Smelling the roses in London as I run 1,000 miles in 2017

London in April 2017
London, 13 April 2017

 

I entered myself into an online race in January this year to walk, jog or run 1,000 miles in 2017. As my problem with running is that I have become slower and slower, I thought that with discipline I could waddle my way to the total over the entire year. I have today added up my mileage so far and can see that I have only run 158.78 so far leaving me with slighlty over half the year to complete over 800 miles. Yikes! I did 9 runs in January, 3 in February, 4 in March, 7 in April and 1 in May. I have posted a few more runs in June but it would be no exaggeration to say that I now have my work cut out to complete the total.

Stress and pressure are the nemeses as far as eating well and exercise is concerned for me. I seem to always manage to eat more when I am stressed and exercise less. I can tell from the fit of my clothes that I have done some serious damage to my weight loss efforts and I know it will show on the scales once I pluck up the courage to weigh myself. Once I learn how to respond to stress and pressure without going off the rails as far as diet and exercise are concerned then I will achieve a stable and healthy weight. It is as simple as that. I have had my fair share of pressure this year especially between March and May and I want to break out of that cycle and enjoy the good weather.

As I had planned to go to Ascot for Ladies Day, I am now in a complete panic trying to find myself something else to wear as the planned outfit is looking a bit weird on me. By weird, I mean snug. I am going to rock my weight whatever it is for Ascot and get back on the programme from the day after Ascot. What can I say, life is too short! I believe in being fit and living healthily but believe smelling the roses and enjoying life to the full as I work towards optimum good health.

 

Bike ride, 13 April 2017
Bike ride, 13 April 2017

I attended a dance class at the famous Danceworks in Central London over the Spring Bank Holiday which I enjoyed very much. I hoped to make it a regular thing but I was so busy running errands the next Saturday and of course, by Saturday night we had the unfortunate incident in Central London with the terror attack at London Bridge. Following the attack, I found that I was plugged into the news non-stop. By the following day on Sunday however, after watching lots of wall to wall coverage on the BBC I realised how much I was changing my weekend and behaviour because of the attack and decided to go out for a long walk. When I returned home, after some rest and refreshment, I decided to watch the BBC One Benefit concert hosted by Ariana Grande on the treadmill and managed to clock up another 5.7 miles.

Needless to say, I am baffled by the senseless terror attacks. Just a couple of weeks ago I passed through London Bridge and marvelled at how much it had been gentrified from years ago. It had a real buzz and I made mental note to return during the summer maybe to visit the Shard. I actually did a Facebook post about smelling the roses.

It is fair to say that compared to recent form, June has started well as far as clocking up mileage is concerned but I now have it all to do to make sure I complete.

I had also fallen behind with posting blogs on my website due to a problem I encountered managing WordPress. I have had to go on a crash course of learning to fix the problem. I actually considered abandoning my website and simply setting up a brand new one and once I found out how much hassle that would entail, I am really happy that I decided to go for a quick fix.

I still have plans to hit the dance floor soon so please bear with me.

Until next time it’s

#nototheyoyo!
#yestostableweight!

Roses from my garden in London on 26 May 2017
Roses from my garden

Bio identical HRT for weight loss – to do or not to do? Part 3

Prepping for an outing
Prepping for an outing

Date: Sunday 2 April 2017
Current weight: 159 lbs (Yes, my scales are still in storage)

Bio-identical HRT still seems like the magic bullet presumably because with my hormones back in balance I will be able to lose weight effectively like I used to when I was younger. On the other hand based on my research it costs about £300 plus VAT to have an initial consultation for bio-identical HRT in London and I would kick myself if I went through all the trouble and expense only to find out that I could have achieved the same by tweaking my diet and exercise. I do not resent paying medical bills at all. For one thing, 3 of my siblings are doctors so I have always had goodwill towards the profession. However I know that no matter how hard a doctor tries to help, success is not guaranteed so the possibility of failure has to be taken into account in doing the initial cost-v-benefit analysis.

I believe that part of the reason that menopause is such a tricky subject today is the underlying message that it gives to women that their useful lives are most probably over. I do not think or believe for a second that woman’s life is over when she goes through menopause and more importantly we must not give this message to younger women. The more we talk about menopause openly and find solutions to the symptoms, the better. What we need as women is better education about our bodies.

I remember in Nigeria looking up to women of my mother’s generation and thinking how elegant and beautiful some of them are. I gather that some African women do not have as many menopausal symptoms because of their diet and lifestyle. Apparently eating yam plays a role in boosting progesterone levels and reducing menopausal symptoms.  I read that in Asia, almost half of women of menopausal age do not experience significant symptoms because of their diet and lifestyle.

While we would all like to sail through the change with ease and dignity that would be reassuring for younger generations of women the fact does remain it can be a challenging time in a woman’s life.  Women like Angelina Jolie who have had menopause brought on earlier due to her decision to have surgery to safeguard her future health are said to suffer worse symptoms as a result. In Angelina’s case, having lost her mother to cancer she was determined to stay healthy for her own children. However, I know women with up to 6 children can feel devastated by the loss of their ability to have more kids and I also know lot’s of women who are devastated to reach menopause having never been able to become mothers. Each woman’s journey is unique and different.

So far as concerns my weight loss journey I choose not to see it as all doom and gloom and I continue to make progress. I find that when I miss exercise sessions I don’t feel as good. I love the fact that my body and mind both miss exercise. I also like the fact that I crave healthy things. This is a big change with my attitude and taste buds. I want to drink more water, and eat food that is nutritionally dense. I no longer envy people that are eating naughty things like fried and sugary foods. If I eat sugary foods my body reacts so badly that saying no to sweet treats or eating only tiny portions of these has become so much easier. I still have to watch myself for triggers and a big one for me remains white Basmati rice.

I have gone through a period of listening to too many people and following too many ideas at the same time. I don’t want to ever stop listening and learning but I want to see through any programme and idea before jumping to the next new thing. I have been enjoying my exercise a lot this year but unusually for me I have now suffered two colds. The first was pretty bad and knocked me for six. The second cold, I developed right in the middle of March and learning the lessons from the first cold, I slowed right down and stayed away from the gym until 30 March 2017 when I had a lovely workout balancing cardio and strength training exercises. I had a shockingly stressful week prior to developing the second cold.

I continue to vary my exercise and I have been changing it up as much as possible including incorporating dancing and strength training. I love to dance so adding this to my exercise routine is a no brainer. Please look out for my dance videos that I plan to start posting in snippets to start with. I gather that strength training not only helps with developing and maintaining muscle tone, but with compensating for declining hormones in women my age.

I have been told by at least 3 people that I don’t eat enough so I want to try to add more healthy smoothies, salads and vegetables to my diet each day. I don’t have time to make them so I am planning to make more trips to the supermarkets. I will continue to cook and store healthy things on weekends to eat during the working week. Dancing has been so much fun and I plan to post some fun videos to my YouTube channel so do stay tuned so you can watch and hopefully hit the dance floor with me.

You might be wondering what I have decided to do concerning bio-identical HRT; well I have decided to jump in doing a DIY home made version. I am compiling a list of all the natural supplements that are supposed to help balance female hormones and find a way of incorporating them in my diet. I have already started experimenting with things like ground flaxseed with my yoghurt for breakfast. If this does not work for me I will consider having a consultation with a specialist doctor for bio-identical HRT. For now it will be home remedies.

Don’t forget to look out for my dance videos but more importantly please join me on the dance floor wherever you are! 🙂

Until next time it’s

#nototheyoyo!
#yestostableweight!

his breakfast of yoghurt, wild blueberries & ground flaxseed was so delicious that I had eaten half of it before I remembered to take a picture for my blog.
This breakfast of yoghurt, wild blueberries & ground flaxseed was so delicious that I had eaten half of it before I remembered to take a picture for my blog.

Bio identical HRT for weight loss – to do or not to do? Part 2

My 6 year old self
My 6-year-old self

Date: Sunday 26 March 2017
Current weight: (I am keeping my scales in storage until I decide on exactly how to go about break my plateau – please bear with me)

In my last blog dated 19 March 2017, I said that it might not be a good idea for women to be on bio-identical HRT for more than 5 years. Well, a member of a group I belong to pointed out that with natural bio-identical HRT there is no time limit and said that she knew of a lady who has been on it well into her 70s. If this is correct then it is wonderful news in my view because it represents another option for women.

The other thing that I have picked up from my research on female hormones specifically is that it is helpful to analyse the effects of these on our health across our lives. I had no idea for instance that HRT could be used to correct hormone imbalances in women who are of conventional childbearing age. Examples include using hormone replacement therapy to correct severe pre-menstrual syndrome and oestrogen dominance. HRT has always been linked with menopause in my view and accordingly couched with negativity, shame and loss.

Thankfully some doctors are beginning to question why both men and women should risk the worst effects of old age by failing to top up falling hormone levels. In fact in a BBC Radio 4 programme called Rewinding the Menopause, http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b0643vfl. – Dr Kutluk Otkay asked a hypothetical question which I paraphrase as follows; “If a baby is too large should we let the mother and baby die during childbirth as it would be unnatural to apply medical intervention? Other contributors on the programme were not so keen and one said she worried about medicine attempting to cure women of being human and so on. In fact, in many ways and without realising it I have always felt resistant to the idea that life is over once we hit conventional middle age; which reminds me of another irritation – why do we use the term middle age when none of us knows when we are going to die? I will save my rant for another blog.

For now, going back to the BBC Radio 4 programme, Rewinding the Menopause, I obviously agree with Dr Otkay for a whole host of reasons some of which I have alluded to above and plan to explore in more detail in a later blog. I welcome any advances in medicine that make menopause bearable for women including reversing it. It is not just the ability to give birth that goes with menopause and we run out of eggs, it is the health-preserving benefits of these hormones like avoiding osteoporosis and deterioration of our vital organs as well as the aesthetic ones like the development of dry skin causing wrinkling and loss of muscle tone. I know that I would like to remain fit and strong and maintain a stable healthy weight for the rest of my life.

So far as concerns the specific effects on weight loss are concerned my understanding is that oestrogen holds on to fat which makes it hard to lose weight in peri-menopause and possibly menopause. The shortage of oestrogen makes our bodies become more efficient at converting a lot of what we eat into fat. The shortage of progesterone causes bloating and water retention. In my case, I have noticed that for the first time in my life I have cellulite on my thighs which does not make me feel good in my clothes. I think this is down my lowered levels of progesterone. I can see that my muscle tone is not what it used to be and attribute this also to insufficient testosterone in my body. Lack of muscle tone means inefficient calorie burn overall and a slower metabolism. In addition I have suspected for quite some time that I suffer from insulin resistance which means that although I am eating less than I have ever done in my adult life and usually don’t have any desire to eat large portions of food my body in trying to correct my oestrogen levels by hanging on to every calorie I eat instead of burning all the excess fat in my body. Stress has also been a big factor for me and I keep trying to find ways to lower my stress levels because over the years I think that it is a major reason why my body goes into a panic and hangs on to excess fat leading to the development of the cortisol belt that I mentioned earlier.

In my last blog, I said that if I could give my younger self-weight loss advice it would be to lose any excess weight I was carrying by the age of 35. The more I think about it however, I think that the planning process should start when we face puberty. We should know why our hormones make us have periods, our reproductive years, peri-menopause and menopause. Once again, the fact that menopause is shrouded in mystery does not help. Having knowledge of our bodies as women will enable us to plan our lives in all sorts of important ways alongside preserving our health. In my next blog, I plan to talk about the symptoms of menopause and how some of us might have confusingly similar symptoms as younger women of typical childbearing age and finally what in my view women can do to tip the odds back in our favour today especially in relation to weight loss.

Until next time it’s

#nototheyoyo!
#yestostableweight!

 

34 menopause symptoms
34 menopause symptoms

Bioidentical HRT for weight loss – to do or not to do? Part 1

Me enjoying the summer weather
Me enjoying the summer weather

Date: Sunday 19 March 2017
Current weight: 159 lbs (I continue to make assumptions as my scales are still in storage)

We all know that the struggle with weight is real and if I was to give advice to my younger self I would say

make sure that you get rid of any extra weight you are carrying by your 35th birthday”

Why? – because thirty five is the age when fertility doctors no longer accept a woman’s eggs for egg donation in the UK because they believe that the quality her eggs at this age have fallen off a cliff. The age of our eggs is relevant to weight loss because the sex hormones that have an effect on egg quality also affect weight gain amongst other things. The other fall women have to cope with is that of our hormone levels again from the age of 35 it would appear  and by the age of 45 the decline becomes so steep  that a lot of fertility doctors treating patients of that age will only offer IVF treatment with eggs donated from younger women. Women over 45 are assumed to be in the twilight zone otherwise known as peri-menopause and travelling rapidly towards the final destination called menopause which happens on average at the age of or 51 or 52 depending on what you read. Menopause is confirmed once a woman has not had a period for 12 months.

Apparently 90% of women will struggle with weight gain between the ages of 35 and 55 and while good nutrition and appropriate exercise helps, the odds are not stacked in our favour. At the moment I feel like no matter how hard I exercise and diet, my body is engaged in a peri-menopausal civil war against me and would if it could convert the water I drink into fat in a desperate bid to source extra oestrogen, progesterone, testosterone and any other hormone that would enable my body run more efficiently. I have an unflattering cortisol belt which I believe I have acquired from years of career and life related stress. The belt has reduced in size and changed shape for the better but it looks like it would like to hang around for good. Obviously I am not happy about that prospect at all.

I was watching a re-run of a reunion of The Housewives of Beverly Hills and noticed that when Lisa Vanderpump asked Yolanda whether she was experiencing depression related to menopause, Yolanda confirmed that she was on HRT and to that end was not experiencing any menopausal symptoms including depression. As most of the housewives are within or close to the age bracket to experience a drop in female hormones I wonder whether most of them are on hormone replacement therapy and if yes, what are they on? The Housewives are all slim and seem to be physically fit and I wonder how they achieve this with such busy lives.

I understand also that it is not a good idea to be on HRT even those of the natural variety sometimes called Bio-identical HRT for more than 5 years and that at the end of the 5 years women then have to face the symptoms of menopause that they avoided by going on HRT in the first place except that at this point such women are 5 years older and the symptoms feel at least 10 times worse. At the current time I am tempted to try Bio–identical HRT just to blast off my cortisol belt.

What would you do?

Until next time it’s

#nototheyoyo!
#yestostableweight!

Me, doing some reading
Me, doing some reading

 

 

The meanness of middle age and menopause

Cycling in Portland
Me on a bicycle ride

Current weight: (Please don’t ask, just not today please – thanks very much.)

Before embarking on my weight loss journey I fully accepted that my metabolism was slowing down and I would have to work and diet harder than ever to achieve my goal weight and then keep it stable. What I had not bargained for was peri-menopause* and the dreadful drop in hormones that has made my journey one of attrition. I feel like am also dealing with a wall of silence and a lot of meanness.

There is meanness about aging the world over and this varies according to the culture one inhabits. When I lived in Nigeria older people were given respect because I suspect their mere existence represented triumphant survival as well as wisdom. Youthfulness was not the Holy Grail and a woman who was married with children was expected to have a plump filled out figure rather than a slim athletic one. Things have changed a lot since my time in Nigeria and Nigerian women now seem to be a lot more health conscious. However I don’t think that having a slim and alethic figure is high on the agenda of quite a few Nigerian women. The good side to this relaxed attitude is that Nigerian women can embrace middle age spread with more ease compared to women in the West. The negative side is that a woman wanting to buck this trend by being slim and athletic can be derided. I remember working in a London based Nigerian law firm many years ago. I was labelled a fitness fanatic by a Nigerian man just because I commuted to work by bicycle. I cycled because I could not drive, afford a car or the cost of maintaining one. I enjoyed cycling and it was a cheap way to get from A to B. I was not happy with the label but could do nothing about it.

In contrast, London and the West seem youth obsessed compared to Nigeria. All women it seems from an early age are under pressure to look good and those who stop trying become invisible very quickly. People say that women are particularly mean to each other. I think however that both men and women are mean about aging. I have been unfortunate to chat with some men who seemed almost gleeful about the prospect of certain female contemporaries going through menopause. As I listen to these mean comments I wonder whether these men have mothers, aunts, daughters and whether they would wish these women in their lives to have a terrible time as they go through menopause. Why do they consider this a stick to beat any woman with anyway?

Women are mean to women too and an article by Meghan Casserly of Forbes titled “Madonna’s Mighty Menopausal Comeback “is a case in point. In the article the writer mentions that she is half Madonna’s age. The article is supposed to be complimentary about Madonna but the title in my view is mean. The worst thing about the fear of aging in a youth obsessed society (and yes, I include myself in that number) is that we are terrified to talk about our changing bodies with the sort of honesty that will help us combat the worst signs and effects of aging.

So what is the way forward? Knowledge is what we need rather than meanness. I would have preferred comprehensive sex education that told me not only about getting periods and pregnant but about the important role that the sex hormones play in keeping a woman’s body healthy from cradle to grave. There is simply not enough information about the role that hormones play in our bodies. Yes, it is true that weight loss as one inches closer to 50 years old is tough but it can be done. If you are struggling to lose the pounds like I am; don’t give up because you CAN do it. Even if you do not become a size zero which most of us don’t want any way you will be taking lots of glugs from the fountain of youth (ie exercise and a good diet) as you work towards your goal and save a fortune on anti-depressants as you journey to your goal weight and then on to maintaining this for life.

*This a longer story for another blog or book so please stay tuned.

Until next time it’s

#nototheyoyo!

#yestostableweight

Me, stopping for a drink at a Benson Bubbler in Portland while out and about on my lovely lilac bicycle
Me, stopping for a drink at a Benson Bubbler in Portland while out and about on my lovely lilac bicycle

 

Chanel 4’s Super Slimmers: Did They Keep the Weight Off?

Spring is coming!
Spring is coming!

I watched the Channel 4 programme – Super Slimmers: Did They Keep The Weight Off on 18 February 2018.  The central message of this programme is that diets don’t work because our bodies have evolved to help us survive famine by slowing down our metabolisms in order to conserve calories and keep us alive.  Apparently if we lose more than 10% of our body weight, our metabolisms slow down and and the hormones that make us hungry become keener meaning that we tend to put on weight even if we eat the right amount for our weight and heights.  This documentary had me break out in cold sweat.  To be fair it is not the first time that I have heard this sort of thing.  Last year on Facebook a friend  shared an article by the New York Times in which they covered a similar topic based mainly around former contestants from the US programme The Biggest Loser.  The article said that most of the past contestants had put on weight.

The programme resonated with me because I have been convinced for years that my metabolism is compromised.  I have always cut back my eating in one way shape or form in adulthood but the diets that I think have affected me most dramatically are the Atkins diet which I did on and off from about 2003 – 2007 and then the Cambridge Diet as it was then called off and on from 2008 – 2011.  Once I gave up the Cambridge diet in 2011 my weight fluctuated but from 2014 I was able to lose over 20 lbs.  What I am now worried about is my bodies tendency to plateau.  My body continues to make changes with exercise but I have never seen the dramatic losses on the scales even when I have worked really hard.

There was one comforting message at the end of the programme about people who have managed to keep the weight off.  Apparently about 10% of people who go on diets are able to keep the weight off and they do this by making diet and healthy eating the main priority in their lives.  Once participant in the programme who had lost a lot of weight now worked as a personal trainer.  He still struggled with eating lots of sweets but controlled his weight by working out and eating healthy most of the time.  I desperately needed this bit of light at the end of the tunnel.  One of the experts on the programme talked about those who keep the weight off taking exercise for at least an hour every day.  I would be happy to do this.

As it transpires I am about to shake up my exercise routine to take in doing more things that I love like dancing and running.  I have discovered some really fun exercise routines and now that I have learnt to hook up my laptop, phone and tablet to my a speaker, the sound quality is actually good enough to dance to.  I am also looking for an exercise routine that works on the abdominals and core – one that I can do standing up and to music.  So far the best one I have found has no music and is narrated by a robot.  I am thinking about doing something myself using some of my favourite dance tracks but due to pressure of time I want this to be last resort only.  In any event now that I have recovered from the worst of my cold, I plan to start trying to catch up on my mileage so I can complete the 1,000 mile challenge in 2017 by 31 December this year.

Until next time it’s

#nototheyoyo!
#yestostableweight!

 

My first hike by the ocean
My first hike by the ocean

Going for the burn; hair there and everywhere …

Hair, there and everywhere
Hair, there and everywhere

I remember a time in my childhood when I used to roll out of bed excited about what the new day had to bring. Unfortunately as an adult not so much and I dread Mondays.  Not today though.  I was grateful to get out of bed feeling better after one of the worst colds I have had in years.  It was such a relief to wake feeling normal but I have lost an entire week of exercise.  More on that later.

My journey to good health has continued in February albeit with the distraction of the US inauguration and my constant research into better diet and general health living.  For example I found out following completion of a survey to find out what sport I am suited to that I have attributes of a figure skater .  This is because I love dance, aerobics and can cope with a lot of repetition.  This is true because when push comes to shove I don’t mind listening to a single track on repeat.  I am used to this from learning song lyrics or formation dance so sticking with one track for a run is not a stretch.  Sometimes this works well for me with exercise because once I know what exercises to work on I have no problem sticking with them.  However when it comes to breaking a weight loss plateau this is the wrong approach so this year I have been keen to do new things and shake up my routine.

As part of the shake up I had been attended a boxing type class for women and a boot camp style class outside my gym.  The boxing class was fun and it was lovely to work with other women. I have actually had some experience of doing this sort of class from when I was a member of at least  two other gyms and from doing Billy Blanks Taebo videos.  The day after the boxing class I expected the usual aches and pains and when these were minimal I felt a bit smug.  I was not so smug on the days after the Sunday bootcamp class however.  I felt a bit tired about 2 – 3 hours later but was otherwise fine.  By Monday however I was stiff as ever all over and this felt a lot worse after sitting at my desk all and by bedtime I was pretty sure I would not be able to make the boxing class on Tuesday.  Come Tuesday morning I woke up feeling a tiny bit better however as the day wore on and my cold broke I knew that going to the class would be a bad idea and had to duck out.  I was so disappointed.

The old saying that pain is gain is supposed to be outdated. However I was happy that my muscles felt suitably sore.  Some people think this is a good sign provided the pain is not overwhelming. As I felt these specific pains in my “muffin top”, thighs and glutes after he bootcamp class so it is clear to me that doing the high knees thing and trying to sprint while secured to a fixed post with a resisting band had pushed my muscles.  The combination of muscle pain and the onset of a cold was not great and with he benefit of hindsight I should not have pressed on with my plans to have my hair appointment and do some shopping.  I should have listened to my body and put my feet up.  By the end of the working week I was popping painkillers and Lemsip and I pretty much spent most of the weekend in bed except for when I was thinking about a practical natural hairstyle for my new life style.

One of my brothers used to marvel at how much my friends and I seemed to spend talking about hair and I will expand on this later.  This weekend suffice to say that I tried some new natural hair styles out to take my mind off how bad I was feeling and took a couple of selfies (as one does when one is feeling unwell).  I had promised myself that I would never miss training for more than 2 days in a row but I also promised to rest when I need it so I have no after workout selfies to go with this post or serious guilt.  Just a couple of my hair before and after.

Until next time it’s

#nototheyoyo!
#yestostableweight!

 

Nice tidy hair?
Nice tidy hair?

Keto konfession, assessing the damage after Christmas & starting 2017 with renewed vigour

9 January 2017 first day back to the gym
First day back to the gym after Christmas

It feels like a year has flown by so quickly. I still remember my plans in December 2015 to set up this blog on 2 January 2016 but things did not go to plan and I ended up launching if officially on 15 May 2016. At the time of my official launch last year, I was still carrying 7 lbs that I had put on over the Christmas period when I had a massive blow out. I allowed myself to eat lots of things that I had eliminated from my diet primarily milk chocolate and lots of it.

I think that my weight crept up a bit towards the end of 2016 with me spending a lot of time in the US towards the end of the year and losing a bit of focus with my exercise but all in all I think I put on 4lbs over the Christmas period. This is an improvement on last year but going forward I would like to reduce or eliminate this Yuletide Yo-Yo altogether. There were also lots of distractions last year and I plan to talk about them in subsequent blogs or vlogs.

One thing I have been doing a lot of is research. However by the end of last year I was drowning in all the information and quite frankly confused. Do I go low carb, no carb, keto, vegetarian or vegan? I am part of a keto weight loss group and wrote the following message to the group mid January 2017 after doing yet more research:

KETO KONFESSION: I first attempted a low carbohydrate in 2003 using the Dr Atkins method and I had stunning rapid results. When my weight yo-yoed back up I repeated the trick in 2004 with reasonable results. I found however on both occasions that I could not keep up with it for long and I would often feel really sick on the diet. Once I got so sick in 2004 that I was admitted to A&E and put on a drip. I felt dizzy, dehydrated and nauseous. Each time I stood up the room seemed to be spinning so I had a feeling of vertigo as well. With NHS resources being so scarce in the UK I did not dare mention my diet to the medical staff.

Since then I have flirted with going low carb from time to time with less success. Last year (2016) when I tried it, it did not make a blind bit of difference and I lost no weight at all. Since embarking on my current weight loss journey from September 2014 I have been on a reduced carbohydrate diet of sorts but have never really eliminated carbohydrate altogether.. I am now thinking about going on a low carb vegan diet for hopefully faster weight loss and to break my plateau. I keep researching the matter however and today I came across a blog that states that low carb diets are not effective for people who have been on it for a long term because it damages the thyroid function and in any event it becomes less effective for those over 45 years old. You will see that the article is dated 29 September 2009 so it is not exactly up to date. All the same, let me know what you think.

http://diabetesupdate.blogspot.co.uk/2009/09/why-weight-loss-stops-on-long-term-low.html’

Tofu tomato sauce with brown rice & peas
Tofu tomato sauce with brown rice & peas

I have also had a stab at going vegan this month using the Veganuary campaign as impetus. I think that it was too much of a drastic change and I promptly fell off the wagon. I guess what I really want to do is try a plant based diet that will help me lose weight and secure my long term health and well being. I have since rowed back and decided to go vegetarian gradually and once that is achieved look at going vegan. So far as concerns my exercise, well I got confused with all the research that I had been doing and have simplified it back to jogging and stretching. I also registered with my running group to complete 1,000 miles in 2017 and at the moment I am enjoying my walking/jogging/running and not worrying about anything else. It feels great!

Until next time it’s

#nototheyoyo!
#yestostableweight!

Tofu tomato sauce with okro and protein enhanced swallow
Tofu tomato sauce with okra and protein enhanced swallow

Preparing to prepare to attend yet more gyms in Portland (part 2)

Cycling around Portland
Cycling around Portland

In my blog dated 17 November 2016 I talked about my positive experience attending 2 LA Fitness gyms in Portland, mostly the one close to the Lloyds District.  I then posted another blog on 2 December 2016 about my foodie weekend in Seattle. By the time I had returned to Portland from my foodie weekend, my host in Portland had lined up a few more gyms for me to visit including a another branch of LA Fitness, 24-Hour Fitness and Eco Power.

I had done some research myself too about a gym called NW Womens Fitness. NW is an all women’s gym.  I found them polite and professional but got lost on the bus meaning I arrived late for my visit for a tour of the facilities.  I met a lovely lady called Gillian Rubin (Thanks very much Gillian!) who put me at ease and gave me a tour of their facilities.  They offered a free week no obligation trial.  NW Womens Fitness provides shower gel, shampoo, moisturiser and towels.  There was a nice boudoir area to blow dry hair and put on make up which I really liked. I was really tempted to give it a try but they were quite a distance away from my accommodation in walking and cycling terms and I was not sure of the exact bus route having already lost my way there once.

Then there was EcoPower with 24 hour access that had all solar powered and eco friendly equipment.  Again they offered a tour and free trial period.  By that stage of my visit I was struggling to fit everything in activity wise

so I was not able to contact them.

Finally there was  a gym actually named 24-hour fitness which I visited.  They gave me a complimentary membership for a 3 or 4 days but there was a process to go through on the first day including providing personal details and explaining my short and long term fitness goals. The next step was a tour around the gym. It was a nice gym and I like the Pearl District location but for some reason my iPod stopped working so I had no music. Without my music I just lost the will to work out and headed for the showers. After my shower, I realised that I forgot to bring a towel and had to make do with bits of paper towel from my gym bag as I did not want to buy a new towel from the gym even though they only cost $5.

My advice to anyone going to a new place for a longish visit would be to pick a gym ahead of time and stick to it. This is because I think I wasted too much time exploring and my workouts suffered.  I don’t think that it is a coincidence that people who live near gyms and are actually motivated to use them are fitter. It must be much easier to fit in a gym visit before work in the morning or on the way home from work in the evening. A former gym buddy who lived near a gym in London I used to attend years ago never bothered with the showering facilities because her home was practically across the road from the gym. I was reminded of this fact during the second part of my visit in Portland moving from gym to gym.

For the rest of my time in Portland, my routine fell apart as my thoughts had moved on to setting up a routine back in London. I still walked and cycled a lot and I continued to eat as healthy as possible while giving myself permission to sample any cuisine that was particular to Portland or the US.

Before starting out I had made up my mind to use a local gym and set up a routine. While I don’t regret deviating from my timetable, I think that flitting from gym to gym can be a waste of time. In a strange city you have to learn the best route to get there and back and then get used to all the new machines and the rules and regulations and that takes up a lot of time.

If you love working out in gyms and you live very close to one, then you are very lucky indeed. It got me thinking and I have decided to revamp my workouts on my return to London. At the moment I am a member of 2 gyms – one close to work and the other close to home. I want to decide which one to go to so I don’t end up paying for both and I want to incorporate a bit more running and cycling into my day to day fitness routine.

Until next time its

NoToTheYoYo and YesToStableWeight.

Me, stopping for a drink at a Benson Bubbler in Portland while out and about on my lovely lilac bicycle
Me, stopping for a drink at a Benson Bubbler in Portland while out and about on my lovely lilac bicycle

A tale of two Thanksgiving dinners in Portland a trip to Coos Bay & lessons learnt to date about diet and exercise

My first hike by the ocean
My first hike by the ocean

I am afraid the foodie theme from my weekend in Seattle has continued with two Thanksgiving dinners in Portland.  I was fully expecting to have my first ever vegetarian nut roast seeing that Portland seems to have more than its fair share of vegetarians. Instead I had  two terrific turkey dinners with one on the a actual Thanksgiving day and the other on the Saturday following.  In the UK I usually avoid roasts like the plague especially turkey.  However I think there is no need to avoid eating turkey in the US as the meals I had were quite simply delicious.  Apparently Americans salt the birds for at least a day beforehand and something in this process makes the final product so good to eat.  Both dinner parties provided organic free range birds accompanied by lots of organic goodies.  I hope I can replicate the meals on my return to the UK.

Currently I am in in a place called Coos Bay observing the development of a case from a safe distance in conflict of interest and confidentiality terms. In other words I am observing the case without interfering in any way that will be detrimental to the client or breach their privacy and  best interest. (I am still a lawyer after all!)

I am staying in a fascinating hotel called The Mill Casino. http://www.themillcasino.com  Apparently the US allows native Americans to own gambling establishments even though this is illegal for non native Americans.  The hotel is full of gambling machines and slots plus nods to native American culture in the decor.  It is owned and operated by The Coquille Indian Tribe and has a lovely stretch of water that can be seen from the rooms on one side of the building as well as a small gym and delightful hot tub.  I am a big fan of all things coastal so I am really enjoying the view out the hotel window and looking on to the water.

Time away from my base  always gets me in a reflective mood and on my walks by the water I have been thinking about my journey to a stable healthy weight.  I thought I would share some of my thoughts as follows:

  1. Moving our bodies is a privilege and not a chore so we should take advantage of day to day activities that keep us moving and by extension fit and healthy.  Those of us who don’t have cars should not resent walking to the bus or train station or indeed our final destination.  We are getting exercise and it all counts towards good health.  On my part I am going to try to increase the amount of walking I do generally.  I have also been impressed by the number of cyclists in Portland and plan to cycle even more on my return to the UK. I plan to do every journey by bicycle unless there are compelling reasons not to.
  2. Getting good quality sleep, rest and recovery is key to weight loss and fitness.  I personally struggle with sleeping and have done so for many years especially when life pressures weigh on my mind.  I have tried powering through by working out very hard so I am exhausted and sleep deeply.  This has often backfired and I find myself feeling tired from lack of sleep on top of not being unable to recover properly from a hard work out.  From my personal research it would appear that when our bodies are stressed we pump out more cortisol which in turn makes us put on more belly fat.  I have had to abandon these tough workouts that I enjoy so much and go for incremental and cumulative exercise as described above. Once my body is back in balance I plan to go hard in my workouts again but only if my body can recover appropriately.    
  3. Reducing stress is related to sleeping problems with me and is a tricky one.  Stress is useful for our survival but most of us have too much stress in our lives.  On my part I plan to take up regular yoga and pilates classes when I get the chance.  I am also planning to do more things that I have not permitted myself to do in years including more singing, reading & writing, dancing and enjoying painting, gardening and drawing.  I am going to give myself permission to do these things because they de-stress me.
  4. Avoiding excessive carbohydrates and non organic and intensively farmed produce. If you grow up eating a heavy carbohydrate diet like I did it could be a disadvantage when you are older.  Weight loss can be harder if you have to substitute new healthier foods in place of what you are used to eating already or reduce portion sizes.  It has taken me a long time eat 1 or 2 slices of wholemeal bread instead of reaching for 4.  As for food like rice, yam,  or Nigerian swallow food.  This term is used a lot by Nigerians to describe starchy  foods that are prepared by forming them into a dense paste and eaten with thick savoury soups. Using your fingers or fork you take a portion of swallow and dip it into the soup and  swallow. I am still experimenting with alternatives like adding or substituting these with proteins and vegetables.    I am also planning to experiment with making my own protein bread.  Seeing the sheer numbers of black people that suffer from diabetes and pre-diabetes has convinced me that reducing portion sizes generally as well as reducing the proportion of carbohydrates we eat will always be a good strategy for optimum health. I plan to do a longer more detailed post about the possible effects of intensively farmed non organic food on our waistlines and general health.  Suffice to say that going forward I will buy more expensive produce or go veggie where I can.  More to follow on this.
  5. Exercise buddies are great! Like minded people help a lot in my experience.  I have a WhatsApp training buddy who helps to keep me honest along with several social media diet & exercise and online groups where we give each other encouragement all the time and cheer each other on. I also like to go on long walks with a friend.
  6. Love yourself as you are at every stage of your weight loss and fitness journey no matter how much fat you have to burn or flab you wish to firm up. I think learning to love and accept yourself as you are increases your wellbeing and happiness which  keeps you going for longer.  Those of us brought up with the tough love message can struggle with putting ourselves first.  One way to tackle this struggle is to just think of how kind and patient we would be towards a toddler and treat yourself exactly the same way.
  7. Know your numbers! According to medical professionals we should all know 5 numbers including our weight, waist size which should be no more than twice our height, blood pressure, cholesterol level and fasting blood sugar. I personally want to work on achieving good numbers and hope to have a good figure as a bonus.
  8. Knowledge is power so keep reading and researching because today’s good advice is replaced by something better tomorrow.  It’s the nature of science.  I wish that I had known earlier on in my life how excessive carbohydrates were affecting me adversely.  On the other hand I know that a paleo diet probably is not for me.  By reading and researching I think I am beginning to find a balance that works best for me.  Each person has to learn what works best for their own body.
  9. Consistency is king so keep going no matter what the scale says. I have been on what might be the words longest plateau for the entire year of 2016 and yet my body continues to change in shape for the better and my numbers keep improving.  I plan to keep going until the number on the scales catches up with everything else.
  10. Know your hormones especially if you are female.  We have an onslaught of hormones affecting our bodies and by definition our weight loss efforts.  This has been a revelation for me.  When I first realised how all of this could have affected my dieting efforts over the years making me yoyo I felt discouraged.  However the more I arm myself with information and knowledge the more I am convinced that we can all manage our weight effectively at any age. I have more to share about this so watch this space.

As this is a really long blog post, I will sign off here even though I could say more.  I never stop reading and learning so I have a lot to share but overwhelming my reader is never my aim.  I said I would  write more about my quest to find the perfect gym for my stay in Portland.  Sadly my visit is coming to and end so I don’t know how many more new gym visits I will manage in Portland.  I will keep you posted all the same.

Until next time it’s

#nototheyoyo!

#yestostableweight!

Enjoying watching the sun set after my first hike by the ocean
Enjoying watching the sun set after my first hike by the ocean