My fat year: Week 1 with Slimming World

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

After just one week with Slimming World, I’ve lost an amazing 2¾lb. But the SW site won’t let me input quarter-pounds, so I’ve plumped for a 3lb-loss. This could go one of two ways …

Next week I might not lose anything at all (or – horror! – gain!), and might wish I’d saved that extra ¼lb for then, OR I might lose more than that and STILL wish I’d saved it so the loss looks greater. Either way, it’s a loss, so I’m not complaining otherwise.

The poet has lost 2lb too, and he had not one but TWO Magnum ice lollies at the weekend. Mind you, he did lose quite a lot in the first place (just under 2 stone or 28lb), and he managed to keep all but 1lb off between February and last weekend. And everyone comments about how slim he’s looking.

The meals have been great. It’s mostly me who’s been doing the plan, although he’s been enjoying the meals too, and I even cooked some of it last week as the poet seemed to have torn his shoulder muscle chopping wood for the fire and had his arm in a sling for 2 – 3 evenings.

I think our favourite SW recipe from last week was the bacon & mushroom crustless quiche*. It’s supposed to be a lunch recipe, and syn™-free if you count the cheese in it as one of your “healthy extras”. But we had it with a jacket potato and a salad, and yes, we counted the cheese as our HE. So it was a gorgeous, filling, tasty tea and we didn’t have to count any of it.

What else did I do? Well, I stuck to 3 meals a day and 2 desserts, with just 1 snack of a piece of fruit if I really, really needed it. I counted 250ml semi-skimmed milk as my daily HE dairy allowance (apart from the day we had the quiche, then I counted the cheese as the allowance and had syn-free yogurt on my breakfast cereal); and I counted either 2 servings of bread (or 1 bread roll) or a portion of breakfast cereal as my daily HE fibre allowance.

If I used most of the milk on my cereal, then I’d have black coffee throughout the day and save a cup of tea, with milk, until bedtime. If I counted breakfast cereal as my HE, then I either went without bread or had just 1 slice.

Therefore, the 2 biggest individual contributions this past week have been:

  • limiting bread to just 1 serving per day
  • not eating between meals

And I’ve been allowing myself up to 15 syns per day, and trying to stick to 5 – 10 per day.

Of course, it could all just be fluid that’s gone in this first week, and I certainly don’t expect to lose 3lb (or 2¾lb) every week. But I’m very, VERY happy so far. AND … I’m sticking to it and resisting temptations (aka Magnum ice lollies …).

So far …

* Sorry, you need to be a member of Slimming World to log in and see this recipe …

My Fat Year: Not defeated yet …

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Picture: Ian Wordsworth

We’ve both been working hard, watching what we eat, noting what we eat and what time we eat it, and seeing how much weight is still going on, but I’m now at almost the heaviest I’ve ever been and even the poet put on some weight last week.

So at the weekend I finally succumbed and joined Slimming World Online. This really was my last resort before heading off to see a doctor, because not only are they one of the dearest to join, I also think they’re one of the most complicated to follow.

But lots of our friends are either doing well at Slimming World or have done well there – my mother-in-law included, who is a great home cook but still lost 4 stone (56lb) with them.

I’m doing it online because there aren’t any groups within a short enough distance and it’ll be tough getting off the farm when the dark winter nights are really here. It’s also easier to do it with the poet online without us both having to pay to join a real-time group. Plus, I don’t think I’d get him through the door anyway.

Because it’s complicated, I have been trying to read up on it over the weekend and I think it’s basically food-optimising, but agree with what some reviewers and experts say in that it doesn’t teach you portion size. Fortunately, we already have this knowledge.

What has surprised me, however, is that a fruit smoothie, for example, is apparently not as good for you as a glass of fruit juice. I’ve had juice with my breakfast for years, but with all of the recent furore about sugar, we decided to swap the juice for a smoothie. And on the SW diet, which is supposed to encourage you to eat more foods that are more nutritious, a glass of orange juice is 3 syns™ but a smoothie is 6.

The other thing I’ve noticed so far is that, although the SW diet claims to be for people who enjoy cooking from scratch, there are no syn™ values for home-made bread or pasta and all of the recipes and menus use shop-bought bread and, surprisingly, dry pasta.

The poet makes our bread and he makes our pasta, as we prefer to make more of our own food and buy less processed food. And yes, we are gradually leaning towards less sugar and salt (we already cook without adding salt as we add it at the table anyway) and more fibre in our own home cooking.

Apart from this, the plan does look to be quite good. The meals are delicious – we’ve already tried several – and with work and concentration, I think it might click at some point with me and start to come more naturally, as low-fat and reduced-sugar gradually have. (And we do notice the difference now when we buy pre-packaged food, how sweet and salty it can be.)

Saying that, though, I am struggling to believe that a simple smoothie is what’s piled on the pounds since February.

Keep the feedback, experience and advice coming. We do appreciate and digest (sorry!) it all. And wish us luck. This diet has 3 months in which to do it’s thang.

(Today’s picture, by the way, was taken on our most recent walk, Clayton West Village Trail, 2 weeks ago. We didn’t have a day out this weekend just gone, so there may not be a blog this coming Friday.)

Day out: Leeds Christmas Market

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I love Christmas and, once Bonfire Night is out of the way, I quite like to go to Christmas Markets.

I don’t care how big or how small they are, I just like to go and mingle, look at the pretty lights and interesting stalls, and occasionally sample the wares.

Sometimes we even buy something. And this time, apart from a hot dog, some chocolate marshmallow on sticks and some mulled wine, we also bought hats. And a gingerbread heart.

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Last Saturday we went to Leeds for their Christmas Market. We got there for about 4:30pm, so it was just dark enough to take pictures of the lights.

And there were lights everywhere – on the lampposts, around the stalls, even for sale on the stalls.

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Several stalls were selling Christmas decorations. Some of these were baubles and tree ornaments, some were tea- and night-lights, and some were just traditional wooden toys and ornaments.

The Nutcracker is my favourite ballet, so it was nice to see some wooden nutcrackers there too. But we didn’t buy any.

It was already very busy, and we knew we were headed in the right direction as we fought through the crowds coming back from the market. (We’d taken the train in and parked the car at Barnsley Station.)

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

When we first arrived, it was still empty enough to relax, stroll around, take pictures. But by the time we’d had something to eat and done a couple of circuits – it wasn’t one of the biggest Christmas Markets – it was starting to get too crowded for stupid even.

One of the reasons for the trip was so that the poet could try out the new lens for his camera. He’s not snapped lights at night before, really. Or not since he’s been learning to be a “proppa snappa”. So these were his first.

He’s getting quite good at the bokeh, though – even if he does say so himself! This is where the foreground – or any part of the subject – is in focus but the background blurs. For those who want the scientific explanation, I think you can find it here.

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

The hot dog he bought was a bit big for just one of us, although I’m sure he would have managed it all had I wanted a whole one too.

But he put ketchup all over it, and then mustard on his (big) half. It was very nice, and just spicy enough.

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Diane Wordsworth)

Aside from the chocolate marshmallow on a stick (each), we also bought some fudge, some vanilla fudge for my dad (for being a big brave soldier and going to the hospital last week), and some clotted cream fudge with jelly babies for me (so that Dad didn’t have to share his).

We took the gingerbread heart home to have with a cup of tea later in the week.

Before we left he had one last practice with his camera, taking moving shots of the carousel and the other roundabouts. There isn’t room for all of the pictures here, though, so I saved a static of the carousel for the bottom.

We had such a good time, and the weather was very kind, so we’re thinking about going to another Christmas Market later in (what’s left of) the year. There’s one at York this weekend and there’s one at Sheffield at the end of the month. They’re all probably the same market, but it’s nice to see them in a different place, and Leeds, York and Sheffield are all close enough that the dog isn’t left on his own for too long at home.

And now he has a brand new camera as well (courtesy of his recently late father), he’ll want to be trying that out soon too. Plus, he has another new lens coming on Monday, so that will be another excursion.

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Leeds Christmas Market, November 2016 (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Walk: Clayton West Village Trail #1

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Autumn. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Last weekend’s walk was all about colour – autumn colour. The poet has recently upgraded the lens on his camera but not really had much chance to try it out. Our walk the previous weekend was a start, but it was a gloomy day, so he didn’t take many pictures in the end. For this walk, we chose the best part of the weekend, weather-wise, which was Saturday morning.

This time we chose another walk of a similar length to the last one as 3 miles had really been enough for me as we build stamina and fitness back up again.

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Bokeh. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The Clayton West Village Trail is another 3-miler, and it has short-cuts. If this one turned out to be as long as the previous “3-miles” then at least we knew we could do it. And if it proved longer (as did the previous one), then we could take one or more of the short cuts.

Clayton West became a village in the late 18th century. The name is believed to have come from “settlement on the clay”, but the textile industry is what brought people here in recent history.

We started our walk at the entrance to Cliffe Woods, which is at the top of the village – literally, up the hill. It was very windy in this car park and felt a lot colder than we thought it was going to be. But once inside the woods, alongside the bowling green, the wind dropped.

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Young cow. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

From Cliffe Woods we followed some steep steps down and walked alongside a maize field towards Duke Wood. The maize was a full crop and we were surprised to see it hadn’t been harvested yet.

The walk leaflet said that this wood had been “disfigured”, but we thought it was beautiful. True, in both woods we could see evidence of industry beneath our feet, but otherwise both were very full in leaf and with autumn “litter” on the ground.

We even forgot there was a mine shaft here.

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Emley Mast looking down on the village. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

All along the walk, whether just inside the woods or around the outside, we had some stunning panoramic views. Seeing “Sister Emily” so close reminded us of how close we really did get to her the previous week. (Members of the NUJ fondly refer to the Emley mast as Sister Emily.)

We left the field we were in over a small stile next to some bungalows and down a very narrow public path, which brought us out onto a road. We then walked up the road for a few hundred yards before climbing over another stile back into another field.

Here we had a short but steep climb towards a very small clump of trees. (The leaflet called it a copse, but there were only a few trees there.)

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Autumn colour, looking straight up. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Here we took the first short-cut, which took us right through a field filled with adult cows, who were very curious and wanted to follow us.

With our recent experience of living with cows, we reckon they thought we might have food. (I was sure the poet took a picture of these cows, but there wasn’t one on the disk when he gave it to me …)

Eventually, this led to a public footpath alongside a farmer’s field. The field had recently been ploughed, leaving the walker around 12 – 18 inches of “footpath” to walk on, alongside a fairly steep drop.

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Holly bokeh. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

The public footpath in turn led to another road, and we walked along this for some time, passing some hidden houses at the end of some long driveways.

At the bottom of the slope, we turned left into Cliffe Woods again, to take the second short-cut, where we saw a small group of young cows. They were quietly minding their own business but ran in the opposite direction when they saw the dog.

Then we were back where we started at the entrance to the woods next to the bowling green, and at the end of a thoroughly enjoyable and surprisingly interesting walk.

We walked 2.05 miles in an hour and thirty minutes, burning just 351 calories. I’m not going to share the MapMyWalk map again because there’s already one on the walk leaflet linked to above and, besides, this panoramic shot is much more interesting.

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Wind turbine and “Sister Emily”. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

My fat year: First week back in the saddle

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This cat didn’t take her eyes off the dog on Saturday. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

So we had the first week back on the diet saddle and it hasn’t gone brilliantly. It’s okay, I’ve lost weight, but only a quarter of a pound since last Monday’s weigh-in. This is a disappointment as mid-week I’d lost a whole pound, which was 2lb altogether. But it is bouncing up and down still.

There was one day when the scales fluctuated upwards by 1.5lb, so the poet checked too and he’d also put on 1.5lb. The next day his was back down again. He thinks perhaps the scales aren’t very reliable.

Last week I donned my black walking trousers for the first time in ages. This weekend, they went on again and they fit a lot better than they did last week. In fact, the belt wasn’t superfluous this time.

I know we’re not supposed to weigh ourselves every day, but as I’m considering a blood test, I am checking every day or at least every other day for the time being. The poet has decided to check just once a week.

He had put weight on too, and by the end of the week he’d lost 5lb and was back down to almost his plateau.

This weekend’s walk was a mile shorter than last weekend’s, but it was slightly more challenging. I also managed a couple of hills, and I hate hills.

No walk next weekend as we’re off to the Christmas market in Leeds. (Yes, I can say the C word now as Bonfire Night has gone.) Then we’re in Birmingham and Doncaster too.

Walk: Emley Village Trail #1

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St Michael’s Church and war memorial, Emley (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

So it’s been a while, but we finally managed our first walk in AGES last Sunday.

Because I was out of condition, we decided to just do a short walk, and this village trail around Emley is apparently 3 miles but with 2 short-cuts.

The first short-cut was approximately a third of the walk, so we thought that would be just about right.

We parked up in a small car park opposite the convenience mini-market. There’s a stone cross here that marks the centre of the village, which is the remains of the old market cross. With our backs to the old stone cross, we walked down towards St Michael’s church.

I don’t know if you can see it in the picture (I’m not sharing many today as they’re a bit samey and the sky was a bit washed out), but just to the right of the war memorial is a stone cross built into the church wall. This was the symbol of the Knights Hospitallers, who owned a lot of land here.

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We looked UP and saw this very pretty creature. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We turned right at the church, into School Lane, and left onto Rodley Lane. This forked right (for us) onto Thorncliffe Lane and through a working farm.

Here the lane became a narrow track with high fields on either side above us. We looked up to see we were being watched!

We struggled to find a stile next to a big steel gate, so we followed our nose until we came out roughly where we thought we needed to be. Then the directions told us to “walk 50 metres towards the tree”. We looked up and the field was scattered with trees!

Again we followed our noses, and ended up in a dead-end. But by following the boundary of the field, we found ourselves at a “stile next to a clump of holly trees” and resumed our walk.

We’d only gone a very short way out of our way, probably a few hundred metres. But when we got to the first short-cut, we were ready to head back along Leisure Lane, which dates back to when there was a 13th century lepers’ hospice in the village.

When we reached the car, we found we’d walked 3.05 miles! The whole walk is supposed to be 3 miles, so how did that happen? It had taken us an hour and 38 minutes, mind, and we did burn 426 calories. Plus, we’d been walking at a speed of 32 minutes per mile. Therefore, we’re going to go again, but only once we’ve built up our distance again so we can do either the full walk or the walk with the second short-cut.

I already shared the MapMyWalk picture on Monday, so here’s a picture of the beautiful autumn colours instead.

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Autumn colours. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

My fat year: It’s been a while …

emley-mapmywalkYes, it’s been a while. We’ve been so busy since the spring, with quite a lot going on over the summer. But now, hopefully, we’re settling down again … I feel as though I say this every few months!

Anyway, I have been keeping an eye on my weight and it’s not been good. Back in February, I dropped down into the next stone-zone. But since then it seems I’ve managed to pile on a pound a month on average – that’s 9lb since February – and I’m not happy at all.

We have been cutting our added-sugar intake and the poet has managed to more or less maintain his own 2-stone weight-loss. But I’m just not doing it.

So yesterday we finally managed the first of our weekend walks again – we’ve not had any for AGES. It was supposed to be just a short 1-miler. And I chose a 3-mile circular around Emley that had 2 (TWO!) “short cuts”.

You can see from the map where we went the wrong way. And no, it’s not the roughly square shape to the top right, that was the first third of the walk, returning back along the first short cut. The mistake is in the bottom right-hand corner of that roughly square shape. It’s about a quarter of an inch on the map, but it certainly isn’t 2 miles-worth. But somehow, we still managed to do just over 3 miles, so I’ll be checking these map routes in future.

There will be more on this walk later in the week when the photographs have been processed, but this is just us getting back into our keeping-fit regime.

Today we start to eat planned meals, probably from Slimming World and similar organisations. We’re not joining a slimming club. The poet doesn’t really need to for a start, he’s just supporting me. But there aren’t really any close by that are held at convenient times, and I think some of the online slimming clubs are a bit pricey. But today we start to eat planned meals, hopefully rotating meal plans on a monthly basis. And yesterday we started to walk again.

My first target is the first half-stone or 7lb. My next target will be the next stone-zone again. Then we’ll set new targets from there.

This morning when I got up with the poet to send him off to work, I hadn’t lost a bean. When I got up again an hour-and-a-half later, I’d lost a pound. I’m taking that for my first week!

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