I thought that I would start another post for 2021 as my weight loss journey did not really happen in 2020. If you have read my previous ‘Weight loss in Portugal’ post, you will know that at my heaviest I weighed 16 stone 8 lbs and at my lightest 9 stone 4 lbs. At the start of 2021 I weighed 11 stone 4.4 lbs and my goal was to reduce my weight to 10 stone. I would love to get down to 9 stone 8 lbs again which was my old target weight and that would mean that I have lost the 7 stone again but realistically I think 10 stone is a better weight for me. I am 47 and sometimes loosing too much weight on a lady of a certain age (like me) can be harsh especially around the face and neck areas. I actually thought I would weigh a lot more after all the food I have ate in 2020. I think my saviour was exercise. I do feel that I would have weighed a whole lot more if I hadn’t of kept up my jogging and fitness routine.

I find loosing weight such a battle as I suffer from chronic pain from failed spinal surgery to remove my coccyx. I also have severe IBS with associated chronic constipation, insomnia, hypothyroidism (Under active thyroid which is medicated), arthritis, OCD and I am going through the early stages of the menopause (Perimenopausal). So a combination of these factors makes it very difficult for me to loose weight and summon up motivation to exercise when I’m feeling low and in constant pain. It’s not an excuse but genuine reasons as to why my weight loss is extremely slow. It can be very disappointing some weeks when I have worked so hard but the scales don’t move in the right direction. Chronic pain sucks and having an invisible disability is hard as people just don’t understand. People often look at me and judge me within seconds and assume that I have never had a weight problem. How wrong are they! I have struggled with my weight my entire life.

As I have said before, weight loss for me is not all about being slim/thin. I obviously want to look nice for myself and my man and also fit back into a couple of nice frocks, my jeans and summer cotton trousers that I have hanging in my wardrobe but for me personally eating a healthy diet and exercise goes hand in hand. My main reasons for loosing weight and maintaining a healthy weight is to avoid an early death, stroke, heart attack, diabetes and any other disease which is an increased risk when I am overweight. My mum was a type 1 diabetic so I need to be careful and optimise my health and fitness. I don’t want to die of a stroke at an early age like my mum. She was only 66 when she passed away and she had her first stroke at 63. I recently had full blood tests to check my thyroid levels including a diabetes test and cholesterol. All my results came back within the healthy regions so I am very pleased.

A reminder of my historic weight loss journey

2021 New journey

I started my weight loss journey for 2021 on 1st January. I didn’t post then as I was unsure if I would meet my goal and after failing in 2020 I didn’t want to post about my weight loss only to feel a failure 2 years running. I can happily say that I have now succeeded and smashed my target of 10 stone. It was very challenging with highs and lows but I made it and am so very proud. I really wanted to fit back into my jeans and not have to live in stretchy leggings. I also have a pretty summer dress I bought in the U.K that I have never worn as it was way too tight. Well it fits like a glove now. No more muffin top in my jeans and they do up.

Scales and the measuring guide (jeans)

I don’t own a tape measure and I always find it hard measuring myself so I decided to have a weekly weigh in and try on my jeans randomly. I never owned a set of scales during 2020 and you may think that is good but for me it was bad and impacted my weight loss journey. I would start healthy eating and by day 3 or 4 would be very bloated due to my IBS and feel really fat and assume I hadn’t lost any weight so I would then throw in the towel, quit and eat 2 cakes. Scales for me are a positive and a handy measuring tool as I am one of those people who if I lose weight it will encourage me and spur me onto lose more weight in following weeks. If I have a gain then I often want to give up. I bet there were so many occasions during 2020 when I felt fat and thought I had put on weight when actually in reality I probably hadn’t gained at all and may very well had lost weight but I had no gauge to check. So scales are my friend and I don’t hate my weekly weigh in anymore.

I weigh every week before breakfast and in a pair of cycling shorts and sports bra so I can’t blame heavy clothing for any gain. The reason why I don’t weigh naked is because I wouldn’t want the reflection in the glass scales to be captured on my phone camera. It would not be a great sight, fatty me bending over with everything hanging South and me trying to take a photo of the numbers on the scales (ha ha). Once you have seen me naked, there is NO coming back from that! I am aware that I could have taken a photo of the scales once I stepped off them but I thought photos of my feet would show that it’s definitely me because you all know what my feet look like and if you don’t then shame on you (ha ha). I have been wanting to fit back into my jeans for ages now. Anyway my aim was to fit back into these jeans which are a skinny fit and a U.K Size 10. A very generous Size 10 because my hubby fits in to them. I dared him to try them on and he can get them on which is slightly disturbing but also hilarious. He wouldn’t let me take a photo and I was laughing too much anyway. This is how they should fit and I used these photos as inspiration.

1st January 2021 Photos:

These photos were taken on 1st January 2020. Gosh it’s hard for me to look at the photos. On one hand I was extremely glad that I didn’t put a huge amount of weight on over Christmas but on the other hand I was feeling very sluggish and my stomach was tender and so bloated from all the gluten. To be honest I had a raging hangover too! I’m not sure how I got them semi-on and I think it took all the strong Portuguese men of Vinhó to pull them off of me (ha ha).

The weekly weigh in Photos:

January Loss 9.2 lbs

Firstly apologies for my ugly feet and how weird my toes look. They are in a strange shape as I have to bend over with my phone in my hand whilst on the scales which is a balancing act in itself.

I lost 4.2 lbs in my first week which I was very happy about as it is a huge weekly weight loss for me as I don’t shift large weekly numbers. Week 3 I only lost 1lb which was pretty gutting but I know how bloody hard it is for me to loose weight and a loss is a loss.

February Loss 3.6 lbs (Total loss 12.8 lbs)

February was quite a disappointing month. I stayed the same for 2 weeks out of the 4. I knew this was going to happen sooner or later but was not expecting it to occur so soon into my weight loss journey. Not gonna lie, I was quite de-motivated and worried I had hit a plateau but I persevered with my plan as I was determined not to QUIT! You think I would have lost something after a healthy eating plan all month and x5 5K jogs, X4 10-15 min ab routines and X4 10 min upper body routines per week. What can I say life is unfair. I actually feel the reason for the non weight loss is due to the fact that prior to my weigh ins I hadn’t managed to have a poo for 3-4 days, IBS and constipation sucks big time. My daughter also reminded me that a loss is a loss no matter how small and I had no gains. It’s important to be flexible and set realistic expectations so you are not disappointed. I know I won’t lose weight if my IBS is severe and I haven’t been to the toilet in days. It doesn’t mean that you haven’t put the effort in so stay motivated my friends and never quit!

Sometimes it’s hard to keep on track and your spirits lifted when your motivation has burnt out and you have put in 100% effort but the scales don’t move at all but stick with it. You will get there eventually it just might take a little longer. When I stay the same weight I try on non stretchy clothes and can clearly see progress. So many factors can affect weight loss. Inch loss is as important if not more important than numbers.

March Loss 5.2lbs Total loss 18 lbs/1 stone 4 lbs

March started off as a great month for me and I had some steady weight loses. On 18th March I weighed 10 stone 0.4 lbs and was very excited to be so close to my target weight. I felt for sure that I would lose the 0.4 lb by the next week but on the 25th March I stayed the same weight despite 100% effort. I was gutted that I didn’t reach my target as I only needed to lose 0.4 lb so less than half a pound. I felt de-motivated but rather than punishing myself for being a failure I decided to celebrate my success so far.

April (Fools day) Total loss of 19.2 lbs/1 stone 5.2 lbs

I hit my target on the 1st April, exactly 3 months/13 weeks from the start of my weight loss journey. To say I was thrilled is an understatement, I jumped for joy. I had a brilliant week and even managed to squeeze in a 10K+ hike and a 5K hike as well as my 5 weekly jogs. Hubby had a few days off work so joined me on my jogs. He is faster than me so it’s like having a Personal Trainer with me and he encourages me to keep going. Seeing as it was April Fools Day I did wonder if hubby would F with my scales but he knows better than to do that (ha ha).

Target Day photos (1st April 2021)

I couldn’t be bothered to get dressed up, put make-up on and do my hair so apologies but here are my target photos of me fitting back into my jeans. It was super dark in my bedroom so I got hubby to take the photos outside. The jeans actually zip up now! No more muffin top.

Target photos (2nd April 2021)

There are more photos from the 2nd April further down in the post as it was our Wedding Anniversary meal. I was super happy to be able to fit back into this dress which is a U.K Size 10.

New exercise clothes

Seeing as the malls are closed I ordered some new exercise clothes from Decathlon as my cycling shorts (that I don’t cycle in) are bare thread on the ass! I have had these shock absorber cycling shorts for over 20 years! They have expanded and shrunk along with my increasing and decreasing body size. I love them and they were a bargain at £5 from T K Max in the sale. I am still not that confident with my body and would never run in shorts but they are good for floor exercising (abs and upper body) in my house and garden. I don’t ever spend much on exercise clothing as I often sit on the ground at rest points and on old stone ruins so my clothing gets wrecked. I love my new bright sports bra, 2 pairs of shorts and new neon vests. There is no point buying posh tops as I always wear a cheap 2 Euro neon football bib over my top every time as I value my life and don’t want to die. These bibs come in one size fits all so are quite large on me now. The drivers here are maniacs! I thought I would buy the neon football bibs in different colours as the yellow is often mistaken for the neon vest people wear when they have broken down here and I keep getting blokes stopping and asking me if I’m O.K and if I want a lift in their car. I don’t think they get the concept that I am running for fun. I am hoping I won’t draw as much attention in the blue bib. One negative about the sports bra is I have to put it on and off over my head so after a hot, sweaty run it’s a workout in itself to try and get it off before my shower and I nearly dislocated my shoulder doing so (ha ha).

Mental health and missed opportunities

Low self esteem and being called names like “fatty” and “thunder thighs” as a child and teenager have had a major impact on my mental health and my self portrayal of my body image. I have likely missed out on some wonderful opportunities due to my anxiety and low self esteem. I even developed a binge eating disorder in my 20’s. I was never one of those happy, jolly fun fat people. I hated myself so much, I wouldn’t even get on a bus when I was large as I was afraid the driver or a passenger would say something about my weight and I didn’t want to be the fat lady no one wanted to sit next to and why would you want to sit next to me and only have 1/3 of a seat you have paid for?

Today I am trying to be kind to myself and become more confident. I try to push myself out of my comfort zone and take opportunities that come my way. One of the most frustrating factors of loosing a huge amount of weight is the excess skin which is left behind. If I knew all those years ago that it’s virtually impossible to lose 7 stone and not have excess skin I never would have gained so much weight in the first place. To lose so much weight and still dislike my body is sad. Years ago I did have a consultation with a cosmetic surgeon but I didn’t proceed with any operation as it sounds very painful and I am always paranoid about going under the knife and not waking up. It’s better I am here, alive and healthy to see my children develop in their adulthoods. It’s also bloody expensive to have the procedure. If I am totally honest I don’t like these photos below. I obviously can see progress and my success but there are just too many areas of my body that I dislike and the image reflecting back at me from my mirror is not one I love but I wanted to share honest before and after photos with you all so here they are.

My Journey

Me elated at loosing 2 lbs

Here I am all sweaty and excited after one of my 5K runs. loosing 2 lbs in one week is a real challenge for me and deserves celebrating. It means that all the hard work I put in is working.

Diet – healthy eating plan

I have tried so many diet plans in the past including Slimming World, Weight Watchers, Rosemary Conley and Herbalife etc. All of these plans worked for me but after a while of maintaining my weight loses I would revert back to my poor eating habits and the weight would pile back on. I am also an emotional eater so when the shit hits the fan so to speak my diet plans would go out the window and I would eat crap then feel bad then eat more crap to make myself feel better. There are so many diet plans on the market so just chose one that fits your body and lifestyle. So many people associate the word ‘Diet’ with reducing calories and intake of food. For me a Diet is just a food plan and fuel for my body. Apart from gluten, I did not remove or restrict any certain food groups from my diet. I don’t believe in fad diets which are short term and not sustainable. I broadly followed the Slimming World diet as I find this food plan great, you don’t have to calorie count or weigh a lot of food, you can eat a lot and still stay full. It also helped me loose 7 stone in the past.

One little rant I do have about Slimming World is although it promotes healthy eating and exercise (body magic) it also says you can eat unlimited free foods and I have never really understood that aspect. Can I really eat 10 whole chickens and lose weight? Not that I want to eat 10 whole chickens but I think their angle is to fill up on free foods and not eat all the crap. Also a fresh banana is free but if you blend it in a smoothie it counts as syns. Now I get the fact that if you blend a fruit it becomes a small amount and you could eat a few blended bananas but my point is if I’m only having the same amount of 1 banana blended in a smoothie the banana doesn’t become more calorific if I blend it, a banana is a banana. My last rant about Slimming World is that when I attended my weekly weigh in class (which I loved) sharing recipes and supporting each other I rarely won slimmer of the week. The reason is not only my weight loss is always small between 1-3 lbs per week but they only count weight loss in lbs. So for example I could weigh 10 stone and lose 4 lbs and a tall big bloke could weigh 20 stone and lose 7 lbs that week. The bloke would win slimmer of the week as he lost more weight than me but actually as a body percentage I have lost more. I always felt this was a little unfair. I wasn’t that phased as the rule was you bring an item of Slimming World friendly food in and the winner gets all the stuff in the basket. This often resulted in expired cans of beans found in the back of some ones kitchen pantry or over ripe fruit someone was about to bin (ha ha).

I really liked the Herbalife plan because they weighed you and recorded not only weight loss in lbs but also body percentage fat loss. I doubt the class leader liked me as much as I liked her as I never ever bought the meal replacement shakes. I just attended the 12 week challenges and took on board all the sound advice about drinking water and eating enough protein. On occasion I would buy their protein bars as snacks as they tasted nice. Our leader was great as she even met us at weekends in a park to go jogging. I won a few cash rewards as at the end of the 12 week challenges I was the person who lost the most combined body weight and body fat percentage. I have now given up protein bars as a lot contain a huge amount of sugar. Please be aware of sugar intake as it’s highly addictive. Some say it’s more addictive than cocaine but I’ve never sampled cocaine so I couldn’t confirm this. I have replaced protein bars with a protein fruit smoothie made with water not milk as it’s much healthier and tastes yummy in my tummy.

Nutrition is so important for me and I want to know what I am putting into my body and where is has come from if possible. This is why we grow a lot of our own organic produce in our little garden. As I have said, I basically followed the Slimming World rules and cut out all the junk food from my diet and ate more wholesome, making sure I ate enough protein each day to keep me full. All my meals are made from scratch so I know what is in them. I obviously had the odd treats for special occasions like Valentine’s Day, Shrove Tuesday (pancakes), my birthday, Easter, our wedding anniversary and enjoyed my food. Chocolate cravings were hard, especially around the time of my monthly period but I managed it by punching a cushion. Just kidding, I still ate chocolate every day, just a smaller amount. I cannot do intermittent fasting as I have low blood pressure and just end up fainting. Every day I eat a healthy breakfast, a fruit protein smoothie shake (not as a meal replacement but as an extra usually after my run), lunch, afternoon mini chocolate fix and dinner. Dessert is an apple and an Options hot chocolate drink. Healthy eating and exercise goes hand in hand for me but I will say that I think weight loss is 80% diet and 20% exercise. No amount of exercise is going to shift the pounds if you are consuming way too much food/calories.

Water

I have to admit that I got a bit lazy with water consumption and staying hydrated especially over the winter months when it’s cold. I always used to drink 2 litres of water every day but gradually this declined. I have started drinking 2 litres every day now and I have a large 1 litre BPA free water bottle which I refill. At first it was hard as I was peeing all the time but soon my body adjusted and all was fine. I often drink more than 2 litres in the summer months when it’s hot as hell here!

Exercise

We have all likely read about how exercising in nature can be beneficial for our mental health. This is so true for me personally. Every morning I wake up with chronic pain feeling very anxious but I stuck to my plan. It was hard for me to exercise in Winter as the freezing cold mornings with fog and minus temperatures did not bring me joy but I would stay committed and venture out on my jog. I really wanted to pull the duvet cover back over my head and stay in the snug, warm comfort of my bed but I stayed motivated by thinking ahead to all the river beach visits and having to wear a bikini.

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with jogging. It’s so bloody hard for me. It doesn’t get any easier and almost every time I jog my stomach hurts or my back but I persevere and find that I get distracted with nature (especially cloud spotting), peoples gardens and at how big their vegetables are, wildlife and animals. Hills are hard for me as any slight hill puts more pressure on my bad back. When I exercise hormones (endorphins) are released and help me to reduce my perception of pain and make me feel positive like a natural high without the drugs. I end up really enjoying my jogs as it gives me time to focus and it takes my mind off everything else for an while. It is literally a breath of fresh air in my face. The times I do struggle is when I have my period. I’m definitely perimenopausal and now I’m having periods every 21-25 days! Used to be 28. They are very short in length now lasting about 4-5 days but the first 2 days I am in so much lower abdominal and back pain that I have to have a hot water bottle on my stomach. The pain is relentless and lasts about 48 hours solid, all I want to do is cry and crawl back into bed but I still push myself to go out and jog which is so very hard and why I’m super proud of myself. Hubby is amazing and supportive, he encourages me on our joint weekend run together and I appreciate his support. I think he is a little scared about shouting out positives to me whilst running together as I do remember one run where I had the period from hell and I lost my shit with him. I think I shouted something along the lines of “I’d like to see how fast you could run with massive abdo pain and severe bleeding from your F penis” he went quiet for the remainder of the run (ha ha).

Apparently the difference between running and jogging is the pace. If you’re going 6 miles per hour or slower, you’re jogging. Go faster than 6 miles per hour and you’re on a run. I have no concept of speed and I hate wearing those watches which track you. Hubby is slightly obsessed with these watches and always times us when we go on our joint jog together once a week. I have no doubt that I jog much slower when I go on my own as he is like Usain Bolt and always makes me go faster. That’s the pressure of having a jogging partner, my jogging circle is small, it’s just me! He has monitored our weekly joint jogs all year (2020) and has come to the conclusion that I have slowly increased my speed and I now jog at the same speed that I did when I lived in Bristol and used to jog around Durdham Downs. This is great news as apart from the ascend up to Durdham Downs it was a flat circuit whilst here it is very hilly so more of a challenge. So to get around a 5K jog here at the same pace as my previous flat jogs is an achievement in itself. He also told me that my average speed is 10 minutes per mile and just over 6 miles per hour so technically I RUN and don’t JOG – GO HELEN!!!!!!!! I still get confused with this and sometimes I say jog and sometimes I say run.

Jogging for me isn’t about distances or pushing for personal bests it’s my therapy. I love jogging solo 4 times per week but I also enjoy my weekly Sunday Runday with hubby as we are exploring different routes together, my soulmate or should I say solemate (ha ha). My goal for 2021 was to increase my 3 weekly jogs to 5 and have 2 rest days. I also increased my 10-15 min abdominal core workout to 4 times per week from 3. I do a 10 min abs routine twice per week and a 15 min abs routine twice per week to switch it up a bit. I started a 10 min upper body arm routine with 4 kilo free weights 4 times per week then upped it to 6 kilo and also included the odd random boxing sessions with hubby. I am a little ashamed that my boxing gloves did not make it out of my gym bag during 2020. I so miss my Box R Circuits classes. We also purchased some free weights so I am enjoying the upper body workouts. Gardening is also a great all over body workout so I try to garden as much as possible. Lugging around roof tiles and stones is fantastic exercise and I am now a master at the squatting position. If I ever want a poop in nature I got the position covered. My anxiety and IBS would never allow me to do such a thing in the glorious outdoors but I could and that is my point (ha ha). Weather depending I am also going to start wild swimming in the Summer. I have a Facebook friend (Sharmila) who is an avid wild water swimmer and in my eyes the Portuguese “Wild Water Queen!” She is strong, fierce and brave and I am hoping she is going to teach me the ropes. Bear in mind I visit river beaches in August when it’s 40 temp and I tip toe in the water because it’s too cold for me. She has her work cut out with me (ha ha).

Jogging in all weathers

Another wet jog, one of many where I got soaked through to my knickers! I’m still smiling, just about (ha ha). I hate that my hair goes curly and frizzy in the rain.

Valentine’s Day Funday Sunday Runday

I need to spend less time cloud spotting and more time jogging!

One Sunday in February we couldn’t take my normal 5K route as there was 100 sheep blocking the road so hubby decided we should take a completely different route which meant I had to jog up this huge hill! The hill goes on for ages and there are so many twists and turns. You think you are nearly at the top but you are not. The positive is that there is a Cafe Lena at the top of the hill. I think I could easily master running with a Pastel de Nata in my hand, it would just be like running with a water bottle (ha ha). Unfortunately the cafe was closed – jog on Helen! I had to stop 3 times on my first attempt but I now only stop once at the midway point so that is progress!

Who let the dogs out?

One afternoon in February the inevitable occurred. A dog jumped a fence and chased me for about 100 metres. I literally panicked and didn’t know if to freeze or run so I ran. The faster I went, the faster he went. I think I did a 100 metre sprint personal best! He only stopped chasing me when another large dog in a garden barked at him. I had to take a different route home to avoid the dog and it was very hilly, damn that dog! A few Facebook friends gave me advice like taking some sausages or a water pistol on my jogs. I find it hard enough jogging with a special water bottle in the summer months due to my arthritic hands so I don’t want the hassle of having to carry stuff just in case a dog tries to attack me. I don’t want to carry a bum bag (fanny pack – to my American readers). I also don’t want to be known as the “Sausage lady” as locals already think I’m a crazy Brit. It also might get misinterpreted and it might result in blokes queueing around the block, I wish (ha ha). Hubby has also been chased by this rat sized Chihuahua dog who bit a hole in his trainer.

Sunday Runday

I usually jog solo so I really enjoy my Sunday Runday’s with hubby. He has been making me try alternative routes which are further with steep hills. This particular Sunday in February we came across 4 stray dogs so ended up with a few jogging buddies. Makes a change from being chased from an angry dog. I nearly took the scruffy dog home with me.

Spring time jogging and a spring in my step

Spring has arrived and I am really enjoying my solo jogs. The weather has such an impact on my mood and motivation. The vivid bright beautiful colours are emerging and my little village is starting to look so very pretty. The weather is improving and it’s not too hot or too cold. Just about the right amount of wind to cool me down and assist me up the hills. Here is me after a run at the start of March, exhausted and sweaty after my run but elated that I lost another 2 lbs that week as I was suffering from a weight loss plateau.

New routes

Hubby encouraged me to try another new route which starts with the big hill. He told me it’s a 6K route but actually it’s 7.2K! It has the most spectacular views and is very hilly!

Boxing Helena “Rocky” Barboa

Free weights in the sun room

Free weights outside in the sunshine

This is me exercising outside in February. It had been raining solid for what seemed like a month so as soon as there was a sunny day I took my workout outside. Yes I have rolls and not the Portuguese Pão rolls (ha ha). I am training myself to be less self critical about my imperfections and to celebrate my achievements and embrace my wobbly body.

It’s raining but I’m still training

When it rains I have no excuse to work out as I have the sun room and space in my bedroom. I even have a room with a view from my bedroom. The upper body arm workout is only 10 mins and it took me longer than that to open the bloody window and shutters (ha ha).

This was one of my bad days, lack of sleep and in severe pain but pushed on through with upper body workout and even forced a smile through my chronic pain!

Midlife cyclist

One cold wet day in February I had a bright idea to try out hubby’s indoor cycle. I had just weighed myself and had only lost 0.8 lb that week so felt very deflated and I had zero motivation for my regular 5K jog especially after the dog chasing incident. Dog chased me, I didn’t chase a dog (ha ha). I was up all night with insomnia and chronic pain and feeling low that my weight loss had come to a standstill. No coccyx and failed spinal surgery = chronic pain especially whilst in the seated position so I don’t know what I was thinking.

I haven’t rode a bike in over 20 years and then I got hit off by a car! I needed assistance of hubby and a chair to mount the bike! Wearing his size 8 special shoes which clip onto the pedals was hilarious as I’m a size 4 1/2 so looked ridiculous. Hubby attached a heart monitor to me, god knows why, I can only assume he thought I was gonna have a heart attack (ha ha).

Half way through my virtual loop of Central Park and I was wishing I had just gone for a jog in the rain and even a pack of wild dogs chasing me seemed a better option. Hats off to all you cyclists, you deserve a gold medal, it’s definitely not the workout for me. I thought it would hurt my lower back and legs but it just hurt my lady bits! Hubby is a keen cyclist and has these padded shorts but I didn’t want to wear them as (a) I didn’t want to stretch them with my thunder thighs and (b) the padded areas were not in the right place for a lady. I ended up with a cushion under my rear. I quickly have realised that cycling is not for me. You live and learn my friends. I have 3 final words: FANNY ON FIRE (ha ha). I was actually in severe fanny pain for a good 5 days afterwards. Choose your exercise wisely and know your limitations my friends!

I want to chase someone (ha ha)

One day before our joint Sunday run hubby showed me this advertisement that popped up on his phone. I have never read anything so funny in my entire life. I really hope this is a joke. It made me laugh so much. I reckon I’m up for the job. The casual racism, sexism and ageism is crazy! Every time hubby and I now go on a joint run I chase him up the hill and when I catch up with him at the top he gives me a high five and and shouts something inspirational to me like “Good job!” (ha ha). I pay him in kind (if you know what I mean). It takes all sorts for the world to go around and there are some clear nut jobs out there!

Loosing weight whilst celebrating special occasions

It’s important for me to celebrate special occasions and enjoy myself. I allowed myself some treats on Valentine’s Day, Shrove/Carnival Tuesday (Pancake day), My birthday in March, our Wedding Anniversary in April and Easter.

Valentine’s Day

My 47th Birthday in March

It was a shame we couldn’t get away for a romantic weekend for my birthday. I wanted to visit Sintra and view the beautiful palaces as I’m obviously a princess in disguise as a middle aged housewife. Instead we enjoyed a home cooked dinner with delicious Portuguese wine, birthday cake and chocolates. It was my intention to just have 1/4 of the cake but we both ended up going back for seconds and polished off the whole cake between us. The next day we went trail running for the first time. Hubby said it was 6K instead of my usual 5K but it turned out to be 7.2K! He said that he didn’t tell me beforehand as I would have not wanted to go. He knows me too well (ha ha). It was hard but I rather enjoyed myself even with a hangover. Guess what? I even lost weight on my birthday week.

The last photo above is us after our 7.2K trail run, the day after my birthday. I’m trying to burn off some of the birthday cake calories! Hubby has his eyes closed, I think he is tired and sleeping (ha ha). I just have a “Huge Helen hangover”.

Our 6th year Wedding Anniversary (2nd April 2021)

This was the day after I smashed my first target weight. Hubby cooked spectacular steaks on our previous celebration meals so I thought hubby should cook a traditional Portuguese meal. It needed to be healthy so he cooked Galinha estufada. Hubby does all the cooking at Casa Valhal and I have put the recipe on a separate post if you are interested. On our 5th Wedding Anniversary we cooked a balcalau recipe so I think it has become a new tradition to cook a Portuguese recipe every year on our Wedding Anniversary if we don’t visit a resturant when Covid allows. I was very happy to be able to fit into a lovely dress which has been hanging in my wardrobe forever. We enjoyed a few treats on our anniversary including a candy cake and wine. 6 year traditional marriage gifts are candy (for sweetness) or iron (for strength). Contemporary/Modern gift is Wood, which signifies a long-lasting and solid mariage. I am so happy hubby chose the candy cake and we shared it for dessert.

I am so pleased to be able to fit into most of the clothes I bought with me to Portugal. 2020 I lived in stretchy leggings and was in denial of just how large I had got. I will still be wearing leggings and t.shirts most days whilst gardening but I now have options for when I can eventually venture out. Leggings are so hot to wear in the summer and now I can fit back into a couple of pairs of cotton trousers so I am delighted. If I am brutally honest my jeans and denim skirt are a bit snug and I could do with loosing another half a stone for them to fit comfortably. The jeans are a generous size 10 skinny fit and I didn’t realise that the skirt is a size 8 hence the tight fit. Most of my clothes are a U.K size 12 and now fit lovely. I love the long blue dress from French Connection which I wore on my wedding anniversary night. It’s a U.K size 10 and to be honest I probably could have benefited from a size 12 but I bought it from T K Max and they only had it in a size 10. I love the back of the dress and the aysymmetrical hemline. The pattern is not that flattering to be honest but I still love it. I’m still quite paranoid about my hips and thighs so will likely cover up with my surfing shorts or sarong when at the river beaches but overall I am very happy. I wish I had a tape measure but I only have a metal one for DIY. I think my waist is a 28 inch and my hips are 40 inches. It’s not worth measuring my non existent bust (ha ha).

Easter Sunday (4th April 2021)

I love Easter celebrations and it wouldn’t be Easter without an Easter egg. To minimise damage to my waistline we decided to share an Easter egg this year with some delicious strawberries. I have no idea where the 2 Easter chocolate bunnies came from. They appeared by magic overnight in our fridge and I have also found some sugared almonds which are delicious. Possibly a gift from the Easter bunny! I enjoyed my Easter treats on Saturday night and savoured every mouthful then we went for a long run on Easter Sunday to burn some of the calories off.

Summary

Loosing weight is not easy and for me it was really important that I was in the right mental mindset before I commenced my journey. It took me the whole of 2020 to get my head in the right place to tackle such a commitment. I think it’s good to note down the reasons why you want to lose weight. Don’t get pressured by others and don’t ever lose weight for your partner, do it for YOU! There are tons of larger happy people all over the internet and social media promting body positivity and I watched an interesting TED talk yesterday about a larger inspirational Australian lady who is 100% happy and content within her own skin. I admire people like this but I did notice that she was out of breath a lot just from a short talk. My top tips would be find a weight or size that is right for you. Make your own personal goals and if your long term goal is too huge a step then break it down into mini goals. When I had 7 stone to loose I broke it down into 1 stone mini challenges. Reward yourself with a little non-edible treat each milestone you meet e.g. buy a new nail varnish or bath bomb. Don’t starve yourself, it’s miserable being hungry all the time and not sustainable. Faddy diets don’t work in the long term, work out a healthy eating plan for life not just a short fix. Remember, it’s not all about numbers on a scale and please don’t feel those BMI charts are to follow. I now fall within the healthy BMI range on these charts but they say that my weight should be between 7 stone 10 lbs – 10 stone 6 lbs. I can’t imagine what I would look like at 7 stone 10 lbs! My hubby is 11 stone 3 lbs and the BMI chart says he is overweight! He is not, he is just short.

I would have no issue weighing 11 or 12 stone if I felt healthy, happy and looked toned but I am quite short at 5 ft 4.5 inches and have size 4 1/2 feet so I don’t have a large frame so I never feel or look good weighing over 10 stone. Consistency is key and most of the time I have motivation and focus. Regarding exercise, just make it fun as life is too short to take on an exercise form that you hate. You don’t have to run marathons just find some form exercise which you can fit into your daily life e.g. walking the dog, dance, swim, pilates, yoga, trampoline etc. Short and often works for me. There is no point in running 10K then not doing any exercise for a fortnight and not being able to walk for 3 days afterwards because you are in agony and pushed yourself too far too soon. I never ever thought that I would get into jogging/running but I did. The couch to 5K is a good start if you want to start jogging. What I love about jogging is that you can do it all year around here and even with Covid restrictions. All you need is a good pair of running shoes and a sports bra if your a lady. It’s free so no costly gym membership fees and you get vitamin D on your body.

With regards to eating plans just do what works for you. There are so many plans you can follow. You know your body best so just do what works for you. I would like to mention this, if you decide to follow an eating plan that provides you with shakes, special drinks or meal replacements just be aware that you can’t live on these forever. I’m not saying they are all bad and you shouldn’t do this if you want to, it’s your choice but they can cost a lot of money and at some point in the future you are going to have to eat real food. My aim is always to have a healthy body which is free from nutritional deficiencies. Be aware that if you are following a calorie controlled diet that some high calorie foods can actually be healthy for your body so you need to chose your food wisely.

Some products on the market are advertised stating that you can lose weight without altering your food intake and without exercising. This might sound tempting but please check the ingredients of the products that you are consuming. If you are loosing weight rapidly and have an energy and mood boost it may be down to the ingredients in the products. You may have immediate rapid weight loss results now but what are the long term health implications of consuming ingredients which may be a controlled drug or even a banned drug. Check that the ingredients are safe for you to consume. Same goes for diets such as the Keto diet. I’m not saying don’t try it but are you going to give up carbs forever? Never having a slice of birthday cake on your special day or a bacon butty? Not all carbs are bad for you like not all fats are bad for you. Good nutrition is so important for optimal health. Please research the health implications of a diet plan before you embark on it. It might be beneficial to visit your doctor and have full blood works done. You can also talk to your doctor about exercise programmes to prevent injuries. I did this recently due to my underactive thyroid and they also completed tests for diabetes and cholesterol and a whole bunch more. I’m happy to say every single one of my tests fell within the healthy range.

I will never ever be totally happy with my body. I am a pear shape so have a smaller waist but large hips, wobbly thighs and a huge ass. I have loose skin from reducing my weight by several stones, cellulite and stretch marks from child birth and gaining over 5 stones with each of my pregnancies. I have had 2 babies and one was the size of a mini elephant at 10 lbs. I am not perfect but my body is strong physically and mentally so overall I’m super proud of my achievements big and small. The (old) younger me would be too critical about my sometimes slow progress and I would be very harsh on myself. Now I’m older and hopefully wiser I don’t give a F. If I need to stop for a rest on an old ruin or church step during one of my jogs then I stop. Some hills I jog up and some I walk. I know my body and how far to push myself. With my chronic pain, I am fighting a daily battle that most people can’t understand. If you have lived with chronic pain and invisible disabilities then you will know exactly what I mean. So be proud of yourself for meeting your goals no matter how big or small. One huge accomplishment was that I never gained weight in the whole 13 weeks! I stayed the same some weeks but never gained.

Slowing down is not a crime so enjoy those rest days and don’t feel guilty. I certainly enjoy and cherish my 2 rest days per week, I don’t feel guilty and those 7 series of Gilmore Girls are not going to watch themselves (ha ha). I eat a small amount of chocolate everyday. I am so happy that I committed myself to a healthy mind and body challenge this year. I’m not going to be obsessed with my weight, if it fluctuates by a few pounds I don’t care as I’m never becoming a diet bore. I’m certainly going to enjoy the delicious Portuguese food and drink but all in moderation. Deep down I would love to reduce my weight to 9 stone 8 lbs to my previous target weight so I have lost a total of 7 stone but it’s 5lbs and I think I should be happy and content at 10 stone. Now it’s time to start my self love journey. I intend to live a happy, healthy life. There is no way on earth that I am going back to 16 stone 8 lb. Please don’t compare yourself or your body to others or the old 20 year old you. My body shape is much larger now than a 20 year old me weighing the same weight. Over years our bodies change, embrace the change within you. I will never have a small ass or a six pack I can bounce a Portuguese laranja off of but who cares! The only six pack I have is a 6 pack of yogurts in the fridge (ha ha).

I read a lovely little mantra a while ago on Woman’s Health U.K: “Hating your body is like purposefully making your home uncomfortable”. How very true! Also remember to surround yourself with people that push you to do and be better. Don’t waste your time with negative fake people who bring drama into your life. Spend time with people who help you achieve your goals and do not display hate or jealousy. You deserve good fun times and positive energy. My hubby is a huge support and I like to think that we bring the best out in each other. My daughter is also my biggest fan, bless her. My final words would be remember that any journey no matter how far starts with a single step. You can’t win the lotto without buying a ticket so what I’m trying to say is you have to be in it to win it so get your head in the right place and start with that first step. Weight loss for me was a lot about being in the right mental mindset. When it comes to losing weight, it’s not all about calorie intake and exercise, our mind can be an extremely powerful and effective tool. As I have said I would like to continue my weight loss journey and reduce down to 9 stone 8 lbs in the future. I think I might have a couple of weeks off from weighing myself and just go with the flow and see if I maintain. I have enjoyed a few Easter treats and why not. The key word for me is BALANCE!

This post is probably one of my longest posts so if you got to the bottom congratulations and if you gave up half way through, no worries and no offence taken! Not that you will read this if you gave up half way through (ha ha). I would like to apologise for any spelling or grammar mistakes. I did proof read it through once but I couldn’t be bothered to check through it all again. I really need my Facebook friend Alison who is an official “Proof reading fairy”.

Feel free to leave a comment if you want to ask me any questions or just have something to say.