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Mouse @ Flickr

I stayed the same this week. I’m happy with that, because I lost 4 last week. I got Slimmer of the Month, for a total of 11.5 lb in March, and I’m very pleased about that. :-)

This week in group we talked about our attitudes to ‘food optimising’, which is what SW calls the plan, and whether we were doing all we could to focus on weight loss. The plan allows you to eat as much as you like of certain foods, and the risk/temptation is that one keeps hold of eating habits from before. Eating for comfort, to reward myself or others, or simply through boredom are the sorts of behaviours that got me into this situation, and SW doesn’t remove them from reach as long as I change the foods I use to those ends. However, that will only get me so far; to achieve and sustain weight loss, I need to work on the default ways of thinking, and tackle some practical issues like portion control and snacking.

I’ve been reading a lot lately about the science behind both willpower and happiness, and the two feed into healthy eating in the ways I expected. The unexpected thing (for me) about both strands is that it is possible to work on both with some fairly simple techniques. I may post about both at some stage, once I have had a chance to read more, and digest some of it better. In the meantime, I leave you with an observation: I use food-related words quite a lot, even when I am not talking about food – ‘digest’, ‘feed into’ – is it just me? :-)


Goingslo @ flickr

I love my sleep, and can get a bit twitchy when I don’t get a good eight hours. Ask my OH. :-) It seems, though, that I’m doing it wrong. I ought to be sleeping for four hours, getting up in the early morning for an hour or two, then going back to sleep for another four hours.

In the 1990s, Thomas Wehr, a psychiatrist, experimented with making subjects experience 14 hours of darkness every day for a month. His research, published in 1992, showed that, after adjusting, they fell into bi-modal sleep quite naturally.

This type of sleep pattern was commonplace until the 17th century, apparently, but has receded completely from our collective social memory. At about the same time as references to segmented sleep start disappearing, sleep maintenance insomnia starts to appear. That’s where you sleep, wake and have trouble getting back to sleep again. If we once again recognised first and second sleeps as normal, perhaps those who can’t get back to sleep would feel less anxious about it?

(c) Feversham Lens

After the BBC published their article, people who sleep like this wrote in with their accounts of what they do in their waking section. They watch TV, eat, pray, draw, do yoga, or just lie and look forward to their next dream. My OH, whilst not a segmented-sleeper or a regular night owl, has been out and about in the early hours, grabbing some night photos, and I think this is one of the best shots he’s taken. :-)

L. Marie @ flickr

Last week I forgot to blog about weigh-in – a very creditable two pounds off. This week, I lost four. I haven’t done anything different this week, although I have stuck to the plan. I’ve had a very busy week at work, so maybe I have been burning nervous energy. :-)

A work colleague has just started Lighter Life, and she’s lost nine pounds in her first week. I’m really pleased for her – is it wrong that it’s tinged with a little jealousy, too? Not that I envy her the all-liquid diet in week one, and not much else for the rest of the time. I suppose I just feel a bit like a tortoise next to her hare. :-) I am pretty sure that, despite the faster losses, the meal replacement route wouldn’t work for me. I need to be on a plan that makes me get into a routine of eating sensibly, and embedding it. I’ve lost loads and put it on again, so I know it’s hard to stick to even when you are in the habit of healthy eating. I have no idea how I’d manage if I hadn’t had the chance to practice it all the time I was losing.

L. Marie @ flickr

By the way, the pic this week comes from a series taken of a dismantled Nixie tube. I picked the photo because it’s very stylish, without recognising the name of the thing it came from. Out of curiosity, I followed the link on L. Marie’s flickr page to find out. Once you see the photo of the four in its original setting, then of course you recognise it. This is nowhere near any of my usual fields of interest, but I did enjoy reading about it. :-)

It’s been two weeks since my last confession …

Smabz Sputzer at Flickr

I gained a pound and a half two weeks ago, and lost seven last week, so overall, a loss of five and a half pounds. The gain was pretty good going, considering that the final day at Betty’s (dessert day) was included, and I didn’t get back on plan until two days after that. Last weekend, my OH and I visited my family in Surrey, which would ordinarily have led to another gain, no doubt. However, I had to fast for two days earlier this week in preparation for (hopefully) the final of my various medical tests (see my previous post) so I got a loss that I would otherwise not have achieved. It’s definitely a silver lining, and the test showed nothing significant. Good results all round. :-)

Aurelien Breeden at Flickr

I’ve been fasting this week. Not by choice, I hasten to add; that’s not in the Slimming World plan, nor mine. I had a hospital appointment on Monday that included a strict preparation regime over the weekend. On Monday, there was a snag, so I had to return on Wednesday, and carry on with the fast in the meantime. From Saturday night to Wednesday lunchtime, I ate nothing but jelly, and drank only black tea (sweetened with honey) and water. Inevitably, it’s had an impact on my weight loss this week – 7½ lb. Far more importantly, the test results were normal. I need to have one more test, but things are looking fine. The hospital staff were lovely, too; I can’t praise their kindness and professionalism too much, and they made a fairly unpleasant experience much more bearable.

I was worried, seeing as I love my food a lot, that I’d not cope terribly well with fasting, but it wasn’t as bad as I feared. I surprised myself with how little I minded seeing or smelling food, and I even cooked for my OH without qualms. After a while, the hunger becomes a background thing that you can ignore relatively easily, although I suspect that is very much not the case when you have no choice, and no end in sight. The advantageous side effects for me – a great weight loss and a shrunken stomach – in no way detract from the very real problems faced by those who don’t get enough to eat on a regular basis.

Next week is going to be as unusual as this week, although for a much more cheerful reason – I am getting a new kitchen, which is very exciting. This weekend, we’re clearing the contents of the fridge and freezer as far as possible, and next week we’ll have at least two nights when we can’t cook. My usual ‘plan and prepare’ approach doesn’t work, but I’ll try to make the best choices I can, and we’ll see how we do. :-)



Serves 2, ½ syn per person on Red/Extra Easy




400g extra lean pork mince
25g sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil) (1 syn)
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper
3 peppers, mixed colours
200g cherry tomatoes
Handful of torn basil leaves
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Fry Light

1. Finely chop the sun-dried tomatoes and one of the cloves of garlic, put in a mixing bowl and add the lean pork mince. Season and mix well, until all the ingredients are combined. Divide the mix into 16 parts, and roll each into a ball. Cover and put in the fridge for 20 minutes or so.

2. Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas 5.

3. Chop the peppers into cubes about 2cm square. Slice the second clove of garlic thinly.

4. Spray an ovenproof dish with Fry Light and heat in the oven for a few minutes. Add the pork balls, peppers and sliced garlic and bake uncovered for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven, and stir. Add the cherry tomatoes and return to the oven for another 20 minutes. If the pork balls start to brown too much, cover with foil.

5. Remove the dish from the oven, add the balsamic vinegar, stir well, and serve with veg of your choice or a side salad.

K W Reinsch at Flickr

Sometimes you have weeks like this. You do everything right, and it doesn’t show on the scales. Maybe it showed the week before, or maybe it’ll show next week. Last week was a great result, and an unexpected one, so I think in my case it was probably the former. Whatever the reason, I gained half a pound. I’m accepting it now, but that was not how I felt at the time. When I saw that half pound added to last week’s weight on the digital display, I was furious. Indignant self-righteous anger flooded through me, and it took twenty minutes for me to quit sulking. Stopping for the group session is always a good idea, but especially so after a gain. If it does nothing else, at least it gives you a chance to calm down before you can get to a pizza delivery hotline. :-)

Roll on next week …

Steve Snodgrass at Flickr

I was hoping to lose a couple of pounds this week, so I was anticipating a Flickr search for ones or twos, and here I am with a six! I wasn’t expecting that, but I am really pleased. I have been on-plan all week, and I have also been careful about sticking to the right quantities of milk and bread, so maybe that has helped. I must confess, I have been a bit slack about that in the past. I was still losing, so I figured it didn’t do too much damage if I had bread from an 800g loaf instead of a 400g loaf – the slices aren’t that much bigger, surely? When will I learn? There’s a plan that has been given a great deal of thought, assessed by nutritionists, tried and tested by how many thousands of dieters, and what do I think is best? Oh, yes … give in to my impulses at the bakery counter … that will work fine! :-)

I almost didn’t make it to my Slimming World group on Thursday. My car broke down and I had to call the AA. It has been sounding a little juddery on starting the last few times, so I booked it for next week into the garage my OH uses, about 30 miles away. They’re not a main dealer, so they’re cheaper, and just as efficient as far as I can tell. Having been booked in, of course the car decides to break down, and at the most inconvenient place. At the petrol pump. When it’s really busy. The guy in the car behind kindly helped me push the car out of the way. That may have been enlightened self-interest on his part – he wasn’t getting any petrol until I was out of the way, after all – but he came back after filling up to see if he could start it, and was generally a complete gentleman. Barry, you are a prince, and I hope someone does you a good service if you need it. The first chance I get, I shall do one for someone else. Pay it forward. :-)

The car story doesn’t end there. The AA chap, Graham, also lovely, diagnosed a flat battery and towed it to the local main dealer, then dropped me at home, bless him. The garage fixed that yesterday, so I went to collect the car after work, and it would not run at all – the engine was firing really badly, so it’s still with them and I’m in a courtesy car. Sigh.

On the plus side, my faith in human nature has been reinforced, I have a working vehicle for the weekend, and I lost six pounds! What’s not to like?

I find that sticking to the Slimming World plan is easier when I follow some basic steps: thinking about the week ahead, planning menus, and getting in the right ingredients. I like to make sure I have some snacks that fit in with the plan, and also some really yummy things on which I can use my daily syn allowance (up to 15).

I tend to eat syn-free food for most of the day, and use some or all of my syns for treats when I hit that ‘need something sweet’ craving between dinner and bedtime. One of my favourite treats is Dolfin’s Earl Grey chocolate. It’s dark chocolate, made with Earl Grey tea, and has little crunchy bits in it. Not overly sweet, it comes in bars of 6 strips, each of which is 3 syns. Any diet that lets you have nearly a full bar of chocolate a day is okay in my book! Dolfin have other unusual flavours; I’m not a big fan of the pink peppercorn or hot masala, but the almond, ginger and plain dark chocolate are all really good.

Having a syn range really focuses your mind on the things that you think are worth using up some of your allowance for, and which are not. I suspect everyone works out their own syn-pleasure equation. Biscuits are pretty much not worth it, in my mind, and most crisps and nuts are too costly for the enjoyment I get from them. Cheese features pretty often, especially Parmesan and Feta, and I also like Mikado sticks (1/2 syn each) and Minstrels (7 for 5 syns).

One of the other things that works for me is switching around the menu plans. We tend to get a bit lazy, and stick to recipes we know, but that can lead us to fall out of love with them. My OH is a whizz at a yummy Italian risotto from one of the SW cookbooks, but he’s bored with doing it now, so we need to find him a new signature dish. I like to try new recipes as often as I can, to add some variety to the week’s menus. So far this week, I’ve made two soups from SW’s Little Book of Soups, the Mediterranean roasted vegetable soup and the Italian chicken soup. Tonight we had the sticky sweet and sour chicken from this month’s SW magazine. It was delicious, and I’d love to share it here, but it’s copyright protected. I have, though, found a sweet and sour chicken recipe online that looks fairly similar. You could serve it with noodles, either stirred through or on the side, or rice, if you prefer. The photo comes from the same site – doesn’t it look fresh and delicious?

After the horrors of weigh-in on Thursday, at the weekend I drew up a menu and did a full shop. It has seen us through most of the week, with the addition of some bread and milk. My trolley was two-thirds full before I’d even made it out of the fruit and veg aisle. I wish I’d had a pic but I’d have felt a wee bit conspicuous photographing my own trolley. Besides, the absence of my own sent me to Flickr looking for pics to illustrate this post. There are heaps of great shots there, so it took me no time to find these, which I think are beautiful.



I also found this, and I think you have to be told it is fruit and veg – it’s Thai carving, and I cannot imagine how long it takes to get that good, or how much veg you waste trying. I hope it all goes into a stockpot.


As for SW, I’ve done well, and stuck to the plan all week, so I hope for a good result tomorrow evening.

Copyright protected

2012 by Eau de Nil. Please do not use my original text, recipes or photos without obtaining my permission in advance. Many thanks.

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