Reviewed: The #Paleo30

Today I have a guest post to share with you from Erin. Everybody gets a health makeover in January but I watched with interest as Erin did the #Paleo30 and made it look easy on Instagram. Of course it wasn’t easy but I asked her to share her experiences with you guys here in case you’re interested. Thanks Erin!

*****

Hello Readers! When Rebecca asked me to write a post about the Paleo diet I followed throughout January, I jumped at the chance. I’m what you would probably describe as a normal dieter. Every so often I feel like I need a reset so for a while I count my calories, eat less and exercise more. I don’t tend to go in for diet fads as I don’t believe they are sustainable long term, and well, I love cooking and food! Whilst my favoured strategy has worked for me in the past, adding a child into the mix means there is far less time for the latter.

I’ve always been one of those women who can’t shift a lot of weight with food alone. In the lead up to our Wedding in March 2011 I started exercising in earnest the Summer before, just after we got engaged, and found myself in the gym 4 out of 5 mornings before work, and then at least once of a weekend. The results after 6 months of (more or less) this routine spoke for themselves, with me being the probably the lightest I’ve been in my adult life, but not only that, toned too.

I digress. Now that I’m a Mum to a 19-month old, who works full time, time for myself is rare and therefore, gym time is pretty non-existent. Just getting out of the door in the mornings is a miracle, and by the time the food, bath and bedtime routine is done, speed is of the essence with the food we prepare. I have been trying to watch what I eat, but it’s difficult to remain healthy all of the time.

After the excesses of the festive season last year, and having read about it last year on Jessica’s blog, both my husband Richard and I decided to give the Whole30 a go. Not so much a diet as a way of eating, I hoped it would act as a re-education exercise too.

What is the Whole30?
Put simply, it’s eating only whole foods for 30 days (or in our case, the month of January). It follows the Paleo principles of eating… but is just a bit more extreme as it’s meant to act as a reset for previous bad food habits. When people asked what Paleo eating was, I usually described it as “eating like a caveman” meaning you were only allowed food that you could hunt or gather – nothing that has gone through a process.

No sugar, no grains, no diary, no legumes and no alcohol.

Richard and I decided if we were going to do this, we were going to do it the right way. Taking the plan from It Starts with Food (which you don’t need to buy, it’s more about the science behind it – the website has most of the information), we cleared out our fridge and hid all the alcohol. Coming from months of diary, wheat, alcohol and grains, we were pretty much left with a bare fridge. After a VERY expensive shop (guided by what to buy), it was full of colourful vegetables, meat, fish and berries, and our cupboards were full of coconut oil, nuts and lots of spices. We were ready.

How to do it…
If you are embarking on this diet, and you don’t have the willpower to watch your partner devour another slice of bread, it’s easier to do it together if you can. Having the support of your partner is invaluable, and you really can spur each other on. The other point to note is that you need to meal plan. Rich and I are meal planners anyway, as we find it easier to shop this way for the week ahead, but we had to add breakfasts and lunches into the mix as well.

Breakfast’s were easy for us both as we both have microwaves at our workplaces, so making scrambled eggs was pretty simple. Eggs will definitely be your friend during this. I’m not actually sure what we’d have done for breakfast if we weren’t egg lovers!

Lunches were slightly harder since you can’t pick things up on the hoof. Mostly mine consisted of chicken that I’d roasted at home mixed with mashed avocado and rolled in a Gem Lettuce leaf, or a portion of leftover supper from the night before. This is a good tip – make more for dinner so you can eat it for lunch the next day.

Dinner’s were fine as they were usually planned in advance with ingredients bought for specific recipes.

Have in your mind that there will be a lot of repetition for the month – this helped me get through. Yes, eating the same thing for breakfast for a whole month seemed daunting, dull and boring, but the reality was fine. The simpler the better.

Favourite Dishes:

  • Scrambled Eggs with Avocado for breakfast
  • Egg and Bacon “Cupcakes” for breakfast
  • Steak with Sweet Potato Chips and Green Veg
  • Prawn & Cucumber Curry with Cauliflower Rice
  • Homemade Spiced Chicken Legs

The Pros
The obvious one is weight-loss, but the Whole30 is more than that, which I’ll get to. I also haven’t really done any extra exercise in this period so the loss is all down to changing my eating habits.
Better sleep and consistent energy levels
Clearer skin
A more efficient digestive system
Learning how to spice food properly for taste
Changing the way I think about food and what I eat. The Whole30 really has made me realize what and how to eat in order to maintain a healthy, well running body. You will be AMAZED at how much sugar is added to everyday things, even down to roasted chicken fillets from good old M&S! It’s definitely made me look more closely at what we buy.

The Cons
The cost. Our weekly shops have gone up by about 50% during the month, and that’s down to the organic produce and fresh food gracing our trolleys. The weekly visits to Whole Foods haven’t helped either.
Making your baby yummy looking shepherd’s and fish pies, tasty looking sandwiches and watching him eat creamy yoghurts is torture!
Eating on the hoof is impossible, and this goes for eating out too. Rich and I had a huge row whilst out in our local town on the second weekend as we wanted to eat lunch out, but the choice of your usual Italian establishments and sandwich shops didn’t offer anything we could have. Cue us missing lunch altogether and having a really nice steak supper.

The Results
I’m not going to lie, the first week was hard. Hungry, tired, suffering from bloating and headaches, you wonder why on earth you are doing this and what the benefits will be. Most of these symptoms are reactions from the change in the way in which your body is fuelled, and as we hit day 7, we were feeling less tired, less bloated and as if it was actually making a difference.

Strangely enough, about half way through, both Rich and I suffered from VIVID dreams of cheese – it’s the point at which you think you should just eat the damn cheese but we persevered and the feelings passed.

The end of the month then came pretty quickly actually and after having not weighed myself all month which you are told not to do, I’m amazed to report that not only have I lost 6kgs (which in old money is just under a stone), I’m sleeping better, my skin is so much clearer and less dry, my energy levels are constant (I don’t have the mid-afternoon slump) and I’m not suffering from some of the digestive issues I was having before I started on this way of eating.

All in all, it’s been an eye-opening month. I can honestly say that it really has changed the way I am going to eat. I know I have labored that point, but it really has. I’m following a whole host of new Paleo inspired blogs and getting lots of ideas for new suppers and snacks to try. My spice draw is full of new flavours and I’m in love with everything Coconut (Oil, Milk, Flour, Water!) You can also eat out. Rich and I managed lunches at Byron Burger (Skinny Burger with a Mushroom and a side salad with dressing on the side) and a dinner at a Shellfish restaurant in Soho. I also managed to stick to it whilst I was on a work trip to the US. We were strict with ourselves, but that was the point. This is a month reset, but I know I won’t be going back to my old way of eating.

As a detox, or perhaps a reset before a holiday, it’s worth thinking about giving the Whole30 a go. Once everything is planned, it’s easy! Good luck if you are going to give it a try, you won’t regret it.

Read more from Erin over on her blog Love From Cornfield, or follow her on Twitter @CornfieldLove and @ErinLauraWalsh

Diet Do or Don’t?

Well good afternoon readers! I hope you’re all feeling chatty this afternoon because I’m looking forward to a good catch up. On what you might ask? Well, It’s almost 4 months since the start of the year and my first post on my weight and being comfortable in my own skin. Since then, I’ve been going to British Military fitness usually two, sometimes three times a week, and initially it was all going well. I even got into the jumpsuit for Pete’s birthday. Shortly after that weekend of excess, I went ski-ing and it was game over for the unwanted pounds and since then, I’ve been hovering all over the upper end of my usual weight, going down to 9st 11lbs at one particularly pleasing point, or, back up to 10st 2 or 4lbs (like now).


Weheartit.com

I have definitely toned up. A few of you have made comments on the blog about my arms (in this dress,) and my stomach is flatter, but I do still feel that there’s a layer of blubber hiding my hard work. The weather this month hasn’t really helped, as I’d normally be out running now, but it’s all I can do to brave the cold for BMF, never mind extra runs. I’ve also got a bit of a problem with my foot at the moment, due to recently diagnosed collapsed arches so they are sore which doesn’t exactly encourage me to pound the pavement. And although I’m often pleased with the outfits that I wear and share with you all via the What-to-Wear posts, it’s definitely not a good thing having to scrutinise yourself on such a regular basis and decide which images are less blubbery looking!


healthyisalwaysbetter.tumblr.com

When I wrote that first post I was determined not to diet. I love my food too much, and I hate the social restriction a diet causes – having to turn down dinner out with friends or to go along and not drink because you’re ‘being good’. Of course I also know I’m hardly obese, I’d just like to be able to see the results of my hard work at BMF!

As a medic, the thought of sending my body into a feast or famine panic by restricting my calorific intake terrifies me, as I’ve seen friends and patients with ruined metabolism due to faddy dieting and constant starving themselves. Right now however, with a holiday (and bikini) looming, I feel like I’m going to kick myself if I don’t do something about my extra pounds.

I’ve had more than a passing interest in the Dukan diet recently but I really can’t decide if it’s healthy or not, placing such a protein load on your kidneys and basically inducing a ketotic state to burn fat cells. My sister recently embarked on it for 7 days and lost a hefty 6lbs but admitted it was gruelling and more than a little nauseating at times. I can see the medical reasoning behind it, but I haven’t yet had the time to research any real downsides or risks properly.


Image from Pinterest

So today, I’m wondering how you guys have done since January. Quite a few of you were looking to lose weight or shift a couple of extra pounds post-Christmas, and some of you were getting in shape for your wedding. I also wondered if any of you had done the Dukan diet or if you had any other tips or tricks to recommend and help me deal with the bikini fear!

Lot of female ‘why do we do this to ourselves?‘ love,
Rebecca
xo

Disclaimer: I do not endorse the Dukan Diet in any way and anyone embarking upon a serious weight loss plan should consult their GP.

Triumphs and slip ups…

Now it’s February, it’s a month since I first wrote about wanting to shift a bit of weight, tone up and get fitter. I reckon it’s about time I shared with you all how it’s been coming on.

The truth is, like many of you I guess, there have been ups and downs. In terms of tangible weight loss, I’m not sure I’ve made that much progress. I think the term ‘yo-yo-ing’ would be fairly accurate. After a good first couple of weeks, I relaxed one weekend and gained back a couple of pounds, then lost it, then went away to Wales, then lost it, then had this weekend of birthday celebrations and the whole thing went totally to pot. I feel like my mindset is six of one and half a dozen of the other… on the one hand, I still really want to get a couple more pounds off, then I’m more than happy yo-yo-ing around a couple of pounds either way. But on the other hand, I’ve had a great last 3 weekends and I will never be a slave to my weight at the expense of my life. Bonus points for anyone who can solve that problem for me then!

However, when it comes to exercise, I’m seriously hoping that eventually all the good work will pay off and I’ll start to see results. I’ve been to my BMF class twice weekly since starting at the beginning of January and am still loving it. I took my first fitness test last weekend (they suggest you do one every 3 months to assess your progress) and I was really pleased with the results. I get to wear a Red bib (the middle group) and having been back this morning for my first session since, not only am I still a physically broken woman(!) after giving my all for the test, but I now know that my cardiovascular strength is way below my muscular strength and I worked my ass off at the running with the next fitness test in mind as motivation. I’m not sure I can truly see a cosmetic difference in my shape just yet, (Pete says he can, but bless him, he’s always been the encouraging type!) ;) It’s only been 4 weeks though so I’m not losing hope yet.

I think motivation is a massive thing when it comes to exercising and I am the worst for giving up when it hurts my chest to breath or my legs start wobbling or I want to actually puke from the effort (sadly a little too often at the moment!) Probably my biggest achievements have been running the Manchester 10K, not just because of the distance but the effort involved, particularly on the day. Whilst I can recommend having a goal to help you train, I’m naughty and when training for a run, often stop and have a little walk when it gets hard. With all eyes on you in a run you can’t do that and so I have to say to myself over and over again, be grateful you have legs and can actually do this. Being physically able to run is such a great feeling when you place the value of it in context like that.

And after sharing my day job with you all yesterday it seems an apt time to share this with you too… a video Pete actually showed me after an educational session he attended a week or so ago.

It’s a long one, so watch it later this evening or at the weekend, but it’s a fascinating insight into how exercise affects your long term health and mental well being, and reduces the risk of chronic disease. It certainly made me think about how much I sit down, even though I’ve mentioned it before. I wish I could walk to work. Maybe I’ll have to start walking to my home visits!

Now it’s over to you. How is your diet/exercise/healthy lifestyle regime going now that the New Year call to action has faded a little? Share your successes and slip ups with us here and lets all motivate each other a little bit more to keep going.

Love,
Rebecca
xo

In your own skin…

I am struggling right now. With what you might ask? Fashion. Writing about it, I am just about managing, but wearing it? Buying it? It’s just not happening.

I kid you not when I say I bought no new outfit for Christmas – something I have done for as long as I can remember and strange as it may sound, really put a dampener on my Christmas. I’m seriously struggling with New Year as I write this and considering hiding in a bin bag until the whole thing is over, and I’ve lost some weight. I’ve said it, I am just too heavy right now.

I always umm and ahh over writing posts like this. I’m more than aware of the influence print and film media have over their viewers and blogging is no exception. I’ll come right out and say it, I am not over weight medically, or unhealthy. The bottom line? I just don’t fit into my clothes and it’s pi$*ing me off.


Pinterest

Let’s get the details out here first. I’m 5ft 6 inches and right now, butt naked on the bathroom scales first thing in the morning, I’m tipping 10 stone 2lbs. Again, please don’t think this is a judgemental post, I’m fully aware there are plenty of you reading who are happy at heavier weight than this – whatever works for you is what I say. I certainly don’t look at women walking around at a size 12, 14, 16 and think, look at the size of her. All women can look good, even at the curvier end of the spectrum, as long as you’re fit and healthy.

I’m not one of those women who stands in front of the mirror prodding myself and bemoaning a muffin top or making myself miserable… I just don’t wear stuff that makes me feel like that. In fact, I realised the other day that I haven’t worn a single pair of jeans for over 2 months which is quite something given that they are my usual hang-about-the-house-or-anywhere-else-for-that-matter clothes. My current pairs are too tight. Uncomfortably tight. Not just a muffin top, but uncomfortable to sit down in tight. And because I am convinced this is the wrong size for me to be and I will eventually sort it out, I have refused to buy some.

The only other place it bothers me? The changing room. This might all sound like ridiculous ranting because I’ve never heard anyone say this before, but half a stone makes a massive difference to me buying clothes. Let me explain. The Ted Baker NYE jumpsuit I posted for Friday Frock a while back? A size 2 was too small, just too small. A bit tight around the top of the thighs/groin/bum and the zip did up but was un-breathably tight at the waist. Size 3, baggy and too big. I have a real ‘thing’ about clothes fitting properly and hate seeing people in tops that gape or trousers straining across the front. But that’s the situation I’m in right now. I love shopping and I love clothes, trying new looks, experimenting and looking good, but I’m frozen between sizes and it’s making me really fed up.


Pinterest

Looking back, I’ve lost weight in the past, most notably during a stint on Weight Watchers mid way through uni, when I realised that I still had 3 years to go and couldn’t keep eating like a dirty student or I’d exit uni looking like a house. Back then, I went from 10st 4 (my heaviest ever) to 9st 3. And I felt great, even though I was a little obsessed with counting my points! I kept it off for a while then gradually crept up to hover around 9st 7, which for me, is my ‘happy weight’. I can eat pretty much what I want as long as I’m exercising and fit all my clothes. I’m a happy bunny. Before my wedding I lost weight again, stress-induced, falling from 9st 12 a few months after we got engaged (the heaviest I can be and still fit my clothes, just,) to about 9 stone on my wedding day.

I kept that off too, you see I used to have one of those metabolisms that makes people really jealous. Or so I hear people say, because in actual fact, I was just really active. I went to the gym 3-4 times a week but more than that, I was watching what I ate and I never. sat. down. Until then, my day job was something that meant I was always on my feet, walking between departments, even running sometimes. Come 2010 and I found myself changing jobs to one that meant I barely sat down and then, along came blogging. RMW was so busy, so quickly, that I spent every minute that I wasn’t at work (sat on my bum,) in front of the computer screen. You guessed it. Sat on my bum. And now I’ve been this weight, or thereabouts for the best part of 2 years.


Dope Stuff

If this all seems a bit over the top, although this is a lifestyle blog, Florence Finds is also a fashion blog. Achievable fashion, but fashion all the same. I love clothes and I want to wear them in a way that makes me feel good about myself instead of feeling miserable about it. There’s nothing wrong with that. I really dislike when women (and we all know someone like this) don’t live their lives because they fear putting on a pound or two, won’t have a glass of wine because of the calories or share a slice of cake at a coffee stop on a girlie day out. But I can’t keep using my dislike of that kind of behaviour to pretend ‘living my life’ is an excuse for feeling like this.

And why haven’t I done anything about it? Several reasons. Until Florence Finds and me spending more time on clothes, I really didn’t give it much thought, I don’t obsess over it. And 7 lbs? It’s such a small amount it’s hardly worth losing, right? I’ll just watch what I eat? Wrong. I love my food and I have a really thing about self denial… life is short, I think you should enjoy it while you can. In the moment, cake is always going to win out over feeling virtuous. But I’ve started to realise that the cake gives me 5 minutes satisfaction then when I can’t fit into the clothes I want, half an hour of frustration over why I haven’t done something about it.

So I’m going to. And to make me, I’m going to keep you all updated. January is about fresh starts, new beginnings, good intentions and I needed to get the party season out of the way first, but from here on in I’m going to be tackling my spare half stone.

I’m guessing there are more than a few of you reading who will be thinking the same thing, so if you would like to join in and get a bit of group motivation then please drop me a comment to keep me going and I will tell you how I go about it in regular posts throughout January.

Lots of goodbye spare pounds love,
Rebecca,
xo