Sunday, 23 December 2007

Wavering Happily at 9 stone

9 stone it is. 9 stone it has been over the past few weeks despite the odd indulgence in champagne and prosecco (my taste buds new found discovery) and mince-pies. To avoid the whole spirit of eating and the party season would have left me feeling miserable. I was able to look good at the all-important office party which was probably the highlight of the year. It was a very glamorous affair, champagne flowed and replenished thirsty office workers' glasses, the clinking of glasses to toasts.

Here are my top tips to maintaining your weight during the party season:

Sit still, close your eyes before you go to a party and visualise yourself in your party dress, slim and attractive, enjoying yourself, drinking, dancing and chatting away.

Take time over getting ready. Leave yourself half a day if necessary. If you are going from work, mentally prepare yourself at lunchtime about the evening's entertainment ahead. Try not to fret, instead focus on getting excited.

Enjoy getting ready, put on your clothes with love, do your hair and make-up afterwards, smile while you put your make-up on, your attractiveness will shine through when you are ready for the party to commence.

Friday, 7 December 2007

The pre-Xmas binge

I always find that the festive season is full of contradiction. On one hand, you have to steer away from the mince pies, stodge and booze to maintain your hour-glass figure, which face it has only taken a few months to achieve with all that compulsive-obsessive dieting. Party season goes into full swing and it's a really is a very taxing balancing act to keep your GI in check and still be seen to join in all the spirited fun and not be a party pooper.

Top pre-Xmas tips to avoid the inevitable binge:

When offered a mince pie, or a delectably pretty (fattening) cup cake as I was offered today, decline politely. Look at the offending sweet delicacy squarely and say to yourself, I ain't defeated.

Stick to one glass of white sparkling wine, sip slowly, don't gulp. The wine will last longer. Be creative, think of over-exaggerated stories to tell while you sip away, join in on the office banter, most of all relax. Remember one glass no more, the pounds will stay off. Think I am going to stay slim for the party season.

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

A week of Hob-Nobbing

Oh if only McVities Hob Nobs were a low fat, even better, no fat food. Last week, sheer boredom and mild weather-induced depression led me to snack every night for a week on hob nobs. At the beginning of the week, I allowed myself one hob nob. Tuesday night I increased my intake to two hob nobs. I can't say I was eating five hob nobs on Friday night but my sudden love for hob nobs, this insane eating behaviour was alarming for me. Still I didn't curb the hob nob pattern until the weekend when I discovered the pounds I had shed after weeks of eating sensibly were slowly but surely piling on. Love handles, bat wings, hipsters, thunder thighs you name all return in full force. I guess it's back to subsistence eating again.

Monday, 6 August 2007

Picnic days

What better way to spend a glorious day in the countryside, by the lake, having a picnic with friends. Yes, very civilised indeed. That's exactly what I did on Saturday. The picnic spread included; fresh french bread sticks (detoxer's nightmare), a selection of humous pots, cheese and ricotta quiche, salad and to finish a fresh fruit salad. Just my idea of total bliss. Oh and there's the bottle of crisp, cool rose too. Good picnic food, conversation, equals a perfect picnic day. My friend, Sangeetha, eagerly pottered around in the fierce afternoon heat, putting up a little mini tent to keep cool our various picnic sundries. She was keen to photograph with pride her picnic spread and the picture will follow soon.

Friday, 3 August 2007

My Perfect Morning Coffee

My perfect morning coffee is Pret's Rooibos Vanilla tea (completely caffine free) with soya milk. When I arrive at work, 8.30ish in the morning, I nip into Pret and treat myself to this wonderfully smooth hot beverage. Pret's Rooibos Vanilla tea is unlike any other rooibos tea I've ever had. This rooibos tea is smooth, palatable with a delectable creamy, velvety texture that is so satisfying. Of course, being caffine-free you don't run the risk of having that artifical boost at the beginning of the day before the afternoon slump. Rather, it's a calming beverage enabling you to plan your task list for the day with clarity. Try it. It's a soothing morning experience you could get used to.

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Edamame beans vs Crisps

I can safely say I have discovered an alternative to a junk food: crisps. For years, my body was a temple. No crisps, no cake, no chocolate and certainly no sweets. What a boring life I must have led, I hear most of you cry. Without a doubt, my body was at the peak of health. Back in those days I was a Bikram yoga fanatic which had a dramatic impact on my eating habits. As I was exercising in a ludicrously hot 100 degree sauna room, I could not cope with having too much body fat. In fact, during those four years I must have lived on a liquid diet of carrot and apple juice with a shot of wheatgrass and water. I soon dropped Bikram yoga after hearing whispers among the yoga camp that too much Bikram was bad for your skin. Dehydration and crinkly skin didn't appeal. So for aesthetic reasons I abandoned this hard-core yoga in favour of something gentler. I found a wonderful class, the teacher was lovely, it was a beautiful space to practice: a huge yoga space created by an indoor pool and sweeping wooden walls which cascaded up to slanted windows. It was yoga bliss until one day I attempted the headstand with the teacher's help. She dropped my legs a little too early and I fell sideways on my neck. I fell out of love with yoga for a while after that.

So onto the glory of edamame beans. I can truly triumph the crispy sweet, nuttiness of edamame beans. Definitely try them out. A great healthy alternative to crisps. I can safely say I won't be eating another packet of cheese and onion in a hurry.

Tuesday, 31 July 2007

Falafel Express

Something innocuous as an appetising falafel wrap, with a dollop of garlic mayonnaise and a scatter of fresh herbs, would normally makes anyone's mouth water. Eating it, even more so, freshly prepared from the Beirut Express, it was one of those pre-midnight snacks after an evening out. But disaster struck when three quarters of the way through eating this falafel wrap I violently threw up. For someone of my normally robust tummy disposition, this is quite a shock to the system. Throwing up is one thing. But I had suddenly developed swelling around my eyes and cheeks and a red rash which was more horrifying to look at than the jabbing headache that accompanied it. I didn't rush to A and E which I should have. But yesterday I was still feeling unwell so I did make a reluctant trip down there and got seen to in two hours. So lesson to learn here is, even if you're vegetarian, you're not safe.

Friday, 27 July 2007

The Friday Croissant

There's something special about Central London in the early hours. When I say early hours I mean for late risers, 8.30am might be the ultimate bearable definition. Sunlight bounces off the buildings and it's only at this time in the morning with the earlybird office workers I can look up and fully appreciate the mix of historical elegance and cosmopolitan beauty that London personifies. There are so many old buildings to marvel at. For instance, this morning for the first time in my entire 36 years of living in London, I discovered a medical university building dating back circa 1744.

This morning I also invented for myself the Friday Croissant. Now croissants can be eaten any day for any normal person. But for a detoxer like me they are a very rare treat. I walked into my favourite healthy eating joint today, Pret, and looked at the array of freshly baked croissants. I loved the look of the mozarella, tomato toasted with flavoursome oregano sprinkled on top. As I bit into my personal Friday treat, I savoured the mixture of warm cheese and tomato juices oozing out of the lightly crunchy croissant. Unlike my usual wolfing down routine of food, I took my time over the croissant, taking purposeful bites into it. I'm not going to beat myself up by saying now you have to run ten times round the block but now and again the odd treat, whatever it may be makes you appreciate the little culinary delights in life.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

The Wedding Thief

This weekend, I attended an Indian wedding reception. For a couple of weeks now, I had been dreading looking decent in a sari but was pleasantly suprised at myself at how the metres of silky material draped around my curves but didn't leave me feeling billowy. When my mum wore a sari, my dad would tease her on how she wore it like a world-class flag. So with that in mind I was determined not to look like an hot-air balloon. The wedding reception got into full swing. Starters were served at a decent hour and I started to panic at the thought of eating too many fried nibbles.

Mogo chips, samosas and fattening paneer were quickly snapped up by the other guests at the table and I modestly picked at a couple of mogo sticks, dried samosas, and tepid paneer fried in peppers. Luckily for me, the starters were so spicy that anything I put in my mouth left an unbearably snake-like spicy sting on my tongue. What followed was a long spate of dancing. I charged to the dance floor and danced like there was no tomorrow. The mains were served at an unearthly hour of 10.30pm which for detoxers like me is criminal. All I heard was a big gong in my head like Big Ben chiming the 9pm watershed. But I managed to calm myself down and eat the platter of food: two pieces of fried bread (puris), a small portion of pillau rice, dhal and a mixed veggie dish. I forced myself to slow down and taste the food but it all tasted rather dispriting like the meal had been flung together haplessly. Again what followed was a spate of mad dancing to eighties classics with a mix of bhangra and Bollywood moves thrown in for good measure. But a sour end to the evening: I learned my simple black clutch bag had been stolen. Bizzare, as it's not as if I was at a nightclub! The host in charge of waiting staff was darn adamant that her staff would never steal: she instructed them to empty all the bin bags. But the wedding thief went undetected.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Exercise and Diet

Whenever I hear the word diet, I react badly or rather my body does. I've been listening (and falling asleep to) the Paul McKenna Weight Loss CD. On it when you hear McKenna's deep, dulcet hypnotic tones he describes how those of us wanting to lose weight have basically been overeating and it's all about reducing portion size and more importantly, the aspect of emotional eating. Now for someone like me who has an anally retentive foodwatch mechanism that kicks in, this is refreshing to hear. Every nutritionist - and I've been to see a couple of the top ones in the country - talk about cutting out processed foods, eating more fruit, veg, fish, protein, etc but very rarely do they investigate whether your tendency to overeat is caused my stress or emotional imbalances. Tuning into what your body does or doesn't like when it's truly hungry rather than listening to our minds persauding us to reach out for that chocolate bar seems a much more manageable philosophy.

Monday, 16 July 2007

Feel the flab burn

If only I could feel the flab burn. I've been eating sensibly now for weeks. Detox this and that. And it has made some difference. This evening I went round to a friend's house for some advice on the current trends of evening wear at Indian wedding receptions. In her bathroom, I stealithly stepped on her Ikea bathroom scales and was horrified to see that my weight was a massive 9 stone 4. No wonder I felt horrendous weeks ago! I must have been a whopping 10 stone (for my height that's hefty) but vowing not to weigh myself until I could feel a difference in my clothes, I had avoided the dreaded scales until now! Well at least I know I have a target so to speak. I'm aiming to turn from chubby chops to lean muscle in a few weeks now. I'm determined. I also determined to outwit the leisure, fitness industry by doing my fun dance based workouts, yoga and pilates without having to physically go to a gym. Watch this space for more updates.

5 top detox tips

I’m eagerly awaiting the Detox book I ordered from Amazon called The Detox Cook: Over 100 Blissful Detoxing Recipes.

In it from what I’ve seen browsing through it in a bookshop is the promise of wholesome, fulfilling recipes, easy to prepare but without forfeiting the actual enjoyment of eating. I’ve always found dieting painful. Cut out this and that. For the most part, I feel I have cut out a lot.

When I see my friends or people generally tucking into a slice of rich chocolate cake laced with ice cream, or enjoying a plain Mr Whippy ice cream generally, I think to myself how! How can they eat like that and still have washboard stomachs??

I’ve decided to impart my tips on getting slimmer which I feel have contributed to my gradual weight loss. These, in my book are the top five:

Squeeze lemon into hot water and drink a cup every morning.

Take milk thistle or a kidney, liver detox complex for about a week or two. Good health food shops like Planet Organic or the Organic Pharmacy do a good one.

Cut out wheat for a week and see how less bloated and fat you feel. Good carb substitutes are brown rice, quinoa (similar to couscous), buckwheat (acquired taste) and millet (again very much an acquired taste). Treat each of these grains like a rice accompaniment. Try not to eat grains or wheat in the evening. Have a portion of vegetables instead – complex carbs are better to digest in the evening.

Eat fruits not loaded with sugar: apples, pears, strawberries, blueberries. Mangos and melons, delicious as they are, should be eaten sparingly.

Fifth most obvious tip is drink more water. Aim for 1.5 litres at least every day. If water is not your thing, break your intake down. Have a smaller bottle on your desk, so psychologically you don’t think, my don’t I have a lot of water to drink! Go to the water cooler and fill up three times at least.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Pret Detox Delights

I was pleasantly surprised to see today for the first time in the super healthy lunch eatery, Pret, a drink labelled 'Yoga Detox Bunny - Liquid Psychiatry'. Just how someone came up with a fangdangled name is beyond my comprehension. But as a sucker for any new detox consumables on the market, I bought this can partly out of curiosity, partly out of bemusement, a healthy substitute for Diet Coke which I hasten to add have never been partial to. Whenever I gulp such detox goodies, I anticipate the effect it will have on my bodily functions. Yoga Bunny Detox balanced with ginseng (will wake me up from a work-induced sleepiness) and echinacea (aimed at quashing colds) will stem my explosive sneezing fits.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

Why cutting out sweets doesn't always work

July traditionally is the month for summer bloom. Bloom in every sense of the word, from the carefully manicured gardens in Regents Park to the propped and preened women strolling down Oxford Street, keen to show off flat washboard stomachs and a near size zero figure. My aspirations are not quite size zero. A comfortable size 10, and even better a figure 8, top and bottom would be perfect. Still, I'm feeling the stress and strain of it all. Oh it used to be so easy I lament. News is, I've been outstandingly good when it comes to food recently. I've taken to munching on almonds in between meals. Even when delicious, sumptious cakes from Carluccios are paraded around the office because it's someone's birthday, I can safely say I throw all cares about eating anything sweet out of the window. Don't crave it, don't want to eat it. In fact, I've returned to a former loathing, which I myself can only confess to. I hate eating anything sweet that will automatically, in my case, pile on the pounds. I know, it's all mind over matter. I feel that way about anything sweet so my self-perception is thwarted. Still, I am congratulating myself that I am safely on an even keel. Drinking hot lemon water, hardly any artifical sugar in my diet at all. I've never been one for fizzy drinks loaded with e-numbers so that's not an issue for me either. Pity that I can't see it on my waistline quite yet. Secretly, I'm glad that July is lousy. I can cover up for a little bit longer.

Saturday, 30 June 2007

Feeling disheartened from my bold detox efforts

I'm beginning to feel disheartened. Three weeks ago I had a goal, a target to lose a couple of pounds a week. Three weeks later I feel like I'm still carrying a tonne of weight around my middle. Still I feel the weight is very slow to come off. I'm being very religious about what I eat. Watching episodes of Diet Doctors has made me very conscious of what I put in my mouth. If I visited any nutrionist, diet doctor now they would be amazed at my food diary. It gleams of good wholesome food, brownie points, gold stars all round and yet there is no physical, visible evidence of what my dogged efforts have amounted to. It's been a laborious recovery, but my sprained ankle is returning to normal so I'm keen to take up some entertaining activity, not the loathesome gym. Perhaps a spot of dancing, pilates, who knows.

Sunday, 10 June 2007

Second attempt at the Beach Body Diet

I woke up this morning with raving thoughts about the second instalment of the Sunday Times Beach Body Diet. I made a special effort to get down to the shops to buy the sunday paper partly in eagerness, partly out of guilt because I felt I needed to make up for my half-baked attempt at detoxing last week.

I had started off well with my version of the Beach Body Diet. I don't eat chicken or other meat. Fish I will eat and I suppose there's tofu. But by mid week I was a little deflated. Getting organised, buying organic (as I always do) and keeping it fresh remains a problem.

Normally I'm very active, but with my self-inflicted sprained ankle injury I haven't been able to do as much exercise as I would have liked. I can't even say that I was doing any dramatic somersault or injured myself in a fiercely competitive girls football match. I simply got injured walking along to work one fine morning looking up and admiring the trees.

I am fortunate enough to live opposite a Virgin Active Gym. If that isn't incentive enough to exercise then what is! In truth, I have never kidded myself out of exercising. I wouldn't say I'm a die-hard gym babe, because the results on my physique don't quite show but with a dogged determination I do work out so to speak. My mantra when exercising is this will get me to the slim waif like shape I seem to think I can aspire to.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Thank goodness for the Beach Body Diet

I was quite heartened to read in this week's Sunday Times Style magazine about the Beach Body diet. Normally I would avoid any radical diet, aka the cabbage soup diet like the plague. But this one did generate some interest purely because I wouldn't have to starve myself. Severe hard core diets have never appealed to me. Start on Monday 4th June. Oh, but it's Anete's birthday. Well I will just have to be resolute and determined and stick to fish (grilled or baked preferably) and for dessert no cake, just fruit, I said to myself in a stern teacher-like tone.

So with a mixture of renewed enthusiasm and determination, I embarked on an agreeably managable Beach Body diet. For breakfast, I opted for millet porridge, with a sprinkle of organic nuts and a droplet of honey. Lunch. I couldn't be bothered cooking, the appealing lentil and gingery orange soup, so I opted for a packet of miso soup and munched on a couple of oatcakes topped with small pieces of goats cheese. Yum! Afternoon snack; a handful of sunflower seeds and a small apple - protein and fruit, yee-ay I'm loving it! I spent the afternoon milling around Earls Court at the Pulse craft and trade fair, a source of inspiration and creativity but left me feeling ravenous. I spent the last hour before exhibition closing time, hovering hungrily around the edge of Earls Court near the food stands. Pizza Express (hmmm smell of freshly baked pizza). Crussh bar, healthy stuff. I looked in my purse and realised I only had £1.50 so grumpily I settled for a cup of earl grey tea which left me buzzing because I'm not used to drinking any form of caffine now.

That evening I met the girls and Anete, the birthday girl, at a tapas place on Marylebone High Street. Anete had a nice day. Two of her friends had taken her to Claridges for English tea, lucky girl! So they had eaten their fill of cucumber sandwiches, scones and cakes and wanted to snack. I ordered a tapas which on the menu for me resonated Health Supreme Status. Tofu with strips of pepper marinated in a light sweet and sour ginger dressing oh and feathered in presentation with bounding green watercress. I couldn't go wrong. Protein and veg. I was stunned when the minature square dish was plopped in front of me with its designer presentation of two measly pieces of tofu and five slivers of red pepper delicately flavoured with this sweet and sour ginger dressing. Beautiful to look at, tasted delicious too but I felt hugely cheated by the ant-size portion. I was still hungry after that so when one of Anete's friends suggested eating birthday cake at their pad I thought to myself, oh-oh detox going to pot, I'm going to enjoy this. And you know what - it was well worth it! When this large, perfectly rotund cheesecake graced the coffee table it was sheer elegance. It exuded this wonderful fresh aroma. To look at it truly was the most perfect cheesecake I'd ever seen. Delicately laced with redcurrants on top and surrounded by a daisy chain of raspberries and blueberries, this organic amaretti cheesecake was a delicious sight. It could have passed for a wedding cake. When I sunk into its lush yet light layerings, the cheesecake melting in my mouth like smooth ice-cream I can honestly say for the first time in my life, I had stopped to fully appreciate food.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Tempted to eat cake

I opened my eyes this morning with renewed enthusiasm, gulped down my herbal detox concoction and a dribble of Innocent blueberry smoothie which is very yummy I must say, no sugar, just a total pleasurable fruit experience. I walked into work however thinking, croissant, mushroom fuillet, managed to steer myself from the fattening cafe and purposefully strode into the tea bar where there is more of selection of healthier brekkie delights, namely muller yoghurts and a cooked breakfast. I settled for a wholemeal scone and matchstick size square of butter (not margerine as recommended by one of the top nutritionists I had seen about six months ago). Apparently going reduced fat or low sugar does no good because products are often loaded with sweeteners or other stimulants. Better to eat the real thing but smaller amounts of it. Off to a fairly good start. Lunch was a healthy quinoa and cashew nut salad from the crush bar and another mini salad of chickpeas and beetroot. Come afternoon teatime, someone in the office had brought in a selection of Tescos cakes; choco-loco (surprisingly didn't go down a treat), a sweet delicious lemon cake and a coffee/caramel cake. I was encouraged to eat a slice or two. I politely ate one lemon slice. Bang goes my detox again.

Cravings for all food naughty and nice

I checked my profile in the glass work lift and thought to myself okay stomach not looking like a muffin top. Not quite a duck profile yet so there's hope for me. This morning I gulped down a murky mud brown liquid conconction of milk thistle, Organic Pharmacy's liver and kidney complex and a natural liv complex. Whether I should have all in one I don't know but I thought to myself at the end of the day it's all herbal and there aren't any nasty pesticides or anything artificial. When I arrived at work, the thoughts that plagued my brain were of buttery, crunchy French croissants. I ended up wandering towards the cafe and was greeted with a sight of croissants; filled cheese and tomato croissants, ham and mushroom croissants, mushroom fuillets. I opted for the lowest fat 'detox' option, convincing myself that hey, a plain croissant is not that bad. It's not as if I eat them every day! What a mistake. I bit into it and my tastebuds collapsed with disappointment with the dry (probably a day old) croissant. I compensated for the rest of the morning by drinking 20 odd polystyrene cups of hot water. Lunchtime with a couple of colleagues, the subject of chocolate reared its ugly head while I munched wistfully on my wheat-free/buckwheat pasta salad. My willpower waned and on my way back to my desk I passed the cafe and ordered a rich choco-loco cake, laced with a dark chocolate icing. Yum I was going to enjoy this. And boy I did. I loved it. As I polished off the triangular cake slab I was in heaven! Once again I had good intentions, started off well but descended into food chaos.

Starting off with good intentions

I thought detoxing on a budget would be easy. That eau natural attempt we all aim for should be simple. Truth is detoxing when you have over time become accustomed to eating the odd slab of cake, chocolate bar has made my intentions to detox even harder. I used to have the will of an ox; chewing fornlorly on nuts and seeds between meals and eating healthily. My DIY detox started officially today, treating my body to small helpings of almonds. Yee-ay. I'm probably alright in visible proportions but at 9 stone and a petite frame at 5 foot 2 I'm beginning to feel like an elephant. Hence, the detox. I wake up forcing myself to say the mantra 'love yourself and you shall stay slim' but when a plumpy figure stares back at me in the mirror I end up scolding myself for getting plumpy in the first place. I'm one of those gals who's tried virtually everything from personal trainers to gulping down concoctions of vile herbal infusions that claim to cleanse your liver and kidneys. It worked in the past...I ate meagre proportions. Now I just want to enjoy food.