How to tame the sugar beast

I’m now pretty easily maintaining a weight that used to be my low in my yo-yo dieting routine, and I put that down in part to the lack of baking habit and the conscious avoidance of cakes and biscuits. I stick to the sugar in my coffee in the morning and the occasional dark hot cocoa in the evening as well as fruits during the day but other than that these days it’s rare that I eat anything with a lot of processed sugar. Sadly I can see and feel the benefit of this prohibition quite easily.

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I maintain this weight even though I eat take out once, sometimes twice in a week. I maintain this weight even though we rely on the fryer in this house far too often. I maintain this weight even though I enjoy a good fresh ciabatta from the market sometimes and a glass or two of red wine sometimes too many days in the week. On the one hand I kind of miss my chocolate brownies or at least the freedom to eat them, on the other hand because I’m not eating them I’m not craving them which is such a bonus.

When I get my coffee at the local coffee shop in the mornings I no longer salivate at the cakes and croissants on display like I used to. That pile of chocolate in my fridge doesn’t tempt me and neither do the chocolate digestives on the door. I’m no longer constantly dreaming of the treats I can bake and take to work with me. Having a tray of chocolate chip cookies at your desk while you sit at a computer all day is one of the worst things in the world when you have a hard time maintaining a reasonable weight. It is for me anyway.

Beast Within Me by Piedra

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When I eat one cookie, or brownie or cupcake an evil demon arrives to convince me that there is no good reason not to have another. Its not that bad for you, it’s not that calorific, there’s no reason you can’t just have one more. Over and over again. I can remember a time, at work, when I ate 400 calorie brownies all day until they were gone. Another time at home I ate tiny slices of this delicious cinnamon swirl pumpkin cake all day until it was gone, each slice was intended to be the last. That must have been 1500 calories! The beast is addiction and if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past six years of paying attention to diet and how my body reacts it’s that I am highly susceptible to sugar addiction.

In the past year and a half or so I’ve been stricter with myself and I hold to one in a day, occasionally I’ll have a second, but not every day. In the past two or three months, I’ve been abstaining completely except on special occasions. Last week I made cupcakes for dinner guests and I had one, was unhappy with how it made me feel and didn’t have another even though they sat in my kitchen for a week. My poor husband had to eat them all himself.

I’ve done it many times so here’s how I tame the beast and cut out sugar.

  1. Don’t worry about calories right now just cut the big culprits like cakes, chocolate bars and sweets.
  2. Eat as much fruit as you need at first to satisfy those cravings. Its doesn’t but it helps.
  3. Do eat lean protein and veg heavy meals
  4. Stay away from energy bars, cereal bars and other candy masquerading as health food.
  5. Drink lots of water.
  6. Get lots of sleep.

I find it takes me about three to five days but everyone is different. I’ve heard for some people it can take significantly longer than that, others just a day or two. And of course some people never get addicted to sugar at all. I don’t know, takes all kinds I guess.

Are you a sugar addict too? Have you been through the detox process or do you want to? Let me know about it.

 

I’m not afraid of the F-word but some feminists should STFU

I started the research for this post intending to respond to Laci Green’s new video about Feminism. She’s says feminism is nothing more than wanting equality so why are so many women against it? I do get her point, its why I indeed identify as a feminist myself. I think women and men should be equal, obviously. However, I also understand why some women are a little pissed off with “feminists” because frankly some of them are not doing the cause any justice. Fair point Laci that there are extremists in every group, although where was that rationale when feminists were deciding the actions of a very troubled misogynist who went postal were from some great hive mind of men? Why is it that extreme feminists are just extremists but misogynist serial killers are a problem men need to deal with?

I obviously had trouble with the aftermath of that fiasco, including #yesallwomen, because sorry I don’t give out a fake phone number because I’m afraid of being murdered. I just don’t really know how to deal with a disappointed person in front of me. I don’t live my life in fear of being raped or murdered. I do try to live safely, as does my husband. There are indeed some real dickheads out there that will capitalise on any weakness whether that is a guy that they see as weaker or a woman they see as weaker. And it seems to me via this Wikipedia page (admittedly not solidly conclusive) that if 90% of murderers are men and 76.8% of murder victims are men that men kill more men than they do women. So, no, I do not feel like a sitting duck because I’m a woman.

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I’ve also had trouble with feminists devaluing my decision to breastfeed my children, or even have my children at all in fact. Certainly, putting my children first is not a popular decision when it comes to feminists. There’s a very real feeling of judgement (which I’ll prove in a minute) that if you aren’t trying to climb to the top of the corporate ladder you’re just no good to the feminist movement, and so no good for women at all. There’s this Amy Glass piece which demonstrates the presence of the idea that actually women who stay at home with their children are practically worthless. Stay at home mothers are average apparently and we all must be striving for exceptional (or else why not just kill ourselves I guess).  Lets not pretend it’s not what a huge number of feminist women believe but are afraid to say (out loud to the wrong people). That’s why she chose to use a psudonym; not so much to innocently “provoke conversation” but because she knew that it would do just that rather than merely create a one way backlash. She was purposefully antagonistic, she admits, but the sentiment is not uncommon. Clearly.

This is wrong. The feminist movement was about creating opportunity and choice both legally and culturally for women. We are closer to that reality today, however because the economy is crap and most people still can’t choose whether they want to work or stay home we’re not there yet. Most people, men and women, have to work. Culturally no one wins, everyone is judged no matter what they do, except of course men who go out to work full time. Women who don’t have kids are judged. Women who have kids and stay home are judged. Women who have kids and go out to work full time are judged. And also, women who have kids and work part time are judged almost as harshly as the stay at home mothers. Lastly, don’t forget that men who stay home with their kids are judged as well. (They can’t be real men can they?) No one is free from judgement and ironically everyone who judges these people are the ones doing society and equality itself further injustice. Even the feminists who think they are just trying to pressure women into making the right choices are fucking up any chance at real equality. We cannot be equal and free unless we are actually free to make whatever choice with our lives we want. Not just legally but socially. Feminists of the 60′s knew this.

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This particular article on Feministe spent an entire paragraph explaining how she judges men and so as she said, “…yes, women’s life choices are up for judgment.”   What she is missing throughout is that paid work and career is not the only valuable activity in life. Just because women have been having babies and raising them for millenia doesn’t mean that it holds no merit for the modern woman. That is up to us to decide! She says it herself  “Corporate achievement in a capitalist society is of course not the only marker of success. But in our society, where we live now, money and success mean influence and power. And women have very little influence and power.” So, to her the answer is to bully women into meaningful careers whether they want one or not, instead of bullying the system into actually serving it’s citizens. Never mind what that means to the children, or even the adults they will become.

What people like this author don’t understand is that by sticking with the current patriarchal rules and just trying to fit ourselves into them we are not freeing anyone at all but instead enslaving everyone even further. Feminists like this are little different from the Fox News conservative who only value people in paid employment. As this Guardian article puts it, the second wave feminists have become capitalism’s handmaiden. The current neo-liberal, capitalist system is inherently unequal to everyone of any race, gender, sex, religion, nationality, and profession. Income inequality is rising, as everyone knows, and trying to bully everyone into work and their kids into childcare pushes us all further into the wage slave rabbit hole. If you really wanted to fight inequality, you would fight for real equality. You would want to see everyone respected for their choice whether that was a stay at home mother or a stay at home father or a working parent or (gasp) a childless couple where one chooses to stay home. You would fight for workplace policies that mean that both parents can work part time if they want and you would fight for that to be normal. You would fight for Universal Basic Income even though that would mean women with small children might choose not to work.

I found an absolute genius feminist at a blog called blue milk who said: “…as feminists, we are too often pandering to a neoliberal viewpoint that ultimately devalues care work and sees women acquiring legitimacy only through marketplace transactions.” She’s right, and I can hear the feminists now getting all pissy at the idea that women should just stick with care work. I didn’t say that and neither did blue milk. I certainly don’t think it either, but the fact is that its quite common for a woman to decide once she has them that her children are more important than anything else in this world and she wants to care for them above all else. One might even say it’s natural, maybe something that needs to be worked around rather than bashed repeatedly hoping it will go away.

Again you can read the blue milk piece here, I highly recommend it.

Half way to my nutrition diploma!

I am now half way through my diploma course in Nutrition, which is awesome. I happened to see a Groupon for this course with Shaw Academy and jumped at the chance for a couple of reasons. One, I’ve been self-studying this stuff for years and I kind of want to prove that I know what I’m talking about. Two, I have for a long time wanted to help people in their weight loss efforts. I’ve had a hard time myself so I totally understand the epic struggle it can be but I see people making so many mistakes and never really feel like it’s up to me to tell them. I still won’t interject where my opinion is unwanted, but I will be able to tell people that I can help; I’m not just another girl with an opinion based on an article I read in a magazine.

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Image  credit

So far, not much has surprised me in this course, except for just how bad for you alcohol is. But that must be very large amounts right? Right. As I said I’m half way through and it’s no big deal because it’s mostly all just a memory refresh. I will revise for the exam at the end, just to make sure I pass as well as possible, but I’m not at all worried or nervous about it. I’ve definitely had a good refresh though and I thought I’d go through where I see I can make improvements in my diet. You may have similar issues.

  1. I could eat more fish. I’ve known this for years. The guidelines state that you should have fish twice a week and one of those should be oily fish for it’s heart protective effects. Ick. Trout, mackerel sardines, and salmon are all examples of shit I don’t want to eat. I’ve been taking fish oil pills for years for this reason.
  2. Eat more fibre. I used to track this but haven’t for years now. I don’t think I do too badly really but I should remember to choose my black bean stews and lentil soups more often. I love these but extra cooking is such a chore at the moment with the two little ones.
  3. Increase my iron intake. I’m pretty sure that I’m iron deficient most of the time. I should go out and grab a supplement to take daily. Maybe I’ll stop craving beef all time.
  4. Water. I’m quite good at drinking enough water when I’m at my desk at work but at home chasing kids around I just forget. This is not an excuse; it’s so so important to get enough water, for everything from feeling fuller longer to higher energy levels. Oh yeah and proper body functioning too.
  5. Fruit and veg. I’m pretty good about eating my 5 a day actually but there is always room for improvement on this one, unless you are literally a rabbit
  6. Sugar. I’ve gotten into a bad habit recently putting sugar in my coffee in the morning. It’s so hard to get away from because it’s so much tastier! Besides that I’ve been mega good about avoiding unnecessary sweet treats like brownies, cakes and sweets.

All these are in addition to the very obvious things like I eat too much processed ready meals, probably too many processed carbs, and rely on the fryer too much. This is all for convenience sake, and will change once both my kids are out of the toddler and preschool phases and everyday is less like an assault course.  The current daily priority is just getting through the day!

What kind of changes do you think you should make to your diet?

 

Oreo Caramel Cheesecake (Ice Cream!)

So, I do like to talk about working out and eating right, I think it’s very important, but it’s summer and everyone needs something to make for guests or something to bring when they are a guest. I do NOT suggest you eat this whole thing. You could always just have a fruit salad, that would be the healthy responsible thing to do, but its not nearly as good as this! Sometimes we just have to be naughty. BTW, I really wanted to make this peanut butter instead of (or in addition to!) the caramel but I don’t think that very many people where this was going would have been into that as much. I, as an American, am completely addicted to peanut butter and chocolate desserts. If you want me to, I will experiment with and report back on that idea!

Edit: This cheesecake did not set! Don’t make this as is, you’ll be as disappointed as I was.

Oreo Caramel Cheesecake

Based on the BBC no-bake cheesecake here.

400 grams of full fat Philadelphia cream cheese

300 grams of mascarpone cheese

200 grams of icing sugar

1 vanilla bean (or 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract)

1 can of Carnation caramel

For the base:

200 grams of Oreo biscuits

75 grams of butter

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Method:

Mash up the oreos really well. I put them in a bag and used a roller but that didn’t work as well as it does when it’s digestives. I had to then pour them into a bowl and just mash them up with the back of a measuring cup. It was a bit of work.

Melt the butter. Don’t let it explode all over the microwave like it always does to me!

Combine the crushed oreos and some of the melted butter, you won’t need it all. I didn’t. Dump it in your buttered and papered 9 inch springform pan (I told you that part right? Oh. Sorry! Good thing you read through the whole thing first!) and pat it all down nice and neat. Throw it carefully into the fridge for a bit.

With a mixer, combine the cheeses and the scraped out seeds of the vanilla bean, well. Add two or three Tablespoons of the caramel into the cheese mixture and mix some more.

Sift a little bit of the sugar at a time into the mixture and mix thoroughly before putting the mixer on it (just to save you from a big mess). Once it’s all mixed turn the mixer to medium high and mix for a few minutes more.

Get the base out and pour the mixure on top, even it all out and pop it back into the fridge for apparently at least 4 hours. I went to bed so it was like 8 or 10.

Put the remaining caramel into a squeeze bottle (you have one right? No? Just drizzle it on then.) and squeeze out a cool effortless drizzle design over the top. Do your best.

You can melt 100 grams of chocolate and drizzle that too like I did. Yum!

EDIT: This cheesecake did not set. I would suggest you add some gelatine leaves. Instead I blended it up into a thick shake (which tasted amazing) and then put it into an ice cream maker. Sadly I didn’t get to try any because we brought it to a family member’s barbecue and chased my kids around and then left exhausted. I’ll probably try it again though, because seriously, Caramal Oreo Cheesecake ICE CREAM!?

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Window shopping

Asos is having a 50% off sale and they keep hounding me everywhere I go to tell me about it so I thought I’d share my favorite dresses from my window shopping trip. These are all £20 or under! I paired them all with accessories from Iridescence.co.uk.

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Leopard print glamorous dress Of course the first thing to catch my eye is going to be leopard print. I am well and truly addicted, I don’t know why but I don’t see any reason to fight it either! I think a great addition would be this vintage heart necklace.

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Glamorous print dress I love the print on this one. Baroque and damask are some of my favorite designs to see on anything. The print on this one is a good size too; if its too small you can barely see it and then what’s the point? The vintage heart cuff is one of my absolute favorites (you may remember it) and the drop earrings too

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Baroque jumper dress Again, great print and it’s front and centre. I really like the simple, relaxed shape too. Its not for everyone or every day but sometimes that’s what I want. I can see this being my “I’m tired and grumpy but don’t want to look like it” outfit, mostly because it doesn’t expect anything from you. You know what I mean right? Some dresses demand you to be present and attending in a way that this one just doesn’t. It says to me “you just relax and I’ll charm everyone for you”. I didn’t want to go overboard so thought that the silver heart ring would be a lovely simple addition.

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Influence pink floral print dress This one is just so cool! Its neon pink, a simple t-shirt shape so another chilled out day dress and the print on it is so pretty! I love that the dress is pink and the flowers are black and white instead of the more traditional other way around! The silver vintage bracelet would certainly be a gorgeous addition to this dress!

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Butterfly leopard print dress Another leopard print skater dress, but this one has butterfly silhouettes overlayed which is quite unique, much like this jeweled butterfly pendant!

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Flower print jersey dress This just looks like a great everyday type dress. It’s versatile enough to wear with flats or chunky shoes in the daytime or all dressed up with heels and jewelry at night. I can see lots of mileage out of this one! I’ve paired it with this silver bead necklace for a nice, relaxed look.

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Glam skater dress Do I need to say anything? This dress has a great shape, a great design, it’s just lovely. Would go with these vintage drop earrings quite nicely too.

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Printed shift dress with zip detail This is the first of the Blue Vanilla dresses that I fell in love with during this session. Really interesting print, short sleeves, really relaxed looking to me. The simple square stone earrings won’t over power the dress which is strong enough on it’s own isn’t it?

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Blue vanilla shift dress  I just love this. I’m not usually one for collar and cuffs but the design is so intriguing! The blue ornate ring is a great match and would go with so much more than just this dress don’t you think?

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Blue vanilla orange shift dress And now I’m hooked; I really like the collar and cuffs by this point. Orange is one of my favorite colors, I think it’s under rated and this dress shows why! And how about this angel wings ring to go alongside?

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Blue vanilla shift dress I just love the pattern here. I had to stop at this point because I basically just loved all the Blue Vanilla geometric print dresses. All of them! Like the other Blue Vanilla dresses, I didn’t want to add too much but this peacock ring is exquisite isn’t it?

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Leather look skater dress I do love the edginess of a leather look skater dress. I love that you can soften it with accessories, like this pink floral Iridescence necklace, or not as you please. I’m not sure I could pull it off at the moment but I love it all the same.

So what do you think, which is your favorite?

Limited time offer: Leopard print, glitter and more!

So as I said in the last post, now I have this stuff I’ve found that I want to share with you so even though I’m not ready to open a shop I’m going to make it available anyway. Between now and next Monday, 7 July, if I get enough people to order 15 pieces of the following items I’ll get them out to you. If we don’t get that many orders then nothing gets sold, so if you want something make sure you let me know and share this with other people who might want something too.

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Each item is £10 but again only if I get the orders. I can do this because I don’t actually have the cost of a web shop, but I do need to bulk order.

1 – Oversized skull tee

2 – Glitter panel leggings

3 – Leopard print skinny trousers

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4 – Pink t-shirt dress

5 – Multicoloured tunic

6 – Black t-shirt dress (limited sizes available already)

Again each item will be £10 between now and next Monday. If you or someone you know lives in Norwich we can probably figure out a convenient time and place to get them to you to avoid shipping costs, otherwise expect something like £2 – 4.00 depending on how many things you want. You don’t have to pay until Monday, and of course that’s only if we get enough orders. Just see my Facebook page and let me know in the pinned post what you want. Please feel free to tag people who may be interested and/or share the Facebook post, or this one.

Life’s been hard

For weeks now, if not months, I’ve been planning to open a web shop. Partly I’d like it to help support my t-shirt design plans, but also I never wanted to stick with t-shirts anyway. True to form, I don’t dream small, I want to try everything! I’ve been planning this shop, in which I want to have quirky and sometimes trendy items of women’s clothing, I’ve been sourcing suppliers and trying to figure out how to create the website, and all the other plans that go along with putting a web shop business together. There’s a lot to think about.

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I love this stuff though, if I could make a living just helping people with their start up plans I would be a happy lady I think. However I am not a happy lady all the time because I have no time to do this and I find it such a constant stress. I work in an office 24 hours a week, come home to two small girls who need a mum, there’s at least a bare minimum of housework that needs doing of course, a husband and don’t forget my own mental health because sometimes its crying out for a break too. My 15 month old has been terrible about going to bed the past few weeks, she takes from one to two and a half hours and believe me that takes its toll on a persons resilience. It’s hard to come downstairs after that epic ready for a new challenge. Usually I feel down, depressed and exhausted. Last night I realised that quite clearly this is not the time to start an online shop that’s open 24/7.  I’m not sure I could keep up if it went well and I am really quite passionate about customer service. I used to be a restaurant server back home (as well as a restaurant owner for a short time) and my pay depended on good service so its practically in my blood now.

HOWEVER, I now have this stuff I’ve found that I want to share with you so what am I supposed to do?

I’ll tell you what I’m going to do; I’m going to make it available anyway, just not in the way that a shop would. Between now and next Monday, 7 July, if I get enough people to order 15 pieces of the following items (any combination) I’ll get them out to you. If we don’t get that many orders then nothing gets sold, so if you want something make sure you let me know and share this with other people who might want something.

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These three items above I have as I ordered them as a test and in all honesty I love them all. The skull shirt is a wide, oversized, comfy and soft t-shirt. The glitter panel leggings are nice and comfy as well; I’m between a 12 and 14 so ordered a large and I think I could have gotten away with a medium really. The leopard print trousers are like stretchy skinny jeans and I love them.

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Then we have the further selections which I don’t have:

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I don’t have these but I want to so thought some of you might too. If you’re interested see the next post and then my Facebook page to let me know what you want.

I have not been great about keeping up with the challenge, but I’ll get back to it asap and report back to you later.