Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Know your breaking point and find your balance

If you follow my blog then you will know that finding a balance in life is something I find difficult and something that I continually have to work at. Working freelance and having a mountain of debt means that work often has to be the dominant factor and other things in my life suffer. Issues that throw me out of a routine also put a lot of pressure on me and sometimes I just don’t know how to cope with that. Emotional eating is still a huge issue for me and if I start to feel under enough strain then the temptation to try and bury myself in food can be overwhelming.

The last week put me under pressure. It was half term so my youngest was at home. I normally work while she is at school and then late in the evening once she is in bed. Last week I had to work most days because we needed the money and I had bills to pay that couldn’t be left. This made me feel rotten as I couldn’t take her anywhere. I was also working really late so lack of sleep was making me feel worse. I was cheating on my diet with sugary snacks to try and boost my energy which also made me feel rotten about myself. Finally my stupid fluctuating hormones made me want to sit on the floor and howl. Basically it wasn’t good.

I should have seen the signs and I should have prepared better as I knew half term would be difficult. Instead I let that little tight ball of anxiety in my stomach grow and grow until today, after a heated row with my dsughter’s school in which I nearly cried, I realised that I needed to stop this before I reached a breaking point that I couldn’t pull back from. That happened last year and I slid into months of overeating.

So tonight I’m going to bed at 12 instead of 2:30am, I will give myself regular breaks during the day tomorrow and I will treat myself to a bath instead of the shower sprint that I usually go through.

I know that this post doesn’t really have much to do with losing weight but for so many people, their mental state will have a huge impact on lifestyle changes that they might be trying to make. I realised today that I wasn’t in a good state and if I had read the signs then I might have realised even earlier. So try to be aware of yourself. Look at what issues could trigger mood swings or problems for you. If you start to feel that it is all getting a bit too much for you then do something immediately to try and lift your mood. It doesn’t have to be anything large or expensive. Just something that will make you feel happier. It’s important to recognise what could be your breaking point. It’s the only way to make sure that you don’t actually break.

Saturday, 17 February 2018

Can the Menopause make it harder to lose weight?

I turned fifty last year so I knew then that I was at the age when menopause is literally just around the corner. I hadn't really had any symptoms up to then but within a month of my birthday, out of the blue, I literally felt like menopause had jumped up and slapped me in the face. I've always had a problem with fluctuating hormones and have found herbal supplements have helped but this time my hormones went haywire and I found it stated to get harder to lose weight. I also found that if I lapsed with my diet or had to cut down on my workouts that I put on more weight than I expected. I felt awful, was bloated and constantly exhausted with no energy. I started reading about how the menopause can have an effect on your weight and ways to help combat it. I found out quite a few interesting things.

The most important impact of the menopause is that any weight gained will go to a different part of your body. Hormone changes make your weight move from your hips and thighs to your belly. This can cause the so called middle aged spread. The weight gain can be made worse by fluctuations in the levels of oestrogen in your body. Either very low or very high levels can mean an increase in the amount of fat that your body stores.

You will also find that your metabolism slows although this is also a part of general ageing so that diets that have worked in the past are not now as successful. As we age, our bodies generally need less calories so portion control becomes more important. This is one reason why an exercise routine alone will not be enough to prevent weight gain during menopause.

Menopause can be a stressful and worrying time especially if you are experiencing distressing symptoms such as hot flushes. Unfortunately this can also have a detrimental effect on your weight. When our bodies are under stress, this causes the production of cortisol to increase. A high level of cortisol can cause you to develop more fat stores around your belly. Stress can also cause comfort eating which is always a huge problem for me.

So the answer is that yes, going through perimenopause and menopause can have an impact on your body both in terms of your weight and also how you store fat and the shape of your body. This was interesting to find out as it partly explains why, when I fell off my diet last year, I was able to put weight back on so easily and so quickly. The extra weight also definitely all went on my belly.

I've been trying a few different things to help myself adjust to this new stage in my life and I will write a post soon to share some of them with you and explain what has worked for me and what hasn't.

Speak to you soon

Love Erica xxx


Friday, 16 February 2018

Blueberry Bites

I had a lot of blueberries left in my fridge yesterday and, as I felt in the mood to do some baking, I thought I would see what I could create with them.

My initial thought was to try and make some sort of Blueberry cookies but they sort of evolved into these instead. I've called them Blueberry Bites and they remind me of little mini scones in taste with a little bit more crunch. Here's the recipe.

800g Self Raising Flour
150g low fat margarine
200ml skimmed milk
1 egg
250g blueberries
150g caster sugar

  1. Beat the margarine into the flour 
  2. Add the egg, sugar and milk and mix well until combined 
  3.  In a separate bowl, mash the blueberries with a fork until they are broken up into pieces
  4. Fold the blueberries into the mixture until fully combined
  5. Take a small piece of the dough, roll it into a ball and then flatten with your fingers
  6. place on a greased baking sheet
  7. carry on until you have done this to all of the dough.
  8. bake near the top of the oven at 175 degrees for approximately 20 minutes or until browned on top.
  9. Leave to cool slight before removing from the tray

 This recipe makes an amazing 75 blueberry bites. I know that this is a lot but they will keep for about 5 days in a airtight container. Each bite is 2 weightwatchers smartpoints.

If you feel that this is too many for you then you could freeze half the dough until you want to make another batch or you could make larger version of the blueberry bite and just double the number of smartpoints.

As I said, I had intended this to be biscuits but they turned out to be gorgeous little scone bites, perfect with some spread and a cup of tea.

I find that I need to have a little snack available that won't completely ruin my smartpoints total for the day so these are perfect for me. Let me know if you try making them.

Speak to you soon

Love Erica xxx


Saturday, 27 January 2018

Treat Yourself

I said that I was going to make 2018 a year for self care and I’m trying to stick to that. It’s just been little things so far just to make myself feel good. My thinking behind this is that it will help me keep on more of an even keel then I might have more luck in keeping my anxiety and depression under control. I think that anyone who has any sort of mental health issues needs to find their own strategies for dealing with things. Things that work for one person may not work for somebody else. So far it seems to be helping me.

In the spirit of this, I took a day off last week and took a trip to London. Financially I should have been working and I did have freelance work available but it was my birthday so I thought I would do something just for me instead.

I went to London with no real plan in mind. I just wanted to walk around and just see where I ended up.

Here’s some of the places I visited.

I love Covent Garden and it was lovely to wander around when it wasn't busy.

I hadn't been to Fortnum and Mason for years. Their window displays are amazing. Each one is a teapot made of different things.

I even had time for a quick selfie in their loo.

For me no trip to central London is ever complete without a visit to Whole Foods. I always find something new or unusual to try. I just wish we had one that was closer to home.

Another favourite shop of mine is Petersham Nurseries near Covent Garden. If you ever get the chance to go there, do it. If I come into money then I will refurnish my house from their shop, it's incredible.

I finished my day in London with a quick walk along the Thames. It was actually a really peaceful and calming thing to do before getting on the train home.

So it wasn't a huge thing to do or an expensive one. I thought I would tell you about it though because that simple act of taking a few hours for myself made a big difference to me. Just wearing something nice with make up and jewellery and pleasing myself for once lifted my mood. I think we all forget how important it is to look after ourselves sometimes and this can mean emotionally as well as physically. This is definitely something I'm going to try and repeat every now and then as it really did do me good. Remember as Ferris Bueller said

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Speak to you soon

Love Erica xxx

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

My first week on Weightwatchers Flex

I have had such a good week and I can’t believe I’ve lost 6 pounds. I think that is probably the best start I have ever had to any diet.

My first impressions after a week on Flex are that I like it. It gives that little bit of added flexibility that I need. Things like eggs being zero points are incredibly useful!

I don’t feel that I have had to deprive myself particularly. Sometimes I have had to make decisions over choosing between two types of food but that’s been OK.

I’ve signed up for the online 3 month plan with weightwatchers. This is a big thing for me as it’s the best time I’ve officially joined since the very first time I tried it when I lost 1.5 stone going to meetings but ended up with bulimia! I just felt that this time I wanted the extra support. This means that I have use of all the facilities on the Weightwatchers app and that’s been really helpful.

I know the weight loss will slow down but I’m really buzzing to have had such a good start to my Weightwatchers journey in 2018.

Hope you are all having a great week! Speak to you soon

Love Erica xxx

Sunday, 31 December 2017

2018 - No New Year’s Resolutions

Last year I made very specific resolutions for what I was going to achieve in 2017. I just read back though and I didn’t keep to a single one. Do you make New Year’s resolutions? I don’t actually think I know anyone who makes them and actually manages to stick to them.

I have decided that, for me at least, making New Year’s resolutions is just putting another unnecessary pressure on myself. If I don’t make them then I can’t fail and break them and end up feeling really crap about myself.

So instead I am setting a theme for 2018. I want it to be my year of self care. I want to be kind to myself for the whole year. Yes, this does involve looking after my body and dealing with my weight as that impacts on my health. But it also involves recognising the fact that mentally I can be quite fragile and I need to protect myself in that respect. Perhaps it just means acknowledging the fact that it is OK to put myself first occasionally.

I hope you all have a wonderful start to 2018. Good luck if you are setting specific New Year’s resolutions and try not to be too hard on yourself if you slip up!

Speak to you next year!

Love Erica xxx

Saturday, 30 December 2017

How to control emotional eating

I am an emotional eater. For years it has been my way to cope with the crap that life throws at us all from time to time. I’ve tried to overcome it and sometimes I’ve managed to control it for long periods of time, however eventually I resort to it as an attempt to deal with whatever is going on in my life. I like to think that I am quite an intelligent person and I’m certainly quite logical so I know that this sort of mindless eating is not good and it’s not an answer. I’m not talking about cheating on my diet occasionally, it’s standing in the kitchen cooking dinner and shovelling biscuits into your mouth one after another because you feel scared, anxious or just a bit of a failure. So, as I am trying to make myself healthier again, this is an issue I need to tackle and I’ve been looking to advice and suggestions to help me combat it. 

One thing that I have found is a book by Susan Albers called “50 more ways to soothe yourself without food. I haven’t been able to buy it yet as I currently have 86p in my bank account but I’ve found several articles about it that have given me ideas about ways to control my eating. Here’s my five favourite ideas from the book.

1. Speak to yourself
I am very self critical and I know this is a common trait with emotional ideas. I live in fear of failing and not measuring up. The idea is that when you feel low, you speak to yourself in glowing and positive terms. So, for me I would say something like “Erica, you are a determined and strong person and you have skills and talents so persevere and you will get there. It’s like giving yourself a verbal pay on the back so that you can break your downward mindset.

2. Ground yourself
Emotional eating is, as it says, all tied into your emotions. The idea behind grounding yourself is that it jolts you back to the physical state and again breaks the mindset. The book suggests holding an ice cube in your hands until it melts and concentrating on how it feels. 

3. Get your favourite book
Always have your favourite book nearby, pick it up and read one page at random. Then read that page backwards. The concentration required to do this should turn your mind from food.

4. Plan out your emotional week
Every week you should sit down and look at what is ahead of you. Consider what may be emotional challenging, flag it up and try to be prepared for how it may make you feel and how you could cope.

5. Make a 5 x 5 list
This is a way to distract yourself and give yourself something else to focus on. The idea is that you write down five different lists with five things in each. The lists could be things you could do to relax,  mantras you can say to help yourself, people you can call for a chat or things to read. Basically you make the lists of anything that you think you help you to keep control of your eating. I’m definitely going to do this and stick the list on my fridge. That way, when everything starts to get a little bit too much for me, I can pick one of my 25 things and it will help me cope until the moment passes.

I think these are quite useful ideas. I’m not saying that they will cure emotional eating but I think they may help control it. The other piece of advice I have is to take one day at a time. If you are having a rough time then be especially gentle with yourself. We will get through it!

Speak to you soon

Love Erica xxx
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