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Keep Cool and Enjoy

Saturday, 30 July 2011

ice lollies

The sun has been shining in Scotland for the past few days and I don't know about you guys, but as soon as the sun makes an appearance I can't stop dreaming of Mr Whippy ice creams, Magnums and Fab ice lollies. I decided to pick up a little pack of cheap ice lolly moulds and set to work making a selection of refreshing ice lollies that wouldn't sabotage my attempts at dieting!

001. The Simple Squash Lolly
I'm sure everyone ate these as a kid at somepoint. Simply dilute some squash (my favourites are the Robinsons ones with no added sugar!) with water, pop it in your moulds and freeze. I always have great fun sucking all the flavour and colour out until I'm left with a crunchy bit of ice.

002. Total Greek Lolly
Another super easy way to make ice lollies is to mix up a Total Greek Yoghurt Split Pot - the Honey one in particular feels like such a treat - pop it in your ice lolly mould and voila, 0% fat ice lollies! These only last a few days though before the yoghurt crystalises. Err, not that they'd be around long enough for that to happen anyway! ;)

You could also use plain greek yoghurt and mix in pieces of chopped fruit and berries or a few chocolate drops to satisfy a sweet tooth if you wanting something with a bit of bite!

003. Frozen Smoothie Lolly
Another idea I had was to make some Smoothie and freeze it in my moulds. I also get smoothie inspiration from the Zumo website, strawberry being my favourite! It's also possible to simply freeze pre-made bottles of smoothie that you can buy some the supermarket but I'm always concerned about the amount of added sugar and other nasties in them.

What are your favourite healthy summer treats?

Sunday Summary #19

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Happy Sunday everyone! Good week?

Sarah - I have lost 1lb this week which I am happy with as I haven't really stuck to plan at all this week. Am 3lbs off being where I had hoped to be by this point but hey ho weightloss isn't easy as we all know!! I met up with Gemma yesterday at the Birmingham Bloggers Meet which was ace and well worth being naughty and eating a pizza... Following my sisters wedding on Monday I am back on this weightloss mission 100% and am hoping to get back to 3lb a week losses. I have 25lbs to lose by October so any motivation/tips you guys can share with me would be much appreciated!

Gemma - I lost another 1lb this week but I have been spurred on by someone in my class who loses 2-3 lbs every week! So jealous, I'm going to religiously track what I eat and try and pick up my exercise again, I need to ask her what the secret is. I found a fitness channel on Sky tv (282) and they have lots of aerobics and dance work outs on there, much cheaper than going to a class!
I went to the Birmingham Blogger Meet Up yesterday with the lovely Sarah and I made really wise food choices. I chose chicken and asked for salad instead of fries but then I went for the night out and drank so much vodka! Luckily I have a 49 weekly points to use so I don't think the night out will make a difference at weigh in. I had a bacon roll, juice and toast for breakfast this morning but I knew I would be travelling and miss lunch so I needed a big breakfast. Hope I lose 2lbs this week before a wedding on Saturday.

Charlene - No more weightloss this week but I've been eating healthier and keeping up exercise. I've been doing the 30 Day Shred with 5lb weights and god, is it tough! Think I was cheating myself when I was using tin cans! Feeling a bit of a fatty today though (I'm sure that time of the month is to blame though!) but hopefully that will make me work harder this week!

Lucy - Oh! I wrote this earlier but it didn't save :( Anyway, I know, I know. I said two weeks ago I would be back on Slimming World and well, I haven't exactly stuck to that. I mean, I haven't been eating ridiculously at all, I just haven't been keeping track or really taking note. But then yesterday our Australia flight confirmation came through and shit got REAL. I looked up the hotel we're going to be staying in for the first couple of days and the first photo I saw was of a swimming pool and if I went to Australia looking as I do now, no way would I be going anywhere near that pool. I really need to get myself into gear, please spur me on and GIVE ME MOTIVATION. I promise not to let everyone down for the 20th week running next week...

Sarah V - I'm SO back in the zone. I lost 4.5lbs at Rosemary Conley this week which is brilliant - I was feeling gutted that I'd put on almost all the weight I'd lost since starting this blog, but now I only have another 4.5lbs to go until I'm back there. My birthday is next week, though, which will be a challenge...

How has your week been?

Guest Post - Amy from She Cooks She Eats

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Today's guest post was written by Amy from She Cooks She Eats

I am very, very greedy. There, I’ve said it. I am a great big pig. Frequently I will sit at the dinner table, eat everything on my plate and then eat the leftovers on my boyfriend’s too. I can happily eat three full meals a day and snack in-between. My collection of recipe books is taking over my house, and I pore over food magazines as soon as I get them. I like food. I like cooking it, I like tasting it, I like eating it.

I’m not ashamed of it anymore. Does my being greedy hurt anyone? No. If I go back for seconds, or even thirds, the world isn’t going to end. No-one is going to cry if I eat half of that box of Krispy Kremes in one go. There are worse things in the world than being a pig. I’ve made my peace with it.

Being greedy does, however, tend to have the side effect of weight gain. Two and a half years ago I met a lovely man who shares my love of delicious food. I was always a “big girl”, to use that horrible euphemism favoured by nurses, teachers and overly sensitive family members, but in a year I’d put on two stone. I no longer just a big girl. I was fat.

Please don’t think I’m saying there is something wrong with being fat. Being fat is fine — all these wonderful people say it much better than I ever could. But there is something wrong with being unhappy. And I was really, really unhappy.

So I started dieting. I’d tried other diets before (It’s amazing what teenage girls will do to stop other teenage girls making them cry for eating mashed potato) and none of them had every worked. But Helen had lost a staggering amount on Slimming World, and my mother had lost several stone with them a few years ago. So along to Slimming World I went.

It’s been said before about the kindness of the consultants, the friendly atmosphere and the fantastic level of encouragement you get from every single member of the group in Slimming World. I don’t think I need to tell you about that. What I do want to tell you about is the food.

Oh, the food.

The food on Slimming World is incredible. The meals listed above are just a few of my favourites, but there’s a seemingly endless supply of new recipes to try on their website, in their magazines or in their numerous cookbooks.

I’ve always loved baking, but through Slimming World I fell in love with cooking. If I thought I liked my food before it is nothing compared to now — absolutely everything I eat is delicious. And I don’t have to weigh out portions of those soft-and-fluffy on the inside but crisp-and-golden on the outside roast potatoes, or that spicy paprika chicken — I can have as much as I like, so my greedy nature stays happy! And if there is something “naughty” I want, like the raspberry cupcakes I make or an Eton mess, I can just have it and count it towards my Syns.

But the best thing is that I’m losing weight with all this yummy food. I’ve lost 2 stone 9 pounds since I joined in January (I had a few hiccups — my 21st birthday was celebrated with a weekend in Paris where I ate so much my stomach bloated and I had to pretend I was pregnant) without once feeling deprived, or like I was missing out.

For me, Slimming World isn’t about losing weight as quickly as possible — although that’s certainly what happens, with one man losing 13.5 pounds in one week in my group! Slimming World is about living. I want to lose weight and be slim, but that is nowhere near as important to me as being able to live my life. If I’m celebrating my friend’s birthday, I want to be able to have cake. I don’t want to spend my life eating salads and bland meals so that I look good in a bikini. I want to enjoy myself. I want every meal to be as delicious as it can possibly be. And thanks to Slimming World and my growing culinary prowess, it can be.

If you have any questions, you can either find me on Twitter or on my cooking blog She Cooks, She Eats.

Getting through BBQ Season!

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Well, the summer holidays are about to start, and the weather is, well, sort of okay, in between rainshowers. This means that the smell of charred meat on a Saturday afternoon is becoming a regular occurrence – yep, it’s BBQ time.

I’ve always found BBQs a real test of dieting willpower – any social event that revolves around food is always going to be difficult – but they needn’t be. It’s kind of ridiculous to go home feeling sick as you’re so full, isn’t it? Barbequing is actually one of the healthiest ways to cook food – no additional oil required – and it’s totally acceptable to bring your own food, too.

Here are some of my tips…

Don’t forget what a normal meal looks like.
Even in an epic pig-out session, would you normally eat a burger in a bun, a hotdog, chicken wings, a lamb kebab… plus crisps and lashings of mayonnaisey salad? Yet somehow it’s okay at a BBQ.

Hit the salad.
I’m not suggesting you tuck into a plate of dry lettuce when the rest of the party is on the burgers, but do load up your plate with the healthy options first. You’ll be less inclined to want one of everything if your plate is full already.

Decide what you really want.
Personally, it’s not a BBQ for me unless I have a real burger. So bring a pack of low-fat burgers, and make up your proper, perfect burger. There actually aren’t that many calories in a slice of cheese, either, so allow yourself that. Fill the bun with lots of salad, too – it’ll seem HUGE.

Put out low fat dressings and sauces.
Sweet chilli, caramelised onions, balsamic glaze, yogurt, etc. Or make your own! Yogurt is such a great base for a dip, and ridiculously low in fat. Salsa is fat free and you can often get Tzatziki that’s under 5% fat.

Watch the booze.
I am a great believer that you do not have to quit alcohol to diet successfully. However, what you drink can make all the difference – there are about 500 calories in a bottle of white wine. Switch to a spirit and diet mixer and 500 calories = 10 single vodkas and diet cokes! And it’s pretty unlikely you’ll drink all that. Probably. If you’re worried about drinking too fast, use less coke – if it’s strong, you’ll have to sip it!

Go gourmet.
Fun fact - often fancy food seems to be lower in calories. Put out exotically marinated chicken (I recommend soy and ginger). Instead of burgers, do toasted pittas filled with rocket, caramelised onions, barbequed Portobello mushrooms and a little feta or goats cheese (strong cheese is always best as you eat less, keeping fat down). If you’re feeling crazy, you could even cook kangaroo! It’s one of the least fattiest meats around.

I don't eat fish (because it is disgusting) but I am told that seafood is awesome on the BBQ - practically fat-free, cooks fast, and filling. If you like that sort of thing. *gags*

Check the labels.
Did you know that McCain’s potato wedges are only about 5% fat? And that you can get lots of pizzas from Tesco, Coop and Pizza Express that are just over or even under the 5% fat mark? I was amazed when I found out that low-fat junk food DOES exist.

Bring healthy options.
If you can’t rely on the host to make the food healthy, do it yourself. Here are some of my favourite healthy BBQ options:
- Sweet potato wedges (toss them in lots of honey, rosemary and a capful, tops, of olive oil. Chuck in oven for 30-40 mins.) They’ll fly off the plate AND fill you up.
- Couscous/pasta/rice salad. There are loads of low-fat options in the supermarket, or make your own!
- Love coleslaw and potato salad? Use half low-fat mayo, half yogurt. I swear it’s nicer.
- Chicken and fresh pineapple kebabs. Practically fat-free and so delicious.
- Put out a big bowl of cherry tomatoes for people to pick at. Always popular.
- Marinate Portobello mushrooms in garlic and plonk them on the BBQ. Yuuuuum.
- Bring crudités to nibble while food is cooking.
- Instead of cakes or ice cream, barbeque fruit for dessert. Barbequed pineapple and bananas are amazing.

What are your best tips for BBQ season?

Sunday Summary #18

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Another week, DONE!

Sarah - I haven't been well enough to start the shred so that's my task for next week and I am actually really excited about it as I know it works! I have lost another 2lbs this week and have hit the 21lb lost mark! YAY!!

Gemma -Last week was a great week, I did the shred a few times and ate really well so I lost 2lbs which means I have lost 35.5lbs in total. This week has been REALLY bad, it was my mum and brothers birthday and I've eaten a sick amount of cake. I also have 3 bloggers meet ups this week, on for Cardiff bloggers, one for librarian bloggers and the Birmingham one on the weekend, all of which will involved food and alcohol. I'm going to write off my 49 weekly points this week as cake points and start fresh tomorrow which gives me 4 days until my weigh in on Friday to sort myself out and hopefully lose a lb or two.

Charlene - I lost 2lbs this week! I didn't focus 100% on eating healthily but I done so much walking and exercise! Seeing the number on the scales decrease has given me a big push and hopefully I'm fully back on track now!

Lucy - I've been back at work for a week now and to be honest I feel disgusting in myself, I've been taking packed lunch to work but I don't know, I still feel gross. I seriously need to get motivation back and start thinking Australian thoughts, even though October seems ages away, it's not and I can't go there without losing at least a stone. PLEASE SEND ME MOTIVATIONAL THOUGHTS! I think mum & dad are going to start eating better from tomorrow so hopefully I can really get started properly. Again. For the millionth time. I'm so rubbish.

Sarah V - I feel back on track. I'm back at Rosemary Conley, and eating healthily again. Exercise after a long break was HARD, but by the end I was full-on loving Zumba again! Apart from one day where I just couldn't turn down a free Krispy Kreme, I've been pretty saintly. I'll know for sure on Tuesday, but my parents' scales seem to think I've lost 4lbs since Tuesday. Fingers crossed they're right!

How has your week been guys?

Guest Post - Sarah from Sarahmia

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Today's Guest Post was written by Sarah from Sarahmia

Why I Owe Jillian Michaels A Drink*
*Or perhaps a super healthy vegetable juice or something.

I’ve got a bit of a love/hate relationship with Jillian Michaels. For those of you that don’t know, she’s the perky, intense, American lass that fronts the 30 Day Shred workout DVD. I’d never watched The Biggest Loser so I had no idea what to expect beyond what the WAMK girls had been tweeting. Let me put my abilities into perspective: prior to doing the Shred I’d been going to the gym two or three times a week for five months. Before that I’d spent 27 years effectively sitting on my rapidly expanding behind so I was by no means an intense gym goer, but I wasn’t exactly the couch potato I used to be either.

Was it going to be insane? There were tales of people not being able to walk after the first workout, people in pain for days and people giving up after day two so when I put the DVD on for the first time I was more than a little apprehensive. People talk about the 30 Day Shred a lot. There’s a hashtag on twitter, it’s all over the Weightwatchers forums and there are varying degrees of pain but everybody says if you stick with it the results are amazing. & you know what? It’s totally true.

Don’t get me wrong, 30 Day Shred is hard. Not the exercises particularly (although the side lunges with an anterior raise can still burn in hell for all I care) but more the constant grind of it. You wake up on day four knowing there’s another twenty six days to go. Even when you hit day fifteen being halfway feels like scant consolation when you still have to do enough plank exercises to reasonably assume you could now pass for a pirate ship. It's hard to motivate yourself to do it. I tried hard to remember why I was doing it in the first place – I wanted to tone up my arms and abs, and I didn't want to have to get out of my pyjamas to do it.

I had some extra motivation for my challenge – I’m extremely stubborn and my fiancé promised me he’d buy me something nice if I finished it. I watched the girls on twitter drop like flies after day ten or twelve (or some on day two or three) and I thought “That’s not going to be me.” For some people that isn’t enough of an incentive but boy did I want to be the one to actually finish.

Most of you will know but in case you don’t, the Shred is broken down into a few component parts. There are three levels and each one is designed to be followed for ten days at a time. I did this, although there are people I know that skipped to level two quicker or did level one for longer, it’s really up to you and how you feel you're progressing. Each level targets a different area of the body tho so it's worth doing them all if you can.

Each level comprises of a 25 minutes workout and within that there are three circuits. Still with me? Each circuit has three minutes of strength exercises, two minute of cardio (often the most fun part) and one minute of abs. I found the ab exercises the easiest to do for the most part, and the most effective.

After day eight I measured myself and I’d lost a whopping six inches from my measurements. I was expecting that to carry on over the 30 days but in fact by the end I’d only lost another couple or so – it would appear the first week is pivotal in the loss. I did find, however, that the muscle tone really began to show through in level two and by level three it was really obvious. It’s been three weeks since I finished my 30 days and my abs and my arms are still rock hard, I’m not kidding. I also think it’s increased my metabolic rate a little because I’ve come off Weightwatchers now but am still managing to maintain my weight pretty well, even tho I’m eating a bit more junk than I was whilst I was dieting.

My top tips for completing the Shred are:
  •  Dedicate an area of your house to it. If you have to keep moving things out of the way to work out you probably won’t. I did mine in a 2 x 3m space next to my bed, it really doesn’t need as much space as you think!
  • If you can, invest in some proper weights. I bought a set from Asda about four years ago for £10 – it has three sets in different weights so I could use something heavier if I felt like I could handle it and drop back to the lighter ones if I was struggling. If you can’t afford it at least try and use varying weights to make your workout harder. By the time you hit level 3 you should be using something heavier than a can of beans to really make it count!
  •  Try and do it somewhere with a breeze, or a fan. The Shred is sweaty work, people. If you’re not sweating, you’re not doing it right.
  •  Do it as soon as you can. I'm not really a morning person so I did it when I got home from work. The days where I waited until later in the evening were much harder than doing it and then having my evenings free.
  •  Stretch! Make sure you follow the warm up and the warm down. She includes them for a reason – it's not worth the aching you'll get if you skip them all the time.
  •  It’s okay to follow the lower impact moves. I found that day 5 of each level was where I found my feet – before that I would try and follow the regular ones and adjust it down until I was comfortable.
  •  Level 2 is the hardest level, unless you’ve got a very strong upper body and core muscles already. It’s okay. It will end and level 3 is much easier.
  •  It’s alright if you miss a day. I didn’t because I wanted my shiny something at the end but if you do, don’t beat yourself up about it, just pick up the next day and carry on. You don’t have to start again if you have a one day break.

So. That’s the Shred, in a nutshell. Would I do it again? Absolutely not. Jillian Michaels almost killed me and 30 days in a row once around is enough for me, thank you ;) But would I recommend you try it? Completely. You can finish it. Just be dedicated, motivated and most of all stubborn. The results will be worth it, I promise.

You can also find Sarah on Twitter if you have any questions.

Festival Survival Guide

Monday, 11 July 2011

If you're attending a festival this year, plan ahead. Use some of these tips and you will have a great time but not stray from your weight loss target.

You can box up lots of lovely diet friendly treats to put in your rucksack including rice cakes, fruit, cereal bars. I usually take some Weight Watcher cakes that come wrapped individually and I make a sandwich to eat when I have finished setting up camp. It can take ages to queue for your wristband and put you tent up and you will be hungry after all of this. If you are prepared you will eat something healthy that you have packed rather than heading straight for the burger van.

You don’t want to spend the whole time worrying about what to eat so it is a good idea to check out the festival website before you go. I found out that there is a great Salvation Army tent at Reading that serves soup and a bread roll for about a quid, so much cheaper than food in the arena and really healthy.

There are usually loads of veggie and vegan food stalls and these are great for people on diets, fill up on a pitta filled with falafel and salad or go for some vegetable chow mein on a Chinese food stand (the average portion is about 7 points on the Weight Watcher plan). If you think about what you are going to eat before you get there you can work out the points in advance and take away all the hassle and stress.

Weight Watchers have a new app where you can track your points and find out the points values of food so this is worth downloading before you go. You can save all of your weekly points/syns for the festival so you can have a few treats without feeling guilty.

Make sure you dance the night away and explore the festival site to burn away some of the calories from all the alcohol you will be drinking ;)
Remember, celebrate your weight loss so far by wearing lots of lovely, bright summer clothing. Don’t hide under baggy clothes anymore, dance and have the time of your life!

If you have any festival tips please leave a comment.

Sunday Summary #17

Sunday, 10 July 2011

How's your week been, everyone?

Sarah - I've been poorly this week with some sort of head/throat virus and it has really knocked me for six. I've still been able to eat but not exercise and couldn't make it to class but I have weighed in at home this morning and have managed to lose the 2lbs I put on following my Sisters hen party last weekend! Yay! It's only 2 weeks til her wedding now so I know I am not going to lose the 7lbs I wanted to by then but I am going to give it a good go and see what happens. I am hoping that I will be well enough to start The Shred tomorrow as that really works for me.

Gemma - Finally managed to get to a class to weigh. I put 1 lb on which isn't great but I'm actually very happy. The move has been difficult, I've been living off toast, cuppa soups and take aways and I had a total blow out last week when I went to Birmingham so 1lb really isn't much at all. I'm in a new class now because I moved to a different town and I really enjoyed my first meeting. I've made a huge effort the past few days and I'm going to try and do the 30 day shred this weekend. I would love a 2-3lb loss this week.

Charlene - is dancing to a lot of live music this weekend!

Lucy - ask me again next week! tomorrow is when the diet begins (again!). wish me luck...!

Sarah V - Shaky, but better. I'm gradually getting back into good habits - but am struggling with all the little extras. Snacking is my downfall! I'm going back to Rosemary Conley on Tuesday, which I think will 'scare me straight' - I realise now that I need the slight pressure of a weekly weigh-in to get me back on the straight and narrow. I'll let you know how I get on!

Over to you little lot, how have you gotten on this week?

Sunday Summary #16

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Happy Sunday guys! I hope your week has been better than ours...

Sarah - Yesterday was my little sisters hen party, I weighed myself both yesterday morning and this morning to see the difference and I am shocked! As of yesterday I would have stayed the same this week but because of a few peanuts and a bit of alcohol I have gained 2lbs!! My body sucks.  If the 1lb = 3500 calories I in theory must have consumed 7000 calories plus my regular requirement yesterday and I know I was no where near that :(  I am hoping it's partly due to that time of the month and partly due to dehydration. This coming week I want to lose those 2lbs plus a further 2lbs to get to 21lbs lost... ONE AND A HALF STONE! That sounds amazing to me!

Gemma - It has been another tough week and my diet hasn't gone too well. I was unable to attend my weigh in because we are currently ripping all the plaster off the walls in the house and I was far too busy. I did weigh myself at home on my usual weigh in day and I think I may have put half a lb on or maybe more (my scales aren't as accurate at the ones in class). I have really given it my all this week, I have been walking more and I have done the 30 Day Shred a few times. I'm having a weekend away in Birmingham for my brothers birthday and we are seeing Ke$ha so hopefully I can resist temptation, not drink too much and not eat to many Percy Pigs on the coach home. Fingers crossed for a good result this week, I really need it!!

Charlene - It's been an okay week foodwise (despite the pizza!) but I think it's alcohol that's letting me down at the moment. I drink spirit and diet mixer which probably isn't the worst choice but when you add up how many drinks consumed per night, and then have a look at how often socialising involves drinking... it's a lot. I'm going for a spa day tomorrow and one of the treatments I'm getting - a seaweed bath - apparently helps reduce the appearance cellulite. We'll see how that goes!

Lucy - again, I haven't even thought about what I've been eating this week. I've been snacking on birthday cake and not struggling to eat all the chocolates and sweets that I received! I'm working in London from tomorrow so once again that means early mornings, late nights and hopefully not eating as much. I won't be walking as far though because I'm staying somewhere different in Leicester this time that isn't quite within walking distance of the train station so it'll be the bus for me each morning and evening! I'm hoping to get back onto Slimming World properly as of a week tomorrow though, Mum wants to join in and together we're going to persuade Dad to eat well too!

Sarah V - I've been trying to get back on the wagon, as I posted about. It's hard - I've fallen back into all my bad habits like snacking. A lot. But I've started walking to work again, which is a start, and buying healthy lunches. This week, my mission is to cut out the snacks and try and shrink my stomach again - I've definitely stretched it! I'm going to try and work in some more exercise - I can't make my Rosemary Conley class on Tuesday which doesn't help, I know now that I need to go back to get me on the straight and narrow!

Have a good week everyone!

Are you struggling? Summer can be so tricky with all those BBQ's and festivals.

Guest Post- Laura from Keeping Healthy Getting Stylish

Saturday, 2 July 2011

My Healthy Living Journey – Laura from http://www.keepinghealthygettingstylish.com/

Throughout my life I have always struggled with my weight. I can remember the first time I became aware of it, I was only 7 years old and I experienced bullying at school which led to low confidence and self esteem throughout my teenage years. I did try to do something about it, I would exist on an apple a day to try and lose weight, but of course this didn’t work and I ended up bingeing on unhealthy food and eating in secret from my family and friends.

As I got older I tried weight loss clubs, joined gyms and tried various detox diets. Sometimes I did lose weight but eventually I would fall back into old patterns and regain the weight, plus some more!

When I turned 26 and reached almost 15 stone (210lbs) I knew I had to do something drastic. I was recently married and I could really see how much weight I’d gained when I looked at the photographs. I was so unhappy and didn’t want to spend my life like this. I loved fashion but never felt comfortable in my clothes and hated the way I looked. I read lots of nutrition and exercise books and decided that I would try and lose weight myself through healthy eating and physical activity. The more I read the more I realised that the best way to lose weight was to eat plenty of fresh ‘clean’ food and avoid processed food. When I realised how many chemicals and artificial ingredients had been in some of the foods I’d been eating I was horrified! I cut back on heavily processed food such as ready meals and cuppa soups and started to experiment with cooking more food myself, and better yet I really enjoyed it! Over the course of two years I managed to lose over 5 stone (70lbs).

It wasn’t long after that I discovered healthy living blogs, I just couldn’t get enough of them. I found them so inspiring that I decided to start my own blog to help me in maintaining my weight loss. I started to become even more experimental with my cooking after being inspired by recipes on blogs and I even started running!

I used to really worry that I would end up regaining the weight that I had lost just as I had so many times before, but then I realised that some thing had changed. My journey had no longer become about weight loss, it had become about health. A few months ago I made the decision to stop weighing myself all the time and to try and eat for health rather than worrying about the number on the scale and it has been wonderful.

My biggest achievement came in September last year when I completed my first ever half marathon – The iconic Great North Run. I entered the race after encouragement from other bloggers. I had never dreamt I would be able to run 13.1 miles. I had never been athletic at all and before this year couldn’t even run for a bus! Completing the race was like the culmination of my healthy living journey and I couldn’t have been happier.

I’m now looking forward to where the future will take me. I’m now a vegetarian and eat a mostly vegan diet as that is what I have found makes me feel my absolute best.  I’m also studying for a qualification in Diet and Nutrition Advice and I’ve already signed up for the Great North 10k in July and the Great North Run again in September. I’m becoming more confident in my cooking skills and I even tried baking my own bread for the first time! I’m so thankful that I discovered blogging and the healthy living bloggers community. I’ve learned so much, and get so much enjoyment through writing my blog, onwards and upwards to my next challenge!

Thanks for letting me share my story with you!

Graze Boxes

Friday, 1 July 2011

I know a lot of people have probably already heard of, or are already subscribed to, Graze Boxes but I thought I'd share them anyway in case there's people who haven't.

Basically, Graze are an online company who specialise in delivering healthy snacks right to your door. I'd heard of them for a while before I tried it out, but since my first box, I've been having them delivered every Monday for about 3 months or so now and I absolutely love them. You can choose what day you want them delivered - I thought choosing Monday seemed like a logical idea!

You don't get to pick what you want in the boxes but you can give the people who make them a rough idea of things you like and don't like and you can go through the list of things on offer and choose whether you like the sound of it or not. There's also the option to pick boxes with foods that will improve your energy levels, help you lose weight, that boost immunity or that can help a varied & balanced diet.

It seemed I was relatively fussy when it came to my likes & dislikes, I don't like nuts or olives and these two things seem to form the basis of most of the snacks available although there ways around this, which I found out! (although they're not ideal if you're allergic to nuts, I don't even think they let you sign up if you tell them you're allergic) Flapjack!

The boxes cost £3.49 per week, although if you sign up using somebody else's code you can get your first one free and your second one half price, and then if you decide you're not a fan after that then you can cancel your boxes. If you decide you do want to carry on receiving the boxes then it does it all for you, but on the same token they're so easy to cancel if you find you're not enjoying them so much or just don't want to part with the money every week.

There is a massive selection of stuff available too, I personally love the flapjacks and some of the crackers are amazing! I really want to try the deli topped focaccia they do but I'm yet to receive any.

If anybody wants to try a box or two then you can sign up by clicking here and my code is Z8TRX74 which will get you your first box free and the second half price (and if any of you do use my code then instead of getting money off my boxes I'll donate the money I get to charity)

Are any of you already signed up to Graze or thinking about it now? What are your favourite snacks?