It is my great pleasure to introduce you to prolific blogger and the cheeriest, most up-beat and positive poet I’ve ever encountered – Ritu Bhathal. Ritu finds so much to smile and be positive about. Her blog is a wellspring of optimism and good cheer, liberally sprinkled with her delightful poems, stories of her life, family and friends – to say nothing of the spiritual musings of Spidey and her cat, Sonu Singh.
But the reason I asked Ritu to guest on my blog is that she has recently been – yes, you guessed it – losing weight and getting healthy. I hope you enjoy Ritu’s inspiring post, lovely photographs and intriguing breakfast recipe, which I shall be trying very soon (though, I have to say, without the sweetener or the chocolate sprinkles). Ritu – it’s over to you…
Ritu Bhathal – Positively Poetic
Thank you Jools for welcoming me to your amazing blog for a post!
For those of you that don’t know me, I am Ritu, of www.butismileanyway.com
A happy go lucky blogger, who like to find things to smile about in life. I might even be classed as one of those annoying people who seems to be perpetually happy.
And you know for the best part of life, I am. There are, of course, times when I can’t be smiling, like when I wrote my car off on the motorway the other week… but other than that… no, I generally will try and see the brighter side of situations, and smile through them.
What does this have to do with weight loss, I hear you ask? Well, there was one other time recently when I felt my smile melt away. We had planned a surprise family trip to Finland for my Pop’s 70th birthday, and part of his surprise was a whole family photo shoot. This was a brilliant idea, and we got lots of pictures. My brother arranged that we all get individual photos taken too, as he suggested they could be used for my author profile. Great job!
So off we went, posed for photos and created some lovely memories for that week.
Fast forward a month and the photos came through. They were lovely… but I was horrified! My face looked so puffed up, compared to how I usually look. I was actually disgusted with myself. How had I managed to let myself go to that extent?
I mean, it was a perfectly lovely photo, just not what I thought I looked like.
My mum politely confirmed my own thoughts, telling me to try and do something now, while still young and able. As age creeps up, it becomes harder to shift, she knows…
It was the kick up the backside that I needed to be honest.
A few years previously, I had tried the JuicePlus+ diet system, with some form of clean eating, and shakes for a couple of meals for three months. I did amazingly! Lost lots of weight, and was weighing in at 9½ stone for the first time since before I had married in 2001. There was a wedding I attended, and I felt amazing. All those compliments… What girl doesn’t like to be told she is looking good?
But let’s get realistic for a moment here. Reduced calorie intake, shakes twice a day… it’s not sustainable, is it? Unless, of course you’re made of money… (these plans can cost quite a bit too…)
It didn’t take long for the weight to pile back on… and oh my, did it pile on. I stopped standing on weighing scales, but I knew things were going backwards.
After the photo shoot realisation, I had a Doctor’s appointment to get my pill prescription. The obligatory weigh-in was done, and I left that surgery red faced. For the first time since I’d been pregnant, I was over eleven stone. That was… awful!
Something had to be done. So I started the school holidays with a plan. I would lose two stone. Somehow.
I don’t mean that I was going to lose it in six weeks. No, I knew I needed to take my time, be sensible and aim to get there, slowly but surely, and in a manner that I could maintain the lifestyle and eating habits after hitting my self-imposed target too.
I went for walks, was very conscious of my food intake and I even included exercise. My exercise bike and the walking track near our house got used plenty. Five weeks in, I’d lost around five pounds. Not bad.
But I was starting school again and I knew how easy it was to fall into bad, convenience food habits. Plus, exercise, aside from running around the nursery after 20 3-4 year olds, was pretty hard to fit into my schedule too.
So, I took a step I hadn’t planned on taking initially. I joined Slimming World. Several of my colleagues were following their eating plan, and my best friend had also been losing weight with them, so I figured it was worth a try.
I signed up on my 41st birthday, and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. Having a target to aspire to was one thing, but my written promise to myself, and the fact that I was blogging about my Healthy Eating Journey every week, gave me the added boost to do something properly, and not to fall into the weight gain swamp again. #icandothis
I’m not going to sing the praises of Slimming World too much here, after all, this post isn’t sponsored! However, it is a fantastic plan, and way of eating, and it has helped me to reach that target of mine in six months.
There is a lot of common sense in the plan, with regards to the good foods you should use, and reach for. But you are allowed your ‘naughty’ treats too, referred to as ‘Syns’. Each day you’re allowed 5-15 syns. And you HAVE to eat them! That can include certain chocolates, crisps, cakes, alcoholic drinks, and anything not included in their ‘Free Food’ lists. But guess what…? You can eat potatoes and rice and pasta! Also you are to eat most proteins, as long as they’re lean, and all fruit and veg. In fact, there’s no reason you should ever feel hungry, as there’s so much you can eat.
It’s very much about how you cook and prepare meals too. Less eating packaged meals and more preparing them yourself, so you know what you’re putting into your cooking. It may sound like a faff, but cooking from scratch means you can bulk cook and freeze meals for another day. It’s also good as you plan what you’re going to make for the week so you don’t over shop.
Here are some photos of examples of breakfasts, lunches and dinners I have eaten over the last six months.
I’m a bit of a chocoholic, so I checked the Syn values for the treats I could have, and made sure I had everything handy, for those craving moments.
Did I manage to exercise? Well, the running around after my class and family tended to be my only form of physical exercise still, but I also started a Bhangra Dance class (which I can’t attend at the moment, due to my whiplash). I’ll get back onto it as soon as I’m able.
And now? I’m 9st 3lb. Exactly two stone down from where I began.
I feel so much better in myself; my clothes fit much better, and I think I may have to give my wardrobe a complete overhaul, getting rid of some of those larger sized clothes. People really notice the difference, which feels good, and makes me know I’ve done the right thing.
But now the hard part starts… that’s maintaining the loss.
My next goal is to keep the weight off, and not stray above 9½ stone at the very most. I think it’s always good to have a little goal in your mind, nothing too crazy, but something to keep you on track. I know I’ll be seeing many of my dear Blogily in June, at the Annual Bloggers Bash in London, and I want to be able to show my newly-svelte self off to everyone. That’s one reason to keep to my target!
I think it wouldn’t be fair to not share a recipe at least, for something that feels rather naughty, but is a wholesome, healthy breakfast, that I love to make. It can be kept simple, or you can ‘syn’ it up a bit, depending on how you feel!
- 40g porridge oats
- 1 tspn sweetener
- 1 small egg
- 85g (½ pot) Vanilla Muller Light yoghurt, or fat free vanilla yoghurt
- (I sometimes use the vanilla with dark chocolate sprinkles)
- Selection of fruit or berries
- 12g chocolate chips (if you fancy being a bit decadent!)
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius
- Combine oats, egg, yoghurt and sweetener
- Pour into small oven proof dish
- If you wish, sprinkle chocolate chips on top
- Place in oven and bake for 20-30m minutes until golden brown on top.
- Place cut fruit on top and serve hot!
I tend to not cook the fruit as once cooked, the fruit takes on a ‘syn’ value, but if you wanted to, you could combine the berries into the mix and bake them too. Either way, a yummy breakfast!
And I am a poet, so I’m leaving you with a little poem, penned about my struggle with the belly.
Oh my God I can’t stop eating
My waist-line’s seriously taking a beating!
Last year I got myself so slim
In fact I’d never been so trim!
I exercised, I dieted
My stomach fat, oh I got rid!
Bye bye size 14, hello size 12
Into my old clothes, did I delve…
Then something happened, I began to relax,
Enjoying my life to the max.
Exercise? Sorry what was that?
I’d rather sit and have a chat?
So happy was I, that I began to eat
I ate a lot, it’s no mean feat!
And then the pounds, they crept back on
Oi ! You! Waist-line! Where’ve you gone?
The jelly belly from days of old
Is, not so firmly, standing bold
And no amount of hula hooping
Will, back to me, my waist-line bring.
You see, in order for that to work
In the kitchen I mustn’t lurk
This snacking, oh I’ve got to quit,
And I really must get fit!
This, along with other verses, can be found in my poetry anthology, Poetic RITUALs, available from Amazon. myBook.to/PoeticRITUals
My author page: Author.to/RituBhathal