never went back to the walking however. As a result I’m averaging only about 6,000 steps a day. so I need to get this back up to 10,000 or thereabouts I’m thinking. I’m loathe to try a 5km run but maybe this time I’ll just go for it – not sure if I could actually do that – I’m not a runner – never was – but maybe I need to up my game a bit! I watch my former colleague Siobhán’s amazing transformation into an Ironwoman with awe – maybe I need to follow very gingerly in her footsteps – in a very minor way of course!

 

That’s the plan from now until Easter anyway. We Irish have a history of famine conditions and are great at the Lenten campaigns – mine is kicking in a few days late but let’s see how it goes. I’ll keep you posted.

Finally – that chicken recipe. i found it over on a YouTube site called “proper tasty” and it’s one for chicken stuffed with ricotta and spinach then topped with cheddar and paprika and baked in the oven.

Here’s the link to the video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ljklQ9VXBZ4 – it’ll take 41 seconds of your life and it’s worth it – I just had it for my tea – delicious and filling and satisfying. It’s amazing how much LCHF food is out there on so many different sites when you go looking.

Ingredients

  • chicken breasts
  • 50 gms spinach per breast
  • 50 gms ricotta per breast
  • cheddar for grating on top
  • salt, pepper and paprika

 

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celsius

Heat the spinach in a frying pan and when it has wilted add the ricotta and turn off the heat. Mix the two well together. Leave to cool unless you are planning to cook these straight away. Slice the chicken breasts almost through like hasselback potatoes – make sure not to cut straight through or you will end up with strips of chicken and not a breast.

Slot spoonfuls of the spinach mix into the gaps in the breasts then cover with cheddar and and a good dollop of paprika so they look red – as below, and season well with salt and lots of black pepper.

 

I cooked mine for about half an hour and served alone – you have veg and protein in the one portion here – serve with some broccoli if you feel it needs something on the side. It was a nice change but I’m not sure I’d make it a weekly addition – maybe once a month – they freeze really well so might be a good one for when there’s a busy time coming up. I am trying to empty my freezer not fill it at present so none went in mine today!

 

I’m away. New game plan starts tomorrow – wish me luck!

Orla