It amazes me to say this, like I’m having some sort of wonderful dream that I’m about to wake up from. But, the truth is that I have lost 101lb or 7 stones and 3 lb so far, in about a year. Little old me! Me who has been fat her whole adult life, and who has been on every diet going. Yet one of those endless tries at weightloss worked, even though I suspected they were all going to end in misery. Yay! Don't give up!
Let me tell you, there is NOTHING special about me. If I can do it, you certainly can.
This is me on the 24th August 2012, and the 24th August 2013:
In my experience, people who ask this question want me to answer that I’ve found a magic tablet / supplement / diet plan, and the weight has fallen off quickly and easily. I bloody wish. Sadly, the “secret” of my weightloss is no secret at all.
If you want to take away a headline, then this is probably it:
To lose 100lb, you need to do what you do to lose 1lb, but for longer.
Like, durr. We all know that. But, do you KNOW that? Really know it in your heart? Because, in my experience, people tend to expect that I have dieted harder, been more extreme, found something new. But it doesn’t work like that. You didn’t get fat overnight, you aren’t going to get thin overnight either. You need to change your habits. Long term. Long. Term. But you know this.
Whilst we’re about it, I’m not keen on the word ‘diet’ either. I haven’t followed any commercial diet plan, been to classes or had hypnotherapy, or read a certain book. I have no beef with other weight loss plans, I suspect its about finding one that suits you. This time, for me, I have NOT DIETED. I have eaten healthily and counted calories. I've just eaten sensibly.
Tip 1) Don’t diet. Eat wholegrain, eat your five a day. Try not to eat too much meat, but enjoy it without guilt when you do.
Tip number two would be this. And yes, you are reading right.
Tip 2) Eat cake every day. Yes, really. Yes, I have eaten cake every day and still lost seven stones. Pinky promise.
Counting calories is just magic, I promise. Don't dismiss it because its not as fashionable as Dukan, or 5:2 or whatever. A calorie is a calorie is a calorie. You could eat just Mars bars every day - if you stop when you get to your allocation, you’ll still lose weight. It might not be sustainable long term, but it works. This means that NOTHING IS OFF LIMITS. Yes, that’s right. Take a minute to think about it and let it sink in. You don’t have to give up anything. You can have whatever you like and you can still lose weight. Even 7 stones.
For me, I have a wicked sweet tooth. My normal diets usually go like this: start hugely committed and stick to them rigidly. Fight that darned sweet tooth. Have some success. Get a bit more laid back. Fancy something I shouldn’t have. Dabble with the banned food. Maybe gain a pound or stay the same. Thereafter, for the next few weeks / months, I can be found face down in the banned foods, scoffing as though my life depended on it. My self esteem goes through the floor as, yet again, I have failed, yet again.
Well no more, my friends. What I did was to work out exactly what I needed, and what I could give up on. Wine I liked, and crisps, but I can generally give those up without too much stress. Chocolate, cakes and biscuits? Not a chance. These are my weak spot. So I have them every day. There are a few rules. I count EVERY calorie, especially the treat ones. I only treat myself once a day. It's better to go out for cake, because the rest of the cake isn't whispering to you. If I can substitute a treat for something that hits the same spot but is more filling, I do that. A great example is Nutella on crumpets as a mid afternoon snack. It has roughly the same number of calories as a bar of chocolate, but actually fills me up more whilst still satisfying the craving.
Prioritise the cake (or whatever your 'thing' is) – its what keeps you on the wagon. Its much harder to fall off if you allow yourself to eat anything you fancy. Do this every day. Enjoy it. Nothing is banned. I even allow myself wine and crisps on occasions.
Tip 3) Write everything down
As I type it’s the end of August 2013. I have written down every single thing that has passed my lips, with the exception of two days (that I regret when it was my children’s birthdays) since January 2013. Every single thing. It keeps me accountable. I love ‘My Fitness Pal’ which is available as a web site and app. It is a database of calorific values and helps you record what you eat. It’s a GOOD discipline to get into. Do it and do it religiously.
Tip 4) Weigh and measure
Yawn! I can hear you from here. Weighing portions is so unfashionable. We perceive it to be a massive bore. You know what? It takes seconds. It keeps you on the straight and narrow. It helps produce pretty graphs in My Fitness Pal. Trust me on this; just do it.
Tip 5) Exercise
I’ve just lost 50% of the audience, I know. You know this stuff. I was the MOST unfit, 20 stone lump of womanhood, seriously, I couldn’t run for a bus. I was almost 40, mother of 3, morbidly obese. Don’t tell me you can’t exercise, because you can. I know you can because I did. I downloaded the Couch to 5K app (C25K, I used the Zen Labs one, but there are loads and they’re all the same) and I had a go. It was not a pretty sight, but I did it. Remember this:
It’s never easy, but its always possible. Nothing worth doing is ever easy.
You can do it. All you need is a decent sports bra and, once you’re sure you’re going to stick with it, a pair of proper running shoes – but I didn’t even buy these for six weeks. If its too hard, repeat a week. If I can do it, you can.
Within five months, I was running a 10K. Looking knackered, and a bit grey, but I did it. A year ago I would have laughed in your face if you’d told me I would run a 10K, but look! Here I am! I'm about a stone lighter now too.
And that’s the basics. I am hoping this blog post will be useful to those who are trying to lose weight, and will be a place I can refer others when they ask me what I have done. Of course, I can only speak for myself. If you have any questions, experiences, tips or suggestions, please will you consider leaving them in the comments section below?
Good luck with your journey. Your health is the most precious gift. Hard is the new black, yes? You can do it too.
The eagle eyed amongst you might have noticed by my Twitter feed that I've taken up running recently. It's true - don't laugh! Believe me when I say I was about as fat and unfit as they come. When I quietly mentioned that I fancied having a go at running to my nearest and dearest, around the end of December, no-one said much. You could see that, although they didn't want to be unsupportive, they were thinking "yeah, right! I give that a week!" I didn't post on here about it because, if I'm honest, I didn't think I'd keep it up myself. I didn't buy myself any running gear or fancy trainers (for a few weeks, anyway). It just sort of snuck into my life. However, I'm slightly amazed to report that, sixteen weeks later, yes, I am still running three times a week and yes, I am loving it. No-one could be more surprised than me! I now run 5k three times a week, and I'm signed up to do the Hull 10K on the 19th May. I'll be honest, this absolutely terrifies me. Still, it's good to get outside one's comfort zone, yes?
It's all been part of a drive to live a healthier life. There are lots of reasons why I wanted to improve my health, and I'll share those in a future blog post. However, dear God, I wanted to be WELL. 2 years of illness made me realise that health was a precious gift and if I didn't do everything that was within my power to wring the last drops out of life, then I was a fool.
I've been asked to share pictures by lots of people now. I've lost quite a bit of weight. This isn't just from running, I've been consciously eating healthily too - and breastfeeding has helped me, certainly. I've been stuck in a weight loss plateau for the past 5 weeks and, although I am diligently eating healthily and exercising at different levels of intensity 5 days a week, its very frustrating. I've not put these photos together before, so it seemed like it might be a good motivator for me too.
Although I've lost weight, this is part of a journey. I've been losing weight very slowly for 10 months now. I expect I still have another year or more to go. I'm over half way, but this is very much a work in progress. This picture sums that up better than words:
This was me at the start of my journey (July 2012), at the heaviest I've ever been. I only own one photo as I found them all so revolting that I deleted them straight away. My Mum has some on her camera though as she refused to delete them for me. I am hoping that I get my hands on those one day.
This was me in January 2013:
This was me yesterday:
That's 80lb gone for good, or just shy of 6 stones!
I feel better for it in every way imaginable. I just feel more comfortable in my own skin, I'm not afraid of running up stairs or running for a bus or similar. My IBS symptoms have gone - ditto headaches and random aches and pains.
I still have another 4 stones to lose to get to a sensible BMI; I was very overweight. I see this as a work in progress. I've never been a thin adult but this time I am going to nail it, before my 40th in March 2014.
You'll probably be curious as to how I've done it. I could write a whole BLOG about that, its not always been successful and its not always been pretty. In short, there's no secret or trick, I've just eaten healthily and exercised. Eaten less, moved more. However, here are some of the things that have worked for me. They may not work for you; I honestly believe we need to find our own recipe to living a healthy lifestyle.
There are more, I'm sure. If anyone wants to add me on My Fitness Pal or Runkeeper, I'm ClaireBoynton. I'm happy to provide encouragement and support.
If you're inspired by this post, please will you consider sponsoring me for the Hull 10K? I'm raising money for the Jane Tomlinson Appeal. She was such an inspirational woman, and a great example of someone who achieved what she set her mind to. The charity does great work in supporting children's and cancer charities - sadly I have known too many people this year who've been diagnosed with cancer - scarily all of them women, and all of them my age. One of them is no longer with us :(
If you can afford it, £1 would make such a difference.
During this tute you'll learn how to form the iconic granny stitch, and you'll make a teeny, tiny granny stripe blanket!
I'd love to see pictures of your finished work, please leave comments either here or on You Tube, or the Facebook group (Mrs Bee's Emporium). As always, I'm happy to answer questions, give clarification or advice - just ask!
Here is the third video tutorial in the series - in this episode you finally get your hands on the yarn! Learn how to hold the hook and yarn, how to make a slipknot and how to make chain or foundation stitch. Don't forget your homework!
Please let me know what you think in the comments below - I'm new to this and want to get it right! All suggestions appreciated. If you require further clarification I'd be only too happy to help too - and don't forget to share with me pictures of your work, so I can shower you with praise and appreciation! We're all in this together!
My daughter's gorgeous chubby, doughy baby legs. All too often they're covered up with tights and babygrows, but today they get to go free. She loves them exposed because it means she can chew her toes. I love them exposed because, quite honestly, I think they are the loveliest, velvetiest things I have ever touched.
Here we go! The second class in the series. I know, I know you're desperate to pick up your hook and GET ON WITH IT! But hold your horses. At some point over the next few days, I can almost guarantee you, you will go throught The Long Dark Night of the Soul. With crochet, its kind of the law. Lots of people say "I tried crochet and I could get the chain stitch, but then I got stuck"
Well yes, the thing is with crochet that all the pain and misery is front loaded. That's why it's called the Long Dark Night of the Soul. You probably will feel like giving up, you'll swear, and chuck the blasted yarn across the room a number of times. But each time you feel like giving up, please watch this tutorial again. You can't watch someone crochet too many times. You are developing muscle memory, just like when you learned to walk or learned to drive. Eventually you will do this without thinking.
You WILL get there.
Practice, practice, practice - it's the only thing that works!
(sorry to sound so smug, but it's true)
Happy new year! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and are buzzing with enthusiasm for 2013. All was lovely here - Florence's first Christmas was relaxed. We spent a lot of time with family and we also lazed around and ate far too much, but that was fab and just what the doctor ordered. Father Christmas bought Florence her first tooth, which arrived, without fuss, on the 28th. All I can say is "ouch." I'm still breastfeeding. Just.
Since a lot of people like to take up new hobbies in the new year, I thought it'd be a great time to put together a project for those who want to learn to crochet. In 2012, I met several people who were keen to start but said that even the most basic tutorials assumed that they knew all about yarn, etc. This is a real beginner's guide. As the weeks pass, we'll make a granny square blanket, or a cushion cover if that's your preference (you start in the same place and then decide which project to follow half way through.) All you need is 6 balls of DK (double knit) yarn and a 4mm crochet hook. If that sounds like gobble-de-gook, then watch the movie where I explain alll about it. You can just buy one ball of yarn if you're not sure you'll like it, and see how you go.
I hope the tutorials will be part information and part support - learning any new skill is a challenge and I want to be there to assist, reassure and pass on experiences. My own personal challenge right now is losing weight and I am a *total* exercise novice (embarrassingly so), so I empathise with the new crocheters. If you're an experienced crocheter and have any advice you'd like me to pass on, then please email me. I'll give full credit to all contributers.
So, here we go. All feedback appreciated:
If the embedded video player isn't working, there's a problem with Typepad. You can find the video by following this link: http://vimeo.com/57356957
Online Yarn Recommendations:
For this project, I'll be using Debbie Bliss Rialto, as I have it in my stash already. However, the following would also be good. I've given a brief guide to price according to which yarn you choose, too.
Lovely - http://hejhog-uk.com/debbie-bliss-rialto-dk-c-170_181_224.html (cost approx £25 for finished blanket / cushion)
Gorgeous - http://hejhog-uk.com/artesano-dk-c-170_252_258.html (£22)
Bargainous luxury merino - http://hejhog-uk.com/wendy-merino-c-170_382_393.html (£14.70)
Mid price Acrylic / merino blend - http://hejhog-uk.com/wendy-mode-dk-c-170_382_412.html (£8.82)
Stylecraft Special DK is a nice acrylic in several colours that comes highly recommended. I've not used this yarn or this company, so can't recommend personally. Word on the web, though, is they're good: http://www.countrycrafts.org.uk/special_dk.htm (£8.94, but that's for double the amount of yarn, so you could make two blankets!)
RICO Creative Cotton - have used this yarn and this supplier. Would recommend both. The yarn is similar to string and can be a bit splitty, so buyer beware, it could be tricky for a newbie. That said, it's a good price for a natural material: http://www.first4yarns.co.uk/rico-creative-cotton-705-c.asp (£11.40)
Hope that helps - as I say, that's just some suggestions for those who are feeling overwhelmed by their first yarn purchase, there are thousands of other options especially now it's sale time. Just check its DK / double knit and can be machine washed (superwash). I'm very happy to take a look at your potential yarn purchases, just PM me.
I really like www.hejhog-uk.com as their prices are reasonable and their customer service second to none. They don't pay me for recs though, lol, so feel free to shop elsewhere. A note of caution about Kemps Woolshop - their prices are excellent and I've always received parcels quickly, HOWEVER their search engine is a total PITA. I've just searched DK yarn and the first few items are not DK weight. If you plan to order from Kemps, I'm happy to double check that you have the right weight yarn.
Just a quick post tonight, as its late and I am exhausted. Its been a busy day at the cottage. The baby fed, quite literally, all night and I woke with a sore back from twisting around her slightly in bed. Thankfully I feed her lying down an night, so I managed the odd doze. I awoke late, so Charlie was late for school and, because I'd had to wake her abruptly (and she hadn't had enough sleep either,) the baby was grumpy. Just as I'd poured myself the first cup of tea of the day, Jonny appeared and said he'd missed the school bus. 15 minutes later I'm driving us all the 15 mile round trip to school.
I've tried to work today, honestly I have, but the darkness and the horrible, cold rain has conspired to prevent me from being too motivated. I cut up some paper, and finished my hand and footprint tiles, which I will share with you another day. I am pleased with them. Then, right on cue, Florence woke up and I spent most of the rest of the time baby wrangling. Or baby wrestling, as my friend calls it. Florrie's a big, heavy baby now who won't sit still. She's prone to suddenly arching her back and flinging herself around. Wrestling is an accurate description.
Still, the baby went into the sling and that gave me chance to work on the next stage of the Christmas alcohol - home made Limoncello and Blackberry vodka. I spent a relaxing couple of hours mixing up sugar solution, sterilising jars and pottering about.
The now sweetened lemon vodka will now retreat back into the fridge for a week to infuse some more, before I strain the lemon zest out and bottle it.
Here's the recipe in case you fancy having a go. There's still time before Christmas
6 small unwaxed lemons
1 litre bottle vodka - cheap will do
750g caster sugar
750ml boiling water
1. Wash and sterilise a large Kilner jar by putting into a cool oven for 10 mins (gas mark 1/ 140 degrees C)
2. Wash the lemons, then grate the lemon zest finely, taking care not to take the pith (ha!)
3. Put lemon zest into sterile jar and pour over the vodka. Secure well and store in a cool, dark place for one week. Shake everyday - it looks like a snowstorm of yellow snow (nice)
4) After a week has passed, measure out the sugar into a large bowl. Add freshly boiling water and stir carefully until the sugar dissolves. You can tell when the sugar has dissolved as it goes clear, and if you put a spoon into the mixture, you can't see or feel any granules on the back of the spoon. Stir the lemon infused vodka into the sugar syrup.
5) Wash the Kilner jar, along with another of the same size, and sterilise both. Pour the combined mixture of lemon vodka and sugar syrup into the jars. Store for another week, shaking every day. Strain the Limoncello through a clean muslin cloth and decant into pretty, sterilised bottles.
Store in the freezer and drink neat, use in cocktails or pour over ice cream.
The blackberry vodka is proving to be more of a challenge as we've gone a little off piste with this. We wanted to use the blackberries left over from the railway jelly, so we bundled them into a demijohn and added vodka. I've been keeping notes. I'll share them with you at a later date.
I also wanted to share this little dude with you. Well, dudette. It's Cactus Jacqui!
How I enjoyed making her! The pattern was free, enjoyable to crochet, and I made her up in a night! a perfect project. You can find the pattern here.
Cactus Jacqui is part of a gift I've made for a handmade Secret Santa. I need to post her tomorrow, hopefully the postman will deliver her safely to her new home on the other side of the country.
Well. That wasn't quick, was it?! Thanks for hanging out with me again, though, its always fun.