Have yourself a merry… sugar-free Christmas #weightloss #healthylifestyle #positivechange


Christmas presents all sorts of challenges for those of us in the midst of a healthy weight-loss campaign.  This is my second such Festive Season…

This time last year, I was looking forward to my first healthy lifestyle, sugar-free Christmas with some trepidation, wondering how I would cope. I’d been working on my mental attitude and better dietary and exercise habits for four months and by then I’d lost 33 pounds – not bad going, if I say so myself. But… Christmas is Christmas, and when it comes to food, the temptation factor is off-the-scale.

Checking back in my food diary, I can see I ate well on Christmas Day:

  • For breakfast: Homemade Bircher muesli; a slice of cheese
  • For lunch: Six mini savoury oatcakes with cream cheese and smoked salmon; Roast turkey with roast potatoes, roast parsnips, Brussels sprouts with chestnuts and pancetta, broccoli, carrots, red cabbage
  • Evening: A little leftover smoked salmon
  • Drinks: Black coffee (copious!), a half-glass of Prosecco; a half glass of red wine.

But there was self-restraint too, I’m happy to report; I didn’t partake in Christmas pudding and mince pies, with their layers of sugar, fat, alcohol, sugar and more sugar. Nor did I drink except with the main meal. Nor, so it seems, did I trough my way through mountains of nibbles whilst watching TV. You know, that mindless time when you seem to have one hand permanently in the confectionary tin or the bowl of nuts; when you say yes to everything – sandwiches and dates, canapés and cake, jelly fruits, chocolates and a tsunami of the sort of icky, syrupy snifters you never partake of at any other time of the year, but somehow can’t get enough of at Christmas – even when your stomach is fit to burst.

My Christmas Day 2015 was still a good day’s eating by anyone’s standards (and cooking too – for it was me taking care of the day’s big feast for the family). My diary says I even made time for a good walk; 50 minutes, first-thing, whilst it was still dark outside.

The rest of the week involved a couple of meals out and, as far as I can make out, an ocean of turkey and vegetable soup.  But at the end of that week, I’d lost weight – an unexpected but joyous 1.7 pounds.

A few things have occurred to me as I look back. I was thoroughly in-the-zone then, keeping an uncompromising tight rein on my eating, planning all meals and being rigorous about regular exercise – even on Christmas Day. I know I’ve become a little more lax lately on both food and exercise fronts. I know this is why my weight loss has levelled off at 70 pounds, and I’m struggling to get it moving again.  To be perfectly frank, there are too many days when I excuse myself from exercise, too many sneaky (though still sugar-free) little treats, and some questionable portion control.

So I’m reapplying myself, as of now. I still have at least 30 more pounds to go and I’m eating for maintenance at the moment, not loss. Keeping on keeping on is the only way to succeed at this game; one day at a time, one pound at a time, until it’s all gone.

When I reflect on my first healthy lifestyle year and reconnect with all the benefits I’m already enjoying (here and here), I kick myself for stalling, as my life, health and wellbeing can only go on improving as I shed the remaining excess. But I’m also going to congratulate myself for having made it this far, because beating-up on yourself, anything more than momentarily, just isn’t helpful.

Happy Festivities and…. THANK YOU!

So it only remains for me to wish all readers and followers of my humble blog every happiness at this festive season, good health and contentment – and success in pursuing your goals, whatever they are – in 2017. Thank you all so much for reading my blog posts, being interested in my progress, commenting, supporting and encouraging me throughout the year.

YOU have all been the wind beneath my wings throughout 2016.

A Super-charged ‘Bircher’ Breakfast Recipe

2016-01-13 08.26.24I don’t plan to post recipes all the time, as there are plenty of sites doing this. But I do have one of my own that I particularly enjoy, which I’d like to share. For anyone looking for a really filling, satisfying, no-added-sugar breakfast, I’d recommend this. It’s basically an over-excited Bircher Muesli. It takes about 10 minutes to put together (I do it in the evening to give the oats a chance to soften) and it’s good for 4 breakfast servings – 1 person for 4 days or 2 people for 2 days.  I don’t count calories as a rule, but I’ve included a rough guide to the calories here as some people like the measure. You may want to do your own calculation.

Ingredients (4 servings):

  • 100g plain porridge oats (376 cal)
  • 260g Fage Total Greek Yoghurt, full fat (260 cal)
  • 60g mixed nuts or brazil nuts/almonds/walnuts (approx 372 cal)
  • 20 raspberries (20 cal)
  • 20 white grapes, sliced into 2/3 pieces or 1 green apple, grated (60 calories)
  • 20g milled organic flaxseed, for flavour and all sorts of goodness (113 calories)
  • Almond Milk (or whole milk) to moisten (100 calories – total guestimate, I’m afraid)

1301 calories total divided by 4 servings: Approximately 325 calories per serving

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl, adding enough milk to create a soft consistency (I use home-made almond milk, but whole milk or shop bought almond milk would work just as well). You can use any fruit you like, but I prefer raspberries, which break up through the mix and give it a bit of a raspberry ripple effect. Apples make it more tart and I like this, but grapes are a bit more convenient, and add little pops of natural sweetness, so that’s why they get my vote.  I’ve used blueberries and blackberries too.

You can vary to your taste of course. Add more fruit without overburdening the calorie content, or reduce the nut or yoghurt content to slim down. It’s up to you. Then seal the bowl and store in the fridge overnight, giving time for the oats and nuts to soften and the flavours to blend.

When serving, the mixture will have become more ‘sticky’, so add a little more milk or almond milk to loosen, then garnish with a couple of raspberries, just because it looks nice – and we eat with our eyes.

Bircher purists would probably baulk at the thought of grapes – grapes! – in their muesli, but this is my recipe, so there. They would also want to drizzle honey or agave syrup over everything, which is currently against my dietary religion. The grapes add the minuscule amount of sweetening this recipe needs anyway.

I find this breakfast will see me at least until lunchtime and often well beyond into the afternoon if I happen to be too busy to stop for lunch, or out-and-about and unable to find something healthy. The Fage Greek yoghurt is full-fat but natural/unflavoured. It’s thick and creamy, packed with good bacteria and NO sugar, which is simultaneously satisfying for those of us who like our food to be unctuous, and exciting for the sugar avoiders like me.

If you try it, I’d love to know what you think.

Fat Girl Slim (eventually)

Breakfast at Denny's, January 2015. I know... I know...
Breakfast at Denny’s, January 2015. I know… I know…

These are my achievements in 2015:

  • I published my first novel
  • I kicked a lifelong sugar habit into touch
  • I have lost 35 surplus pounds (so far…)

The novel, Singled Out, came out in February and has sold modestly, as self-published novels are wont to do, but received some amazing reviews. Thank you, hugely, to all those readers who took the time and trouble to give their feedback so positively this year on Amazon and Goodreads.

Kicking the sugar habit began in September and was a gradual thing, no ‘cold turkey’ for me. But I’m confident I’ve now succeeded in eliminating all but the very occasional appearance of added sugar in one or two sneaky little places.  I’m going to blog on this in coming days because whether you’re overweight like I am or not, you should probably be consuming less sugar.

The serious attack on my surplus poundage also began in September, and at an average of just over 2lbs a week, I’m deliriously happy, quite beside myself, at this initial, steady and sustainable success. I’d chosen to believe for so long that as a middle-aged and largely sedentary woman, I was stuck with my wraparound flab for life. No so, it seems. But there is some distance yet to be travelled.

Regular readers will know I’ve been blogging for a while about the experience of writing fiction and navigating today’s publishing landscape. Then I started slipping in a few posts relating to Singled Out – the ups and downs of being single, Turkey, foodie matters and the psycho-side of life.

Now with my sights set on maintaining my new healthier lifestyle into 2016 and continuing to offload unwanted pounds, I’ll be blogging about my experience of turning around a lethargic, sugar-laden, poke-and-ping mindset and offering a few thoughts on the way the world at large is chewing over what it has branded “The Obesity Epidemic”.

When I sat down to think up a few topics, it took me about five minutes to get to 40. That surprised even me, especially since I’ve been struggling for months to think of what to write… about writing.

So this is not a blog about writing any more – at least for now. But I do hope you’ll stick with me through 2016 though, as it turns out I have a bit to say about the experience of developing positive addictions to healthy lifestyle habits, being overweight and losing it, and the whole horrible obesity debate.

I can’t be too triumphalist about it, because take a glance at the picture above (on holiday in Florida, a year ago and several months before the fun-and-games began) and you’ll realise that even 35lbs down, I still have a tonnage to deal with. But I’ve learnt some valuable lessons and changed some important things in the last four months; which means I can with reasonable confidence say that whilst this is neither the end, nor the beginning of the end, it is perhaps the end of the beginning.