The first very noticeable improvement since I started on my healthy eating and exercise regime has been my complexion. I had beautiful skin when I was a teenager - no acne whatsoever - I was really lucky. Little did I know that it was waiting for me later in life! Since my early 20's I've battled with an oily t-zone and lots of spots. As well as acne, the skin on my face was very red and blotchy. I made so many changes to the makeup that I wear, the face cleanser and moisturiser that I used, but nothing really made a big difference.
I wish I had a 'before' photo to show you - but this is me now, typing this blog entry, sans makeup. I've not touched this photo up at all, and please know that it's taken real courage to post this because I NEVER leave the house without makeup - even given the improvements in my skin! But, you can see I am now spot-free and the redness in my skin has virtually disappeared!
I put this down to general improvements in my diet, yes, but I think the single biggest factor has been the fact that I have given up coca-cola and Dr. Pepper! I now ONLY drink my allotted amount of coffee in the morning (up to three cups, none after lunch) and the rest of the time I drink water. Still or sparkling, but only water.
I really dislike diet drinks - this is just a matter of choice for me - I don't like the aftertaste of the sweeteners in them, so from the beginning when I decided to give up coke, it was an all or nothing situation. I settled on sparkling water - a sort of substitute fizz, if you like, but still very refreshing and a little bit more interesting than still water. I had a real addiction both to cherry coke and Dr. Pepper, and now that I'm free of it I don't even crave it anymore! But it does take some iron will to be able to give it up - and stick to it! I would seriously encourage anyone out there who has a similar addiction, to try giving it up - even for a short period of time, I'm sure you will notice some very good improvements to your health as a result.
I used to be one of those exceedingly annoying people who cleared their voice every couple of minutes because of a persistent 'frog' in my throat! The strange thing was that I didn't even notice this had gone until about a month ago when my father in law was clearing his throat - and suddenly the penny dropped! I've not cleared my throat repeatedly in months! Seems a strange thing to be grateful for, but I am. I hated being at work, trying to speak with someone on the phone or in meetings and having to keep apologising for clearing my throat. But now, it's wonderful not to have to worry about that!
Interestingly, I am not sure if this is a result purely of diet, or if it is a general improvement of my adrenal glands. In an earlier blog post, I wrote about how my adrenal glands were depressed which resulted in me feeling constantly tired, with no energy, and I was suffering from serious bouts of low blood sugar - causing me to binge. I went to see a naturopath in Harley Street, London, who conducted several tests which proved that my adrenal levels were depressed. I am now on two daily supplements which support my adrenals and my thyroid. I should mention that I do not have a thyroid problem, but that the thyroid and adrenal glands are directly related and do affect each other. You can read that post here.
They say a little bit of what you fancy does you good and I would be inclined to agree. However, a lot of what you fancy definitely does more harm than good! My waistline prior to January is certainly testimony to that! I've never been the kind of person to do things by halves, and this includes binging! I mentioned in earlier blog posts about my daily, gluttonous, Ben & Jerry's ice cream experiences. And while I was able to break the cycle with our friends from Vermont, sadly this later transferred to other foods - such as Mars Planets, Maltesers, pancakes of any description, waffles of any description, certain breakfast cereals (anything described as chocolate and crunchy!), etc, etc.
In eating these foods there has never been an ounce of me that has been able to say "I'll just have a few" - I would buy a large sharing pack and proceed to eat the whole pack myself, easily. It was impossible for me to think about eating any of these foods without eating a massive amount. Now, I can honestly say that the feeling is gone - or should I say the compulsion is gone. Whether it is my sheer determination to lose this weight, or something else, I just do not have cravings for these foods anymore. I will say that I would still eat them if I wanted to - and I've had the odd pack of Maltesers now and again - however, the difference now is that I buy the single size pack (!) and I work the calories into my daily allowance. It is slowly teaching me that treats are good - but they are precisely that - treats! E.g. not to be had on a daily basis and not to be had in bulk!
Healthy Eating - Yummy Eating!
The last thing I would like to mention in this post is how much I am enjoying the food I've been eating! When I was heavier my meals were not that bad. I've always enjoyed cooking and with two young children in the house, cooking healthy has always been something that I've done. My weight was caused by portion sizes being too large and all the added extras! But, since starting this new regime there are some healthier items I'm now incorporating which I absolutely love!
Fish - I've always loved fish, but never realised how low it is in calories! Prawns (or shrimps) are incredibly low in calories and fat, and as such make an excellent lunchtime food. We regularly have salmon fillets with mashed potatoes and broccoli, but instead of frying the salmon, I now bake it with a slice of lemon - still tastes just as nice! Cod is an awesome fish that you can do loads with. I cook it with a spicy cous cous and tomato sauce (Jamie Oliver recipe), the whole meal is about 450 calories and trust me, there is tons of it!
Cous Cous - I can't get enough of this at the moment! SOOOO easy to prepare and so versatile!
Lentils - I love green lentils and the simpler the better. Literally saute a bit of onion, celery, carrot and garlic in a pan, add the lentils and some chicken stock - simmer until the lentils are cooked through. A splash of basalmic vinegar just before serving really brings out the flavour.
Berries - Strawberries, Raspberries and Blueberries - take your pick, but we eat them on a daily basis! And the best part - not only are they rich in vitamins but berries are very low in calories so make an ideal snack!
This was a bowl I had at work the other day (we have a fruit seller in the high street who is always shouting "2 pack of strawberries £2" - I can't walk past strawberries and not buy some!).
So I will close for now and ask what are some of the unexpected perks of weight loss that you've all experienced?