I've shed 8lbs in just two weeks thanks to Slimming World

I was SO convinced this week I was going either gain weight or maintain let week's.  I had such a good first week with my 4.5lbs loss that I thought I'd get complacent and fall down this week.  Especially as we were out for an Indian on Friday night then out for a meal for my dad's birthday on Saturday.

I did some damage limitation when eating out on Friday, not so much Saturday, which clearly paid off as I lost 3.5lbs this week! Wooo!

Before going out for the Indian on Friday, I flicked through my SW book and found the Indian dish with the least syns. I'd never tried it before so was worried incase I didn't like it.  Without fail, I have a chicken balti every time we have an Indian.  As sure as the sun will rise in a morning, is that I will pick a chicken balti.  So had Tom not known why I was straying from my usual staple, I think he'd have worried I'd been swapped!

I had two poppadoms (4 syns each) and my chicken dhansak (10.5 syns for 500g) with boiled rice (free).  However, I was quite full after my poppadoms so only ate about half of the rice and picked the chicken out of the sauce.  So I'm sure it will have been lower than 10.5 syns for the dhansak (I went for 7 as a guess).  Good news, though, I loved the dish and will definitely be having it again!

Then, on Saturday, we went to a new restaurant in Selby (which was amazing). I was worried about what I could have here which wouldn't send my syns through the roof. I had belly pork for starter (but didn't eat the fatty bit), chicken breast with veggies and stuffing for main, and a chocolate tart for dessert.

The rest of the week I was quite strict - I kept my syns down and my speed foods and protein as high as possible.

I've definitely noticed I am not as hungry as I was, although I did have a few cravings for chocolate this week which were hard to fight off.  I knew if I had one bit, I'd crumble and eat every bit of chocolate in the house.  So, I stayed strong and reached for my go-to fruit when a sweet craving kicks in - a pear.  I've always liked pears but since doing SW I eat them all the time.  If I am having a chocolate craving, or want a biscuit or some sweets, I have a pear and it straight away eases the want for sweet things. It's also a speed food, which is even better!

I've got my half a stone award now and, in just two weeks, have lost a whopping 8lbs! I was a bit sceptical when I first started as to whether I would lose much weight and how well it would work, but it's going swimmingly so far.  I just hope I can keep it up!

I'm still loving going to group as well, I'm not sure I'd be as motivated if I didn't go there.

I don't have any curveballs in this week's plan - no meals out or tricky days.  I do, however, have next week off work - so I'll have loads of time to make loads of SW recipes for the freezer.  Tom has started his new job now and isn't home until just before 7. Those nights when I'm at the gym straight from work I find it hard to find the motivation to cook a good meal then and not just reach for something quick and easy (and bad!)

My aim now is to lose my next half a stone before Christmas and be a whole stone lighter (and almost half way towards target) than I was when I started.  With just four weeks until Christmas I only need to lose 1.5lbs a week up until the big day.

I've got this!

My food diary for week two.

Day One:

Breakfast: Three eggs scrambled with half a tin of chopped tomatoes, some spinach and half a green pepper chopped
Lunch: A jacket potato with tuna mayo (1 syn for extra light mayo)
Snack: An apple and a pear
Tea: Chicken and vegetable pasta (chopped tomatoes, passata, one courgette, two garlic cloves, a red chilli, spinach, one yellow pepper and two tomatoes)
Snack: One pear

Day Two:

Breakfast: Melon
Lunch: Leftover pasta from last night's tea with a big pile of lettuce and spinach
Snack: An apple and a pear
Tea: Two poppadoms (4 syns each), boiled rice and chicken dhansak (7 syns)

Day Three:

Breakfast: Two eggs poached, two rashers of lean bacon, half a tin of baked beans, some spinach and one slice of wholemeal toast (HEB)
Lunch: Leftover pasta from Thursday with lettuce
Snack: An apple
Tea: Belly pork to start (2.5 syns), Chicken breast for main with leeks, beetroot, celery, apple and other greens (there was a tiny bit of creamy sauce and some butter on the greens, but I don't know the syns for these), and a chocolate tart for dessert (8 syns).

Day Four:

Breakfast: Two eggs poached, half a tin of baked beans, one slice of wholemeal toast (HEB) and some spinach
Lunch: An omelette made with three eggs, tomato, onion, red onion, yellow pepper and three mini Babybels (HEA).
Tea: Roast chicken with carrots, broccoli and green beans.
Snack: Cranberries, strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, redcurrants, blackcurrants and blackberries with 100g of natural yoghurt.

Day Five:

Breakfast: Melon
Lunch: Salad (lettuce, spinach, red onion, white onion, yellow pepper, tomato)
Snack: An apple and a pear
Tea: Jerk chicken skewers (SW recipe) with roasted vegetables (peppers, tomatoes, red onion, and courgette) - these were sensational! Probably one of my favourite SW recipes so far!

Day Six:

Breakfast: Three poached eggs with half a tin of baked beans
Lunch: Half a tin of baked beans on one slice of wholemeal toast (HEB)
Snack: An apple and a pear
Tea: Easy chicken curry with spicy broccoli and green beans (SW recipe) - also amazing!

Day Seven:

Breakfast: Three eggs scrambled with half a red pepper, half a green pepper, and 200g of passata with onions and garlic.
Lunch: Salad - lettuce, spinach, other half of red and green pepper, and a tomato.
Snack: An apple and a pear
Tea: Homemade turkey burgers (SW recipe) with a big ass salad (lettuce, carrot, beetroot, sweetcorn, and peppers)

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Airbrushed images are unachievable and unrealistic, as we were all reminded this week

Like every year, once those jungle drums start on ITV I am glued to my sofa for three weeks to watch the trials, tribulations and tiffs on I'm a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here!

When the new additions were added in last night's episode, I sat admiring Spencer Matthews' toned physique when he whipped his top off after the trial.  I also clocked Ferne and Vicky's svelte, toned figures.

The pair of them looked incredible - normal, healthy, pretty girls.  But something was wrong.  The images plastered around in the media of the pair show them toned and tiny.  Something that didn't come across as strong on television.  Then this picture started doing the rounds and I got really cross.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with Vicky and Ferne's bodies in the picture on the left.  Nor on the right, other than the fact it has been airbrushed.

The problem with the culture we live in is that women feel like they have to strive for the bodies on the right.  The bodies that even these two women, who have personal trainers coming out of their ears and the money to pay for all the sessions under the sun, don't really have.

These images were shared on the Daily Mail website ahead of Vicky's arrival into the jungle.  They show her wearing the same bikini and the above collage, yet she looks noticeably slimmer, more toned, and airbrushed.

I get that the light isn't all too flattering in the photo of Ferne and Vicky, and the quality is a bit grainy, but there is a noticeable difference.  And that is airbrushing.  Which begs the question - WHY?! Especially when they look perfectly good as they are!

Airbrushing is naughty and has always grated on me.  It's no wonder women, and men, have body confidence issues when we are fed these 'perfect' images.  All seeing them does is make women feel bad that they don't look like that.

It encourages faddy diets and everyone to seek a quick fix.  I should know, I've been there!  I've tried all the quick fixes under the sun to try and lose some weight and look like those images on the right.  And the closest I got? The picture on the left.  Why?  Because that's what is achievable and normal!

What is wrong with the world just accepting women for how they really look?  Why should images be airbrushed to fit in with this 'perfect', unachievable image?

I also saw this comparison floating around social media recently, with people asking which 'looked better'.

I've no doubt there will have been some airbrushing that went into the Victoria's Secret poster, but from watching their famous fashion shows, most of the models don't look too different to that image.

Most of the Victoria's Secrets models, and models in general, are naturally like that - you have no idea how much it pains me to say that.  Of course, there are those models who really are not well, but the majority are blessed with a slim, slender, model-like figure.

Kendall Jenner is a fine example.  She is really slim and toned - yet eats loads. I've seen her on KUWTK chowing down on a burger, pizza, chocolate, cakes...

Some people are just lucky.  Bastards.

But to airbrush a photo of someone and photoshop them to make them look 'better' is not right.  And to ask people to 'rate' which body shape is 'better' or 'more attractive' is barbaric.  We're not pieces of meat that you rate in the supermarket while deciding which one to buy.

Women should be proud of their bodies.  Whether they are curvy, flat, thin, or fat.  Whether they have wobbly bits, bony bits, a mole or a scar.  Women should support each other and stop body shaming or competing with each other.  We are who we are, and being mean to each other won't help us achieve that 'goal body' any quicker.

As that famous Mean Girls quote says: "Calling somebody else fat won't make you any skinnier."


And the media shouldn't encourage that to be commonplace by creating unrealistic images of what is 'perfect'.

I hope Ferne, Vicky, Jorgie and the rest of the women in the jungle continue to show off their bodies for all the women and young girls out there to see that is what these girls really look like.  And to realise there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  The images that are airbrushed are where the problem lies.

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Tom and I are finally going to be like a normal couple after today

After 18 months of working together in the same office, Tom and I will finally start a 'normal' relationship after today and only see each other on evenings and weekends.  Yes, the day many thought would come much sooner - we will no longer be working together.

If we had a pound for every time someone asked us how me manage to work together and live together, or how we don't kill each other spending so much time together, I don't think either of us would need to work for a while.

I'm not sure myself how it's worked, if I'm honest.  Tom and I started seeing each other about six weeks before I got the job at Selby Times, and we spent the first five months of my employment keeping us being together a secret.

When we first started messaging again we did the whole 'where are you working?' conversation and Tom said he was at Selby Times.  Immediately, alarm bells started ringing as I had literally, that afternoon, applied for a job there. 'Shit', I thought, 'he's going to think I'm a right stalker!'  But, little did I know, me getting an interview would be the reason we would end up together.

September 2015 we got to enjoy the O2 Media Awards together as our work team were nominated for Team of the Year (Print) 

I'll just share this little tale with you so you understand what I mean...

When Tom and I first became friends on Facebook (and after he inundated me with pokes for months) he spent weeks, probably months actually, trying to get me to go on a date with him, or to meet up with him.  Whether it be going to the cinema, going round to his, going for a drink - he tried everything.  And each time, I found an excuse to say no.  I'm not really sure why he kept pursuing me to be honest, I was brutal!

Then, when we both went off to university, we lost touch.  Come April 2014, after we both swiped the right way on Tinder, we got to talking again and exchanged loads of messages catching up with each other.  It was then that the Selby Times bombshell was dropped.  'There is no way we can be romantically involved if we will be working together,' I thought.  

Tom said he would come round to mine the night before my interview to help me prep and tell me all the things to say that would make them want to hire me, so it was set.  He found a way to see me without me making an excuse!  Although, to me, it was completely platonic.  When he came round, I made sure I looked absolutely shocking.  I had wet hair, no make-up, and a mint green onesie on (a look he still remembers to this day, whether that be good or bad!)  We talked my interview and had a catch up, then Tom left.  

The next day, after I found out I didn't get the job, I was really sad.  Tom said he would take me out at the weekend to cheer me up.  I contemplated finding an excuse but decided I really liked spending time with him when he came round, and since we weren't going to work together it wouldn't matter if we started seeing each other.  We went on a few dates and started seeing a lot more of each other, and everything was great.  Then, in June, found out I had a job at the Selby Times.

We kept our relationship a secret at first, so that one of us wouldn't get moved office, and from June 2014 worked together every day up until today.

Spending so much time with someone, anyone else, and I would want to kill them.  I'm a people person, but there's only so much I can take of one person before I need a break.  With Tom, I never felt that.  Since we moved in together properly last December, we've spent pretty much every single day together.  I don't think I could spend that much time with anyone else.

One of my favourite photos - Tom creeping on Rebecca Adlington at the opening of Selby Leisure Centre
Today is a day of mixed emotions for me.

The work Nat is super sad that her partner (in literally every sense of the word) is leaving her side after being her go-to guy for help, advice and things she doesn't understand since day one.  But home Nat is ridiculously happy and proud of her fiancĂ© for following his dream of working for the national press.

Of course, there are advantages to us no longer working together.  Mainly that we can have time off together.  We've been so lucky whilst working together to have an amazing boss, who tried wherever possible to get us days off (and even a whole week in the summer!) But it will be nice to know that we can both use all four weeks of our holiday to do something together.

Tom, you make me so proud every single day when I watch you work.  We are polar opposites when it comes to work style and the type of reporter that we are, but I admire you every single day for what you do and how you do it.  I will miss getting the chance to see you work your magic every day, but I know you are going to do great.  I am so immensely proud of you for this and can't wait for the day you get your first national byline.  There will be a big hole left at the Selby Times but, luckily for me, I still get to share your achievements and experiences when we get home.

Your colleagues at the Selby Times and Goole Times will really miss you.


Why I've ditched the quick fixes and joined Slimming World

After months of moaning about how much weight I've put on and feeling unhappy with my body, last week I finally bit the bullet and joined Slimming World.

I've tried loads of 'quick fixes' before - shakes, drinks and pills - whether it be Bootea, Skinny Medical or ActiDerm shreds/wraps.  Those were fine to lose weight quickly, but give it a week or two and I was straight back to where I was before.  Whilst they provided great short-term results, they weren't the lasting solution I wanted.

My cousin has been doing Slimming World for a few months now and has seen the weight drop off her.  She often posts on Facebook how much she's lost or shares photos of food which doesn't look like your typical 'diet' food. She looks amazing now and was definitely my motivation to go for it and give it a try myself (Thanks Leanne! x)

As I walked into the group last week I felt sick to my stomach with nerves.  I felt totally out of my comfort zone and even a bit shy which, those who know me will know, is not like me at all!  But once it all started I felt totally relaxed.  Everyone was so kind and supportive and I could tell I was going to enjoy going to group.

My first day of 'food optimising' and I was a bit daunted by the whole thing.  Working out meals and syns and free foods and healthy extras made my mind boggle but, after sitting down and reading the book thoroughly, I soon understood - and I was determined to kick off my first week well.  What it took me a day or so to understand, though, was that I'm not on a diet.  I can still eat pretty much everything I did before!  It's all about food optimising (but I won't go into all that now!)

Everyone I have told that I have started Slimming World has all said the same thing: "why?" or "what for?"  Whilst that is a bit of a compliment, as people obviously don't think I need to lose weight, it did make me wonder whether people were just being nice or whether I really have imagined how much weight I've put on. (I definitely haven't, FYI - the scales never lie!)  I've felt so uncomfortable and so flabby the last few months and, when my clothes started to get too tight or to not fit, I knew it wasn't in my head.  Tom, bless him, said he'd not been able to tell any difference - but I could.

I joined Slimming World because I want to lose the flab and the big, wobbly belly, slim down a bit, and feel happy in myself again.  I want to be able to wear skinny jeans again (and fit back into some pairs that I've outgrown *sob*) without worrying about a huge basket of muffin tops hanging over the top.  I want to be able to feel confident wearing a high waisted skirt and a crop top again (maybe not in this cold weather, mind). I want to feel happy and confident in myself again, and I can already tell Slimming World is the way to help that.

I've set my target to lose two and a half stone, which will take me back to where I was last summer.

Last night was my first weigh-in and in my first week I lost 4.5lbs! It might not sound like a lot, but I can already tell a difference.  Besides, it's a marathon not a sprint.

I wasn't expecting my body to change so dramatically in just one week.  I could notice a difference by Tuesday (day six) when I wore the same trousers that I'd worn the previous Wednesday on my first weigh-in.  When I first bought said trousers, I couldn't wear them without a belt as they dropped down all the time.  Just before I started Slimming World, they were quite snug (the belt was long gone!)  Now, they're back to dropping down again - in a matter of days!!

I really wish I had measured myself (hips, belly, chest etc) before I started so I could really see how much I'd lost, but never mind.

 If I lose just 2.5lbs this week, I'll get my half a stone award next week.  This next week will be tough as we're off for an Indian for Tom's leaving do tomorrow night and out for a meal for my dad's birthday on Saturday, but I am so determined to get that first half a stone shifted and be one fifth of the way towards my target.  I've already chosen what I can have at the Indian by working it out on my syns calculator (Saturday will be much more difficult, though!)

Here's my food diary from last week so you can see how easy it was! I was quite strict and some days didn't have as many syns as I could have had or as many adventurous meals (I was still learning the ropes and getting to grips with everything!)

Day One

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with one third of a tin of chopped tomatoes and chopped red and yellow peppers.
Dinner: Tuna and salad (lettuce, spinach, peppers)
Snack: Apple
Tea: Grilled chicken breast with broccoli and carrot and parsnip 'chips'
Snack: Mini Twister lolly (2 syns)

Day Two

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs with one third of a tin of chopped tomatoes and chopped red and yellow peppers.
Dinner: A tin of baked beans on wholemeal toast (HEB) with two mini Babybel lights (HEA) grated and sprinkled on top.
Snack: Apple and a pear
Snack: A small slice of caterpillar cake (8 syns) [there's always cake at work :( haha]
Tea: 'Pizza topped chicken' (SW recipe - chicken breast topped with chopped tomatoes, garlic, red onion and peppers with 25g of reduced fat mozzarella (2.5 syns)

Day Three

Breakfast: Two poached eggs on wholemeal toast (HEB) with half a tin of baked beans.
Dinner: A jacket potato with tuna mayo (1 syn for extra light mayo) and side salad
Snack: Apple
Tea: Bacon Double Cheeseburger (SW recipe - less than 5% fat beef mince with onions made into burgers and grilled on George Forman, two Dairylea light cheese slices (HEA) and lean back bacon with all fat cut off.)
Snack: 100g of vanilla ice-cream (8 syns) with Sweet Freedom chocolate sauce (2 syns)

Day Four

Breakfast: Two eggs scrambled with one third of a tin of chopped tomatoes, two rashers of lean bacon, and two slices of wholemeal toast (HEB).
Dinner: Jacket potato with half a tin of baked beans, 40g low fat mozzarella (HEA) and salad.
Snack: Apple and pear.
Tea: Caribbean Pepperpot Stew (SW recipe - Lean stewing beef, sweet potato, passata, green beans, garlic, and peppers.)
Snack: Stawberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, blackberries and blueberries with 100g of fat free natural yoghurt 

Day Five

Breakfast: Two poached eggs with half a tin of baked beans on wholemeal toast (HEB).
Lunch: Leftover stew from last night's tea
Snack: Apple and pear
Tea: Chicken supreme (SW recipe - one chicken breast, two lean rashers of bacon, quark, onion, mushrooms and garlic.)
Snack: One fondant fancy (5 syns)
Drink: 250ml of milk (HEA)

Day Six

Breakfast: Scrambled eggs on toast (HEB) with one third of a tin of chopped tomatoes and chopped green pepper.
Dinner: Tuna and salad
Tea: Cheesy Broccoli Bake (SW recipe - broccoli, onions, tomatoes, fat free cottage cheese and reduced fat cheddar (HEA) served with carrots, sweetcorn and peas.)
Snack: Mini Milk lolly (1.5 syns)

Day Seven

Breakfast: Three poached eggs on wholemeal toast (HEB) with a whole tin of beans.
Dinner: Homemade leek and potato soup
Tea: Cottage pie (SW recipe - mince, kale, passata, garlic, onion, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, passata, fat free natural yoghurt, cheddar cheese (HEA) and mashed potato served with carrots.

On next week's menu (aside from the eating out) is a roast chicken Sunday dinner, Jerk chicken skewers (SW recipe), chicken curry with spicy broccoli and green beans (SW recipe), and a chicken and veggie pasta bake.

Wish me luck!