My fat year: 2 steps forward, 1 step back

At Fountain’s Abbey (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I’ve not had a great week myself, but the poet has lost a respectable 6lb altogether. In less than 4 weeks. That’s not a bad weight-loss of 1½lb per week. He’s already starting to look good for it too, trimmer, and he fits into his trousers better.

After 2 starvation days and feeling very hungry and fed-up by the end of them, only to see I’d not only not lost weight but put some back on, I decided to take another look at the diet choice.

And we’re changing to the lifestyle changing diet, where we just make healthier choices for main meals and stick to fruit instead of cakes, biscuits or chocolate for snacks. Again, the poet is already doing very well on this, taking fruit to work so he doesn’t succumb to toast or bacon sarnies.

We’re also learning about sugar and trying to cut that down, but I have a massive sweet tooth and I think that may have to be a gradual change rather than going cold turkey. There’s a lot of science in there too, and too much just overloads my poor brain, so that has to be drip-fed too.

Last week I received a congratulatory email from my online diet club for losing 4lb. I wonder if I’ll received a scolding email this week …

On the bright side, 4 weeks in, it’s measurements day. And I’m delighted to report that I’ve at least lost some inches –  1½” from my hips, another 1½” from my waist, ½” from my right arm, and ¼” from my left arm. So that’s 3¾” all together.

This weekend we’re hoping to build a walk in on our way back from my parents. I’m also starting to contemplate walking the dog for up to 30 minutes every day.

Walk: Fountain’s Abbey

Cock pheasant (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

We skipped a week’s walking last week because of illness and because we were busy visiting family. So this week we wanted to make sure we had a decent walk to make up for it.

Off we pootled to Fountain’s Abbey near Ripon. The poet had been avoiding this visit because he thought it might take too long to get there. I wouldn’t have minded going over Christmas, but they had some very bad floods between us and North Yorkshire, so we steered clear.

It’s been a long time since my last visit, and I was quite excited to be going back as it’s a beautiful place in beautiful surroundings with some terrific history. AND … it took us just over an hour to get there, and just under an hour to get back – on a Saturday too.

The plan was to do a 4½-mile walk, but when we got there we thought we might give the 5½-mile walk a go instead, or the “walk through the centuries”. This goes around the National Trust property and then out into the countryside. But there was so much to see and do within the grounds that too much time was spent exploring and taking pictures.

In the end we managed just under 4½ miles, but I’d introduced the poet to a magical place and one we hope to go back to again and again.

We started our walk at the visitor centre and were pleased to see how welcome the dog was. There were water bowls scattered around all over the place, one of which was beneath a cold water tap so could be freshened when necessary. So long as he was kept on a lead, which we usually do anyway, and a short lead at times, and so long as we cleared up after him, which we also usually do anyway, he was allowed everywhere we went, just not inside a couple of places such as the porter’s lodge.

At the abbey, we should have taken the path to the left, but instead we took the path to the right, although we didn’t see Fountain’s Hall on this visit. We ended up on the wrong side of the water for the walk we were supposed to be doing, and we were diverted by signs to “Anne Boleyn’s seat”, which turned out to be a modern, wooden construction that took full advantage of the wonderful views available. And it was up hill … (I don’t really do hills … but it was fine).

We continued along this elevated path to the “temple of piety”, where a kindly gentleman took our picture for us. We were rewarded with some more stunning views. And we were surprised by the “octagon tower”, a lovely little summer house, behind which the poet caught his first sight of the glorious “Studley royal water gardens”, and he just wanted to get down there to have a closer look …

… only it wasn’t very clear which way to go and we ended up wandering through the pheasant farm and back instead, deciding to retrace our steps down the hill and see if we could find our way that way.

And then we saw someone emerge from a cave that we thought was just a grotto to the right of the octagon tower. So we went inside to investigate, realised it was a tunnel running beneath the tower, and the dog panicked halfway through and wanted to go back. He didn’t like it.

Sure enough, we ended up beside the water gardens, and found our way to the café, where we had a glass of pop each and a piece of cake. We toyed with continuing the walk outside the estate, but chose instead to make our way back along the path we should have come along in the first place.

We skipped the banqueting house but took several pictures across the water gardens and of the “temple of fame”. Then we climbed back up the hill to the car park for our picnic and then the drive home.

We were there for 2½ hours, we walked for 4.47 miles, and we burned around 650 calories.

New boots
My lovely walking boots are starting to let in. I’ve had them for nearly 3 years, as they were one of the first things the poet ever bought for me. I’m dreading having to break in new boots and am of the opinion that I’d sooner have wet feet than broken feet. BUT, needs must. So I’ll be starting to look around for a comfortable, lightweight pair of boots and any recommendations will be appreciated.

clumber park mapmywalk

My fat year: Another 2lb gone

At Worsbrough Mill (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

I had no idea he was taking this picture, but do you see those press-studs on the back of my jacket? I’d like for those to be on the smaller fastening by the summer … My bum looks far too big in this photograph!

I’ve had a fairly good week but I totally failed on my first starvation day, which was Monday. Well, I don’t suppose I actually failed as such, but I didn’t do as well as I hoped.

By teatime I was STARVING and so I had an ordinary tea along with a snack. But I still stayed below 1,000 calories, so maybe that’s not as bad as 1,500 calories.

My second starvation day went a lot better, but not for the right reasons. I started well, just having cereal for breakfast. But I had a banging headache and a constant click in my neck every time I moved. Plus, I had a bit of eye-strain.

So at dinner time (midday) I had another bowl of cereal and went to bed.

I woke up at 4pm feeling much better, but only fancied some baked beans, some bread and butter, and some rice pudding for tea.

The following day was weigh-day, and I’d lost 2lb! So that’s 4lb altogether – or 5lb if you take into account the pound I put on in week one.

Now I know what to do on starvation days – go to bed!

The poet, by the way, had lost 6lb by last weekend. He’s not weighed himself yet this week, but he’s doing very well too.

We’re going on a big walk tomorrow, I think, as the weather forecast is favourable – and apparently better than it is on Sunday. But we also need to do some shopping at some point over the weekend. That, and doing washing, will be my exercise for this week.

Wormy’s kitchen: Boiled ham

boiled ham 3
Picture: Diane Wordsworth

One of the most popular features on both the blog and Facebook seems to be “Wormy’s Kitchen”.

The poet is a very good cook who loves to experiment. We also enjoy making a lot of our own meals from scratch so we know what goes in them. And we like to forage, and see what we can make with free ingredients.

He tends to make the savoury stuff and I tend to do the baking. But he likes to have a dabble in making the bread and pastry too, both of which I’ve supervised, of course. 😉

Eventually, there will be a whole series of entries for Wormy’s Kitchen, along with recipes where relevant, which we will hopefully turn into a book, with extras. We’ll have to cook it all again then to get some decent photographs too.

One of our regular staples is boiled ham.

Cooked ham/pork/chicken/beef/turkey/etc was on the shopping list every week, but it’s quite watery and seems to go off quite quickly. And we didn’t think it was that tasty either.

For the previous 2 Christmases my mother-in-law boiled us a ham joint. But last year the poet decided he’d have a go himself, and he got some practice in before Christmas 2015.

There are several types and sizes of ham we can buy, including smoked, unsmoked, bargain-buy, a half-a-joint and a round joint. We started with the half-a-joint unsmoked and he boiled it for 2 – 3 hours, or until it was tender.

After a few goes he started to wrap it in tin-foil, which keeps a lot more flavour and moisture trapped within the joint. Then at Christmas we bought a round joint, cut it in half (so we have round slices instead of half-round slices), and put one half in the freezer. We still have that half, waiting to be defrosted and cooked.

Boiling our own ham and then slicing it ensures that we have a good supply of boiled ham for at least a week, and when we can cut it in half and get 2 weeks out of it, for less than a packet of cooked ham, then we’re happy. It’s tasty, we know it doesn’t have any extra additives (or extra water), and it keeps well.

Product review
As and when we get a new gadget to try, I’ll include a product review here. As we happily use the bog-standard saucepan for boiling ham (is there another way?), I won’t bore you with a product review this time.

Words Worth Writing: First guest

Worsbrough Dam (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Another picture purely for illustrative purposes.

First of all, before reading any further, please hop along to Words Worth Writing to see my first author interview over there. If you could make my guest feel welcome, ask her a question or two, that would be much appreciated.

Go on, I’ll wait. 🙂

Have you been? Did you say hello? Good. And thank you.

So, this week a writing week beckons, and perhaps even a jolly. I’ve worked so hard already this year I’ve earned a week of my own work, and it begins with the author interview over on the other blog. (Did you go there yet?)

We didn’t manage a walk at the weekend, so there won’t be a walk blog this week. We did do some cooking, though, so watch out for a Wormy’s kitchen post or two. We did a lot of visiting too.

During this coming week, then, I’ll be writing and socialising. There will be more over on Words Worth Writing about the writing on Wednesday.

Have you been over there yet?

My fat year: First 2lb gone

At Worsbrough Mill on Sunday (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

It took a couple of weeks, but this week I finally made my first loss – and it was 2lb. Actually, in truth, it was 3lb, as last week, mid-week, I went up by a pound before dropping down to my start weight again. But technically, as we’re only supposed to weigh ourselves once a week, it’s a 2lb weight-loss logged this week.

The poet hasn’t weighed himself yet this week, but when he went off to work this morning – looking quite smart as he’s representing the company elsewhere today – I noticed that he was already looking trimmer and slimmer.

Last week I made the decision to do a 5:2 diet, but I’ve been fairly good on “feast” days, and probably much better behaved than on “starvation” days. It is hard, though.

I’m making it through the day very well. But by an evening, when we’re sitting in front of the telly, I just want to graze. It’s not just sitting in front of the telly, though. It’s also sitting editing. I always have to be grazing if I’m editing, and as I’ve had a particularly large hard-copy edit this week, well … I think you can imagine.

Because of my blood sugar, I tend to graze on a starvation day too and, again, I’ve been doing very well during the day, starting with a single Weetabix for breakfast, with milk from my 200ml daily allowance and a spoonful of artificial sweetener rather than sugar. I also have 150ml fruit juice with every breakfast.

Mid-morning I’ve had 15 grapes, and for dinner (lunch) I’ve had half a can of soup and a < 60-calorie yoghurt. Mid-afternoon I’ve had another piece of fruit – either a small banana or 2 satsumas. But for tea I’m having what the poet’s having, but minus any bread or high-fat anything. For pudding I’ve had either the satsumas or the banana, whichever I didn’t have earlier. And for an evening snack I’ve been having 4 salted caramel chocolate fingers (you can only have 3 chocolate fingers for less than 100 calories, but the salted caramels come in at 4 for 94 calories!).

And I’ve drunk black coffee all day, and a grand total of 2 white teas (using the remaining milk from my allowance – can’t stand black tea).

On ordinary days I’ve had 30g of Rice Krispies, Cheerios or Cornflakes for breakfast, or 40g of Sultana Bran, Fruit n Fibre or Bitesize Shredded Wheat, or 45g of muesli, or 2 Weetabix, along with milk from a 300ml-allowance and 1tsp artificial sweetener. The fruit snacks are pretty much the same, but dinner (lunch) is a sandwich plus the yoghurt, tea is more hearty, and I get an extra non-fruit snack too.

Exercise at the moment is just our weekly walk, which is why I’m also using that to build up fitness and stamina. Sunday’s walk felt much easier than the previous week’s walk, though. so hopefully that’s going the right way at least.

On Monday we watched the first episode of How to Lose Weight Well, on Channel 4, which featured the 5:2 diet this week. And it didn’t put me off. (I think you can still watch the episode online.)

We’re still using up leftovers from Christmas at the moment. All of the mince pies finally went. We’re just coming to the end of the Christmas cake. There is still about a third of a tin of Quality Street to go, and we still have full-fat cheeseboard cheese.

I expect the coming week to be better as there are healthier options on the shopping list – I’m really not one for throwing out food unless it’s gone off. Too many years of being thrifty, I think.

This morning I chased my free signed copy of The 3-2-1 Diet by Rosemary Conley. They assured me it would be with me soon as it takes 14 – 21 days. I wish it would hurry up as I’d like to read, absorb and digest it, see how she does things differently to all the others.

How are you doing this week?

Kitchen garden: 1st decision made

IMG_4114aThe 2 options for placing the greenhouse were either in the top right-hand corner of the grass, where there’s a corner bed, or up against the wall between the kitchen (right) and living room (left) windows.

Placing it on the grass meant putting in a raised platform so that the door was level with the patio and we could go right in from the kitchen. This meant making shuttering and pouring in concrete, which is a little bit permanent and a little bit expensive.

It would also block the view from the kitchen window. AND we’d have to dig up the corner bed … though that’s probably coming out eventually anyway. Placing it against the wall meant it’s a temporary structure and we can take it with us, and it’s a lot cheaper.

So we’ve decided to put it against the wall.

This gives us another choice: do we get a lean-to greenhouse, or do we get a mini greenhouse? If we get a lean-to, we may have to either move the hanging basket bracket or incorporate it. What we can’t move is the boiler extraction unit. Whichever we decide there, though, we don’t have to wait on it. We can crack on and do the next thing on the list.

And here’s the priority list now:

  1. buy new rotary washing line (a long line isn’t really practical)
  2. position ground socket for new washing line (outside kitchen window)
  3. dispose of existing washing line and cart away to tip (currently outside living room window)
  4. research lean-to versus mini greenhouses
  5. research raised beds versus pots & containers

The weather is cold, dark and damp at the moment. The only jobs to do in the garden are practical and maintenance ones, but the poet does want to build a new bird table and restore the current bird table. We have a lot of birds now and one bird table isn’t big enough.

Plenty for us to think about there in January. 🙂

Walk: Worsbrough Mill Country Park (Owl Walk)

Sculpture at Worsbrough Mill (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

After a busy, tiring 2-gig weekend, we woke on Sunday (eventually) to a bright and sunny afternoon. The poet woke with a “bit of a throat”, but he still wanted to try and fit in a weekly walk. So we plumped for somewhere nice and local, and somewhere we both already know quite well – he as a fisherman, me as a walker.

Worsbrough Mill Museum and Country Park is about 10 minutes from our house. It’s a local nature reserve and covers approximately 240+ acres. The working water mill grinds flour using UK-sourced organic grains. Every so often they run living history events where the staff and volunteers dress up in period dress and have demonstrations.

There are 3 colour-coded walks around the country park: the fox walk is a 2km-walk suitable for wheelchair and pushchair access; the badger walk is a 3½km walk following the reservoir; and the owl walk is a 5km-walk that looks at some of the local industry surrounding the park. The Trans Pennine Trail also crosses the paths.

In olden days, I would have gone for the shorter, 2km-walk. But as we managed over 4 miles last week at Clumber Park, we thought the 5km-walk would be the best bet. But, again, it was very muddy off the main path, and so when we got there, the boots and gaiters went on again.

It was a few degrees milder than last week and we didn’t need additional waterproofs.

The owl walk, the 5km-walk, runs parallel with the reservoir path for short periods, but as we also wanted to see the water and the anglers, we opted to start next to the water. This is a narrow path, though, so other people with other dogs coming in the opposite direction can cause problems. But below the path the anglers can fish relatively undisturbed. We watched one bring in a fish he’d caught too, and it was a fair size.

At the end of the reservoir path we rejoined the public path and climbed over a stile into the surrounding woods. The stile was one the dog could easily walk under, but very big dogs may need to climb over or have the big gate opened for them.

Only a few yards in is the entrance to an old quarry workings, now silted up and overgrown. Another few yards along and the path splits, with what was once the old tramway climbing up the hillside.

We continued on along the fairly level path, but where it does climb up hill gently (and it really does, which makes a change), we could have taken a diversion over to the Old Rockley Hall, which might have added a bit more distance to the walk. But we stayed with the walk and rejoined the path around the reservoir on the other side.

The last part of the owl walk avoids the dam head and instead runs along another parallel path. But again, this was very muddy and very busy, so we walked along the dam head instead.

At the mill we bought 4 bags of flour: white flour; wholemeal flour; malted flour; and sour dough flour. We were given a loyalty card, which is stamped every time you make a visit and buy some flour. When you have 8 stamps, you get a free bag of flour! As we had a white loaf baking at home, while we were out, I’m sure this flour will be used very quickly.

The owl walk is a nice, easy walk. It warns of being muddy in wet weather, and it was quite muddy. But it wasn’t really impassable, and it’s very level most of the way around. Only a handful were also on this walk, and some of those only joined it in places.

Parking currently costs £3 for the day and entrance to the mill is free. We think Worsbrough Mill Museum and Country Park is very good value with more than sufficient facilities and the opportunity to join longer walks or visit other local places of interest. I’ve even parked up at Locke Park before now, and walked down to the country park. But long distance walkers on the TPT can build it into a longer walk too.

We were there for an hour and a half, we walked for 2.34 miles, and we burned around 360 calories.



My fat year: And so it begins

Mute swan hissing at dog. (Picture: Ian Wordsworth)

Today’s picture is purely for decorative purposes as the only “my fat year” pics we have at the moment are our “before” pictures – and you ain’t seeing none of them yet. (Dialect intentional for those pedants out there … 🙂 )

So, having both slimmed down sufficiently for us to feel comfortable on our honeymoon, we both also managed to put it all back on by Christmas. Well, actually, I’m still 5lb lighter than when we started and the poet’s also a few pounds lighter. But we’re not as slim as we were back in May.

I’ve tried lots of diets and the only ones that have been really successful have been those where I’ve only exercised regularly (Rosemary Conley DVDs and classes based on her DVDs) and the 5:2 diet (Kate Harrison’s version). All the poet has to do is eat less.

Over the Christmas break, one of the things I did was start to research the various diets that are currently going around, and – to be honest – I wasn’t impressed. I’ve tried fad diets. They don’t work – for me. They don’t even work temporarily. The only thing that works is cutting back my calories over a week, rather than per day, and exercise.

During my research I was quite surprised to see that the Rosemary Conley brand had suffered some significant financial setbacks. But I also discovered that she’s found alternative financial backing (I presume) and relaunched her website, at least, some time in the past year. And then I saw that she has adapted the 5:2 diet to suit her own beliefs.

Online annual membership to Rosemary Conley seems to be one of the cheaper ones at the moment, plus there was a £10 discount *and* a free copy of her book The 3:2:1 Diet. You can also pay monthly or quarterly, but working it out, £60 for the year (plus a book) is a lot better value than £13 per month.

Because I’m a bit of a gadget freak, I like to *see* my progress on charts and in colour. And, other than me not finding any nutrition charts, which I also like to see, this site seemed to be the best fit for me.

So I signed up, measured myself (and the poet), set up my profile, and logged my food/calorie intake for one week. On average I’m consuming around 2,000 calories on an exercise day (or walk day) and around 1,500 – 1,600 calories generally. My recommended amount is 1,449.

After the first week, the poet lost 3lb. I lost 0lb.

So yesterday evening I decided to go for the 3:2:1 diet, whereby you have 3 “light” days in the first week (I call them “starvation” days, everyone else calls them “fast” days), 2 light days for the duration of the diet, and 1 light day for maintenance purposes. But I’ll go straight in to 2 starvation days, I think.

The other differences are to try to maintain the less-than-5%-fat “rule” on ordinary days (“feast” days), and instead of 500 – 600 calories on light days, you get 800 calories (it may be more for men, I’ve not looked yet).  And she has 3 types of menu to choose from: comfort eating; feast eaters; and grazers. (I’m usually a grazer on starvation days for blood-sugar regulation.)

I’d like to lose 2½ stone (35lb). The poet wants to lose “a couple of stone” (28lb).

If you’d like to join us, let us know how you’re getting on in the comments section below. Otherwise, wish us luck!

Product tests
Oh yes, I almost forgot … We’ll also be testing various products over the course of the year. If you’d like us to review your product, let us know via the contact form.