Who’d be a YoYo?

Apparently, millions of us!

The Men Who Made Us Thin  is the latest BBC documentary by Jacques Peretti – who did The Men Who Made Us Fat series. (Watch on YOUTUBE at the named link)

photo via creative commons by rjp zimpenfish
photo via creative commons by rjp zimpenfish

My brief summary, however, would go something like this:

The university of Minnesota’s research showed that the amount lost by dieting and kept off over 2 – 5 years averages 1kg (2.2lbs) with one to two-thirds actually putting more back on. This appalling failure-rate shocked even the researchers!

Peretti shows that the ‘average healthy weights’ were originally set in the 1940s by an insurance analyst  – not a medical one, and that this gave no lee-way for age or build – and ‘made’ lots of average weight people into ‘overweight’ – thus driving a route towards the emerging diet industry.

A GOOD TIP – avoid any diet that claims huge losses in a short time! It is a recipe for disaster and yoyo dieting – and is a sure sign of a fad diet.

Findings by Dr Hirsch, as long ago as fifty years, showed that ‘diets’, especially calorie restrictive diets, don’t work in the long term – a  fact has been totally ignored. So much so that the fact that ANY diet will work in the short term, meaning that people will lose weight – put it back on .. then return to the diet ‘solution’ again, is a business model that works.

Weight Watchers own figures say that 2 years after reaching goal weight only 20% are still there and after 5 years only 16%. I have a ‘blog friend’ who has lost weight this way and kept it off! So I suspect she took the sensible eating to heart and had enough will-power to be her own support group. I have other friends who have lost a LOT of weight with this, put it back on, lost a lot with it, put it back on … yoyoing.

The former Finance director of Weight Watchers admitted that the business model of a weight loss system that WORKED would be a failure – that Weight Watchers (and by implication all the other supported weight loss programmes) is one whereby people lose weight.. go on to regain over time … come back to lose etc (on the basis of ‘well, I lost weight with it before’)

The fact that almost all the major ‘diet’ companies are now owned and run by FOOD manufacturers speak volumes – for them it is win: win. They win when you eat, they win when you ‘diet’ using their systems and their specialist foods. It’s almost hilarious!

Peretti also looks at the Atkins diet.  I read all about this one.. and used it – modifying it a bit as I really did not think that his early weeks of NO vegetables was a good idea -ever. It worked, mainly because it was high protein and lower-carb than the conventional way of eating. However, it was not very sustainable, it meant eating in a totally different way to those around you. It was difficult and pricey to do for a whole family. The Dukan diet is very similar.

Much as nowadays, I really like the look of the Paleo diet … lots of aspects make sense. I can see how well this would work for single people, but for families.. hmm? Life doesn’t quite work like that.

What I do know – about both of these diets, is that the emphasis on LOWER CARBS is right, and the emphasis on avoiding insulin spikes is right. What seems to be missing is sustainability for everyday family life and everyday family shopping.

Here’s my plug – the book I am working on gives guidelines to help you eat a lower amount of carbohydrates and better fats and proteins to keep you feeling full and satisfied, without being prescriptive. It is designed by a busy family woman for real life, making it ultimately more sustainable and it doesn’t ban any one food completely. It is using these guidelines as an everyday, easy to follow, way of eating that can suit everyone in the family, that means this way of eating can be followed easily for life, whereas a ‘diet’ just can’t.

This works alongside the less-than-15-mins-a-day workout, which you do at home, to build lean muscle. Something about this combination seems to reset your body-weight distribution and loss patterns to those of your younger self.

What are your experiences of ‘diets’, good, bad or indifferent?

Have you ever found one that is easily sustainable in the long term?

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


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.




Proof of the Pudding – and the Best Excuse …

Well they do say the  proof of the pudding is in the eating – and in this case the proof of the eating ( and not exercising) seems to be a pound and a half over three days. ‘What on earth is she rabbiting on about?’ you might say. However, if you’ve been following my journey to lose weight in ‘FatWomanThinning?’ you’ll understand, if not then all you need to know is on the FWT? drop down from the top bar.  Dear reader, it happened like this….

My excuse for this blog being really late ( as opposed to just late) is that I was on holiday in France (that’s the excuse for being late) but then, as we were about to return to dear old Blighty IT happened.

There we were, the husband, our friend Christine and me, waiting at the ferry port perfectly in time and we were told that there might not be a sailing after all. That ‘they’ were holding a meeting on board to decide if they were going on strike or not.

An hour later – and they had decided – they were going on strike and there was nothing else that Brittany Ferries could tell us about when we might get a crossing. Hearing another couple, who had merely come over from Cornwall for a couple of days special-offer holiday as foot-passengers, wonder what they would do and where they would stay – we invited them to come back with us to our place for the night.

Back in chez nous we rustled up some soup and sandwiches, opened a bottle and had a pleasant evening all in all. Next day, having used all the eggs up, I had to start the day with muesli – at least there was wholegrain in that – better than toasted french bread I figured. We called the ferry port but they knew nothing at that time, so we  had shopped and begun to prepare a lunch when, in response to a second phone call, we were told that the ferry would definitely not be running that day and, after a bit of  questioning, we were told that foot passengers would be bussed up to Cherbourg and taken across to Poole from there. The only problem being that we had to be back at the ferry port within two hours to check-in and our journey from house to port takes about an hour and a half!

Cue, hasty storing of half-cooked meal into freezer, gathering of belongings, beds left as they were, washing up left to drain and piling back into the car to get us up to the ferry port in time.

Coach from Roscoff to Cherbourg

Later, after a lunch of fish and chips, we climbed into a cramped coach and set off up to Cherbourg – a journey of about four and a half hours, plus a 25 minute break.  From the Cherbourg ferry terminal, where we were left by the coach, we were taken in groups of eight to various small hotels scattered around the town of Cherbourg and left to sort out our own meal for the evening.  Having been separated from our ‘new’ friends in this manner it was only the next day that we found that people were still being taken to their hotels as late as half past nine that evening.

 As for us, the hotel was two star,  pleasant, clean if a bit ‘retro’ (photos taken next morning) and by the ‘recommendation’ of the nearby brasserie being busy,  (as is usual – if a place is well patronised by the locals it is usually good in value and quality) we found a good place to eat and dined on Hache Bouef, Salad and chips. (FWT cheerleaders – are you seeing a pattern here?) 

After, for me, a sleepless night (the bed was hard and I find I cannot get comfortable if my curves are not accommodated by the slight softness of the bed, the husband says the bed was ‘perfect’ and he slept well, but then he doesn’t have curves!) we had a typical French breakfast with croissant, a large chunk of fresh baguette, confitures and tea, coffee or chocolate. The also had a sort of cornflakes on offer and  a crunchy whole grain cereal (like Jordans) with small pieces of chocolate in it.  Working on the basis of something wholegrain better than nothing wholegrain and knowing that whole grain keeps you feeling full longer and would be better than both the croissant and the baguette I went for a small amount of the wholegrain crunchy cereal and backed it up by the rather nice, flaky and buttery croissant.  Not exactly my FWT ‘fast egg’ that I usually have for breakfast!

I had this odd feeling that I should make sure I felt full as ‘I didn’t know when we would eat again’ (ridiculous, I know, but persistent all the same) – and this perhaps because we knew nothing about the crossing we would be on except that it was a ‘fast crossing to Poole’ and via Condor Ferries. I needn’t have worried. Condor Ferries were up to feeding us even on a fast crossing and with more passengers than they usually have (We had been joined by other Brittany Ferries passengers, some who had cars to go back to the UK in and other foot passengers too.) Dear FWT cheerleaders – I ate Fish and Chips – yes chips – again! Each time I was giving away a serious portion of my chips, but where I usually have no problem just eating six – I had this weird ‘need’ to eat more than just those! Hmmm !!

Coach from Poole to Plymouth

And what was worse – far, far worse. Was that I had been unable to do my exercises since Wednesday, as I had packed away my set of milk-bottle weights on Wednesday and was going to carry on as usual once home on Thursday – no problem. Now here I was, on the road, and ‘weights-less’ AND, And.. under this compulsion to eat that bit more ‘in case’.

Once we arrived in Poole it was off again in another coach and the three and half hour trip back down to Plymouth. Our ‘new’ friends had offered to drop us off at our home as they were travelling our way as they lived further down into Cornwall, so we were back by Saturday evening.

As my FWT cheerleaders will know Sunday morning is my weigh-in day. Not even time to get a day’s weights and normal eating in before the check up… and that’s what it told me, a pound and a half UP!

So, the proof of the pudding, they say, is in the eating.  And one, I ate far more than my usual carbohydrate amount over the two and a half days we were ‘on our way home’ and two, I was not doing my usual weights programme. Result – weight gain! The combination of too much carbohydrate and not doing the weights exercises was a gain – which proves that the method I have been using since January works!

Writing this (Monday) I am already feeling better.  I did Saturday’s sets of exercises on Sunday morning and then Sunday’s in the evening, I am back to my normal eating pattern, one that under usual circumstances is absolutely fine and never leaves me hungry, and already I am feeling less bloated. However, I am resisting using the scales – and will report as usual next Sunday!

I am still considering the strange effect that not knowing when or where we would be eating had upon my psyche. Logically, I knew we weren’t ever going to really go hungry – but there was a definitely ‘panic+eat while you can’ thing going on that was hard to resist. It also showed me that the food available on such journeys is not always of the highest nutritional value – even the salads on offer were not protein and green-stuff type salads but were pasta salads and so loaded with carbohydrates.

Have you ever been caught up in unexpected journeys? How did affect you? What was the worst bit for you? – do share I love to hear your comments


August in Fruit – Nature Notes

We all know what rubbish weather we’ve had for an excuse of a summer this year – but it has taken its toll on nature and the garden. So this week’s nature notes come as a look at fruit.  In our village we are lucky enough to have an apple-pressing business, where you can take your surplus apples and for a reasonable price have them pressed, the juice pasteurized so that it will keep, and bottled.  Last year there were so many apples we had a few extra bottles done – just as well as this year’s apples do not look good at all! In spring I took pictures of trees laden with blossom – and then it rained, and rained!    Some of the blossom was early enough and has set – so we will have fruit from a couple of varieties, other varieties it’s a case of spot the apple. On top of this, some that did set well have now started to split. Whether this is because of a the repeated pattern of a few hot dry days followed by a week of wet I don’t know, but the toll on the apples is high.   Add in that apples which seemed perfect but are unfortunately close to a suitable perching-upon twig, are being attacked by the birds – now, before they are ripe!

And before I move on from apples – fallen ones also provide a feast for other wildlife. First the rabbits come along and nibble them, characteristically leaving one chewed flat side. Then the wasps find this opened juicy treat, then as evening comes on the slugs come out to play gorge. Last summer we also had a glut of bullace ( a wild plum that grows in our orchard hedge) and I created a microwave recipe for making jam from them. This year I won’t have enough to make jam from them that’s for certain, and again, many are splitting before thay are fully ripe.

And even in the green house the trend  goes on – the grapes are a wipe-out as they have split this year too – and though the interior conditions are controlled the ‘watering’ isn’t as the roots of the vine are outside in the ground, as recommended.



Inside watering is controlled – and even though the grapes are in a bad way the cucumbers are going bananas – and growing like grapes in bunches.  So much so that I have made sweet cucumber pickle from some of the excess. And in my usual way, having an ingredient missing (celery seeds), I substituted another (cumin seeds) and have created a ‘warmer’ cucumber pickle.  If you are inundated with cucumbers the recipe is on the Recipe drop downs from top bar.

The winner of an ecopy of ‘Nothing Ever Happens Here’ for correctly identifying the caterpillar last month goes to Liz Gentil and the caterpillar was the voracious Mullein Moth caterpillar Cucullia verbasci

And for my FWT cheerleaders the results for the past week are – weight the same and measurements the same as last week. Could it be the picnic party I went to on Saturday? We will see next week.

Again– an urgent message for DeborahKennedy2@….  please contact me back before 10/9/12 after which I must deem that you have refused the prize offered and make a re-draw.

Finally – your last chance to claim a free e-copy of my novella LEAVE TO APPEAL  just follow the link, details near end of page.

What changes in nature have you noticed with the changes in weather? How do you deal with excess produce in the garden? I love to hear from you on the blog – click on the title if you are reading via the email and it takes you through to the main blog where you can add comments!


Lifting the veil on the FWT

Ok, ok, ok… I have been putting this off since the first of July – that being the half way stage on my FWT journey.

What? You don’t have a clue what I am on about? Ah.. well.. at the beginning of this year – January the first to be precise, I embarked upon a quest to lose weight – steadily, sustainably and using a method I had not tried before, worked out between me and two of my sons.

Summer 2011

I started, as do those who join AA, in stating that I had got FAT. I had been avoiding this, after all with my rose-tinted specs clothes on  I can disguise a lot, even though my clothing size had gone from comfortably loose at a 14 to tight 16 bordering an 18 for certain styles. (UK sizes)  After all, I thought,  there are those around me who are much larger. After all I ate a sensible, well balanced diet – and really, really not too much of it. And I do at least one exercise type class once a week in term time. And it used to be enough before the menopause… which seems to pause weight loss as well. So there are all my excuses and I still had to admit that I had allowed myself to get FAT before I could convince myself that drastic action must be taken – despite photographic evidence.  I look back at photos like this and think ‘How could I have not seen it?’

And by drastic I don’t mean a starvation diet – dieting – silly cutting out of all fats.. or all carbs… is the CAUSE rather than the cure of many weight problems… all that happens is that your body learns it needs to be careful of those precious fat supplies as it might meet starvation again so when you reach your target weight and take your eye off the strict diet (you know you do, you know you will), the result is the weight piles on and it is much harder to lose weight in the future! At least I had managed to avoid that pitfall when I first had to lose a lot of weight.

I blame the Americans. 🙂 Ok, not All of you, but the first time I really put on weight it was in the USA. I had left these shores at nine stone, in fact a couple of pounds under, and had gone to America on a Buna-Camp scheme in 74.

Buna-Camp ran a scheme for students, particularly teacher training students, to go to America and teach in the Summer camps. You had your air-fare covered, plus you got paid a bit too. This meant that if you had the time left after the eight week summer camp teaching, you could travel around and see a bit of America before you had to go back to the UK and the next term.

Don’t get me wrong – it was a great experience! And I shall write a blog about it one day, but the food at the camp, plus the food when we went out, just piled on the pounds. I returned after eleven weeks 2 and a half stone heavier than I left.  My parents didn’t recognise me and I’d had to buy clothes to wear.  Had I pigged out? – it didn’t feel like it at the time – I didn’t seem to eat more than the rest, so , not really, but the high level of carbohydrate in the diet, plus the American beers (when out) certainly had their effect on me – and it wasn’t intoxication!

Luckily, I read up about sensible ways to lose weight slowly and steadily and this also taught me some good nutrition basics and started an interest in scientific developments in understanding nutrition, so I avoided the worst kind of diet trap  the ‘lose it fast – put it back on faster type’.

So, back to post-menopause .. the weight had been creeping on – and on, so,  in January 2011, I tried to recreate this sensible weight-loss pattern – but for the first time it didn’t work. By the time the photo above was taken I had been been keeping an eye on what I ate  as I had done all those years ago, but no weight had come off at all. What was missing if I was by now back to eating a sensible and well balanced diet?

Well, what I didn’t do, and hadn’t done for a long, long time, was hard exercise. I’m not really a sporty type, I  love dancing but get bored with class aerobics or jogging very quickly. I have also avoided doing gym sessions since taking out a year membership about ten years ago and, despite the boredom, using it regularly only to find I built up huge muscles (I build muscle easily) but that did not really help much with weight control, and it is only now I find I was doing the wrong sort of exercise – the type that is good for body-builders or weight-lifters but not for fat burning.

For this I needed to build lean muscle, and to do that I need to work it hard to get it to burn fat even when it is doing very little – so I was told – and so I have been doing.  Basic portion control with an extra eye on the carbohydrates and specific resistance weights exercises. Not too many a day – taking less than fifteen minutes.

Has it worked?? My cheerleaders will have noticed the weight going down in numbers from 12 stone to 10 stone, and will have seen the evidence that what I have been eating is enough for anyone.  They’ll also know that for the whole of the month of June I went on to a maintenance programme (to assess where I was and get used to my new weight), neither losing not gaining anything. As from the start of July,  I returned to the weight-loss method and have lost a further 2.5 lbs to the photo taken on Aug 1.  However, here, now … as I lift the veil on a Fat Woman Thinning …   is the evidence in the raw —

side view Jan1 2012
Side view Aug 1 2012









Both photos taken with stomach muscles relaxed, by the way, and they are the same undies – ones I knew should fit again if I lost the weight, and both taken by me, at my arm’s length (What, you think I’d have someone else photographing me like that?).  Whew, that was scary – posting these photos!

So, a big thank you to all my cheerleaders – and the quest goes on – aiming for the next half stone … now what can I reward myself with when I get there? First target was a beautiful wrap, second was a pair of strappy sandals with more heel than I usually go for…..  Ideas welcome – I love to hear from you!

Finally – would DeborahKennedy2@**** please contact me before 10/9/12 .


So Close and the Men who Made us Fat

So close? So close to what, I hear you ask…So close to calling the draw in my Win a Kindle (or 1 of 4 other prizes) How close – well, just  72  more people close … that number of places has gone over a weekend – and at other times taken a couple of weeks.  So it is close – but it is up to you (and your friends and family) how close.  Please keep spreading the news of this free and easy-to-enter draw!  Just 72 places left out of a thousand!  Click link above for full details.

This week I am doing a ‘maintaining weight’ stage so have little to report on Fat Woman Thinning?  However, I did I watch a fascinating programme on BBC 2  

The Men Who Made Us Fat.

The combination of political and marketing power had very unfortunate side-effects for American citizens, us, here in Britain and eventually the rest of the westernised world. If you can, catch it on iplayer  – the second programme goes out on Thursday so there’s only 15 days left to catch-up with the first! click here for the >  BBC programme 

Watch the spokesperson for the American Beverage Association mouth the same sort of phrases that the spokespersons used to do for the tobacco industry.

See how one idea caught on – against all evidence – so much so that scientists telling the truth were ignored and a whole new industry ballooned to make money by conning us into getting fatter when we thought we were doing the right thing to get slimmer.

And what does it mean if you are a TOFI?

Losing Weight but NOT Dieting

If you have been following my Fat Woman Thinning? you will know that I am NOT dieting – but I have lost 28 lbs in 22 weeks.  I started off explaining that ‘dieting’ as such is usually not a good idea.  How ‘starving’ you body rebounded on you – making your body think it had to conserve every bit of extra energy it could (It does this by converting it to fat and tucking it away in fat cells for use in lean times) Been there, done that, got the (Larger’) T Shirt – before I understood such stuff!

Oh? Are you new to this topic – wonder what I’m on about ? – have a look at some of my blogs under Losing weight in TOPICS – ‘Does this look like a diet to you?’ where I photographed everything I ate for a week,  is interesting! Or run through the drop-down weeks from the FatWomanThinning? on the top bar.

We are all Cavemen at heart

As they point out in the programme – we are essentially, physiologically-evolutionarily, still cavemen. They were hard-wired to get extra calories when they could – like finding a wild bee-hive and collecting the honeycombs – and so are we.  The difference being we don’t even have to climb up a tree or a cliff to get it – we have all the high calorie stuff we could possibly want temptingly easy to pick up and eat – and designed to be so.

And that’s the other part of the equation. Even if we eat well, most of us don’t have to get out there and do hard physical work each day and that’s what is missing.  I was listening to an ex Olympic athlete talking – she said how often people said to her ‘I bet you like being able to eat anything you want now that you are retired from athletics’ and she pointed out that when she was in full training she could eat anything she wanted – as she burned a huge amount of energy every day.  Now, she had to watch what she ate or else she put on weight – and that was with maintaining a healthy level of fitness.

In Fat Woman Thinning I have been following an exercise programme that:  1, Does not take me long.  2, I don’t have to go to a gym or class to do.  3, Doesn’t / needn’t cost much / anything to get started on.

Does it work – look at the evidence.  Which is what the politicians should have done all those decades ago and perhaps we wouldn’t be in the obesity mess we are in today.

Did you watch the programme?  Can’t pick up BBC iplayer and want to know more?  Is it annoying to feel that the populace are being duped by the big food giants?   How do you react to their continued claims?

Any thoughts on any of this?  I’d love to hear from you.


‘Apeeling’ gadgets and a Cake called Herman

There – now look what I have gone and done – I usually hate that, when to catch your attention words are spelled incorrectly! Krazy Kards, Kwik Fit etc …  grrr – how is any child expected to learn how to spell? Whew.. what another rant already? Enough – today I just have to tell you about my new apple peeler / corer / slicer. Though you don’t have to do all three, there is the option just to core and slice or just to peel.

I had first seen these at a WI night where we had a local producer of chutneys and mustards come to give us a talk on how his business got started and how he makes all his products. One of the gadgets he brought along to show us how he made his preparation easier was an apple peeler/ corer/ slicer: a modernised version of a Victorian invention. I was fascinated!

Wind forward about 8 months to a TV programme fronted by Stephen Fry on the 100 best gadgets. I came in when they had got down to the top 20 or so.. and there is was. ‘Ha!’ I cried ‘See that – that’s what I was telling you about from WI.’  I told the husband, ‘Absolutely brilliant, I’d love one of those!’ and then forgot all about it.

Until the other week when it arrived. ‘Not very romantic,’ he said, ‘but I guessed you’d like it.’

.. oh and I do!

(sorry that  the video is a bit wobbly – I was holding camera in my left hand whilst turning the handle with my right! Also – it ran out of memory just before I showed the spiral apple cut! (there’s some excellent vids made by others on youtube if you want to look esp. a great one by an Oz firm called Ezi)  As it was a gift I know I shouldn’t have checked up .. but I see you can buy them from around £15 on Amazon or £10 on ebay.

Bonny enjoying the 'spaghetti' peelings


After you have finished you have this metres-long peel and the core. Now Bonny the Dog loves apples (she helps herself to windfalls from the orchard in the Autumn) and she hoovers these peelings up like spaghetti. And even better, unlike so many kitchen gadgets, it is so easy to clean, taking very little time! Now, that is impressive – and so it has been used by one or other of the household everyday, sometimes more than once a day, since it has arrived, especially as my elderly parents don’t like eating the peel anymore and do like their apple in slices.

Peeler with ceramic blade

So, I called this appealing gadgets – and that’s because I have also recently bought a simple peeler. Until now I have been a ‘sharp knife’ sort of kitchen demon. Never really seen the need for peelers. Always found the sort with the slot up the blade took too much off and were harder work than a simple knife. Then, first, the handle on my favourite peeling knife broke – irreparable. Then I bought a replacement – well, when I say replacement, I couldn’t get one quite the same so I got one that was about the same size and looked like the handle would be comfortable. It wasn’t. I bought another (more expensive) knife. The blade does not seem to be fine enough and is hard to peel with. Yes, I ‘invested’ in another. The ‘ergonomic’ ridge, digs into my finger and makes lengthy peeling sessions uncomfortable! So when on a pre-Christmas peeling session, my Aunt brought with her a different type of simple peeler I  tried it out. It was wonderful! And it is this type I have just bought, lightweight and with a sharp ceramic blade, it’s a whiz even with our wriggly home-grown veg as well as this neat looking carrot I used for the pic.



Herman - the Friendship Cake

So where does Herman come in to this? Herman (the friendship cake) is a sourdough yeast based cake that you are given as a starter by a friend and then add flour, sugar and milk to at certain stages to make it ‘grow’, when it has quadrupled in size you divide it into 4 and give away (with the recipe sheet) the other three portions and make yourself the cake. This version required 2 cooking apples, chopped. Of course I used the apple peeler, corer, slicer and then just chopped each apple down into smaller chunks – easy!!

And it’s a yummy cake too! So, what with all the apples and Herman, how is the weight going I hear you ask? (That’s if you are one of the followers of the saga of the Fat Woman Thinning, whereby I am trying to lose weight, post menopause, through a weights exercise programme that my #3 son has worked out for me, designed to burn fat not build muscle and to take minimal time (less than 15 mins a day). If you want the details you’ll have to go up to the FWT? drop-downs from the top bar where you’ll find most of the information and the ‘losing weight’ blogs where you’ll find the rest.)

OH? The results.. sorry, were you waiting.. ok then.. yeah ..2 pounds down this week!! (Yes, I know – wow…!)  waist measurements – relaxed – down a quarter of an inch, pulled-in tight – the same. Comments on this on week 20.

Once last thing that I think might appeal to you or your friends and family – my Win a Kindle Draw (or  1 of 4 other prizes including a slate cheeseboard from AnnMade and ecopies of my Novels) which anyone can enter with just a sign-up to this blog – though there are extra entries also available. As soon as one thousand people have entered the draw will be made. As of today there are only 198 places left – so don’t miss out – don’t let your friends and family miss out – it’s worth a go! Click HERE for full details

What’s your favourite kitchen gadget? Or do you have a cupboard full of those that take longer to clean than they save in time? Love to hear your stories….



Turning Eggs, Sweet Cicely and the Hungry Questions

For the past twenty days I have been turning eggs.

eggs being collected - turned each day

To be more accurate, I have been turning eggs for at least ten days more than this, as they require turning once a day even while you are collecting them to put in the incubator, but these twenty days are the ones that count as the eggs incubate.

Incubator - eggs on view through window




We lay them out on trays of sawdust, marked with a O on one side and a X on the other with an arrow on one egg per tray to remind me which way to turn them*.  Over twenty years ago we bought a large, second-hand paraffin powered 100 egg incubator. This old beast has been temperamentally incubating our eggs each year ever since.

eggs in the incubator tray - thermometer held at top of egg level

Modern, and expensive, incubators automatically turn eggs for you, each of our eggs has to be turned over, morning one way 180 degrees, evening back the other way the same, gently by hand, rotated not flipped. *(Though this is to prevent the yolk from settling on one side of the egg it’s not a good idea to keep rotating in the same direction as this can create a ‘spiralling’ effect on the contents)

Though there are about 80 eggs in the incubator they are not all from our own flock, which we have reduced to just seven laying hens, as the maximum premium collection time is just 10 days and they don’t lay quite that many! So a number of the eggs are from a friend’s flock of mixed hens giving a wide range of shell colour (and eventually, we hope, chickens)

And that is it – not counting your chickens until they have hatched! One thing you learn in doing your own incubation of eggs is that the number you get out bears little resemblance to the number of eggs put in. So, we wait to see …


Rhubarb and fronds of Sweet Cicely

Another harbinger of spring for me is eating the first rhubarb of the year – slender, tender stalks of fresh rhubarb sweetened by laying a few fronds of Sweet Cicely over them as they cook.   If you have never come across this amazing natural sweetener then be prepared to be amazed, I was! A friend at the market gave me a couple of uninspiring looking roots, which I planted and which took (I am not green fingered, so this was a bonus) and grew these delicate cow-parsley-like fronds. A few of which, laid across rhubarb or cooking apples, will lend them such a sweetness that no added sugar is necessary! You just lift the fronds off after cooking and dispose of them (into your compost bin of course).

Now for the Hungry Questions  – then a little goat-kid video about it …

If you have been following my Fat Woman Thinning? posts you’ll know I’ve said you shouldn’t go hungry between meals – I know – counter intuitive isn’t it.. I mean, what diet ever said you shouldn’t feel hungry. (BTW if you are following the results from last week are on the FWT? drop-down – 1lb down!)

Anyway, I’ve been thinking how you know when you are hungry.

Fact is half (or more) of the times that you think you are feeling hungry; you are actually thirsty. Doing the resistance weights course you are advised to make sure you drink plenty of water anyway – it helps metabolise the fat your body is burning. And I have said I always drink a glass of water about 10 minutes before I eat a meal, it cuts out the ‘thirst’ part of ‘feeling hungry’ and perhaps helps you feel full earlier so you don’t tend to overeat. So, first stop when feeling ‘hungry’ is to check you are not thirsty. (NB. it is possible to over-do the water – be sensible about it)

Then there is the ‘bored’ sense of feeling hungry. Yes, if you are bored sometimes your brain suggests that you might feel peckish … So, if this is the case you need to ask yourself – do I feel hungry just because I am feeling bored? And if answer is ‘yes’ then go and do something well away from the temptation. (difficult, I know, if you have to be working in the kitchen) My main ‘bored’ time for ‘feeling hungry’ is often while I am occupied – with doing the boring work of cleaning, but now I recognise the signs I can easily fight them and will have my ‘safe munchie’ (safe for me – as one is usually enough) of a cube of plain chocolate and a brazil nut with some hot water and milk to drive away that hungry feeling.

Ok, so you are not thirsty and you are not bored, and there is pudding on offer after your meal. Do you eat it? Are you still hungry or is it just ‘habit’. Do you ‘always’ have a dessert?  Now, I love a dessert – especially with fruit – and cream oh and sometimes meringue too! So, if it is just habit but you don’t want to cut out your lovely puds then pop it away for an in-between meals snack. No, you wouldn’t want to do this everyday with a high carb pud – but a plain yoghurt or stewed fruit (with sweet cicely) would be great.

Lastly there is the ‘am I hungry or am I just tired’ question. Yes, feeling tired can trigger a feeling that you are hungry, that you need a ‘quick-fix’ and you will crave the sweet high carb foods. Ok, so you may not be able to take a ‘power-nap’ (ten minute shut-eye) but if you can this may sort the problem. Otherwise resort to the drink and your safe munchie solution, combined with doing something that occupies your mind happily and you may get through until you can get enough sleep not to feel tired.

I guess these two might be hungry! They nearly have lift-off!

and maybe you might just be hungry too, look it’s lunch time already!

But before you go and eat – have you entered my great Draw to win a Kindle or 1 of 4 other great prizes, including ecopies of my three novels … and if you have, have you made sure all your friends and family have entered.. there’s only 398  places left so don’t delay click here for all the details.
And as always – I love to read your comments on whatever part of the blog interestes you!


Daffodils, daffodils and not dieting

Nature Notes for March (very late – sorry – please see last blog for my excuses) and Week 15 FWT?

Our parish hedgerows look stunning at this time of year, and behind their beauty lies a small bit of local history. As you drive around you will notice many of the Cornish hedgerows festooned with daffodils, ranging along the tops, dotted amongst the twiggery, pouring down the sides.  So many, you would be forgiven for thinking it were some free-for-all Britain in bloom affair, but the truth lies in the War Effort.

Many, many years ago, in the early nineteen hundreds, a St. Dominick man, sending other produce ‘up the line’ to London, picked and bunched some wild daffodils that grew here. The Tamar Valley has a micro-climate and produced early strawberries and cherries, and the daffodils were early ones too. They found a ready market in London and soon everyone was growing daffodils as they became a profitable crop. This was very much a market garden parish and not only were whole fields set aside for growing daffs (and a factory set up to treat the bulbs against disease) but most people with a bit of land would grow a few rows and band together with others to send boxes of daffodils off to market.

Now, come the War and Dig for Victory, all the arable land had to be turned over to food production. The daffs had to come out of the fields, and as they were cleared they often got thrown up onto the hedges, and there many thrived, and seeded and grew until now many of our hedgerows look like the photograph (above top) in spring with daffodils in abundance.

As for those homes with a ‘bit of land’ a large garden or an orchard, well the daffodils from those rows are still there – developed into great swathes – like this one that covers most of our orchard (above).

I took the camera round the orchard on one day and took pictures of the daffodils that were in bloom that day. I have to say that many were still in tight bud and would not show for another week or two so this is not the complete range that grow here – but you can see the variety we have.

The Dog loves to cool off by lying in the daffodils  (though it makes a mess of them!)

So my much belated March Nature Notes consist this year of daffodils, daffodils and more daffodils.

The Not Dieting part of this blog is the Fat Woman Thinning? report for week 15, and I can claim yet another one pound loss and half an inch off the waist measurements.  So now at 10st 5lbs. This is much steadier loss than I expected, especially as my weight gets further from the 12st starting point. If you are a late-comer to Fat Woman Thinning and wonder what it’s all about you can look at the FWT? dropdowns from the top bar where it will tell you the why and the how of my losing weight without dieting.

And looking at Bonny (The Dog) in the daffodils – she is very pleased her video has brought more people to enter the fabulous Draw I am holding on my blog here. You only have to sign-up to my blog to enter, though if you are on Facebook or Twitter you can have extra entries – what’s more, as soon as just one thousand people enter, the draw gets made.  And what can you win? Well, first prize is a KINDLE,(Yes a Kindle!) then there’s a Nero Slate Cheeseboard, and then ecopies of my Novels: –  Divining the Line, Nothing Ever Happens Here and Some Kind of Synchrony. If you haven’t entered yet – just click here for all the details, and if you have, don’t forget to spread the word – your friends and family deserve to know about this great free draw!

Does your area put on a particularly wonderful natural show at any time of the year? If so I’d love to hear about it – or any of your comments.



Life, death and losing weight.

I know the title sounds dramatic  – but week 14 of my FWT? odyssey has been just that.

The other half was away for a week and then everything began to go wrong. Fair enough, Monday was set to be a busy day before I had even started as quite a few orders had come in over the weekend, I had to carry out some important household repairs and had a Poetry meeting in the afternoon and WI committee meeting in the evening.

Luckily I had taken time out on Sunday to get most of the orders packed so when I received an email that told me I had to get to a shop, which had stocked my annmade slate-ware on a sale or return basis, some 13 miles away within the hour to collect the remaining goods as they had gone bankrupt, I was able to put the parcels in the car and set off immediately.

The goods collected and the parcels posted I just had time to check on the livestock before getting lunch ready. All was well. After working on making a shower waterproof and fixing a few other items I headed off for Poetry meeting and arrived back a few hours later to find that one of the nanny goats had produced two kids. Early.  Just dropped them and moved on. She wasn’t interested in them, despite their pitiful bleats – and they were so small, but I thought that perhaps this type of goats had much smaller kids. Grabbed up, rubbed dry, cuddled to get them warm, placed in the straw ready in a house, my 85 year old father and I then tried to lure their mother with tasty tidbits out of the field, away from the herd, and into the goat-house. She really didn’t want to come! She didn’t want to leave the others.

Eventually we got her into the house and by kneeling on the floor and supporting the kid with my hand under its small body, its spindly legs seemingly unable to hold it up, I managed to get the stronger of the two kids to suckle (The nanny was not keen on this either, kept flicking her leg out at the kid) The other was too weak to suckle – so a small amount of milk was squeezed from her mother’s tiny teats into a syringe and squirted into this baby goat’s mouth.

This to be repeated at intervals until it had enough strength to have a go at suckling with support.

Now you have to understand that we have kept goats successfully for over 25 years – just different goats – larger ones, milking goats with large teats that are easy to milk! We know how to look after goats, but this mother wasn’t keen on being a mother and even needed the distraction of food to allow her youngsters to feed.

I kept this routine up until by the third day she started standing to let them feed, they were both strong enough to get a feed and they seemed to be able to feed themselves having both been observed doing just that. I was confident that they were going to make it after all!

The next morning the weaker of the two was found dead. Well, this happens, if you keep livestock you have to expect some casualties (as a farmer friend of my father’s used to warn). The second kid would have a better chance, I thought, and so was shaken when my husband found this one cold and dead the following morning as well. Perhaps they were never destined to make it and who knows, perhaps their mother knew this from the start, but you can’t help feeling saddened.

On a happier note the other goats have produced since and we now have four very pretty goat kids to show for it, two nannys, two billys, and I can now see that those first kids were very undersized compared to some of the later progeny. Here are two of them, a girl and a boy – about 2 days old!


And as for ‘losing weight’ well,  this should be the week 14 round-up!

All in all, I really didn’t have any time to spare to write up my meals or my exercises before I fell exhausted into bed gone midnight. In fact, as this goat drama coincided with a family drama (where my father fell over and hurt his back, meaning I had to take over the night care for my mother on top of running the household and my slate business), I was so run off my feet that I didn’t even have time to do the exercises on those first three days (though I did plenty of exercise involving running around with half bales of hay and straw, and 25kg sacks of animal feed). However, I did get back on track and the results on Sunday morning showed another 1lb drop and half an inch off both measurements at waist level. So, my apologies to my cheerleaders for the lack of up-dates, but we are still on track, yay!

My thanks go to those lovely people who kept re-tweeting and sharing the wonderful Win a KINDLE draw that I am running on this blog especially on the days I had time only to make an odd tweet about it late at night. Please keep sharing!

Have you had times when everything seems to whirl out of control, how did you keep on track? I love to hear your comments!


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