You are what you eat?

I like to end the year listing 10 things that I am grateful for and then set out some goals that I want to achieve in the coming twelve months.  I also usually pick a word to accompany the year – to set a theme if you will.  2017’s word was Brave, 2016’s was Committed.

I made time to sit and appreciate the year and to be thankful for it.  It was an amazing year.  It was the year that I quit my job and didn’t look back, I started the process to become a qualified therapist, I got a new job, I had my hen weekend, I went to Italy (as per) and of course it was the year that we got married (!!) and had an amazing mini moon.  I am and always will be so grateful for the opportunities, change and growth that 2017 brought about, not least, starting my own therapy which has been a game changer for me.

Therapy has made me less anxious, less tightly wound, more self-aware and more able to deal with relationships and situations that I find challenging.  It has also enabled me to own my anger and to reclaim part of myself.  I can’t recommend it enough.

Despite all the many wonderful things about my 2017there were f course some not so great parts and the end of this year seemed to sneak up on me in a fog of pain, antibiotics, chocolate and chaos.   By the end of December I just felt like a big yucky mess physically.  I had had an operation on my foot which was more invasive and painful than imagined and put me out of action for longer than I thought as I got two painful infections and had to have two courses of antibiotics.  I couldn’t walk very much for ages, let alone run or do my yoga and BBG workouts and I know that movement is massively important to my emotional wellbeing – I tend to live in my “mind” and struggle to connect with my body as much and yoga has been a huge help in re-connecting me.

I put on 7lbs in the month of December alone.  That’s a lot to put on in a short space of time.  My gut was funny and I kept getting searing pain after some meals.  My psoriasis was the worst it has been for a while, no doubt exacerbated by a combination of my consumption of chocolate coins, antibiotics x 2 and emotional stress from the year.  A very small voice was telling me that I was probably dairy intolerant and should probably lay off the sugar and gluten for a bit but chocolate is life. I also love dairy – my favourite breakfasts on the Louise Parker Methodare the smoothies and birchers made with greek yoghurt.

By the way, I still love the LP Method but I just knew I needed to try cutting out everything and re-introducing it to find out my allergies/intolerances for a while.  I love that a lot of the LP recipes are easily adaptable to Whole30 which has made it a lot easier.

So, I decided on my first goal for the year – complete a Whoe30.  I ordered the “Whole30 Day by Day” which tells you how you’re probably feeling on each day and gives you hints and tips.  It is scarily accurate.  This past weekend for example Friday – Sunday was Day 9, 10 and 11.

Day 9 “The Food Day”

“At this point in your Whole30 journey, it seems like all you’re doing is thinking about food.  Planning food.  Chopping food.  Cleaning up after food.  Looking at other people’s food.  Talking about your food.  Maybe even dreaming about food. You may be tired of what you’ve been eating (eggs on eggs on eggs).”

Check to all of those for me.

So here’s why I’m doing it, it’s quite simple: I wanted to feel better.  I wanted to stop waking up in the night from scratching my skin raw.  I wanted the dodgy tummy and the pain and the bloating and the gas to go.  I wanted to feed myself proper food for 30 days and see where I was.

It’s not a diet.  I spoke before about how I don’t believe that women need to constantly make themselves smaller.  It will hopefully, make me feel better and get my skin working better again.

Day 10 and 11 “You are most likely to quit your Whole30 on Days 10 and 11”.

Oh yes.  That anger I was supposed to feel Day 3 and 4?  It turned up this weekend and I was sick of it all.  Sick of eggs, sick of not having a chocolate biscuit with my weekend tea, sick of people eating what they want.  My husband bought me my favourite flowers because he’s good like that and I have a new non-egg breakfast recipe from my insta friend Adriana (@adriana.food.fit.fam) who is also doing Whole30 and so understands the struggle.

Now it feels better and I feel better, huge improvements in energy levels and psoriasis symptoms already and I am only just approaching the halfway mark.

So I am completing the first goal that I set myself for 2018.  I still don’t have a word for this year, but as I continue to reflect on this past year and slowly move into 2018, the word will come. We are after all only in the third week of 2018.

Some people seem to have started the year all guns blazing, with all their goals planned out and they are already ticking them off at a wonderful rate! Good for them. I’m going to ease into it and not put pressure on myself, there are another eleven months of this year in which to make a difference.

So, I’m doing one thing at a time (maybe two).  I have a couple of new goals and some continuing ones – I want to start volunteering again preferably in the sexual violence field; I want to continue to attend therapy; I want to find the next part of my course and I want to plan our big honeymoon and go on a proper adventure.  I also want to keep going with my Spiritual Direction (kind of like Christian Counselling) and pick up regular Bible Study again with a new plan.

Whatever you 2018 goals I hope that they reflect you, taking care of yourself, putting yourself first on occasion and living out your life gratefully and joyfully, even in the not so good parts.  Here’s to a happy, healthy and adventure filled 2018.

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Lean For Life

I have dithered about writing about my new lifestyle for a while.  Truth be told, I’ve been a bit scared.  I am a self-proclaimed proud feminist.  I don’t think that all women have to offer the world is their looks.  I despise advertising which constantly tells women to be smaller, less, be good, conform, look a certain way – long hair, perfect eyebrows, shiny nails, big boobs and bum but absolutely no belly.  Don’t you dare have an ounce of fat on your belly, or cellulite, or stretch marks or wobbly thighs.

If you’ve had a baby, never mind that it took you nine months to grow it and your body has done an amazing thing – produced another human being and now it is producing food for that human being (if you choose to breastfeed, obviously) – what you should be worried about is how fast you can lose that baby weight.

There are always fad diets advertised – look!  Lose 20lbs in two days by starving yourself and then put it all back on when you start eating real food.

This upsets me. Glennon sums it up perfectly:

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Here’s the thing.  Listen well – You are not undeserving of love if you carry a few extra pounds or you have stretch marks.  The way you look?  Not the most important thing about you.  Being kind, compassionate, brave, wise?  Those things are important.

I am 31 and I love food.  Love it.  I also enjoy exercise and try to be a healthy, why?  Because I feel better, happier, more me when I am healthy.  There’s no comparison.

I used to be able to eat whatever I want (read: a minimum of two chocolate bars a day) when I was a Support Worker (read: under 25).  I was walking all the time between clients, I would say on average 4 miles a day and generally ate healthily apart from the chocolate.  I was happy with my weight, I felt healthy, I was also running and going to the gym.  I didn’t worry too much about the chocolate.

Then I got my “career job” and I sat down at a desk for 7 hours every day and I put on over a stone in a very short space of time.  None of my clothes fit.  I quickly lost 7lbs but try as I might I haven’t been able to shift that extra 10lbs.

This year I said I was going to be committed to eating healthily and exercising.  I am 31 and I want to be healthy, happy and nourish my body.

I want to exercise and run and do yoga so I can find my stride and my breath.  So I feel powerful and strong, not bloated and fatigued.

I get married this year(!) and I want to look good in my wedding dress.  I won’t apologise for that.

I do not want to look super skinny and tired and drawn.

I do not want to feel bloated and be self-conscious in my dress.

I want to look back at photos and think “I looked and felt the best I could on that day, and that was pretty amazing.”

I want to feel beautiful and strong and empowered on my wedding day.  I want it to set the tone for my marriage.

How you look and how you feel are personal to you.  It is relative.  I know I was never overweight, not a day in my life, but I didn’t feel as good as I knew I could and I didn’t like it.

In August I picked up Louise Parker’s Lean for Life book.  I flicked through it in Waitrose and thought, “Yes.  Real food, no fads, no shortcuts.  I like the look of this”.

You have to read the book, familiarise yourself with the four pillars and plan out your transform phase.  This is a lifestyle change not a diet.  It takes dedication and you have to be prepared.  You need to work out how you are going to meal plan and you need to stick to it, not keep stepping out of the circle every time you want to.

I work full time in a demanding job with minimal breaks.  Unfortunately, I cannot religiously stick to all of Louise’s principles when I am at work – I have to take my lunch and snacks in Tupperware, which isn’t particularly beautiful and often I am forced to eat at my desk, in front of a screen which is less than ideal.

I still did it though.  I moved every day, often walking part of the way home from work to get my steps up, I liked that I didn’t have to do Louise’s workouts exclusively (although I did them 2-3 times per week) and that I didn’t have to give up my running and my yoga.

I ate more food than I have ever done!  I had to train myself to eat breakfast, which is something I never did previously, and to start with I could not manage the portions in the book and had to halve them.

I found snacks and lunches that would transport to work easily and I said goodbye to alcohol and chocolate.

Sometimes it was really hard but to be honest it became easy and a natural way of eating much more quickly than I thought it would.

I forced myself to eat nuts, something I never did before and now I love almonds and cashews and pecans!

The thing is that the strict “Transform” phase is only temporary.  Nothing is off limits once you are in the lifestyle, nothing is “bad” you just have to get there and then you eat within the circle 80% of the time.

I did the transform phase for 8 weeks and I lost 10.25 lbs and the inches as you see below.  I completed the transform at the end of October, since then I’ve been on a Girls’ Weekend to Berlin, had Christmas parties and Christmas and New Year and so I have been living the lifestyle, stepping in and out of the circle, maybe a bit more out of late, and I am maintaining my weight. I have been surprised by how easy it has been.

Total Loss:

Weight – 10.25 lbs

Arms – 1 inch

Thighs – 1.4 inch

Waist  – 3 inches

Lower Belly – 1 inch

Bum/hips – 2 inches

I haven’t put up my original weight or inches because as I say, everything is relative.  It’s about being the healthiest and happiest version of you and that looks different for everyone.

I don’t want to make someone feel bad, or indeed, make myself feel bad by inviting comparison.  I have never had any children.  I will repeat that.  I have never had any children.  Also, I am 31.

I have always been a healthy weight for my height, I have pretty good self-esteem about the way I look.  Good for me.  I know it isn’t always that way for others.

In this selfie obsessed, instagrammable culture we live in where everyone puts a “filter” on their life and women are held to very high beauty standards it is very hard not to invite comparison and to feel that we are less than if we do not match up to beauty ideals.

The Louise Parker Method has never made me feel less than. 

It has never made me feel bad about the way that I look or the journey that I am on.

The Louise Parker Method is all about you as the individual – the goals you set.  What you want to achieve and how you feel.  It does not set a “standard” for everyone.

It is about nourishing your body, eating good food, learning about yourself and food and making positive changes forever.  I sleep better, my psoriasis had practically disappeared at the end of the transform phase, I have more energy and more confidence.

I would recommend this lifestyle change to anyone because best of all – you don’t become frightened of food.

The recipes are easy and delicious and as long as you prepare for the working week you can totally stick to everything whilst working long hours and commuting.  I feel better than I have in a long time and I am thrilled with my results.  They were right for me and no one else!

If you are looking to make a healthy, permanent change this year then this is a nutritious and healthy way to do that.  The online community over at Instagram is particularly helpful with all the #leanies helping each other out and providing encouragement and support.

Once you have made this part of your lifestyle you won’t want to go back.

If you want to see the type of food I eat – follow me on Instagram where I often post pictures of what I am eating.

 

 

N.B. All opinions are my own and I are based on my own, personal experience.