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Living the Dream

My Dream
Never give up on your dreams

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream…” – C.S. Lewis

Living The Dream

The small 30g bar of luxury chocolate was giving me a come-hither look at the counter that was quite intoxicating.  “Wouldn’t it be only gorgeous Mary dipped in that decadent hot chocolate you’ve just ordered there now for yourself?” it seemed to be telling me, luring me in to even picking it up!  I was in Costa to meet my friend Suzanne who I hadn’t seen in ages and was looking forward to a good catch up.  I knew the damage I could do in Costa if I wasn’t careful as on most previous visits I had been wholesale dangerous.  When I was busy horsing on all the weight one of my favourite things to do was go there and have a large hot chocolate with whipped cream AND a chocolate spoon (711 calories!!), a toasted painini with mozzarella, tomato & basil (434 calories) and if I was feeling really precious that day I’d also have a lemon & poppyseed muffin (474 calories) so an absolutely whopping 1619 calories in total, in one sitting and before 11am.  That is more than my daily calorie allowance now for one whole day.  It never cast me a thought back then to even check the calories (and Costa are a dream as have calorie content on display for their produce) but it is quite shocking and sobering now today to be staring those numbers in the face, particularly for that divinely gorgeous hot chocolate.
So, I was in a quandary.  I really wanted to go there but was also aware of the massively visual and tangible temptations that would be laid out in front of me so I needed to come up with a PLAN.  Earlier that day I checked in the Why Weight Ireland Food & Exercise Diary the calorie allowances for all of the hot chocolates on offer there and to my relief and delight I discovered that the small hot chocolate (with neither cream nor a chocolate spoon!) was only 157 calories when made with skimmed milk.  Nice one!  It was gratifying to know that I didn’t have to stay away from the place, that following an informed decision I was still able to enjoy my hot chocolate guilt-free.  I was in control and was choosing to stay on plan.  ( I was worried though it might just arrive in a tiny espresso cup, like how small was “small”?  That was not the case, thankfully.)
Back to the alluring dream of a chocolate bar!
Around about when I had started to dribble,  I thought I had better check the calorie content (approx. 187) so I forlornly placed it back in the wire basket, asking myself “Do you dream to be a fabulously foxy lady or want to remain fat?  Now which is it?”  The chocolate was not worth it when just on a whim and not planned.  Later that day IPlease chocolate I'm trying to be fit was well chuffed with myself that I stayed on course and followed through on my commitment to choose to live a healthier lifestyle.  With over 7 stone still remaining for me to shed, these seemingly small decisions may seem trivial but to me they are massive and pivotal for me to remain in control of my weight loss campaign and follow my dream, ensuring that I am making the informed decisions that help me progress, chipping away at it pound by pound.  I don’t want to hide myself away from dining out until I get to goal weight.  I still want to lead a normal life where I can go out for a meal and with some careful planning ahead just enjoy myself and not be freaking out about calories or going overboard either.  I’ve promised myself a night out when I hit the 3 stone weight loss so we’ll see how I get on then!
Never give upI persevered this week, remained consistent  (for the most part!), keeping my eye on my goals.  I kept striving to complete my simple daily disciplines, of which the most challenging I found was daily exercise.  I am following one of Hannah’s Run/Walk training plans and completed Week 5 on Sunday with my fourth run/walk this week.  It was those other three days of the week that I found it difficult to motivate myself to either go for a walk or complete a resistance workout.  The thoughts of it filled me with dread and I kept putting it off until it was too late to do anything.  I’ve committed to turning up for classes in Hannah’s studio first thing every week so that should give me the kick I need.  My running this week was a dream.  The previous week my run/walk intervals were run 2 mins/walk 1 min and this week they progressed to run 4 mins/walk 1 min.  I was horrified when I read it on the plan and grimaced, thinking to myself  “Dream on Mary!! Running non-stop for 4 minutes will have you in the back of an ambulance on a nebulizer!!” and nearly talked myself into shorter intervals of  run 3 mins/walk 1 min.  I realised this was one of these  stepping out of my comfort zone scenarios so encouraged myself to expect better from myself and my capabilities and just got out there and ran.  It was exhilarating!  Someone on crutches would have left me for dust, I was that slow, but I ran those 4 minute intervals. For four runs this week, I made magnificent progress and I was thrilled.  I was living the dream!  One of these runs was at 22h30 on Friday as I had flapped about for the day distracting myself with other things so just knew I HAD to get out there and do it and not let myself down or lose focus with my attitude.  What I really was hankering to do was have a smoke out in the chilly night air, watch a movie and munch my way through a few slabs of chocolate, curled up in my crocheted blanket.  I was eying up the groove in the couch I had made and was feeling bereft.
Small daily improvements

It took ages to push myself out the front door.  The hound started doing back-flips as soon as he noticed me strapping on my Garmin as he knew well the drill and was delighted to be getting outside himself.  What really sent me over the edge and got me out there in the end that night on the road was a text from my sister  Emma saying she’d be out  in 5 minutes driving by to make sure I was telling the truth and be out running!

I have been magnificent and not smoked one single rollie this entire week despite several hairy moments.  On Monday night I was crawling the walls for a smoke and ended up casually sauntering out to my car on the pretext of looking for something in it but was really scoping out next door for lights to see if Louise was up so that I could shamefully beg for a cigarette!!! Thankfully all lights were out so I was saved!

I’m delighted to be still on track with my weight loss with a 2.6lb loss this week, bringing my total to 34.8lbs over 15 weeks.  I’m proving to myself that by just taking it one day at a time, consistently following through with my daily basic disciplines that I am on target to living my dream of a more vibrant and exhilarating life.

You will see below recipes of some of my favourite meals that I have been enjoying while forging on with my healthy lifestyle campaign!

Wishing you all a wonderful week ahead, following your own dream whatever that may be for you.

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.”

  – Thoreau

Avocado Salad
I absolutely adore avocados and loved pulling together this beautiful salad with its glorious colours, textures and flavours.  It took ages to eat and was only 303 calories!  The Good 4U Super Sprouts and Super Seed Sprinkles I pick up in Tesco and the Alphonso Mango Chilli Dressing is available in Aldi.

Avocado Salad

Ingredients for serving above

  • 28g Mixed Leaves
  • 54g Cherry Tomatoes
  • 32g Cucumber
  • 34g Blueberries
  • 4g Good 4U Super Seed Sprinkles
  • 10g Good 4U Super Sprouts
  • 106g Avocado
  • 26g Alphonso Mango Chilli Dressing


I usually just layer the ingredients over each other, ending with a drizzle of the mango chilli dressing and sprinkling of the super seeds.  Enjoy!!

Bolognese Served with Spinach Linguine & Salad

I’ve finally made my favourite version of Bolognese after many months of tweaking!  You should have seen the heads on my chaps when I served them up GREEN pasta! LOL!  My youngest dug straight in and polished off the lot whereas my oldest was wary, decided to be polite and ate half of it before he said he was done. 🙂 I’d go through a brick wall for pasta so I still have it but will have a smaller portion than usual to lower the calorie total but bulk out the meal with a tasty salad.  This Bolognese recipe made a little over 8 portions of 150g at 111 calories per portion. Obviously you will decide your own portions!  Calorie count for meal below is 416 calories.

Bolognese with Spinach Linguine & Salad


  • 500g Extra Lean Mince Beef, 5% fat
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced or chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced and cubed
  • 100g mushrooms, quartered
  • 2 tsp dried Oregano
  • 2 tsp dried Basil
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 250g passata
  • 3 tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Frylight Spray

(per individual serving)

  • 150g cooked Spinach Linguine (or spaghetti) per person
  • 20g Spinach
  • 20g Mixed Leaves
  • 20g Cucumber
  • 50g Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 tsp Parmesan
  • 5g Good 4U Super Sprouts
  • Basil Leaves to garnish


  1. Using Frylight, fry the red onion and the garlic for about 5 minutes on a medium heat.  Add the beef mince and cook until browned, ensuring no pink colour remains.
  2. Add the chopped carrots and mushrooms and stir.  Then add the oregano and basil and mix in.
  3. Stir in the crumbled beef stock cube. Then add the canned tomatoes, passata and tomato puree.  Throw in the bay leaf and cook for a few more minutes until heated through and bubbling.
  4. Turn down the heat, add the Worcestershire Sauce and let simmer for about 30 minutes.  Remember to remove the bay leaf before serving.

Serve with cooked linguine or spaghetti (or whatever pasta you fancy) along with a bowl of delicious salad.  This Bolognese freezes well.  Enjoy!

Pizza Topped Chicken Breast with Salad

This is a firm favourite in my house and my boys request it regularly. Serving below is 448 calories. The Tarragon & Cider Dressing is available in Aldi.

Pizza Topped Chicken with Salad

Chicken Breast

2 tbsp Passata

1 slice Red Onion

1 medium Mushroom

20g grated Reduced Fat Cheddar


Few leaves x Cos Lettuce

3 slices Cucumber

3 Cherry Tomatoes

1 slice Red Pepper

5 Green Olives

1.5tbsp Tarragon & Cider Dressing

1 tsp Good 4U Super Seed Sprinkles

Fresh Basil to garnish


  1.  Preheat oven to 180 degrees/Gas Mark 4.  Place chicken breast between two sheets of cling film and bash with a rolling pin to flatten out a bit until it’s roughly the same thickness throughout.  Not too thin now or the chicken will break up while transferring to the pan (it’s happened to me!)
  2. Using Frylight, fry on the pan until cooked on both sides and sealed.  Transfer to baking sheet and place in the oven for 20 minutes or until cooked through fully.
  3. Spoon the passata over the chicken breast and place your toppings on top, and sprinkling the grated cheese over the masterpiece.  Now I used the above ingredients this week as they were to hand but you can use chopped peppers, parma ham, pineapple, bacon, the yummy list goes on!
  4. Transfer back to the oven for about another 10 minutes or longer, it depends on how melty you want your cheese 🙂
  5. Place on plate with arranged salad and dressing and devour! Bliss!

I’ve also used green pesto instead of passata on the chicken which is also delicious. Enjoy!

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