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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? :-)


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. :-)

(c) My OH :-)

This is a really easy and delicious dessert, and it’s SW-friendly. :-)

Take two nectarines per person. The riper they are, the easier they are to de-stone, but make sure they’re not too ripe, or they’ll just collapse. I find the easiest way to remove the stone is to run my knife from the stalk all the way round, then twist gently to separate the two halves. Take out the stone, and use a teaspoon to scrape away any remaining fibrous bits.

Bring a griddle or frying pan to a medium heat on the hob, and spray with Frylight. Place the nectarine halves cut side down in the pan, and leave to soften and caramelise. This takes about ten minutes or so. Keep moving them every so often to make sure they don’t stick.

I serve these with yoghurt. My OH likes the full fat Greek yoghurt with honey, which does work very well with the fruit, but I go for Total 0% and add some sweetener. You can sprinkle over some cinnamon, which is lovely, but I’m going through a phase of having them with crushed green cardamom seeds.Yummy! :-)

This is equally good made with peaches or plums, and I guess you could use apricots, although I’ve not tried those.

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. :-)

I’ve been at Betty’s Cookery School this week – of which more in another post – and they gave us a goodie bag when we left, which included two Fat Rascals. A name that reflects my feelings perfectly. :-)

I posted last week that I expected to gain, and so I did: eight and a half pounds, and I cannot bring myself to regret it!

psd at Flickr

I missed weigh-in the week before last, and I feel a bit guilty about that. I knew it was not going to be good, and I wanted to give myself a chance to redress the balance. I also knew that I would not be back on track after weigh-in, and I don’t like going to my SW Group in the certain knowledge that I am going to be heading straight off plan immediately afterwards. It just seems wrong to me … or maybe this is all just a pile of self-justifying rubbish!

I was off plan for a great reason; I had a new kitchen fitted (of which more in another post) so we had dust, chaos, and no means to cook for most of the week. Yes, we could have had salad, but there was snow on the ground, and it was minus 10 at night – not really the weather for cold collations. Or am I still making excuses? :-) Anyway, we had a curry one evening, collected from our favourite curry house and pizza delivered (with an attempt to deliver the same again about 45 minutes later, which we declined) and two carpet picnics. All delicious in their own way, and the latter at least included some of my 5-a-day – I don’t count saag aloo, though it undoubtedly is green!

I was back on track from Monday of last week, and I think that restricted the damage done, but it was not great. Plus four. To be expected. I’d forgotten that it was a taster evening on Thursday, but a text from my consultant, the lovely Lou, reminded me in time. I had a bit of a bulk-cooking fest on Sunday – any excuse to be in the new kitchen – so I had some roasted Mediterranean vegetable soup in the freezer, which did nicely. It’s from the SW Little Book of Soups, £3.95 from your local group or an eye-watering £14.99 plus delivery from a couple of sellers on Amazon. We’ve had a few of the soups, and liked most of the ones we’ve tried so far, but this is the current favourite. Now that I have a freezer that will hold more than a few loaves of bread without being stuffed to capacity, and a microwave, last-minute changes become much easier to manage. :-)

I’m going to find it hard again this week, but for another great reason. I have a week-long advanced kitchen skills course booked at Betty’s Cookery School which is the very generous gift (for Christmas and birthday) of my Dad, and my brother and his family. Very timely, as the last day of the course is my birthday. I am a little nervous that some of it will be too advanced for me, especially the bread-making, as I have never done that before, but I am sure I will learn a lot. I’ve done day courses at Betty’s before, and thoroughly enjoyed them. Each time, I have ended up tired but very happy and with some new recipes and skills tucked away for future use. Oh, and dinner for that evening, ready to bung in the oven. The school provides food during the day, and you take away what you’ve made at the end, so I imagine the same will happen again. I hope so, as I know I won’t feel like cooking, although it would be easier to stick to SW if I did. We’ll see how it goes, but I fully expect to be reporting another gain next week. The week after is an unknown quantity – I will be away for work for three days, and I am not sure whether I’ll make it home to York in time for weigh-in. It’s out of my hands, as I’m not organising the agenda for the three days, but I’ll do the best I can to stick to the plan, and get to Group. Life is what happens when you’re busy doing something else, as John Lennon didn’t say. :-)

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. :-)

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?

jules:stonesoup at Flickr

You can tell I’m new to this blogging lark. I don’t think to take photos of anything until too late, then scurry off to Flickr to find someone else’s for illustrative purposes. Sigh. Still, there are so many great photographers out there.

I made salmon mousse this afternoon. I am not sure at what point it moves from being a pâté to a mousse, but I think today’s was definitely moussey. It’s lighter than usual, and I think that’s the distinguishing feature, howsoever the lightness is created. In my case, it was fat-free fromage frais, but you could use egg white, whipped to soft peaks, if you prefer. I have also used quark, which keeps the texture quite thick.

This is ridiculously easy to make, and yummy for lunch with some salad or crispbreads. I like Ryvita Minis (a 30g bag is a Healthy Extra B). It makes enough for two lunches, or would be a good starter for two.

2 salmon fillets (I prefer the lightly smoked for this recipe)
Chilli flakes
Salt and pepper
A squeeze of lemon juice
Fat free fromage frais, about a heaped tablespoon for a thick pâté, or three or four heaped tbsp for a mousse (or a beaten egg white, folded in).

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Place the salmon fillets on a piece of tin foil, season, and sprinkle over some chilli flakes (to your taste). Wrap the foil around the fish, sealing tightly, and place on a baking sheet in the oven. Cook for 15-20 minutes, then remove and allow to cool in the foil parcel.
Once cooled, put the salmon in a bowl, add the juices from the parcel, and a squeeze of lemon juice, and mash it all together. Add fromage frais to make it the consistency you wish, then check the seasoning again. I often find I need to add more chilli flakes at this point, but that may just be because the ones I bought are rather low down on the heat scale. Which, by the way, is called the Scoville Scale. The flakes I have are probably sitting around the same level as a pimento. Weedy. :-)

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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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