Disqus for Where Are My Knees

Steak and Chips

Thursday, 31 March 2011

I, for one, absolutely love steak and chips, and I'm preeeeeety sure I'm not the only one. It's a proper good meal and I only usually indulge once every so often because it's not the healthiest of choices and depending on the type of steak you like (not gonna lie, I go for one that's mid-priced for no particular reason!) it can get quite expensive. However, while I was on Slimming World I discovered their version. Luckily, it's not like healthy fish and chips (who wants boring grilled fish?) because it still tastes, and more importantly, LOOKS (kind of) like unhealthy steak and chips!

This is my dinner from the other night that I made - steak, chips and peas with cream, mushroom & onion sauce. I'm aware it doesn't look too appetising but it tasted good and was so filling! Here's what I did:

1 piece of steak with the fat cut off
1 potato
a few mushrooms
1 onion
a couple of table spoons of creme freche
wholegrain mustard (if you want)
frozen peas (or fresh peas if you fancy!)
Fry Lite

1) peel 1 potato and slice into chips, put them in an oven tray and spray with FryLite - cook for 40 mins or until golden
2) while the chips are cooking, slice the onion and mushrooms and cook slowly. I usually dry-fry these but if you want you can add some FryLite
3) cook your steak, again in FryLite - it doesn't need too much though - to however you like it cooked (you can leave this bit until last if you want, I covered mine in foil and put it in the oven to keep warm though)
4) when your chips are almost ready to be served, add a couple of tablespoons of creme freche to your onions and mushrooms along with a tablespoon of mustard and stir. You can keep adding creme freche until you've got however much sauce you want.
5) serve & enjoy!

Anybody else got any healthy cheats of otherwise sinful meals?

Diet Classes - A Simple Guide!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

One of the things that we agreed was nice about our little blog was that we have ambassadors for all the major diet classes out there - or at least, the big 3: Weight Watchers, Slimming World and Rosemary Conley.

If you're thinking of starting a diet class, it's a great way to lose weight. Reporting in to someone every week can really make a difference to whether or not you resist that extra biscuit! But if you're overwhelmed by choice and struggling to choose, we've put together this handy guide...

Weight Watchers by Gemma
I’ve been to Weight Watchers before and it really worked for me but unfortunately I moved away to university and existed on a diet of alcohol and cheese toasties for three years. I’m back home now and decided to go back to my local class and try to and undo all the bad effects of student living.

There is a weigh-in at the beginning of each class and then the class leader gives a little talk about a different aspect of weight loss. You are given a tracker sheet every week to write down what you are eating and a booklet with recipes and tips in.

There is chance to talk to the group about any recipes you enjoyed in the previous week or something you have been doing that boosted your loss. My leader always helps me to reflect on my good and bad weeks and isolates problems that are holding me back from achieving my goals.

Weight Watchers is based on ‘The Four Pillars’ approach which basically means a combination of healthy eating, activity, small changes in behaviour and group support lead to weight loss. To do this you are given a ProPoints budget for the day which is based on your gender, age, weight and height. On top of this you are given a weekly allowance to use when you like. You can either enjoy slightly larger portions each day or you can blow it all on a night out with friends which is what I usually do.
The WW plan is not based on counting calories, you count points. You can easily find out what points values all your favourite foods contain by either working it out with the easy points calculating card or you can look them up on the website. The website is a great resource, it has lots of recipes, a place to keep a food diary, you can track your weight loss and chat to other WW members on the message board.

I'm not sure how much the class is if you pay weekly but I paid £12.95 for my first month and it rises to £19.99 per month. If you want any more information about the class leave a comment below and I will get back to you.

Slimming World by Guest Blogger Helen
I started Slimming World on January 19th 2010. Within 11 months I'd lost almost 5 and a half stone. Slimming World has completely changed my life and I can't imagine not following the plan now.

The format of the group is similar to Weight Watchers in that it starts with a weigh in and then there is what's called 'Image Therapy'. Basically it's a big chat where the Consultant asks each member how their week has been and whether they've discovered any good recipes, etc. At first I was slightly put off by the cheesiness of it (everyone gets a clap, whether they've lost, maintained or gained) but now I actually really enjoy it. My Consultant never reads out the gains and is incredibly supportive and congratulatory when you've had a good week. You get awards in the form of stickers for each half stone lost, for when you've lost 10% of your body weight and for various other things.

Slimming World doesn't offer as many food products as other diet plans but there are cereal bars and lots of books to buy at my group. There are three meal plans and they're all incredibly non restrictive. If you do a green day then you can eat as many carbs as you like. Yes, as much pasta, rice and potatoes as you can handle. If you're on a red day then you can eat as much protein as you like. MEAT, basically. And if you do an Extra Easy day then you can eat both carbs and meat but 1/3 of everything you eat has to be what's called a superfree food (fruit and vegetables, bsaically). With each plan you get a certain number of Healthy As (cheese and milk) and Healthy Bs (cereal, crispbreads, dried fruit, etc) and those are the only things that have to be weighed and measured. You really can eat SO MUCH. My friends are constantly amazed at the amount I actually eat. Every naughty food (chocolate, crisps, etc) has a syn value and you're allowed to have between 5 and 15 syns a day. Just as an example, a large glass of white wine is about 8.5 syns!

The Slimming World website is also a really good resource and there's a facility for inputting your weight each week. It's really motivational watching the line go down towards your target!

Slimming World costs about £4.85 a week but they also offer 6 and 12 week countdowns, With a 6 week countdown you pay just under £25 (so you get one week free) and with the 12 week countdown you pay just under £50 (so you get two weeks free). Oh, and one of the best things.... when you get to target you get to go for free (providing you stay within your target range)!

Rosemary Conley by Sarah V
I started Rosemary Conley because my mum was doing it. It's a little different to the other two classes because not only does it include a weigh-in and a motivational talk, it also includes a 45 minute exercise class. There are various to choose from - aerobics, salsacise, and they've just started doing Zumba. I imagine all classes are different, but the age group at my local one is definitely quite mature. However, I like this - it means the exercises are easy to follow (and you can go up or down a level, depending on what suits you) and you don't feel embarrassed being surrounded by scary women in lycra thongs! Also, if you mess up the exercise, it's just funny - because everyone does it. The weigh-in is private between yourself and the instructor, and she only reads out the weight losses - never the gains. There are also loads of DVDs available - they're a little cheesy, but I find them much more bearable than the ones presented by ex-soap stars and ex-Big Brother contestants!

The diet plan is fairly simple. It focuses on eating low-GI food, sticking to foods that are under 5% fat (look for how much fat is in 100g) and gives you a guide to how many calories you should be eating at each meal, plus allocations for snacks and milk. There are also branded meals, soups and cereal bars available. Rosemary (yep, she's a real lady - she's like 60 so probably bionic) even has her own range of cheese! There's also a magazine which is fab - full of low fat recipes.It's really easy to follow as you don't have to worry about converting your food into points etc. Also you're encouraged to have a little of what you fancy - I find that if I'm good all week and have one bad day, I'll normally still do okay. But after you've been dieting for a while, your concept of a 'bad day' totally changes - it's rare for me to pick up one chocolate bar and 'one for luck' now!

You can find out more at the Rosemary Conley website. Classes are around £6.50 per week (monthly subscription services are also available) or you can also follow the plan online.

Hope that helps! Any questions, just give us a shout!

Crispy greek pie (vegetarian)

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

I'm a bit of a pastry fiend. I love the crunchy texture and the way it flakes when you bite into it but it's not the healthiest of food to eat so usually when I'm dieting I try my best to stay away. However, I found this tasty recipe which has pastry AND cheese and is not so bad for you. It feel like a treat. It also contains spinach, which as a vegetarian who struggles with eating enough iron, is always good!

Oh, and it tastes bloody amazing!! I tried to describe how it tastes but I honestly can't do it justice. Imagine the most amazing tomatoey pizza topping you've ever had, mix it with crunchy pastry… something like that. Nomnomnom.

makes 4 servings

200g spinach leaves
175g jar of sun dried tomatoes in oil
100g feta cheese
2 eggs
1 pack of filo pasty (you won't use it all - I used 3 sheets)

I actually just made half of the recipe which made two servings, although I think this would be the perfect thing to take into work for lunch and just eating a quarter of it along with some salad would give you a filling lunch. It tastes good cold, but when you re-heat it, it goes extra crispy mmmm.

1. Put your spinach into a large pan and pour a few spoonfuls of water over it and cook on a low heat until it just begins to wilt. Make sure you don't let it wilt fully as it will wilt even more when baking and you'll be left with nothing.

2. Chop up your sun dried tomatoes and crumble your feta whilst waiting on your spinach to wilt. You don't have to follow the suggested amounts by all means. I used less cheese and more tomatoes.

3. Put everything into a bowl, crack your eggs over it and mix until everything is all gooey and coated in egg. It really doesn't look that appealing at this point, but don't let that put you off! You actually don't taste the egg at all once it's cooked.

4. Unwrap your filo pastry and (gently, it's very delicate!) take one piece out and lay it to the side. Cover the un-used pastry with a few damp pieces of kitchen towel to stop it drying out. Now using a pastry brush, brush some of the oil from your sundried tomatoes over the pastry. Oil side down, drape the pastry in to your tin, leaving pieces overhanging at the sides. Repeat this step a few times until you have around 3 layers of pastry. (Please notice my nasty burn scar - This is why you should always use oven gloves and never use a flimsy towel instead!)

5. Almost finished! Spoon in your filling, spread it out and fold the pastry in and give it a final brush with some sundried tomato oil on top. Now put it in the oven, at gas mark 4, for 30 minutes or until golden on top. Et voila - delicious dinner which feels really naughty but actually isn't that bad!

Per serving:
250 kcalories, protein 13g, carbohydrate 23g, fat 13 g, saturated fat 5g, fibre 3g, sugar 5g, salt 0.3 g
7 pro points on the Weight Watchers plan.

Tip: Take iron and vitamin C together. The presence of vitamin C can increase iron's absorption by as much as 30 percent. A glass of orange juice is the perfect drink to have along with this meal.

Banana Loaf Recipe

Monday, 28 March 2011

I'm one of those girls who wants to have her cake and eat it.  I certainly do not want it to get in the way of me losing weight though so am going to try and then share some 'healthy' recipes with you.  As this one is mostly banana I figure it must also count for one of your five a day...

Makes 14 Slices
201 calories per slice

50g butter
175g light brown soft sugar
2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
350g peeled ripe bananas, mashed
200g self-raising flour sifted
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
75g walnuts, roughly chopped
6 walnuts halves

Preheat the oven to 180°C / Fan 160°C

Line and grease a 1kg loaf tin

Cream the butter and the sugar in a large mixing bowl until the mixture is light and fluffy

Add the beaten eggs and gradually whisk them into the butter and sugar

Add the mashed bananas and beat the mixture well

Carefully fold in the flour, salt and bicarbonate of soda

Stir in the walnuts

Put the cake mixture into the prepared loaf tin and decorate with the walnut halves pressing them gently into the mixture

Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minute until the cake has risen and is golden.

Allow to cool

Eat without a trace of guilt :)

Unfortunately my boyfriend is allergic to walnuts so I made mine without.  The nutritional info per slice without the nuts works out as follows, based on 14 slices:

155 Calories, 3.85g fat of which 2.2g are saturates (3 points on 'old' weightwatchers, 4 on Pro points)

AMAZING!!  And the best bit is it doesn't taste remotely like 'diet food'

Little tip - to make sure i just get a measured slice and not a 'Sarah slice' I measure the cake and mark out the portion size using an edible food pen.  A bit OCD maybe but it makes sure I am not kidding myself that I am only having one portion when I have in fact eaten half the cake...

Sunday Summary #2

Sunday, 27 March 2011

How has your week been guys?

Sarah - I've found this week much easier thank goodness. I haven't felt hungry all the time and I haven't had any major cravings. Well nothing that an options Turkish Delight hot chocolate couldn't cure anyway, they are my saving grace right now. I had a very hectic week at work which didn't leave much time for grazing and although I did bake a cake - it was a healthy cake and I only had one portion, go me! Next week will be a real test as I am staying in a hotel for a couple of nights. Must resist a fried breakfast. I am only measuring myself once a month so it's hard to tell how well I am doing but my clothes are starting to feel looser so I have my fingers crossed that I will have lost that inch!

Gemma - My week started off really well, I lost 2lbs at my weigh in on Tuesday which I was really pleased with. I started off with some big weight losses each week and it has now slowed down to about 2lbs a week, I'm hoping that if I lose my weight gradually I will have more of a chance of keeping it off. All of the support from this blog really spurred me on last week and I'm going to try some new recipes next week to keep my diet varied and interesting. I am about 2 months in to my diet plan now and I'm starting to eat the same things most days which is getting a little boring. I ate out with friends this week and I made good choices, I went to Pizza Express and chose items from the Leggera range and stuck with non alcoholic drinks so I hope my good choices show at the scales on Tueday.

Charlene - It's been a bit of an up and down week for me. I ran out of willpower a few times and did eat some ice cream, drank some cider and had some chips but on the plus side, I did exercise though and…. I've lost 2lbs! Although it's a small amount this is a big achievement for me - I don't think I've ever actually lost any weight before, I usually just gain weight. I bought a pair of running trainers yesterday (I felt so lost in a sports shop!) and plan on starting couch to 5k tomorrow.

Sarah V - I've been a bit ill this week with a cold/flu thing which really knocked me for six. It means I haven't done any exercise, and my plan to walk to work every day didn't happen (I still managed two days, though). I've still been careful to eat healthily though, and my weigh-in was Tuesday and I managed to lose another 1.5lbs, taking my total weightloss so far to 5.5lbs. I'm really hoping that I've lost the same this week, which would mean I'd done half a stone. But we'll see - family dinner tonight and it's always so difficult to resist desserts at those things! Next week I'm looking forward to having my strength back and plan to walk every day (my desperate need to save money will help that motivation) and try and do at least two real work-outs. Need to shake the dust off my fitness DVDs!

Lucy - This week has been up & down for me too, although I lost 2lbs last week meaning I'm currently the lightest I've been this year. I haven't been able to plan meals very well either because I've had three stupidly long (and totally unplanned) days at uni so I've ended up eating whatever I can get my hands on at any old time. I did start couch to 5k though on Tuesday and ran again last night, it's definitely getting easier and I'm saying that after my second run! I went out on Thursday night and I may have drank one too many orange VKs but I weighed myself the morning after (naughty) and found I'd actually lost weight... must have been all that dancing! Hopefully everything bad has been outweighed by the good but the scales tomorrow morning will reveal all.

Now we've updated you with our progress please fill us in with yours, we can't wait to hear how your week went!

Guest Post - Helen from Clear Your Heart

Saturday, 26 March 2011

Today's guest blog was written by Helen from Clear Your Heart

On 19th January 2010, at about 7pm, I was utterly terrified. I was just about to go to my first Slimming World meeting and I was fairly certain I was going to be the fattest person in the room. I suffered from extremely low self esteem and was wholly convinced that everyone was going to laugh at me. They didn't, of course. What I found instead was a room full of warm, kind, friendly people, who'd all been exactly where I was.

I took a deep breath and stepped onto the scales. 16 stone 3 pounds. I could have cried.

I knew I was big but, in the mirror, I just never thought that I looked that bad. Call it inverse body dysmorphia if you will. I saw a thin person when I looked in the mirror. Sadly, the reality was far from that. I was unhealthy, I slept poorly and I thought nothing of eating two 12 inch pizzas in one sitting. Yes, really.

For years I'd been a binge eater. In private. I would buy mounds of junk food from the shop, gorge myself on it, and then feel awful afterwards. Truly awful. A bad relationship only served to heighten my lack of self worth and self esteem and I spiralled out of all control. Ending up obese, miserable and wondering how on earth I would ever lose the weight.

I'm not sure what finally gave me the willpower to lose the weight I'd been wanting to lose for 10 years. But something did. In January 2010 something pushed me to join Slimming World and the same thing kept pushing me all year. By December 2010 I was 5 stone and 4 pounds lighter, weighing in at a more acceptable 10 stone 13 pounds. Still slightly outside of being a 'healthy weight' but utterly transformed. People I knew when I was younger no longer recognise me (which is sometimes a good thing!) and sometimes I don't recognise myself.

I'm still in the process of getting used to my new size 12 body (I NEVER though I would be a size 12 in Topshop skinny jeans) and, sometimes, I do still struggle with food. I'm not one of those people who no longer craves cheeseburgers. It's a constant battle. But I win it 90% of the time. I've still got about another stone to go until my goal weight and I cannot wait to get there. My current motivation is a beach holiday in Spain in July. Must. Have. Bikini. Body.

I tried numerous fad diets in the past (SlimFast was a particular low point) but nothing ever worked for longer than 3 weeks. I ended up depriving myself so much that I just binged and put all the weight I had lost straight back on. Slimming World has totally changed my life in that respect. I don't deprive myself, but I have treats in moderation. I drink at least 2 litres of water every day and I always drink at least 3 cups of green or fennel tea. I eat in excess of 5 portions of fruit and vegetables every day and I stick to spirits when I go out, instead of the more calorific wine or cider that I used to be partial to.

It hasn't been easy, I cannot lie. But has it been worth it? Absolutely.

If anyone has any questions about Slimming World or how I've lost my weight in general, then feel free to get in touch either in the comments below or by email.

Couch to 5k

Friday, 25 March 2011

On Tuesday evening, after spending the afternoon in town trying to find the cheapest trainers around, I left the house and headed towards to park armed with the Couch to 5k Podcast loaded onto my iPod (it's not cool enough to be able to download apps onto it!), a bottle of water and two friends - Amy and Emma.

I was apprehensive to say the least, mostly because for the last God knows how many years I've been afraid of exercise. I was always the one in PE to be making up ridiculous excuses as to why I couldn't join in that week, or trying to tell myself that eating healthier would be the easiest way to lose weight. To be brutally honest, I'd do literally anything to avoid exercising.

Why? Because I was scared - scared of not being able to do it very well, scared of what I'd look like in gym clothes, scared of other people's opinions and what they might think. But after reading Helen's guest post earlier in the week, all those misconceptions escaped me - it was what I needed. I want to get fit, I want to lose weight and regular exercise is, for me, probably the best way to go about it.

So, as I was saying, we headed to the park and we completed the first part of the first week of Couch to 5k. I'm not going to say I found it easy because I didn't, far from it in fact, but we finished it. Towards the end of it I really struggled but I'm glad I didn't give in. I was so proud that we'd jogged/ran/walked 2.5 miles. My legs felt like jelly as we were walking home and when I woke up on Wednesday morning my right leg felt like a dead weight that I was just dragging behind me, but it was a case of mind of matter - it must have been doing some good for me to be able to feel it.

We had planned to head out on Thursday night but after a prolonged session (2 hours somehow turned into almost 9) in uni doing the final bits and pieces of one of our Final Major Projects, we decided against it so we're going to make up for it over the weekend and hopefully get into the full swing of it next week.

What I'm trying to get at here is that it is possible for anyone to have a go at this program, it's so easy to follow. Both the app and the Podcast tell you when to start running, when to start walking etc - it guides you through the whole time so all you literally do is follow the instructions.

If you ask anyone who knows me they'll all tell you that if I was the last person they'd expect to go running, seriously! The program also says that if you don't feel 'ready' to move onto the next week, then carry on as you are until you are. The fact that it's magically suited to just about anybody is the best thing about it.

Surviving diet saboteurs!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Am I the only person who feels like I have to apologise for being on a diet? Whenever there’s a weekend away or a meal out, just being conscientious about what I eat seems to irritate people. I’ve found myself giving into chips or crisps just to appease them, with the logic that it’s just one day, after all, but when you feel you need to start a diet, it’s normally because there have been an awful lot of ‘just one days’.

I’m still struggling with this, to be honest, but I’m starting to come up with some useful tips to help myself survive these occasions. I’d love to know what you all think though – please contribute!

The above technique is not recommended for weight loss.

The Pub
I am always outraged when I find out that alcohol has calories in it. I can't shake the assumption that anything liquid is calorie-free. It's not, of course. Alcohol is evil to the dieter - not least it severely weakens your willpower, both at the end of the night and during the morning after. Of course, the best thing to do is cut out booze entirely if you're dieting, but if you don't want to do that, there are ways to get round the badness and still enjoy a drink. Your best options are spirits and diet mixers. A single shot of gin or vodka is only 50 calories, and if you have it with a diet mixer you're not adding much on there. Beer and cider are shockingly high in calories, as are cocktails and alcopops. There's about 100 calories in one glass of wine, so not too bad... but it quickly adds up if you're drinking a few!

Fry Up
If you’ve had a few too many the night before, this bad boy is hard to resist. I’ve tried to do it when I’ve been staying in a Premier Travel Inn and go for the cereal option, but when everyone is tucking in to nice hot breakfasts, it’s a miserable existence. Now, I go for the best of both worlds – BEANS ON TOAST. Scrambled eggs are normally full of butter, and not many places do poached or boiled eggs, but EVERYWHERE does beans. Brilliant.

The Chippy
Just the thought of real, proper chip shop chips is making my mouth water. Oozing vinegar… YUM. There’s an especially awesome one around the corner from my house. Now, I don’t eat fish, so I can’t help you there, but my favourite healthy takeaway solution is actually a KEBAB. I know, I know. But stay away from the scary Doner wheel, and instead order a chicken kebab. It’s basically grilled chicken and salad in a pitta. If you’re eating it at home, ask for no sauce and then add some light mayo and sweet chilli sauce. So yummy. Super healthy.

PIZZA EXPRESS PIZZA EXPRESS PIZZA EXPRESS. They’re doing some fab low-fat options at the moment, and they really are nice. But if you’re in the supermarket, take a look at their oven pizzas. They are AMAZING. Really flavoursome, sure, but most of them are around 600 calories FOR THE WHOLE THING and 5-7% fat. The Leggera range are all awesome, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the calorie info on the (not marketed as low-fat) Polla Pesto, La Reine and Sloppy Guiseppe.
NOTE: If you’re in a Pizza Express restaurant, make sure you check out the nutritional info on their website first. The salads aren’t always the best option – the Pollo salad is worse than most of the pizzas!

If you’re having a fierce craving for noodles, try to resist the local takeaway and pop down to Wagamama. Most of their food is cooked on griddles. My personal favourite, the Ginger Chicken Udon, is about 500 calories and super low in fat. Also, order Edamame beans – they’ll fill you up, and they’re basically just peas. Yum. If you just HAVE to have a real chinese though, go for boiled rice and avoid anything battered, fried or described as 'crispy'. Chicken is your best bet - try it with oyster sauce, mushrooms or chicken chop suey. Also, Google tells me that chow mein dishes aren't too naughty, but I have my doubts - they always taste so greasy from my local!

Chinese Food Aftermath. Carnage.

I live with my sister, and her boyfriend’s favourite food is curry. I am quite the wuss when it comes to spicy food, so I tend to stick to the mild options. Yup, the ones that are FULL of cream. They’re awful. I’ve never looked up the calories and fat content in a chicken korma because I just don’t want to know. However, there are lots of dry options you can order, such as tandoori chicken or mixed grills – very low in fat, and you can have them with steamed rice, salad - and you can even add some of the little sauces like mango chutney and raita. They’re not all amazingly low in fat, but they’ll be a LOT less than a whole curry.

I think that’s my inspiration run dry for now – also I’m writing this at the start of my lunchbreak and I’m really quite hungry now – but how are you all finding it? What are your secret tips for surviving Diet Saboteurs?

Motivation - How to get from couch to gym.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

We're now into the second week of Where Are My Knees? and I've surprised myself so far by how much motivation I've got when it comes to going to the gym. I'm one of those people who usually makes all these crazy rules and excuses up in my mind such as it's not possible to go to the gym after 11am (even if I am doing nothing else all day) and telling myself that I really do need to spend the best part of the afternoon arranging all my nail polishes by colour more than I need to get on the treadmill, so it's a miracle that I'm actually really enjoying the gym and sticking to my exercise goals so far.

Gym machines

Here are some tips that I've found really help me to get my butt off the couch and go do some exercise:

1. Find a time that slots into your routine on a regular basis. For me, I find that the mornings really do work best as I can lay out my gym clothes the night before and they're the first thing I see when I get out of bed. Previously I found that when I was driving home from Liam's house in the morning I would drive past the gym anyway - so why not take my gym clothes and stop in en route?

2. Go to the gym looking like a slob. Yes, really. I never ever leave the house without make up on - except to go to the gym. If you go with messy bed-head hair, no make up on and generally feeling like you look awful then I find I'm more likely to work hard at my work out because I'm looking forward to getting home, washing and doing my make up. Also: don't let feeling like you look awful put you off - have you ever looked at someone in the gym and thought "god they look terrible?" Nope. I usually find myself thinking more along the lines of "wow look at how hard they're working out - brilliant!" but most of the time I'm too busy to even notice anyone else.

3. Set goals and plan out your workout session before going. A lot of gyms offer personal programmes, but as far as I know mine doesn't. I've made myself a plan that I follow each time, mixing cardio with weights. My plan lasts an hour and it stops me from deciding after 20 minutes that I'm finished for the day because I'm feeling lazy. It's a nice thought that you've done W, X and Y and all that's left is Z and then you can go home. I also use the notes app on my ipod to track my progress and it's always a good feeling to see that you've improved.

source: we heart it

I find that some days I do get bored or that I'm not really feeling up to exercising once I'm at the gym. Sometimes I'm just too tired and sometimes I feel a bit out of place amongst the bodybuilders and athletes that seem to spend their lives in the gym. However, I have discovered some things that get me through my work out on those days.

1. Plan something rewarding for when you're finished. Whether it's asking your flatmate or a loved one to run you a nice hot bath with your favourite bubbles to be waiting for you to get home, catching up with your favourite TV show or taking yourself shopping, it always helps to know that once you're finished working your ass off there's a reward waiting for you.

2. Use the time to really think about things. I find myself drifting off into my own thoughts all the time, un-tangling situations that have been getting to me, thinking of new blog posts and the best one - getting really really angry at someone/something that has been bothering me and letting all my rage out. It really does help pass the time!

3. Take your iPod! I have no idea what I'd do without mine. Listening to your favourite music really does make time go faster. If I put on a good album I can just zone out and before you know it you've reached the end of the album and that's an easy 30 minutes gone. Just make sure you don't get too engrossed and start singing or dancing. ;) I've not tried it myself but audiobooks might also be good for passing the time.

A healthy lifestyle with a clean, healthy diet helps to improve and maintain your Body Mass Index (BMI). You can calculate your body mass index using this nifty calculator found on the official BMI Private Hospitals in London site.

Hopefully this will help anyone who needs a little push to get themselves to the gym. Honestly, the feeling you get after exercising makes all that effort worth it. Please feel free to comment with what works for you too, I'd love some more ideas for any days where I'm struggling.

Moroccan Chickpea Soup

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Soup can be very low in points on the Weight Watchers plan and I find that it can be very useful food. It's great to have for lunch when you are dining out in the evening with friends, it leaves you with enough points to get a nice dressing or sauce that you might have said no to if you hadn't had a light lunch. I often have soup as a starter so that I don't over indulge when I have a main course; I'm less likely to have a high point bread roll or extra potatoes if I have already filled up on soup.

The Moroccan Chickpea soup is pretty cheap to make and veggie friendly so what’s not to like? This recipe serves 4 people, takes 20 minutes to make and is only 3 pro points per serving.

To make the soup you will need:
1 large red onion
½ tbsp olive oil
2 vegetable stock cubes
1-2 tsp harissa paste
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 x 400g tin of chickpeas

(look at me trying to hide the smart price tomatoes at the back haha)

Make 2 ¾ pints of vegetable stock. Heat the olive oil and add all of the sliced red onion, fry over a high heat until golden. Add harissa pasta, ground cumin, tinned chopped tomatoes,  tomato puree, tinned chickpeas-drained and rinsed, and the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes. Season to taste and serve. Simple!

This soup is super tasty and very filling, let me know if you try this recipe. Have you made any nice soups recently? Hope all you pledgers are sticking to your goals.
Gemma xx

A Cheats Sweet Treats

Monday, 21 March 2011

The hardest part of losing weight for me is giving up treats so this time I am not doing that I am just going to be clever with the treats I choose. I can’t satisfy my sweet craving with fruit, I still get a sugar rush that leaves me reaching for the chocolate which is not going to help one little bit. I would like to point out before you go any further that I eat like a child. I love sugary sweets and drinks and fast food. I would love to be a grown up and throw scorn upon my diet but it's just not the way I was made :)

A friend of mine introduced me to sugar free jelly and it has been a life saver. I can eat as much as it as I like and I don’t have to worry about spoiling all my hard work. For an extra special treat I buy a tub of Weightwatchers cream and pour it on, yummy!

I don’t normally eat much chocolate but for some reason always crave for when I am trying to lose weight. Oh and it doesn’t help when those pesky Malteser Bunnies are about as they are one chocolate I do love. I can’t just eat a square of two of chocolate and put the rest back, seriously who can do this?! I can hear it calling me from the fridge and before I know it I have eaten the whole family sized bar. What I have found that does help when I start getting chocolate cravings is a nice mug of low calorie hot chocolate. Even if I end up having two it’s a lot less calories than if I had helped myself to a bar of chocolate. The white chocolate one is amazing!

Another thing that works for me is eating sugar free sweets. Now don’t kid yourself that these are actually good for you or that they contain less calories than regular sweets, they don’t. But they allow me to feel naughty by eating a few of them and as they do not raise my blood sugar levels I am satisfied with just a couple rather than a whole jumbo size bag of Haribo or Jelly Tots. Normally I eat sweets until I feel sick, I know this is bad and I don’t know why I do it but I can guarantee I won’t stop until I reach that Jelly Tot induced sick feeling.

I adore fizzy drinks. I don't like the taste of water unless it's got a bit of fizz, this is appalling I realise. My favourite fizzy pop has to be Coke, full fat Coke at that. Diet Coke doesn't even taste similar in my opinion, I can't stand the stuff. Recently I have discovered Coke Zero and I have to say this is a pretty good dupe. So in a bid to stop drinking calories I have switched, it's under two calories per can and if it's straight out of the fridge I almost can't tell I'm not drinking the real thing.

Finally I love these little Weightwatchers cakes. They are low in calories but don’t taste like they are, you can pick the little bits of fake chocolate off them and let it melt in your mouth and all for 88 calories. Heaven. Only downside to these is they are not individually wrapped and I could easily eat the whole box in one sitting but I just get my boyfriend to put them on top of the cupboard out of my reach and I am just too lazy to get the steps out to get them down!

Over the coming weeks I am going to try out some low calorie recipes and share them with you. If you have a favourite recipe you would like me to try please let me know.

The Where Are My Knees Pledge

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Wow. Where Are My Knees? is now a week old. We're astounded at the response and incredibly grateful for the support we have received so far. Thank you all so much, there's no better motivator than knowing 200+ people are watching your progress!

Everyone knows how much of a struggle it is to lose weight and how difficult it can be to stay motivated so Where Are My Knees? would like to invite all of our readers to join in and make a pledge to meet their weightloss and exercise goals.

On the last Sunday of each month we will post a summary of our progress to date along with our goals for the following month. We would like to invite our pledgers to tell us about their month and goals too. Each month 3 pledgers will be contacted to write a paragraph to be featured in the main blog post and the other pledgers are able to leave comments on the post to update us with their progress and goals. To make this fair we will be working our way down the list of pledgers to make sure that everyone gets a turn.

If you would like to be involved please comment below with your goal for the month and leave us the link to your blog. We have created a page to display our 'pledgers' details and have also made a little button to display on your blog. Don't forget we are also on twitter so if your motivation is slipping or you're finding it hard to resist that biscuit just holler! And if you just want to brag to someone about how well you are doing we would also love to hear that too.


We will give you a brief round up of our week each Sunday to help keep us focused:

Sarah - I have had a great first week and although I have been having major sweet cravings I haven't given in to them. I am really proud of that as I usually fail at the first hurdle and reach for a cream cake. I have also had two nights out with friends and stuck to sparkling mineral water, how good is that! My target for the next month is to lose an inch from both my waist and my hips. I have started walking most nights and am eating healthily so I hope this is achievable.

Gemma - I reached a major goal in my first week, I have now lost 5% of my total body weight and I'm feeling really positive! I have friends over as I type this and they brought the most amazing chocolate cake with them. I planned ahead and ate lots of low point food in the day because I didn't want to be a bore and say no to everything. My aim for the next month is to lose another 7lbs and move closer to my next goal which is to lose 10% of my total body weight.

Charlene - I've had a great first week so far. I managed to get to the gym twice (I had aimed for 3 times but I overworked myself on my first visit and was too sore to go on my 2nd free day - lesson learned!) and it left me feeling happy and motivated. I've been eating well too and resisted a cake sale, a takeaway for lunch, and free Dominos pizza at work this week. I did have a few weak moments and gave in to a packet of Minstrals and 2 chocolates (out of a huge big tempting box...) but as someone who would eat chocolate at least once a day I've done well. My plans for this week are to go to the gym 3 times, and after reading Helen's post, I might start running.

Sarah V - I've had a few challenging moments this week (free donuts at work!), but feel quite proud of myself for resisting temptation, for the most part. Rather than succumbing to chips on a recent night out, I went for Subway instead (one of the lowest fat options). I also made sure I danced a lot! I'm trying to walk to work as much as possible although only managed it twice last week. As I said in my intro post, I've already lost 4lbs which I'm really pleased with for my first week - fingers crossed I'll have lost again at my next weigh-in! For the next week I'm going to try and do a lot more walking - and on top of my Zumba class, I want to factor at least one more workout in.

Lucy - I've had quite a good first week, I've swapped chocolate and crisps for copious amounts of fruit meaning that mid-afternoon snacks are now pineapple (£2 for 400g in Morrisons & 400g = 5/5 a day!) and Weight Watchers vanilla yogurt. I've also started eating breakfast each and every morning so I don't eat rubbish in between meals and those hunger pangs aren't quite as frequent. I've had a couple of weak moments but as yet have resisted giving in with the help of the other girls, I've started as I mean to go on! I'm thinking about giving up carbs in the next couple of weeks but I've not 100% decided yet, I'm going to see how I get on and then make a decision. Has anyone successfully given up carbs? How was it?

So it's now over to you guys, please update us below with your progress so far, set yourself a target for the next month and let us know if you want to take part in the Where Are My Knees? Pledge.

Guest Post - Helen from Afeitar

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Before my Wednesday run

Hi, I'm Helen from Afeitar! I was honoured to be asked to be the first guest poster on Where Are My Knees? and to specifically post about my running. I am a new runner - I only started seriously in December. In November, I decided to sign up for the Great Manchester Run which is a 10k run in May. 10k doesn't sound TOO far until you actually start running and realise that 2k leaves you aching and breathless. But I was committed to the run so I had to keep on going. Now I can manage to run about 6.5k and keep increasing it slightly every week. Over the past few months I've learnt a few tips about running for beginners:
  • Start off gradually. Don't expect to be able to run constantly on your first run. The rule of thumb is to always increase by no more than 10% week on week. One week you might run 2k and instantly think that you could run it again but don't go straight up to 4k! Follow the couch to 5k plan to give yourself an idea of how to start and progress. It can be so disheartening if you just go straight out there and run and can't keep your breath. Intervals of walking and running are good to build up your fitness levels then you can work on your speed.
  • Don't be embarrassed. I run outside and at first it is always awkward when you see someone you know. I've seen a few of my colleagues when I've been out running and the make up-less, sweaty face look isn't a good one. But the day after in work, they don't mention how 'bad' you look, but rather how great you are for running! It really motivates you to hear people congratulate you and say 'I wish I could do that'.
  • Get a good sports bra. Especially if you are a larger chested lady. Running is high impact and you'll regret all that jiggling around in 20 years time! I have a M&S one that was about £16 but am thinking of eventually investing in a shock absorber one as they are the creme de la creme of sports bras. Ugly as hell but keeps your boobs looking prettier in the long run.
  • Enter a race to stay motivated! I seriously would have given up by now if I didn't have my 10k run in May. The Race for Life is a good run for beginners, because you can choose either 5k or 10k.

Library books

  • Read about running. I have bought a few copies of Women's Running and also borrowed books from the library to give me a few tips. It's always good to have some advice from an expert (not an amateur like me!).
  • Talk to other runners to stay motivated & inspired. One of my best friends is a runner has just entered herself for the Liverpool Marathon so we keep cheering each other on throughout training. My boyfriend also runs and has ran 2 half marathons. An online network is also good, I posted on my blog here about a few girls who really inspire me. I hope that this post also motivates people to get involved and start running and we could maybe build up a little Where Are My Knees? running club? Yay or nay?
Finally, I will leave you with this quote which will keep me going throughout my 10k run in May: “The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.” (John Bingham)

Introducing... Lucy

Friday, 18 March 2011

So, hello. My introduction. Can I first apologise about the silly picture of me, it's the best one I could find that I hadn't already used on my personal blog and I couldn't get a decent one of my newly dyed ginger hair! Excuses, excuses. Anyway, I don't really know what to put here, all I know is I want to lose weight to make me happier. I've been on and off various diets for SO long, I attempt healthy eating but it's never long before I cave in and eat chocolate and other bad (nice) things. I joined Slimming World for about 9 weeks last June and managed to lose almost a stone. Thing is, I don't even remember slipping off it - it just sort of happened! I still have all the books and information, so perhaps it's time to crack those out again.

My biggest problem is a lack of motivation, I need someone to tell me that I shouldn't buy that bar of Galaxy and eat it all in one sitting and I'm hoping this blog, and all you lovely readers (there are so many of you already!), will turn into that somebody - my guilty conscience. Just recently, moreso while I'm in uni for a ridiculous amount of hours, I find myself eating a bag of Haribo for lunch or just popping down to the vending machine and having myself a cheeky Wispa, but all this has to stop. I can't continue to blame being a stressed-out and under-pressure third year, especially because after May 4th it won't be a valid excuse anymore!

At the start of this year I began a food diary in which I wrote down everything that I ate, and although I only lost a few pounds (before gaining them again...), I found keeping a record really helped. It made me think more about what I was eating so at the start of this week I weighed myself and began keeping a record again. I'll be updating you all every Sunday with how my week has been and how much weight I've lost. Fingers crossed it'll be a little bit each week!

My main goal is to try and slim down ready for my five-week adventure in Australia in October. I mean, I'm not going to meet my dream surfer dude looking like this, am I?! But first, let's concentrate on trying to drop one dress size (or maybe two!) before my 21st Birthday which is on June 25th.

I'm not prepared to be the only one of us five who fails, so wish me luck and fingers crossed 2011 is MY year! :)

Introducing... Sarah V!

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Hiya, I'm Sarah V! I have been watching my weight creep slowly up lately, mostly due to, um, eating too much and not exercising at all. Apparently those things are important.

I joined my local Rosemary Conley class last week, and am going to be going to their Zumba class every Tuesday. I've done two so far and I LOVED it! The weigh-in at the first class was slightly horrifying though as I weigh the most I've ever weighed. I'm lucky as I tend to stay around the same dress size - somehow - but beneath those full skirts I love so much, my bum is getting steadily bigger. So I won't be aiming to drop a dress size, as I probably won't.

So my goal is to lose two stone - it sounds like a lot, but with a BMI of 29, it's necessary. I have the motivation, and I'm longing for the feeling of spending the summer NOT horrified by the sight of my bare flesh. Most of all, though, I want to get into good habits. Takeaways and fatty sandwiches have become far too common in my life, so I need to go back to basics - cooking from scratch, lots of fresh ingredients, lots less fat. I'm also trying to factor exercise into my daily routine - like Sarah, I find that driving makes me lazy, but I have made a solemn vow to try and park a mile away from work every day (which also saves me £3.50 a day in parking - that's £70 a month!).

So far I'm off to a good start - I had my second class this week and lost 4lbs! Now to try and hold onto that motivation for the next week...

I'm really excited to share some of my favourite low-fat recipes with you all and to hear your hints and tips. I think our little blog is going to be a great, inspiring place, focusing on living healthily, rather than on BEING SKINNY. We all love curves - just some of us want slightly smaller ones. :)

Introducing... Charlene

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Hello! I'm Charlene. My goal is to tone up and get fit, as well as eat a healthier diet. This was originally my new years resolution but I work best when in a team and have someone or something (like this blog!) to help me stay motivated so I haven't been doing very well on my own. Hopefully with the help of the other girls taking part, and also everyone reading, I can make my 2nd attempt a success!

I've had a gym membership for almost a year now, although it has been gathering dust for a few months. I plan on dusting it off and going to the gym at least 3 days a week for a good cardio and weights work out. I do enjoy being at the gym once I'm there - it's just finding the motivation to get off my backside and go that I struggle with. After walking 6k with a friend last week I'm also considering taking up running as there's a bike track next to my house which would be perfect to do longer, or even shorter, runs on. It's just the weather that's putting me off at the moment!

I'm also the only vegetarian in the group, so whilst the other girls may post recipes or mention foods containing meat, I'm going to focus on the vegetarian side of things. I'm going to stop eating processed so many foods, cut down on cheese and eat a lot more fresh fruit and vegetables. There are so many exciting, healthy meals that can be made with vegetables and fresh ingredients.

For me it's not all about dropping dress sizes. I think dress sizes in shops are crazy anyway - a size 10 in one shop is completely different from a size 10 in another. Instead I just want to be toned, get rid of my bingo wings and my squishy tummy. I will probably keep you updated on any weightloss (or maybe inches lost seeing as I'll probably gain muscle weight) but it's more about how I look and feel than what I weigh that I'm focusing on.

Introducing... Gemma

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Hi I'm Gemma and my main goal is to be a size 16. I plan on doing this by following the Weight Watchers programme. I work 6 days a week for long hours so I find making time for exercise pretty difficult but I hope to squeeze it in. I have a nice long break on Saturday and I'm going to take a walk around the building, get off the bus a stop earlier and hopefully little steps like this will improve my general well being and fitness.

The Weight Watchers programme really worked for me in the past, I lost a fair amount of weight in college when I followed it and it helped me maintain my weigh whilst in University. I feel the main benefit of following a scheme like WW is the support you get from going to a class and I find that keeping a food diary helps me not to over indulge. I have already lost 11.5 lbs since joining WW and I hope I can keep up the weight loss. Sticking to a strict programme and attending weekly weigh ins works best for me. Being a little healthier or cutting out the junk isn't an option, I need to drastically change the bad habits of a life time and move from clinically obese to a healthy weight.

I was at my most confident when I worked in Topshop. I was a size 16 and could shop anywhere, I didn't always wear a dress with a long cardigan to cover everything up. I graduated in 2008 at the beginning of the financial crisis and I simply could not find a job, I was at home all the time being pretty inactive and eating junk. I put on about 3 stone in over a year and my confidence plummeted.

I have always been the bubbly and chubby one and this hasn't bothered me. What has really upset me is the lack of choice I have when shopping now that I'm size 18+, I find it depressing that I can only chose from a few ugly jumpers and tunics that appear in plus size ranges. ASOS Curve and the new H&M Inclusive range are fab but I would love to know that no shops are off limit for me because of my size.

I have a wedding to attend in the summer and I want to find a gorgeous size 16-18 dress for the occasion so let the slimming commence!

Introducing... Sarah

Monday, 14 March 2011

Hello I’m Sarah. My main goal is to drop a dress size and generally tone up. Unfortunately for me I am allergic to the gym so I am going planning to do this by healthy(ier) eating and lots of walking as soon as it’s light enough to go for a nice walk in the evening.

I have found as I've got older that the pounds creep on far more easily which isn’t helped by my love of junk food. They say you are what you eat and in my case that makes me junk. I also love baking and eating cake. I am a mood eater, whatever mood I am in I eat. None of these are helping.

I passed my driving test 18 months ago and since then I have become incredibly lazy. I vowed that I wouldn’t become one of those people who drive to the corner shop but guess what I have. Since I got my car I would guess that I have put on about two stone. I no longer have a flat(ish) stomach which all that walking was to thank for. I haven’t weighed myself in a few years and I won’t be telling you how much weight I have lost or set a target weight. That doesn’t work for me, it makes me OBSESSED with stepping on the scales and doesn't make for a healthy mindset.

The moment I decide I need to diet I just can't stop eating. So the 'D' word is out for me and healthy eating and 'cheating' is in. I will be looking at alternatives to the junk I currently eat that will kid my body into thinking it's still getting its fill. I also need to stop adding cheese to everything even if it does make things taste a thousand times nicer! One thing I am going to do is to limit the amount of liquid calories I consume, who knew a little bottle of lucozade was over 250 calories and about 60% of your daily sugar allowance?! Not me.

My main goal is to go from being a 12-14 to a small 12 who can sometimes fit into a size 10 if its stretchy enough. My little sister is getting married in July so I have until then to find the motivation from somewhere and do this! I plan to do this by getting more active (not a hard task seeing as I am very inactive right now) and to still enjoy the things I love but to find healthier alternatives.

Wish me luck :)

Hello and welcome to Where Are My Knees?!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

We are five bloggers who, through collective moaning on Twitter, realised that we all have our own individual weight loss goals which we all need support to achieve them. Our plan is to work together with a little help from each other and from you guys. We'll be posting recipes, tips, clever dressing ideas, looking at body image, general support and obviously we will be keeping you updated with how we're all getting on!

The Where Are My Knees? team is made up of:

Lucy who wants to lose some weight before her Australian adventure in October.

Gem who is following the Weight Watchers program and has already lost 11.5lbs.

Sarah wants to find healthier alternatives to food that she loves and walk more in the hope she will drop a dress size in time for her sister's wedding in July.

Charlene who wants to start an exercise regime to tone up and keep fit

...and finally Sarah V who is trying to lose two stone and fit into all her dresses again!

Each of us will be writing a more detailed post this week, hopefully to give you more of an idea as to who we are and what we want to get out of this so keep your eyes out for that!

We want this to become a community where we all support and encourage each other, after all everybody knows how easy it is to put on weight and just how hard it is to shift it! We'd like to invite other bloggers to share their success stories, any dieting or exercise tips with us and contribute via guest posts, if you're interested please contact us at - wherearemyknees@gmail.com