Sunday 29 December 2013

It's all in how we look at things #positivethinking

photo by Connor Fyfe

Today, I took the dog for his morning walk. The ground was completely covered in frost, turning everything white. It was incredibly cold out, but my dog Mercury needed to go for his walk regardless of the weather.

I bundled up and reluctantly stepped outside. But that's when my attitude went through a transformation. Outside, with everything coated in a layer of frosty ice, all of the rubbish and litter was hidden away, being covered in the same white frost as everything else. And the sun was out, so everything sparkled and glittered in the sunshine, the ice of the frost reflecting the sunlight in bright twinkling sparkles off of every surface. I started to enjoy the beauty of it, and I was no longer a reluctant participant of the walk but someone who felt at peace and let the warmth of the sun and the beauty of the natural glitter take her mind off of the cold of the day.

Which leaves me with my message to you:

Instead of only feeling the cold of an icy day, learn to see the sparkle in it.


You might be asking how this message pertains to weight loss, so I will make the connection for you (even though it's a very loose one).
Many of us have let ourselves go a bit over the recent holidays, and some of us will be stepping on the scales today and seeing a number we won't like. But instead of chastising ourselves for the weight gain, try and remember how much fun you had over the holidays and how much you enjoyed the treats you allowed yourselves, and keep in mind that the weight will come off again. There's nothing to let yourself get depressed over.

Thursday 17 October 2013

The Trouble With Most "Fitspiration" Pictures

photo property of Maria Kang at
Okay, so there is a lot of controversy over this woman's photo, which reads "What's Your Excuse?" Some are upset and offended and some think those who are upset or offended are "just jealous."

My take is this: There are millions of "fitspiration" photos all over the web. I've even shared some here. They all show women with model bodies. I'd rather see a photo of an overweight mother who is jogging in the park while pushing one kid in a stroller and having the other riding a bike beside her with the words "No excuses" than yet another photo implying "If you only worked harder, you too could look like this!"

According to the woman in the middle of the controversy, I not only have more kids than her, I workout more than she does. And guess what? My body will never look like hers. Every body is different. Every mind is different. Healthy on one person will not look the same as healthy on another person.

Yes, we shouldn't be making excuses not to be as healthy as we are capable of being. But that doesn't mean we will ever look like her. And that's a good thing. She suffers from anorexia (or as she says, she used to suffer from it). Her body should NOT be the ideal. No one shape should be the ideal.

The problem with these "fitspiration" photos is that they propagate this unrealistic ideal body, the same unrealistic ideal body that we women have had thrown in our faces for decades now by the media. I just want to tell the media, "Enough! Show me real women of ALL sizes!"

I don't want my daughters to grow up thinking that their bodies aren't good enough because photos like these keep circulating around, implying that they should look more like the photos.

I do, however, understand what Maria Kang was trying to do with her photo. She was trying to be motivational. Her intentions were good. And yes, she looks fabulous. So all of the people being mean to her are misguided. Her intention was only to say, "Leave your excuses behind and do something." She's trying to show that, although she could have used her children as excuses not to work out, she didn't. It's not entirely her fault that her body fits perfectly into the media ideal that we are all so tired of being compared to. So stop hating her.

I have, in the past, made the statement that, "If I can do it, anyone can." I am told now, by others and through comments they have made on similar statements made by someone other than me, that this is not helpful and some are offended by these kinds of statements. So I guess I know where Maria Kang was coming from in a way. I was trying to be inspirational, and for some, that statement made by me WAS inspirational, but for others, it was offensive. I only meant, when I said the phrase, to show how I had overcome many obstacles to achieve what I achieved and that I felt that, as someone who had never really achieved anything beforehand and as someone raising a larger-than-most family, if others could see what I had achieved maybe they could believe in their ability to achieve success too. I did NOT mean to say that there was anything wrong with someone who hadn't achieved the weight loss. I did NOT mean to say that everyone's journey would be anything like my own, and I did NOT mean to say that anyone should be striving to look like me. (Most of you wouldn't want my stretch marks, loose skin or freckles anyway.)

Thursday 5 September 2013

Skinny Dreaming's 5th Birthday!

Skinny Dreaming has now been around for five years! Five years ago from today, I posted for the first time on this blog. It's difficult to believe that so much time has passed already since I first started trying to lose weight and decided to blog about it. I was still pregnant with my youngest son Cameron five years ago when I created this blog and started writing.

At the time, needing to lose over half of my body weight seemed like such a pipe dream, something I could attempt but would never really succeed at. Now look at me! I not only lost the weight, but I've managed to keep most of it off for over three years! This little blog that I began after a few months of successfully losing weight has had advertisers reaching out to it, got me a job writing a regular feature for a monthly magazine in the US, which lasted for over a year, and its reach has grown and grown. 
The Skinny Dreaming book, that wasn't even a thought back than and was only a faint idea a couple of years ago, now has an outline and chapter synopsis for each chapter and a ton of research ready for the writing on it to begin. What was only a fuzzy idea couple of years ago is now something that is definitely in the works. In fact, I have decided to start writing it here on the blog. during the month of April (2014), I will be writing a chapter a day, which will be shared here on the blog. You won't get to read the whole book here on the blog, but you will see enough of the chapters to let me know what you think of the progress as it happens.

I look at that picture of me before I started to lose all of the weight, and I can't believe that it was once ME. How did I ever let myself get like that, and how could I have waited so long before doing something about it? I was unhealthy. It pained me just to walk. I had no energy. I was a heart-attack waiting to happen, despite not being very old. I had seven children to think about and care for, so I NEVER should have let my health deteriorate so much. It was always in my hands to do something about it (just as, if you are struggling with your weight, it is also in your hands whether or not you change it).

So much has happened since then, and my confidence, as a result has grown. After losing over 145.5 lbs, I was in several magazines and newspapers. I won my district's Slimming World Woman of the Year 2010 and became a national finalist. I was featured on the television news twice. I was interviewed about my weight loss on our local radio station twice. And I was featured in the Slimming World magazine in October 2011, which got me a proper photo shoot, complete with make-up, hair and clothes. (The photographer was Paul Bueller and two of the photos on this page are ones he took for the Slimming World magazine.)

As a result of my growing confidence due to losing the weight, I started to gain confidence on other areas of my life, such as my writing, and I gained a belief that I can achieve anything that I am willing to work towards. My writing career has since grown and I even have an Amazon author page now. And eventually, you will see the Skinny Dreaming book there.

I've even taken up belly dancing - something I would have been to shy about attending classes for before. I am finding the classes fun as well as a good workout, and I'm even planning on joining in with the next performance my class puts on in public.

I hope that you, too, have managed to achieve the body you desire and have grown in confidence along the way. What were you doing 5 years ago?

Every person who comments on this 5th birthday post will be entered into a drawing to win a Kindle copy of the Skinny Dreaming book when it is available. A random number generator will be used to choose the winner once the book is complete. (Please leave a name and way to contact you in case you are chosen as the winner.)

Thursday 8 August 2013

Announcing the Sugar Free Cookbook Winner! #1wksugarfree

You might be wondering who has won the "Sweet and Sugar Free" dessert cookbook by  Karen E. Barkie. Well, it's time to announce the winner of the cookbook!

The winner of the cookbook is:

Marissa Ames!

Congratulations, Missy! Please e-mail me (or Facebook message me) your mailing address so I can get the book sent to you.

And thank you to everyone who joined in with the challenge! You helped keep me going, and I am STILL living sugar-free (and bread free) even though it's been three whole weeks!

And yes, I do realize that I am late in announcing this as I stated in the post about this prize that I would be announcing the winner on July 27th. I simply forgot. Better late than never, right? Forgive me?

Did I mention that, in the first two weeks of living sugar free, I dropped 14 lbs? I haven't weighed this week, but I know I have dropped more inches during this third week too.

Wednesday 7 August 2013

Scale vs Measuring

 I am still following my sugar-free and low carb lifestyle. It was getting me terrific results, so I decided to continue on with it. For the past four days, my weight has remained the same, I think. I say "I think," because my scale is fluctuating wildly and it is hard to tell if I have stayed the same, gained a half pound or lost two pounds. My scale doesn't usually fluctuate at all, so I probably need to buy it some new batteries.

Knowing this, I decided to take my measurements again. While the smallest part of my waist has stayed the same, I have lost another 1 1/2 inches off the rounded part of my belly and hips. That's enough to keep me happy with my efforts.

Sometimes, our weight won't budge and we can get depressed as we look at that scale and see a number we don't want to see. It's important not to let it get you down. Look for other results from your efforts to keep your spirits up. There are so many ways to measure success, from your weight on the scale, to your measurements, to the way you clothes fit, to the amount of increased energy you are experiencing and more.

Once my children got off school, I found it hard to fit in my weight training. I still managed to work in all of my cardio, but finding time for my weight training was difficult. I finally decided to demand the time to do my strength training yesterday, and today, I have that delightful ache in the muscles of my arms that tells me I gave them a good workout. It's the little things that make me happy.

Saturday 27 July 2013

The Benefits of Belly Dancing

image found on Pinterest here
This is a very appropriate post for today as it is National Dance Day! From the Dizzy Feet Foundation's page:

"Launched in 2010 by “So You Think You Can Dance” co-creator and Dizzy Feet Foundation co-president Nigel Lythgoe, National Dance Day is an annual celebration that takes place on the last Saturday in July. This grassroots campaign encourages Americans to embrace dance as a fun and positive way to maintain good health and combat obesity. NDD achieved national recognition when Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), a long-time proponent of healthy lifestyles, announced at a press conference on July 31, 2010, in Washington, D.C., that she was introducing a congressional resolution declaring the last Saturday in July to be the country’s official National Dance Day."

Last Thursday, my daughter dragged me to a local belly dancing class. Although I have always wanted to learn how to belly dance (Think about Shakira in her music video "Hips Don't Lie." Who wouldn't want to be able to move like that?), I must admit that I was reluctant to go. Thoughts crossed my mind to the tone of, "But my belly is too big and soft; it will jiggle too much! and, "I'll look ridiculous!" These are the kinds of negative thoughts that I try and avoid having. And yet, there they were - a lingering poison in my mind.

Still, I wasn't going to let the negative voice in my head win, so I let my daughter drag me to the belly dancing class. There were women there of all shapes and sizes, and the really surprising thing was, once we started to move, I didn't feel self-conscious at all. Even more surprising, I felt sexy. I was shaking, wiggling  and moving my bum, belly and chest, as well as learning some beautiful arm movements, along with the rest of them, and I was having fun!

image found on Pinterest here

As we danced, I realized something else about belly dancing; there is not one muscle in your back, legs, stomach, buttocks and arms that doesn't get used during the various movements. It's a really great  all-over workout.

I felt more fit, more confident and more feminine (in a strong way) after just the one class. Those are all good things, so I feel great about recommending belly dancing for fitness. It's so fun, you hardly notice you are working out.

My 20 year old daughter Angelica found the class on-line and it wasn't far from us. It's called Helen Sleiman Dance and is run by Helen Sleiman herself. Helen is a cute, tiny little wisp of a woman who moves amazingly and has a really positive approach to teaching belly dancing.(She's pictured below.)  If you live in my area, you really should come join in with one of her classes.

photo from the Helen Sleiman Belly Dancing website
For those of you who still wouldn't feel comfortable belly dancing in front of others, I found a website called All About Belly Dancing that teaches in steps how to do the different moves and even has some videos to help show you.

There are also a lot of videos for belly dancing training and for belly dancing as exercise that you can find on Amazon. Read the reviews before you purchase to make sure you find one that is right for you.

So what do you think? Have I convinced you to give belly dancing a try? Let me know in the comments below.

You'll need to wait out the advertisement, but this is Shakira's "Hips Don't Lie" music video on YouTube.

Friday 26 July 2013

My Sugar Free Week and Flour-Free and Sugar-Free Cake Recipe #1wksugarfree

When I woke up this morning, I weighed myself and measured myself so I can let you know the results. I lost another .8 lbs over night, which makes my total loss for the seven days of going sugar-free (and  low carb) is exactly 10 whole pounds! In a week! I am stunned. I know it won't continue going down quite so quickly; there is always a point where it levels out, but I'm still really thrilled with these results.

As for my measurements, I didn't measure until I was already a bit into the sugar-free week, so these measurements are since only the last five days of my sugar free week. I have lost 1 1/2 inches from the smallest part of my waist, and measuring around where my belly button is, where I have the most weight to lose, I have lost 3 inches. Yay!

Something I hadn't even considered would happen when I started this - my finger nails are stronger now. I am taking that as a sign that I am getting better overall nutrition.

I know the week is over and this was meant to only be a one-week challenge, but I know I will be continuing it. I'm sure I won't always be 100% with it, and I will not keep myself from eating whole grain pastas, wholegrain rice and potatoes completely either, but I know I can limit those things to a great deal, and I'm pretty sure that I can avoid sugar most of the time. As the week has gone on, it has gotten easier and my cravings have been reduced enough now that I really want to continue this way of eating.

I would love to hear how you are doing so far with the challenge and any changes you are noticing, any part of it that you have been struggling with, anything at all that you've noticed since starting. Please let me know in the comments below.

And because I know some of you are still finishing your sugar-free weeks with a few days to go still, I will leave you with another sugar-free, flour-free recipe; this one is for cake! It does use sweetener, but the amount used can be lessened and I think it is still a better way to fulfill a sugar-craving than having sugar and flour.

Flour-Free & Sugar-Free Cake


300g 0%-fat Greek Yogurt
4 eggs
5 tablespoons granulated sweetener
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 x 1 teaspoons vanilla extract
fruit of your choice (I use strawberries on top and raspberries for in the middle)

  1. Separate the eggs and beat the whites until stiff
  2. In another bowl, mix the yolks, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract, baking powder, 100g of the yogurt and 4 tablespoons of the sweetener
  3. Whisk half of the egg whites into the yolks mixture, then carefully fold in the rest
  4. Pour mixture into a tray lined with baking paper. Bake in a pre-heated 160C/320F oven for 25 minutes or until golden and cooked
  5. Mix the rest of the yogurt, 1 tablespoon sweetener and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  6. Cut the cake in half. Spread the yogurt mixture over one half of the cooled cake and top with fruit (I use raspberries for this step.)
  7. Place the other half of the cake on top of the first half and cover this with yogurt and then tip with sliced strawberries.

    Serve and enjoy!

If you want to make this into one full round cake, double layered, then double the recipe and use two cake pans. Skip the cutting in half part. My kids, husband and I all really enjoy this cake. I hope you do too.

(And since I loved my belly dancing class so much yesterday, I will write an informational post about belly dancing tomorrow, so please stop by again!)

Thursday 25 July 2013

SUGAR FREE - DAY SEVEN! #1wksugarfree

Today is the last day of my one week sugar free.

I lost a little bit more weight overnight for a total weight loss, as of this morning, of 9.2 lbs!  I will post again tomorrow morning with my final weight loss amount and the change in my waist and belly measurements. I am thrilled! When I lost my full 145.5 lbs, I usually lost 1, 2 and 3 lbs a week, more often getting the lower weight-loss results, with occasional half pound losses. One time, I lost seven pounds in one week, and I was over the moon, but I was never able to repeat that loss. (And really, for long-term weight loss, the slower weight losses are better and healthier.) But I have been eating a lot this week. I have not skimped on food. I have made sure that I eat whenever I am hungry and I eat even more when I get my sugar cravings. And yet, I have already lost so much weight this week that I am amazed.

Our bodies are strange things. I knew that I was falling back into my binge eating and needed to make a change. I knew that I needed to change things up. I am surprised by how good the results have been. It's more than just the weight loss. My allergies have improved (though they haven't completely gone away) and I am feeling energetic again. I am full of ideas for my stories again too. And I noticed my weight-lifting sessions are feeling easier.

(No this isn't me. I wish! This is a picture I found on Pinterest here.)
Today, at the urging of my 20 year old daughter Angelica, I tried a completely new form of exercise. We went to our first belly dancing class! I have found a new way to exercise that I absolutely love, and I will definitely continue with the classes while I can afford them. They are not too expensive and they are walking-distance from my house. The class also provided me with a cute jingly belt like the one pictured above to wear during the class. I really like the belt!

So how about you? How have you been doing so far on the challenge? Are the cravings getting any better? Have you noticed any of the changes I have? And is there something you've always wanted to try but haven't gotten around to (like belly dancing for me)? What is it? Please let me know in the comments below.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Day Six Sugar Free & Flour-Free and Sugar-Free Pancakes Recipe #1wksugarfree

I know it's only evening here and I still have hours left before the day is over for me, but I decided to post early today because things are going really well. I had a moment where I struggled, which I will describe in a moment, but other than that, remaining sugar free is getting easier.

My momentary struggle happened when my husband and I went grocery shopping. We needed food, so I hadn't eaten much by then and I was hungry.  You should never go shopping while hungry. We passed by a large pack of marshmallows which were on sale for £1. For a brief moment, I really struggled not to buy them. I could even picture myself opening the pack and eating some on the way home. I remembered how they would taste. Until that moment, I didn't even know that marshmallows could be a problem for me. I like marshmallows, but my cravings usually fall more towards chocolate and caramel. Did you know that marshmallows have a smell? They do, and in that moment, I remembered it.

We continued on and there were a couple of things that called to me, though none as strongly as the marshmallows had. Pink & Whites (a wafer-like thing with marshmallow between the two sides) were on sale for 50 pence a pack, and my husband even drew my attention to them, but I shook my head "no" and quickly moved on. Alpen Light cereal bars were on sale too, and we usually buy those when they are on sale. My husband asked the question, but I wasn't even tempted for me. In fact, I told him he could buy them for him, as I knew I would be able to control myself around them.

 I ate lots of grilled chicken and salad ingredients today. I had a bit of cheese and some yogurt. I also had some watermelon and plums. Later, I have some strawberries that I can enjoy if I get hungry after my workout on the elliptical crosstrainer. We have bought some eggs, so I will probably make myself an omelet for breakfast, complete with peppers, onion, a sprinkling of cheese and some lean bacon.

As of this morning, my weight is down 8.6lbs. I have to admit that I am thrilled, especially when my weight loss had been stuck for several months.

How are you doing with the challenge so far? Let me know in the comments below.

Here is a recipe for pancakes that doesn't use any flour or sugar. It does use sweetener, but you can reduce the amount at your discretion. I sometimes like adding cinnamon to my pancakes. I recommend topping the pancakes with fruit and/or yogurt.

Flour-Free and Sugar-Free Pancakes

Makes 2 pancakes.


4 tbsp sweetener
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg


1. Separate the egg yolk and the egg white into separate bowls.

2. Add 2 tbsp of sweetener to the egg white. Using an electric mixer, whip up the egg white until it makes stiff peaks.

3. Add the vanilla extract and the rest of the sweetener to the egg yolk and mix well.

4. Fold the egg yolk mixture into the egg white mixture.

5. Spray a pan with Fry Light and pour half of the mixture into the pan. After a minute, flip the "pancake" over.

6. Take it out a minute later and repeat the cooking process with the rest of the mixture.

Add your favorite topping and enjoy!

Tuesday 23 July 2013

Sugar Free Day Five #1wksugarfree

Another day of avoiding sugar and, in my case, bread. I had a salad with a lean sausage cut up in it for lunch and another, bigger salad with chicken for dinner. Breakfast is usually eggs and yogurt, but I am out of eggs, so  just had the yogurt and a banana. I didn't go shopping today, so I need to go buy some more eggs.

This morning when I weighed myself, I have lost another small amount of weight for a total loss of 7.2 lbs in total so far. This will be interesting to see how the next few days go as I am at a weight I tend to get stuck at when I'm losing. The first day of the challenge, I lost 3.4lbs. The second day I lost 1.4lbs. The third day, I lost 2 lbs and yesterday, I lost .4lbs. It'll be interesting to see how long this keeps up.

Here are links to helpful articles about the evils of sugar and sugar addiction that I have found. Some I have read fully and some I have only skimmed.

The Psychology Behind Sugar Addictions

Five Clues You Are Addicted to Sugar

Why Is Sugar So Addictive

Breaking Your Sugar Addiction

The Truth About Sugar Addiction

Expert Tips to Kick Sugar Addiction

These are just a few of the articles I have found on the topic. There is tons of material out there about sugar and its effect on us. I was informed of a 30 day challenge to go sugar-free that has a Facebook page, so I'm sharing it here, in case anyone is interested in checking it out after this sugar-free week is up. It's called The Sugar Challenge.

How are you all doing so far? Please let me know in the comments!

Monday 22 July 2013

Day Four Sugar Free #1wksugarfree

Here I am on day four of the challenge. I am still having cravings, but they are being satisfied with healthy food, so I think I am craving sugar whenever I let myself get hungry. I just have to make sure not to let myself get hungry, and when I do, to reach for something healthy, and it makes things so much easier.

Did I mention that I was struck today with loads of inspiration for several picture book stories, something that hasn't happened in quite some time for me? I wonder if the lack of excess sugar in my system helped my muse.

I weighed myself this morning, and I've lost even more weight now. I've now lost a total of 6 lbs.

This is really giving me even better results than I expected this early in the challenge.

How is everyone else doing (those of you who have already started)?

Sunday 21 July 2013

Sugar Free Day Three #1wksugarfree

So another day has passed. I resisted the chocolate covered ice cream popsicles in the refrigerator.  I avoided the sugary fruit gummy sweets that my daughter still has sitting in a bag on the counter in my kitchen. I filled myself up on meat and eggs, yogurt and a bit of cheese.

The cravings are still getting to me, but I found it slightly easier today, possibly because I ate a couple of bananas and a nectarine, which helped to satisfy my sugar cravings but in a natural way. (Normally, I avoid bananas, but today, it was either eat the bananas or give in to my cravings. I chose not to give in.)

The good news is that my weight went down some more. I stepped on the scale this morning to find I had dropped another 1.4lbs, making my total loss so far 4.8lbs. And that was after only two days sugar-free (and bread free).

I made a delicious crust-less quiche today, full of vegetables and the whole family enjoyed it (although my younger kids picked the vegetables out of it. *sigh*)

Yesterday, my eldest daughter told me that she and her husband are starting the challenge on Monday. They are going to go sugar-free and bread-free for the week.

I finally remembered to take my waist measurements this morning, so hopefully I will have some news about it when the week is over. I even measured my belly fat area, since that's the area that is the worst to carry around extra fat health-wise, and I have read that it is the place where most sugar-caused weight goes.

So, three days down successfully. Four to go!

How are you doing so far? Please let me know in the comments.

Saturday 20 July 2013

Day Two Sugar Free #1wksugarfree

Today has gone well. I ate a lot of healthy food and had nothing processed or full of sugar. I am still having cravings, but I am fighting them off, in part, because I know I have to report in here and I refuse to disappoint you all. If I gave in to the cravings, I'd be disappointing myself too. It's not worth it. 

This morning, I weighed in with a loss since yesterday of 3.4 lbs! I know that it is probably water-weight brought on by my not eating bread, but it still was nice to see on the scale. I forgot to take my waist measurement (again), so I will have to do so tonight and let you know the difference in it, if there is any, at the end of my week. (Of course, it will only be the difference after 5 days by then, since I keep forgetting to take the measurement.)

I hope you are all doing well with your sugar-free days so far, if you have already started. I'd love to hear in the comments how you are finding the challenge on this second day.

Friday 19 July 2013

Sugar Free Day One (plus sugar-free quotes) #1wksugarfree

Day One of My Sugar-Free WeekMy first sugar-free day isn't quite over yet, but I don't intend to stay up until past midnight tonight, so I figured it would be okay to let you know how it is going so far, now that dinner has passed. I have not allwoed myself any sugar today, so I am calling today a success.

Now, how have I been feeling? I've been really tired today, but I am not associuating that with my lack of sugar and bread because I was really tired yesterday too. Also, I was up a little early today and out riding buses getting my kids to school, when I haven't had to do that for several months. And it's really hot. I'm always tired in the heat. But I said I would share how I am feeling, so that's how I'm feeling - tired.

This is only day one, so how difficult has it been to give up the sugar (and bread)? I'm not going to lie; it hasn't been easy. The fruit jelly gummy sweets that my 18 year old bought have been calling to me, as have the ice cream bars in the freezer. It hasn't helped that I haven't eaten enough today. I need to go shopping so that I have more available food on hand that I am allowed to eat. If I had planned better, I would have done the shopping yesterday and made sure I had everything I needed before today, but I didn't think it through. Tomorrow, I intend to eat my fill of meat, eggs, fruit and vegetables.

If I remember to, I will be measuring my waist later tonight so I can see if there are any changes at the end of the week. I should have done it this morning, but I only just thought of it. Sugar, bread and the like are supposed to cause weight gain in the belly, so it will be interesting to see the results of this week's experiment.

Now, just  for fun, I have added some quotes about living sugar-free below:

Quotes about giving up sugar from people who have tried it before:

"I did the The SUGAR Challenge by Richard Callender and it was awesome . My new favourite snack is greek yoghurt peanut butter (sugar free ) and a banana (nom nom). I lost nearly a stone [14 lbs] in 30 days I was full of energy my PMT [premenstrual tension, also known as PMS or premenstrual stress] massively reduced along with cellulite. It was a major eye opener to so much crap in food. Back to normal now, but my sugar intake is still very low. I will never be 100% saintly but I'm 95% and that's pretty good." ~Zoey Tyler


It's been life changing for me. Up until the heat wave hit, I was sleeping so much more deeply than I have for a long time. I no longer get a ravenous hunger that makes me want to eat everything in the cupboard. I'm much more even tempered and I'm 10 lbs down. I think I can say I've broken the cravings for sugar. I don't look at it as not being able to have it; I'm choosing not to have it, " ~Wendy Land

I've cut all sugar out, including bread & milk for 11 weeks and feel so much better for it and have also lost 1 stone most of which was body fat. I still allow myself 2 squares of 85%+ chocolate if I need it or after dinner. I have so much more energy and mental clarity for cutting out processed foods.

It's true, it doesn't take long to have an effect once you give it up. I was a chocoholic and could easily consume 3 or 4 bars per night! Since I started 'clean eating' cutting out all processed foods and only eating what nature provides (that has not been altered in any way by man) my sugar cravings have gone, my body fat has dropped, I feel ALIVE! I still enjoy 2 squares of 85% chocolate but don't crave the chocolate anymore, I can now take or leave it. It has been quite an eye opener as to what is actually in our foods. My hayfever has virtually gone too, I haven't taken anything for it for over a month now and I believe it has a lot to do with what is hidden in our foods.

I couldn't believe the difference just through changing what I eat, and the pollen count is at its highest now and I'm still okay." ~Sandra Redhead


"About a month ago I decided to go without sugar for a day.  (I succeeded until sunset at which time the vampire in me had to eat some Marshmallow Fluff.)" ~Brenda Harris


"We don't need sugar to live, and we don't need it as a society." ~Mehmet Oz


"I'm still not comfortable recommending that people eat saturated fat with abandon, but it's clear to me that sugar, flour and oxidized seed oils create inflammatory effects in the body that almost certainly bear most of the responsibility for elevating heart disease risk." ~Andrew Weil


"I cut out refined sugars cold turkey. No M&M's at the movies, no energy bars, no Gatorade – I even had to be more careful when going to Jamba Juice, because sometimes they use sugar-filled juice from concentrate. After a few months, I stopped craving sugar entirely.

The difference was instantaneous: I slept better, I recovered from workouts more easily, and I had more energy. When we started training camp in September, we were doing two-a-days – four or five hours on the court – and I never got sore. Even more telling is the fact that this summer I traveled all over the world for my foundation, bringing team sports to war-ravaged countries. I was missing out on sleep and still training the whole time, but I never got sick. I've got to think it's because sugar wasn't wearing me down." ~Steve Nash


If you started with me today, how has your first day of living sugar-free been? Let me know in the comments. If you are starting tomorrow, Sunday or Monday, don't forget to go shopping for lean meat, eggs, fruit, vegetables and other natral food that you can eat without adding sugar.

Brenda Harris has decided to join the challenge and blogged about it. Her post was funny, so I'm linking it for you to go and have a read. A Sugar free Challenge by Brenda Harris

Thursday 18 July 2013

How unhealthy is sugar? #1wksugarfree

I have finally admitted to myself that I have a hard time passing by the cakes, sweets and ice creams that seem to be multiplying in my house now that my 18 year old is working. She keeps going out and buying a bunch of junk food, and I keep finding myself, (with the help of her telling me, "Go ahead and help yourself,") helping myself to the munchies on frequent occasions. I am beginning to see where my small weight re-gain has come from.

While I was caught up in the joy of my weight loss success and still losing weight every week, it was easier to pass by these little nibbles, because I was seeing weekly, and sometimes daily, results for my efforts. But once I was in maintenance mode, there was less of a visible change to notice each week for my healthy-eating efforts, so sneaking a small cookie here and gummy bear there became easier to allow myself.

This week, as I caught myself eating junk food after junk food, I realized that I am addicted to sugar. I've noticed this about myself before, but never did anything about it. People are frequently suggesting that I give up having added sugar in anything, and I am often reading about others who are doing that. But I always felt like that was just too drastic a step for me to take. I mean, give up sugar? No more candy? No more chocolate? No more ice cream? No more cake or cookies? Am I even capable of such a huge step? Me, the person who was born with the strongest sweet tooth in California? I didn't think I was capable of even attempting such a thing.

But I have been considering this for a while now. And really, if I can lose over 145 lbs, then I am capable of anything I set my mind to, and giving up sugar is just one of those things. Right? So here is what I am doing:


1 - I am giving up cookies, cakes, sweets, ice cream and all other sugar-filled desserts.

2 - I am giving up sugary cereals and will not be adding sugar to any of my food.

And, I'm adding some additional changes to my challenge for the week, due to carbohydrates being so easily converted to sugar in the body.

3 - I am giving up all bread, rice, pasta and potatoes, and everything made from them.

4 - I am only allowing sweetener in my coffee and tea, and not adding artificial sweeteners to any of my other food.

5 - I will be blogging daily about how well or poorly I am doing without sugar and bread in my daily diet and the moods I am experiencing, which may or may not be a result of the dietary change.

6 - I will add, with each blog post, whether my weight has stayed the same, gone down or gone up and by how much.

Any commentary I make about the challenge on Facebook or Twitter will be using the hashtag #1wksugarfree

Are any of you brave enough to join in this challenge with me? You only need to do #1 and #2 of the things listed to be counted as joining in. (Some people don't like starting over the weekend, so even though I am starting on Friday, you can change your own start date to Monday and still be counted as joining in.)

You don't need to blog about it, but if you leave a comment here letting me know that you are going to join in the challenge with me, comment at least once during the week on either Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #1wksugarfree and leave a comment on the last post I make on this at the end of the week (on July 26th) letting me know how you have done, I will enter you in a drawing for the cookbook, "Sweet and Sugar Free: An All Natural Fruit-Sweetened Dessert Cookbook" by Karen E. Barker (or a similar cookbook if this one isn't available). If your profile does not include an e-mail I can reach you at, I will need you to leave a way for me to get in touch with you if you win. The winner will be announced on July 27th.

So, please come and join me in exiling sugar from my daily life for the next week! Commiserate or rejoice with me as we attempt this challenge together!

(Obviously, if you have any diet-related health conditions, such as diabetes or hypoglycemia, then you need to make sure with your doctor that you are allowed to take part in this.)

Monday 15 July 2013

Finding Balance #healthyliving

Over the holidays this year, I stopped exercising and started letting myself eat whatever I wanted. The reason behind this was that I was beginning to get too strict with myself. I wasn't eating enough and I was over-exercising. Both are things that can, individually, put my body into starvation mode, and it was showing. My weight was slowly inching up even though I was exercising several hours a day and not eating enough. So, I decided to shock my body out of starvation mode by spending two weeks eating what I wanted and not adding any exercise into my daily routine. This didn't work out so well for me.

Remember, a long time ago on this blog, when I mentioned that I have a binge eating disorder? Well, following Slimming World helped me to keep control over it. When I found myself going in the opposite direction and wandering into anorexic territory (which is not the Slimming World way), I decided to make a change, but I didn't only let loose for the two weeks I had planned on. I found that, once I started letting myself eat what I wanted, the binge eating took over again and it took me two months to reign it back in. It also took me those same two months to force myself back into exercising daily.

In the meantime, my weight went up. It went up more than I had planned on. I have still lost well over 100 pounds. I have no longer lost over 145 lbs. I have about 19 pounds left to get back to my low weight. (It was 40 lbs, but I already started losing the weight again a couple of months ago.) It is depressing and I am not happy with myself or my body right now.

I am back to doing anywhere from a minimum of an hour and half of exercise daily to a maximum of 2 hours. Usually, I spend 66 minutes using the elliptical crosstrainer and spend about 45 minutes walking. But one thing I discovered with the bit of weight gain and the lack of weight training, is that I really do not like the way my arms look. I had, before letting go, been getting my arms rather toned and was seeing some nice muscle developing in them. So this past month, I have reincorporated weight training into my exercise regime. Three days a week, instead of walking the dog for 45 minutes, I am doing the Wii Fit step routine while doing different arm lifts using handweights. It's working. I am already noticing the muscle development.

My biggest problem right now is in finding balance in my healthy living efforts. I don't want to be swinging from one eating disorder to another, from binge eating to anorexia. (And yes, you can be overweight AND suffer from anorexia at the same time. I am not saying I was anorexic, only that I was heading in that direction.) The main reason I lost the weight in the first place is because I want to be healthy and live a long time so I can stick around for my children. Overexercising and not eating enough will NOT help me achieve that goal.

I am still proud of the 126 lbs I have lost. I am happy that I am living a healthy lifestyle and increasing my energy and strength. I am determined to continue to do so and not to let anything keep me from being as healthy and strong as it is possible for me to be. I am also determined not to let this recent failure get me down. I can let regret eat at me or I can work towards fixing things. I choose to fix things.

Continued goal:

I will be a healthy example for my children, and I will not let any disparaging words about my body or my weight pass my lips for my children to hear.

Sunday 19 May 2013

Skinny Dreaming's Super Slimmers - Sharing Inspirational Weight Loss Success Stories

Some of you already know about Skinny Dreaming's Super Slimmers and Skinny Dreaming Recipes (links to which are shown in the sidebar). And some of you might follow Skinny Dreaming on Facebook, where links to the inspirational weight loss stories and healthy recipes are all shared in one place. But for those of you who remain unaware of these, I thought I would list some of those inspirational success story interviews with people who have lost a lot of weight, so you can go and enjoy the motivation and inspiration that their stories bring.

It's important that people on their weight loss journey have others to look up to who have done it before them. Seeing someone who has been successful on their weight loss journey helps by letting a person see that it can be done because it has been done before. I know that it was the success stories I read about others or saw in the people I knew that helped me to make my own weight loss and fitness journey such a success.

Have you lost 50 pounds or more to reach your goal weight? Do you want to help inspire others and show them that, yes, it can be done? I am looking for more people to feature as Super Slimmers. E-mail me (using the contact me link in the sidebar), and I will send you some interview questions for you to fill in and send back. I will also need some before and after photos to include in the post. Those who get featured will get a "Super Slimmers" mug sent to them as a thank you.

Also, if you have been featured in the past, but had not at the time reached your goal weight and have since lost more weight, please let me know and we will add an update post on your progress.

If any of my previous Super Slimmers did not get their mug, please contact me through my e-mail (contact link is in the sidebar) and I will send one out to you right away.

Thursday 25 April 2013

Can you carry a fridge on your back while running a marathon?

photo by Appliances Online
 I recently read about a challenge one guy has taken upon himself to raise money for charity. He has lost loved ones to cancer, so the charity of his choice is The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation. First off, I find even the idea of carrying a fridge on my back for a FEW STEPS a painful idea. I doubt I could make it without harming something in my back. I work hard at my fitness. I run, I hike, I use the elliptical crosstrainer, I do exercise videos, I use the Wii Fit and the Kinect, I train with weights and I do all of these things regularly. Not a day goes by that I don't fit exercise into my daily life. BUT, I do not think I could even take two steps with a fridge strapped onto my back. This is Tony's second year doing this. And the great news is that Tony the Fridge broke the world record on the 24 hours challenge! It is amazing what one person can achieve when he believes strongly enough in what he is doing.

photo by Appliances Online

Here's the some of the press release from Appliances Online, a company that is helping to sponsor him. This press release came out before he had done the run and these are only parts of it.


One of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation’s most dedicated and unusual fund-raisers is taking on an incredible new challenge this week.

Tony ‘the Fridge’ Phoenix-Morrison, from Hebburn, raised over £13,000 for the charity last year by running 30 consecutive, daily half marathons carrying a fridge on his back.

Now Tony is back, with an even larger fridge, and this Friday (19 April) he will be attempting to run for 24 hours, covering an astonishing 100 miles - the equivalent of almost four marathons - around Newcastle’s Quayside after a challenge was issued by online retail giant, Appliances Online...

...Tony says: “The 30 half marathons felt like a long relentless slog.  Every day getting up and out again was really hard but this is a whole different sort of pressure.

“To even carry the fridge for 24 hours isn’t easy but to do that and keep running, well, it’s going to a be a struggle.  My new Smeg fridge looks great but at 42kg it’s even heavier than the last one.

“This challenge is best described as the impossible journey.  Both mentally and physically, the reality is that I am a Granddad one week away from my 49th birthday and, to be honest, I have no idea whether I can l keep going for 24 hours let alone reach 100 miles...

...“I’m passionate about raising money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.  I’ve seen the work the charity funds and met some remarkable people who are benefitting from it.

“I’m proud to be playing a part and just hope I can complete this challenge and keep helping the charity.  Thinking about that, and the loved ones I’ve lost to cancer, will be my motivation when it gets really tough on Saturday afternoon.”

Tony will be setting off at 6pm on Friday and, all being well, will complete 100 one mile laps of Newcastle’s Quayside finishing at 6pm on Saturday.  The start and finish point is the Pitcher and Piano bar, which, along with Malmaison Hotel, is providing support.

Tony was challenged by Appliances Online, the UK's largest online kitchen appliance retailer, to undertake the marathon effort. The retail giant is donating £15,000 to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation...
...To sponsor Tony for The Appliances Online 24 Hour Challenge please visit  Or you can text a donation via JustTextGiving by texting FRID93 and the amount in pounds to 70070.

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation:

The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation aim to find better ways to detect and treat cancer - and to do so while directly helping patients currently fighting the disease.  It also helps fund projects which improve cancer patient care.

photo by Appliances Online

Is there something that you believe strongly enough in that you could do something like this? You might be surprised by how far believing in something, and in yourself, can take you!

Thursday 21 March 2013

Why Being Healthy Is More Important Than Being Skinny

When I came up with the name Skinny Dreaming for my blog in 2008, it was because I was morbidly obese and wanted to reach a healthy BMI. To me, getting healthy was "skinny dreaming." I set up a Google alert that lets me know when someone is trying to use my blog name and, since then, I most often come across other blogs of young severely anorexic girls who post pictures of themselves and give tips for other anorexic girls on how to starve themselves or purge the food they eat and other very dangerous activities. It makes me so sad. I don't want my website's name associated with that kind of thinking and I really, really want these girls to understand that they are beautiful as they are and they don't need to hurt themselves through starvation and/or binging/purging. 

According to the National Eating Disorders Association, anorexia has one of the highest death rates of any mental health condition.

Side Effects of Anorexia:

1 - Hair loss
2 - Dental decay
3 - Osteoporosis

These three symptoms are just the visible symptoms, and, if you're thinking about losing weight by starving yourself, take a look at those three symptoms right there. They are not pretty. You may end up skinny, but you'll also end up bald, toothless and hunched.

4 - Weakness
5 - Fatigue
6 - Heart problems
7 - Paralysis - temporary but can lead to more permanent nerve damage and paralysis
8 - Kidney damage/kidney failure
9 - Loss of menstrual cycle/infertility
10 - Dizziness/vertigo/low blood pressure/anemia

There are other symptoms and side effects, but the really important side effect to take note of is

I take pride in the fact that I have not only lost the excess weight I was carrying, but that I stopped while I was still at a healthy weight. I have grown healthier and stronger. How can anyone think that all of the other side effects and risks are worth starving themselves or purging after meals? I know that some psychologists will say it is about the anorexics' need for control, but there are other ways to take control of your life that have nothing to do with how much or how little you are eating or allowing into your body.  How about taking control of your HEALTH? How about taking control of your mind and increasing your knowledge and learning? How about working on getting stronger, physically and emotionally?

To anyone who thinks that it is worth starving themselves or making themselves vomit in order to be thin, please, PLEASE choose instead to value yourself and your life more than that. Please.

Monday 25 February 2013

Excellent Exercise Option for People with Cancer (guest post)

This is a guest post by Melanie Bowen. Melanie Bowen joined the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance in 2011 as an awareness advocate for natural health and cancer cure initiatives. You will often find her highlighting the great benefits of alternative nutritional, emotional, and physical treatments on those diagnosed with cancer or other serious illness. Melanie also assists in social media outreach in her efforts to spread awareness. In her spare time, you can find Melanie trying new vegan recipes, on her yoga mat, or spending time with her family.

Excellent Exercise Options for People with Cancer
Finding time to begin a consistent fitness routine may seem like a laughable subject to someone who is busy fighting for her life going through cancer treatments.  But, fitness activities may be the very thing that gives a cancer patient the edge needed in order to beat the disease and to recover at a much quicker rate.  While exercise is not known as a cure for cancer, getting physically active can provide multiple benefits to the body.  These benefits can help a person to gain a significant advantage when it comes to battling cancers such as mesothelioma and breast cancer.

Discover Effective Exercises for Cancer Patients

There are numerous resources out there to find different exercises for all different levels of skill and even energy levels for those going through treatment. Because chemotherapy takes a heavy toll on a person’s ability to feel strong physically and emotionally, there are a few exercise types that are suggested just for people going through cancer treatments. Some common and very helpful examples include aerobic exercise, strength training, and yoga.

The Benefits of Yoga

Yoga is one of the most highly recommended types of exercise for people undergoing cancer treatment.  Yoga is an exceptional exercise for very ill people for a variety of reasons.  This form of exercise is low impact and it can be elevated in intensity and length of time if a person begins feeling stronger after the first few weeks.  Stretching muscles, toning the body, improving oxygen levels and increasing blood circulation are just a few benefits people can expect to gain when they begin regular yoga sessions.  Each of these benefits will play a significant role in helping a person to overcome a major disease.

Get Results Through Aerobic Exercises

Aerobic exercises are another form of activity that is also available in low impact sessions.  Like yoga, the intensity level of aerobic may be increased in time as the person’s physical strength increases.  Aerobics is an ideal form of activity for a person with cancer because it provides great weight management, improved circulation and helpful strength training for the body.

No matter what exercises a patient incorporates into their routine, they will benefit both physically and mentally as long as their program is created and supervised with the consultation of a physician. Be sure to speak with your doctor as soon as possible to find ways to work appropriate physical activity into your schedule.