I still can't quite get my head around it. Winter in June? In Ireland June was summertime. Granted it was more likely that we were putting on sweaters rather than sunscreen but at least the seasons were the right way around. Eight years after we set up home here in Australia I still struggle to work out the seasons. Christmas in Summer, my Birthday in Winter. All jumbled up here Down Under.
And so we welcome in Winter today. The weather has been cool for a while. I regularly layer thermals under wool jumpers. Hot water bottles are filled at night and fights break out over who gets to have my wheat-sacks as they come out of the microwave.
And then I ring home and the conversation dances around the weather. I talk about how cold it is, they talk about it being beautiful, blue skies but fresh. And then I check my weather App and realise that we are all forecast the same temperatures this week...
Dublin: Fair with scattered cloud. High of 18 and Low of 9 degrees.
Newcastle: Fair with scattered cloud. High of 18 and Low of 10 degrees.
Irish Summer meet Australian Winter. You are one and the same.
I think I can safely say I am finally acclimatised!
Five weeks ago I wrote a blog update as to how I was doing on the Fast Diet/ 5:2 Diet after being on it for 14 weeks. That blog post has blown my normal blog stats through the roof and has been read by over 4,000 people and counting. I have received so many emails from people who were getting ready to embark on their own lifestyle changes. Some just wanted to introduce themselves and some had questions. I can only share what I have learnt along the way and I am very aware that what works for one person may not work for another.
What really has amazed me is the number of people I know that have watched the Horizon documentary, read the book and have interpreted the eating advice in a way that works for them. So many of my friends and work colleagues have decided to give this a go and all around me I see people slimming down, looking happier and healthier than I have ever known them. Some have needed to lose weight and are delighted to see almost immediate results on their weekly weigh-ins. Some are already a healthy weight and have wanted to try the 5:2 diet for the health benefits.
One of the comments from people around me is the worry that I might lose too much weight. I weigh less now than I have at any time in the last 8 years I have lived in Australia. The new friends in my day to day life are used to seeing me look a little more rounded but the Gina I see in the mirror is the one I feel more familiar and comfortable with. It's not surprising that I have had to have my nursing uniforms taken in and I can understand the concern from people who worry that the weight will continue to fall off and I may possibly get to a point of being underweight. I guess that is the main reason for this blog post.
It's hard to give an exact "perfect" weight for any one person. As a general rule if you are of average build then you can check your Body Mass Index and ideally should be a BMI of between 20-25.
But can I continue to fast two days a week safely? Will I reach a point of needing to reduce back to only one fast day? I don't know the answer to these questions yet. The first 7 kilos came away over the first 12 weeks or so. The last 6 or 7 weeks have seen only a marginal weight loss. This week my weight had gone up slightly despite my normal 2 days fasting. Bear in mind that it was Mothers Day and my gorgeous kids bought me the worlds biggest box of chocolates which we have been eating with gusto. I've also been working some extra shifts in hospital as we save for a holiday and because that leaves me tired I've not exercised very much. I guess you could say that apart from the two fast days life is returning to normal. Old habits are creeping back.
It's the two fast days that I credit with keeping me around the 55kg mark. I feel that if it wasn't for them I would be yo-yoíng back into a higher weight range. For now I will be continuing to fast two days a week. I think with my sweet tooth on the five normal food days I have found the perfect balance for my weight control. Hopefully I will also continue to reap the rewards of the protection against dementia, stroke, heart attack and cancer. If my weight drops further and my BMI goes to 20 or below I will certainly pull back to only one fast day.
I had a check up with my GP last week. Every thing was perfect, weight, blood pressure etc. I got the thumbs up from him to continue what I am doing as long as I don't lose any further weight.
I'd love to hear from anyone else who has reached their goal weight too. Have you had to modify the 5:2 diet or has your body reached a balance? I'm also happy to hear from any of you that are starting your new lifestyles or are part way through your journey. If you leave a comment I will try to respond back via your email (if you register it as you comment) or by responding in a comment below yours.
Good luck and thank-you so much to everyone who has encouraged me along the way. I hope I can pay it forward...
On the first of May, May Day, it is a tradition in Ireland to set aside a small area in your house and put a May Altar.
A couple of years ago I decided to revitalise this tradition in our home. It was a year where I had misplaced both my engagement and eternity ring as well as a ring Byron gave me when Sian was born. The story of the setting up of that years
Altar had a very happy ending...
If you want to read about it here is the link to the post Tears and Gratitude
I could not help but see the contrast between my safe and happy 10 year old boy and the young men that left their mothers to fight for our freedom. Each of those young men were once a 10 year old boy. Each of them had a mother and a father, sisters and brothers, friends and comrades.
Not all of them made it home to their mothers arms. And for that I will hug Gareth a little tighter tonight as I tuck him up in bed...
13 years ago I paced the kitchen late at night eating cold creamed rice pudding from a tin. I felt the contractions building and taking away my ability to draw breath but I wasn't ready to admit that you were really on your way. You see you had gone overdue and I had already had a couple of false alarms. The excitement of thinking "This is it!" only to be sent home again to wait. My poor tummy was stretched tight and each day felt like an eternity as we wondered if today would be your birthday.
I had been to the hospital earlier that day and had seen the consultant. As he examined me he made bold and believable statements. He was a man well used to women begging him to look into a crystal ball and predict the future. He shook his head and confidently said "Not today" You weren't engaged yet. You were bouncing around and triggering false contractions but as soon as they started you bounced away again laughing at the chaos that you were causing. Oh little did I know that I was getting a sneak preview of your personality even then.
And so back to the kitchen. The night black outside and my reflection shining back at me from the big window. Tin in one hand and spoon in the other. I wasn't in labour because the big man had said it was so. But if he might just be wrong and I might just be right I would need food to get me through the roller coaster ride to come.
Your Granny was in the kitchen too. She could see from my face all that was happening in my belly. She knew. She tried to suggest I go to the hospital but I stubbornly refused. Not yet. Not till I've finished this creamy and delicious rice. Not till Sian is tucked up in bed. She tried to talk your Dad into persuading me but he couldn't read my face like Granny could. He believed my version and said we would wait a while. Granny made pleading faces at him behind my back. He shrugged and looked back at me, pacing, eating. They thought I couldn't see but the window's reflection was like a mirror letting me watch what they thought was hidden. I grinned as I looked down into the almost empty tin. Just one more spoon... finished.
Eventually I gave in and wearily picked up the overnight bag. I felt butterflies of excitement, contractions that squeezed the air out of my lungs and fear that I was making a nuisance of myself. That I would return home a few hours later belly still stretched tight. Arms empty. Waiting.
I struggled to walk through the dark car-park into the brightly lit Labour ward. They showed me immediately to a birthing room and gave me a hospital gown. I stood there at the edge of the bed in the gown, my hands gripped the mattress so hard I thought I would surely puncture it with my fingers. The Midwife passed me the gas and air and I gasped deeply from it with eyes screwed shut. Hot tears pricked my eyeballs. As the pain passed I let down the mouthpiece and apologised. "I'm so sorry, I'm not in labour, it's just Braxton Hicks, The consultant said..."
"The consultant was wrong darling, you are well dilated, not long to go...."
I lay on the bed as the midwife checked me over, listened to your heartbeat and filled in the paperwork. I needed to push. She paused what she was doing to check me again and you were well on your way! She rang the bell for back up. You were born as the second midwife ran into the room to find the first opening the birthing pack at a million miles an hour. "What happened?" said the first "Why didn't you call me in time" "There was no warning, She just came out" said the second as they swaddled you up tight and put a tiny knitted cap over your head. They placed you in an incubator to warm you up. I watched it all from my end of the bed in bemusement. I still hadn't quite accepted I was really in labour and now it was all over.
When your sister had arrived two years before we had chosen one Welsh and one Irish name for her. Sian and Molly. After her birth I was so exhausted that when your Dad said she looked like a Sian and that Molly would be perfect as her middle name. I just nodded. I'd have agreed to anything at that moment.
So now it was time to give you your name. We had chosen a Welsh name and an Irish name. Rhiannon and Sinead. This time I had said all through the pregnancy that I would give you the Irish name as your first name and the Welsh name as your middle one. Your Dad looked at me with those twinkling eyes of his and said "She looks like a Rhiannon" And so it was that he got his way again and we find ourselves with a beautiful teenager called Rhiannon Sinead Baynham. A girl that melts our hearts with humour. That fills our house with laughter. A girl who is a whirlwind of crazy leaving trails of mess and destruction behind her. A girl that broke all the molds and will always be an individual.
A girl who fills my phone with selfies and my heart with love.
Happy Birthday beautiful.
It's been 14 weeks since the phonecall with my friend Cathy in England. 14 weeks since she told me I had to watch a documentary called Eat, Fast, Live Longer that was made by the BBC. How it would change my thinking about health and weight loss.
I am 14 weeks down a path of following Dr Micheal Mosley's advice in his book "The Fast Diet". In that 14 weeks I have eaten normally for 70 days. I have fasted for 28.
I have been to dinner at friends houses. I have eaten Easter eggs and sat down with Byron at the weekend with glasses of wine and cheese and crackers by candlelight. I have been to the movies and munched on popcorn and peanut M+M's.I have been on girls nights out and eaten chocolates with cups of tea at Bookclub while laughing and talking about everything but that months book. I have made celebration dinners and Birthdays cakes and whole heartedly enjoyed eating them surrounded by family and friends. Guilt free.
I have lived.
I have lost 8 kilos.
My weight has dropped from 62kgs to 54kgs. That's over a stone in weight over a safe 3 1/2 months...
I blew my original target of getting to 57kgs and had to add in an extra few lines to the grid on my poster inside my pantry door. The weightloss has levelled out over recent weeks and I'm not aiming or expecting to loose much more.
It hasn't all been easy. Some fast days have been harder than others. Some days I have found my hand bringing something to my mouth as I cooked or unpacked the groceries. I have had to count to ten and put the food down. I have exercised. I've kept a chart to make me accountable for how many "none exercise" days I have (Note the big crosses!) I have cycled in front of the tv in the evenings and dusted down my pilates dvds. I have learned new recipes for 300 calorie dinners that taste amazing and beat our normal evening meals hands down. I have massively increased my intake of fruit and veggies.
I have made new priorities and made the time to follow them.
Tonight here in Australia the BBC documentary "Eat, Fast, Live Longer' is being aired on SBS at 8.30pm.
I cannot encourage you enough to watch it. I am so grateful to Cathy for enthusing about it and starting a lifestyle change that has brought me so much benefit. If just one person says the same thing 14 weeks from now because they read this then it will have been worth blogging about!
Let me know if you watch it. I'd love to know your thoughts on it. If you want to click back on the blog posts I wrote since starting the intermittant fasting you can find the links below...
The Fast Diet, An introduction.
Week 2 update
Week 3 update
Week 4 update
Week 5 update
Week 8 update
Rhiannon will become a teenager this month. I feel old. Very old. Feel free to validate me with comments below about how I don't look old enough to have kids. I regularly get told this in work. Usually by the patients in the 90+ age group who are missing their glasses (and marbles) *sigh*
Back to Rhiannon...
It is school holidays here and many of Rhiannon's friends are away travelling with their families and enjoying the break. We found a day last week that her best friends were free and they came over for afternoon tea. Rhiannon helped with icing and decorating mini cup cakes, dipping strawberries in chocolate and making little chocolate meringues sandwiched with fresh cream. Yum!
Only a few days now until the real birthday. I'm making the most of having a 12 year old daughter . A few more days of pre-teenage bliss. A few more days of denial... Pass the chocolate... And the wine...!
There is a great running event in Newcastle for runners and walkers alike. It is grouped under the name Hill to Harbour and is broken down into 2k 5k 10k and half marathon.
My workplace put a poster up in the tea room offering to pay the registration fees for any staff member and their immediate family to do any of the events. I registered us all for the 5k walk/run. We made sure to squeeze in a few weekend walks as the date approached to be sure that we were fit!
The day before we went in to Newcastle to pick up our race kits. We have never done something like this before and there was a great deal of excitement laying out the T-Shirts, Race numbers and timing chips before we went to bed.
It was an early start with our alarms set for 5.30am. Even with such an early drive in to Newcastle it was a struggle to find parking and we only arrived at the start line about 20 minutes before the start gun.
Sian and Byron actually ran the 5k race which I was very proud of them doing. Gareth, Rhiannon and I walked and ran, walked and ran.
As we neared the finish line Gareth decided to give it everything and run across! Apologies for the movie quality. I was doing my best to combine videoing, running and breathing!
OK, I just recieved an email from a friend who wad just read this post. She reminded me that there is a small element to this story that is missing. A minor detail in my eyes but to be fair and honest I suppose I should add it. When I said that Gareth, Rhiannon and myself walked and ran, walked and ran what I really meant was that Gareth and Rhiannon were very keen to run and I was happier to walk. For this reason we decided to break it up into little runs and then dropped to a walking pace when
There you have it. Decide if you must whether Monica's insistance on the trivial details makes for a better story... I'm still not convinced you needed to know it.... !