Sunday, 3 June 2018

Four Years On...

So this time four years ago we had a bit of a party weekend as Simon and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. And as is customary with any party there was plenty of food and drink.

But on the Monday morning I started something that would change everything I thought I knew about food and diet.

Through a chance conversation with my daughter's karate instructors I took up a challenge they had developed called '90 Day Get Real Fat Loss'. The idea being that try something for 90 days, make a difference to how you look and what you weigh and then keep that change going for life.

Well four years on I am living proof that you can make a change to decades of being told to eat a certain way, that the weight and inches can be lost, that the loss can be maintained and that this new way of eating is easily sustainable.

For years, like I think most people, I'd not been happy with those numbers on the scale or what I saw looking back at me in the mirror. Now I know I wasn't obese, and I probably wasn't even classified as being overweight. Friends would tell me I looked fine, that I had nothing to worry about. But for me it obviously was something I worried about.

My mum was diabetic and so I kind of knew that she had to avoid sweet stuff but that didn't stop us having sweet stuff in the house. Before Simon and I got married and had a place of our own we would pretty much eat whatever we wanted. I knew that too many cakes, biscuits and chocolate bars weren't good for you but I was active...we would be out three nights a week at clubs dancing for hours and then we started going to the gym three, maybe even, four times a week so we were burning off that bad stuff - right?

About a year before we got married Simon's mum was diagnosed with high cholesterol and so Simon got tested in case it was hereditary and lo and behold he too had high levels. In the late 1980's this was all new to us; what did it all mean? The advice given by the doctor was to cut back on our fat and dairy intake as otherwise we were heading for heart problems and an increased risk of dying from a heart attack! With warnings like that we did as we were told. Out went the butter, the full fat milk, no more eggs and forget about cheese and fatty meats literally overnight!

So for the next 25 years or so we followed, what we were all being told to follow, a low fat diet; after all this would work for those pesky high cholesterol levels as well as my mum's diabetes. We ate pasta, rice, stuck to chicken and fish, had cereals and toast for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch. We had low fat or fat free salad dressings and fact anything that had low fat, or fat free, on the label we probably had it in the cupboard and fridge. After all picking up a chocolate bar or dessert or biscuit with low fat blazoned across the packaging meant we could indulge with a clear conscience.

Oh how wrong we were!

So four years ago I decided to try something different. One thing I'd never done was to follow any mass marketed slimming regime...the skeptic in me always thought these were a bit of a scam and besides I really didn't fancy parting with hard earned cash to stand on a scale in a room full of people and be told whether I'd put on or lost a pound! But this 'Get Real Fat Loss' was different; it was developed by a karate instructor (Jason) who had an understanding of nutrition and was fed up of hearing the mums of the kids he was teaching moaning about weight loss and hearing the horror stories of their weight loss regimes. I saw photos of women I knew and the difference that this programme had made to their bodies. These weren't touched up, magazine, promotional photos these were genuine photos viewed on someone's phone. I think it was seeing these real life results that made me think 'what have I got to lose?'.

The great thing was that under the guidance of Jason I had to figure out what would work best for me. After recording my food for a week Jason was able to analyse what I was eating and then come up with the best ratio of fat, protein and carbohydrate that I should be consuming. Now I have spoke about this before on previous posts but suffice to say the big change I had to make was to reduce my carb intake and up my fat! I estimate that my daily carb intake back then was around the 230g mark and this had to reduce down to about 70g per day; that was a big change!

But I was all set to give this a go; I looked at what I had been eating to see where the changes had to be made - bread, pasta, rice, potatoes....OK so my first reaction was what can I have instead of these? Initially I would have a very small new potato with my salad and meat of choice or perhaps I would have literally 3 or 4 chips (fries) with my meal. When it came to rice I discovered very early on that cauliflower rice was a good substitute. But you know what? After a short while I realised that I didn't actually miss these foods and the more I thought about it the more I came to the conclusion that these were actually quite bland and were just 'fillers' on my plate.

About 60 days in I reached my 'goal' weight and by the end of the 90 days I'd lost another 7 pounds. It was the first time in my life that attempting any kind of 'diet' had produced the dramatic results that you dream of. But more importantly I was enjoying my food, enjoying the results I'd achieved and knew that I couldn't go back to my old ways.

But what about exercise I hear you say - well yes when I first started the challenge I would complete a series of body weight exercises at home, twice a day. So simple stuff like squats, lunges, press-ups and a few planks. But these did not get rid of the pounds these simply helped shape and tone what I'd got! For about the past year and a bit I've swapped daily exercise at home for visiting the gym a few times a week. This has proved to be great fun as we get to go as a family and lift heavy weights! I know that since going to the gym I have put on a few pounds but I also know that my muscle mass has increased while my measurements have remained pretty constant.

It was only after I'd reached the end of the 90 day challenge that I came across a book by Gary Taubes called 'Why we get fat and what to do about it'. I remember reading it and everything just fell into place; this book echoed everything that I had done. It gave me the science behind what I had done...I was living proof of what adopting a low carb, high fat lifestyle was all about.

So here we are four years on and we are still a low carb family (Oh yes all for one and one for all in this house!). I wouldn't change the way I eat now for anything. We eat well, we eat till we are full and we enjoy what we eat. I have a fridge full of butter, cream cheese, eggs (lots of eggs), double cream, full fat milk, greek yogurt and cheese. We eat red meat as well as chicken and fish. We have bacon for breakfast every morning! I have red wine most evenings and always a little dark chocolate - 85% is my favourite at the moment. What's not to love about all of that?!

So for some facts and figures;

At the start of my 90 day challenge I weighed 147lbs and by the end I weighed 126lbs, a loss of 21 pounds. I did lose more weight after the 90 days dropping a total of 28 pounds. Since then I think my body has found a more natural weight around 128 - 130lbs which I am quite happy with and have maintained this now for almost 2 years.

I have lost, and maintained, 2.5 inches from my waist, 3 inches from my hips and 2.75 inches from my bust.

Here come the photos - eek! These were all taken on a mobile phone and have not been altered in anyway!

June 2014
September 2014
June 2018

June 2014
September 2014
June 2018
June 2014

September 2014
June 2018

So that's and I've said before if I can do it, anyone can. Low carb all the way!

Monday, 23 October 2017

My Disney Sleeve

Well, after a longer than expected absence from the keyboard, I am back and I can finally reveal my full Disney sleeve.

Yes my adventure into tattooing that started with a lower back piece a fair few years ago has now resulted in an armful of Disney!

If you look back at some of my earlier posts you will be able to read about all my Disney ink as well as the transformation from bare arm into what it is today;
Disney Inked
Disney Ink Update
A Bit More Ink...

A big thank you has to go out to Rachael Huntington for starting the sleeve back in February 2016 and then to the amazing Simon Saint Heywood for taking it to its completion in August this year - an 18 month creation.

So the final couple of sittings saw a lot more background shading being added, some re-emphasised line work, plus fireworks over the top of the castle as well as some ink to probably a couple of the most painful areas I've yet experienced! On the same day I had a rose tattooed on my elbow and then a 'dinglehopper' and an 'orange bird' to my upper, inner arm (so just down from my armpit). I have to say that the minimal pain from tattooing does not bother me at all but I will acknowledge that these two areas in particular are a little 'special'!!

So what about some photos then?! Well thanks to my daughter Molly I finally managed to get some taken...although please excuse how cold I look in them!

Hopefully with all these different angles (and my previous posts) I've managed to capture all the sleeve! I am truly in love with everything about this sleeve and it only inspires me to get more ink done!

And talking of more ink I did manage a brand new piece, this time on my other arm and although still technically Disney this one is actually Star Wars themed.

When Simon and I attended Star Wars Celebration London in July of 2016 as part of the Mandalorian Mercs Costuming Club (see these previous posts Wow What a Weekend Day 1Wow What a Weekend Day 2 and Wow What a Weekend Final Day) we had the great fortune to meet the creator of Star Wars Rebels, Dave Filoni. He was so nice to chat with and we had a fantastic time meeting him. When he came over to us to say goodbye he put his hand on my shoulder and I had what can only be described as a complete fan-girl moment. So much so that afterwards I said that I ought to get a Star Wars tattoo where he touched me!!

So almost a year later guess what? Yep I got my first Star Wars tattoo right where Dave Filoni touched me! So on my left shoulder I have a Star Wars Rebels inspired tattoo; this represents the firebird that the character Sabine Wren (who is a Mandalorian) has on her armour...I know...I am such a geek!

But you have to admit the tattoo is pretty spectacular!

So that's all my tattooing up to date...well for now anyway because who knows how long it will be before I get fact I have an idea....

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Missing My Favourite Place

So this is the first post in quite a while and apart from being busy as usual with life, work and the podcast I have no real excuses.

But today got me thinking. This is the time of year that if we were going to be visiting Walt Disney World it would be fact it's 4 years since we made our last trip out there.

The wonder of Facebook 'Timehop' seems to delight in showing me posts from 4 years ago that show us about to ride Splash Mountain or chilling at the hotel or a Disney Photopass shot! Plus lots of people I know are currently enjoying themselves in the place I long to be.

Now I don't want to get all 'woe is me' about this but at the same time I am missing the opportunity to be experiencing a bit of Disney magic in the place I love. And if you follow this blog you will know that only a few months ago I was lucky enough to visit Disneyland Paris with podcast co-host Michelle, and that 2 and a half years ago we also visited Disneyland Paris as a family. But as much as Disneyland Paris is a lovely place to visit it really isn't the same as visiting Walt Disney World; or at least for me it isn't.

Don't get me wrong I think Paris is a fantastic park; it has the most beautiful of all the Disney castles, it's landscaping is extraordinary, the attractions are amazing but for me the draw of Walt Disney World is just too much to ignore.

Our current circumstances mean that a family trip to any Disney park is going to cost us a fair penny or two!! Understatement of the year; anyone travelling from the UK knows just how expensive it can be to get across the pond and stay somewhere like Orlando. I know we could save money by staying 'off-site' but for us the whole point of travelling 4000 miles is to be able to have an experience that we can treasure for years to come and to us that means immersing ourselves in the Disney magic. None of us want to have a vacation where we are having to compromise on what we want to do and how we do it. But two adults and two teenagers....OK so 4 adults...ain't cheap!

I have had people say to me...'well surely the kids don't want to go' or 'you could leave the kids at home'. Well yes the kids do want to go; years of Disney exposure has resulted in two kids with extremely good taste and who appreciate all things Disney. Plus until the kids reach a point where they tell me that they don't want to vacation with us or circumstances dictate that they can't come with us then the kids being with us is a quintessential part of our Disney vacation.

Following social media is a great way to not only keep in touch with friends and family but also keep you informed about anything you might have an interest in. So as the Disney fan that I am I have lots of friends and groups that I follow that keep me up-to-date with all things Disney and the happenings around its parks. Now sometimes that can be a bit of a toughie; watching people experiencing the parks, doing the things you wish you could be doing, going to places you'd love to visit can be a challenge. Not that I begrudge anyone who is able to get out there and visit and have an amazing time; in fact I love to see what they're are getting up to but it doesn't always mean it's easy to see.

But....and here comes the moan I'm afraid! What really upsets me is when those who are fortunate to visit seem to take it all for granted and feel they have the right to moan and groan for the whole world to see. So just to be clear my little moan here is NOT directed at anyone who gets to visit the magic from time to time...Oh no...this is directed at some of those who have the immense great fortune to either live extremely close or at least be in the position that living in the same country affords them the ease to visit on a regular basis. Those people who are constantly posting from the parks, who seem to be able to get into every special event going and get the chance to experience all that the World has to offer.

And like everything in life it is the minority of these people that spoil things for the majority. I know lots of people who live close to the magic, or who get to experience it on a regular basis, that show nothing but love for the World and soak up all that it has to offer and open up their lives to let others (like me) enjoy with them. But when I see an odd person 'venting' via social media about something that's annoyed them (having to wait for a bus, negative opinions about a park or an attraction) then to be honest I get a little mad. Please remember that there are LOTS of people that would LOVE to be in your shoes for only a week or two. People that save up for years to make the trip of a lifetime. It does makes me wonder whether these fortunate souls appreciate just how fortunate they are? Do they stop and think about what they are getting to do when compared to the 'average Joe'? Do they take a moment to put themselves in other peoples shoes? Do they appreciate the position they find themselves in? Are they really enjoying it all?

So please for the sanity of those of us who are missing our happy place think before you Tweet!

Walt Disney World, I will be back someday...just gotta wait for that day to arrive.

Monday, 29 May 2017

It's been a while...

Well it's been a while but guess where I'm heading in just a couple of days?

Disney here I come!

So with my good friend and podcast co-host Michelle I am about to head off to my closest Disney resort...Disneyland Paris!! EEK!!

Now as those that have read my blog will know it has been over 2 years since my last visit to Disneyland Paris and almost 4 years since we last ventured across the pond to Walt Disney World. Personal circumstances have meant a vacation stateside for the four of us just hasn't been financially viable. And even a visit across the channel isn't cheap and memories of our last trip are tinged with sadness as the trip was so close to when my amazing mum passed away.

So how come I'm going? Well I have to give all the credit to Michelle who has done all the organising along with hubby Simon who has encouraged me to go. I think they both realised just how much I needed a little Disney in my life and so they got together and hatched a plan!

Now this will also be the first time that I have visited a Disney resort without Simon and the kids; which in itself is a strange prospect! Disney and family to me have always gone hand in hand and I have never given any thought before to visiting without them. So whilst I am super excited about this trip I have to confess to being a little sad that I won't have Simon and the kids with me - Michelle I hope you know what you're letting yourself in for!

And other firsts for this trip include staying in a non-Disney hotel as well as booking all aspects of the trip separately. Now as I said Michelle has done all the organising (bless her soul) but this will be the first time I have ever made a trip that has not been a 'package' booking. It will also be a trip with the most varied forms of transport I think! So I am really interested to see how it all pans out as it may give me the confidence to look at future trips differently.

So we fly out very early on Wednesday morning to arrive in Paris ready to catch a bus to Disneyland Paris. Park tickets have been bought and we will be taking advantage of Michelle's 'annual pass' to make use of bag storage facilities so that we can head straight into the parks when we get there. We will have 3 full days and nights to explore both Disneyland Park and Walt Disney Studios Park as well as the Disney Village. On our return we will be taking the high speed train back to the airport before flying home.

We are lucky in that our trip coincides with the 25th Anniversary of Disneyland Paris so we get to see new parades, fireworks and shows! There is also the new Star Tours ride; as Paris has now had the upgrade seen in the other parks. Plus Space Mountain has also been transformed into Hyper Space Mountain; not that I shall be riding but I am more than happy to look after the bags while Michelle takes a spin!! And the only attraction that is closed is Pirates of the Caribbean which is sad but as it's only one attraction I can live with that. I am really looking forward to riding Big Thunder Mountain and Phantom Manor especially...oh and Casey Jr, and Snow White and It's A Small World and...OK this could be a very long list!

I am probably most excited about Disneyland Park as this for me is what Disney is all about. But I am looking forward to riding Ratatouille a few times over at Walt Disney Studios Park as well as eating at Bistrot Chez Remy! There is also the chance to ride the Studio Tram Tour; Behind the Magic and experience Catastrophe Canyon which is no longer available in Disney Hollywood Studios over in Walt Disney World. As well as see the much loved Mickey and the Magician show. And of course there will be shopping, not only in the parks but also in Disney Village; looking forward to a stroll around Disney Fashion!!And while we're in Disney Village I will be very surprised if we don't make our way over to Earl of Sandwich for a bite!

So at the moment it is all about the packing...we've decided to just take hand luggage so packing skills will have to be on point! My nails are painted, t-shirts have been chosen, Euros about to be purchased and final packing to be done and then it's away we go!

Disney Dream Girls are on tour, watch out Disneyland Paris here we come!

Sunday, 26 February 2017

A bit more ink...

Well it's all go with my latest Disney ink! About a year ago work started on my Disney sleeve and despite a change in tattooist we are making good progress and the end is looking to be in sight!

Early in January I had another 6 hour session with Simon Saint Heywood at Rampant Ink just outside of Nottingham. This session saw the addition of some background shading as well as...

The 'Drink Me' bottle from Alice In Wonderland.

Some of the painted roses from Alice in Wonderland...I have one on my wrist and then...
 ...three larger ones on the back of my lower arm. Absolutely love these as I think they incorporate a traditional tattoo design with a 'Disney' twist.

On my inner elbow is a hunny pot from Winnie the Pooh.

We then have another butterfly from Bambi, this one is done in yellow's and oranges.

This was followed by another 3 hours at the beginning of February which saw a Mickey swirl added onto my existing tattoo of swirls and flowers, Simon even incorporated another tiny hidden Mickey if you look really close!

And then scattered over the background we added some Daisy impressions - these represent the flowers seen on Boo's bedroom door in the film Monsters Inc. As this is probably my daughters favourite film I had to have something somewhere to represent it.

The fantastic image of Stitch is now complete as the guitar strings were added to his guitar.

Some of the existing ink has seen a little re-working and the addition of black outlines; notably to the balloons, some of the lettering, Scrump, Dumbo and Snow White's apple.

Next saw some colour work added to the castle. Originally when this sleeve was first started the castle was mainly greys with a small amount of blue on the turrets. But as the sleeve progressed it became very evident just how much colour would appear and so we have revisited the castle bringing in more colour.

Tinkerbell has also had her silhouette made a little stronger.

I now have another 3 hours coming up in March where I hope to have a few more bits added along with more background shading and who knows what else! I'm guessing that I may need another session after this one to tie bits together and re-work or add any outlines but only time will tell!

And then it'll be time to start on my other arm....I have an idea...that starts with something Star Wars...

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Disney Ink Update

I've promised for a little while now an update on my Disney tattoos. So I type this with a bit of a sore arm, following 6 hours in the tattoo chair with the wonderful Simon Saint Heywood at Rampant Ink. So while my new additions are healing I thought I ought to show-off the additions Simon did back in November last year.

So first we have Stitch in his Elvis attire, along with the word Ohana - 'Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets lefts behind or forgotten'. There are still some strings to be added to the guitar but to ensure the lines are straight we needed to wait until the rest of the tattoo had healed.

Next we have Dumbo...

and then Jiminy Cricket...

 watch this space in a few weeks time for another update when todays work is healed.

Monday, 2 January 2017

New Year, New Me!!

Isn't that how all blog posts etc are supposed to start this time of year - New Year, New Me!!

Lots of articles about diets, getting fit, moving more, eating better, being healthy etc, etc and how NOW is the time to do it! After all what better time to do something about your weight, or shape or fitness than the start of a new year!!  OK I hope you can detect my sarcasm as I write this because really?!!

Just because we start a new year shouldn't be the reason to create a new you! If you want to do something about your weight or how you look you should do it because the want is there not because of what time of year it is.

Now I will be the first to admit that over the festive period I have like most people indulged in foods I wouldn't normally have done, probably had a few drinks more than usual and not moved as much as I do usually. So yes the New Year, or rather the end of the holidays, is the kick start back into my usual routine.

There will be lots of 'diets' out there that will promise amazing results in amazing amounts of time or fantastic results by buying their products or sticking to a 'points' system or some other type of gimmick normally involving a 'discounted price' to entice you in. The problem with most of these 'quick fixes' are that they are just that, a quick fix, that doesn't last and the only thing that you can guarantee being any lighter is your purse! Now don't get me wrong some people will use these diets and for them it will work and it may even work long term for them but for most of us we buy in, stick to it for a while until we hit a bump in the road and we go back to square one.

Now for anyone who has read my blog over the last few years will be aware of my own success at losing weight and feeling better about myself and body shape. Have a look at my page called - 'Getting Real' where I go into detail about how I lost weight and started a new way of eating...a lifestyle change.

And I think this is key to anyone who really wants to lose the weight; it is not dieting that will help you to lose weight it is making a change to your lifestyle.

Having changed my lifestyle two and a half years ago I have not only embraced it but I continue to learn more about what I am now doing and how that affects me and my body and how the way most of us eat is doing us more harm than good. And it is a lifestyle that I found relatively easy to adopt and one that the whole family now follows. So what did I do?

Have a look at the page on this blog called 'Getting Real' as well as my post from June 2015 called 'One Year On' as both of these document my journey and how I got to where I am today.

Basically I have adopted what is often referred to as either 'low carb' or 'low carb, high fat' (LCHF) way of eating. This means cutting down on the sugars and starches - so no potatoes, breads, pasta or rice - while eating plenty of fish, meat, eggs, natural fats and veggies (those that grow above ground!).

I don't count calories - lots of studies now show that not all calories are the same; the way your body processes calories depends on where they come from! Take in sugars or carbs and your body doesn't really know what to do with them and so stores them as fat which leaves you feeling you eat more (usually more carbs) and so the vicious circle begins. Take in fats and proteins and your body uses these for energy and actually starts burning your fat stores, you also feel satisfied when you've eaten fats and protein and so avoid the cycle of eating more when it's not needed.

The key to all this is to eat real foods and ditch the highly processed sugary rubbish that is way too easily available. Many years ago the official dietary advice to lose weight and keep your heart healthy was to eat low fat foods...the food industry obliged and provided us with a ton of low fat or fat free alternatives. The problem with removing the fat was that the food tasted pretty nasty so the food industry replaced the missing fat with sugar or sweeteners. But this meant our carb intake increased; we didn't feel 'full' so we ate more. The food industry recognised they were onto a good thing by supporting the official dietary advice and so kept on producing more and more processed low fat foods. We now find ourselves with a food industry still supporting the 'low fat advice' and not wanting to make a change because of the detrimental affect it could have to their profit margins.

The latest evidence now tells us that fat has never been our enemy, it's been sugar all along. The advice that governments followed about having a low fat diet was wrong...they simply listened to those that shouted the loudest, those scientists who, at the time, had the connections and believed their ideas to be right...unfortunately for us they were not. I urge you to read a book called 'Why We Get Fat and What to Do About it' by Gary Taubes - a fascinating and easy read which explains why we find ourselves today with the highest obesity and diabetes rates ever, despite following all the government advice to eat low fat.

So the answer is simple ditch the carbs, enjoy fats and protein and eat real food. No fads, no gimmicks, no magic powders simply good, tasty, satisfying real food. And yes you can throw some exercise into the mix as well but the exercise won't make you lose weight; it will keep you fit and will tone what you've got but it's what you put into your body that will make the biggest changes.

I have been eating this way for two and a half years. I complete a set of body weight exercises most days. I dropped from a size 12 (UK) to a size 8 (UK) and have stayed that way. Yes my weight will fluctuate every now and then but it stays pretty consistent. While changing the way you have eaten all your life can be daunting and a challenge I have found it really straight forward to stick to; there's no portion control or calorie counting it's simply finding the right food, eating it and enjoying it.

If you want to make a change, feel good about how you look and at the same time improve your health and well being then give this lifestyle a try. I did, it worked and I'm staying this way!

Please feel free to comment below, or contact me via Twitter @JaynePhipps should you want to know more.

A really good website to give you more information is