Those of you who read my blog regularly and follow me on social media will know that I have recently embarked in a big lifestyle shake-up, which has resulted in me losing 5 stone 1lb and counting. After giving birth to my son at the end of August last year I decided enough was enough - I didn't want to be fat anymore, I wanted to be the best and healthiest version of myself for my little boy.
My husband also had some weight to lose, and so together we decided we would face our food and exercise demons head on, and here we are 10 months after we started, with a joint loss of almost 10 stone!
The bottom photo was taken back in May, since then I've shifted another 8 lbs and counting… woop woop!
We've done it using the iPhone App 'My Fitness Pal', which sets you a daily calorie goal based on how much weight you would like to lose each week and your vital statistics (weight/height/sex/age). You input all the food you eat into a daily diary, plus earn calories by inputting any cardio exercise you partake in.
Using the app and becoming much more conscious of how we treat our own bodies has lead us to make some important life changes. We are now incorporating loads of daily exercise into our routines, we have re-learnt (or learnt for the first time!) moderation with our eating, and we have had to re-educate ourselves when it comes to making sensible food choices as much of the time as possible.
Liam has just reached his goal weight (he had less weight than me to lose) and is now at the wonderful 'maintain' stage, where he can eat so many more calories than the 1200 per day we'd been limiting ourselves to (before exercise). He is still doing a weekly weigh in to keep an eye on things and ensure his weight doesn't slowly creep back up.
I am still 1 stone 1lb away from my target, and ideally would like to lose 4 more lbs after that if possible - my aim is to have achieved that by my 28th birthday at the beginning of October - it's totally do able, and at the moment I'm averaging a 1-2lb loss a week - slowly but surely.
Throughout this process we have been discovering the real 'worth' of foods in terms of calories, and by using the app to scan foods before I eat them I now equate foods to how much exercise I would need to do in order to burn them off. This really helps me to put down the cupcake, and choose a banana instead (only sometimes, I still love cake, and eat it…just much more moderately than I used to).
I have a very sweet tooth - I love cakes, biscuits, and chocolates - and often get a sugar craving mid-evening once I sit down and relax after a busy day. This is the 'danger-zone' when I used to binge on high-sugar, high-fat snack foods and treats, and then I would feel dreadful and guilty afterwards. I used to get so cross with myself for binging, and my biggest challenge in this whole process has been breaking that cycle.
For me, it has been about accepting that I love food, and always will - accepting that I have a sweet tooth, and that I love bread, and salty food, and enjoy takeaways. Now that I have accepted all of those things, I can embrace my love of all of those foods in moderation, ensuring I am exercising enough to make up for the calories I eat, which eliminates the guilt I used to feel when eating treats - because then they weren't 'treats' they were daily 'slip ups' - now they really are 'treats' which are planned, they are looked forward to, and they are throughly enjoyed when they are eaten, with no guilt at all. It really is the best feeling ever.
What has been brilliant in this process is when I discover a food that isn't nearly as 'bad' as I had imagined it would be. When Jelly Belly UK approached me and asked if I'd thought about eating their jelly beans as a low-calorie sweet treat I really hadn't - I'd assumed they were horrendously calorific based on the fact that a) they're sweets and b) they're pure sugar. However, when Jelly Belly told me their jelly beans are only 4 calories per bean, which would mean I could eat 20 jelly beans for just 80 calories - I jumped at the chance of trying them out.
What I love about them is that they are so portionable - if I want a sweet treat but I only have 20 calories left for the day I can still have 5 jelly beans with a cup of tea in front of the TV in the evening. They come in SO many flavour varieties that you can have a little mouthful of what you fancy with each bean: buttered popcorn, chocolate, vanilla, pina colada - you name it, Jelly Belly probably have a bean flavoured accordingly.
My top 10 flavours in this 40 flavour selection box were:
1) Buttered Popcorn
2) Toasted Marshmallow
3) Caramel Apple
4) Strawberry Jam
5) Cream Soda
6) Candy Floss
7) Pina Colada
8) Strawberry Cheesecake
9) Top Banana
10) Chocolate Pudding
They all taste so decadent, and exactly as the name suggests.
Other flavours in this box include:
Orange Sherbet, Strawberry Daiquiri, Vanilla, Green Apple, Pink Grapefruit, Raspberry, Kiwi, Berry Blue, Bubble Gum, Red Apple, Lemon, Cantaloupe Melon, Crushed Pineapple, Blueberry, Lemon Lime, Coconut, Liquorice, Pomegranate, Very Cherry, Juicy Pear, Plum, Orange, Island Punch, Peach, Tutti-Fruitti, Margarita, Sizzling Cinnamon, Tangerine, Cappuccino, and Watermelon.
Liam and I have been indulging in these sweet treats when we fancy a little naughty sweet mouthful of something, and we have thoroughly enjoyed them. We especially loved the recipe section on the Jelly Belly website where they give you fun combinations of beans to create your favourite desserts - such as:
Mmmmm….Tiramisu….my favoruite and all for 24 calories! :-)
Believe it or not we've had the box for over 2 months and there's still over 1/4 left. So we're doing well at the moderation thing! And we've even managed to share them with friends and family…
My mum and sister were even allowed a taste when they came to visit! :-)
Now, don't get me wrong I totally understand that jelly beans aren't good for me! They aren't 'clean' and nutritionally they give me nothing but a sugar rush - but sometimes a sugar rush is just what you fancy!
For me, my food intake is about being realistic - I can't eat 'clean' 24 hours a day 7 days a week, and I don't want to - there's nothing wrong with doing so (if you have the will power and dedication to do that then I applaud you), but I have a sweet tooth and will always enjoy a treat. The key for me is learning to enjoy the treats in moderation, and finding treats which aren't too disastrous for my waistline.
Thanks Jelly Belly…we've throughly enjoyed our taster box, and we're looking forward to trying out some of your other flavours on the market.
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Disclaimer: I was sent the Gourmet Jelly Belly 40 Flavour Selection Box for the purpose of this review. All words and opinions are my own.