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Photo by Steve Snodgrass on Flickr

This week has been a battle of time: the pressure to get work tasks finished to a deadline versus the time and energy it takes to prepare meals from scratch.  It’s a battle that I saw coming and prepared for in a way. I  got a few ready-made meals in, but from a company that cooks them like you would at home, so no processed stuff. I chose the lowest carb and sugar options, bunged them in the freezer, and then relied on them quite heavily last week. Mostly, we both enjoyed them, and they had the added advantage of controlling portion size for me, something I am not that good at doing for myself. It’s not damaged our weight loss, either. Two pounds for Andrew, three for me.

I’ve been thinking a bit more about food in between meals this week, not as much as before I started the Harcombe Diet, but more than last week, and I have noticed it creeps up on me towards the end of a busy work day. I need to watch that, and make sure I am not doing too many hours at work and wearing down my stamina.

We are Phase 1 still, and I am not snacking, but after the evening meal,  we are having cashews and pistachio nuts (unsalted, not roasted) as well as two dark chocolate squares. I have struggled with the tea ever since I started, and have succumbed to taking milk in my tea at home, but not at work. I’m still missing sweetness in my hot drinks, but have resisted the temptation so far. I hope it won’t be too much longer before I get used to tea and coffee without sweeteners; it’s the one thing I think I am most likely to crack on first, which I didn’t expect!

The next test is dining out next week. I am away for work overnight, and eating out with friends. I’ve picked the restaurant, and I know it’s somewhere I can find good choices, but will I make them? We’ll see.

The easy dinner options have allowed me to spend more time with my knitting, which has been lovely. I feel more relaxed for having the needles in my hands most evenings, and I am sure that being more relaxed must help my willpower in sticking to THD. I’ve finished a chunky cowl, which is much needed with the very chilly spells we’ve been having lately, and I have almost finished a second one for a friend. I rarely knit in super-chunky, and it is great to see a project come together so quickly. If only losing weight more quickly was simply a question of picking a thicker yarn!

In many ways all this feels a lot like FWP – First World Problems, or at least First World Preoccupations. I didn’t intend to get political on this blog at all, but this has been the first week of Trump’s presidency, and marked by exactly what I expected (dreaded) having heard rather too much of his despicable rhetoric and lies. I can’t let it go unremarked. I’ve donated to a couple of organisations in the US that I think will need all the help they can get to fight his particularly nasty brand of politics, American Civil Liberties Union and Planned Parenthood, and here’s why:

By an executive order this week, Trump revived a ban on US foreign aid to organisations that discuss abortion as a family planning option or campaign for abortion rights. There is already a ban on US tax dollars going to overseas clinics that provide abortions, but this extends it to funding to nongovernmental organisations if they offer abortion counseling or if they advocate the right to seek abortion in their countries. That means fewer people campaigning for the right to abortions for women who are raped (a common tactic of warfare in some parts of the world) and become pregnant as a result. That means closed clinics for all sorts of contraception, and higher rates of unwanted pregnancies, in countries where decent healthcare is already hard to come by for many people, and the death rate in pregnancy and child mortality rates are much higher than they ought to be. But on top of that, it also drives the sort of outcomes that Trump and his ilk claim to be trying to avoid: more abortions. A study of 20 sub-Saharan African countries by Stanford University researchers found that in countries that relied heavily on funding from the United States for reproductive health services, abortion rates rose when the policy was in place.

As for the ACLU, they have got off to a flying start … this week, they and others challenged Trump’s executive order banning nationals from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the USA. The ACLU  won a stay from a federal court on behalf of Hameed Khalid Darweesh, who had been detained at JFK airport. He had been working as an interpreter for the US armed forces in Iraq, and accord to one platoon leader had saved countless US service members’ lives. Just the sort of person you would want in your country and on your side if you were a patriotic US citizen, you’d think. Not Trump. But thanks to the ACLU, for now, he’s not going anywhere.




Pic courtesy of Chris D 2006 on Flickr

I weighed in yesterday; my first full week since the 5-day Phase 1 starting point. I’ve lost five pounds, making a total of a stone in 12 days. I’m very happy about that. I’ve been coping okay with the plan so far. I’m feeling well most of the time, but if I delay eating when I am hungry, I do notice I feel a little light-headed. On the plus side, I am thinking about food a lot less in between meals. There’s still a lot of thought and planning (and chopping!) that has to go into this, but when I’m not doing that, I am not thinking about food very often, which I take to be a healthy sign.

We are keeping up the Phase 1 stage for a bit longer – how long remains to be seen – but Andrew is having the occasional splash of milk in his tea, and we are eating two squares of 85% dark chocolate each in the evening. That’s my only treat. Andrew is still eating up the last of the festive leftovers and stuff that was in the cupboard and doesn’t fit with the Harcombe Diet. He’s lost three pounds, which is excellent.

I have spent a lot of time on THD since we started, and my knitting has taken the hit. I barely did any for the last fortnight. Yesterday, I finally got round to finishing a dog jacket for my bro, SIL and nephew’s dog, Holly, who is a little sweetheart. I worked from the measurements they gave me and a pattern that says it can generate the perfect fit from those dimensions, but I am still nervous about whether it will fit her. We shall see …

I’ve also sorted out what the next few projects are to be … two secret projects for gifts, and a shawl for me, blatantly copied from something I saw an indie dyer doing at Yarnporium in London last year (huge fun!). It was her yarn she was using, so I bought the same two colours, and I’m hoping to cast on this afternoon, once I am finished with the cooking. In the kitchen today … bolognese sauce and chicken stock, to make chicken, bacon and leek soup later. Yum!


After a five year break … what have I been up to?

The usual … trying meal replacements, calorie-counting and Weightwatchers … sticking to it for a bit and losing some weight … falling off the wagon and putting it back on again, plus more. A well-trodden path for many, I know. I’ve struggled with overload/other rubbish at work, and the usual worries and tribulations of life, including bereavement and serious illness in the family, all of which have badly impacted on my willpower, too. End result? I saw in 2017 the heaviest I have ever been, with inevitable impacts on my health and self esteem. My negative test for diabetes just before Christmas was a wake-up call. A bullet dodged for now, but without serious changes, not one to be dodged much longer, I dare say.

On the bright side, I have found huge pleasure in taking up knitting, and developing my skills with the help of talented friends and acquaintances in real life and on Ravelry. I have acquired a yarn stash that I love and that I could happily knit from for life (it’s my retirement fund!), and found great enjoyment from meeting indie dyers and designers at various yarn festivals and a knitting retreat. More from me of those as they happen during the year, starting with Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March. For now, it’s the healthy eating story on which I want to embark …

I started by taking advice from someone I trust to know what they are doing around diet, nutrition and health, and who has a real focus on what has been scientifically established. At his suggestion, I have been looking into The Harcombe Diet, and today I finished Phase 1. It was essentially five days of abstention from a lot of what I ate for the last year or so. No processed foods, sugar, dairy, fruit or wheat. Plenty of lean protein, eggs and vegetables, butter or olive oil for cooking, and a small amount of brown rice (up to 50g per day). Oddly, the hardest thing was giving up the milk and sweeteners in my tea and coffee. I’ve been playing around with fruit teas, with some success, but nothing’s matched a nice cup of tea. I can tell that I am weaning myself from sweeter tasting things, though, and that’s a good development.

I was lucky; I didn’t find Phase 1 that hard. I had moments of feeling light-headed, and I was quite often hungry between meals, but I didn’t suffer too badly from loss of energy in the early part. By the end of the week, though, I was exhausted, partly because there’s more preparation required. That’s in the planning and shopping sense; I had already been preparing quite a bit from scratch, so that wasn’t a huge change. However, I have had to cut out a lot of ingredients and think harder about what to use instead. I also haven’t been able to rely on processed ingredients to speed along the meal prep. The one thing that undoubtedly made it easier for me was that I cut out caffeine over a year ago, after my GP advised that it might be contributing to my migraines. Not having to go through caffeine withdrawal as a Harcombe newbie certainly made the last five days go more smoothly, I am sure.

And how has it gone for my weight? The number at the top tells you, if you view it as a number rather than an awesome photo of a staircase, which appealed as a metaphor for my journey, both up and down. You can choose to turn round and head back up, even if, or especially if, you’ve gone down as far as you can. So it’s nine pounds lost in five days. A really good result, and I am very pleased. I’ll weigh myself again on Monday to see what I have lost in the first week. I plan to stay on Phase 1 for a bit longer, as recommended when you have plenty to lose, and I hope I will keep up the blogging, too, if only so I have a record of the highs and lows to look back on.

Thanks for reading … see you soon.

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