2018 Year Review

Here we are at the end of another year and 2018 seems to have flown past.  Time for my 2018 year review.  It’s always good to take some time to reflect and this is something that we are encouraged to do on a regular basis.  

On the whole I am extremely happy with the way things went in 2018.  Early in the year I made the decision to reduce weigh-ins to once a month and rely more on healthy habits rather than the scales.  Throughout the year I’ve been able to continue my healthy lifestyle and maintain a healthy weight with only slight fluctuations throughout the year, successfully reaching my 8th year at goal anniversary in August.

Photo of CC
8 Year Goal Anniversary

This year I celebrated a milestone birthday and fulfilled a lifetime dream of holidaying in Hawaii USA, as well as Rome, Italy.  The experiences I had on those trips would not have been possible without my lifestyle transformation.  Hiking to the top of Hawaii’s Diamond Head volcano crater and Rome’s Colosseum was truly overwhelming when I considered that prior to my weightloss I was unable to climb a flight of stairs.

Photos CC in Hawaii and Italy
At the top of Diamond Head, Hawaii and the Colosseum, Rome

These experiences empowered me in ways I never imagined.  Even though I’ve achieved success in my weightloss journey and gained a lot of self confidence, I have still underestimated my abilities in many aspects of life.  Fulfilling your dreams can inspire and motive you to accomplish greater things.  I have since seized the opportunity to further my professional career and look forward to making a positive impact in my new job in the new year.  

There are things which continue to be a challenge for me.  At the beginning of the year, I set myself a task of increasing my sleep levels, I am still to achieve this goal.  I’ll be carrying this goal forward and utilising the new tools incorporated in the WW program to focus on mindfulness, meditation and wellbeing to assist me.

I’m also conscious that I haven’t been writing as much as I would like to.  I hope to use my experiences and ideas to inspire and help others.  Therefore time management will play a key part in my plans to continue blog posts and recipes.  After all if something is truly important to us, we’ll make time for it.  

So all in all, in review,  2018 has been an amazingly memorable year.  I look forward to 2019 to try new things and build wellness that works for me.  Whatever you plan for the new year, be sure to live well and love life!

Soli Deo Gloria

He’s making a list…..checking it twice…(Gadgets)

With Christmas just around the corner,  it’s not just Santa who is making lists.   Over the years of my journey to a healthy lifestyle I’ve discovered some practical tools and gadgets that have helped me, made my life easier or more importantly jazzed things up and made life more enjoyable.

It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of buying a new gadget/toy, using it a couple of times and then it ends up in the back of a cupboard or even remains brand new in the box for months.  So I try not to buy things on impulse but rather think about how useful it will be to me.

Given that the cost of these purchases can add up, for the more expensive items I tend to go for things that I consider an investment for my healthy lifestyle and with long term use I will get my money’s worth out of it.

Here are 10 of my absolute favourite things which I would no longer be without.

(Please note I am not promoting, advertising or recommending these products. These are purely my thoughts, based on personal use.)

1 .  Kitchen scales – I bought kitchen scales at my local supermarket right at the beginning of my weightloss journey.  Accurate portion control is important to following the Weight Watchers plan.  I still weigh and measure my food, it became a habit and works for me.

2.  George Foreman Grill – My family was given one of these grills as a Christmas present many years ago and it is now a permanent fixture in our kitchen.  It is used by the whole family every day.  As soon as one breaks down, we get a replacement straight away.  It has significantly reduced our use of a frying pan.  We grill all sorts of things in it, burgers, sausages, chicken breasts, vegetables and toasted sandwiches.  Any fat in the food just runs down into the drip tray and you’re left with healthier, flavoursome food.

3.  Day to a page diary – I’ve spoken before about how useful my diary has been to me.  I have quite a collection of diaries now.  Meal planner, shopping lists, receipe notes, thoughts journal, exercise notes, body measurements, it’s my healthy lifestyle record all in one place.

4.  Dolce Gusto Coffee Machine – We have to have a little of what we really like in life.  This machine has brought the coffee shop experience to my home and is more economical in the long term.  I like to take a little ‘me’ time when I get home from work, enjoy a coffee and sweet treat before I start to attend to the demands of home life.

Photos of healthy lifestyle aids
My favourite healthy lifestyle tools/gadgets

5.  Weighted Fitness Hula Hoop – I absolutely love a dance workout with my hula hoop.  I was never a hula hooper as a child and it took me several weeks to learn even to keep the hoop up for more than a few seconds, but it was a lot of fun trying.  Now I’ve mastered it, I hula hoop all around my living room to my favourite tunes for 30-40 minutes a few times a week.  As well as being a fun way to keep active, it has benefited my body shape, especially toning my waist, hips and legs.  You can see my hula hoop in action here.

6.  Electric slow cooker – A slow cooker is very convenient for making all sorts of dishes with minimum effort.  Simply place the ingredients in the pot and let the slow cooker do it’s magic.  It does require some advance preparation to put the slow cooker on 6-8 hours before the meal needs to be served.  I use mine to make stews, casseroles, joints of meat, dessert rice pudding, etc.  I have a couple of slow cooker recipe books containing amongst other things, slow cooker cake recipes.

7.  Milk Frother – I purchased this little battery operated gadget online for a couple of UK pounds.  I use it to make non-machine coffee with instant coffee.  There is an array of flavoured instant coffees currently available in the supermarkets.  After heating the milk, the milk frother gives it that light whipped texture of a latte or cappuccino.  See my milk frother in action here

8.  Fitness Tracker – Since starting my weightloss journey, 13 years ago, I’ve used a pedometer to keep track of my daily step count.  My original pedometer was very basic, it clipped onto my waistband/belt and showed me how many steps I’d made in a day and the distance covered.  My use of the pedometer was dependent on me actually remembering to put it on in the morning.  After a while the novelty worn off and it ended up in a cupboard.  Three years ago I became aware of the advances made in fitness tracker technology.  I decided to treat myself and now I wouldn’t be without it.  It is so motivating and I’ve never been more active.  I have the wristband model, which I only take off in the shower (even though it is waterproof).  You can set your personal targets and it tracks a whole host of satistics – steps, distance, active minutes, sleep, exercise, amongst other things.  It syncs with an app and you can connect with your friends and join in challenges.

9.  Spiraliser – These have become very popular over the last two years. There are some very fancy models on the market with price tags to match.  I prefer to keep things simple and rarely buy the latest fad thing but I came across a handheld model at my local supermarket for a very reasonable price.  It can be used to make vegetable or fruit spirals and ribbons.  My favourite so far is courgetti, which I use as an alternative to spaghetti and pasta.  See one of my delicious spiralised meals here.

Photos of healthy lifestyle aids
My favourite healthy lifestyle tools/gadgets

10.  ActiFry (Air Fryer) – This is probably my most expensive healthy eating investment.  It has transformed my cooking life, allowing me and my family to enjoy healthy fried food.  Chicken, meat, vegetables, chips, if you love fried food, you’ll love the ActiFry.  It uses hot air to cook the food with a minimal amount of oil.  It comes with a small recipe booklet which gives ideas of the dishes that can be prepared and there is also a recipe app available for mobile devices.  In my opinion, a brilliant invention that is kind to the waistline.  See one of my tasty ActiFry meals here.

So there you have it, these are the goodies I have filling my healthy lifestyle stockings.  What will you have filling yours?

CC – A healthy life and me on the road

So it’s summer and a lot of people are thinking about heading off on summer holidays to places near and far, or enjoying an increasingly popular ‘staycation’.  Holidays are one of the occasions that people use as a target deadline for getting into shape and weight loss, especially if the holiday involves peeling off the layers of baggy clothes worn throughout most of the year and showing a bit more of our skin and body.

As I prepare to go off on my summer holidays, things are a little different this year.  I’ve been away for the summer before, which usually meant over indulging on local delicacies, fast food, ice cream, alcoholic drinks and lots of lazing around.  My way of thinking was that I’m on holiday so I could let loose and slip back into my old unhealthy habits, forget about weight loss,  it didn’t matter if I put on weight.  In previous years I’ve returned home to find that I had gained 13lbs, on another occasion it was 9lbs.  This additional weight would come off once I’d got back to normal, eating sensibly and exercising, but the weight would take twice as long to come off as it did to go on.  During my last long abroad I found that quickly got tired of the high fat and sugar food I was eating.  I longed for the home cooked dishes I’ve become accustomed to eating, so much so that I wrote a list and meal plan of what I was going to eat when I got home.

This year I have a different mindset.  Something has finally clicked in my head and even though I’m going to be in a different country, I know that I’m still the one who is in control of what I eat and what I do.  What I love and prefer to eat most has finally become the healthy option. Fortunately for me, this is a self catering holiday.  I’m doing my own food shopping and cooking.  The knowledge and experience I’ve gained over the years will help me to make healthier choices.  Things might be a bit different if I was staying at an all-inclusive resort for a couple of weeks.

Don’t get me wrong, life doesn’t revolve around weight loss.  I’m certainly not saying that I’m going to deny myself the pleasure of enjoying my absolute favourites of what the local culture has to offer, but the portion sizes will be controlled.  And once I’ve had it, that will be enough to satisfy me.  Quite often it is the memory of a particular food or drink that makes it so appealing.

Now that I’ve incorporated activity and exercise into my lifestyle, my attitude to just leaving that behind when I step on the plane has also changed.  My Fitbit will be accompanying me on this trip and I’ll be getting out and about to make sure I get those flashing lights and wrist vibrations by hitting my daily Fitbit target.   I’m a tourist at heart, which goes well with subconsciously racking up steps while seeing the sights.

There’s a lovely beach where I’m staying with a long stretch of sandy shoreline.  An idyllic setting to make footprints in the sand and walk to the sound of the waves lapping at the shore. Followed by a cool refreshing swim in the sea.  I’ve found my paradise where I can relax, refresh and revitalise, mind, body and spirit.

CC exercising while on the beach on holiday
My holiday walking track

To be honest, this all sounds really quite amazing to me, I never imagined that my way of thinking would change this much.  It has taken several years for me to reach this place in my life, but now that I am here, it feels right.  Going into a situation with a plan, gives me a sense of control.  Even if things don’t always go according to plan all the time, I can be flexible enough to make adjustments when I need to. Going on holiday has always been a major challenge to my lifestyle change, this year it is one that I fully intend to conquer.