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Shock Absorber Ultimate Gym Bra Review

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Shock Absorber recently, kindly sent me their new Gym Bra to review, but before I get stuck into how I put it through its paces, I'm going to backtrack a little.  So...

Why wear a sports bra?

I think we would all agree that a good sports bra is an indispensable addition to a woman's gym gear collection.  Just as it's recognised that a good pair of trainers are important for comfort and avoiding injury, so it should be that a good sports bra provides the same for women doing any form of exercise.  Did you know that unsupported breasts move up to 12cm during exercise (up and down, and side to side).  Are you all visualising that female runner in your neighbourhood, or at your gym class who really needs to wear a more supportive bra? Shock Absorber themselves have even done their own research and found that their sports bras reduce 'breast bounce' by up to 78%, which is twice as much as a normal bra.  I guess the real clincher for women everywhere is that not wearing a sports bra can cause ligament damage and tissue damage that can cause sagging (and can't be reversed).  No thanks!

Okay, so why Shock Absorber?

A while ago, I tricked myself into thinking that I could buy a 'cheap' sports bra, and that it would do the same thing.  I couldn't face the thought of shelling out £30 on a sports bra and so bought one for about £7 from a high street sports shop.  My gym is one of those ones that caters for the egotistical (okay, those who want to improve their 'technique', yeah yeah...) and has huge floor length mirrors and I was pretty horrified by what I saw when jogging on the treadmill.  Not generally (well, kind of) but specifically in the chest area.  There was a whole lot of movement, and a whole lot of discomfort.  For someone aiming to do lots more running on the treadmill and the road, this is just not practical.  So the Shock Absorber bra came at a great time for me.  They really are the crème de la crème of sports bras - high quality, well-made and with lots of little details that aid comfort and support.  Cheap sports bras really are a false economy - I'm afraid this is one item in your gym kit that you're going to have to spend a little money on.

Shock Absorber Ultimate Gym Bra, £35*

Ultimate Gym Bra review

Okay, so let's look at the Shock Absorber Ultimate Gym Bra itself.  New to their Spring/Summer range and available on House of Fraser for £35, it's designed for the gym go-er but built with all types of sports activity in mind.  It comes in sizes 32A - 38H, and features thoughtful little additions like a seam free inner lining for comfort, a padded hook and eye section for if you're doing mat work, padded and non-slip straps and even a hook for your headphones. The back section has two openings which I must admit befuddled me when trying to get it on for its first wear. The first thing I want to express about this bra is that it is not a lightweight, slip on, 'almost like you're not wearing it' kind of sports bra.  It is the 'tank' of sports bras.  It is heavy duty.  Those boobs are not moving a millimetre.  I worked out that the trick to getting it on is to do up the top bit, yank it over your head and then do up the hook and eye section.  When on, it feels very solid.  I was slightly worried when I first had it on that it was going to be supportive to the point of discomfort - it really does hold you in place and I wondered what that would be like when running.  Luckily I had nothing to worry about.

I took the bra out for a run to give it a road test. After a few seconds of running my concerns that it would be, almost too supportive ebbed away.  It held me in place but didn't hurt or rub and when I took it off post-run there was no discomfort or marks (I'd been concerned that a heavy-duty sports bra of this nature would leave marks or rubbing, but it definitely didn't).  Since then this has been my 'go to' sports bra - it is comfortable, supportive and the colour and style looks great under a vest or running top which isn't always a deciding factor but is nice nonetheless.

I would have no reservations in recommending this bra - it is well-worth its price tag and a great investment.  Just take note that what you're buying is not a lightweight, 'slip it on' type bra - it is built for support, and, trust me, support it will.

Creamy Chorizo, Mushroom & Spinach Pasta Bake

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

So the other week I made my Spaghetti Bolognese for the third or fourth time, and it was just... meh. Usually it is CRAZY yummy and I spend the whole time totally over the moon that this giant tasty plate is only 8PP! Ah! But I don't know what I did, it wasn't as good. So I was like, 'OKAY. I am not going to be able to live on Spaghetti Bolognese until payday. WHAT CAN I MAKE THAT IS AWESOME.'

So I invented this! It was just going to be a pasta thing but then I turned it into a bake because that makes it totally acceptable to add lots of cheese. And this has LOADS OF CHEESE. I haven't mentioned that I like cheese, have I?

Creamy Chorizo, Mushroom & SpinachPasta Bake
200g Raw Chorizo Sausages - 13PP
(based on 1/2 pack of Sainsburys Chorizo Chipolata Sausages - I froze the rest)
1 Can Bachelors or Campbells Low Fat Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup - 4PP
115ml milk (or less) - 1PP
1 tbsp Pesto Sauce - 2PP
200g Pasta - 19PP
150g Low Fat Cheese - 12PP
200g Spinach - 0PP
6 x Mushrooms - 0PP
1 x Onion - 0PP
1 x Pepper - 0PP
2 cloves garlic - 0PP
=48PP / 12PP per portion

To reduce points: use less cheese, uese less chorizo, cut out the pesto

1 - Put your pasta on to cook as per the packet instructions and preheat the oven to 200c.
2 - Chop up your chorizo (I use scissors) and fry it either dry, with a couple of spritzes of FryLight or with a splash of water.
3 - You can use cooked chorizo here, I just much prefer cooking it raw (also I had the second half of the pack from last week to use up) because all the juices ooze out and give all your veg a yummy flavour.
4 - Chop up your veg (onions, mushrooms, pepper) and when the chorizo is cooked, add to your pan along with your garlic.
5 - Leave the veg to soften for 10 minutes or so (with a lid on if you have one) and then add your spinach. Leave it for a few minutes with the lid on to wilt. It will look like a RIDICULOUS amount at first but you'll be shocked at how much it reduces!
6 - Stir the pesto into the pan to coat all the vegetables and the chorizo
7 - Add the can of soup and some milk (I tend to just add a splash rather than measuring it) and then stir it all up so it combines and forms a smooth sauce
8 - Taste it and decide if you want to add any more seasoning - I added more garlic, a bit of salt and pepper and some rosemary, thyme and oregano.
9 - When cooked, drain the pasta and add to the sauce, stirring all together.
10 - Transfer the pasta mixture to a large ovenproof tray and then add the cheese over the top.
11 - Pop in the oven for about 15 minutes.
12 - When done, divide into 4 portions and eat one of them aaaall up. YUM.

Eggscellent Easter Treats

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Easter is only a few days away not but try not to worry too much. You might be tempted to fall off the wagon, over indulge and feel guilty after but you can easily avoid this. The Weight Watchers plan is really flexible and you can treat yourself to a whole egg if you like by saving up your weekly budget of 49 points.

I normally tell friends and family who usually give me chocolate that I would prefer something else or nothing at all. I'm 25 now and can go and get my own Easter egg if I really want one, seems silly that I still get them every year. If I do still end up receiving an unexpected Easter egg I share it with everyone or use the online calculator to work out the ProPoints values of a chocolate egg and break it up into portions that fit in to my daily budget. This year I'm going to buy myself one of the £1 Cadbury eggs and eat it over the Bank Holiday as a treat but only if I have enough weekly points left.

If you wanted to have a go at making something yourself then try these tasty looking Mini Chocolate Easter Cheesecakes over on the Weight Watchers site for just 4 ProPoints each.
If you want to indulge this weekend then here is a little guide to tempting treats:
FoodProPoints values
Cadbury Giant Creme Egg 532g44
1 Lindt Gold Bunny (200g) 30
Green And Black's Dark Chocolate Thick Shell Egg 180g28
Milky bar barn 160g - 9 points for whole egg + 15 points for the cow24
1 Smarties Easter Egg (111g) - (38g tube of Smarties included has an extra ProPoints value of 5)16
Cadbury Egg 'N' Spoon Double Chocolate 136g6
1 Cadbury Mini Eggs (45g ctube)6
1 Cadbury Creme Egg (40g)5
1 Co-operative Healthier Choice Hot Cross Bun (60g)4
1 slice Warburtons Hot Cross Bun Loaf (35g)3
1 Weight Watchers Rich Toffee Bar 2
Updates for 2015
Cadbury Mini Eggs   1 for 3
Cadbury Mini Eggs (100g bag)  13
Cadbury Cream Eggs Mini  2 
Cadbury Caramel Bunnies  3  
Aero Bubbly Lamb  4 
Maltesers Bunny  5 
Cadbury Caramel Egg  5
Nestle Milky Bar Egg (65g)  12
Flake Egg (153g) with 4 fun size bars  22
Maltesers Egg (177g) Shell Only  15
Maltesers Egg (177g) with sweets  24
Snickers Egg (181g) with bars  27
Lindt Bunny (10g)  2
Dairy Milk Egg (214g) Shell Only  18
Dairy Milk Egg (214g) with bars  32

Before you eat anything this Easter…
ask yourself if it’s worth the ProPoints values.

Whatever you do, keep tracking
Tracking makes you more aware of what you’re eating.

Sunday Summary 91

Saturday, 23 March 2013

The WAMK girls all together last weekend!

Sarah V - I missed my Monday weigh in due to a nasty cold but since I last checked in, I've lost another 2lbs taking my total weight loss to 17.5lbs since 7th January. After the cakefest of last weekend with the other WAMK girls (which was amazing!) I've had a pretty healthy week, so I'm hoping that loss has gone up a bit more by my weigh in tomorrow! I am only 3lbs from my 10% and it would be amazing to do it before Easter - fingers crossed!

Gemma - After a weekend of cake at Norbury Manor and not being able to get out and do as much running as I would like due to the weather I'm really happy with a 1lb loss this week. I've got something on most evenings this week so I'm going to try and walk on my lunch break and fit in the 30 Day Shred before I go to bed to counteract all the nights out and events I'm going to. I'm going try and make senisible choices when I eat out and limit my alcohol intake on the weekend. Chicken salads and a couple of vodka and diet cokes shouldn't send me too far off plan.

Chorizo Tomato Pasta

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

This is one of my favourite dinners and I've been meaning to ProPoint it up to see if I can do it WW style. It turns out I can, and the only major change I've made is reducing the pasta portions and not adding any oil other than FryLight. I've also only used half a pack of chorizo - but if you wanted to make it extra meaty, using the whole packet would only add an extra 3PP per person. It's super fast to throw together and is really rich and comforting.

I really recommend using raw chorizo sausages, rather than the pre-cooked stuff - it means all the sauces will ooze out into the pan and will give everything an extra amazing flavour. Now, of course you can mix this up with the vegetables and the seasoning, but this is exactly how I always do it and it always comes out really tasty. I actually cannot express enough how much I love this dish! It's amazing.

I always think of this as a 'payday dinner' because chorizo isn't an everyday ingredient in my house - it's not that cheap! I quite often make this with the gnarly posh mushrooms from Tesco. They make it extra amazing, as do shiitake ones! But normal mushrooms work too. I just think, if a yummy dinner is worth doing, it's worth doing PROPERLY.

Makes 4 servings:

Chorizo Tomato Pasta
200g Raw Chorizo Sausages - 13PP 
(based on 1/2 pack of Sainsburys Chorizo Chipolata Sausages - I froze the rest)
1 glass Red wine - 3PP
30 x Black Olives - 3PP
260g Pasta - 24PP
4 sprays Frylight - 0PP
1 carton Passata - 0PP
6 x Mushrooms - 0PP
1 x Onion - 0PP
1 x Red Pepper - 0PP
2 tbsp Balsamic Vinegar - 0PP
2 tbsp Artificial Sweetener - 0PP
2 tsp Smoked Paprika - 0PP
1 clove garlic - 0PP
1 small chilli - 0PP
43PP (11PP per serving)

To reduce points - Cut down on the chorizo, leave out the wine or olives, use smaller pasta portions.

1 - Boil the pasta as per the package instructions.
2 - Chop up the chorizo and fry in a non-stick pan or wok with a few sprays of Frylight.
3 - When cooked, throw in the chopped onion, mushrooms and pepper and let them cook through (pop the lid on to speed it up if you like).
4 - When the vegetables have all softened, pour in the carton of passata along with the red wine.
5 - Chop up your olives, or leave them whole, and add them to the pan.
6 - Now add your seasoning - this combination is pretty foolproof and will create a lovely, rich sauce. Stir in 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar, along with 2 tbsp artificial sweetener (you can also use normal sugar, but it's not 0PP like sweetener is).

7 - Add a clove of garlic and one small red chilli (I actually just use half a teaspoon of the 'So Lazy' jars) along with 2 tsp of smoked paprika.
8 - Stir it all in and turn up the heat a bit to let it all bubble away. Give it about 10 minutes to bubble and the sauce should reduce massively and go lovely and thick.
9 - When you're happy with it, drain the pasta and stir it into the sauce. And that's it! IT'S SO TASTY. I could quite happily eat this every day for a week. And probably will. YUM.

Tasty Tortilla Pizzas

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

One of the reasons that Weight Watchers is really working for me is that I'm doing it with my best friend. So she's right there with me when temptation strikes, and we've been spending our Saturday nights experimenting with Weight Watchers recipes, rather than our old habit of drinking our body weight in red wine and eating lots of unhealthy nibbles.

The other week we decided to have a tortilla pizza party, which is nowhere near as lame as it sounds even though it was totally just us having the party and no one else. This is such a good way to have a really tasty dinner - WITH CHEESE - but it's low point!

We made two pizzas and had half of each, and ended up using 11PP each. You could use whatever you wanted as toppings, but here's what we did:

Olive & Pepper Pizza
1 Weight Watchers Tortilla - 3PP
1/2 Pot Tesco Fresh Salsa - 0PP
10 x Green Olives, in Brine - 1PP
50g Low Fat Cheese - 4PP
1/2 Dry Roasted Red Pepper - 0PP

1 - Place the tortilla onto an oven proof tin, either non-stick or foil covered. The tortillas can stick in the middle so I highly recommend using foil.
2 - Cover the tortilla in salsa as your tomatoey pizza base.
3 - Add your toppings - we'd pre-roasted the peppers, so added them, some sliced olives and then sprinkle cheese over the top.
4 - Cook under the grill for about 10 minutes, or until browning at the sides. Check constantly to ensure it doesn't burn and then eat immediately!

Feta, Caramelised Onion & Bacon Pizza
1 Weight Watchers Tortilla - 3PP
2 tbsp caramelised onion chutney - 2PP
3 bacon medallions - 2PP
50g Feta cheese - 4PP
1/2 Dry Roasted Red Pepper - 0PP
25g Low Fat Cheese - 2PP

1 - Place the tortilla on an oven proof tin as before
2 - Cover the tortilla in caramelised onion (this is your base instead of tomato sauce)
3 - Add toppings - we'd pre-roasted the peppers and pre-fried the bacon so just popped it all off and sprinkled the cheese over the top. Eat immediately, again!
4 - Cook under the grill for about 10 minutes, or until browning at the sides. Check constantly to ensure it doesn't burn and then eat immediately!

To reduce points - use less cheese, use more free foods as toppings

As we had half of each pizza apiece, it worked out at 11PP each. Served along with 0PP butternut squash wedges, it was SUCH a tasty dinner. Also, so cheesy! Yum. I want to make a Hawaiian next...

Sunday Summary 90

Sunday, 10 March 2013

Hey! Another week done and dusted, how have you gotten on?

Sarah - I am happy to say I've lost 2lbs this week bringing my total lost to 17lbs in 10 or so weeks, a little miracle for me! It was standing at -3lbs yesterday but the super slutty brownies I baked yesterday robbed me of that other 1lb.  They were bloody good though! 

Sarah V - At my weigh in on Monday I'd lost another 1lb taking my total loss to 15 1/2lbs since January 7th. My WW buddy Sha did her 10% this week too! I've got about 5lbs to go. :) This week a few people have commented on the fact that I look slimmer, and I've tried on a couple of dresses that didn't fit me a month ago and they now do - hooray! I had a very boozy night on Sunday but I think food-wise I've stayed just about on track. I am always quite nervous about using my 49 weekly points but I need to get over it, treats are allowed!

Gemma - I lost 1lb this week and I was super strict all week but was a little too busy to fit a lot of exercise in so I'm hoping for a bit more of a loss next time. I just ordered my first pair of trainers since the ones I had for PE in school so I'm aiming to get out for a few runs a week and extra long walks with my dog. I had an American style breakfast today as a bit of a hangover cure, need to learn to say no. Maple syrup is not Weight Watchers friendly!

Rosie - This week has been a tough week for me 'life wise' with a lot of long days at work, a couple of days away from home and quite a lot of stress which has meant it has been a less than perfect week in terms of diet, with next to no exercise.  It made me realise that the key for weight loss for me is preparation as being all over the place this week meant eating out and grabbing things from the cupboard that weren't great choices and not scheduling in swims and gym time meant my exercising massively slipped.  I actually still managed to lose a lb which makes me feel more motivated to have a perfect week this week as if I can lose a lb when I'm just making good choices 80% of the time it shows what could happen if I'm disciplined and stay on track.  I'm still not at what I was before Christmas so I really need to focus and work hard over the next few weeks so I can see results.

Next Sunday the four WAMK girls will be away together (with some other lovely girlies!) So we will try and update you all on our progress before we leave on the Saturday :)

Out To Lunch

Thursday, 7 March 2013

You’re more likely to eat lunch away from home than any other meal. I generally take food to work with me about three days a week and meet friends or colleagues for lunch one day and treat myself to a Costa Coffee lunch on a Friday.

According to my pension report I wont be able to retire until 2052 (so depressing!) and the thought of taking a boring sandwich and yogurt in to work every day for all those years fills me with dread. My colleagues think I'm insane when I'm popping left over Chinese food or stew in the microwave but I find eating a varied and exciting lunch really helps to keep me on track. Also, I live in Wales which means it's cold and rains a lot so I like a hot lunch rather than a salad or sandwich in the winter.

At the beginning of the week I take loads of fruit to work with me so I'm only weighed down for one day and I tend to snack on this while I wait for my lunch to heat up which helps to curb my appetite. I always have a cuppa soup and coffee sachet in my handbag just in case I'm running late for work one day and don't have time to prepare anything in the morning.

If I'm meeting friends for lunch in town I pick up something from the M&S Count on Us range which has all the ProPoints on the back, very handy if you don't have you're eating out guide with you of if you haven't planned ahead. Most sandwiches in the range are around 7 ProPoints and they have some lovely desserts for about 3 ProPoints if you fancy a treat. The Weight Watchers range is also very convenient, you know exactly what points values the foods are and all the major supermarkets stock them. I find the Weight Watchers App super handy on my lunch break. With the ProPoints values of thousands of foods at my fingertips, it’s easy to choose a healthy and filling lunch, or to decide if  I enough room in your budget for one of those ‘Oh, go on then’ moments. I'm currently always thinking 'Do I have enough points for a Creme Egg?' on a Friday afternoon.
I also use my lunch break to try and squeeze in a bit of activity. My lunch break is the only time I get to myself all day.  Instead of checking my emails and twitter on my break I try and get out for a walk, even if it's just popping to the shop to get the newspaper. You could walk or even drive to a nearby park with a colleague and spend 15 minutes briskly walking. Making it a weekly lunchtime commitment would be a great idea.
Need some inspiration for your packed lunch? Check out these five lovely and light lunch ideas.

Low Fat Lasagne

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

So, here's a not very well kept secret: lasagne is basically Spaghetti Bolognese, served differently. So, I didn't use a set recipe for this, instead I used knowledge from previous recipes (the soup is my sister's addition) and the bolognese recipe as a base.

This is a slightly decadent version but it still only comes out at 11PP per person, and the portion sizes were OBSCENE. After my first portion, I divided the remaining 3/4 into five portions. It's huge. It's really tasty, too - I always pack my tomato based sauces full of seasoning, I like them rich and full of flavour and so adding a cheeky glass of red wine into this means it really doesn't taste like a low fat meal!


6 x Fresh Lasagne Sheets = 11PP
4 sprays Frylight - 0PP
500g Extra Lean (5% fat) Beef Mince - 16PP
1 Stock Cube (Veg, Beef or Chicken) made with 200ml hot water - 1PP
1 carton Passata - 0PP
1 can chopped Tomatoes - 0PP
1 can low fat Mushroom soup = 4PP
100g low fat cheese = 7PP
1 tbsp Sweet Chilli Sauce = 1PP
Glass of Red = 3PP
=43PP (11PP per serving based on 4 portions, 7PP based on 6 portions)

Whatever vegetables you like! I used:

1 large Onion, chopped
1/2 large Courgette, chopped
1 red & 1 yellow Pepper, chopped
7 mushrooms, chopped
3 sticks celery, chopped

Seasoning - again, go nuts! I used:

2 cloves garlic
2 tsp smoked Paprika
3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp artificial sweetener
Pinch of oregano, rosemary, basil
1/2 tsp chilli
Salt & Pepper

To reduce points - bulk out with more vegetables, use Quorn mince (12PP for 500g), cut out the red wine or sweet chilli sauce, or use less cheese

Make the tomato sauce as you would Bolognese, which I'll go over again:
1 - Use a large saucepan or a wok and spray with FryLight, then add the mince and cook over a high heat. Don’t stir immediately, as you want the meat to really brown on the base, so give it a few moments – then turn to sear and brown on all sides.
2 - Add everything else and cook for 30 minutes with the lid on to enable the vegetables to soften.
3 - Add any further seasoning you fancy, stir it all up and then leave for 5-10 minutes with the lid off to bubble away and to reduce down. It might look sloppy but it will reduce a lot if you leave it to bubble, so just let it do its thing and it'll go lovely and thick.

Assemble your lasagne:
1 - Using a large, rectangular oven-proof dish and spoon about half of the tomato meat sauce onto the bottom, completely covering it.
2 - Layer 3 of the lasagne sheets over the top.
3 - Spoon the other half of the tomato meat sauce over the sheets, completely covering them.
4 - Layer another 3 lasagne sheets over the top.
5 - Spoon the can of mushroom soup (undiluted) over the lasagne sheets, completely covering them
6 - Sprinkle cheese on top.
7 - Place in the oven at 180c for 30-35 minutes.

Yum! The best bit was, when eating the leftovers I had a few nights where I had a couple of points left over, sooo... extra cheese it is! Hooray!

When I make this again, I plan to cut it into 6 portions but am tempted to increase the cheese and the soup. If I doubled both it would still only be 9PP... definitely the way forward!

Sunday Summary 89

Monday, 4 March 2013

Another week down! How's yours been?

Sarah V - Good news this week, I lost 1lb and FINALLY did my stone! It was a bit frustrating as I got within 2.5lbs of it within a month and then it took almost another month to lose that pesky last bit! But it's GONE and I'm never getting it back, never! I hope I've done well this week, but I worry. I have been so good for the first 2 months of doing Weight Watchers, but this weekend was the first time I didn't track and yesterday I had a few naughty things at a blog event! I've done a lot more exercise than usual this week though - I did a zumba class and have clocked up over 30,000 steps this weekend on my beloved pedometer so I think I've made up for it. But if I haven't lost in my Monday weigh-in I'll know that the culprit was that Reese's peanut butter cup milkshake!

Sarah - I too am updating with a 1lb weight loss this week, thank goodness.  I had a couple of off days, I wasn't well on Saturday and felt like I needed junk to make me feel better, not sure how that logic works but it actually did work!  I am going back to basics this week to see if I can step the weight loss back up a gear.  The evenings are getting lighter so I am also going to go out for a couple of walks this week in an attempt to add some exercise... I might even dust off my copy of the 30 day shred!

Gemma - I'm a little disappointed by the fact that I've stayed the same for the past two weeks. There was a fair trade bake off competition in work which I found too hard to resist and helped myself to some chocolate cake AND lemon drizzle cake. I've also been dating which usually involves going for food and drink. I only really used to drink alcohol on the weekend and I would have vodka and diet coke but I've been drinking a couple of glasses (large ones) on weekdays and the points really add up. I suppose I want to appear to be carefree and laid back so I eat and drink things that I think reflect that when I'm on a date but it's going to lead me down a slippery path and I need to put a stop to it. I might copy Sarah and dig out my 30 Day Shred DVD.

Mindset & Motivation

Friday, 1 March 2013

Over my lifetime, I’ve been on quite a few diets. Okay, a lot of diets. And sometimes, they just work. Like now – after a month I'd lost nearly a stone in a month and it really hasn’t been hard. But there have been other times that they just don’t click. Like last year – and this was a big reason why I took a break from the WAMK team. It felt like every week I was making an excuse for gaining weight or not losing and I couldn’t think of any content for the blog because, honestly, I wasn’t dieting well or properly. So what’s changed?

Mindset and Motivation.

It’s not really a secret that the key to a successful diet is about motivation, and I’ve actually been getting quite a few queries lately about my motivation so I thought I’d share them here.

1. When you start a diet, try and do a month without breaking it once, even for little treats.
It’s my theory that it takes 3-4 weeks to get properly ‘in the zone’. If you start a diet and then in week 2, have a friend’s birthday dinner, chances are you’ll end up having what you fancy, rather than what’s diet friendly. It’s important to get the ground rules of your diet straight first of all, and then you can add in the occasional day off. That’s why January is amazing for starting diets, because most of us don’t really go out in January.

2. Be totally honest with yourself.
I work in a social office and we are often handing around boxes of chocolates or big bags of crisps. The other day there was a box of maltesers open, and although a single malteser is only 11 calories, I know full well that I can’t have a single malteser. So I had none, because I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stop if I started. Other people, though, have more willpower. And in these situations, I have another tip…

3. Allocate for diet-friendly treats within your allowance and then you won’t crave the worse versions.
On Weight Watchers, you can have anything as long as it’s within your points for the day. 1 finger of Kitkat, for instance, is 1 point, and a bag of Skips or Space Raiders are 2 points. So if I want crisps or chocolate, I can have it. It means that I haven’t been craving giant bars of Dairy Milk or any other crisps, because I’m still having them most days. And because I’m having chocolate as my sweet treat after lunch, I’m not even getting to the craving stage with it. Which means that I’m normally fine with 1 finger of Kitkat and saving the rest for the next day. I know, it surprised me too! But because I knew that I could have the other finger if I wanted, I felt less cravey about it.

4. Eyes on the prize.
Honestly, I want to lose weight because I’ve gained a lot recently and I feel rubbish. It’s not just for one day, and I am focusing on that most of all. But I think a goal really helps, and for me it’s my best friend’s wedding in October, at which I’ll be a bridesmaid. I want to feel nice in the pictures and I want to be wearing a size 12 dress. And honestly, I want that more than I want a Burger King.

5. Variety, variety, variety.
Being on a diet does NOT mean that you have to eat salad for lunch and grilled chicken every night for dinner. I normally have soup for lunch as it’s low and filling (and there are a ton of different flavours - and that's not even thinking about making it myself!) and then for dinner I experiment with recipes. I’m doing loads of cooking at the moment in bulk form and then freezing portions which keeps me going for the next few days. It also means I don’t have to cook every day! This is really working for me. I am genuinely getting excited about finding recipes that are WW friendly and making little tweaks. Tonight I’m going to try and caramelise leeks! I AM EXCITED.

6. Track what you eat.
Just being aware of what you eat every day makes an enormous difference. If I wasn’t tracking, I probably wouldn’t count the odd biscuit or I’d estimate roughly how much my lunch was, and assume it was fine – but you know what, now I AM tracking I am realising that a lot of the lunch options I thought were fine are not! I also snacked a lot more than I realised. And that’s making all the difference.

7. Don’t let yourself run out of food.
Let’s face it, most of us are on diets because we love food and we love to eat. But in the past, I tend to slip on diets when I don’t have any food in the house or don’t have any snacks in my desk drawer - I want something and it's whatever's on hand. Now my desk is full of WW friendly snacks (Kitkats, Skips and Space Raiders – god, I love Poundland!) and I know that if I get snackish, I can have a low point treat and feel sated. Also, I’m eating a LOT of fruit.

8. Diet buddies.
My best friend and I are doing WW together so we’re constantly texting or emailing or tweeting each other with recipes and ideas, and when we’re together we are talking about points pretty much all the time. We’re spending our weekends experimenting with WW recipes and eating a lot of crudités. It's a bit sad, but it's helping! Because having someone to talk about all that with really helps! It makes you feel less silly about it. Also, my colleagues are all on the healthy eating wagon. While we were buying junk food in December, now we are all supporting each other by thinking healthy. We’ve even started a team fruit bowl where we take it in turns to buy £10 worth of fruit every week, meaning that if any of us crave something sweet, there’s a healthy option available.

9. It’s not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change.
This is where I slipped up last year. I would try and diet in the week, but then at the weekend would have a dinner or a party or something and think of it as an evening off the diet and have exactly what I fancied – we’re talking chips with mayo, deep fried halloumi, burgers… it’s little wonder I wasn’t losing weight consistently! If you are serious about losing weight then you need to be serious about what you’re eating all the time, and when you think about the fact that a burger and chips at some restaurants could be in the region of 1000 calories, and a bottle of wine is 500 or 600 calories… and that’s after eating breakfast and lunch… yeah. Makes more sense now, doesn’t it? You can still have those things, but you just need to make good choices. Have the wine but have something for dinner that you know isn’t too bad. Or have the burger, not the chips. Try not to think of it as ‘having a break from the diet’ and keep accounting for everything you eat. In my first two weeks of Weight Watchers, I had Pizza Express, Nandos and Wagamamas and still managed to lose, because I was tracking everything and also making up for what I was eating elsewhere in the day. That’s what’s working. When you start writing meals off, you’ll start losing track of what you’re eating.

10. Find the diet that’s right for you.
I’ve tried almost all of the big ones: Jenny Craig, Slimming World, Rosemary Conley and the only one that worked consistently was Rosemary Conley. But honestly I feel much happier doing Weight Watchers because it suits my lifestyle. It states very clearly clear that a little of what you fancy does you good, and I can still have crisps, chocolate and cheese – all the Cs! I found SW too complicated, and JC and RC too restrictive. I’m not saying WW will work for everyone but I’ve seen results so quickly, I feel pretty confident that I’ll keep seeing results as long as I stick to it. And I’m really not finding it hard to stick to. In the past, when on diets, I’ve been proud of myself for going to bed hungry – I never do that now, and to be honest, I really shouldn’t. If a diet is right for you, it shouldn’t be difficult.

My last tip is that sometimes it’s just not the right time for dieting. I ended up taking the decision to take most of last year off dieting because I was struggling so much, and every weekend brought another temptation – parties, weddings, holidays, etc. I managed to lose a bit of weight before my birthday in the summer and then just started eating again and didn’t stop until January. Not the healthiest plan, really, but I needed to get it out my system. By the time January rolled around, I was so ready to eat healthily again! So, er, maybe I wouldn't recommend a year of bingeing, but I’m a firm believer in giving yourself a last hurrah before embarking on a new diet. You have to WANT it. If you want to lose weight, you need to do it by yourself – all diet plans and diet classes give you is support and advice. You’re the one making the changes.

Image credits: 1,2,3