Food Diary Success
Success with my weight loss endeavors has been coming to a standstill lately so my main focus this week was to knuckle down and fill in my food diary honestly and religiously. Initially I experienced some resistance but I kept reminding myself how badly I want to reach a safe healthy weight and that keeping a food diary WORKS. On reflection, the 4 stone I already have lost was relatively easy to lose once I filled in all my meals and snacks into my food diary, staying accountable and within my allowance. On days where I did exceed my allowance I was well able to adjust the remaining week’s diary calories to compensate for this. It sounds crazy to say the weight loss was easy but it actually was, once I followed through on my action plan and disciplines I knew I needed to master to ensure success. Over about 5-6 months I lost over 4 stone and mentally it felt effortless. It was fun! It’s said that to lose weight effectively 80% of your success is down to your food intake and 20% down to your exercise, which I see is true for me. The last few weeks I have been fantastic with my running and exercise but was not so committed with portion control and staying within my food allowance so I was gaining a couple of pounds here and there or maintaining my weight. However, this last week I chose to be fully committed to tracking my food and recording everything in my food diary and thankfully my discipline has paid off with a very gratifying loss on the scales. With another 5 stone to lose I need to keep seeing the losses on the scales to to ensure I am on the track to success with the weight loss.
Keeping a food diary encourages me to be more mindful of what I am eating and to use my calories wisely. I am more conscious of what I am eating and it helps me rein in my portion control. It also eliminates taking the chance on grazing mindlessly as when aware of what calories I can afford, I tend to make more informed choices. Knowing I have an allowance to adhere to encourages me to pack in as much nutritious choices as I can. At a glance I can see how nutrient-dense my meals are and can amend accordingly for the week ahead if need be. Using the food diary honestly, entering all food for the day helps me see where some foods can be swapped for a healthier or less calorific alternative. Standing at the fridge having a munch of cheese thinking “Sure God, it’s only a mouthful! Sure what harm, eh!” is one thing but when you discover in the food diary that mouthful was an expensive mindless 100 calories, it teaches me to avoid the mindless munching to favour instead keeping the calories to add to a night time snack or a higher calorie meal. If you are indulging in “harmless” mouthfuls throughout the day, after an entire week those extra calories all add up and can affect your weight loss progress and success. Owning my commitment to honestly track my food this week meant I could steer myself away from stealing mindless mouthfuls as I didn’t want to have to record the indiscretion in the diary! The food diary is great for showing how all the extra nibbles and bites all add up. Keeping the food diary is crucial for me to cut out the mindless munching and be more proactive and mindful with my food choices, banking progress and success with my healthy lifestyle campaign and weight loss goals. Updating my food diary after every meal helps me to determine immediately how to use the remaining calories for the day and takes the guess work out of it. Remaining consistent has been crucial. I also have been weighing my food so that I can input accurate information to the food diary. It’s easy to cod yourself when you are guessing weights and amounts and the food diary will not work for you if you are not entering correct and honest information. Initially it may seem inconvenient to record your food intake in a food diary but to choose to incorporate this daily simple discipline will pay dividends towards your healthy lifestyle success and it becomes second nature once you build up the momentum.
It is most important to record in your food diary when you take a tumble and savage something not on your food plan. No one is perfect. Having a bad day and feeling mortified about having to input the information can be sobering but it helps you learn. Staying accountable and recording the bad days means you are more likely to change what led you to veer off track. There is no point in beating yourself up, just get straight back up and continue on, remaining consistent with your food diary updates for both good days and days when you are wholesale dangerous. Having an honestly filled in food diary gives you an ample opportunity to reflect and consider what is working for you and foods you may want to change and how to manage your meals better. You can see at a glance if you need up increase your fruit and vegetables, if you need to drink more water, if your snacking takes up a load of calories, and many other patterns you are not aware of until you see it in print. One thing I realised this week from reviewing my food diary is that I eat more calories if I am eating in someone else’s house (even if I prepare the food myself!) and am way more open to temptation out of the home. The Why Weight Ireland Food Diary also has a recipe making tool where you can add in your ingredients for your recipe, the diary will calculate the calories for the entire meal and per portion so the next time you have the meal you can just add in what you have saved so as not to have to add everything in again from scratch. I find this tool immensely helpful. While I am ensuring I am not exceeding my calorie allowance, using the food diary is a great way to establish that I am actually eating enough calories. Not eating enough to fuel your body for daily activities and exercise, as well as being detrimental to your health, can also stall weight loss success as your body considers whether it is in starvation mode.
Keeping a food diary compels you to pay attention to your eating patterns and presents the opportunity for a sobering reality check. You cannot change what you do not acknowledge. Using a food diary honestly and correctly is a powerful tool for keeping you accountable and on the road for success with your weight loss campaign.
My Running & Exercise Update
Monday 9th February – I’m looking forward to running tonight but the session is cancelled within the hour before starting due to the track being totally water logged. I figure I could go out for a run myself but when I see the my boys’ faces light up at the opportunity of an entire evening with Mammy to themselves we all get into our pyjamas and launch into an intense game of Trivial Pursuit! It’s all about balance, isn’t it. I was thrilled too with the simple evening of laughter and fun at home with the boys as we always seem to be on the go.
Wednesday 10th February – We gasp a sigh of relief to not have resistance bands as usual as part of our warm up tonight. The running session that follows surely makes up for that I tell you. It is divided into 2 parts. The first part is 3 x ( 2¾ mins easy run, 15 seconds hard run, 1 minute walk). We have a quick water break and then straight in to part 2 which is 3 x (90 seconds hard run, 90 seconds walk). The running is a mixture of pure torture tonight but also pure determination to stretch myself that little bit further and enjoy the process. Part 1 is run clockwise around the track. Part 2 is run anti-clockwise. The running is followed by core work which I absolutely love just for the craic and the extra kick it gives to the session. Tonight’s core work involves 4 exercises at 40 seconds each for 3 rounds. The plank push ups are crucifying. I find it nigh on impossible to lift myself from my elbows to my hands while in the proper plank position so with a big pout I do the amended version with my knees on the ground instead of my feet. Success! One day I will do this correctly! Plank push ups are followed by 100’s (described below.) The third and fourth exercises are lunges on alternating legs with toe-curling pulsing in between.
Thursday 11th February – My Mam is up for a night so my boys are thrilled to get to spend time with their Nanny Carmel while I head off to Strength & Conditioning Class. My runner’s knee seems to have healed so I am raring to go for a gruelling workout and see what I am made of. We warm up first with the dreaded resistance bands, one around our ankles and another above our knees and proceed with teeth-clenching squats, and slow powerful stretching while our hands are stretched up above our heads. Gasps and groans of relief ensue when we are instructed to remove the bands. The circuit tonight has six stations, with 3 rounds to complete in total. We only have a certain amount of time at each station and for each recovery in between so we race along with furious energy, groaning and laughing.
- We perform lunges, holding a kettlebell in each hand, lunging forward with one leg, bringing knee to the floor in next movement, then touch the kettlebells to the floor and come back up to standing using the same steps.
- This one is pure torture. We lie on our backs with a resistance band around our feet and tucked in behind the tongues of our runners so they won’t fall off. We quickly and with power make running motions with our legs and by Jesus this is very very tough. My hips are on fire and it feels like I have the power of a mouse.
- We lunge forward on right leg, holding a kettlebell straight up above our heads with the right arm, step back to balancing on the left leg before standing again. I have visions of crashing to the floor and taking someone out with my kettlebell but I manage to stay upright each time with success. We repeat on the left leg.
- We lie on one side with a resistance band above our knees, keeping feet together we squeeze our knees apart with power and bring back together slowly, keeping the tension steady. We alternate sides.
- Calf raises while leaning hands on wall, rising powerfully, landing slowly.
- These are called “dead bugs” and are not too bad once I can figure out how to coordinate my legs and arms with each other. Lying on our backs with our legs at a 90 degree angle and arms held straight up in the air, we extend our left leg out straight close to the floor and at the same time extend our right arm back straight behind our heads and follow then with the right leg and left arm. There was a lot of giggling on that mat trying to compute which was left and which was right!
The circuits are followed by buddying up with a partner where one is doing pyramid runs up and down the hall and the other is on the floor doing 100’s. For this we lie on our backs with legs at a 90 degree angle, our heads up off the floor and our arms out straight by our sides, flapping them up and down as fast as we can. This is eye-watering torture and I think maybe I’m holding my head wrong as my neck is killing me. We repeat this drill for 4 minutes and I consider I am going to die with the intensity of the running. My stomach is flip flapping all over the place and I am grateful for my baggy top. We are all gasping for breath by the end. A demanding and exhilarating session completed with success.
Saturday 13th February – I behaved last night and came home to my own bed, knowing I have my early morning road run today. I do hit the snooze button once but thankfully am still up to make breakfast and get to the running track on time. Today I know to increase the distance covered from last week, to continue safely and gradually building up mileage in my legs in anticipation for the “Run with the Lions!” 10km Race on 3rd April. (Not that I will be racing as such, it will be more of a shuffle, but I’m shuffling faster now!) We warm up nicely and split into our separate groups: Couch to 5k, 3km, 5km, 8km and 14.5km. My group check out the 5km route that Gary has mapped out for us. It’s a different route to last week which will is great as it keeps things fresh and energetic in my mind. My target for today is 3.4 miles (5.5km) and I’m like a feral terrier from the start as my Garmin is slow to make the GPS connection so I can’t actually start the timer. I’m frustrated beyond belief as I’m obsessed with keeping accurate times and results so I can gauge my progress. It would be counter productive to hang around the gate waiting for the connection so I start running along with the others. It’s takes under half a mile or so for the timer to start so I just suck it up and stay going, still contrary though that when I get back to the track my time and mileage will be off. True to form I am at the back of the pack and the distance between myself and the rest of the runners increases. For a few seconds I’m feeling a little bereft but I cop on to myself pretty sharpish and remember to be grateful to be able to get out running at all and that I am making fantastic progress every week, the only person I’m in competition with being myself. My gait feels slow and cumbersome but I egg myself to keep going as I am looking forward to the treat of the slight but lengthy downhill when I get to the top of O’Brien Road. I’m practically near my own house when I am half way through the route and there’s the knowledge that I could easily knock off home and back to the bed but for starters I don’t have my keys with me and anyway I’m enjoying this challenging run, want to complete it and to own that I do not give up on myself! Being out for a run at 9am on a Saturday morning is a massive change in lifestyle and attitude for me, whereas before I’d be more likely to be lolling about in the bed scratching my arse and then get up to watch television. I feel like a new woman! Success! I gallop on and stay going. I am irked at having to stop at traffic lights but the few seconds break is welcomed all the same so I push on stronger as it’s not too far now towards the finish. When I just about reach the track entrance I see a big arm and smiley hairy face emerge from the window of a van as another Adrenaline runner who had started the 5km with me earlier gives me a massive high five and roars “Well done!” You just can’t buy this kind of exhilaration. I still have a little more to run so I can reach my target of 3.4 miles so I run a few laps of the track to finish off. I follow through with the important stretches and rock on home for the second half of my breakfast. Another week of running success completed.
My Weight Loss Update
Right so, I was aiming for a 3lb loss on the scales this week and was like someone possessed in making that happen. In fact I lost a whopping 5lbs in one week! WHOOP!! It just goes to show what I’ve known all along, that using the food diary WORKS and now my determination to get back in the driving seat this week has me well back on the road to success. I’m just 1lb away from being the lightest weight I’ve been in 9 years. How crazy is that!!! I am so excited, I just know I will hit that and more by next week. Nothing will stop me. I’m also just a few pounds away from dropping into the next stone bracket which I’m working to have reached before the end of the month. 62lbs shed forever, 71lbs to go!!!!
Chinese Salmon with Spinach, Berries & Seeds
I confess to being a spinach addict and in my quest this week to pack in as much nutrition-dense food into my diet, this has become a firm favourite for me, teamed with another love of mine, salmon! I wasn’t sure about the raspberries with the fish but lashed them on anyway and it was all gorgeous. I’ll definitely make this again as was ready and on the plate in a few minutes and was delicious. Recipe serves one and is 321 calories. Enjoy!
- 1 boneless slamon fillet, about 120g
- 2 tbsp Amoy Soy Sauce with Garlic & Chinese 5 Spice
- generous handful of fresh spinach
- 5 or 6 red seedless grapes, halved
- handful of Good 4 U Quinoa Sprouts
- 2 tsp Good 4 U Super Seed Sprinkles
- 30g blueberries
- 30g raspberries
- Heat a non-stick pan over a medium/low heat and add the soy sauce. Add the salmon, skin side up, increasing the heat to medium/high and cook for 3 or 4 minutes, until golden brown colour.
- Flip carefully with a fish slice/spatula and cook on the skin side for about another 3 or 4 minutes until the skin is crispy and the salmon feels firm to the touch.
- Serve immediately on a bed of lettuce and quinoa sprouts, topped with seeds and finished with the grapes, blueberries and raspberries.