Healthy Christmas A-Z Part 9

Here we are at the end of my strategies for keeping Christmas healthy, although my Christmas blogging is probably not at an end and I’ve been running down my favourite Christmas songs on my dedicated music blog and I’m no way finished with that yet so take a look if you fancy by clicking HERE.

I’ve lost over 110lbs now since April 2014, I’m due a weigh in but I’m confident I have not gained weight since my 111lb weigh in last month. I don’t want to gain weight over Christmas but if I do then I’m like the vast majority of the population but I will be using every strategy I’ve learned so far this year and those I’ve carried over from a life time of yo yo dieting and Christmas times where I managed a weight loss to try to prevent it from happening.

If I don’t manage that then I dust myself off and get back on track. I’ve learned that beating yourself up about a stumble does no good at all, it leads to climbing back on the train to sadsville and I don’t want to go back there. It’s better to admit to yourself that you were just doing what normal people do and forgiving yourself, getting over it fast and moving on with renewed vigor to make up for lost time.

I’ve also learned that making yourself miserable during a festive or celebratory period does nothing to help you in the long run, it doesn’t help your mental health and it doesn’t help your physical if you allow yourself to feel deprived of good things, or joining in the fun then you will be more likely to binge when no one is looking and that is a really unhealthy habit that we’re trying to crack forever.download (4)

Christmas is a killer for me and I’ve written many blog posts to help myself more than anything to cope. It is just synonymous with food, over indulgence and excess and those habits and rituals and traditions are ingrained on my soul and I can’t beat them all that easily at once but I can give it a shot and being prepared, admitting that this is a terror zone for me is part way to getting through it.

I’m embarrassed that this is so hard for me, it shows me how far I have yet to go in terms of beating my mental demons but I’m not going to let that embarrassment overwhelm me, I’m going to admit it, face it and get on with being healthy AND enjoying myself.

So all that are left are W, X, Y and Z. I’ve managed somehow to fit the whole alphabet in in a few days and I’m proud of myself for doing that, for obsessing about food and health and Christmas in a positive way. I’m glad I’ve spent time writing, preparing myself for this time rather than baking or shopping for useless things.

Anyway, to the end we go…

W is for Wholegrain

As I’ve said so many times already, keeping some of your routine and some of your good habits going over Christmas is better than none so I’m going to be trying to at least stick to my regular meal times when at home, it might be more difficult when we’re out and about.download (2)

The most important meal of the day I’ve found is breakfast,it really is and I don’t think it’s a surprise that many of the obese people I speak to have a common trait in that they do not eat breakfast, or they do not feast on breakfast or eat the right things for breakfast. I consume a huge amount of food at breakfast, well it’s huge these days, it’s when I take in most of what I call my medicating food, things which might not taste great but are going to do me real good, like my wheat grass shot and my turmeric kefir and garlic cloves.

When I said back there that people often eat the wrong thing for breakfast one of the big sins if you like is not taking that opportunity to start a day off with whole grain. Breakfast is a great opportunity to stick to something that is now part of your routine, include some whole grain quite easily and also if you promise yourself you will make sure you eat a wholesome healthy breakfast each day over Christmas it will help you to resist temptations of other foods and resist snacking which for me is a killer at this time of year when food is everywhere all of the time.

This article from Whole Grains Council Website is full of information about the value of wholegrains and also links to several studies into the effects of whole grains on your health.download (3)

I’ve recently started to add Kamut and Spelt to my granola, read up about these wholegrains they are packed with good stuff. Here’s a great recipe for Dried Apricot and Kamut granola and you can make a whole batch of it for the family to last you a week saving time at this busy festive period.

But it’s not just about breakfast you can use wholegrains like Quinoa (mentioned before that it’s not actually a grain but acts like one, so see Q for more info) and Bulgar wheat to make stuffings for roasts and you can bake breads using wholegrains. There are tons of recipes on line.

At this time of year I find that dark grains, dark breads, denser starches do go well with seasonal foods and if you make a nice rich fruit loaf you can add in lots of these wholegrains for texture and crunch as well as using wholegrain flours.

Really what I’m saying is if you’re going to do it do it right and get that balance in by not neglecting whole grains, they really are a solid foundation on the path to good health.

X is for X-Ray

Well this one got me but then I thought, no, you know what x-ray, scan … much the same thing kind of 😛

Lighter areas are fat, look at the fat inside the body, the hidden fat which does the damage. That's the first fat that we shed when we start to lose weight through healthy eating and exercise and why that first 10% of starting weight loss is so important.
Lighter areas are fat, look at the fat inside the body, the hidden fat which does the damage. That’s the first fat that we shed when we start to lose weight through healthy eating and exercise and why that first 10% of starting weight loss is so important.

If you’re never had a fat scan why not treat yourself to one after Christmas. Start off the new year with a gift to yourself, a visual of where your body fat is and how much of it there is to lose. It can be a very powerful tool in helping to shed weight and get healthy. I know people who have had one and find it fascinating and motivating to see that fat in their bodies rather than just on their bodies.

Maybe some can get one on the NHS, some can get one through health insurance or through attendance at an obesity clinic or you might have to pay but I would say it might be the best Christmas present you give yourself. I have one booked for mid January and the reason is that I have lost all of this weight and still have a way to go and I want a little new year boost if you like to keep me focused on the job in hand.

I believe that seeing where my fat still lies will really motivate me to shift it. Being an apple shape and carrying my weight more like  a man does around his mid section I know my fat is more dangerous than a pear shaped traditional fat carrying pattern of a woman. I know that I’ve shifted inches from that region but I also know that region is still obese and still a danger zone for me at 47 years old. So I’m having this scan and then I’m also having a full body scan and medical.

I did this, not as in depth as I’m going to be doing in January, a few months ago and I think it’s time to repeat it and dig a bit deeper. I was pleased at my last one that there was nothing untoward detected other than my fat. I was particularly pleased because I had worked myself into the belief that I had some nasty disease that was killing me, the papers told me I should have and I believed them and I was lucky not to have. I was too afraid to go for the full works then but now I’m ready to face the deeper probing and ensure that there is nothing lurking that shouldn’t be there and I believe that this last fear about my health being put to rest and being able to visualise that fat left to shift will give me renewed enthusiasm and strength to get through the winter and get to my ultimate goal where I can then work on a life time of maintenance.

So this is my gift to me, even though I don’t think I really need a boost, I figure I will after the come down from Christmas, I don’t cope well with winter months so I am expecting a trough in my mood and it may not come but I’m not leaving that to chance, I’m going to do something practical to off set it.

So it might not be the most romantic or exciting or indulgent of gifts to yourself but booking in for a medical check and a fat scan (x ray haha) will be one of my most important gifts to me.

Y is for Yesterday

Yesterday is gone, forget it and move on. If you can’t control yourself and over eat or if you can’t be bothered to leave the comfy sofa and go to the gym do not beat yourself up, forget it, it’s yesterday’s news, it’s history, today is where we are and today is what we shall deal with.

In short just don’t let yesterday come into today with you, shake it off and start afresh.

Z is for Zebra

I’m scraping the bottom of the barrel now but this one is important. I have often described my wardrobe as a hiding place for a zebra, it was so black and white and I find that my larger friends are almost all building zebra hiding places too, with a couple of exceptions who take it to another extreme… how I admire them.download (1)

I have been injecting more colour into my wardrobe steadily throughout the past 8 months with a real burst early on and continued pieces being added but I’ve found that lately I’ve reverted (probably due to the winter) to buying blacks and greys again.

So if this sounds familiar, pep up your wardrobe and your mood with a big bold splash of colour. You might already have your Christmas outfits picked out by now but it’s not too late (if they are bland) to pop out and purchase some big bold bright scarves or tights or jewellery pieces to let your healthy bright new way of living and thinking shine through and manifest itself in the way you show yourself to the world.

15874590036_51759b9f66I am not joking when I say that when I do wear bright colours I feel so much happier and also when I go to business meetings wearing a nice bright business dress under contrasting jacket or even when I team up a black business suit with a big red or vibrant jade green scarf I just feel better, more professional, more finished and more as if I’m representing who I am. I’m a very colourful character and black and white doesn’t tell the world anything about me, they are my hiding colours and I know it.

So treat yourself to some bright wardrobe additions, be bold and get rid of the zebra in the closet.  If anyone is struggling to buy you a gift bright bold scarves can never feature too heavily in a lady’s wardrobe. Don’t forget the footwear either. My daughter had a pair of bright red knee high suede stilleto boots and I coveted those boots, I nearly cried because I wanted to wear them and as luck would have it my feet have shrunk a size and she thinks they are boots befitting a hooker so won’t wear them and I have inherited them and I’m like a kid with a new toy. I dare wear them now and I don’t care what anyone thinks. When I wear them I feel amazing and I often team them with a black pencil skirt and top and a vivid red suit jacket and I feel a million dollars strutting to a meeting.

images
Something like this… doesn’t have to be a dream.

For New year’s eve my daughter who is stunningly gorgeous and has a striking to die for hour glass figure and since she’s been undertaking all manner of outdoor pursuits has developed a flat as a pancake toned abdomen allowed me to buy her a gold dress for her new year’s eve work party and I cried when I saw her in it, not because she looked amazing (that girl is having a wedding dress to end all wedding dresses one day I hope) but because I wanted to have a golden dress. I’ve never had one, not one like that all low cut and strappy and beaded and shimmery and fitted. I don’t think I’ll ever look like her in one and I wouldn’t want one the same but I can’t wait for next year when I can have a golden tight fitted strappy floor length gown for Christmas, even if I have to go on a cruise to wear it or gatecrash someone’s swanky London ‘do’, I’m having one.

See the you of the future this Christmas. As you enjoy yourselves with friends, family, pets, alone, as you face temptations of food and drink and try to muster strength and will to go to the gym or for a walk or a run, picture you next Christmas. I don’t mean like we yo yoing fat people do every year, telling ourselves next year we’ll be slim and beautiful, but really see yourself, next Christmas, thinner, fitter, healthier, with more life ahead of you to live than you imagined you had, with more adventures to come, feeling sexy, feeling beautiful, feeling like a normal, valid person, putting yourself out there on the dance floor, not being self conscious as you fill your plate at the buffet, feeling it’s OK to stick a sausage roll or two on there because you’re not fat anymore, no one notices or cares what you eat, you are just a regular person having a little bit of a treat at Christmas, in your tight fitting clothes, with your sexy santa lingerie on (guys read boxers) and see yourself enjoying your life, enjoying being you and enjoying being free of the fat and the demons which made you that way forever.

images (1)Make yourself a real promise this year and it will help you to resist temptation, it will help you to over come hiccups you have, it will help you to keep emotionally and mentally strong and focused and it will help you to achieve your dream of just being like everyone else… although you’ll never be that because inside you will know that you are a fighter, a survivor and a victor, you will know how far you came and you will know that you will never be just normal, you will always be a winner, you’ll always be amazing even more amazing than you are now for having come this far or for having even had the bravery to take this challenge on and to overcome whatever is making you use your fat body as a shield to hide behind.

I believe I can do it and I believe that anyone can do it if they just believe in themselves and find the right motivators for change.

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Healthy Christmas A-Z Part 5

Continuing fast with the A-Z of a healthy Christmas, trying to embed some thoughts which will help me and also calling on past experiences where I managed a weight loss over Christmas without making myself feel miserable.  On with today’s offerings  I – K

I is for Icy Desserts

Christmas puds and desserts can be very tempting and what I try to do is either have some of what is on offer and just reduce portion size or go for a healthy alternative. This is easier to do if you are in control of the offering for example if you are entertaining or doing the cooking. It’s easy to switch ice cream for a zesty, zingy, refreshing sorbet which also helps to clear the palate of all the rich stodgy food remnants and reinvigorate the taste buds. I always feel less bloated after a fruity cold dessert and less like I’ve committed some kind of sin.

Frozen-Yogurt
Frozen Yoghurt. Work on the presentation it can make something simple seem like such a treat.

Another tactic I’ve employed in the past is to use ice cream instead of custard or lashings of fresh cream. This is something you can usually do quite easily when dining out, it is rare to find a restaurant which does not have ice cream. The reason I do this is because custard and lashings of cream can be eaten way too quickly and it is easy to pour on a little too much by accident, once of those whoops moments where it’s in the bowl now so may as well be eaten. Even better use a low fat, low sugar frozen yoghurt.

I find ice cream more controllable in terms of portions, you can ask for half a scoop or one scoop and that’s what you will get. I also like to serve just a slither of it onto a fruit salad and mix it in to coat the fruits with cold creaminess which really feels like a treat. Larger helpings take longer to eat than liquid custard and cream and therefore the sense of having eaten or of just eating can be savoured more and you feel like you’ve actually had something nice rather than bolting something down and not really noticing you ever had it.

http://www.driscolls.com/recipes/view/7384/Fresh-Raspberry-and-Tropical-Fruit-Sorbet-Terrine
http://www.driscolls.com/recipes/view/7384/Fresh-Raspberry-and-Tropical-Fruit-Sorbet-Terrine

Try making your own ice creams and sorbets too, adding lots of healthy berries and trying out recipes with fat reduced dairy and reducing the sugar content in recipes you find. I compensate for the reduced sugar by using more fruit or using a very sweet tangy fruit in the first place.  Click on the link to create this fantastic looking dessert to serve up from  Driscolls if you are entertaining, it’s a fab alternative to a stodgy fat laden pudding.

fdc4b64d37b4b938a69b02891337c84f
Festive iced cocktails, refreshing, sweet treats perfect for any Christmas climate

Also try making or ordering an iced cocktail, like a fruity slush puppy either with our without alcohol, they are super refreshing, make a great alternative to a dessert and really feel indulgent. I did this a lot when on holiday and I do it when I dine out for special occasions but it’s easy to recreate at home. Just slap some crushed ice into a smoothie machine or bullet and add a couple of hands full of mixed berries, cold filtered water or even carbonated water, add some cranberry juice for a real festive feel and then a glug of whatever tipple takes your fancy, vodka, gin, schnapps, a half glass of champagne… you choose. Blitz it together, pass it through a cocktail strainer and serve up with some sliced citrus, a mini skewer of berries or swizzel it with a cinnamon stick. Perfect.

 

J is for Jumping Jacks

Enough of food and drinks, it’s making me salivate, now for some exercise. If your gym is closed, if you are away from home, if you are stepping over guests littered around your home there is noting, absolutely nothing preventing you from stepping out into the garden or standing next to your bed and just whacking out five or ten jumping jacks. Even knock out a crafty five while you’re waiting for something to come to the boil in the kitchen.  Point is, do not stop moving no matter how much your normal routine is upset.

I'm only asking myself to deliver five or ten at a time, maybe make 100 your daily tally goal
I’m only asking myself to deliver five or ten at a time, maybe make 100 your daily tally goal

Getting all of your big muscles moving, especially those in your bum and thighs and upper arms, will increase your heart rate for a moment, get some blood pumping, keep you from becoming totally out of shape and give you a renewed vigour and energy to prevent you slothfully seeing out the festive period.

If you can’t manage a few jumping jacks, punch a couple of pillows, do a couple of lunges, touch your toes, stretch up to the ceiling, pull on a bungee band, anything which just keeps you moving and stops your increasingly supple body from going back into the atrophied state you’ve worked so hard to get it out of. It will be far less of a shock to your poor muscles come January when drag them back to the gym and you will have more chance of getting quickly back into a good routine.

My kids have been instructed to order me to perform ten jumping jacks on demand, whenever they command me to I have to drop everything and get those arms and legs pumping. They will find it hilarious and no doubt it will get video’d once or twice but it will be worth it and will stop me from becoming complacent. I might even get others to join in. It all helps to make Christmas fun.

 

K is for knitting

This time of year is a good time to think of starting a project for next year or to think about learning a new skill or working something new into your lifestyle to help keep you happy and healthy. That doesn’t have to be a radical dietary or exercise change it can be something as simple as getting the knitting needles out.

download (3)I recently developed a love of crochet and knitting and found that I’m quite good at it. I find it relaxing and therapeutic and I am trying to include more relaxing activities into my hectic lifestyle to balance it out and help me to cope better with stress. I am unfortunate in that I eat when I’m stressed or depressed as opposed to most people who lose their appetite, how I wish I was one of those. It is important if you are a stress eater or not to really find time to relax, to unwind and to spend on some creative activity. I think all of us with eating disorders or emotional disorders find it difficult to unwind and to create time for ourselves and those things are important in developing a healthy lifestyle. Remember this is all about health not just weight loss for me.

I’ve been making a crocheted blanket for my daughter which she requested as a Christmas gift but I’ve also got another little project on the go and that is knitting a mood blanket. I took a spectrum of coloursdownload (4) from the internet and assigned moods to them. For me yellow is relaxed and chilled out, red is angry and tense, black is sad and depressed, grey is a struggling colour for me, white is optimistic, orange is happy, blue is fresh and alive, green is accomplished and so on. I listed all of these moods (I didn’t go by any colour therapy I went by what the colours mean to me so everyone may be different) and what I am doing is knitting every day for just a few minutes in the colour of wool which sums up my mood for that day. I’m going to do this for a whole year (so I’m only sewing a little bit each day) but it download (5)makes me sit down and relax and create, even if it’s in bed right before I go to sleep, or while I’m watching telly in the evening for five minutes. The blanket when finished will also show me how I felt throughout the year, I’ll be able to see how I felt for the majority of my days, which emotions were the most prevalent, enduring or recurrent. I might be surprised or I might be inspired to try to get more happy colours in next year. I’m calling it my mood blanket and I’ve seen someone online who does something similar but crochet’s a granny square a day in her mood colours.

It’s a great activity for relaxation and creativity but it also gives an opportunity to reflect on what has images (7)made me feel the way I do that day so that maybe tomorrow I can avoid anything which made me feel unhappy or stressed and replicate things which made me feel happy and good about life and myself.

If you can’t knit or crochet, it’s very easy to do simple patterns and there are tons of You Tube tutorials for beginners and there are classes held around the country which by the way also get you out of the house and socialising if you’ve become a bit of a recluse like many obese people do.  Or you could do the same by using colouring pens or pencils and drawing up a tessellation and colouring sections each day.

Simple but useful for relaxation, creativity and reflection. All great for health and all great to combat the stresses and chaos of Christmas.

Healthy Christmas A-Z Part 4

Here I am on H and this one is for Holly.

images (2)Holly has long been associated with Christmas in the UK and further afield.  Doing a bit of internet research quickly shows that Holly along with other festive greenery such as Ivy, Mistletoe and Laurel were used prior Christianity in the British Isles as pagan symbols of celebrating new growth, to ward off evil and to celebrate the winter solstice. Christians adopted these plants and gave religious meanings to them and you can read all about those in this easy, quick read I found on whychristmas.com.

I discovered that Holly is native to the British Isles, Europe, North Africa and West Asia and that there are many different varieties, most identifiable by their glossy dark green leaves and red berries. Only young or lower hanging leaves are spiky, for obvious reasons I guess, but something I didn’t know before. Check out this Woodland Trust article for more info and interesting holly facts.

Why I’ve included Holly in my healthy Christmas A-Z is twofold really, firstly instead of hiding indoors under layers of blankets and in front of roaring fires why not get yourself and the family, dog, horse, kids whatever, out and about and go in search of some of this stuff growing in the wild. Do some research, have a ramble, even take advantage in reduced traffic at this time of year and drive to a woods where you may find holly. Get your wellies on, cover up your extremities with woolen gloves and hats and stride out in search of some real, authentic, living holly and don’t come back until you find some… maybe not that extreme but you get the idea.

images (4)Take an opportunity to learn something, useless or not and to teach the kids, get them talking about customs, about Christmas about the pagan rituals which are still a part of our modern day Christmas, discuss other religions and how they celebrate their significant times of the year, talk to each other, listen to each other, exercise together, breathe fresh air, get away from technology and modern life and enjoy being a family or being free and alone for a while.

It is so good for the mind as well as the body, it keeps you moving, it keeps you breathing nice and deep, it will lift your mood and prevent stress and it can help, believe it or not, to build strong stable relationships in your family. I find that when we walk together as a family we talk more than at any other time and we listen more than at any other time and we laugh more than at any other time. I don’t think my little family is any different to any other and if it works for us it will probably work for others.

Walking is huge fun and has so many, many benefits. Whether you share a walk with a loved one or as part of a rambling group or in isolation. It can be excellent thinking time. It burns calories, gets the heart beating, uses a whole host of muscles and for even the least fit among us it is really useful valuable exercise. Do not knock walking, forget about pace and speed and distance, for some very overweight people just getting one foot in front of the other is an achievement, take a few steps and a few more, rest if you have to, breathe and take a few more, before you know it and I seriously mean this, within just a few days of walking you will be amazed at how much further you can go each time and how fast your fitness begins to improve. This is not only good for your body but for your mind, it makes the unachievable seem achievable, if you can walk more easily after three days of taking a few steps what will you be doing in a year? Running that’s what! Maybe not, but never say never. You’ll definitely be walking further and you’ll be fittimages (3)er and slimmer and feeling so much more healthy.

If you find it hard to motivate yourself to get up and exercise, a holly hunt will give you that reason. Who cares if you never find any? Who cares if you don’t have any growing near you, go seek some out in a shop or garden centre or look for something else, a flower or tree which you have in your country which has some symbolic significance at Christmas or whatever religious holiday you celebrate. The point is, find reasons to move, moving is good. If holly can be a reason to get up, get out and move then anything else can be too.

Secondly, family activities again, or even solitary activities. Find a good You Tube crafting demo like the simple one below which shows you how to make a quick and easy holly wreath.

Make some for your home or to gift to a family member or to take to the grave of a loved one who has already moved on from this life. Creating something is very therapeutic, it keeps your hands occupied and it keeps you out of the kitchen. It gives you a sense of usefulness and/or achievement and many obese people are down on themselves, feeling they can’t do anything right, so determine to make a simple holly arrangement or wreath and prove to yourself that you can do something and if you can do this one thing, what else can you do? Get good at it and make them and sell them and use the money to buy those himages (5)ealthy ingredients you can’t normally afford or a piece of exercise equipment, even if only a bungee band to tug on when you’re sat watching the TV. Or donate them to charities who can’t afford decorations or as prizes in local charity raffles or for local Christmas craft sales. No matter how big you are, even if you are bed bound you can do a craft activity and by the way you can pull on a bungee band. Lying in bed pulling on a bungee band is more exercise than you have been doing, it is more movement and we can all manage it, so get crafting and buy yourself a band and get exercising, you will burn more calories, strengthen muscles and start to lose weight, especially if you are making changes to the amount and type of food you eat too.

Again if you can do a Christmas project with your partner or kids or friends it is great for bonding and fun and is mood lifting and gets you talking and listening to one another. It’s surprising what you might get off your chest when you are relaxed, creative and happy and it’s amazing what your kids feel comfortable talking to you about. Sometimes other people in our lives have deep and genuine concerns about us when we are morbidly overweight, kids secretly worry about obese parents in the same way they silently worry about smoking parents, they hear the news, they have the lessons at school and they all scream to them “your mum or dad is going to die very soon and leave you all alone” and that is heartbreaking to know but it shakes you into action too when you find that your kid is worried sick about losing you.

Getting comfortable and having good quality family time gives them space and safety to come out and tell you about these things, to express their concerns and lets you have time to benefit from hearing that, to keep you inspired and to give you strength to avoid that Christmas buffet. It’s also good to hear them open up about how proud they are of your efforts and to hear them tell you what their favourite thing is about the new healthier you. Don’t miss these opportunities by not doing things together and allowing that space for such conversations to open up. The concerns and pride of your loved ones is the best food in the world, it fills you up and spurs you on and makes you strong, you want to put their fears behind them and you want to give them even more reasons to be proud of you. It dawns on you that only you can do this, it’s all up to you. Imagine the day you’re making a holly wreath with your kids and one of them says “remember that time when you used to be overweight mum and you….” that day is yours to have and it will come sooner if you can stay strong and focused on becoming that person who used to be overweight.

downloadChristmas is about togetherness for me and what better way to spend it than really talking and listening and getting to know the people you love more and letting them into new parts of you that they maybe didn’t know so well before. Make holly wreaths, make anything except unhealthy food.