Weight for it…

Ok, apologies for the title  🙂

It is my contention that to know if a weight loss programme really works you need to wait a while after the target weight has been gained … to see if it is sustainable. If the weight goes back on .. it isn’t. This blog post is a bit of the proof of the pudding – or proof of ‘not the pudding’. It has been a long time since I blogged anything about Fat Woman Thinning. In fact if you had joined this blog in the past six months you may not even know anything about it.

Fat Woman Thining, or FWT as it became known, was my day by day, then week by week, documented attempt to lose weight post menopause.

You see I had been eating sensibly and exercising moderately for years to maintain a reasonable weight. I am not saying it was ideal, far from it, I was on average a stone over MY ideal*. (This being at the top end of the normal range for my height and weight at 9st 7lb*)

Then came the menopause. Did I take my eye off the ball? Probably. But when your body starts playing tricks on you like serious hot flushes (flashes if you are American) you don’t watch other stuff so carefully. I gained weight. I wasn’t eating more, I wasn’t exercising less – but I gained weight. Looking back it was about 7lbs a year. Doesn’t sound much like that does it – but it only takes a few years and all of a sudden instead of being a comfortable one stone over ideal I was now two and half over – and feeling it. Feeling it in my knees. Feeling it in my breathing. To say nothing of the clothes that didn’t fit anymore.

January 2011 I vowed to lose this weight. I began to monitor my eating closely – sticking to the regime that I knew in the past had always worked for me. You see I knew a bit about nutrition, not only had I taught it but I had learnt the hard way back in 1974 through to 1976. (yes – that is a long time ago) the facts about what makes you fat. Facts that had seemed to be forgotten by even our own government (who had taken up the USA model of nutrition).

I added extra aerobic exercise to this extra careful eating, however, by April of 2011 I had only succeeded in losing 2 lbs! Something was wrong. I began to look at information about menopause and gaining weight. At that time just about all the sites said something to the effect ‘You will gain weight after menopause.’ And ‘to counteract this a cut in calorie intake is required’ To be honest, I gave up. I didn’t splurge, or stop exercising, I just went on as normal.

By Christmas of 2011 I had reached 12 stone – at 5ft 3 this was NOT GOOD. I was moaning to my sons about the ‘unfairness’ of a natural condition where you will just ‘put on weight’ even though you are doing the same exercise and eating the same. One of my sons, #3, bless him, is into weights and muscle-building and is a SERIOUS scientist.

Within a few minutes (because he knew what he was looking for) he showed me evidence that said ‘women lose on average 1 lb of muscle per year following menopause’ OK. So what? That’s losing not gaining.

What I didn’t understand then was the metabolic use of energy by muscle is such that the loss of 1lb of body muscle meant 35 – 50 fewer calories being burnt by your body every day. That number of calories not burnt everyday would equate to 5 – 7 lbs of weight gain per year! This was exactly what was happening to me.

So, cut calories? NO! This BAD advice would only put you onto a vicious cycle. Cut calories and the first thing you lose is …. Muscle. Lose more muscle – gain more weight! What I needed to do was GAIN MUSCLE. Now I put on large muscles too easily. Ten years ago I joined a gym and used it on a regular basis. I ended up with huge biceps and calf-muscles. I did not want that happening again. But, NO, those, it seems, were the wrong type of muscles. What I needed was tight lean muscles – they would burn energy best. This sounded better.

Here’s where #2 son came into it. A series of long ‘motivational’ talks ensued. We were trying to get to the base line – what exercise I could commit to on an everyday basis for the rest of my life! After all – the symptoms of menopause were not going to go away.

The result was that #3 son then worked out a system for me that incorporated my requirements:

1, Took me LESS THAN 15 minutes a day 

2, I could do AT HOME

3, Required very LITTLE EQUIPMENT in the first instance (and at the most a pair of dumbbells with various weights a and a couple of big weight plates)


5, WAS FLEXIBLE (so I could do it at any time of the day)

I combined this with my Sensible and Sustainable lowish-carb way of eating that is easy to combine with feeding a family and that I had followed for years, but now finely tuned using new nutritional data, and started the whole thing and my FWT blog on January 1st 2012.

12months from that, December 31st 2012, I had lost 2 stone 7.5 lbs.

side view Jan1 2012
side view Jan1 2012
Side view Dec 1 2012
Side view Dec 1 2012


I continue with the weights programme everyday and eat within with the same eating guidelines (this is not ‘a diet’) to stay as I am now. I have a whole lot of science now that backs up this way of losing weight and keeping it off after menopause. PLUS… the weight that had wrapped itself around my abdomen has gone. That ‘central ‘apple’ shape of fat that is considered the worst type of fat for your body to store, is not longer there. I’m a size 14 (UK) again now – not a thin wraith by any means, but happily more healthy.

The proof of the pudding – Today I weighed in at just 2 lbs over that Dec 2012 weight (Last week it was spot on – a little variation happens – I just make sure it doesn’t go up two weeks in a row)

How many people do you know who have lost weight (especially on a weird diet or a ‘group monitored scheme’) then put it all back on six months later?

One day we hope to put this all together in a book form. It’s not a fast miracle cure, it’s steady, sustainable and it takes everyday commitment – but it works and it suits me, a very busy woman who cooks for a family and likes to eat a wide variety of food.


Have you encountered the ‘menopause’ effect on your weight?

How have you dealt with it?

What features do you look for in a weight management plan?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you.




Summer like it used to be…

Well, here we are – enjoying a bit of summer as it used to be. ‘Lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer’ DOG patio water

Why is it that the dog, when thirsty, prefers to drink the water from the dishes under the patio pots instead of her own water bowl brimming with fresh spring water (note – we are on a spring – I do not buy bottled water to give the dog LOL)  (Email-readers there’s a video here – please click into the blog title to see the 7sec video)

This unaccustomed heat has had the memories rolling. I recall days (well they felt like days) playing over the fields. The field next to where I lived usually flooded in the spring – meaning that the wheat didn’t grow in certain areas. In these ‘blank’ places the wildflowers grew. There would be whole large patches filled with poppies, dog daisies and cornflowers, and you could walk (carefully, so as not to damage any wheat) along the tracks to end up in them, hidden from view.

Then, later, after harvest, there were the straw bales to turn into castles and forts, for imaginative play.

There was the small stream half way between our village and the next, where it would be good to take a ‘picnic’ (anything we could scrounge to eat or drink from our respective parents). We’d sit on the two-plank bridge and dangle hot feet in the trickling water, eating whatever and talking nonsense.

My memories are of a country life, living on the edge of a small village in Berkshire – how different they might have been if my parents had not moved out of the east end of London when I was on the way!

What memories do you have of childhood summer days?

Do you think the weather has really changed that much over your lifetime?

What did you get up to?

Do share – you know I love to hear from you !


Reasons to be cheerful!

Scanned Document cropped
Smiley faces – courtesy of my grandson

I learnt some new stuff about personality last week and I am amazed!

Being on the slightly introverted side (though you’d never know as I tend to over-compensate) I also am a ‘bit of a worrier’. This shows itself in my tendency to want to organise things so that I know every ‘i’ has been dotted and every ‘t’ crossed.

Now, Michael Mosley (he of the ‘Fast Diet’-  borne from trying to ensure he doesn’t die early of being overweight and unhealthy) has turned his attention to Personality. Again, driven by his own ‘need’ and personality (after all a pessimist and a worrier would be the one to search for the way not to die early – wouldn’t they)

However, his anxiousness resulted in him also being an insomniac – which is NOT GOOD for anyone. Fortunately, I do not suffer from this ( but, hey, if I didn’t micromanage things – perhaps I would)

I have put a link to a youtube copy of this programme further down – the iplayer one will disappear too soon – so I hope this one gets left up – it is worth watching if you didn’t see it. (DON’T FORGET – YOU NEED TO GO TO THE TOP OF THE EMAIL AND CLICK INTO THE TITLE TO TAKE YOU TO THE BLOG TO SEE THE VIDEO)

I’ll not go through it step by step (you can watch it yourself) but I want to  bring out a couple of points that have interested me.

1, Our genes are not fixed! They can be turned on… and off.  Your environment (what happens in your life) therefore can change your personality – with the tantalising thought that a gene that was once turned on, say for depression, might be able to be turned off again.

2, That being an optimist can add 7 and a half years to the average lifespan. (This is almost double the extra that would be added if we found the cure for cancer) What’s not to like?

3, That you can literally ‘change your mind’ – you can redirect your thought patterns toward optimism – and towards a calmer reaction to stressful situations.

This is great news for many – as long as they are willing to put in the time —  10 minutes three times a week for the Cognitive Bias Modification (spent in front of a computer screen) for the thought patterns  and 10  rising to 20 minutes a day of meditation for the reactions to stress.  Doing it , however, is the same problem people have with doing exercises of any kind 🙂

Now that The Angel Bug is published, I am researching for my next novel and for part of this I am reading a book called, ”Born Liars – Why we can’t live without deceit’ where a chapter of the book is about placebos and the marvellous tricks our own minds can pull on us. (The placebos aren’t the bit I’m researching – but  I’m reading the whole book anyway)  The mind is an amazing thing, but what does it come to when you can’t trust your own mind! Yet what a marvel when it can provide a cure!

One thing they didn’t look at in the programme was the role of forgiveness. I believe that holding a grudge or feeling bad towards someone is the best way to create unhappy brain patterns and disturbed nights, whereas by forgiving you let go of that grudge. (I’m not saying this is possible for everyone to do in all circumstances – I can imagine some I couldn’t handle)  However, it would be interesting to see if forgiving is part of the mind’s method of dealing with stress.


Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

What makes you happy or anxious?

Do cute pictures of kittens really make everyone happy?

Do share your thoughts – you know I love to hear from you !



New experiences? … all grist to the mill

You may have heard (even literally if you live in Cornwall) that during the past week I had an interview with BBC Radio Cornwall about my new novel ‘The Angel Bug’!
I was offered a telephone interview as Radio Cornwall is situated in Truro which, for those of you out of county, is in the West of Cornwall, whereas I live so far to the East in Cornwall that another couple of miles due East and I’d be over the river Tamar and into Devon!

Well, it would mean a long trip there and back (never mind the cost of the fuel!) and all for a ten minute interview – but 1,  As a writer you garner experiences where you can, gather your feelings and impressions, make notes, take photos, and pack them away for a day when one of your characters walks into just such a situation, and 2, I felt I’d work a better interview face to face – rather than on the end of a telephone – and as it was my first I did want to mess it up. So I went to the studios instead.

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100
BBC Radio Cornwall Studios
VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100
The Truro river, looking away from the city, beside Phoenix Wharf

BBC Radio Cornwall’s studio is situated at Phoenix Wharf, on the river at the edge of the city centre – a lovely setting as you can see.

I was early … I am nearly always early … can’t bear being late! And I was nervous – I have to admit this. I can stand up and talk to a class – I can address meetings as president of the WI or as Secretary of this group or that… but to be ME as myself – Author – no other ‘hat’ to hide beneath – this makes me nervous – definitely out of my comfort zone! Add in that this was a live broadcast and, obviously, I wanted it to go well .. and well.. you may understand how I was feeling.

I had ‘packed’ for the session, a bottle of water (filled with water from our spring at home) mints, tissues, glasses, some notes, a camera, lip-balm…so my small handbag was bulging with ‘bits’ when I arrived at the studios.

I waited, chatting with the receptionist, and then the presenter popped out to say hello; Tiffany Truscott, looking younger and prettier than her official photo shows her, was warm and welcoming and that made me feel a little better!

I was soon called through to the ante-room to the studio and after a short time was taken through into the Studio.

Having been sat down by a mike, I settled my glasses and notes down where they would not rustle (not that I had time to refer to them in the end anyway).  Tiffany then asked me a few questions – to warm up – as it were, making me feel a little more relaxed. Now whether this was also being monitored for sound levels or what I have no idea, but it seems likely.

The record  she was playing finished and she introduced me and ‘The Angel Bug’ to the whole of Cornwall…. well – I’m not going to write it all here.. Just click start > and listen TO THE 10 mins YOUTUBE AUDIO CLIP BELOW !! IF YOU ARE READING THIS ON THE EMAIL CLICK ON THE MAIN BLOG TITLE ABOVE AND IT WILL TAKE YOU TO THE BLOG WHERE THE CLIP CAN BE HEARD!! (the youtube links do not go through the email version)

There will always be things I would have liked to have said, that I didn’t, or names and words I should have memorised, that eluded me at the time – but in the end I felt it went well, that it was good, and I can tell why Tiffany is so good at her job – she made the interview process feel so natural – like a conversation (albeit with time pressures).

Have you done anything recently that has taken you out of your comfort zone?

Did you feel drained or energised by the experience?

What did you think of the interview? Do share – you know I love to hear from you!


Today is the DAY!

So today is the DAY! Yep, the culmination of over four years work.  Break out the Champagne!

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Ann, toasting the launch of The Angel Bug, at The Eden Project where the book is set

Ok, so it wasn’t full time ( not by a long-chalk – I created my whole slateware business while this novel was being written, edited etc) but eventually it is ready to be put before the greater public.

Now, as I said to my beta readers (people who have not read the book before but are willing to read it with a critical eye for different aspects of the work and who feed-back in time for the work to be corrected, altered if appropriate and given a final polish) sending out the penultimate draft is like sending your firstborn off to school …..

Sending out the finished book is …. well .. just – scary – though at the same time exhilarating!


What to do for a  BLOG LAUNCH PARTY? Well, I’m offering ALL my blog readers a free taster and a special deal for the launch month!

So , right NOW you can CLICK HERE to read the first 6 (yes SIX!) chapters absolutely free (in pdf so you can read it on your computer)

and if you go the AnnMadeBooks.co.uk  Launch offer  on this link right now, and for the whole of JULY only – you can buy THE ANGEL BUG  in all eformats for HALF-PRICE.

(once I launch on Amazon in August the price on my website has to go up to the full price)

Thank you all for being with me on this journey and especially everyone who has helped me on my way. The acknowledgements can get a bit lost at the end of a novel as they are – so I’m putting them here too!

To The Eden project for allowing me ‘behind the scenes’ and to Dr Alistair Griffiths (Horticultural Science Curator) for answering so many of my science and botanical questions about the Eden Project

Thanks also to Sir Tim Smit for reading through the manuscript and agreeing that I could use him as the only true-life character in the novel

Grateful thanks to my proof reader, Christine Haywood, my excellent beta-readers Nicky Hatherell, Steph Dickenson, Kathy Gilmore, Denyse Keslake, Joan Tall and, from the USA, Ann Quinn, and Cover designer Nathan Murphy.

and thank you blog-readers too – especially those who have given feedback on cover choice / blurb / the first few extracts and anyone who has ‘shared’ my blog on FB or tweeted a blog post – letting people know my new book is OUT NOW is so important and helpful to me 🙂  – thank you ALL!

Angel Bug Cover Ultimate

Ok, little one, off you go now … enjoy being read 🙂






Do you do something creative?

How does it make you feel when you offer it up to the public?

do share – you know I love to hear your thoughts 🙂



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