Category Archives: Random Musings

Counting Calories – My Experience

A couple of years ago, I started using a popular calorie tracker out of curiosity and with a view to keeping on top of my calorie intake. I didn’t particularly have any goals as such, my diet was pretty healthy and I exercised regularly but I’d heard of this app and I thought I’d give it a go. Probably not the best decision for someone that has already had a brush with an eating disorder.

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I used it solidly for about 6 months before I woke up to the detrimental effects the app was having on my health and well-being.

When you think about how much time you have to put into using a tracker to count the calories of every ingredient you put into a meal and every morsel you put into your mouth, you soon realise that it is akin to having an eating disorder and not only is it easy to become obsessive, in order to do it right… you have to be obsessive!

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The app gives you the option to put on weight, maintain weight or lose weight. Before even really thinking about whether I needed or wanted to lose weight, I had chosen the ‘lose weight’ option and clicked on the recommended 0.5 kg loss per week which reduced the amount of calories I was allowed per day.

Even though I was already eating less than my body needed to maintain a weight I was actually happy with, I felt guilty if my calories went over my allowance for that day. On the flip side of this, I was elated when I was under my calories and even treated it a bit like a competition to ensure that this happened.

The app requires you to weigh yourself weekly – something I had stopped doing many moons ago. Even though I know that if I am working out regularly and eating well, my weight either doesn’t change or increases slightly along with my muscle tone, I still did as the app told me to and weighed myself and thus became more obsessive about the numbers on the scale than my overall health.

Unfortunately, a calorie tracker doesn’t account for quality of nutrients; healthy fats for example are really high in calories but the health benefits far outweigh the calorific value.

I personally love avocado and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on my salad and if you add both of these items to a chicken salad, you are adding 120 cals for 1/2 avocado and 118 cals for 1 tbsp. of extra virgin olive oil = 238 cals!! And that’s if you stick to a measly 1 tbsp. of olive oil… is that even possible?? 😉 Avocado and extra virgin olive oil might be high in calories but consuming them benefit your hair, skin, nails, cardiovascular system and have cancer fighting properties along with many, many other health benefits. Cutting out or restricting healthy fats also means lower levels of necessary nutrients are absorbed, especially the fat soluble vitamins such as; vitamins A, D, E and K.

I like to eat quite regularly and sometimes I found that if I had a good breakfast such as porridge with nuts and fruits, a healthy mid-morning snack and a good healthy lunch with some healthy fats, I ended up with hardly any calories left for my dinner. If you add a workout into the calorie tracker, it gives you back the calories that you’ve burned so I’d end up working out even if I was tired or really didn’t feel like it just so that I could have some dinner without feeling guilty for going over my calories.

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All in all, it was a miserable experience for me and not one that I will be repeating. If you really need to lose weight and struggle with portion sizes etc. I can see how tracking your calories will help and it’s also handy to use it to understand and track the nutrients you are getting from your diet and what you are missing but using it daily for months on end just didn’t work for me and I’ll only ever use it now as a quick refresh on my nutrient intake.

I managed to find the right balance for me and my weight has stayed the same within around 2 kgs for a few years now and yes I am heavier now than when I was as a size 6 – 20 year old but (as anyone that knows me knows), I didn’t let that girl eat! I now manage to eat well and still have treats when I feel like having them and I am a happy and healthy maintainable size 8-10 with a full and happy tummy and a healthy relationship with food.

So…how did I find that elusive balance and find my ‘happy healthy’?

  1. I went back to eating by looking at ingredients rather than at calories – if it’s got millions of ingredients in it that I can’t even pronounce, let alone understand – I don’t eat it.
  2. I exercise 3-5 times per week and this includes doing a yoga based workout at least once per week.
  3. I drink 2-3 litres of water per day as a minimum.
  4. I eat regularly.
    1. If I ignore my hunger pangs, I end up making bad choices and reaching for the processed sugary snacks every single time.I snack on healthy foods and snack bars… again by looking at the ingredients.
  5. Some healthy snack bars look like they have as much sugar and as many calories in them as a choccy bar but you have to think in terms of nutrients and ingredients. If the sugar is coming from fruits and not from added refined sugar, it is more nutritious to have the healthy snack bar. 
  6. I only drink alcohol occasionally.
  7. I don’t eat sauces with every meal, preferring to taste the flavour of the food rather than sugar laden sauces such as ketchup and I actually find them really sweet.
  8. If I am craving a sweet treat after a meal, I’ll try and have a fruit tea, some greek yogurt or a decaffeinated coffee with a tiny dollop of sugar free caramel syrup and these usually do the trick.
  9. If I really want some chocolate or a bag of crisps, I have some.
    1. I used to restrict ‘treats’ to weekends only but found that it would get to Friday night and I’d eat a weeks’ worth of chocolate and cakes in one sitting… the old binge eating!! Such a bad habit and overloading the body with sugar and saturated fats like that is not good for your blood sugar levels. A little bit every now and then, however, doesn’t hurt. It definitely works better for me not to restrict.
  10. I stopped worrying about what size clothes I was buying and concentrated on how they looked and felt.
    1. I want a nice peachy bum, (who doesn’t??) and I do squats and lunges and use weights to get it! Unfortunately, having a larger, more rounded bum means I can’t fit into a size 8 pair of jeans anymore. Something I used to want to change. Not anymore, I am happy with my size 10 bottom thank you squats 😉
  11. I try to eat healthy foods 80-90% of the time and allow myself to have the odd pizza or burger once or twice a week maximum.
  12. I try to make as much as possible from scratch at home, preferring to make my own burgers, muffins etc.
  13. I steer clear of white processed carbs; white pasta, rice and potato.
    1. I still eat carbs as they form an important part of a healthy diet but I choose to eat wholewheat rice, bread and pasta or lentil and chickpea pasta, sweet potatoes, etc. White processed carbs don’t agree with me so this is an easy decision to make. Sometimes I do have the odd couple of chips or white bun on a burger but it is rare.

 

Balance to me is about being happy with the look and feel of your body and the weight you naturally reach when you are eating as healthy as you can without depriving yourself of the things that make life fun.

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With love, Tash x

Liebster Award? For Me? SO EXCITING!

Well, whaddya know, I have been nominated for the liebster award…an award given to bloggers by other fabulous bloggers to say that they enjoy reading their posts and to help promote new blogs with less than 200 followers. WOW what a marvellous idea! 🙂

So firstly, a really big heart felt thank you to the lovely blogger that nominated me The Picky Gourmet Blog you absolutely made my day (and my weekend… and my year)! Thank you!

 

The rules for the liebster award are below…

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  2. Copy and paste the Liebster Award badge to your post.
  3. Nominate 10 new bloggers.
  4. Answer the 10 questions the person who nominated you asked you.
  5. Create 10 new questions to ask the bloggers you nominate.
  6. Notify the bloggers you have nominated by leaving them a comment on their blog.

I’ve done 1 & 2 so now it’s my turn to nominate 10 new bloggers – yay! 🙂

I would like to nominate the following blogs for being inspiring: –

  1. Confidently Ella 
  2. David Kolawole
  3. The Bristol Foodie
  4. Explorative Cuisine
  5. Fun with Rick and Jane
  6. Odd Indian Mum
  7. Forward Thinking Food Insta
  8. Yummy Habits
  9. Hippie Lady Ideas
  10. Looking after Lentil

Your blogs are amazing… keep up the great work 🙂

Now I need to answer the 10 questions asked of me 🙂

  1. What made you decide to start your blog? My love of healthy eating and lifestyle coupled with the desire to share really easy healthy eating and cooking tips and recipes that even the busiest of people can make.
  2. What’s the best vacation you ever took? My honeymoon in Bali and Bangkok – we had the most amazing time.
  3. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go? All over the world. I would spend my life travelling if I could.
  4. What’s your favorite food? Being half Italian, the food I crave the most is my Nonna’s cooking so I would have to say Italian.
  5. What food would you never eat or eat again? Shellfish… ick
  6. Who is your biggest inspiration? Myself… I am my biggest inspiration and not in an egotistical way but the way that I tend to look at me, what I can do, what I want and who I am more than being inspired by someone else.
  7. What would your spirit animal be? A cat in a good home with loving humans (like our cats).
  8. What movie could you watch over and over again? Stardust
  9. Do you like to write outside your blog? (Journal, poetry, etc) Nothing at the moment except for my diet and nutrition study coursework – I love doing that!
  10. What accomplishment are you most proud of? Being the strong, content and positive person that I am. That is an accomplishment in this day and age!

My turn to ask the questions: –

  1. Do you have any pets and if so, what are they?
  2. If you had a super power, what would it be?
  3. What has been the happiest time of your life so far?
  4. What is your favourite song?
  5. What 3 words describe you best?
  6. What is your favourite food?
  7. What has been the biggest struggle for you?
  8. What is the one thing you want most in this world?
  9. Where is your next holiday going to be?
  10. Where is your happy place?

So that’s me done!

Thanks again for the nomination 🙂

 

 

 

 

Food is Fuel

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Food is fuel… we hear that all the time but do we really take the time to think about what it means?

To me it means that everything I eat should be feeding my body with all the nutrients it needs to be able to function at it’s best. It’s about choosing premium nutrition over processed rubbish. It’s about focusing on your long term wellness over that short term satisfaction you get from eating something full of all the wrong stuff. It’s about getting your endorphins from a workout, not from chocolate cake.

Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate as much as the next person and cake…well don’t even get me started… it’s delicious! I still eat these things but I don’t eat them as part of my daily diet. They are treats and I treat them as such. I eat well during the week and then at the weekend, I can have a slice of cake (or 2) and not feel guilty for putting rubbish into my body.

 I still go out during the week, have dinner with friends and live my life but 9.5 times out of 10 I choose the healthy nutritious food on the menu, yes I am that person and I am proud to be! I don’t have a dessert unless I really, really want it, but if I really, really want it, I will have it.

It’s not about deprivation for me, it’s about creating and keeping healthy habits that make you think twice before diving headfirst into a tiramisu 😉

I don’t believe in restricting diets, quick fixes and miracle pills. I believe being healthy and leading a healthy life is hard work, perseverance, will power and above all else…loving yourself enough to want to nourish every single cell within your amazing body every single darn day. Saying that, it is also important to allow yourself the unhealthy stuff once in a while…we can’t all live clean and healthy lives constantly…that would be very boring!

Learn to listen to your body!

Your body is so finely tuned, it will tell you what it doesn’t like. Whether you are getting a bad tummy, feeling sluggish, getting headaches, etc. it is your body’s way of telling you something isn’t right.

A few months ago, I went to see an Acupuncturist and during my first consultation she asked me about my gut health and bowel movements.

Well, ignoring my natural instinct to be embarrassed to be talking about poop, I explained that no matter how healthy I was eating, I always had either a runny tummy or didn’t go at all and rarely had a ‘normal’ experience in that department.

She asked me what I typically drink in a day and I answered that I drink at least 2 litres of pure water a day, 1 cup of coffee in the morning, green tea throughout the day and occasionally a smoothie for breakfast. She then asked what temperature the water I drink throughout the day is usually at. I replied “freezing cold” – I like my water refrigerated! She told me that was my problem and if I could drink my water and the majority of my drinks at a minimum of room temperature, I would see a huge difference in my tummy health almost immediately. She was right!

It turns out that every time you drink freezing cold water, your body rushes lots of blood away from your vital organs and intestines to your stomach to warm it up so that your body can process it and use it…leaving your organs without the precious blood it needs to function properly. Well, it sounds obvious now doesn’t it but for years I was completely oblivious to this!

Now I add boiling water to the water from the refrigerated tap in the office and use tap water at home and let it warm slightly before drinking it instead of keeping a bottle of tap water in the fridge and I can say it has made such a huge difference.

I now have a very happy healthy tummy!

My body reacts very badly to sugar. If I eat something with refined sugar, I get a huge sugar rush sending me sky high where I get giggly and act delirious and then crash to the floor with an almighty thud. It’s become something of an amusement to all my colleagues at work if I ever decide to eat some of the office sweets (which is not very often). 😉

I can’t eat donuts anymore. The way I feel after eating one is not worth the few minutes of pleasure at all. Not even at the weekend. I hardly even get the sugar rush, I just get the slump! 😦

People that eat bad things regularly are less likely to notice how it makes them feel because feeling like that is just part of every day life for them.

Once you start to clean out all the rubbish from your system, you will notice the adverse reaction your body has to all the bad stuff and this will help you learn to eat the right things. After all, why would you want to make yourself feel sluggish?

You tune yourself into the hum of your own body and I can tell you… you become your own little miracle.

Look after yourselves – there’s only one of you.

Tash x

 

 

My Journey to Happy Healthy Tash

Believe it or not, I wasn’t always a healthy person. In my late teens and early twenties, I cut down on my calorie intake so much that I was becoming ill.

Growing up I was a stick, there was nothing of me. I was always so thin no matter what I ate and I ate a lot! I could eat as much chocolate and pasta as I wanted and I never gained any weight. My friends used to ask me how I did it and I had no idea!

Then I moved out of home and decided a diet of pizza, beer and midnight snacks of cheese on toast was a good idea.

Well…eventually it all caught up with me but I didn’t see the weight piling on.   I went from a size 6 to a size 12/14 without really noticing it  until I had my tonsils out when I was 18. I could barely suck on an ice cube let alone eat anything and the weight started falling off me. I remember sitting on my bed looking at my legs and thinking wow they look skinny! I was actually excited and wondered how on earth I’d let myself put on all that weight.

It was that moment that I decided I was never going to let that happen again.

From that time on, I became obsessive about trying to eat as little as possible and getting as skinny as I could. It was like someone had flicked a switch in me and I went from a normal girl with a healthy appetite to someone that could only focus on what I was not going to eat and my weight.

I would plan my meals for the day so meticulously and would never sway from what I had prepared, no matter what someone tried to put in front of me.

I would skip breakfast, opting instead of having a cigarette. I found the lowest calorie bread available and for lunch I would make a sandwich; with 1 slice of ham, no butter and the crusts cut off. After a few weeks I realised that I needed a bit more to eat during the day so I added a mini twix to my lunchbox every day. That was it until I got home from work. There I would have a glass of red wine (low calorie) as alcohol helped curb my appetite and then prepare a dinner of steamed vegetables with a slice of chicken followed by more wine and cigarettes.

Eating out became really hard and even eating with my family was a struggle.

If I went to my mums house and she cooked pasta, I would have the smallest bowl, (getting quite angry if she put too much in the bowl) with a tablespoon of pasta sauce.

If I went out to eat, I would order a chicken salad with the dressing on the side because I didn’t want the fatty dressings and I couldn’t eat the salad if it was smothered in sauce as it was just fat to me.

I caught any cold and flu bug going and spent a lot of time poorly but even that didn’t deter me from my strict diet!

People started noticing and saying I needed to put on a bit of weight but when they said that I immediately thought back to how I’d put on weight before and thought they were trying to get me to be ‘fat’ again and I was not going to let that happen!

I continued on like that for a couple of years and then I got a job as the Manager of a Fitness Club.

Being surrounded by fit, healthy people, fitness instructors and physical trainers who were eating to fuel their bodies in order to get the best out of their training made me think there was a better way.

The girls had amazing figures and were toned and healthy looking and I decided I wanted to give that a go.

I will never forget the first time I got on a cross trainer and tried to make my legs go round… I couldn’t do it for longer than 3 minutes. I was exhausted and I didn’t have the energy to continue but never one to give up, I was back the next day and tried again. And I kept going back and the more I exercised, the more I realised I needed to eat to be able to get the best out of my workout. I wanted to be healthy and strong.

Exercise saved me from a life of calorie counting and exhaustion.

Now, I work out 3-4 times a week and when I eat, I focus on fuelling my body by putting nutritious, energising food in so that I can get the best out of it. I have treats every now and then but I stick to nutritious food 90% of the time so I can enjoy my treat without feeling guilty.

It took a long time to get to a place where I had a healthy relationship with food after my trip down starving myself lane but I am stronger and healthier because of it. I never look back with regret, every lesson in life is worth learning and it has played a big part in shaping who I am today…happy healthy Tash!