Me Vs. The Clean Plate Club

If you had have asked me two weeks ago about my ‘intuition’ when it comes to eating, I’d have told you that my intuition was hungry. Hungry or maybe just…broken.

Just like a magician, I could make any food placed in the vicinity disappear in the blink of an eye. A chocolate bar straight after a filling lunch – gone. A packet of biscuits left next to me by a work colleague- going, going, going…gone. The second half of a baguette even though I was full up – gone. What can I say, I was brought up to be part of the clean plate club.

Even now as a fully grown adult I am too scared to leave food on my plate when I visit my parents for dinner. My hyper sensitive mother takes it as a huge insult if you do not finish every single morsel of food on the plate she serves you. Not hungry for dessert? Tough luck, turn it down at your peril! To make matters worse, my mother cuts a cake depending on how many people are in attendance. Ergo, if there are only 4 of you dining you can expect a QUARTER of a cake. No, really.

Of course now you are envisaging my parents to be huge, morbidly obese, unhealthy people who sit around eating all day long (you are, admit it!) Quite the contrary. Both of my parents are very slim and energetic. While they may eat big dinners and huge portions of dessert for special occasions, they generally don’t eat very much the rest of the time.

Back to me…

Despite moving out several years ago, I still have it in my head that I must eat everything that is in front of me. Sometimes, I can almost hear a ‘grown up’ encouraging me to finish. Say I had a delicious dinner of chicken, potatoes and vegetables on my plate at dinner time. I’ve eaten approximately two thirds and am beginning to feel a bit full. A voice chirps up and says, well you can’t waste good meat, so eat that chicken. Then another says, yes and make sure you eat those potatoes too – you need those for energy. Finally, another says, yes yes that’s all true, but you can’t leave the table until you’ve finished your greens…. Good girl, you’ve finished all your dinner. Now you can have dessert.

When you think about it, that doesn’t make any sense at all!! No wonder my intuition is messed up, I’ve taught myself that if I overeat, I get rewarded with yet more food! And not just any food, delicious, sweet, buttery food.

Two weeks ago I decided it was time to teach my intuition some new tricks.

For those of you who haven’t yet come across the concept of Intuitive Eating, here are the 10 principles in brief:

1. Reject the Diet Mentality

2. Honor Your Hunger

3. Make Peace with Food

4. Challenge the Food Police

5. Respect Your Fullness

6. Discover the Satisfaction Factor

7. Honor Your Feelings Without Using Food

8. Respect Your Body

9. Exercise–Feel the Difference

10 Honor Your Health

Most of the guidelines were fairly easy to follow. I enjoyed deleting the calorie counting app. I embraced eating any thing I fancied without the guilt. I already enjoy exercising for the way it makes me feel, but by not linking it directly to how much I should eat in a given day, rest days felt more…restful!

The problem, of course, was Number 5 – Respect your fullness.

I have to admit that during the first few days I really struggled to quit the clean plate club. This overeating habit is ingrained deep. I even noticed that sometimes when I eat, I enter a sort of trance like state whereby I don’t even notice that I am eating until all the food is gone.

In this case though, practice makes perfect. The more I have consciously made an effort to focus completely on eating, the easier it has become to stop eating once I am full. Whether that means leaving just one mouthful or half a plate full. Respecting my fullness is the key to making this work for me.

So what’s the outcome? Well, I’ve lost 3 of the 5lbs (don’t judge me!!) I gained over Easter. (I said don’t judge me!!!!) Which wouldn’t seem that amazing except for the fact that I have had a lot of social eating occasions to attend. We’re talking wine, pizza, a burger, chips, cake and pancakes, to name a few. I have eaten all of those things, without guilt, without counting a single calorie and without worrying myself sick about ‘burning it off’ in the gym or ‘making up for it’ by cutting back at other meals.

That’s not to say that I haven’t exercised at all. The opposite in fact, the weather has been so lovely that I’ve been running like it’s going out of fashion. But its been for pleasure and fitness, not to ‘buy myself’ extra calories. If I’ve eaten more because I’ve been hungrier following my 9 mile run, then so be it.

That’s also not to say that I haven’t also enjoyed plenty of traditionally ‘healthy’ foods, like salads for lunch, fruit for snacks, and oats for breakfast. I enjoy eating those things and they make me feel good, so they are here to stay.

The difference is that I have stopped convincing myself that I need to eat every single bite of my salad for fear I might offend someone, or worse, get hungry before my next scheduled meal time.  So what if I do happen to get hungry before dinner? I can eat. In fact, I can eat whenever I like. So long as I am physically HUNGRY. (Not bored, lonely, tired, sad, happy, angry, frustrated or any other emotion at all!) And so long as I remember to focus so that I am able to stop eating when I am satisfied.

 

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WIAW #6

It’s my 6th week of participating in WIAW and I’m coming to realise so many great benefits of this weekly post!

  1. It gives me the motivation to continue eating healthily. No one wants to see pics of McDonald’s now do they?! Not that I really like McDonalds all that much, but you get my point…Healthy (or at least home made) food always looks so much prettier. 
  2. It encourages me to make an effort to vary my diet. It’s so easy to get stuck in a food rut, but now I have an audience (even if its only a very tiny one at the moment!) to think about too. No one is going to be interested in seeing the same 3 meals week after week.
  3. It helps me to keep an eye on portions. Spending one day a week photographing everything I eat helps me to understand how much I am really eating. It’s so easy to get carried away with a nibble here and an extra snack there, but photographing everything helps me to focus on whether I really am hungry, or if I’m just snacking because I’m bored.

And with that, here is what I ate yesterday…

Another shopping trip without a fully formed list resulted in an excess of eggs. For the millionth time. When will I stop picking up a dozen every time I go to the supermarket just in case. Just in case what exactly?!

On the bright side, we had a loaf of rather tasty multiseeded bread in the house leftover from the weekend, so I whipped up some scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast this morning. I must say I enjoyed the change!

Scrambled Eggs on Multigrain Toast

Scrambled Eggs on Multigrain Toast

The weather has warmed up just a smidgen, so I decided to brave a salad. I picked up a pot of Sainsburys Taste the Difference Greek Salad which has a mix of baby salad leaves with piccolo tomatoes, feta cheese, olives and a lemon and dill dressing. I also added the king of salad – avocado.

Greek(ish) Salad

Greek(ish) Salad

In the afternoon I snacked on some fruit. Obviously not the whole bowl…I really only put this picture in to prove that I do in fact have a full fruit bowl like I said in my post last Friday!

Photo 09-04-2013 19 21 42

For dinner we had sirloin steak with sweet potato wedges and fine green beans. I also made a sauce/dip using some low fat creme fraiche that was lurking in the fridge.

Steak, Sweet Potato Wedges & Fine Green Beans

Steak, Sweet Potato Wedges & Fine Green Beans

Creme Fraiche with paprika and lemon.

Creme Fraiche with paprika and lemon.

Why don’t you give WIAW a try too! Click the button below for more details…

Me Vs. Hills

I admit it, I plan my running routes to avoid hills.

All well and good if the upcoming race you are training for avoids hills too…

Alas, mine doesn’t. In fact, there is a pretty mammoth hill to climb to get to the finish line. Bummer!

It’s not like I totally avoid hills altogether – actually I’d go as far as to say that I enjoy doing Tabata hill sprints on the treadmill (is that weird?!). Deep down though, I know that it isn’t enough. Don’t get me wrong, Tabata hill sprints make for an extremely sweaty workout and I will definitely continue to do them. But it’s just not the same as having to climb a ‘never ending’ hill in the middle of a 10k race.

With only 10 days til Race Day, this morning Gym Buddy and I figured it might be a good idea to pull our heads out of the sand and drag ourselves up some hills.

The changing of clocks has made the mornings dark again so getting up has been a struggle. To make matters worse, it is still bitterly cold and windy out. Had I had sensed even the teeniest tiniest droplet of rain, I think I would have been back under the duvet in a flash!

With our brains still in bed (it was 06:50AM !) we couldn’t come up with a decent 10k route which incorporated some hills, so instead we did a couple of loops around a shorter route. The main hill is a particularly long and nasty one. The sort where the peak seems to be an ever moving target, like trying to find the end of a rainbow. The gradient eases but never seems to level off entirely. And worst of all, when you do finally get to the top it doesn’t offer the relief of an instant downhill.

We conquered it twice despite a bit of resistance from my usually patient left knee. However, I can’t exactly say that we had as much fun as usual. Instead of constant chatter and laughter along the way, all I could hear was some poor soul gasping for breath…Oh, that was me.

Chocolate & Raspberry Porridge

Chocolate & Raspberry Porridge

When I arrived home , my skin was stinging an attractive shade of red from the cold. So I warmed up with a tasty bowl of Chocolate & Raspberry porridge. Note to self, next time – add more chocolate!

Enough moaning, it’s time to man up. Next week the aim is to complete 3 loops.

Runners out there – do hills ever get any easier?

WIAW #5

The 4 day Bank Holiday weekend combined with the clocks going forward has left my body clock and I (yes we are two separate entities) totally confused. I really feel like Wednesday has snuck up on me! So this week it really is what I ate [on] Wednesday….

I had to stay at the office until after midnight last night, so I skipped my morning workout (boo!) this morning in favour of an extra hour in bed. I still woke up feeling a bit groggy, so the plan for the day was healthy comfort food. I know from experience that if I don’t satisfy my appetite enough throughout the day when I am  tired then come the evening I can end up head first in the biscuit barrel. So I made a conscious decision to focus on healthy and filling foods that would leave me satisfied, without worrying too much about the calorie count.

My breakfast this morning was inspired by a recipe posted by a fellow porridge lover – Stevie at  Cinnamon Soliloquy. Why oh why have I never thought of chocolate porridge before??? What a super idea!

I enjoyed this breakfast but I don’t think the two flavours combined are my personal favourite. Next time I might try straight chocolate. Or chocolate and raspberry!

Chocolate and Banana Porridge

Chocolate and Banana Porridge

At lunch, I just had time to nip into M&S and pick up something super quick. I noticed this new Moroccan Spiced Butternut & Couscous Salad with Roasted Carrot Dip and just had to try it. On closer inspection I found it also contains quinoa, pomegranate seeds, raisins, chickpeas, coriander, spinach and dried apricot – all good things in my mind! And WOW it really did hit the spot – spicy, tangy, sweet but also creamy because of the carrot dip. Not only delicious and nutritious, it was filling too…but me being the greedy little cretin I am, I also had a wholemeal roll on the side. (I did warn you that I love my carbs!)

M&S Moroccan Spiced Butternut & Couscous Salad with Roasted Carrot Dip

M&S Moroccan Spiced Butternut & Couscous Salad with Roasted Carrot Dip

For my mid afternoon munchies I nibbled on some mixed nuts with dried fruit. A snack which I love, but truly resent for being so high in calories. I like to convince myself that my thighs understand that the nutritional benefits balance out the high calorie count. Please don’t make me sad by telling me otherwise.

The Man cooked dinner tonight – result! A huge chicken breast stuffed with herby soft cheese & sundried tomatoes then wrapped in bacon, with spicy peppers & onions and a man mountain of mash potato.

Chicken stuffed with herby soft cheese, spicy peppers & onions and mash potato. Courtesy of The Man.

Chicken stuffed with herby soft cheese, spicy peppers & onions and mash potato. Courtesy of The Man.

I think it is safe to say that I am satisfied!

Me Vs. Easter

My scales and I are not on speaking terms this morning and I blame Jesus and his Lindt bunny disciples.

I also blame Hot Cross buns. And Wine. And the late night burger and chips I ate. And the bacon and egg baguette I needed.  And creme eggs. And the cheese scones I baked.

OK so it’s pretty obvious who’s really to blame…

Me.

It all started so well, Friday morning Gym Buddy and I hit the gym at 08:00 for a 90 minute full body work out. I arrived home ravenous (see previous post about my extraordinary post workout hunger!) and that is when the halo started slipping. I think it finally came crashing down when I was polishing off a burger and chips at 01:00 AM after a boozy girls night out.

When I woke up on Easter Sunday I sealed the deal by eating an entire Lindt Gold Bunny for breakfast. Yep, you read that right.

Ironic really that this supposedly Holy holiday seems to encourage  gluttony these days – oh wait, maybe it’s just me?! (Tell me it’s not just me?!)

This morning I dragged my bloated body out of bed to the gym for this workout:

  • Burpees (30 seconds)
  • Deadlifts x 8 (30kg)
  • Shoulder Press x 8 (8kg Dumbell in each hand)
  • Sumo Squats x 8 (8kg Kettle Bells in each hand, held in front)
  • Bent Over Rows x 8 (20kg)
  • Press Ups x 10

Repeat 6 times. 

  • Plank on the Swiss Ball (rolling ball in and out)
  • Crunches on the Bosu x 15
  • Side Plank (30 secs each side)

Repeat 3 times.

It’s slow going, but I am back on track and hope to be able to report that my scales have forgiven me come the end of the week….

In the meantime, someone PLEASE ease my guilt a little by telling me about your overindulgence’s this Bank Holiday weekend!

Me Vs. Post Workout Hunger

My appetite after running is incredible.

Take this morning for instance.

Before leaving the house, I drank a pint of water and ate one of the homemade Hot Cross Buns I had made the night before (another post to come on those!) I knew as I was eating it that it was a bit of a mistake and that I should only eat half, but I don’t really do the whole ‘save half for later’ thing – I salute those who can manage this, but I am more of a ‘have one now…and then have another one later too’  kind of girl. That my friends is why I will never be a skinny minny.

Anyway, I then ran 6.5 miles as scheduled with Gym Buddy. It was a windy run again (no, still not that sort of wind, even after the hot cross bun) which made it tough, but the sun was shining so we kept our chins up.

On returning from my run, I then had my real breakfast which was a banana, oats, yoghurt and berries (the hot cross bun was more of an accidental breakfast, so doesn’t count alright?) and some more water. Pretty substantial right? A good blend of carbs, protein and fruit – just what my body needs post run.

By 10:00AM, despite 2 cups of coffee, my stomach was rumbling! What is that all about??

Fortunately for my belly, one kind soul at the office had brought in some homemade Tiffin. Which as it happens, tastes suspiciously like Rocky Road. Anyone know the difference?! Either way, it was yummy.

So belly was satisfied for a little longer. But it came at a price. Before 10:30AM I had almost certainly consumed more calories than I burnt running this morning.

There’s still a lot of hours left in the day to eat my way through!

I’m not suggesting for a second that I would have been better off staying in bed this morning and therefore having a slightly smaller appetite. I’d rather gain all the fantastic health benefits of exercise and eat like a horse any day.

I just can’t help but think it’s all a little bit unfair that my appetite seems to totally overestimate my calorific needs! I’ve been exercising regularly now for nearly 12 months, you’d think my body would have realised that I am definitely NOT going to let it starve.

So come on appetite, relax, chill out, I will continue to feed you cake – I promise!

Me Vs. Wind

Nope, not that sort.

Sorry to disappoint all the fans of toilet humour out there (I’m definitely one of them) – this post has absolutely nothing to do with flatulence (I thought I’d at least give you something there!)

Here in Blighty the weather at the moment is pants. Think snow, ice, grey skies, cold and arctic wind and you are almost there. Spring has definitely not sprung. Unfortunately, with only just over 2 weeks until I will be taking part in a 10k race, the training must go on.

Morning runs the past few weeks have taught me that even at -2 you will soon warm up after the initial ‘AAAHHHHHHHHH It’s FREEEEEEZING!!!!!!!’ panic. So, when I woke up feeling quite sprightly this morning (AMAZING for a Tuesday!)  I decided to brave the weather once more and go for a quick 5k run before my regular Circuit Training class  at 7:30AM.

What I was not prepared for, was the wind.

It felt like I was trying to run through a force field. A force field which  steals your breath with it’s icy fingers. A force field which whips through your leggings and makes your skin sting.

I battled on, clinging to the hope that when I turned around, I’d be able to comfortably ride the wind all the way back. Why then, when I changed direction to head back towards the gym, did the wind decide to change direction too?!!!

The only thing that kept me going was the realisation that if I stopped running, I would be colder still AND it would take me even longer to get back. So I carried on, as fast as my stinging legs would carry me.

So I guess what I’m getting at here is that, wind is a bitch. No doubt about it. But, on the bright side, once you are out there it is also one hell of a motivator to run home as hard as you can!

Yoga Time?

After a particularly painful run last week, I pledged to start doing what everyone has been telling me to do for ages…stretch after a workout. (Yes, I know, I’m a bit late catching on with this one.)

It’s only been two days but so far, so good!

So did it work?

I can’t exactly claim I carried out a fair test, but, this morning my legs felt champion throughout the whole 10k. That’s more than I can say for last week!

When I returned home, I kept up the good work by using the foam roller and then having a good stretch.

On the downside, I very much doubt that I am doing anywhere near enough to improve my flexibility…

So what next?

A couple of blogs I love to read (But Can I Still Drink Wine? and No More Lettuce) have recently been posting about their new found love for Yoga.

Many, many years ago I went to a yoga class. Far from finding inner peace, I found it all a bit…well weird. The instructor was probably the most stereotypical yoga instructor you could possibly imagine. Think skinny, lentil eating male with ponytail and patterned baggy trousers. This guy ‘lived’ yoga. I just couldn’t relate at all and found myself hopelessly trying to complete the moves without collapsing in a fit of childish giggles.

Ever since, I’ve avoided yoga like the plague, always believing it just wasn’t for me.

Part of me still believes this is true…I’m not exactly a quiet, thoughtful kind of person. I’m a talking machine who lives life a 100 miles an hour. I’m always doing at least 3 things at a time (right now I’m drinking tea, eating a cupcake, watching CSI and typing this – no seriously!) I’m pretty sure that just being quiet for an entire class would be a struggle for me, let alone the fact that I am not only a total beginner but also ridiculously inflexible!

The other part of me thinks that all of the reasons above are exactly why I should be doing Yoga.

I just don’t know where to start?

Me Vs. Stretching

I hate stretching.

I also hate how terribly inflexible I am.

Yep, I can see the correlation there.

There are only two occasions when I actually stretch:

  1. When I am forced to ie. in a group exercise class.
  2. When it is already too late. ie. when I wake up the day after a tough workout and discover that I can’t sit on the toilet without wincing.

I’ve always envied the yoga babe / dancer types who can bend their slender limbs every which way with grace and ease. I on the other hand, can barely touch my toes. I wish that was an exaggeration, but it’s not. Not only that, any attempts at deep stretches usually leave me not so gracefully grunting and grimacing.

I’m sure that my flexibility, like any other area of fitness, could be improved if I were just to put the training in. So why don’t I?

Well, there are a few reasons:

  1. I’m bad at it (I realise this is a stupid reason, but I’m sure some of you will be able to relate to the fact that doing things you are no good at is not fun!)
  2. It hurts.
  3. It’s boring.
  4. It takes too long (30 seconds for each stretch, psshhhhh!)
  5. I just don’t like it, alright?!

So why do I suddenly feel like this needs to change?

Last week, after I completed the workout mentioned here, my gym buddy warned me that I should stretch afterwards. Do you know what I said?

“Pah, stretching is for wimps. I never stretch, I’ll be fine.”

I wasn’t fine. Turns out, 100 dead lifts in one session really gets those hamstrings screaming.

Thursday morning when we met for our 10k run, I was struggling, whilst she smiled the whole way.

It wasn’t just the hamstrings in the end either, other little niggles were beginning to appear here and there.  Running 6 miles in the rain at 07:00 is bad enough already without tight hamstrings, a dodgy ankle and a twinge in your knee. After 53 minutes of listening to me moaning, Gym Buddy informed me that all the little aches and pains I was experiencing were probably connected to the fact that my leg muscles are too tight. Makes sense really!

I hate the thought of  getting an injury, especially as we all know that on the days when you can’t run, the sun shines brightly and there is a gentle breeze in the air (also known as my PERFECT running conditions!)

All of this got me thinking, maybe stretching isn’t just for wimps after all…

So here is my pledge:

  1. I will make time to stretch thoroughly after every workout.
  2. I will use the evil foam roller after every run.
  3. I will never say that stretching is just for wimps ever again. Promise.

I won’t blame you if you don’t believe me, taking into account my most recent promise and subsequent failure. But trying and failing is better than never trying at all!

Me Vs. Wine

Maybe I am just getting old, but these days, a few too many of the good stuff and I am a wreck for a minimum of 2 days.

Back when I was at university, a standard night out meant drinking an entire bottle of wine before even leaving the house! Sure, I got hangovers, but somehow they seemed…worth it?!

These days, I feel like I am over it.

You see, me hungover, goes something like this… (warning, it ain’t pretty!)

Wake up early and desperately thirsty!! Down a pint of water. Feel guilty at the mere thought of going back to bed, so instead, make an industrial strength coffee. In hindsight, this is my first mistake. Deep down I know I should go back to bed and get the extra sleep I so badly need. Instead, I battle on, drinking coffee throughout the morning. The Man, a nocturnal creature, wakes up late morning, by which time I am equal parts starving and exhausted. We get some food. When I say some food, I mean LOADS of food, because when I am hungover, I am like a deep cavernous pit, which can never, ever, be filled. Then I hit a carb/sugar coma and feel even more tired, but now also a bit grouchy too.

Then comes the guilt.

Swiftly followed by an exhausting battle inside my already painful brain.

“It’s a beautiful day outside, why waste it sitting on the sofa in your pj’s?”

“Get The Man to bring the duvet down here and get me some chocolate while he’s at it!”

“You’ll regret it tomorrow!”

“…And some biscuits too!”

And so it goes on and the angelic side of me rarely, if ever, wins the battle.

Recently I wrote about how great I felt after having a sin free weekend, so I am all too aware of how great I can feel if I just avoid the booze.

The problem, is putting it into practice. Left alone for an entire weekend without any plans, or any company, I wouldn’t touch a drop of the stuff. But that wouldn’t exactly be a great weekend now would it?

My friends are so used to me partaking in the normal social conventions, that if I turn a drink down (without a legit reason, like being the designated driver!) I’m met with a barrage of quizzical looks, questions, and a good dose of peer pressure. Admittedly, I am far too old now to be giving into peer pressure, but the truth is, I do enjoy having a drink…at the time.

Unfortunately, I tend towards the ‘all or nothing’ mindset. So I inevitably end up either home alone on the sofa with my pjs and a cup of tea, or polishing off a bottle of wine, a cocktail or two, a few jäger bombs and a late night chip kebab (classy one, aren’t I?!)

So what’s a twenty something girl like me to do?

Well, tonight Matthew I am going to attempt to be a grown up.

I’ve set myself a limit of 3 glasses of wine. I’m fully aware that this is still technically more than is recommended, but it’s a start. And what’s more, I think it’s achievable.

Watch this space…