Going sugar free

So after sorting the two things that sucked up most of my energy throughout 2016 I decided, along with the positive changes in living arrangements and work life that, in 2017 I now have the headspace to address other aspects of my lifestyle. The first one is my physical health.

So I did some research. I have tried many different ways in the past to make my diet healthier, however, with all the conflicting information it is sometimes difficult to work out what is good for you and what is not. There is the clearly advisable idea that everything thing is good for you in moderation, but what is moderation? I’ve tried weight watchers in the past, quite successfully, but lost touch with all the various updates and “new ways of thinking”. I’ve completely overhauled my diet and strictly followed the rules with Slimming World. I’ve even straight up denied myself anything “nice”. However, one thing I have learned is that low fat often means high sugar. Not something I really used to care about if low fat meant lower numbers on the scales. However since meeting Ben, he’s a type 1 diabetic, I have started questioning more of the diets I used to blindly follow.

Just because the scales are going down now, what does that mean for the future? You often see campaigns advocating how many portions of fruit and veg you should eat – which is changing still. You also have the fat haters that substitute everything with low fat, man made synthetics. But this cannot be good for you.

I am no expert and I am by no means well read on the topic, my research and interest are purely personal with the aim of creating an achievable lifestyle change that doesn’t feel like I am denying myself entire food groups that I will inevitably give up on in two months.

Two months is definitely my limit. That’s why, when I saw a friends Instagram post on the 8-week blood sugar diet my immediate thought was perfect! Two months and then I’m sorted for life! So I bought the book and began reading. With a history of Type 2 diabetes on my side of the family and the concern for how much sugar Ben and I eat without thinking it became clear that:

  1. This was not just a two-month thing
  2. This would benefit us both in the long run
  3. Going to be really bloody hard until I learned the rules

Before I continue I should make it clear that Ben does not follow the diet strictly or at all in some cases. However what he does do is eat his evening meals with me, albeit slightly larger portions, and is more conscious of the choices he makes throughout the day in order to keep his blood sugars more stable.

Week 1

The premise of the “diet” – I don’t like that word as it suggests that it is purely for weight loss thanks to the stigma and commercialisation of the “diet” industry. I like to think of it as the detox period before a lifetime of healthier eating and attitudes towards food.

For the initial 8 weeks, you eat 800 calories a day focusing on the reducing the number of carbohydrates (sugar) you eat and then after that you follow the 5:2 approach with a focus on Mediterranean style recipes. It was the first stage where I fell down, a standard day used to follow something along the lines of:

  •    6/7 Strong coffees with semi skimmed milk (sugar) and one sugar (sugar)
  •    Scrambled eggs on toast (sugar)
  •    Homemade chili with pasta (sugar)
  •    Low-fat yoghurt (sugar) and fruit (sugar)
  •    Sausage (sugar) casserole with rice (sugar) or pasta (sugar) or baked potato (sugar)
  •    Low-fat yoghurt (sugar) and fruit (sugar)

This was a diet that had when followed, provided a happy relationship between my bathroom scales and me. It was also a diet that until recently I thought was pretty healthy. Until you look at the sugar content of a standard day. Now, as the book states, sugar in some forms is better for you than others and carbohydrates aren’t something you can simply disregard as they come in different forms. What is clear though is that sugar is an increasing problem and one that most people aren’t aware of. This would explain Ben’s struggle to keep his blood sugars level throughout the day and would also explain the random (not so random) peaks when we thought we’d been “eating well”.

So day one arrived and I’d already made the decision that for the 8 weeks I would follow some rules:

  1. In the beginning start as a model pupil
  2. Accept that there will be days when 100% isn’t possible
  3. Adjust “treat” days as much as possible in order to not deviate too much
  4. Don’t give myself a hard time
  5. Always start the day on plan even if I know I will have to deviate at some point later in the day
  6. Track not just weight but also how I feel – from skin and hair to my emotional state

Day one ended with a bang – quite literally. My head felt like it was going to explode and I couldn’t think straight. Going cold turkey suddenly felt less of a good option. 

Day 1

Breakfast: Green vegetable omelette (1.5 eggs, broccoli, onion, asparagus, and mange tout)
Lunch: Home made chili minus the passata and this time no side of rice or pasta. Instead small sprinkling of cheese
Dinner: Chicken and salad with a small spoonful of coleslaw
Drinks: Black coffee no sugar and lots and lots of water

I had stuck to the plan though. So after an early night I awoke Tuesday feeling determined once more and day 2 ended with a smaller bang after upping the water consumption. Day 3 started with an 8lb loss! Now I know that this new regime was not all about weight loss, but this certainly helps with the motivation. By day 7 I had lost 11lbs, the headaches had ceased and my skin, I was certain was looking better.

I am now three weeks into the diet and can definitely say I feel so much better. There have been days when I literally daydreamed about chocolate and burgers, chutney and cider, however, there have been more days when I haven’t experienced that mid afternoon slump when all you want is a nap.

New experiences

I have deviated from the plan twice. Once with an afternoon tea that I didn’t manage to finish and still kept my drink to mint tea, and once with my sister and Ben when I ate the contents of a burger, but no bun and only a couple of fries. And it was these days that I learned the most about my body and what I have been eating. On both occasions, I gave myself the option to eat things off plan and on both occasions, I did it in a measured way. However, after so many days on a sugar “detox”, the one thing I hadn’t prepared or planned for was the side effects. I felt shattered and my stomach felt like it was churning, I was sluggish and generally felt groggy and irritable. After the afternoon tea I even woke up with what I would describe as a hangover – but there was no alcohol?

These were definitely the days that highlighted to me the effects that sugar has on my body. I know that the book outlines the effects and explains them, in some cases, in more detail, but you do always think, I’m not like that, I don’t eat THAT much. How wrong I was. I had gotten used to the sluggish tired feeling that I experienced every day and had completely stopped noticing it. After three weeks of greatly reducing my sugar intake, I can now definitely say I notice the difference.

So I plan on continuing for the final 5 weeks, making tweaks as I go in order to find ways to eat the recommended level of carbohydrates, protein and yes, finally FATS! I have actually bought recipe books and have cooked dishes I would never have dreamt of before. I wont lie, I am looking forward to the 5:2 level of restriction, however the changes that I can already see and feel in myself certainly make the 8 weeks on 800 calories worth it. And if the research is believed I am hopefully setting myself up for a more sustainable and healthy future.

 

We bought a house!

OH MY! So I am aware after continually saying to myself and you guys that I would be better, make more, write more, share more, post more, update more…I stopped. 2016 ended with a bit of a bump and left me feeling less like myself and more like a retreating hermit crab. I could almost go as far as saying I hated my job, it had quite literally drained the last of my energy by the time December 20th rolled round. I was also now renting a flat from a friend after being saved from living under the landlady from, well, something like hell.

The decisions

Life wasn’t bad, good health (ish), friends that cared beyond belief (living cheap in Brighton was quite literally my bank accounts saviour!) I had a job, and I did have a roof over my head. But I certainly wasn’t happy with the status quo and over the two glorious weeks off from work, retreating at my parents house in Somerset with Ben we made two decisions:

  1. I would not end 2017 at my job
  2. We would not end 2017 renting two separate places

These were two decisions that had no plan behind them, in fact we had absolutely no idea as to how we were going to make these things happen, we just knew that they had to happen. Ben was living in a house that was to be sold and I couldn’t live off of my friends generosity forever. Having made these decisions we forgot the worries and enjoyed the festive period.

Time for a plan

Fast forward to day two back at work in January, the sky was grey, I was cold as I always am and the stomach churning feeling was back. The sleep that I had rediscovered over Christmas had gone and the pounding, face numbing, headaches were in full swing.

What were we going to do. I decided to take the plunge and call a lady recommended by a friend. At that point I had no idea how much she would change our lives over the next few months. L, a mortgage advisor, was someone I had dreaded contacting. She was the person that would either light the fuel on the next part of our lives or diminish the small flame of hope that we had found. Turns out she did the former. After many hours of figure checking, paperwork, emails and calls we discovered that decision 2 was not completely out of reach. This coupled with previously unknown support from family meant that buying our own place was actually possible. It might be tight and budgets would be stretched but we could do it!

We started hunting. We saw some interesting places, rechecked our figures and discovered we could buy the perfect house. Needed some work but it could be ours to turn into a home!

Whilst this plan was taking shape I continued to turn up for work and if I thought 2016 ended badly, I could not have comprehended the emotional onslaught of February 2017. But something happened, I received a message from a friend. Not wanting to push the point or debate, she highlighted a potential position that was available at the company she worked for. However, she knew I was already stressed with the house buying and work that, she wasn’t sure I would want to add any extra complications. She was wrong! This was the perfect day to make me brave. I’d been driving home feeling lost, seeing no way out of my situation. On any other day I might have left the message in my inbox thinking it would be “too much” to take on. Instead I replied with, “Yes! Who do I call?”

Fast forward to May

Ben and I got the keys to our new house on 2nd May. I handed in my notice on 4th May, I was put on garden leave on 8th May. For the five weeks following this I got up every day, drove to our new house and sanded, painted, laid floors, ripped up carpets and found a sense of achievement and calm that I hadn’t felt in a long time. On 5th June I started my new job and on 14th June we moved in!

The house is still very much a work in progress, although we have achieved a lot in a very short space of time. We sit every evening discussing the bits that we would like to change or paint or fix and the lists are many and endless. However it is ours and it is home. My next big project for me is to sort a room downstairs for all my craft and beauty things so that I can get back to making things I love. I have enjoyed attacking the house but I do miss my homemade creations. It also means I will have more to share and to talk about. I have been chronicling the house renovation however there are only so many white walls that you can share!

Salvage: A perfect brunch

I left the flat this weekend! Only briefly and under a certain amount of duress but I went, despite it being freezing and the flat being lovely and cosy and a place to hide until Monday. I went under one condition though, that we could go to my favourite place for a coffee, that also happens to be just round the corner!

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

I love it! There are so many things to look at and to wonder at. I love the fact you can pick one of the jumbled table and chairs, place your order and then sit and admire the wonderfully  eclectic mix of new and old and bought and made items on display. Ladders adorn the walls creating storage for a selection of records, dried roses hang from branches suspended from the ceiling, stained glass pop art hangs in the window whilst spoons can be found in the ornate glass panel in the door. Trumpets are used like embellishments to cover the walls whilst the counter is covered in glass cloche’s revealing enough cakes and treats to meet almost anyones dietary requirements.   Continue reading

Finding balance: work & life &…

So I am finding this increasingly hard! I wake up with the best intentions to be productive and get things done with regards to the blog and my etsy shop. I drive to work thinking about all the amazing things that I could do and try and the bits and bobs that I would like to get done today. I then arrive at work and throw myself into being productive for other people.

diary

By the time lunchtime hits most of the ideas for the blog and my creations have disappeared from my head, although I make a note of each and everyone in my notebook that I keep to hand because my memory is not that great even at the best of times!

17:45 arrives and all enthusiasm for being productive and getting stuff done has gone. To be honest I don’t even think about the things I wanted to do, it’s not even really like I am procrastinating, it’s as if all my ideas have been wiped from my mind. By the time I arrive home all I want to do is eat dinner, shower and wait for sleep. Continue reading

Let’s go away: Winchester

Sod it, let’s go away!

Last minute trips are not usually something that I indulge in, as quite frankly I normally book around 12 weeks ahead for various trips, visits, activities, life chore weekends – which I often refer to as ‘time to potter about about’.

So out came the phone and before I could think my thumb was already hovering on the Airbnb app.

“Where shall we go?”…”Winchester!” I answered my own question. Continue reading

Reclaiming space

New fun activity, wait for it….de-cluttering! Not as glamorous or fun as you know, print making or gem hunting for jewellery, however surprisingly fun or cathartic or both. Less fun at the start – addictive by the end.

Lets set the scene, this time last year I found myself in the fortunate/unfortunate position of having to leave my flat/cave. The abode I had lived in for just over three years and the place/cave (I say cave as there were many times when I went into the darkness and disappeared for days on end. No signal pass the threshold and no heating for 9 months of the year it was my cave haven) I had begun to call home. Until this time last year that is, when a series of events set in motion the need to get out and get out now! I was then fortunate to discover, over a bottle of wine or three, sat on my living room floor that one of my amazing friends had a solution for me. Continue reading

Print making: Patterns

Make, make, make. I actually did it! After one melted lunchbox and a very steamy microwave later I was able to marvel at the genius that is the art of hand dyeing.

After deciding a few weeks ago to try my hand at textile printing to combine my love of patterns and all things textiles I set to work investigating how to go about it. After many blogs, websites and pieces of advice from fellow crafters I decided to settle on some easy carve lino blocks. This way I could work quickly – I’m not the most patient – and also skill level required was beginner to basic! I decided to buy a kit to get me started as this then provided me with the lino discs perfect for stamp making, lino cutters of various shapes and sizes and a handle that I could fix the lino discs on to, to make the printing easier…and in theory less messy. Continue reading

PaTtErNs

So I’ve been thinking about what else I would like to have a go at, what interests me and what I like doing. As recently I have found myself making things for me (bracelets is a case in point!), which is great for my wrists and for gifts for others but it’s not exactly a new hobby…more of an old obsession that I have knowingly indulged in!

So I’ve taken inspiration from things I own and things I love and I’ve come up with the idea of patters. Yes, I know, patterns is a very broad and vague ‘thing’. However when I look around at items I own, or even think about how I visualize things in my head, patterns is what is apparent. Continue reading

NEW: boho bracelets

Hello 🙂

If you read my previous post Autumn Ready you will know that I have added some new bits to my etsy shop. I was perusing shops whilst on my mini travels over the summer – as who can resist shopping – for a new addition to my arm weights…also commonly known as bracelets. Continue reading

Autumn ready

So, it’s been a while….but i’m back! Back from a summer of crazy amounts of running here, there and everywhere. Now I don’t want to give the wrong impression that I spent all summer at festivals and sunning my self in exotic locations as that is very much NOT the case (I did go to Majorca but it was a very laid back affair and not one bit extravagant). However the summer months seem to affect my attitude towards all thing social and I make plans after plans for visiting and hosting everyone I can think of. I arrange coffee dates, drink dates, weekends at home in Somerset, weekends hosting in Brighton, trips with friends and bbqs on the beach – I just can’t help myself! And it has been wonderful! But I have slipped on the “making and doing” front. So as we wave goodbye to September next week I already find myself settling down and getting cosy for the autumn to take over and winter to slowly return. Continue reading