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.


Writing from What You Know – and FWT? Results!

Before we get into the headline act, a quick catch up for Fat Woman Thinning? my 52 week odyssey to lose weight after the menopause using a quick resistance weights programme.  The results are in for last week…. (here you may enter one of those awful pauses that, on TV, they seem to think creates tension and excitement – but really just annoys (or is this only me?) It was good to see on BBC Young Musician of the Year that they did no such thing and announced the winner immediately after the saying ‘the winner is  🙂  Ok, rant over

  Now, results: another one pound down! Half an inch off relaxed waist measurement, but no change on the pulled-in tight measurement. Am I pleased – Yes, I am!  More thoughts and details on the FWT? drop down for week 19.

Kindle to Win

And secondly, my Win a Kindle Draw (or 1 of 4 other prizes) is hotting up.. there are now only 225 places left – so make sure you have yours and make sure everyone you know has heard of it so they have a chance to enter too! It’s free and very easy to enter, just an email sign-up to this blog gets you in, more details from the link

Writing from What You Know

As you will know I also write novels, and occasionally I get asked for tips from new writers or those thinking of writing so now and again I do a post on writing.  Now, one of the things you are most frequently told as a new writer is to ‘write from what you know’.

Now, I always thought this to be a strange thing to suggest –  after all most of what the average person, let alone the average author, knows is probably pretty ordinary and dull.

However, after writing for many years, I think I now have a better understanding of this stricture and for any budding writers I’ll share this little insight. It’s all to do with using things, places, feelings, you already know within your story so you do not have to re-invent the wheel world. (Yes, even when you are inventing new worlds – some of the most famous, Tolkien for example, use ancient stories, lore and familiar scenery to develop their new worlds)

Let’s just look at one of my novels as an example: In Nothing Ever Happens here, my main female character, Jo,  is a teacher (This is obviously writing from what I knew – having been a teacher)

She works in a school in London, a primary school. Using my memory I can see, feel, taste even, the primary school in the Fulham road where I did my very first teaching practice. ( again – drawing on something I knew)

What else is there in Nothing Ever Happens Here that comes from what I knew? Certainly not the violence and the drugs smuggling – not personally, but like anyone, particularly any author, I read a lot and I read reports of criminal acts as part of my research.

Once my Jo and her son are down in Cornwall I don’t have to invent the scenery, I take it from what is there – what I know – and the scenery and the lay of the land does play quite a big part in this story. Especially the smugglers’ caves, the secluded coves and the countryside.

On her holiday (to escape their troubles in London) Jo stays at a chalet on a small farm which has goats, chickens and geese, all of which we have kept on our own smallholding and Rick, my other main protagonist, works out of the main police station in Plymouth, a city where I used to live and frequently visit.

Having all this important background material and central locations already in my head frees up my imagination so that I can pursue the rest of the story, seeing it happen like watching a film, getting the words down to describe my personal movie to you the reader, hoping to recreate what I see and hear … which, in this case, became the novel ‘Nothing Ever Happens Here’ …. an ironic title that heads-up a story, which you may have guessed, is anything but ordinary and dull.

Are you a new writer  … or thinking you’d like to write one day? What things, that you have been told about how to write a novel, just confuse you, which are useful and what hints would help you? Do share and let me know, I love to hear your comments!


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!


FWT? Week 13 and A Birthday Bonus

FWT? and A BIRTHDAY BONUS? – See details below of extra prizes in the Draw!

Here we are again at the round-up of another week of Fat Woman Thinning? At last I’m beginning to think it might be safe to drop the question mark at the end of FWT. At the start I really wasn’t sure this was going to work at all .. but now, and especially today, I am feeling more positive.

If you are new to FWT? Then a quick up-date. You see, I had to do something, menopause seemed to have changed the way my body dealt with things – my usual way of maintaining my weight no longer worked and the weight crept on… and on until by Jan the first this year I weighed in at 12 stone!  So, now I am using resistance weights as well as some aerobic and stretching, and watching what I eat (writing everything down as well) – but Not Dieting!

Also, I don’t go to a gym.  I don’t have time to spend getting there, nor the inclination to flaunt my lumpy body in front of others, so I have worked out what I can do at home and it doesn’t take long – the weights; never more than 15 mins and the aerobics and stretching is worked to follow a half hour of music.

So where am I now? After the previous week, where over indulging led to no weight loss, I kept a strict eye on the carbs, made sure I didn’t over eat and did all the exercises!

The results are in folks: Weight loss this week 2 lbs!! hurray, and I am now at 10st 7 lbs for my birthday! (my second secret goal!) Waist measurements, for both relaxed and pulled in tight went down half an inch too, so I am happy.

To celebrate this and as a Birthday Bonus I am adding to the prizes available when anyone signs-up to this blog in my Win a Kindle draw.

As you will know, if you have entered, this draw has to be only open to people living in the UK as the Kindle in question is already purchased and ready to send and the draw will be held as soon as a thousand people sign up, so you are all encouraged to share!

So here is the New Prize Line-Up!!

The first number drawn will Win the Kindle.  

The second number drawn will Win a Nero Slate Cheese boardfrom

The third number drawn will Win an copy of Divining the Line (in pdf form so you can read it on your computer or use calibre to convert it  if you have an e-reader).

The fourth number drawn will Win a pdf copy of Nothing Ever Happens Here and

The fifth number drawn will Win a pdf copy of Some Kind of Synchrony



So, here’s wishing everyone good-luck in the draw, please read the (full details HERE)

So what do you think, folks? Is this a good way to celebrate  – with no calories 😉


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