menopause diet blog

Time for a Change

Day 90: Your Target Weight – the beginning or the end?

My goal was to reach my target weight in 100 days. This meant losing a stone (14 lbs) and trying to control my menopausal symptoms (hot sweats and migraines) through diet.

I am now half a pound off my target and now that the summer is coming to an end and I have other priorities looming, this will be my last post on a regular basis. My menopausal hot sweats and migraines have vastly improved to a manageable level. So, all in all, a huge personal success for me… and my initial reaction was “Yay, its the end of my diet… now I can eat what I like… freedom at last!”

But the statistics on the number of people who put all their lost weight back on (and sometimes more) when their diet ends do not make happy reading. I quickly realised that reaching my target weight is far from the end, but is actually a new beginning, if I am to keep it that way.

I cannot go back to my old ways of eating and whilst I can indulge occasionally in a treat – a dessert, chocolate bar, some chips and dips, a few glasses of wine, a slice of chocolate cake or a plate of fries, these things will have to remain just that – treats! To maintain my weight, manage my menopausal symptoms and keep my energy levels and self esteem up, I will need to carry on eating in pretty much the same way that I have been doing for the last 90 days. Always!

I must admit that it does feel a little scary. I am a little worried that without the discipline of writing this blog that I will slip back into old habits. Time will tell.  I hope I have learnt enough for this not to happen.

So do I feel deprived? Am I destined to be ‘on a diet’ forever?

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Well no… it doesn’t feel that way. I would not want to go back to the bloating, migraines, hot sweats, too tight clothes, tired all the time  lifestyle that I had 90 days ago. I no longer think of living by my ‘diet rules’ as a penance, or as depriving myself, but as a positive, new, healthy way of life. The joy is that I don’t have to be so strict as the last 90 days but in the main, I will still stick to the principles that I have learned.

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Thank you to all my followers… you will probably never know how much your support has meant to me and how instrumental it has been in helping me lose weight. Keep in touch and let me know if you start your own blogs!

Food Dairy Day 90:

Breakfast: menopause muesli

Lunch: M&S quinoa and nut salad

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Dinner: Smoky marinated prawns and stir fried mixed vegetable

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Drinks & Snacks: herbal tea, 6 squares dark choc, apple, carrot & hummus

PS I finally got some coconut oil – see my earlier post on the hormonal benefits of this – delicious to use for stir frying vegetables

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Day 89: My secret for losing weight? Write a blog!

Many diets advocate keeping a food diary to keep track of what you are eating. They are a great way to monitor your diet and track progress. They are also a useful tool to identify why your diet is/is not working. For example you might find that you are tempted by sugary snacks every day at 4 o’clock… a food diary helps to highlight such issues so that you can then do something about them. I have tried keeping a paper food diary before but it never seemed to last more than a couple of weeks.

This is the first time I have kept a food diary on a blog and it is a much more powerful tool than a paper diary. Without a shadow of a doubt it has been a major contributor to the success of this diet. Why?

  1. Other people are reading it and I therefore felt accountable to these unknown supporters of mine. It was comforting to know that other people were following my story and that they were going through the same ups and down as I was. I felt that I owed them my time & an honest account of my dieting day and I hope I was helping in some way on their dieting journey. Finding something interesting to write everyday, other than simply an account of my food diary, meant that I stayed very focused on the task at hand. At the end of each day, when I wrote the blog, I was forced to think in detail about my food choices, dieting experience and how I could maintain/improve it.
  2. The blog recipe pages are a great pictorial record of the meal ideas that have worked and it was often helpful to revisit these pages when I was in need of inspiration.

It was a real commitment and some days I had to summon up the enthusiasm to write. But once I did I never regretted it as I nearly always leant something that would help me and it really helped to keep healthy food  choices top of my mind. The thought that it was only for a finite amount of time helped to keep me going.

So I would really recommend keeping a blog about your dieting experience. Its a effort but its one that will help you reach your target weight and therefore the effort more than repays itself in reward!

Food Diary Day 89

Breakfast: menopause muesli

Lunch: felafel, salad leaves, beetroot, cucumber

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Dinner: Yo Sushi (blue plate day – those aren’t all mine!)

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Drinks & Snacks: herbal tea, 5 squares dark chocolate, slice of cheese and parma ham

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Day 86: Takeaway treat

After a couple of pretty strict reduced calorie days this week, today was treat day and chinese takeaway for dinner! Even when ordering take out it is still possible not to deviate too far from the rules of the diet and still have a delicious treat of a meal. I ordered Kung Po chicken, in which the chicken is usually deep fried but I asked them to use regular chicken breast instead. It’s in a delicious sweet chilli sauce with onions, water chestnuts and cashews. On the side I ordered stir fried broccoli and plain steamed rice. ..So plenty of vegetables still.

Food Diary Day 86:

Breakfast: menopause muesli

Lunch: left over poached salmon, green salad leaves, beetroot, cottage cheese, cucumber sticks, hummus, alfalfa sprouts

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Dinner: Kung Po chicken, stir fried broccoli, steamed rice

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Snacks and drinks: herbal tea, 8 squares dark choc, handful of Minstrels

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Day 83: How to speed up weight loss

It is interesting that since I got back off holiday and got back on track with the diet I have dropped about 3 pounds in a few days and am now a pound under my pre-holiday weight. So what is going on?

Well I have been reading a lot about how continuous dieting forces your body into ‘starvation mode’ and a resulting weight loss plateau. This is thought to be because of ancient genes that protected our bodies in times of famine. In addition the theory behind having a ‘treat’ day each week (in which calorie intake is significantly above diet days) results in a kickstart to your metabolism, effectively jolting it out of starvation mode and therefore resuming weight loss.

Its true that prior to my holiday I was struggling to lose the last few pounds, despite an ever stricter regime. Perhaps the holiday has kickstarted my metabolism again and now that I have gone back the my diet it has also kickstarted the weight loss too.

I also came across an article about a new book which advocates a very low calorie intake (about 650) for 2 days each week and then a healthy mediterranean based diet (on 1500 calories per day) for the rest of the week. Apparently women who followed the plan lost almost twice as much as those who restricted calories every day. The plan also claims to fight diabetes and is therefore called ‘The 2 day diabetes diet“.

 

This theory certainly ties in with my experience and the concept of varying calorific intake to keep your metabolism ‘guessing’ and thereby avoiding starvation mode weight loss plateaus.

For the last few weeks of my diet therefore I am going to try alternating a couple of extra low calorie days with a couple of higher calorie days. It is important though that you still continue to choose healthy foods – ie the higher calorie days don’t mean back to the old sugary snacks!

Food Diary Day 83:

Breakfast: menopause muesli – see breakfast recipes

Lunch: Peppered mackerel, spinach leaves, beetroot, hummus, cucumber sticks, pine nuts

Dinner: Tuna steak stir-fried in oil with splash of soy sauce and japanese mirin with sesame seeds on a bed of stir-fried courgettes and leeks plus steamed green beans!

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Drinks and Snacks: herbal tea, olives and slice of cheese, 2 pears, 6 squares dark chocolate

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Day 80: Rethink your treats

Well almost back on track… a rather tempting rogue pack of jaffa cakes but ok apart from that…

I read a lovely article recently about the celebrity chef Mary Berry. She said something that resonated with me as I had been thinking about how I was going to get back on track with my diet after the treats I had been eating on holiday. I decided that I had to rethink what a ‘treat’ was for me. Here’s what she said:

“You can have an interesting and varied diet, but you don’t need a huge portion and you certainly don’t need a second helping, especially as you get older. Rather than deny myself anything, I prefer to have tiny portions of beautiful food…”

Food Diary Day 80:

Breakfast: Menopause muesli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: poached salmon, tomatoes, ready made edamame bean salad, radishes, olives

Dinner: Mixed bean salad, wholegrain rice, half a tin of sardines, tomatoes

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Snacks and Drinks: half a glass of wine, 8 jaffa cakes, cherries

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Day 65 to 79: Holiday Diet Lowdown

Apologies for the lack of posts these last 2 weeks but I have been on holiday!

My goal for my 2 weeks of holiday in France was to keep my weight stable so I could get on with losing my final few pounds of weight when I got back.

All I can say is EASIER SAID THAN DONE!

The reality is that I put 2 and a half pounds back on…. not too bad really! This was mainly due to the temptations of daily fresh french baguettes, local french cheese and delicious home made ice cream. The break in routine, new grocery stores and the difficulty of getting my usual ingredients made it pretty hard to keep to my diet rules… plus eating out at least once per day and the ‘what the hell, I’m on  holiday’ voice in my head was not very conducive to being disciplined!

Still the pounds I had lost pre-holiday did make wearing shorts more pleasurable and some new clothes were happily purchased too!

I did manage to eat my ‘menopause muesli’ each day as I could get oats, soya milk, flaked almonds and berries locally… I took a large packet of mixed seeds with me luckily which I was grateful for.

So back to reality now and 21 days left to my target weight means a target of losing 5 pounds in 21 days – should be possible but I have to admit after the holiday I am not feeling particularly disciplined, so here’s a sobering thought…

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Watch this space!

 

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Day 64: Diets Don’t Work

Last night on TV I watched an interesting documentary called The Men Who Made Us Thin. It was about the diet industry, how and why it started and why diets don’t work (for the majority of us in the long term). It made fascinating viewing.

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The diet industry was essentially created in the US in the 1940’s as a result of the actions of one man: the chief statistician of the world’s biggest insurance company, MetLife. He looked at the age of death and the weight of MetLife’s 4 million policy holders and noticed that overweight people died earlier. He then went on to create charts of ideal body weight which were even embraced by the medical profession. Overnight, these charts deemed that about half the American population were overweight and so, a nation’s obsession with dieting was born.

The programme went on to analyse statistics of how many dieters managed to lose weight and crucially how many of those had kept the weight off 5 years later. The success rate, measured on these terms is pitifully small (around 15%) and that is what keeps the diet industry merry-go-round turning. It is one of the few industries, in whose interest it is, that the product effectively fails!

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So what is the answer? Well, crash diets and faddy diets are definitely not the way forward. Even if weight is lost by these methods, it will almost certainly be put back on once ‘normal’ eating patterns return and many people actually end up weighing more than they did before they started!

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The problem with most diets is that they involve a short term change in habits (which may or may not be successful in losing weight) and then most people go back to their old eating habits (which made them put on weight in the first place) and wonder why the weight piles back on. And so the cycle repeats itself.

The consensus is that the only way to lose weight and keep it off is to change your eating habits permanently. Instead of focussing on weight, focus on eating natural healthy food and becoming fitter and weight loss will follow. It’s not rocket science, but eating moderate helpings of healthy food is not always easy in today’s fast paced world of instant ready meals, sugar and fat laden snacks and processed food. Not only are these things readily available but they are constantly promoted and advertised and they can be as addictive as cocaine (see Day 59 post on Sugar).

Each of us needs to develop a new arsenal of healthy and easy meals and recipes that fit into our lifestyle. Ones that rely on fresh vegetables, lean protein and ‘good’ poly & mono unsaturated fats… that are simple to prepare… with readily available ingredients. Without this essential ‘food toolkit’ we cannot hope to stay off the diet bandwagon.

Once I reach my target weight I hope I will continue to eat the same food that I have been eating over the last 64 days. I will be able to relax the rules a little, introduce some carbs again perhaps and treat myself to the occasional dessert but in order to keep the weight off I must say goodbye to my old eating habits.

Day 64: Food Diary

Breakfast: menopause muesli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Smoked salmon salad with ready made 3 bean salad, feta cheese, pine nuts and green leaves

Dinner: Pork & Apple sausage with spring cabbage

Snacks & Drinks: Herbal tea, 5 squares dark chocolate, menopause cake with tahini – see snack recipe page

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Day 58: Want More Energy?

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A couple of months back my mum commented that she didn’t remember being so tired all the time at my age. She thought I should go and get myself checked out at the doctors. I never went but I do remember  feeling tired all the time.  Now, since I have been eating healthily and specifically eating less high sugar foods I have so much more energy…. plus my frame of mind is generally more positive too. It just goes to show how important the type of fuel you give your body is, in order to function effectively in today’s fast paced world.

Foods that sap energy are high sugar processed food (biscuits, sweets, cakes etc), fizzy drinks and even energy drinks (which give you a quick spike of energy but then leave you in a slump), fatty foods (that your body has to work hard to digest), alcohol and skipping meals!

Food Diary Day 58:

Breakfast: menopause muesli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Smoked salmon, broccoli and asparagus, steamed ans drizzled with tamari soy sauce

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Dinner: smoked trout with ready made mixed bean salad and beetroot

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Snacks and Drinks: herbal tea, 6 squares dark chocolate, 1 bourbon biscuit, halva

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Day 56: This Diet in a Nutshell

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I like this sentiment as this is essentially what the diet I have been following is all about. No calorie counting or weighing. No looking up values for food or calculating. The key elements can be summarised in just 3 points:

  1. No bread, rice, pasta or potatoes
  2. Minimum 50% of plate = vegetables, the rest ‘good’ mono or polyunsaturated fats and protein
  3. No processed junk, fizzy drinks, sweets, cakes, biscuits etc

For a fuller explanation of the diet rules see my post on Day 39 – Goal Setting and New Diet Rules

Food Diary Day 56:

Breakfast: Menopause Meusli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Ready made edamame bean salad, watercress and salmon terrine

Dinner: Beetroot, broad bean, feta cheese & watercress salad

Snacks & Drinks: herbal tea, 4 squares dark chocolate, halva (a delicious and very sweet treat made from sesame seeds)

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Day 55: Discipline = Reward

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Today I tried on some trousers that I bought online that were depressingly small 55 days ago and today they fit! I couldn’t believe it. It was actual proof that I really have shrunk! Numbers on the scales are certainly a measure of success but fitting into previously unwearable and unflattering clothes is one hell of a reward for all the hard work. I share this with you, not to gloat at my success, but to shout that this diet does work and those trousers could be yours!

Food Dairy Day 55:

If you have read the last three days diary then this one is pretty much the same! There is stuff in the fridge I need to eat, I like it, it’s healthy and there’s no point letting it go to waste…

Breakfast: menopause muesli – see breakfast recipe page

Lunch: Red Lentil and butternut squash dahl

Dinner: Salmon terrine, green salad, tomatoes, beetroot

Snacks & Drinks: herbal tea, 5 squares dark chocolate, slice of menopause cake (see snack recipe page), 2 mini pittas and hummus

 

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