Weeks 14 & 15 walking progress

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Snowdonia National Park

Week 14 walking progress:

  • Total for week 14 = 43 miles
  • Average per day for this week (43 / 7) = 6.14
  • Running total = 408 + 43 = 451 miles
  • Miles left to walk in 2018 (1050 – 451) = 599

Another super effort! 10.5 tough miles were achieved by climbing to the summit of Carnedd Llewelyn, the second highest mountain in Wales. And on Easter Monday I did a 15 mile walk in the Chilterns which boosted this weeks’ total.

 

Week 15 walking progress:

  • Total for week 14 = 43 miles
  • Average per day for this week (43 / 7) = 6.14
  • Running total = 451 + 43 = 494 miles
  • Miles left to walk in 2018 (1050 – 494) = 556

Oddly the same total for weeks’ 14 and 15 but very different miles walked! Most of week 15’s miles were walked in and around my local town including a walk that Chris and I did to a local village pub and back… it took slightly longer to walk back…

 

 

 

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Vegan progress…

Mid month update…

A last minute change of plan on 1st April, Easter Sunday, meant we didn’t go to visit my in-laws and I was able to stick to my first day as a vegan. After the promise of an aubergine and chickpea curry, I decided to cook a vegan curry in any case. I used vegan curry paste, vegan Bouillon, coconut milk, sweet potato, chick peas, cauliflower and peas and made enough for 2 nights. It was delicious!

Typical vegan breakfasts have consisted of: Alpro yogurt with grapes, blueberries and organic muesli. Or sometimes organic muesli or porridge with oat milk.

Lunches are often home made vegan soups or vegan soups from Pret. Or peanut butter or hummus with pitta bread.

I’m using oat milk in coffee or having black coffee and drinking fruit teas rather than black tea.

Dinners are often vegetable curries or something like spaghetti bolognaise made with quorn and vegan sauce and spaghetti.

I nearly forgot last night as I popped a pizza in the oven… then suddenly remembered the cheese! This meant that Chris had the pizza and I had the falafels and vegetable samosas!

So generally it is easy to stick with a vegan diet while at home… going away is a slightly different matter…

Work trip

I had a recent work trip and decided to mention to my colleagues that I was following a vegan diet. This meant that every time we had some food they were helping me to choose saying ‘Oh… you can have this… or that…’ which was fine! And I tend to do the same with my vegan daughter Zoe…

Breakfast in the Premier Inn was good with fruit, muesli, baked beans, tomato and hash browns.

The M & S lunch was a little disappointing… the only option I could find was a single choice of a pre-packed vegan salad…

Snowdonia weekend

I decided on this occasion not to mention to this particular group of friends that I was doing a vegan month. I wanted to find if I could do it without anyone noticing…

En-route: Starbucks cappuccino with coconut milk (delicious)

Coffee shop lunch: hummus with bread and fruit tea

Evening meal: Shepherdess pie made with lentils. This was actually the vegetarian option but it seemed the closest to being vegan. There was probably a small amount of butter in the mashed potato but I didn’t want to make a big deal of it.

Breakfast: there was no milk substitute available so I put orange juice on my muesli! On the second day I had porridge and requested it was made with soya milk which fortunately they had.

On the way home from Snowdonia I stayed in a different hotel where I had a delicious vegetarian chickpea and spinach jalfrezi. There was nothing vegan on the menu but I think this was made with coconut milk… I didn’t want to ask the in’s and out’s of the ingredients.

There was no fruit available for breakfast and the only vegan option I could find was beans on toast! I was tempted by a poached egg but resisted… if I’m going to try veganism for a month I need to do it properly and not be tempted by such an obvious animal product.

This weekend made me start to think there are different levels of veganism and that being vegan doesn’t mean the same thing for everyone. I’m classing myself as a ‘light touch’ vegan by choosing zero animal products as far as possible but not to the extent of examining all ingredients every time I go out for a meal.

A ‘hard core’ vegan would be strict and would ensure that absolutely no animal products are used in the production of their food.

I had an interesting conversation recently where, during a discussion about vegetarianism and veganism, a friend, defending the steak they had just consumed said “you have to enjoy your life”. I’ve found that you can enjoy your life without eating animal products. It seemed unfair that an intelligent animal such as a cow has to lose its life just to enable a human to enjoy eating them when there are other options available. Why do we humans seem to think we’re entitled to ‘make use of’ and eat other animals when we don’t need to?

Just a thought…

 

 

Week 13 walking progress

Week 13 walking progress:

  • Total for week 13 = 40 miles
  • Average per day for this week (40 / 7) = 5.71
  • Running total = 368 + 40 = 408 miles
  • Miles left to walk in 2018 (1050 – 408) = 642

So, the first three months, or 25% of 2018 has gone already and I’ve achieved over 50% of my target for the year. This means I have been walking over twice as many miles on average each day to meet my target of 1050 miles.

I seem to be walking more and more miles each week which I think is partly because I am recording them in this blog. Counting them up and putting updates on here is inspiring me to walk even more…

I’ve got a big 16 miler coming up tomorrow, Bank Holiday Monday, with a semi-local walking club that I haven’t walked with before. I’ll be exploring the rolling hills of the Chilterns with 20 other people I haven’t met. It’s like a mini, or micro adventure!

The great thing about these walking groups is that you also get to meet loads of interesting people and even though the weather forecast is for rain tomorrow, walking 16 miles with random strangers is better than sitting on the sofa!

 

 

April weigh-in

Starting weight: 10 st 3 lb

January weight: 9 st 10 lb

February weight: 9 st 0 lb (weight on 1st Feb would have been around 9 st 4 lb)

March weight: 8 st 12 lb

April weight: 8 st 7 lb (119 lbs or 54 kg)

Total weight loss: 24 lbs

I’ve gone quite a bit under my original 2018 target weight of 9 stones! The recommended weight for a 50 year old medium build 5′ 3″ woman is actually 8 st 10 lb so I’m slightly under the ‘normal’ weight for my height. I’m happy with this and would like to be able to keep my weight at around 8 st 7 lb rather than 9 st. The reason I originally set my target at 9 st was because I didn’t think I would be able to get below that weight!

Yesterday I sorted through my clothes and was delighted to find a size 10 holiday skirt which fitted beautifully! I haven’t been able to wear this for a few years and thankfully its one that never really goes out of fashion.

I’m consuming around 1200  – 1300 calories a day and still doing a huge amount of exercise most days. I’m anxious not to regain any of this weight and concerned that if I indulge in chocolate or cakes that I will lose my focus and the weight will pile on again…

A typical week of exercise for me at the moment is:

  • Mon: walk 5.25 miles to the station and back; spend an hour at the gym (700 calories burned)
  • Tue: work at home and go swimming at lunchtime (400 calories burned)
  • Wed: work at home and go swimming at lunchtime (400 calories burned)
  • Thu: walk to and from station and hour at gym (700 calories)
  • Fri: as above (700 calories)
  • Sat: walk around my local town (300 calories)
  • Sun: walk with a local walking club (750 calories)

This is more exercise than I’ve ever done so I’m probably fitter now than I was 10 or even 20 years ago!

A typical day of eating goes something like this:

  • Breakfast: a small bowl of bircher muesli with oat milk (300 calories)
  • Snack: banana (100 calories)
  • Lunch: Vegetarian soup from Pret (200 calories)
  • Snack: grapes/mixed nuts (200 calories)
  • Dinner: Sweet potato curry (400 calories)
  • Coffee: (100 calories)

The calories are estimated and rounded to the nearest 100!

Having received some helpful advice from my best friend (who is the same height as me and has had a similar yo-yo diet pattern over the years), in order to try and maintain my current weight I am going to do the following:

  • Stick to around 1200 calories a day during weekdays
  • Continue doing lots of exercise each day
  • Have treats and eat more at the weekends

And monitor my weight each week to keep a check and ensure it doesn’t start creeping upwards again!

Today I start my vegan month

 

 

Vegapril starts tomorrow

“The number of vegans in Britain has risen by 360% in 10 years” says the Daily Telegraph.

This means that over half a million people or over 1% of the UK population has turned to a vegan diet, a choice more popular with the younger generation. The Telegraph suggests the main factors driving this trend are healthy eating and a growing awareness about the way animals are farmed.

My month as a vegan is starting tomorrow, 1st April which also happens to be Easter Sunday. And happens to coincide with a visit to my elderly parents-in-law.

My in-laws live in Norfolk which is a two hour drive and means we don’t get to see them as often as we would if they lived closer. So when we visit they usually book up a restaurant and the four of us go out for dinner which saves them any work and we can maximise the time we have with them.

Unfortunately my father-in-law hasn’t been too well and isn’t feeling up to going out so my mother-in-law is going to cook for us. She has kindly offered to cook a chickpea and aubergine curry which sounds delicious. However, with my father-in-law being unwell I don’t want to give her anything else to have to think about. So I haven’t actually told her that I am starting a vegan month…

Similar to my thoughts as mentioned when I started my March vegetarian month, I don’t like to put people to any trouble, particularly as she is elderly and cooking for us and looking after my father-in-law.

Lets see how things go tomorrow…

In addition, I’ve just checked on the wine situation for vegans. Apparently most wine does contain small amounts of animal by-products. I’m not sure I want to give up wine as well for a month so on the basis I only usually have about 3 – 4 glasses of red wine a week, I’ll continue to drink the odd glass of wine on my vegan month but will make a point of seeking out vegan wine.

I’ve been having oat milk on my breakfast cereal for over a year and I now prefer this to cows milk. The only milk I do have is in coffee which means I’ll need to drink black coffee from tomorrow. I think I’ll miss having milk in my coffee…

I’m going to try my best to follow a vegan diet by removing all meat, fish, dairy and eggs and will try to substitute these for healthy options where possible. And the odd glass of wine…

And I’ve discovered that vegans eat dark chocolate! Hurrah!

 

 

Conclusion on a vegetarian lifestyle

Today is the final day of my month as a vegetarian and tomorrow I switch to vegan.

I’ve spent the whole of March on a diet which has excluded all meat and fish products which according to the Vegetarian Society is a lacto-ovo vegetarian diet. This is the term used for vegetarians who eat dairy products and is the most common type of vegetarian.

Firstly I can say I found it very easy to lead a vegetarian lifestyle which is probably because my husband has been a pescatarian for a number of years, that is, someone who doesn’t eat meat but who does eat fish. He also occasionally has chicken but it has to be free-range organic chicken.

Rather than cooking separate meals, I’ve also tended to follow this diet too. So the main difference has been the lack of fish or chicken for a month.

As I mentioned in the previous ‘mid month‘ update, our dinners have contained meat substitutes such as Quorn which I still have mixed feelings about due to it being processed. Also, if you substitute lean meat such as chicken or turkey for say a cheese flan or cheese pasty, this has to be the more unhealthy choice too.

My conclusion?

In my view a vegetarian diet is easy to follow although, unless you limit the processed meat substitutes, cheese and pastry, I can’t really see the health benefits.

In addition, I would think there is greater suffering for cows if you consume larger amounts of cheese and milk. Rather than being slaughtered at a young age, cows have to go through multiple pregnancies throughout their lives to meet the demand for human consumption of their milk. So which is worse?

As mentioned, I’m starting ‘Vegapril’ (instead of Veganuary) tomorrow to experience a month as a vegan. Although the increase in people choosing a vegan lifestyle is rapidly increasing, I’m anticipating a few more challenges…

 

 

Meditation course booked!

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Now that I’ve reached 50 years of age I’m working hard on improving my physical health however I do realise its just as important to consider the health of your mind too.

I’ve read the odd book on mindfulness and spirituality including the brilliant ‘The Power of Now‘ by Eckhart Tolle, a book I had to read more than once just to get my head around it. Tolle explains the only way to live your life is in the present moment rather than worrying about the past (which has gone) or the future (which isn’t here yet). This makes perfect sense although is sometimes easier said than done!

Especially the future bit… your future is to a certain extent determined by what and how you plan for today… if you drift through your life and don’t plan anything, things tend not to happen. Nobody knocks on your door and produces a life for you and I’m a firm believer that you create your own luck and create your own happiness in life. Which requires thinking about the future…

Anyway… back to the point before I start over-thinking… I did experience a touch of mind calming and a couple of minutes of meditation while doing yoga classes recently in the Maldives but have never participated in ‘proper’ meditation sessions…

Well… Chris (my husband) and I have just booked a 6 week course of weekly beginners meditation sessions to start after Easter! I’m quite intrigued as I’m not really sure what to expect…

I’ll post updates in due course…

UPDATE: Sadly the meditation course was cancelled due to lack of participants… will search for another one…

 

 

 

Week 12 walking progress

Week 12 walking progress:

  • Total for week 12 = 52 miles
  • Average per day for this week (52 / 7) = 7.43
  • Running total = 316 + 52 = 368 miles
  • Miles left to walk in 2018 (1050 – 368) = 682

Wow! Massive effort this week! Am I becoming obsessed? I’ve been in the office 4 times this week which, given that I walk over 5 miles a day (to and from stations as the walking element of my commute) every time I go into London to work, this has pushed things up a it.

In addition, I decided to walk through Central London instead of getting the tube during the working day (on top of the daily London trek from and to the station). For example its nearly 2 miles from one of our Central London offices to another one. And meeting my daughter in the West End after work racked up another couple of miles. So one day I actually walked 14 miles just by not taking the tube! (And burned off a huge 1200 extra calories too)

And on Sunday I did 12 miles with my local walking club…

Posting these updates every week or two is certainly helping to keep me motivated and look for ways of walking extra miles!

 

 

Week 11 walking progress

Week 11 walking progress:

  • Total for week 11 = 39 miles
  • Average per day for this week (37 / 7) = 5.57
  • Running total = 277 + 39 = 316 miles
  • Miles left to walk in 2018 (1050 – 316) = 734

Throughout the last couple of weeks I’ve been making a really conscious effort to push up my walking mileage. This has included going for a short walk at lunchtime (when in the office) and putting extra miles in while at the gym. I’ve now started to include the extra gym miles in my weekly total. I’ve also been walking ‘the long way round’ for example when walking to the Post Office just to add more miles.

We’ve had yet more snow in the UK throughout the last weekend meaning another snowy walk on Sunday. This time we went walking with a few friends before going back to theirs for a warm bowl of chilli. We’ve had more snow than usual this winter and I’m looking forward to spring time!

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Weekend walking with friends

 

 

Update: being a veggie

We are nearly half way through March, my month of being a vegetarian… and, so far so good… I’ve found it relatively straightforward to stick to a fully vegetarian diet which excluded fish too.

Breakfast is easy as I usually have either bircher muesli (although I buy this in packets rather than making it myself) with *oat milk, or eggs or Alpro yogurt with fruit.

*I’ve cut down significantly on milk throughout the last year or so with animal welfare in mind. I started to consider the sad lives of mummy cows who have to spend their lives being pregnant and saying goodbye to their calves shortly after giving birth just so humans can consume their milk. When there are plant based alternatives to milk, it seems unnecessary and unnatural that we humans are consuming a product meant for baby cows…

Lunch has also been easy! When working at home I usually have some kind of vegetable soup, usually either broccoli and stilton or carrot and ginger. Or maybe hummus with pitta bread. When I’m working in the office I pop over to Pret where they have a delicious range of clearly marked vegetarian and vegan options.

Dinner, I have mixed feelings about… firstly, most restaurants in the UK have vegetarian options which is OK if you don’t mind a somewhat limited menu. We had dinner in a local pub last night which was great as I had a delicious vegetarian chilli which was made with a range of chopped fresh vegetables so was also a healthy choice.

Other times, the vegetarian part of the menu includes things like: feta cheese tart; cheese risotto or a cheese based pasta. I’m not keen on too many white carbs and from a health perspective, I still would prefer something like grilled fish and vegetables.

At home, I’ve been using Quorn as a meat substitute rather a lot. For example, last week I made quorn shepherds pie, quorn stir fry and sweet potato curry with quorn instead of chicken. Quorn is a brand which prides itself on being a healthy protein option which uses something called Mycoprotein. This is derived from some kind of fungus which I would think has to go through a great deal of processing for it to look like minced beef or chicken.

At the moment, I am thinking my current vegetarian diet isn’t quite as healthy as the diet I had previously followed, i.e. occasionally having free range chicken and having quite a lot of fish.

Perhaps I need to find some more creative vegetarian dinners to cook throughout the rest of March? Sainsbury’s sell ‘mushroom mince’ which is simply mushrooms which have been finely chopped to resemble a minced beef consistency. So rather than using quorn, I could try using a few more chopped vegetables for our dinner recipies?