Week 3: Fruity hair

I started this week with really good intentions.  I planned all my meals and decided to try some of the weirder sounding recipes just to mix things up a little (tuna and flaxmeal fishcakes anyone?!)  THIS is how organised I was:

Menu plan

Monday didn’t start so well.  I’d slept badly and was in a zombie-like state.  As such, I managed to get two, rather different, things confused:

smoothie

On the left, curl cream.  On the right, lime, raspberry and avocado smoothie.  No prizes for guessing which I slathered on my hair.

An additional hair wash and half a day at work later, I got a last-minute invitation to a gin and seafood event at the Gherkin from my friend Janie.  So much for getting my mincer out and thai-ing up some chicken, this is what I actually had:

Monday dinner

Clockwise from top left: smoked halibut, a 12-year old scallop, blackened mackerel and confit salmon.  Not technically on the plan, but it wasn’t very carby, so I’m not sweating it too much.

Tuesday was scheduled to be my first HIIT day for the week.  I really wasn’t feeling it after another terrible night’s sleep and getting home late, and yet I did it and I killed it – it’s definitely becoming a little more manageable, although I’m yet to work my way up to 15 rounds rather than 12.  Ralphie wasn’t feeling the HIIT either – apparently my exercising induces extreme rage in her, as she flung herself at me and attached herself to my leg using her teeth halfway through a set of boxing punches.  Fun times!  After dealing with her, I was rewarded for my efforts with 5-spice chicken with brown rice and rather a lot of toasted sesame seeds:

Tuesday dinner

Wednesday was planned to be off-plan again as I had dinner at Brawn which was BRILLIANT.  Loved, loved, loved it.  I more or less forgot to take pictures, so here are some half-eaten snails and some totally eaten clams:

Brawn

(Pretty sure that these pictures are the sole reason why I’m not a successful restaurant blogger.)  For what it’s worth, the snails with the garlic and mushroom goos were PHENOMENAL, and Marina O’Loughlin was right when she said that Brawn’s pannacotta was the best she’d ever had.  Game-changing.  Ditto the black pudding and squid.  It was a happy-making meal – go, go, go.

Thursday was supposed to be a HIIT day but, frankly, I couldn’t be arsed so decided to shift it to Friday.  I was meant to be having steak and sweet potatoes, but I forgot to buy steak and no exercise = no carbs, so that dream ended there.  Happily, I had remembered to defrost chicken breasts which I turned into mince and did my favourite spicy chicken mince with double avocado, because I hadn’t fancied my breakfast smoothie.  No picture, you’ve seen it all before.

I was in a rotten mood on Friday.  Work was manic and in the afternoon, illness in the form of throat, jaw, ear and head pain crept up on me.  I left work in a terrible grump and, by the time I got home, there was no way I could do any exercise.  I had lost all of my beans.  Even more anger-inducing was the fact that the chicken breast that I’d got out in the morning hadn’t even vaguely defrosted, so there was to be no dinner.  I conveniently forgot about the fact that I’ve owned a microwave for the last 18 months (genuinely – I’ve only just remembered) and so I stuck two fingers up to the plan and ordered a takeaway.  Suffice to say, two hours later I was struck down with terrible remorse, so I shan’t be doing that again, even though the salt and pepper squid was SO delicious.

Saturday started with a liquid breakfast because there was no food in the house other than a now-defrosted chicken breast, which wasn’t appealing much.

liquid breakfast

Lunch was meant to be the tuna fishcakes, but my sister (who is also doing this plan and is a week ahead of me) had texted me this earlier in the week:

text

I may be a glutton for punishment, but slimy bloating is a step too far, even for me.  Luckily, I had a little more energy than on Friday so I did my HIIT and rewarded myself with something other than chicken.  Steak!  And sweet potato chips!  It was ace.

Steak1

Dinner was satay chicken – you know how that goes.

Sunday started with some HIIT so I had a giant protein pancake for breakfast.  This meant that I wasn’t so hungry at lunchtime, so I tried something from the plan that I hoped would be a little lighter – the tuna salad.  It was nice enough but mammoth in size and something wasn’t quite right with the dressing – it just wasn’t punchy enough – and my avocado was rubbish so it was a bit off-putting.  Definitely a recipe that needs some developing.

tuna

Finally, beef stir fry.  This was GOOD:

beef

All in all, not the best of weeks.  3 meals totally off-plan and only 3 HIIT sessions, so I’m a bit disappointed in myself.  That said, I think that my shape is changing.  My arms look to me like they’re getting smaller, as do my legs.  Even better, Janie greeted me on Monday, with: “You’re wasting away!”  and when I saw Andrew on Wednesday, his first words were “Where’s the rest of you?”  HUZZAH!!!  I must be doing something right, right?.

However, something that I’m struggling with is the HIIT.  My knees aren’t feeling great and the outside of my calves hurt from the star-jumps and I don’t know how to stretch them.  Basically, I just can’t jump.  Running on the spot seems to be fine with a knee support on.  Boxing punches – fine.  But what else can I do?  I think burpees, mountain climbers and squat jumps will absolutely annihilate my knees, so I’m a bit stumped. My back feels like it might go any minute.  I don’t think I was born to exercise – it really doesn’t suit me much – and yet when I decided to do an exercise video on Saturday morning, I got frustrated because it was just too slow and not exhausting enough, so I abandoned it for my normal HIIT.  What’s happened to me??

I could definitely do with some non-knee-ey HIIT suggestions, so if you have any (bearing in mind that I don’t have a gym membership at the moment) please let me know!

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The week of five HIITs…did I do it?

This time last week I was feeling stuffed full of protein and apprehensive about the exercise part of this plan.  Foolishly, I had dared myself in my last blog to try to do five HIIT sessions over the week, on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday.  Up to this point in my life, the maximum number of times I had ever exercised in one week was twice and, frankly, that was a pretty rare event.

So.  Did I do it?

Monday:  I’d spent Sunday feeling like I’d been hit by a bus, so Monday was a significant improvement.  I discovered that cold omelette for lunch isn’t so terrible if you’ve forgotten to make a double dinner the night before, and this is coming from an omelette-phobe.  But did I do my HIIT?  Why, yes.  Yes I did.  I hurried home from work, worked out and then rewarded myself with this:

Monday dinner

Study in beige #1

Brown and beige.  Brown and beige is a bit of a theme on this diet.  Monday’s dinner was a strange combination of 5-spice coated chicken and spiced sweet potato wedges.  The chicken was overcooked and the wedges covered in too much gritty spice.  6/10

Tuesday:  I did my HIIT again!  Dinner was chicken coated in a honey, chilli and garlic marinade with little roasted potatoes.  Getting a bit bored of chicken to be honest, and the chicken was waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too garlicky.  Fine on Tuesday night when I’m home alone, less fine on Wednesday when I was eating the leftovers in the office.  Sorry colleagues…

Tuesday dinner

Study in beige #2

Wednesday:  A lovely, lovely rest day with a free dinner out including caviar with tiny blinis, chateaubriand with a couple of spoonfuls of mashed potato and crepes suzette.  *Most retro meal ever klaxon*  In the grand scheme of things, and given that this was a free meal where I could have gone WILD, I think I behaved myself pretty well.  For the love of god, there was foie gras on the menu.  Foie gras – and I go for little fish eggs.

Thursday:  Working from home day.  When I started this plan, I had it in my head that it was going to be easier to exercise on the day that I’m working from home: I’d get up early, jump around and sweat buckets, get some carbs in, all before work starts at 9:30.  In reality: blatantly never going to happen.  Stay in bed until 9:15, log on, straight into work.  I find it impossible to motivate myself to exercise when I’ve been sitting around in my pyjamas all day.  HIIT FAIL.  HIIT did not go down.  However, not doing the exercise did mean that I got to eat the the best thing that I’ve had on this plan so far:

Thursday dinner

Study in beige #3

Chicken mince (impossible to buy, I had to mince my own) made spicy with red curry flavours, peppers and topped with avocado and sour cream.  LOVED this, and frankly it was a welcome departure from the texture of a chicken breast.

Friday:  I had options.  Option 1, aka The Naughty Option: dinner with my friend Andrew.  Option 2: go home, exercise, BATHE IN THE SMUGNESS.  Reader, which option did I take?

Friday dinner

OMG it’s not beige!

I took the exercise option.  I DID!  I DID!  I was feeling pretty excited about earning the above rice.  Sadly, it was completely ruined by the fact that this meal tasted like a big bag of poo.  These were Thai king prawns.  There’s two problems here: (1) king prawns are basically flavourless rubber protein – why do people think they’re good?  Little ones are so much tastier; (2) 60g of green curry paste is about 45g too much green curry paste.  Good god, this tasted crap.

Saturday: I was hungry, which was probably the first time I’ve felt hungry in 10 days, but then I didn’t eat much of last night’s dinner.  Once Ocado had dropped off the weekly (mind-blowingly expensive) shop, I climbed back into my exercise gear, worked out (keep up – that’s the fourth session of the week!) and then I made these bad boys for lunch:

Saturday lunch

Study in beige #4 – Dimensions of Red

These are the protein pancakes that I’ve wanted to try since day 1 and which would probably be nicer if I hadn’t bought the mocha flavoured protein shake.  That said: not chicken, so they got brownie points for that.  With my carbs for the day done, this was dinner:

Saturday dinner

I’m a bit baffled by this one.  It’s called “Italian beef and sausage casserole”, the sausages in this instance coming from – you guessed it! – a chicken.  It was cooked from scratch, fresh vegetables, stock, tomatoes etc…so why did it taste a bit synthetic, like a (fairly good) ready meal?  Baffling.  Also: chicken sausages?!  They be slimy.  The fact that I quite liked them gives me all of the shame.

Sunday:  Ahhhhhhhhhhhh the end of British Summertime.  Of COURSE I woke up super early.  That, there, is the law of sod.  I tried to get back to sleep to no avail, so had a chat with myself: a mere half hour of misery would mean that I achieved my totally unrealistic, over-ambitious goal.  So I did it.  And you know what?  It is getting a little bit less horrible each time.  I had more pancakes with yoghurt and raspberries for breakfast and then made these funny little protein muffins for snacks:Snack 1

Dinner was satay chicken, the only meal that I repeated from last week and which was vastly more successful this time (1 tsp of cayenne pepper is a BONKERS idea):

Sunday dinner

Study in ALL OF THE BEIGE

So that’s my week.  I’ve stuck to my diet 95% of the time and the exercise, 100%, which I never thought I would actually do.  Things I’ve discovered:

  1. It’s easier to exercise on days that I’m in the office.  It gives me a good reason to leave more or less on time, I psyche myself up for it on the walk home from the station, get in, exercise gear on, dinner prep done, HIIT, slump in recovery while dinner is cooking.  BOOM BOOM BOOM.  It really isn’t so bad.  It’s 25 minutes!  Anyone can do that, right?
  2. I prefer the low carb meals that you eat when you haven’t exercised.  This is a bit of a bummer, but also means that I’m not really missing carbs – yay.
  3. I still hate exercising.  I tried to do a burpee…ahahahahahaha.  NO.  My current exercise formula is high knee running on the spot (exhausting, makes my knee hurt, I’ve had to buy a knee support), then boxing punches wearing weighted gloves, then star jumps.  But I’m already thinking that even though this exhausts me and makes me sweat buckets, maybe it’s not enough?
  4. It’s working.  In June, I bought myself a new belt.  In late August, I had 3 new holes put into it.  On Friday, I started using the last of those 3 holes.  I can now fit into trousers that are 2 sizes smaller than those I was wearing in April.  And I’ve lost 5lbs in the last two weeks and am nearly down into the next stone bracket which is unbelievably exciting.

I’m already nearly halfway through this first cycle of the plan, which is crazy, but I really have the fear that I’m not going to have the amazing transformation pictures that other people seem to get.  What’s worrying me is that so many people on this plan aren’t actually proper chubsters when they start, so OBVIOUSLY they’re going to look good at the end.  I still have about 2 to 2.5 stone to lose; there’s no way that’s going to be achieved in the next 90 days.  So: The Fear.  And what if I plateau?  Plateauing whilst eating stupidly large amounts of food, with coconut oil coming out of my ears etc…then what will I do?  And how sustainable is this, really?  Do I want to eat like this for the rest of my life?  I’m conflicted.  It’s working, and yet something about it is making me feel uncomfortable and unnerved.

Saddle sore & confidence compromised

I am a perfectionist. Most people don’t particularly know this about me, probably because I’m mostly crap at everything and just have to get on with life regardless, but my perfectionism is really the root of why I am fundamentally a lazy cow. If I can’t nail something straight away, why the hell am I doing it?  So I choose not to try new things, thus avoiding the risk of failure.

My friend, Jordi, started going to a souped-up spinning class called Psycle about 18 months ago.  The amount of weight she’s lost is amazing and she has turned into the energiser bunny, exercising at least 6 days a week. She’s been trying to get me to go to Psycle with her since day 1, as she is completely addicted.  Other friends have gone with her and, similarly, have ended up a bit hooked.  Meanwhile, I have spent 18 months considering her insane and telling her to stop asking me because It Is Never Going To Happen.

Unlike Jordi’s, my own exercise regime has been a little more…relaxed.  My original personal trainer weirdly disappeared off the face of the earth around a year ago and, true to form, I took full advantage of this gap in my regime to do nothing, eat loads and get fatter.  Eventually, at the end of last year, I decided to take myself in hand and signed up with a new personal trainer at my phenomenally expensive, luxury gym.  And I love him.  I love him SO MUCH.  He kicks my ass, he openly laughs at me when I moan and tells me I have no right of veto when he’s making me do the hated step-ups, he gossips with me, high-fives me and, most importantly, he showed me how to lose just shy of two stone in weight (so far) through changing my diet, without even trying.  I LOVE him.  I cannot emphasise this enough.

And yet, last week I had to break up with him.  I nearly cried.  He looked a bit sad.  I don’t want to go, but with my gym membership factored in, he effectively costs me £100 per week.  For one hour.  I am not loaded.  I have debt.  This is not sensible.

So he’s going, my gym membership is being frozen, and the new plan is to sign up on 1st September to Class Pass with Jordi and try out different things.  Quick synopsis of Class Pass: lots of studios sign up, hundreds of different exercise classes are available across London; if I have a Class Pass, I can go to an unlimited number of them each month (small print – maximum of 3 classes at any one gym).

GYM

Let us bid farewell to my beautiful gym…*CRIES*

Last night, I finally caved and went to Psycle with Jordi (Note: Psycle is not on Class Pass, just for the avoidance of doubt).  I knew I’d hate it, but there was a small, hopeful, part of me that thought “You are two stone lighter lady! You look OK! You have more energy and confidence than you’ve had in years and YOU CAN NAIL THIS!”  As it turns out, I couldn’t.  Most of the class is done riding out of the saddle…except not in my case.  I could barely manage the first 5 minutes of standing cycling – man alive, the burn was REAL.  I then had to sit there for another 40 minutes, peddling away but noticeably not doing what everyone else was doing, feeling useless, very exposed and miserable.  I detested it.  [NB: this was nothing to do with Psycle itself or the instructor – everyone else in the class was clearly loving it, but I just don’t think spinning is for this FatFran.]  Walking today is a struggle.  My arse and legs are broken, which is a bit of a puzzle given that I basically didn’t partake in the class.

It’s safe to say that the experience has knocked my confidence a little and I would be lying if I said that I didn’t do a small cry about it.  The real problem is that it’s making me reconsider the whole Class Pass thing, as the defeatist part of me is worried that I’m just going to hate absolutely everything that I try because I won’t be able to do it straight away and I will feel like a big fat failure.

So – what to do?  Do I give in, stop exercising and just cross everything and hope that dieting alone will get me to a point where I like myself enough to risk dating actual human men, thus reducing the chances of ending up dying alone, undiscovered for weeks and being eaten in desperation by Ralphie?  Or do I sign up to Class Pass, try stuff, go through a rollercoaster of emotional turmoil a few times a week but, hopefully, at least be provided with some self-deprecating content for this largely defunct blog?  While my body and ego hurt as much as they do right now, this isn’t a decision for today.

I had no idea I was going to write this blog post as it only happened in the dark (both figuratively and literally) hours of the night when I couldn’t sleep because my butt hurt every time I turned over.  Being so unprepared for my venture back into FatFranGettingFin, I have no exercisey photos with which to decorate this blog post and we all know how I love a good photo.  SO, with no further ado, I give you Ralphie and my delightful new shoes!

new shoes cat

 

Maybe I’ll see you again soon, maybe I won’t…this very much depends on how brave I am feeling on 1st September…

 

Fish parcels

One of my very favourite things to cook when I’m dieting is fish parcels, yet I forget to do them at any other time.  I’m actually doing them a disservice – they’re not diet food, they’re basically delicious.  You can put pretty much anything in them that you like and they’re both tasty and really low in calories/fat/points – whichever way you’re counting, they’re good for you.

fish

Ingredients (serves 1)

White fish – I usually use cod loin or sea bass/bream

1 nest of egg noodles

½ red chilli, chopped finely

3 spring onions, cut into chunks on the diagonal

A teaspoon of finely chopped ginger

1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

Soy sauce (according to taste – I use about 1 tbsp)

1 tsp sesame oil

Lime segments

Vegetables – you can use pretty much anything but good ones are:

Tenderstem broccoli, blanched for 2 minutes

Asparagus, blanched for 2 minutes

Sugar snap peas or mange tout, sliced on the diagonal

Baby sweetcorn, halved lengthways

Pak choi or spinach

You will also need a piece of baking parchment, about 50cm long.

Boil the egg noodles for 5 minutes, drain and rinse in cold water.  Transfer to a bowl and mix with the sweet chilli sauce, soy sauce and sesame oil.  Stir in the spring onions, ginger and chopped red chilli and then turn out into the middle of a length of baking parchment.

Top with your vegetables and then lay the fish on top – if it’s still got its skin, lay it skin side up so you can peel it off easily once cooked (I don’t like soggy fish skin).  Pull all the sides of the baking parchment together to make an airtight parcel and pop it into the oven at 180c for about 20 minutes.

I’ve never managed to make this without the noodles sticking a little to the bottom of the parchment and the fish sticking a bit to the top (quite useful when its skin is still on as the skin will stick to the paper and you can just pick up the flesh) which means that it’s not the most beautiful of dishes when served, but god damn, it tastes good.  Serve with a couple of lime segments to squeeze over and a fun size bag of Maltesers for pudding.

fish1