Archive for the ‘Weight loss’ Category

Seven Days of Positive – Day 125

In Packing, Weight loss on March 12, 2015 at 10:40 pm


I’ve just done the easiest pack I’ve ever done. Not a moment of anguish.

Out of the closet it came – navy blue, navy blue, navy blue, bright pink and white stripes, navy blue, pink, navy blue, navy blue, pink – and into the bag it went.

There was one small anxiety when I couldn’t remember where I had put my Sperry Oxfords (pink), then I remembered. Another short angst about which bag to take for use in the resort – you know that carrying your room key, lippie and phone thing – until I remembered the brilliant 1970s one my mum gave me.


The strap is a gold chain link arrangement, so it works shoulder or can be converted into a clutch.

It’s navy blue.

Sort out the toilietries and make up. Two feature necklaces. A scarf wrap. In the bag.


Travelling clothes laid out on bed. Travel handbag packed. Passport? Check. Done.

So what made the process I normally find torturous so easy, in fact enjoyable?

Losing ten kilos. True fact.

Seven Days of Positive – Day 119

In Diets, Food, Weight loss on February 12, 2015 at 9:45 pm


I’ve gone coco loco. As in mad for coconuts, coconut oil, in particular.

It came into my life a few months ago when I read about oil pulling. This is the Ayurvedic dental technique, where you put a spoonful of coconut oil – it’s solid at room temperature, so it feels weird until it melts – in your gob and swill it around for 20 minutes, sucking it through your teeth.

At the end you spit the now thin foamy liquid out into your bin, not your sink, because it will harden again, blocking your drains.

It’s meant to whiten teeth, soften plaque and remove bacteria from the mouth, which is good for all round health.

I started doing it because after taking so many heavy duty antibiotics my tongue had a really nasty coating and my mouth tasted funny.

I also feared I had death breath.

It has definitely helped and while I don’t do it every day religiously, I do it quite often. It’s surprising how quickly you get used to it. I admit I rather enjoy it now.

Even more so because my tongue is pink again and I do think I have less plaque on my back teeth.

So I’m a fan of oil pulling, although I don’t subscribe to the usual American hysterical reaction where there are now crazed blog posts all over the internet claiming that it can cure cancer and every other disease known to man.

That’s clearly bollocks.

I am normally very wary of superfood fads, because of that kind of carry on. It amuses me every time I go to New York to see what the latest food obsession is. There’s always something and immediately it’s everywhere.

I can only imagine how much extra virgin organic coconut oil there on Manhattan right now. It might sink under the weight.

But despite all that, coconut oil seems to be playing a bigger part in my life every day.

It’s a big part of Amelia Freer’s weight loss and health boosting regime. Amelia is a great believer in the health benefits of coconut oil, for its nutritional benefits – and she also subscribes to the increasingly accepted belief that it helps you lose weight.

I can’t be bothered to go into the science of this, so please read these excellent post by Sarah Wilson, which explains it all.

I cook with it whenever possible and if I decide to use olive oil because I don’t want the slight tropical flavour in my Italian style dinner, like Sarah, I’ll munch on a spoonful of coconut oil at the end of my meal. It’s very satiating, so you feel full for ages.

And when you only eat sugar once a week, as I have for the last four months, it tastes great.

So between oil pulling, frying and munching, coconut oil has become part of my daily life. Now it’s making inroads into my beauty routine.

I’m typing this with a load of it on my hair (zapped in the microwave to melt it), to see whether it’s as good an overnight moisturising hair mask as is widely claimed. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

I will also be trying it out as eye make up remover.

For more on all that read this by Lauren Conrad.

Celebrities are mad about it too. Gwynnie is oil pulling like mad (of course she is…), Angelina has it for breakfast, Jennifer fries her nachos in it and Miranda Kerr doesn’t go a day without it – and she’s looking good on it…


Are any of you going coco loco too?


Seven Days of Positive – Day 113

In books, Diets, Uncategorized, Weight loss on January 31, 2015 at 9:54 pm


On the chair in my bedroom is a pile of clothes which keeps getting higher. They’re the ones I can’t wear any more because they are too big.

Too. Big. Oh how I savour those words.

Since starting the plan of my nutrition guru Amelia Freer in October I’ve lost ten kilos – which is over a stone and a half in olde Englishe – and I’m down nearly three jeans sizes.

I say nearly because even the small size 12s are so big I can take them off without undoing them and have to hold them up with a belt, but while I can get into the small size 10s (jeans sizes are so inconsistent, it’s a total joke) they’re just a wee bit too snug to be quite comfortable.

Four years ago they were my go to jeans, comfy enough to wear on the plane from London to Sydney, so that’s where I’m trying to get back to. I reckon another two kilos should do it. Maybe three.

But I’m trying not to obsess on the numbers, what’s far more important is how much better I feel and not just ‘about myself’, in general wellness.

Obviously my self-esteem is boosted, no longer carrying fat bastard failure shame around with me, but I also feel exponentially better in myself.

It’s more than just less tired – although imagine carrying round a ten kilo suitcase all the time, strapped to your body… no wonder I was exhausted. I feel more cheerful, more optimistic and I’m sleeping better than I have for years.

In that regard, I think my adored five or six mugs of strong tea a day were messing me up a lot more than I realised.


I’m now having just one in the morning and occasionally another with lunch – with milk. I’m not supposed to have milk on the regime, but while I was perfectly happy to drink black coffee in the morning my skin went insane from it.

Coffee seems to be absolutely the one worst thing for rosacea, so I had to can that, but fancy dancy China tea served without milk, while very dainty, doesn’t deliver the caffeine kick I need first thing.

I decided to experiment with the one cup of proper tea with milk (OH JOY) and it hasn’t slowed down my weight loss so I’m sticking with it. Sometimes at 3pm I have to gnaw on my knuckles I want another one so badly, but I don’t give in.

I’ve come way too far to blow it now.

Apart from that I haven’t diverged from the plan at all – because I find it really easy to stick to. If you check back to my original posting on it here you’ll see what the key points are.

I really enjoy my meals. For lunch I had salmon fillet, stir-fried with leftover roasted butternut squash and green beans, with garlic, chili, ginger and coriander for flavour, with a delicious mango for pud. Tonight I had a two-egg omelette with fried courgettes, followed by a baked apple. Over an hour later I’m still absolutely stuffed. There’s no doubt eating fat keeps you fuller.

I have 190g of full fat Greek yogurt for breakfast and it’s so sustaining.

So losing weight feels easy when you’re never hungry, but in the last couple of weeks something else amazing has happened – I’ve got the Amelia Freer glow.

That was the thing that struck me almost more than the weight loss in my friend when I saw her post-Amelia. Her skin just had this radiance that makes her look really beautiful. The slender figure is almost a bonus on top.

George before

You can see it in the pictures of Boy George too. I just about it have it now. My skin is clearer from rosacea than it’s been for years and it’s getting that dewy look which seems to take about ten years off Amelia’s clients.

Changing the way you eat has to be worth it for that.

Quite a few Aussie readers expressed interest in Amelia’s book Eat. Nourish Glow. when I first wrote about it and I’m happy to say it’s now available there.


Here’s the link to the Harper Collins website with various suggestions where you can click on to buy it.

(I’m not going to advise a particular bookseller – as an author they are ALL my friends – and the other option is to ask your local independent bookshop to order you a copy, if they don’t have any in.)

Seven Days of Positive: Day 99

In Diets, health, Weight loss on January 1, 2015 at 9:57 pm

Eat. Nourish. Glow. by Amelia Freer

There’s something I’ve been dying to tell you: I’ve lost loads of weight. Hurrah!

I haven’t mentioned it sooner because I wanted to be sure it was working first. Would have been very embarrassing to say, hey, I’m going on this regime and I’m going to be really skinny… then not.

But now I can reveal that in the last two months I’ve lost 17 pounds, which is nearly 7.5 kilos. Yee haw! I’m thrilled.

How have I done this? With the help of the brilliant nutritional therapist Amelia Freer.

I first heard about Amelia after I saw a very old (as in I’ve known her since the 80s, she’s my age) friend about 18 months ago and she looked ten years younger than the last time I’d seen her.

Not just wonderfully lean – she’s never been what you would call fat, just a bit rounded in a normal way – but incredibly well and vibrant. Her skin really glowed, that thing we’re always reading about in beauty pages, but don’t often see.

I didn’t see her after that for nearly a year and when I did, she looked exactly the same. Not a pound of weight, or a mark of stress appeared to have returned.

In that same year I had put on a terrifying amount of weight as a result of a lot of ill health in my 2013 hell year.

I’d been on multiple courses of steroids and the strongest antibiotics there are, to stamp out repeated infections relating to a health issue from twenty years ago.

The drugs prevented me from having an ear amputated, which was a relief, but seemed to do something terrible to my system and even eating normally, exercising a bit (never enough) I was gaining a pound (nearly half a kilo) a week.

I just couldn’t stop it piling on. And I hardly recognised the puffy face looking back at me from the mirror. Practically none of my clothes fitted me.

So, while I would normally refrain from such an intrusive question, I had to ask my friend how she’d done it and that was when I heard Amelia’s name for the first time.

‘Who is she?’ I asked.

‘Google Boy George,’ my friend replied.

George 3

George before

I did and my jaw just about hit the deck. And what I was really interested to see was that he isn’t just mahousively slimmer, he has the same peachy youthful look that’s so striking in my friend. I think he looks even better than he did in his 20s. OK, George wears a lot of make up, but you can still see that glow.


I immediately got in touch with Amelia and she agreed to take me on as a client, which was thrilling, because she has a waiting list now.

So what is her secret? It’s a mixture of things, one of them being that she is as lovely a person as you could ever meet and you want to stick to the regime for her.

She’s also been there, struggling with her weight and stress-related health issues symptoms herself, which was what prompted her to train as a nutritionist in the first place. She made herself better by changing her diet and is now devoted to helping other people do the same.

I knew she was the one for me when it came to the tricky question of my tea addiction. ‘I couldn’t possibly give up tea,’ has been my mantra for years. I’ve been drinking it since I was three and that’s that.

When Amelia told me she used to drink ten mugs a day, strong with plenty of milk, just how I like it, I knew I was talking to a kindred spirit.

Guess what? I gave up tea (I did it very slowly, before I started the regime). Well, I now have one a day, with my breakfast, that’s it. And if I need another boost I’ll have a black coffee with lunch, but I try not to.

Amelia chopping credit Ali Allen

Amelia doesn’t promote a one-size fits all regime, each programme is tailored individually to suit the client, after discussing a very detailed health history and lifestyle questionnaire, but there are certain principles she has learned from her years of study – and applying them to her own life – which she believes can improve everybody’s weight and wellbeing.

These have now been gathered into her first book Eat. Nourish. Glow. (published by Harper Collins in the UK, £16.99) a compendium of all the knowledge, advice and tips, she has gathered from her years of research and practise, broken down into ten easy to absorb key steps, with a section of her great recipes.

Some of them are as simple as the need to drink water rather than endless tea and coffee, juices and carbonated drinks (diet or otherwise), others more radical, but they are all explained in Amelia’s warm and calm voice, none of that Change Your Life Now! frenzy that makes ‘diet’ books so enervating.

Amelia is very against the concept of diets, which are always short term both in the time we can stand to be on them and their benefit. Instead she recommends making small, but permanent changes to the way we eat, factoring in some room for human nature.

Which is why my friend has managed to keep the benefits of Amelia’s coaching in place for eighteen months and counting. She’s no longer on the stricter weight-loss regime, but some of Amelia’s basic tenets have become part of her life.

As Amelia puts it: ‘Create healthy habits, not restrictions’.

If you make these part of the way you live, you don’t have to be in a permanent state of steamed fish and sugar snap peas (no oil) deprivation which some high-profile women exist in. (Ooh, is that Victoria Beckham I see in the palm trees?)

Probably the new healthy habit that has been the biggest change for me, is to stop eating between meals. Amelia believes snacking, even the healthy carrot sticks and nuts kind, is a big no no – especially the post-dinner, pre-bed mini-munchies.

This is a radical shift from the long-held belief that we should eat ‘little and often’ which Amelia says was the accepted wisdom when she first trained as a nutritional therapist.

Her position changed after she went to a lecture about insulin management – and its relation to our old friend blood sugar spikes, familiar to many of us from forays into the Atkins, GI and Dukan diets – in 2008 and first heard the suggestion that the human body did not evolved to eat a constant supply of food, but rather to function perfectly with an entirely random supply.

This is now one of the cornerstones of Amelia’s advice: consume nothing between meals, not even cups of tea, coffee, diet drinks, or sugar free gum. Even the serial dieter’s old companion the celery stick (gag), is banned.

I thought I would find this very hard, as one of the ways I keep my bum stuck to the seat during the hard parts of the writing and editing process, sitting alone in a room all day, is to have a nice little array of snacks to graze on.

Type, type, type – nuts, rice crackers, cup of tea, oatcake, Diet Coke… I also grazed freely while cooking and cleaning up. Child leftovers are a delicacy familiar to all mothers.

But now I eat only my three meals, everything weighed, with five hour breaks between, no food after 9pm and after a short period of adjustment, I don’t miss the snacks any more.

In between meals I drink a lot of hot water, which is much nicer than you’d think, when you get used to it.

To my utter astonishment, it has filled the hole left by tea. (When meeting friends in a café, I now order a sparkling mineral water, with a pot of hot water on the side, as some places can be a bit funny about you occupying a seat with a free drink, which is fair enough really.)

Other cornerstones of Amelia’s philosophy include keeping the tempting rubbish out of your kitchen, eating the best fats (olive and coconut oil, and the odd bit of yummy fat on your steak mmmm) but chucking out sugar, taking supplements if you need them, and exercise.

On the latter, I love this line: ‘If you’ve got time to go on Facebook, you’ve got time to exercise.’ I think I need to pin that on the wall over my computer.

For some clients Amelia uses an additional tool called Metabolic Balance, a trademarked system invented by a German doctor, which analyses your blood and gives you a very specific list of what foods you can have, how much of and when.

I find it a bit bonkers that I can have cabbage, but not Brussels sprouts, but with the weight falling off the way it is, I’m not going to argue with it.

Boy George gave an excellent precis of his Amelia-directed regime on Twitter:

“Portion control. 5 hour gaps between meals. No coffee or tea, except at meals. Water & fizzy water between meals!”

George after

He had Amelia’s full service, where yummy meals adhering strictly to his plan were delivered to him, whereas I’ve gone the do-it-myself route, which I prefer, because I love a cooking challenge.

Amelia gave me some recipes when I started my regime, but now I have lots of fab new ones to try from the book.


Chicken Nuggets_030

I made the Chicken Nuggets (above) for dinner tonight and they were delicious, (although I couldn’t have the accompanying salsa, because my daughter had eaten the last avocado, dammit…).

So for anyone thinking about a New Year weight loss and detox, I can’t recommend Amelia’s advice highly enough.

And I’ll keep you posted on my progress over the weeks to come. Perhaps I’ll even put up some before and after pictures of my own… (The pics of Amelia and the food above are by Ali Allen.)

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