Sunday, 27 February 2011


Eggs are probably the one food that has caused the most debate. A few years ago, everyone was avoiding eggs as scientists said they were detrimental to your health. You know what I say to that? It's crap!! And i'm not the only one who thinks that. Researchers have now said eating eggs is not bad for you and they have many benefits.

The health benefits of eggs are huge! Although, sadly, these benefits don't count if the eggs are chocolate Easter eggs. They are a great source of protein and amino acids. They are actually one of the only food groups that contain naturally occurring vitamin D and because of their high sulphur count and being full of vitamins and minerals, they are said to give you healthy hair and nails. They are also fairly low in calories, with one medium egg having about 68 calories in it.
The reason I praise eggs so much, is because of how much they help aid weight loss. Eating eggs for breakfast (rather than toast or cereal) will help you lose weigh as you will stay fuller for longer and that means less snacking throughout the day. Even if the eggs you have for breakfast are the same calories as the cereal or toast you would have, the eggs are still going to help you lose weight. Remember, it's not all about calorie content. Of course, there are many other benefits of eggs. Including helping improve your eyesight. And they say carrots make you see in the dark!

Most of the negativity around eggs was their cholesterol levels. Although eggs do contain cholesterol, it really isn't a significant amount. Obviously, if you have massively high cholesterol levels, you should not be eating 30 eggs a week, but 5 or 6 a week is not going to do you any damage, as long as you are not frying them that is!
It is the same with everything. Everything in moderation.

These same researchers have also said that foods high in cholesterol are not responsible for raising blood cholesterol. What is said to have a much greater effect on your blood cholesterol levels, is saturated fat. That is what we should all be cutting back on. It is true that high cholesterol levels increase the risk of heart disease, but only a third of the cholesterol in our body comes from our diet. It's things like being over-weight and smoking that increase cholesterol levels. So, instead of avoiding eggs, avoid cakes and embrace an omelette!

It is also really important to be aware that the quality of the egg is important too. The health of the chicken responsible for the egg will have an effect on the egg you are eating. You should always try and spend a couple of pence extra to get free-range and organic eggs. Think of those happier chickens and think of your body.

So, what should you do with the eggs? Well, pretty much anything you like. As long as you are not preparing them in an unhealthy way. If you are going to fry them, use fry-lite. You can have poached eggs on whole-wheat toast for breakfast, make a fritatta, or my personal favourite - make an omelette. The great thing about an omelette is there are so many different, and healthy, fillings you can put in them, that it will never get boring. Just try and limit, or eliminate completely, the cheese. It goes without saying that will make it less healthy. If you do use cheese, go for extra light cream cheese - it melts really nicely too. Some of my favourite things to put in an omelette include: mushrooms, leeks, onions, prawns, flaked salmon and tomato's. Not necessarily all at the same time though. I presume most of you reading this will know how to make an omlette, but you would be surprised how many people don't. So, I have included a recipe and some pictures to motivate you!

Serves 1
- 2 eggs
- Splash of milk
- Mushrooms (or what ever filling you want to include)
- Teaspoon of extra light cream cheese

1) First, take the eggs out of the fridge. You shouldn't cook with really cold eggs

2) If your filling needs to be cooked first, like the mushrooms do, cook them.

3) Next, heat some fry-lite in a frying pan. Crack 2 eggs into a bowl and whisk. Add the milk and some pepper and whisk again. Poor this mixture into the pan

4) Leave to cook for a few minutes. If there is lots of excess liquid on the top, lift the omlette up at the corners and let the liquid underneath to cook. Once the egg is cooked, spread the cream cheese onto one half and top with mushrooms.

5) Fold the other half on top of the topping and cook for a couple of minutes. Then serve with a big pile of vegetables.


Thursday, 24 February 2011

Exercise: Swimming

After all this talk of eating, I guess it is about time I spoke about how I burn off all the food I eat. I won't put all the different aspects of my work-out routine into one blog, as there is quite a lot to it. Instead, I will do a different post for each different exercise I do in my daily routine.
At the moment, my work-out routine is pretty intense. Probably about 3 hours a day I spend working out, everyday. This is only because of the wedding being 11 weeks away. I will take it down to 4 days a week after the wedding or honeymoon. My routine is all about toning up, not loosing weight. But, for any of you looking to loose weight, the routine would work well for that as well, and tone you up at the same time. When I first started loosing weight, I made the MASSIVE mistake of not exercising anywhere near enough. I did some stupid diets that saw a lot of weight loss in a short space of time, and no toning to go along with it. That is very hard to fix. To fix the damage that I did, I have to work really hard. So, if you take anything from this blog......TONE! Don't just change your diet. They go hand in hand.

So, about an hour and a half of my routine is cardio and yoga/pilates and the other hour and a half is weights, sit-ups and press-up.
My cardio is what I will talk about in this blog post. Due to my heart problems, I can't do intense cardio. I would LOVE more than anything to be able to go running. Or do an aerobics class. But I can't. It messes my heart up for days. And yes, I have tried easing myself into it, it doesn't work. It is a medical thing, not a "I am really unfit" thing. Instead, I go swimming. I absolutely love swimming. I hate the swimming pool, but that will be a rant for another post.

Everyday, I swim for 45 minutes. In between every 10 lengths, I do leg exercises in the water for a couple of minutes. The resistance from the water really helps.
So, the benefits of swimming. Well, what isn't it good for? It works your whole body! As well as toning you up, it works your heart and lungs. If you are trying to lose weight, then swimming is a great way to help you achieve that. 30 minutes of swimming will burn around 300 calories and is equivalent to a 45 minute "on land" workout. You don't have to just swim at the pool. Try running in the water or water aerobics. Any kind of movement is going to be a good thing.
Swimming is also low impact, so it won't put any pressure on your joints. Running can give you problems with your knees and ankles, as it is high impact, but you won't have this problem with swimming.

At the end of the day, you have to find an exercise you enjoy doing, otherwise you won't stick to it. I can praise swimming all I want, but if you don't like swimming, or you can't swim, then it just won't be suitable for you. Like I say, I love swimming. I don't dread going everyday, in fact I really look forward to it. I come out feeling so much better and my head is clearer. Of course I do miss days, when we have people to visit I let up on my routine, but I can definitely notice the difference in how I feel when I don't exercise.
Some people have told me that I am crazy for spending 3 hours of my day exercising, but I do actually enjoy it, so I think it is a good use of my time.

So, time.....I can almost hear some of you saying "if only I had time to work out 3 hours a day". Most of the time I am lucky that I can fit it into my day, as I have been unemployed. But, if you are dedicated to it, you can find the time. Now, this isn't meant to boast, more to show that it can be done, but during my final year of my degree, I was attending 15 hours of classes a week, writing a dissertation, working 25 hours a week and planning a wedding and I still fit in 3 hours of exercise a day. Don't get me wrong, it was really tough and I would sometimes be doing yoga at midnight, but I personally think it is worth it.

I really can't stress enough how important it is to exercise. Not only for your body, but for your mind. I still have a prescription for Prozac that I refused to take and instead decided to exercise to clear my head. It 100% worked. If only the doctors gave out gym passes before pharmaceuticals.

Find an exercise you love and get moving!!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


Being a pescitarian, I eat a lot of vegetables. For some dishes, you need one of the more meayt vegetables to fill it out and that is where I use mushrooms. Although, technically not a vegetable, but a fungus. You could of course use meat substitute like Quorn, but I like to avoid that as much as possible.

Mushrooms are great, especially if you are trying to watch your weight. A study done by the mushroom bureau (how funny would that company look on your CV) showed that when people swapped mushrooms for meat in at least 4 meals during the week, they lost an average of 12 pounds over 5 weeks. Some people in the study even shed a stone and a half! This is of course if you are following a balanced diet.

So, what's so good about mushrooms? Well, apart from being virtually fat free and containing only a trace of salt and sugar, they are a great source of fibre and B vitamins (which is important for vegetarians and vegans). They are very low in calories, with only 13 calories per 100g. They are also full of potassium, which helps lower elevated blood pressure and reduces the risk of a stroke. In regards to men's health, mushrooms are a fantastic source of selenium which protects cells from the damaging effects of free radicals. In a recent study, men who consumed double the daily reccommended daily allowance of selenium cut their risk of prostate cancer by 65%. If that is not an insentive for you guys, I don't know what is.
Mushrooms have recently been given the title of a "super food" as they are one of the highest antioxidant vegetables. And don't think that swapping meat for mushrooms will leave you feeling hungry, because it won't. Mushrooms will help keep you fuller for longer, which means less snacking.

There are over 3,000 types of edible mushroom, and they all have such unique flaours that you can do so much with them. You can put them in soups, stir-frys, rissottos, omelettes, stews and so much more. I will include some great mushroom recipes in the future, as I cook with them so often, but the one I will be posting today is for mushroom stroganoff. I have kept it fairly low fat as well, but I would personally consider it a bit of a "treat" meal, as it is higher in fat than most of the meals I eat, just because of the creme fraiche.

Serves 2

- 25 mushrooms, chopped
- 4 shallots, chopped
- 3 gloves of garlic, crushed
- Small pot of reduced fat creme fraiche
- 50ml skimmed milk
- 2 tsp whole-grain mustard
- 1 tsp paprika
- Brown rice.

1) Cook brown rice for 25 minutes

2) After rice has been cooking for 15 minutes, chop mushrooms, shallots and garlic

3) Add to a wok/frying pan and fry in fry-lite for around 5 minutes

4) Add creme fraiche, milk, mustard and paprika and cook for 5 minutes

5) Serve on a bed of brown rice.

For those of you that do want to add some meat to the dish, you can bake a skin-less chicken breast and add some chopped pieces into the dish. Here is a photo with some chicken added in it. Added it to Dave's as he is eating a lot of chicken, as he needs to protein for working out.

Hope you enjoy

Sunday, 20 February 2011


Now, I know a lot of people avoid eating nuts because they are calorie counting, and they are high in calories and fat, but they are good calories and good polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats that have many health benefits and should definitely not be avoided. Unless you have a nut allergy of course.

They are full of fats that are good for your heart, as well as protein, antioxidants, fiber and so many vitamins and minerals. Most importantly, they reduce your risk of coronary heart disease and lower cholesterol. Nuts also contain nearly as much protein as lean meat, so they are great for vegetarians, or for those unhealthy meat eaters who say they can't give up meat because of all the protein they get from it.

As with everything, it is all about moderation. If you ate bags and bags of nuts daily as a snack, you would put on weight, but 15 - 20 nuts as a snack will give you an energy boost, as well as benefit your health.

They are my snack of choice, and anyone that is trying to look after their health should make it their snack of choice too. Ever find yourself reaching for chocolate, or biscuits, or anything sugary in the afternoon to give you a bit of a pick-me-up? Well, reach for some nuts instead! (No sexual pun intended haha). They will give you an even better energy boost, that doesn't come with a sugar crash and hour later and is a whole lot better for you as well, as they are naturally cholesterol free and have only traces of sodium in them. It is important to eat a snack that has both protein and carbohydrates in to keep you satisfied until your next meal.

Obviously, not all nuts are the same, and some are better for you than others. But, if you are just at the beginning of making better snack choices, then you should not worry too much about the type of nuts yet. But, it goes without saying, eating sugar roasted pecans, or salt covered peanuts is not the kind of nut snack I am talking about. The best nuts to eat are almonds, hazelnuts, brazil nuts and walnuts as they are full of iron and vitamin E. Vitamin E has been found to keep Alzheimer's at bay and old people who have the highest amount of this vitamin in their blood stream are found to be half as likely to develop this awful disease. Seeing as Alzheimer's affects 400,00 Britons and 500 new cases are diagnosed everyday, there is even more reason to be boosting your vitamin E intake.

You don't just have to snack on nuts by themselves to get the benefits of them. Other ideas are sprinkling them over cereal or salads (walnuts on salad is great), make some wholewheat muffins with nuts in, use as a topping on yogurt, or mix into stir-frys. What I like to do with them is to make my own trail-mix. I mix nuts, seeds, dried fruit and wheat free cereal together and keep an a handy package with me at all times in case I want a snack. I have included pictures of the nuts I buy and then my home-made trail mix at the end.

Just as a reference, even though I don't really like calorie counting, I know some of your reading this do, here is a guideline for the nutritional value of nuts.

Almond (20-24 nuts): 161 cals, 14g fat, 1g sat fat, 6g protein
Brazil Nut (6-8 nuts): 183 cals, 19g fat, 4g sat fat, 4g protein
Cashew (16-18 nuts): 160 cals, 13g fat, 3g sat fat, 4g protein
Hazelnut (18-20 nuts): 180 cals, 17g fat, 1g sat fat, 4g protein
Macadamia (10-12 nuts): 201 cals, 21g fat, 3g sat fat, 2g protein
Peanut (28 nuts): 166 cals, 14g fat, 2g sat fat, 7g protein
Pecan (18-20 halves): 198 cals, 21g fat, 2g sat fat, 3g protein
Pine nut (150-157 nuts): 188 cals, 19g fat, 1g sat fat, 4g protein
Pistachio (45-47 nuts): 159 cals, 13g fat, 2g sat fat, 6g protein
Walnut (14 halves): 183 cals, 18g fat, 2g sat fat, 4g protein

For those of you that are allergic to nuts, which Dave is, make a nut free trail mix - which is what Dave snacks on. Mix seeds, dried fruit and wheat free cereal together and it is still a low sugar and healthy snack.

Enjoy your nuts

Friday, 18 February 2011

Butternut Squash

This is without doubt, my favourite oddly shaped vegetable. Or is it a fruit? It has seeds, so I guess it would be. Regardless, it tastes great and is so versatile. In case you don’t know what one is (I had never heard of one up until about a year ago), it is from the cucurbit family, just like the courgette, pumpkin and cucumber.

So, why should you eat it? Well, it is a great source of Vitamin A & C, dietary fibre, potassium, iron, folate, manganese, omega 3 fatty acids, as well as B Vitamins 1,3,5 & 6. For those of you who like to keep track of your calories, 100g of butternut squash has only 38 calories in it and it is very low in fat. Yes, it is mostly carbohydrates, but don’t hate on carbs, they are your friend! Eat the right ones, and let them give you fuel to exercise. More on this another time though. One a side note, butternut squash is in season in September, October and November.

It has a really sweet flavour and although it is a complete hassle to peel, it is great simply roasted or made into chips, or added to pasta dishes, risottos and soups. You can even stuff it like you would an aubergine. My favourite thing to do with it is to make soup. There are tons of recipes online, but I found them all overly complicated, and so I made up my own recipe (like all the recipes I will be posting on here, they are 100% my own). It is a variation of Sopa de Calabaza, which is a spicy Cuban soup. In our house, we like our food pretty spicy, but just add less chilli if it is too much for you. It’s all about adapting recipes so they suit your tastes. This makes a nutritious, low fat and calorie meal, that will certainly keep you warm until spring finally arrives.

1 Butternut Squash, peeled and cubed.
1 onion, diced
½ bunch of coriander
2 tsp chilli flakes
0% fat Greek yogurt (optional)

1)Heat up some frylite (oil alternative. Use a tsp of oil if you don’t have this, but it will add more calories) in a large saucepan and add the butternut squash and onion. Cook until slightly browned, about 4 minutes.

2) Add enough boiling water to cover the vegetables, and then add a little extra.

3) Add the chilli and coriander.

4) Bring to the boil

5) Put a lid on the pan and simmer for 30 minutes

6) Blend the soup until smooth

7) Transfer to bowls and stir in a tbsp of 0% fat Greek yogurt.


Thursday, 17 February 2011

How did I get there and why did I turn my back on cake?


In the middle

I could sit here and try and tell you that I was extremely overweight because of genetics, or I had medical problems, but whilst that is true for some people, for me it was not. I was overweight because I ate too much and didn’t exercise enough. I was an emotional eater. Well, I still am, I just make better choices now. Whether I was celebrating or dealing with stress – I was eating.

When I was much, much younger (like 8), I was actually pretty thin and I always remember being fairly active. Coming from a continental European family, good, healthy food was always promoted. I thank my family for my love of salads and soups. But as you get older, and you start making food choices for yourself, it is easier to just eat crap. Convenience food out of the freezer, McDonalds late at night after work and pre-packed sandwiches all contributed to weight gain that I chose to ignore. Any problem, or difficult time I encountered, I dealt with by eating. Once I moved out of home, it only got worse. I didn’t bother cooking any “proper” food and then once at Uni it went even more downhill. Uni was such a busy time. Meeting new people, actually going into classes, socialising, helping to run a student society, all meant even less time to cook decent meals. Well, that’s what I told myself then. In reality, it’s crap. You can always make time to make a healthy meal (that will be a blog for another time). Breakfast was skipped, lunch was noodles and/or a sandwich and dinner was a takeaway, and in-between was a whole lot of snacking to give me energy. Nights out drinking certainly took their toll as well.  Every Monday we would go to The Ritz (we went out other nights too, this was just the “worst/best” night) and on average I would drink 6 pints of cider and countless shots of this creamy spirit thing. As if putting all that into my body wasn’t bad enough, we would then go get a takeaway, where I would have pretty much a whole pizza and a massive box full of cheesy chips covered in mayo. Of course, feeling so crap the next morning meant eating more junk food. Various challenging times I faced whilst at Uni meant always turning to food to make myself feel better, not knowing that I was actually making myself feel so much worse. So much so that I just ignored the problem and hoped everyone else would too. I was treated differently because I was “fat” and I did get horrible abuse from strangers because of my size, but that just made me want to eat more. There are so many other people who experience this, and they think that are alone. Sadly they are not. Strangers think that just because someone is overweight and vulnerable, it means you can talk to them like they have no feelings. They are not helping the situation, they just make it worse.

This is coming across a lot more “please feel sorry for me” than I had intended. Don’t feel too bad, during those couple of years at Uni that I was abusing my body, I had a blast! I met some awesome people, had some of the most memorable nights of my life, and have the scars to prove it! But, in the end, I could still have had just a good time without filling my body with junk. So, what made me turn my back on the comfort eating, late night snacking and my generally calorific life?

Well, without going into too much detail, in the winter of 2008, I had a massive health scare. 4 weeks of tests and uncertainty left me feeling so scared and so guilty that if I did get bad news, that I had possibly brought it on myself through an unhealthy lifestyle, that I vowed to change my lifestyle completely. I am thankful everyday that the news was good, and it was just a scare. Although it was an awful experience, I am grateful that it happened, as it really gave me the kick I needed to change my eating habits, start moving more and generally sorting myself out.

I told Dave what I wanted to do, and he was fully supportive, and has been ever since. Well, he benefits from it as well. A week after I got the results, we went to Gran Canaria on an all inclusive holiday where I was unable to eat. I think I was scared to put crap in my body. I ate some salad and some fruit, but that was about it. That wasn’t the healthiest way to start, but it was a kick start. That was also the holiday where Dave proposed <3. So not only did I have the incentive of improving my health, but I was going to be a bride, and I was determined not to be a fat one.

Unfortunately, a couple of months later, I started having heart problems. After having loads of tests for that and finding out what it was, I had even more of a push to sort myself out and that really was the start of my weight loss “journey”.  Over the coming blogs, I will talk about how I actually lost the weight in more details; I know a few of you have said you wanted some tips. But basically, I completely changed my diet, started swimming and doing yoga every day, cut-out takeaways and made everything from scratch. I also gave up drinking for about 6 months. I truly believe that if you have a lot of weight to lose, you can’t do it whilst drinking. It might work for some, but you are making it so much more difficult for yourself. I will blog about that at some point too.

I think most people who decide that they need to lose weight are pushed by a health scare or a negative comment from someone. But you don’t have to wait until that happens, be motivated by a success story, or by how good you feel after eating a healthy meal. You also don’t have to wait till a Monday to start your lifestyle change, it is going to be just as hard on a Wednesday as it will be on a Monday.

It is difficult seeing all these “celebrities” on the covers of magazines looking all toned and thinking it is unattainable. They have personal trainers and their own chefs to help them look good. But, know that it is attainable for you as well. It might take a bit longer, and it WILL be a challenge, but it will be the best and most rewarding challenge. This is not just aimed at people who need to lose weight. I know some people who have fantastic figures, yet have appalling diets. Everyone should eat well. It’s not just what you look like on the outside you should worry about, think about your insides too.

And on that note, I am going to post this before my lunch break is over. I still have my cous cous salad to eat.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Death of the Diet.

It's not a diet, it's a lifestyle change! The moment I actually accepted this and stopped "dieting", was the moment I not only started to lose weight for good, but became healthier and happier too.
I decided to start a blog about healthy eating, exercise and general health so I could share with as many people as I could, all that I have learnt over the past 2 years. I have been asked a handful of times how I lost weight and what I do to keep it off (that hardest part in my opinion), so I thought it would be good to have a space where I could tell people how I did it, and how I will continue to do it.

So, what qualifies me to be able to tell you what you should be eating and how you should be exercising? Nothing. Everyone is different, and everyone has their own way of dealing with things. However, over the past 2 years, I have fallen into all the "diet" traps and tried just about everything going and to be honest, I think I slowed the whole process down and damaged my body in the process. If I can save someone time, effort and their health by sharing my failures and success, then this will not be in vain. It's also nice to have written down what has been one of the best things I have ever done.

I guess, if anything qualifies me to tell you what you should be eating, it is the fact that just over 2 years ago (December 2008), I weighed 16 stone 7lbs. I am not sure if that is the heaviest I have ever been, but that was the first time I had weighed my self in years. Now I weigh, well, that I am not entirely sure - I chucked the scales away. Scales are evil, evil things - but more about that in another post. The last time I weighed myself, I was bang on 9 stone 7. For my 5ft 9in height, that put my BMI at 19.6 (the healthy range being 18.5–24.9). I went from a size 22 at my biggest, to now a size 8. I still have my "big" jeans, just for a boost. I still fit in the same size (although, depending on the shop, but I will moan about that another time), so I know I have not lost or gained a significant amount of weight. But, I most likely have gained weight, as I exercise every day and we all know muscle weighs more than fat. Again, something I will talk about more, but the number on the scales and what the NHS thinks my BMI is does not bother me. What bothers me, is that I am eating right, exercising and that I am finally gaining a healthy attitude towards food and this is what I will be posting about here.

I hope you keep checking back here to see what I have been posting. My next post will be about how I got to that weight in the first place, and what gave me the push I needed to become healthier and thinner. I will be blogging my favourite recipes (with pictures) that have kept me going, all the healthy alternatives to my favourite foods and desserts that I have created, my views on particular "diets", information on super foods, my favourite exercises and everything in between.