Sunday, 26 April 2015

Slimming World: an introduction

I've mentioned Slimming World several times in the past few months both on here and on my twitter and instagram and have had several people asking me a) how it works and b) how it's worked for me. I guess I've felt a little intimidated at the thought of writing a post about it - it's not the easiest diet to explain - and I've wanted to wait a while to see how it really works for me. I feel like after 4 months of following Slimming World I'm in a good place to talk about it on here. 

Before I start I just want to state the obvious - diets work differently for different people. Obviously. That said, knowing lots of people who have following Slimming World (Kat and my Mum included) I have only really heard good things. It's not pretending to be a clean or super-healthy diet, but it does promise to help you shift some lbs. And for me it's done just that!

I guess to start with I should put my 'stats' out there and be completely honest in how much weight I've lost. I started SW in early January (new year, new start) and although I didn't weigh myself on the day I started, I know just after Christmas I was a couple of pounds off 11 stone. My heaviest weight, and not one which flattered me. Lost of people say "you don't look like you weigh that much" yada yada yada... but I felt it. Size 12 jeans were becoming too tight and my stomach wobbled when I ran up the stairs. Attractive, I know. After weighing in last Wednesday I am now at 9st 12lbs. I have lost a stone! Despite going to the gym more and starting running more recently I am 100% sure my weight loss is down to SW. As they say, its 80% good diet and 20% exercise. I'm now buying size 10 jeans and as well as feeling a huge difference, I'm starting to see it. Hurrah!

So, how does it work? I follow the Extra Easy plan and it's pretty straight forward. 
1. You can eat as many free foods as you want. Free foods include most fruit and vegetables, meat, fish, pulses, grains, rice, pasta, potatoes, noodles, eggs and fat-free dairy (and some other bits). Yeh, it's amazing. I've not felt hungry once whilst doing slimming world. 
2. Now alongside your Free Foods you also get a Healthy Extra A choice and a Healthy Extra B choice each day. You should choose one of each to maintain a balanced diet. HexA's are milk and cheese. Usually, I choose 350ml of skimmed milk to have in a coffee (coffee itself is free). 350ml is actually quite a lot of milk so I usually split it over two coffees throughout the day. The quantities vary depending on product/fat content. HexB's are fibre - bread, cereal, cereal bars, crispbreads, dried/cooked fruits, nuts and seeds and oils. You can see a comprehensive list of HexA's and B's here
3. As well as all of this you are allowed up to 15 syns a day. This is really everything else and each product is given a syn value - 2 finger KitKats are 5.5 syns for instance. The syn values are stated in info guides, you can also search in the App... or I just Google it. There's loads of info on the internet, just beware that syn values can change so you're best off using the App or SW guide. Syns allow you to have the things you fancy without feeling guilty!

That sounds a little confusing, I know, but once you get your head round it it's super straightforward to follow. 

To help I have an idea of what you can eat, this is my typical food day.
Breakfast - fat-free natural yoghurt (free), raspberries (free), and Special K granola (30g, HexB). 
Lunch - pasta (free), tuna (free), tablespoon low-fat mayo (1 syn). Or home made soup (free, ensuring you use no oil), or a jacket potato (free) with beans (free) and grated cheese (approx 5 syns or used as HexA)
Dinner - salmon (free) with Tilda Mushroom rice (3 syns for whole pack) with spinach (free) and tenderstem broccoli. Or my favourite goulash recipe with spaghetti (free if use no oil). Basically I have adapted all my 'regular' meals to be SW-friendly, either free or minimal syns. 
Snacks - they vary, but can include... 2 finger kit kat (5.5 syns), Muller Light toffee yoghurt (free), fruit (free), coffee (free, plus HexA milk and sugar is 1 syn per tsp).
Good, huh?

For me, it just works. I'm incredibly greedy and don't do well with denying myself yummy things! For SW to work though, you have to stick to it. I've been a bit rubbish in that most weekends I fall off-plan and indulge a little. That said, I've still lost a stone... if I'd stuck to it I imagine my loss would have been even greater. I find it harder in the holidays and easier when I'm at work and can get into a routine. So I'm still going, and hoping to lose another stone by the summer. I want to be body confident and happy in my own skin - so far so good!

Next time: my go-to SW shopping list items, what I love about SW and why it works for me, my favourite SW-friendly recipes and another update on my weight loss. Watch this space!


Wednesday, 22 April 2015

summer lysting

Ah, Spring, how I've missed you! In the winter months I try to kid myself into believing I like the cosy, chilly evenings and extra layers... but as soon as the weather hits mid-teens, I realise how I am just longing for summer. I'm the one who is hunting down that beer garden table in the sun, that last spot of sunshine in the garden and that sun lounger in the position directly in the sun's rays. When in Bali several years ago I heard myself saying "excuse me, can you please move the umbrella... it's getting in the way of my tan". Yeh, wow. 

So this slightly-warm weather is really making me happy. Like, really happy. Sadly this year we aren't going on a summer holiday - that means a whole five weeks off work, in the UK. Now I know I shouldn't moan, teacher holidays really are the best thing ever, but c'mon, I need that sun! So for now I'm hoping the weather here continues to warm and the mercury continues to rise. 

I'm starting to think about SS15 style - so far I'm digging espadrilles, stripes (obvs), mixing textures, and a hint of yellow. As much as I love the Stella espadrilles, I think Soludos are more suited to my budget! I've been adding my key summer pieces to my latest Lyst; I love being able to view all my favourite brands in one place. 

For those of you who don't know about Lyst yet (where have you been?) it's a site that allows you to browse everything from highstreet to designer, and everything in between, making your own lysts of coveted items along the way. Great for people like me who love to list (it's the teacher...) and get completely overwhelmed with the 'new in' sections on various websites. I don't have the time or the inclination to browse twelve different sites looking for the perfect sandals - Lyst has it all in once place and is super easy to navigate. Just few clicks and you can have a pretty swoon-worthy collection of pieces!

Do you lyst?

*this post is in collaboration with Lyst


Monday, 20 April 2015

bookworm #33

Case Histories by Kate Atkinson

This year has been a bit of a fail reading-wise. I've been super busy at work, meaning by the time I hit the hay I am asleep in minutes - no joke. I can guarantee that most nights when I turn my bedside light off and put head to pillow I will be asleep in about 90 seconds! As a result, I've just not been reading as much as I'd like to. I started the year with Life After Life by Kate Atkinson and just couldn't get into it, shortly followed by Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami which again failed to entice me. I enjoyed Norwegian Wood, but just found nothing was really happening - I have a short attention span and need a meaty storyline! Apologies Murukami fans, I know there are many out there!

After having Case Histories on my bookshelf for years, I thought I had better give it a go. Case Histories tells the story of Jackson Brodie - an ex police inspector turned private investigator - and the various cases he's working on. One, the story of the Land sisters whose younger sister Olivia mysteriously disappeared when they were children. Two, solicitor Theo Wyre's determined hunt for his beloved daughter's killer. And finally, Michelle who killed her husband (with an axe, very Lizzie Borden) seemingly in a case of post-natal depression. The book seamlessly weaves between these stories and the various characters. 

Despite taking a while to get into, I enjoyed it. The problem is I've been reading little and not-very-often, making it hard to remember characters and story lines. The joy of Atkinson's novels is the number of different characters in each novel - which for me have been hard to remember and absorb given I've been reading so little. These books are the sort of thing you want to read on a sunlounger in Greece in a couple of days; gripping, fast paced and packed with intricately described characters. Saying that, once I got to the last quarter of the book I was flying through, totally gripped with each individual (and interlinked) story. I've heard similar reviews of Life After Life - maybe I'll give it another go over the summer when I have more time to read. 

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