Thursday, 27 January 2011

Kellogs Special K Challenge

Special K - they brand of cereal that advises us to eat a bowl of cereal twice a day, to lose a jeans size in two weeks. Their advert suggests that it is so easy, so effortless.

I admit that I have always eaten Special K since I started trying to lose weight. For many years, I would feel virtuous and "good" (how I hate that, but that is a topic for another blog post, good and bad food) when I ate Special K for breakfast instead of my preferred bread with ham, or bread with jam.

On the Special K website, you can chose which program you wish to follow and are given a list of meals suggestions. These plans are from the US website requires no registration. It was not really clear when searching for the Special K diet that I was on the US website, it was the "cup" portion sizes that finally alerted me to this mistake.

These are two different plans, one Classic and one Mix it Up - for foodies and those who want variety.

Variety is not something that there is a lot of on either of these plans. Special K features heavily, of course, but the suggestion of replacing meals with a French Vanilla Protein shake, or a cereal bar - all from Kellogs of course does not seem like a healthy diet to me. Even just for two weeks. Some days there is the option of eating a salad or a light meal but other days are complete cereal / cereal products days. I don't know about you, but I think after a couple of days I would be heartily fed up of that.

 In the interest of research, I registered for the UK website, which bizarrely offers menu plans with very little Special K - just occasionally for breakfast. The "diet plans" on the UK website are similar to those on offer from Weightwatchers or from any other diet, so lots of fruit and veg, healthy options.

Recently, when I restarted my Weightwatchers program, I decided to be careful and weigh my portions to ensure that I am not mistakenly eating too much.

The serving size that we should be eating, according to the packaging of Special K is 30g. This is a normal sized cereal bowl, with 30g of Special K. Not a lot, is it?

I will give Kellogs the benefit of the doubt. Elsewhere I have read that the portion size for the Special K Challenge is "up to 45g".

Still, if I am being completely honest, that would not see me through a whole morning. This is more like my normal portion, 90g.

These photos were taken using average sized bowls - from Denby.

So, the next thing I did was to work out how many Weightwatcher points each bowl would have. Bearing in mind that my daily points allowance is 29 points:

30 g - 3 points

45 g - 4 points

90 g - 9 points

Add to that the points of the milk, then you are easily up to 10 or 11 points, depending on the size of the bowl and how much milk you use. A third of the allowed points in one bowl of cereal.

My husband was horrified, as he often peps up his Special K with a handful of CocoPops and some oat flakes.

When you realise that instead of a bowl of Special K, you could have a sandwich with ham and salad, or a bowl of chili con carne, then the "healthy option" becomes less effective.

So the result of my research:

  • If you don't want to spend the money on Weightwatchers Online, check out My Special K UK for a free diet plan.
  • Special K is not a weight loss product. I would rather have a bowl of spaghetti bolognese for dinner than a bowl of cereal, and I would still be within my daily points allowance.
  • Check the labels and your portion sizes. Don't guess it, weigh it!
  • If you think that you are likely to lose a dress size easily in a month, think again. 

Monday, 17 January 2011

Weight Loss Myths - Follow THIS diet and you will lose X kgs in Y weeks

To lose weight you have to follow a particular plan 

When I look back at the fads, the plans, the ultimate diets that the media present, I am struck by one thing. The only people benefiting from the constantly changing advice are the publishers of the magazines and books praising them.

First it was Low Fat and we all charged out to buy low fat food, which is often not only low in fat, but low in taste too. Then Low Carb, where we could eat as much bacon, egg and sausages as we could fit onto our plates, as long as we did not eat a slice of bread or some beans with it. At the moment it seems that High Protein is the new Low Carb, but I am sure that this will be disproven and a new wonderdiet will be proclaimed. Likely before the Spring, ready for the bikini season.

The best way to lose weight is to eat less and move more.

The reason we lose weight on any kind of restrictive diet is because we are more conscious of what we are eating. Be it low in fat or carb or high in protein. We are "on a diet" and when we announce this, if even to ourselves, we eat less.

I find that banning anything, makes me crave it even more. So if I say, "NO CHOCOLATE", then I will hold out all week then gorge on a chocolate cake at the weekend. If I say, "less chocolate" and allow myself a treat occasionally then I can take it or leave it.

For me, this means buying a box of expensive chocolates - I love Godiva chocs - and eating one or two pralines a week.

When I tried out Low Carb, I craved yogurt and fruit. And bread. God, did I crave bread. And when I fell off the wagon, I ate loads of it. Slightly defeats the purpose.

I like Weightwatchers as I can pick and chose what I want to eat and it is very flexible. I find it difficult to stick to a diet that tells me what I should be eating for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Ideally, I would be going to a meeting but since there are no English speaking ones in Geneva, and my French is not really good enough to enjoy a local one, I will stick to online Weightwatchers.

Breakfast today was two small slices of toast, with Le Petit Frais - a kind of soft/cottage cheese - and apricot jam. I use Le Petit Frais instead of butter, it is delicious with jam and much lighter. Getting used to eating smaller portions was difficult to begin with, but soon becomes easier as I get used to eating less.

I have lost 1.5kgs in the past week, 2kgs altogether since I started my journey on 3rd January. This week I shall start using my cross trainer to try and boost the weight loss.

Let me know how you are doing, and what you are planning to do this week.

There is no "best diet" plan. There is just the one that works for you. Do share your experiences in the comments below so that we can learn from each other.

Sunday, 16 January 2011

The journey continues

I am on my way...

This morning as I was drying my hair (with my fab Babyliss Big Hair which I reviewed on my main blog) I was thinking about weight loss and age.

It struck me that I am wasting the best years of my life. The years between 30 and 50 have the potential to be fabulous. We are less filled with angst than when we were teenagers or in our early 20s, but not yet facing the problems that advancing age brings.

I want to be fit, healthy and good looking. What am I waiting for?

When I was 19 I was slim, but a typical teenager. I was conflicted, unsure of myself. In my twenties I married and settled down, had my children in my late twenties and early thirties.

Now I am 38 years old and for the past 6 years I have struggled with my weight. I look at my mother, who has spent her entire life gaining 5lbs and then losing 5lbs, gaining 8lbs then losing again. She has been a member of Weightwatchers, or Scottish Slimmers for at least 10 years.

I want to enjoy life. I am more self-confident now than I was in my teens. I know my place in life, I have a fantastic husband, healthy and funny children, a cute little white dog. We live a good life in an area of great natural beauty. I want to enjoy that.

And yet, I am held back by my weight.

Last summer we went to the beach in the village and I hid my body under a voluminous cover-up. Enviously, I watched the other mothers splash and play with their children, free of self-loathing and shame.

It is time to stop hiding, time to start living.


Saturday, 15 January 2011

A New Beginning

Anyone who has followed my blog about my life in Switzerland may have read my post on New Years Resolutions earlier this month. 

One of my resolutions was to lose weight and get healthier. I have made lists (a talent of mine) and written down my goals. One of the important things when making NY resolutions is to be specific - not a general "I am going lose weight" but "I will lose X kg by <date>". 

I am well versed in the theory of weight loss. Some time after the birth of my son in 2004, I looked at myself in the mirror and did not like what I saw. The weight that I had put on before, during and after my pregnancy was making me unhappy, it was time to do something about it. 

When I look back at my "before" photos, I remember the feeling of dissatisfaction. Previously interested in fashion, it was getting more difficult to find clothes that fit and looked good. Shopping was no fun,  glaring lights in changing rooms which highlighted every bulge. It was time. 

This photo was taken in the Spring of 2005, shortly before I started with my weight loss plan. There are few photos of me at my heaviest, because I avoided the camera, preferring to be the photographer so as not to be captured on film.

Signing up with Weightwatchers made me get serious about losing weight. Not only did I have the support and information of the Weightwatchers program but going to be weighed every week certainly concentrates the mind. I joined a gym that I used three times a week. A friend wanted to lose weight so we encouraged each other, and allowed no slacking. It was not a crash diet, I lost quite a lot in the first few months the the weight loss slowed. 

By summer of 2006, I had lost over 20kg. I was not quite at goal, but close. 

Looking back at these photos, I am not quite sure how it happened. Slowly, kilo for kilo, I started to put on weight. This photo is from summer of 2008, shortly before when we moved to Geneva.

Spring of 2009

Autumn of 2009

Spring of 2010

Autumn 2010

Xmas 2010

That last photo - I was not sure if I should use it or not. But if that does not get me back on track, then nothing will. 

Enough looking back. Now to look forward.

I have signed up with Weightwatchers UK online, and am counting points again. The iPhone app from Weightwatchers UK was the reason I signed up there rather than on the Swiss or German site. 

Since I wrote the blog post about NY resolutions, I have lost 2kg, the first of many I hope. 

One of my goals (I will write about them in more detail in a later post) is to have lost 10kg before I go to Germany in April. When I have done this I would like to make an appointment with a local Style and Image Consultant. She will advise me on the best colours and styles to suit my new figure, and on the best hairstyle, along with a top hairstylist in Geneva. 

My final goal is to reach the elusive 65kg. 

The motto of my weightloss plan is LIVE MORE BRAVELY and this blog is my online diary of that journey to a new me.