Archive for the ‘Diet’ Category

Right now my wardrobes are A LOT emptier! I can finally see the wood from the trees and find something fairly quickly that fits when I open up the doors.

Bizarrely Ebay didn’t work out too well, I sold a fair bit of stuff but it was almost like my fellow ebayers thought they were buying from a shop. Numerous were the emails I received asking the measurements of this top and that dress, what the washing instructions were etc etc. I mean for goodness sake, a top at 1 Euro surely you can afford to take a chance especially as it’s from a standard shop?

My wardrobe challenge did work out nicely though as I a few local girls were very interested in my stuff and took a load off of me as did a family member. I was pretty jealous as I saw her trying on stuff and looking good in it, I felt a pinch of my heart recalling that yes, I was actually that slim once upon a time (actually not so long ago).

If you remember I embarked on my wardrobe challenge in a bid to motivate myself to lose weight and go shopping for new clothes.

Progress on the weight loss front has been slow and steady, I have gone down three notches on my belts and am finally able to wear some normal clothes rather than just maternity stuff. Yes, nearly a year after giving birth!

My current aim is to be a dress size smaller before Baby Piglet’s first birthday. Lots of people ask me what diet I am following and whilst I have been tempted on several occasions to do Weight Watchers or other diets, I prefer to re-educate myself, eating sensibly and smaller portions that way I don’t feel deprived and can still indulge occasionally. After all, what’s the point of being a foodie if you can’t eat it?

Do you have any weight loss tips to share?

Can you believe this was me just five years ago?

Wondering if I'll be this slim again?

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Mention France to anyone and more than likely they will think of French cuisine. The French are renowned for their excellent food and for the important role that food and meal times play in their culture and that is something that I have really come to appreciate.

After years of learning and appreciating the importance of meal times in families, I’ve now discovered meal times also important in a busy hospital environment. Twice this year I have been in hospital at lunch time and have been provided with food and watched as nurses, Doctors and technicians stop and have their lunch too.

The first time I was in ER and they were keeping me in to see a specialist. As I was there at lunch time they served me a tray of food. Nothing exciting. Just some mashed potato and something that bore a resemblance to chicken, along with a salad and yoghurt for dessert. But still, I was in an ER department, not exactly where you’d expect to get a free lunch!

The second time was yesterday. I had to spend the day at hospital in Lyon for testing and to see various Doctors. As I had to be nil by mouth upon arrival (and boy did I complain about that!) I was promptly asked what I wanted for breakfast and fed within minutes of my blood exams. How relieved was I? They certainly knew how to get me in a good mood and even when they told me they’d forgotten to book my MRI scan I was not that bothered.

After a morning of hanging around, having x-rays and enough blood taken to feed a vampire I had chosen to sit in the corridor avoiding all the sick people in the waiting room as I didn’t want to deal with any more germs than Baby Piglet brings home.
I was so engrossed in a novel that I didn’t notice it was lunchtime that I was taken my surprise when a nurse came and said that my lunch was being served. She seemed surprised that I wasn’t already in the lunch room with the other patients.

Off I trotted and was greeted by ten or so patients cheerfully tucking into lunch. I was asked to take a seat and then was served up a four course meal: red cabbage salad with a bread roll to start, chicken and almond tagine with vegetables and semoule for my main, chocolate éclair for dessert and yoghurt for my second dessert. Wow! Only thing missing was a bottle of wine!

To be honest the food was quite bland but there was salt and pepper available and it was more than edible. It was much better than a sandwich or McDonalds which I thought that I’d have to go out and get for my lunch (there is a McDonalds opposite the hospital). The chocolate éclair was heavenly and as I was later told by a Doctor to lose weight I am so glad they provided it and I ate it.

You’ve got to hand it to the French though, the food I ate yesterday was far better than some of the meals I paid to have out in the UK!

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Photo Credit: Petra Röder, Photo Express

I’ve been feeling a bit depressed about my weight recently and have been completely unable to shift the excess kilos. Any efforts at dieting have been short-lived and resulted in adding to my surplus rather than reducing it. My ludicrous attempts to loose 10 kilos in 10 weeks (see this post) were quickly thwarted by life, and I actually managed to put on 5 kilos along the way!

I have tried to take some steps to loosing weight in the recent weeks. I used to be a dancer. It doesn’t seem like an eternity ago but it must have been, as after a 40 minute drive across town to a dance studio I’d found on the internet I was bitterly disappointed.

As I walked in I realized the receptionist and all the dancers loitering around were about 18 and made me look ancient. They all looked like extras from Pineapple Dance Studios, and I looked just like Louis – the old one (if you don’t know about Pineapple then have a look at some of these videos, they’re a scream!Pineapple Dance Studios on YouTube).

The receptionist showing me around asked how many years ago it had been since I had danced. Note: Not just how long ago, but how many years ago… She kindly advised that their lessons were not really for beginners (she obviously didn’t believe that I had once danced professionally, albeit on ice!) and invited me to attend an open day if I wanted to try… it was a nice let down but I’m a very busy lady and 40 minutes drive across town is just too far and too much time in the car to reflect on the fact that I can no longer move as I once did.

MC Hammer Pants

Things came to a head on my holiday in Portugal when I was forced to wear MC Hammer style pants under dresses, as my dresses had turned themselves into tunics and had become indecent to wear in public. The MCH pants were actually supposed to have been tracksuit bottoms (but are actually harem pants or so I’m told) which I was expecting to wear elegantly with high heels. Not so.

Determined to look better, get fit and loose weight without being so strict that I set myself up for failure as I did last time. So, last Monday I set myself a target of loosing 4 kilos in 4 weeks before my next trip. To celebrate the setting of a realistic target, Hubby and I order Pizza Domino one final time and then weighed ourselves the next morning, hopefully being at our heaviest.

Not just content to do a gentle diet, I decided to embark on a keep fit routine as well and this, my dear readers, in where things started to unravel at an alarming rate.

Tuesday night: 30 minutes on the cross trainer followed by floor exercises and weights. At some point the blood circulation in my feet was cut off (my feet are too fat for my trainers?) and I lost all sensation in my toes! Manically rubbed my feet after and eventually all feeling came back. Great! This might just work, or so I thought.

Wednesday night: Time to add some diversity to my routine. If you’ve bought a packet of Fitness cereal recently (yes, this is how serious I am, even my breakfast cereal is called Fitness!) you would’ve received a free Les Mills DVD; Either Body Balance or Body Pump. I’d managed to eat my way through two boxes so had both DVD’s. I’d heard great things about these DVD’s so aching all over from the day before (don’t laugh, because I couldn’t so much my abdominal muscles hurt), I motivated myself to get stuck in and popped the Body Balance on in the machine.

Piglet’s Comedy Club

Setting: Living room, yoga mat on floor, television playing fitness DVD, a mixture of Yoga and Pilates.

Character: Piglet, dressed in holey tracksuit, bare feet (trainers too tight) and looking motivated. Spare tyre round middle held in place by too tight t-shirt.

Scene 1: Lady on DVD starts demonstrating the routine, Piglet to follow. Downward Dog. Grunt. Lady effortlessly slides from position to position, throwing in a plank from time to time. Piglet scrabbles around on all fours, bum in air, back on all fours in order to stand up, whoops, she’s toppled over. Another grunt. Ridiculous laughter. She tries to do the Plank but fails miserably and then splat on her face. Scene repeats.

Scene 2: 15 minutes later.
Frightfully fit ladies on DVD still doing graceful pilates moves. Piglet still flailing around in all directions. Time to lie on front on the floor. Extend arm and opposite leg, bend both and grab foot from behind. Piglet’s body will not move, hand grapples frantically trying to find foot. Ladies on DVD carry out said move with elegance, Piglet falls over without having held foot.

End Credits: Ladies on DVD are honed, toned and fighting fit. Piglet cannot get back up. Stays on floor. Crys. Is old. Spare tyre still there.

Yep, that’s right; I must have done something wrong as I wasn’t able to walk for three days after! Imagine the old ladies you sometimes see at the Dr’s surgery or at the market. The one’s wearing the contention tights and super sensible orthopedic shoes because they’ve had a hip replacement job? Well I was walking just like them. I couldn’t stand up, sit down or even turnaround without being in dreadful pain so I had to add to the hole in the French social security budget.

Miracously my hip is better now, but the Dr wants me to get an x-ray to check it out as he thinks there could be some joint damage. He’s also banned me from any sporty activity for the time being. Is this what ageing is about? And what about loosing weight?

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Ahhh… it is bright and sunny outside. It is also freezing cold but one should not be fooled by this last minute cold snap. Spring is around the corner and it will be here in no time at all now!

In Lisbon this weekend (more to follow), I peeled off the layers for the first time in months and was shocked to see my brioche belly sticking out from under my t-shirt! I then proceeded to walk round for the next few hours whilst sucking my tummy in but it was so much like hard work! I have to get this in check now before I go past the point of no return! Brioche belly and muffin top are two very appropriate words to describe my excess kilos!

I have always struggled with my weight since moving to France but the worst of my struggles have been since being with my now husband (10 years). The only thing that has changed is my weight, it has gone up – not down!

I now only have one pair of fat trousers that I can fit in, my other fat trousers have all become too small and my first summer holiday is booked so I have just 10 weeks to lose 10 kilos… (okay, so maybe 10 kilos is too much to lose in 10 weeks especially as I’ve not been feeling well, so 5 kilos will be fine but 10 kilos sounds so much better!).

My 10 commandments for the next 10 weeks:

1. I will not be enticed into the pastry shops:
The lure of the beautifully decorated patisserie or boulangerie shops on what seems like every street corner cannot be ignored. Each time I walk past one it is as if I’m being called in by the food. Perfectly formed, delightful delicacies in the way of cakes or the beautiful smell of freshly baked bread, playing with my sense buds, trying to tempt me in to taste them.

2. I will give up wine:
I am in love with wine, not just French but wine generally although French wine offers so much variety I absolutely love discovering le perle rare and deciding what bottles to age and what to drink now. Not to mention wine food pairing and how delightfully satisfying it can be to match a wine to each course of your meal.

3. I will donate the next box of chocolates I receive to a charitable cause:
I’m often treated to the most exquisite teeny tiny works of art which come in chocolate form. Next time I receive a box, I will kindly donate it to one of my thin friends rather than keeping it for myself. Not only will I not eat chocolate but I will also commit a charitable act. I will also stop buying Toblerone party bags.

4. I will stop socialising:
Every social event I throw or attend always starts of with an Aperitif and copious amounts of Champagne or Crémant. How I can avoid these I do not know, other than to stop socializing, after all, I can’t possibly hold a dinner party and not give an Apertif to my guests and I have no will power to resist!

5. I will use a smaller plate:
but then again all the lovely things in France are always served up in such small portions so will a smaller plate really make a difference? Nouveau Cuisine started in France and a lot of French food is so intricate and presented in the most beautiful way it only needs to be served in small portions. Maybe I’m eating UK sized portions whilst French women are eating much smaller portions?

6. I will not use butter:
Butter is one of the secrets to French cuisine so I’m told. I therefore started using it in abundance to make by English cuisine more French and more appealing to my French friends. My taste buds developed a liking for it also unfortunately. As did my brioche belly. I will therefore ditch the butter.

7. I will keep my fridge topped up with fresh fruit and veg:
I have no excuse, I have a local food market 3 times a week just a 10 minute walk away. I will just have to avoid the pastry shops, the wine growers, the chocolate shop and other temptations on my way there! I therefore think I should put a peg on my nose or a bag over my head to avoid being tempted!

8. I will exercise:
In one of the many parks that Lyon has to offer. I could take a run in the wonderful Parc de la Tete d’Or or go on a bike ride at Miribel Jonage or along the riverside quays.

9. I will stop buying clothes until the ones I already own fit:
I don’t know if this will work but if I maybe remove everything that doesn’t fit from my wardrobe I’ll be mightily disappointed and it may just shock me into doing something.

10. I will stop raiding the foreign aisle of my local supermarket:
Everytime they stock something like proper cookies, peanut butter, Dairy Milk Chocolate etc I feel absolutely obliged to buy as much as possible in terms of quantity so that the shop is encouraged to continue stocking it. When I first moved to France it was so hard to get hold of food from back home such as Branston Pickle, Brown Sauce etc that whenever I see it now I feel obliged to buy. But as I don’t like waste I also feel obliged to eat!

After all, I am living in France and so many French women are thin and slender that it must be possible if I’m good and try and stick to the rules? So, today marks day 1 of my mission… Just 10 weeks to go!

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Ben & Jerr's Ice Cream

Ideal solution for reducing pain after surgery

My hand is still hurting from the surgery last Monday. Yesterday the Nurse suggested that I apply cold to my hand to help the pain and reduce the swelling. He advised putting ice cubes in a bag and holding them for 10 minutes.

I decided that holding a tub of Ben & Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie ice cream in my hand would have the same effect and that I’d actually enjoy it at the same time!

I explained this to my Mum (who called at the same time as the ice cream eating) and she said it was the best excuse she’d ever heard for eating ice cream!

The diet will have to start again tomorrow…

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I’ve always been fascinated as to why French women wear so much black. If you take the tube in Lyon you’ll be surrounded by women wearing head to toe black or grey. Many consider the French to be the epitome of chic and whilst its true that they very rarely display their love handles (because most don’t have them!) French fashion can be quite dull.

Don’t get me wrong, I do like black as it’s so easy to wear but something about being in France makes me feel rebellious. It’s as if I have an overpowering urge to break the trend. I’ll wear a red coat or something colourful just to colour the all black surroundings.

Image from Artvex.com

But all that has changed. Seriously, how do people stay slim in France? With all the wonderful and often cheap restaurants, pastries and traditional recipes, not to mention cheese! After spending the last two weekends skiing and eating huge amounts of cheese cooked in every which way, I finally had the courage to weigh myself and the scales tipped a whole kilo heavier than a week ago.

I tried to tell myself that it was all muscle but trying to hike my jeans up over my tummy even I couldn’t kid myself.

With all the sport I’d done what with the energetic hiking up the hill in my ski boots and all the stops and starts I’d done whilst skiing, surely I’d burned off more than I’d eaten?

So, its back to black for me until I loose some weight which isn’t going to happen this coming weekend as I’m back to the slopes! I can’t fit in my more colourful clothes anyway and its just so easy to slip on black trousers, black top, black jacket and black coat and then accessorise. I may just fall in love with black as it has never taken me so little time to get dressed in the morning!

My current favourite mountain recipe is Croziflette which is a take on the traditional tartiflette. It may not be authentic as it was given to me by a friend and I’ve probably forgotten some of it, but it’s still delicious:


Serves 4 – 6 (depending on how much you have!)
400 grams packet of Crozets (small traditional Savoyard pasta like squares made from buckwheat)
1 + ½ reblochon cheese cut in half so you have half skin half the inside of the cheese.
2 onions, finely sliced
1 large packet of bacon bits (lardons)
Crème fraiche
salt and pepper to taste

Fry the onions until soft and the lardons until cooked.
Cook the Crozets 20 minutes in some lightly salted water. Once cooked, mix in the crème fraiche (quantity should be enough so that the Crozet’s are lightly covered), a spoon of mustard (or to taste), lardons and onions.
Transfer the mixture to an ovenproof dish (like a lasagna dish) and then place the cheese skin side up to cover the mixture.
Bake in the oven at about 180 degrees for 20 minutes or until the cheese has melted into the mixture. Finish under the grill to give the cheese skin a crusty taste.

Serve with a traditional Savoyard wine.

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Guilt free chips!

Actifry Picture on Amazon

Actifry Picture on Amazon

Have you ever been on a diet (or supposed to have been on a diet !) and yet had a mad craving for junk food?


I’m desperately trying to loose my excess holiday kilos in a bid to fit back into my bikini this Christmas and yet the other night I had the most desperate craving for chips… Enter Actifry.

Actifry is a new slim way of cooking chips and other fried food – it uses just a spoonful of oil to cook enough chips for two greedy people. You can also cook many other things such as fried chicken, fried rice and potato wedges (to name but a few) all using much less oil than the traditional recipes.

I originally bought my Actifry before seeing it on The Apprentice’s shopping channel week and probably wouldn’t have bought it after as it seemed really naf, but my opinion is that it is really great and a fab way of having chips and other fried food without the guilt…

Now I just have to make cheese have less calories and I’m on to a winner!!!

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I’ve woken up in a stinking mood this morning. An absolutely stinking mood. It’s as if I want to bite someone’s head off just for the sake of it. I guess this is what happens when you do an extreme diet – my blood sugar levels must be all over the place.

I am not one to advocate extreme dieting; in fact I think it’s stupid because all you do is put back on the weight and more, as soon as you start eating normally again.

But this type of diet seems to be all the craze in France, so maybe it’s not considered extreme, maybe I think it is because I love food so much? Basically, it consists of a protein shake at lunch and very little for dinner with some fruit in the day. I’ve been doing it for 10 days now and have already lost 3.5 kilos, so only another 2.5 kilos to go before heating the beach in a few weeks time… There are so many skinnies here surely you don’t but the weight back on once you eat normally?

Anyway, back to what I was originally going to write. Stinking mood.

Someone once told me that to be happy you have to think of a good thing that happened to you the day before.

So, I think back to yesterday and a huge smile comes to my face when I remember the beautiful Pandora bracelet that a customer sent me as a thank you gift. I remember how touched I was when I opened the delicately wrapped box. How grateful I was as I carefully removed the tissue paper to reveal the teeny tiny charms, and how surprised I was when I saw that one of them was a little house charm.

One gesture, one act of generosity has brightened not just one day, but two and no doubt more in the future. I am no longer in a stinking mood. I will remember this and next time someone goes out of their way for me, I will send a gift or if my budget does not permit, a thank you card.

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