Q is for Questions


When I was writing the first draft of my book, I asked ‘social media’ for questions. Mainly to help me think of elements of weight loss that I hadn’t thought of. I got more than I bargained for, and I believe they’ve really added to the book. Here is just a small sample of the questions, and my rough answers.

 

How many times did you fail before you succeeded?

I joined Unislim for the first time when I was about 12 I think, maybe 14, but over 30 years ago. I’ve been on and off diets to different degrees all of that time, but how many times I actually properly tried to lose weight???? Let’s see…

In the mid 90s I lost somewhere between 2-3 stone. Got down to just over 17 stone.

Started again in 2001. I was 20 stone, I lost 3 stone.

Started again in 2008, I was 21 stone. Lost just under 3 stone.

Started again in 2012, I was just under 24 stone. Faffed about for a year and a half. Was down 1.5 stone at one point.

Started again in 2015, I was just over 23 stone, as I write I have lost 5 stone and 2lb. My first goal is to get back to where I was in the mid 90s. Just over 17 stone.

So tried and failed 4 times, before succeeding this time.

 

What was the one thing that kept you going?

I’m not one for sticking pictures of ‘fat me’ on the fridge, there was however a photo that shocked me. It was of a particular special moment and I was horrified when I saw it. It was fully side on and I had no idea that I was so big. Really, I didn’t realise. I hadn’t looked at myself for a long time. I tried to crop it, I tried to edit it, I wanted to delete it. It was a precious moment in my life and a significant memory, but all I wanted to do was delete it. Forever.

It has become the photo that keeps me going. But I don’t need to see it. The image is imprinted in my brain. I can’t ever let that happen again. Even if I put on weight again, I can’t shut the door to the discussion. It must be something I can always address if I need to.

What made you decide to lose weight, to begin with? Health?

This time around, it was health, but not because I was ill.  I was worried about dying, but only because I didn’t want to leave Richard alone to do the work he is doing. I believe what the Bible says, that to live is Christ and to die is gain – were I to die, I’d be with Jesus. But I felt that I had more to do, and I wanted to be able to do more. I wanted to be able to support Richard practically and work with him; I knew I couldn’t in the state I was in. I’ve never had trouble with blood sugar or blood pressure. It was only going to be a matter of time though. I’m not sure how I got away with being as healthy as I am, after carrying so much weight for so long.

How do you feel about people who are not overweight but constantly complain that they need to lose weight?

I used to want to throw something at people, who I felt, didn’t need to lose weight. Over time I have come to think a bit differently about that. Mainly because I thought if they weren’t my size, then they didn’t need to lose weight at all. That they were just trying to point out how skinny they were, and compare little old them to big old me.

My short term goal is to lose 6 stone. I’m on my way to that. My goal after that is to lose another 4 stone. I would be 13 stone at that stage. If I did that I would be over the moon. I mean jumping up and down (cos I’d be able to) with great joy and delight.  But I know people who are 13 stone who are desperate to lose weight. Absolutely out of their minds with worry about it. Stressed and feeling fat! At 13 stone I’d be dancing, others are mourning. So, just as much as I would like people to understand where I’m coming from; how hard it is for me… I need to understand where others are at too.

Food became my enemy and my comforter. I still struggle with this at times. I am learning to have a healthy relationship with food. I would love for you to talk about that in the book. What is a healthy relationship with food?

I think it might be slightly different for different people. To use the analogy of an alcoholic – having a bottle of wine in my house wouldn’t cost me a thought, but it would be tempting to an alcoholic and so they should not have it in their homes. I’d be the same with donuts or Haribo candies. I’m best not having them in my home. I can’t resist them.

I treat food now like someone I love but don’t really trust. I ‘eye’ some food with suspicion. Will it do me any good? Will it lead me into temptation? If I can’t only have one of those, I’d be better having none. I wonder if the only way I’ll stay on track will be to maintain a dysfunctional relationship with food. 😊

In short, know your enemy. If you know your downfall is ice cream, don’t buy the big tub that is on offer, then try to kid yourself you’ll be able to have only a teensy bit at a time. If you want to, buy a small one serving tub and enjoy every spoonful. Be honest with yourself, be prepared for the hungry moments and make every meal & snack a choice that you are in control of, then go and enjoy every mouthful of it, guilt free.

Did you believe that you could do it?

For a long time, no. When I started this time, I decided to believe I could. I could choose the next meal. Choose to go for a walk. I decided to make every next choice a good one. I didn’t really believe in much more than that. It was too difficult to see beyond the next choice. There’s not many silver linings to being almost 24 stone, but one was that I saw a lot of change quite quickly. Now that it has slowed down, I have to remind myself that I can do it.

N is for Nuts


After a busy week, I’m still playing catch up on my AtoZ posts on the theme of being a Clumsy Carb Cutter .

Nuts are one of my favourite things to eat. I have to be very careful of them as I find it really easy to over indulge. In a moderate amount, they are a great low carb snack. My world would be a sad place if I developed an intolerance to nuts, the way I have with lactose.

As I mentioned before, I use ground almonds for baking. I bought peanut flour by mistake a few weeks ago, so I’ve been using that mixed with almond flour in some of the cookies. It has a few more carbs per 100g, but really tasty, if you love the peanut taste.

I buy bags of mixed raw nuts from Lidl as they are the best value. On the rare occasion I eat cereal, I always throw some in, or I just eat them on their own for a snack. As I mentioned, moderation is key in eating nuts. They are great for the low carb/high fat diet. They are high in fibre and contain a wide variety of nutrients, but also high in calories. So to get the best benefit from them,  just a handful/half a cup at a time.   🙂

L is for Low Carb Buddy


 Short post today as I’m away with family this weekend, but I wanted to give a shout out to Sam at Low Carb Buddy (LCB).

Sam is based in Bristol, UK and runs a Facebook page, an interactive group, a Pinterest page (with some fabulous recipes), and for a small fee, runs weekly interactive group chat sessions.

I’ve benefited greatly from my connection with LCB. Sam is very encouraging and always has great ideas and suggestions. She herself is on a Keto diet. Make sure to check her out on some of the links above.

Just to say, I don’t get anything from plugging her page/biz other than the satisfaction of cheering on someone who has really helped this ‘Clumsy Carb Cutter’ 🙂

K is for Kind


Following on from my thoughts in the ‘I is for If‘ post, I wanted to share another way my thinking has changed over the last few years. These days, I am kind to myself.

In the book I’m writing about this journey, I talk about how I used to hate myself. I could not bear the sight of me in a mirror. Sometimes if I caught my reflection, I would thump myself, and say the most awful things to the mirror. Those negative words would stay with me for days. They would ring around in my head. It took a long time to change that mindset; to speak and act positively towards myself. I must care for myself because God’s Spirit is within me.

Eating right, I have found, is not deprivation. Quite the opposite. It is another kind thing I can do for myself. It’s not always easy, but I try always to make choices that are for my benefit – even though my sweet tooth and old habits are always pulling at me.

Are you good to yourself?

H is for Have Mercy


I mentioned in my opening AtoZ post some of the changes that led to my five stone weightloss. Since then I have put on a little, lost a little, put on a little, lost a little… I am still five stone down. In some ways that is frustrating as I feel I could do with losing another five, but I can’t seem to get any further. In other ways, it is amazingly wonderful. For the first time in my long history of dieting, I have kept my weight off.

In the olden days, after a stall or a carbhorrific weekend, I would throw in the towel, pretending to still be trying for a while but in my head it would all be over. Bit by bit I would put all the weight back on and then some. So although I am not any further than that first year, I am still rejoicing and celebrating staying five stone down.

It’s almost three years since I started that journey. Within the first few weeks I really struggled, I grieved for sugar and sugary foods; truth was they made me feel better. I’ve shared about it back in 2016 (click here to read it). I knew I had to change, I knew that I was eating myself to an early grave. As I progressed, I was so happy to see those changes inside and out, but I was conscious I’d never really dealt with the why and  how of my weight gain.

In November 2017, I used the NaNoWriMo challenge, to write the story of being an overweight Christian. You might wonder how that differs from being an overweight person, but I was wrapped up in guilt and shame and I was lacking in trust of my God to help me out of the prison I was in. My faith had to be part of the story.

So I wrote it. With many tears I raked though painful memories and regrets, I fought the urge to leave out the ugly stuff and just poured it all out. By the end of it I felt like I’d been skinned. I was raw, embarrassed, ashamed, afraid and relieved. It reminded me of reading about Eustace in C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when Eustace had been turned into a dragon, and only Aslan could remove the gnarly dragon skin from his body. Eustace describes the pain of having the skin removed as the worse thing he had ever felt. He was only able to bear it, because the removal of the rough skin brought pleasure and relief.

Writing an honest book about being fat was extremely painful. It turns out that editing a book about being fat is no less so! But it is a relief to say some of the stuff out loud. The working title is “Have Mercy Upon Me O Lord, a Slimmer.” I’m praying that when my story gets out there, as painfully revealing as it will be, it will help people who feel the shame and embarrassment of overeating.

If you think it’s something that might help you or someone you know. Keep an eye out here for updates 🙂

E, F and G, are for Eggs, Flaxseed and Ground Almonds


After a crazy busy week I’m playing catch up. I hope you don’t mind if I blend some ingredients together today. (See what I did there 😀 ) These three have become staples in my diet. Together with coconut flour, they have made baking a part of my life again.

When I went low carb, I stopped baking. My go to recipes were poppy-seed cake and banana bread. I didn’t make them unless there was something on in work that I needed to contribute to. The beloved remarked that on the rare occasion I baked, the finished article left the house never to be seen again. I just could not have the cakes in the house. I have zero self-control.

I tried and failed a few low carb recipes and just stopped trying, but as I said in my ‘C’ post, you have to treat some of the ingredients in a different way. I could no longer just fire it all into a bowl, give it a whisk and bung it in the oven. Sometimes ingredients need to go in a certain order and need a bit more prep time.

When I had the problems with dairy, I worried I might not be able to have eggs either. I was at the end of my tether with it all. Thankfully, eggs are not a problem, cos I love them. Hard boiled on toast, in a salad, scrambled, poached, fried – whatever way you’d like to make them for me 🙂 They are a great source of protein, and a handy snack if you keep a couple hard boiled in the fridge for a day or two. Just grab and go.

It all depends on who you read as to whether they are good or bad for you in large quantities. The only thing I would say about it (NOT BEING AN EXPERT) is, if you are worried about eating too many eggs, eat only one egg yoke for every two egg whites. When I was going to the gym, the personal trainer recommended as many eggs as I could eat, and that was his suggestion, to keep the cholesterol level down.

Milled flaxseed is a great source of fibre, it’s very filling and is said to have endless benefits such as the ability to help lower cholesterol and help keep blood sugars level. It can go in salad, cereal, yogurt, smoothies, cookies, mug cakes and pancakes. I’ve also been given a flaxseed porridge recipe.

I have only one issue with flaxseed. It’s an acquired taste! I make a flaxseed pancake every so often because it’s only 6g of carbs (for my American friends, I always note net carbs) and it fills me to the brim for hours. I just don’t find it very tasty. I’ve taken to cutting the pancake in 2 or 3 and adding different things to it like a spoon of peanut butter or d/f butter with an extra sprinkle of cinnamon. Here’s the recipe, give it a try, and see what you think.

2tbs flaxseed, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/2 tsp keto sweetner, 1 egg. Add whatever flavouring you like… cinnamon, cocoa powder, sugar free jelly crystals…
Fry in some coconut oil for 1 or 2 mins each side.

Ground almonds (am I cheating here? 😀 ) are my go to alternative to flour. They make yummy cakes and cookies, including cheesecake base, AND the most amazing savoury coating for fish and chicken. Gram for gram, it’s more expensive than coconut flour, but I find it a lot easier to use, and sometimes I just don’t want the coconut taste.

My current fave recipe is one for dark choc chip cookies. Sometimes I use half ground almonds and half peanut flour – just to get the really peanutty taste. The darker the chocolate the better. 85 or 90% keeps the carbs down. My current batch are 2.5g of carb each. They are great breakfast biscuits when I’m running out the door to work (which is most days). The recipes I use are all online but shout me if you want them 🙂

Tomorrow, I’ll be talking about the book I’m writing about weight. See you then. x

D is for Dairy (free)


Welcome to day 4. Hope you’re enjoying the AtoZ  Challenge. Today I’m going to chat about dairy, as recently things changed and now I can’t have much of it.

D is for Dairy Free

I was pootling along nicely with my low carb life. There had been some ups and downs, scale wise but in general I was doing well and happy with my progress. Then around the beginning of 2018 I noticed a change in my bathroom habits. I won’t go into detail, but after certain meals I would experience terrible pain in the southern hemisphere, and then with little warning would have to sprint like an Olympian to the loo.

It got to the stage where I stopped going for my long walks as I was worried about being caught short on the far side of the park. I thought maybe I was eating too many peanuts, or had gone overboard on the sprouts, so I just lived with it. Then other symptoms developed. I began to experience nausea in the mornings. I’ve never been pregnant, but if felt like what others described as morning sickness. It would only last for a few hours, and was usually gone by lunch time, then I would be ravenous.

On reflection, I remember having the nausea on and off over the years, but I’d always put it down to hormonal problems I’d been having.

It was only when incidents of a delicate nature *coughs* occurred while I was out for dinner, that I began to see a pattern. It seemed to be worse when I had melted cheese on something; a lot worse and it would come on very fast. I took myself to the doc who also suspected I had some issues with dairy and I went on a 2 week on, 2 week off dairy trial, for 8 weeks in all. The diary I kept pretty much proved the suspicions correct. After a meeting with a dietitian it was confirmed as lactose intolerance.

If you’re not familiar with the low carb life, you might not see the connection. Low carb goes with high fat intake. Taking cheese and cream etc out of my diet made things difficult for me. I totally lost focus, and losing focus for me means gaining pounds, which I did – about 10 lbs in a few months.

Sam at Low Carb Buddy was really helpful and gave me great advice about how to get healthy fats into my diet on limited dairy; recommending products such as coconut and olive oil, avocado and nuts. And there are plenty of dairy free options, which I used for the low carb mini cheesecakes. After a few weeks I was back on track and the best part is, I lost those extra pounds quite quickly.


I’m used to it now. Using dairy-free spreads and lactose-free milk in baking. And I can even have some low lactose cheese on occasion. I was worried that dairy free meant I could succeed in being low carb. But it is doable. 🙂

C is for Coconut flour/oil


Day 3 and I’ve caught up 🙂

C is for Coconut flour/oil

So today I’ll give you a brief overview of my dealings with coconut flour and coconut oil. Now if you want to go low carb and you don’t like coconut, it will take a while to get used to using it. What I find is that, though it smells quite strong, it doesn’t make everything taste of coconut.

I use the flour cos it’s cheaper than almond flour (ground almonds), and it goes a lot further. For every cup of almond flour you use, it’s about a quarter cup of coconut flour, and there are usually extra eggs in the recipe to help with the soakage 🙂 I made some big mistakes at the the beginning. The two greatest ones were 1. looking at the amount of eggs in a coconut flour recipe, thinking it must be a typo and using half the amount of eggs instead. I know, I know! I’m a doofas, and 2. I didn’t leave the mix long enough to let the flour do its soakage thing. Coconut flour needs time and lots of eggs. If you you’ve got plenty of both, it’s a great product.

Oh and a tip for if you are not fussed on the taste, I’ve been told that better quality flour leaves less of the taste behind. But I don’t mind the taste, so I haven’t tested this.

Coconut oil is much less of a faff. I’ve used with a stirfry, for frying flaxseed pancakes (more about those on Day 6), and for frying the fake bread I mentioned in the last post. It’s also in quite a few cake recipes. Just measure it or weigh it and use it as instructed.

I should acknowledge that I’ve heard coconut oil get a bad rap, so I can only share my experience, NOT BEING AN EXPERT 🙂 When I changed my eating habits, I started to include what I read were healthy fats into my diet as I reduced the carbs. Coconut oil is one of those fats. I’ve been eating it regularly for almost 3 years. I am a whole lot healthier than I was 3 years ago, possibly healthier now than since I was a teenager. I have no issues with cholesterol or blood pressure. I’m losing weight, and getting stonger. If there are any negative effects from coconut oil, I’ve yet to experience them.

Do you use it? Let me know your thoughts.

A x

B is for (life without) Bread


Day 2 of the challenge and we’ve stumbled upon one of the most difficult changes I’ve made.  B is for Bread

I love bread, a lot. I would happily eat bread for breakfast, dinner and tea. Fresh white fluffy yumminess. A slice, a roll, a baguette – I don’t mind the shape. I’m not fussy 🙂 As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, when I first heard that some people don’t eat bread I wondered how on earth they could possibly survive! Where do you put cheese??? I was later to find out that cheese is perfectly edible on its own. Shocked, nay stunned, to find you can pick it up with a fork, or heaven forefend, your fingers. It does not need a transportation system made of flour. Who knew? 🙂

I was fixed in a mindset about bread for years. I could not imagine lunch without it. I could not imagine soup without it. I could not imagine bacon and egg without it. And though I have not ruled it 100% out of my diet, it no longer rules me.

So what are the options?

Almost looks like bread doesn’t it…!

Well, as I said, cheese is quite tasty on its own, as are the other foods. One of the options is just not to have it. I know right? RADICAL. I used to think so too, but now it’s just part of what I do. A lot of the time I just leave it out. If I do have it, it affects what I do the rest of the day. I would only have it once in a day. And I’d make sure to have minimal starchy carbs for the rest of the day.

Another option is fake bread, which is quite bland; I wouldn’t make it to take a sandwich to work. But  I have enjoyed fried, with bacon and egg.  Before I give you the recipe, let me repeat my disclaimer…. I AM NOT AN EXPERT, in anything other than my own experience and the workings of my microwave. If you’re happy to try this on that basis then crack on … 🙂

1 egg at room temp
1 TBS butter (melted but cooled)
1 TBS coconut flour
1 TBS ground flaxseed
1/2 tsp baking powder

Stir all the dry ingredients, then whisk in the egg.
Spread over the base of a microwavable dish and microwave for 1.5 mins.

Thanks to Low Carb Buddy for the recipe.
Let me know how you get on if you give it a try… 🙂

To succeed in my low carb life, I’ve had to reduce the amount of bread I consume. that’s just how it is. And surprise surprise, it turned out not to be the end of the world.

A is for Avocado Amo


Welcome to Day 1 of the 2019 April AtoZ Challange. The AtoZ team are celebrating 10 years of this blogging challenge and I’m looking forward to it. HAPPY ANNIVERSARY A to Z 🙂

My theme this year is  – ‘Clumsy Carb Cutter’

Regular visitors to the blog will be familiar with my ponderings regarding food and weight. Though (and here comes the disclaimer) I AM NO EXPERT, I have learnt and am learning lots about the low carb life. I’m hoping to share stuff that will be helpful. I’m also writing a book about weight, food and faith, and I’ll share a little about that as we go along. So here we go… 🙂

A is for Avocado Amo

At times I can hardly recognise myself since making the decision to change my life, almost 3 years ago. It’s not the shape and size, though it’s different, it’s more the habits and hankerings.

I love sugar in all its forms! There is no point beating around the the bush. I just love it, especially when it’s baked with flour. I ate sugar sandwiches as a child, and my affair with bread has been going on since then.

I remember first hearing about The Atkins Diet, and my initial reaction was, “I can’t have bread? What would I eat for lunch every day?” I could not comprehend the concept of lunch without a sandwich, or soup without a roll. And it didn’t stop at bread. There was talk of ruling out, or at the very least drastically reducing potato consumption. NO POTATO? What would I have for dinner??? That was many years ago, long before I started the journey I’m on now, but it’s only recently my thinking has changed, and once that changed, everything changed.

I tend to used versions of my name for user names with different logins. AuntyAmo – me being an aunty to many, was my first. Then I went on to AmoWriting as I developed a love for scribbling. These days I use AvocadoAmo. 🙂 As I said, sometimes I don’t recognise myself as I prepare a breadless lunch, and mash up another avocado.

My A to Z journey (already a day behind) is all about those changes. Some are drastic, some very small. I do still eat bread. I even have potato sometimes. And though I still love the thoughts and the smell of sugar baked with flour, I know it was having a dreadful effect on my quality of life. I’m 5 stone down and though it’s been hard to get to the 6th stone, I’m keeping the 5 off! I’ve never kept weight off before. Things are so different now. Thank you God.

Tomorrow, (or later today, should I say) B is for Bread. I’ll share about the life (almost) without it, and some alternatives.

It’s not too late to sign up for the A to Z Blogging Challenge. Click here to go to their website. Registration is open until April 6th.