Day 15: making progress

It’s been just over two weeks, and things are going well.

You know that theory where people say your stomach shrinks? And you supposedly start to feel less hungry, as you adapt to cheerily having two broadbeans and an apple per day? The thing that never, EVER happens?

Well guess what, it’s happening!

I don’t know why, and I don’t know how, but my appetite is shrinking.

Now, it’s hard to explain how much of a feat this is without you understanding how spectacular my appetite usually is.  Let’s just say that, apparently, my ex flatmate’s dad still talks about the amount of pasta I ate in one sitting over six years ago.  You have Mount Kilimanjaro, you have Mount Everest, and then you have that plate of pasta.

So when teatime came around this evening and I cooked for my partner, I heard someone say the words: ‘I don’t really fancy anything, I’m not hungry.’ After some confusion, I realised those words had been spoken by me.  ME.  And I’m still not hungry at 9pm.  It’s a miracle.

The running is also going well… ish.  I’m starting to adapt to the low-carb regime (rules here) and my body is reluctantly surrendering all the fat it’s been greedily holding onto.  I ran 6km on Friday, and 5km this morning.  Still a reduction on what I’d like, but it’s something.

I’ve also lost 11lbs.

photo credit: Rev Dan Catt

So for now, it’s going well.  However, I am constantly teetering on the brink of a malteser-related disaster.  I’ll keep you posted!

Read more about low carb dieting.


Dieting progress – back on track! With one major drawback…

After the onslaught of misery and negativity I dished out the other day (er, yeah, sorry about that), I feel back on track.  I feel good.

Now it’s day 11, and I have lost 10 lbs.  I have more mental clarity, I feel lighter, I feel more in control.  I feel, dare I say it, happier.  Everything is going well.

I’ve been eating reasonably healthily and keeping to my rules (most of the time… the incident with the block of cheese never happened.  IT NEVER HAPPENED.)

I made myself a truly delicious Greek salad for tea that was filling and nutritious (see below).

photo (1)

Salad including rocket, spinach, watercress, avacado, fetta cheese, olives and a dressing of olive oil/lemon juice/taragon. Yum.

So what’s the problem?

The problem, dear readers, is what they might call the fly in the ointment.  This diet I’m on has so much to recommend it – it offers rapid weight loss, clear skin, mental clarity, constant energy; and if done in the right way, it is extremely healthy.

The problem is: I can’t run.

I mean, I can run.  But all the joy has gone out of it.  I’ve been running a few times since I started this diet, and each time has been miserable.  I have had to stop after about 4k; one time in the gym I ended up with my head between my knees, about to faint (an excruciatingly embarassing experience, if you’re interested: all the gym posers looked at me warily as if I might suddenly whip out a machete).

So what do I do?

I love running.  When I don’t run, I feel like something’s missing.  When running is going well, I feel like air moving over the Earth.  That’s not how I feel now.  I feel like a bull seal moving over a hill.

So now I have a dilemma.  Do I carry on with this until I reach my target weight (11 pounds to go), or do I find a more moderate diet which allows me to run, but without all the other benefits which go with the low carb regime? Decisions, decisions.

Day 5 Diet Blues

Not happy
photo credit: lovestruck

In my experience, the first four days of a diet are quite easy.  The motivation is strong, the initial weight loss is fast, you’re thinking: ‘Yes, go me, I can do this! I’m a lean mean vegetable eating machine!’

Then you hit day 5.  Suddenly you have been on a diet for several lifetimes.  You become irritable.  Everywhere you go, people are just doing things like talking, and existing.  And worst of all, eating.  There’s always that one person who eats a two-tiered box of Milk Tray as a between-meal snack, yet looks like Kate Moss.  That person becomes particularly prevalent on day 5.

On day 5, you are faced with the choice many women have to face at some point: am I going to be fat, or starving? On Day 5, the former seems the more appealing of those two options.

As you may have guessed, I am on day 5.

(You can read my dieting rules here).

What I could murder right now is a family sized Domino’s pizza, followed by a slab of chocolate fudge cake, washed down with (non-alcoholic) beer.  But I’m not going to. I’m going to eat this DELICIOUS packet of mixed nuts, served with a side of air and maybe a sprinking of dust.  And I’m going to LOVE it.

Also, day 5 is the day the weight loss stops.  The scales stare back up at you, immovable and smirking.  You try standing on one foot, you take off your underwear, pluck your eyebrows, think ‘light’ thoughts.  But they won’t budge.  Past experience suggests that number won’t budge for at least another decade, in fact it will probably arbitrarily go up, laughing in the face of your disciplined starvation, until the moment comes when you fling the scales out of the window and gleefully watch them get run over by a bus.

So this is day 5.

See you on day 6 for more sunshine and light!

PS.  I went for a run yesterday.  It was a monster.  I managed just over 3k; my blood sugar was on the floor and it was hard.  That and somebody had broken in during the night, taken away all my muscles and replaced them with lead.  But I will try again tonight! What is it they say – things can only get better 🙂

Low carb dieting

Cheese selection
photo credit: richard_north

Low carb eating has a bad press, and often with good reason.  The very low carb diets such as the notorious Atkins plan involve extremely high levels of saturated fat (bad news for the ticker) and protein (which, so I believe, can damage the kidneys in high levels).

Despite this, I frequently experiment with low carb diets.   I never stay on it for too long – mainly because I get the calling from chocolate fudge cake, haribo, or pizza.  (Damn those carbs and their peer pressure).

But when I’m on it, I feel so much better: I have more energy, my skin clears up, and I feel more in control.

As I’ve mentioned, one of my goals is to lose weight.  So far that plan is going extremely badly.  Despite bashing out the miles on the treadmill week after week, those fat cells just keep storing up every morsel I give ‘em like a hamster shoving food into its cheeks for the winter.

So today is DAY 1 of my new eating and exercise plan.  I will be blogging about it here and I expect you lovely readers to keep me on the straight and narrow.

So here’s what my plan looks like.  It is not based on any particular diet but bits from all of them – and it is not no carb, but low carb.  It is also low in saturated fat (in theory), thus avoiding the major health pitfall of typical low carb regimes.

It is also meant to be something I can stick to long term.  Which means the following:

–          No meticulous measuring

–          No calorie counting

–          No beating myself up if I fall off the wagon

–          No ‘all or nothing’ thinking

All I am going to do is follow these rules:

1. No grains, wheat, etc


2. No sugar


3. As much veg as possible

Fruit and Veg

4. Unlimited good fat

Avacados for Guac

5. Minimal saturated fat


6. Unlimited protein

Cottage Cheese Salad w/Olives, Grape Tomatoes, & Fresh Tarragon

(Photo credits from top to bottom: rprata; Uwe Hermann; sjdunphy; ericskiff; kjetil_r; kellyhogaboom)

No carb weighing.  No calorie counting.  No portion control.  I follow the rules above, eat when I’m hungry, and that’s it.

When I take this plan seriously, I find it beneficial in numerous ways:

  1. I have bags of energy.  I’m not a scientist or a nutritionist, so I’m not really sure why this is.  However, my lay-person’s guess would be that my blood sugar is level and my brain isn’t engaged in controlling insulin.
  2. I’m not hungry.  Ever.  Even if I want food, I don’t have that gnawing feeling, where you’d run over your own grandmother for some food and your stomach sounds likes a the mating call of a humpback whale.
  3. My skin clears up.  Again, I’m not an expert on why this is, but after consulting the unquestionable and totally reliable oracle of Google I suspect this is to do with hormones.  Eating cake and producing too much insulin can cause the things to punish you with a patchwork of zits. Thanks hormones.
  4. I lose weight.  Everyone knows that dropping the carbs is the fastest way to lose weight.

However, this is deceptive: a lot of this is water lost from the liver and the muscles (the body’s glycogen stores).

So as soon as you start celebrating, a well-earned biscuit crosses your lips, replenishes the glycogen and BOOM you gain a stone in one day, and spend the next 24 hours wailing into a bowl of coco-pops and resigning to a life of fat.

In short: weight loss from a low carb diet is not reliable.  It’s best not to do it solely for this reason.

This diet isn’t for everyone.  It works well for me because I don’t have too much of a sweet tooth (I’d much rather have a slab of cheese than a piece of cake any day).  I am also a little sensitive to sugar, and if I overdo it I end up with the shakes three hours later.  So generally I feel much better this way.

The one snag is getting up the energy to go running.

dog on treadmill
photo credit: normanack

Obviously running is much more difficult if you’re running on empty, and the general wisdom is that running on a low carb diet is not to be recommended.

I find, however, that doing the bulk of running with a depleted glycogen store teaches my body to burn fat for energy.  This massively improves my stamina.

I’m told that there are precisely a gazillion miles’ worth of running stored in fat cells, if only we could access to them. (Nothing like a bit of scientific precision to back up your point).  So, bizarrely, I find my running actually benefits from doing some low-carb training.  Then when I do a long run, or take part in a race, I eat some carbs.

This is all controversial and not proven, and again it’s not for everyone, but there is a school of thought that this type of training can be beneficial (known as ‘train low-compete high – you can read more here: )

Unfortunately, I am not very disciplined and I slip up on this diet quite frequently.  I’m the kind of person that has one biscuit and thinks: ‘Well, diet’s ruined now, I might as well get started on this family-sized pie.’  But I am quite convinced that if I would just engage myself and stay the course, this plan is by far the healthiest and most effective – for me.  Not for everyone.

But whatever the experts say, I do think it is sometimes worthwhile listening to your body.  Cavemen didn’t evolve on a diet of bread and pasta – which is something worth thinking about.

Would you ever consider eating a low carb diet? Or do you think the low-fat paradigm is sacrosanct? Let me know!

Today’s run

photo credit: Kekka

A day off from work provided a nice opportunity to bash out some miles on the treadmill.  A pre-run fuel-up of, um, chocolate fudge cake with whipped cream (I know, not top of the list of Runner’s World recommended nutritional items) turned out to be a surprisingly good boost.

I clocked up just over 10k in total, but again this was in bursts of varying speed rather than all at once.  Unlike most runners, I prefer intervals to long runs… probably due to having the concentration span of plankton.

Anyway here’s how my run went:

2k – outside (in the sun! Hurrah!) meandering my way to the gym, with a few hills thrown in despite the trauma of last time.

Arrived at the gym.  Dying.

6k – on treadmill, starting off slow and gradually building up the speed

3 x 500m at speeds varying from 12k/h to 15k/h, depending on how much my lungs felt they were going to actually explode

1k – slow jog home

Feeling good now, but I will feel even better once I’ve had my post-run recovery snack of the other half of chocolate fudge cake.  Maybe Runner’s World are missing a trick there! 🙂

Hill running. Ouch.

Steep hill
photo credit: FindYourSearch

There are some days at the gym when you know it’s not happening.  You know it and your legs know it.  You might think you want to be there, in theory; but deep down you know your heart is at home, sat on the sofa, with a hotdog and a tub of ben and jerry’s (not that my other half would let me anywhere near the sofa with either of those two items).

Today was one of those days.  I found my usual treadmill in the corner of the gym with a growing sense of doom about the whole sorry situation.  I started running.  Within a minute I was thinking of the chocolate fudge brownie milkshake I had at home in the fridge.  It was calling.  I stopped.  If there was any chance of salvaging the workout, I would have to make it short, but make it count.

So that was when I made the decision to do hills.  I did four sets of 250m at 7% incline and 11km/h; then I collapsed to the floor, weeping.  (Not literally.  In my mind.)  Oh my god and all his angels, I thought.  What sadistic new hell is this?

photo credit: yoshimov

The above is me doing hill runs.

The whole debacle came about on the wise recommendation of a twitter follower, who pointed out that hills were a necessity for improving stamina.  There’s a reason for that.  Hills are sadistic.  They are categorically not fun.  They will literally bugger up your thighs and have you crying out for your mother by the time they’re done with you.

I know, I know, the point is to keep doing them and improve.  But I feel a bit torn here.  I want to improve; but at the same time I want to enjoy running.  It’s not like I’m an olympic athlete (HA!)  I’m just a regular, lardy runner trying to get a bit of regular exercise.  Is it really worth going through the pain of hills, in the hope they they will improve my times without destroying my love for running?  What do you think?

Aurora uses the treadmill
Photo credit: Christina T

The above is me after I finished.