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Trim Healthy Thursday: Monitoring the situation

So last week I talked about needing to take my application of Trim Healthy Mama eating principles up a notch, as I’d been freestyling a bit too much (oh bread, what am I going to do with you?).

After reading Gretchen Rubin’s book ‘Better than Before’ on habit formation I decided to put some of her strategies into action.

I won’t go into the ‘why’ details (read her book), but a strategy that can work for people with my personality is to closely monitor yourself.

I devised a daily planner where I tick off whether I exercised, ate a THM breakfast, lunch or dinner, and did several other daily tasks.  I know, I know, it all sounds rather tedious and extreme but…

IT IS TOTALLY WORKING FOR ME.

I have been surprised how something so simple has a powerful effect on me.  I seriously feel guilty if I put a cross next to THM lunch or whatever.  I think it helps that I am also a visual person, so seeing ticks and crosses laid out in front of me helps me to see the scale of any ‘cheating’ and where I’m doing well.  I’ve also found it has been a terrific prompt to do things around the house when my sleep-deprived brain isn’t firing on all cylinders first thing in the morning.  Hopefully I will get to a point where my tick sheets are no longer required as these new, better habits become ingrained.

Another useful strategy for me is rewards.  I wrote down some goals that I want to reach, and allocated rewards that I will be given when I hit those goals.  I got a whole bunch of gift cards and cash for my birthday which I have handed over to D.  When I reach a specific goal he will release a card or some cash to me.  The more difficult the goal, the bigger the reward.  I’ve only just started this so I haven’t hit any goals yet, but I am looking forward to doing so.

If you are someone who is only doing so-so with any kind of habit change, such as sticking to a diet, exercising regularly, or sticking to a spiritual discipline, try really thinking about what strategies have worked for you in the past, and what haven’t.  Think about what suits your personality.  It’s no good telling yourself you will get up at 5am in the morning to go to the gym six days a week when you are not a morning person, and would be much better off exercising after work.

Have you tried different strategies to create a new habit?  What works for you?

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Trim Healthy Thursday: Curried Pumpkin Soup (E)

Apologies to my Northern Hemisphere THM readers, but we in New Zealand are in the throes of Winter (not that it gets very cold in Whanganui), and for me this means lots of hearty stews and soups.  If you are currently sweltering in the summer heat, pin this for later.

Here’s a great winter warmer for you, a favourite recipe that I have THMified.  In terms of prep, it’s not quick, as you have to cut and peel a pumpkin (if anyone has a super-fast method for doing this, please let me know!), but once you’ve done that, it’s cinch to throw everything else in the slow cooker and leave it for the rest of the day.

Slow Cooker Curried Pumpkin Soup image credit

Slow Cooker Curried Pumpkin Soup
image credit

Slow-Cooker Curried Pumpkin Soup (serves 8)

Ingredients

1kg/220lbs peeled and diced pumpkin

1 large kumara/sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 400g/14oz can diced tomatoes in juice

1 onion, finely chopped

Black pepper

6 cups chicken stock

2 tsp curry powder

1 tsp cumin

3/4 cup almond milk

Directions:
  1. Preheat slow cooker while you prep the ingredients.
  2. Place pumpkin, kumara, tomatoes, onion, pepper and stock in the slow cooker.
  3. Cover and cook for 5-7 hours on high.
  4. Add curry powder, cumin and almond milk.
  5. Puree using a stick whizz or food processor.
  6. Enjoy!
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Trim Healthy Thursday: Wasting away…a photo update

Even though it’s Friday here in NZ, technically speaking it’s still Thursday for many of my readers so today’s post still counts, right?

I have been doing THM for four months now and thought it was time for another photo update.  I’m sooooo glad I’ve chosen this way to measure my progress because I was starting to get somewhat discouraged, as I think I have hit a bit of a plateau at the moment.  All I can say is if you are doing THM: throw away the scales and take photos to measure your progress instead.  I’ve lost about 7 kilos during the four months, but as you can see from the pictures below it looks considerably more than that.

Shrinking

Shrinking

My husband loves to joke that I am wasting away.  Whilst I’m certainly not in any danger of that, he is my biggest supporter and cheerleader and I appreciate the encouragement.

I may not have dramatic results like some THMers, but it IS working.  (Wahoo!)  I don’t use any special ingredients as we are on a tight budget.  You can read here about how I keep it simple.

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Trim Healthy Thursday: How I do Trim Healthy Mama on a budget

This is my 13th week of Trim Healthy Mama-ing.  I think I’ve only managed one week 100% on plan, but I still have entire days when I am completely on plan.  I reckon I stick to it 80-90% of the time and weight is coming off nicely.  My skinny jeans are getting so baggy I will need to retire them soon. I eat off-plan when I’m a dinner guest at someone’s house, and occasionally when my husband wafts a fresh loaf of his bread under my nose, but generally I find THM easy to stick to.  Being sugar-free for the past few years means that the THM lifestyle hasn’t been a massive change to my diet, but I can appreciate that for many people it seems like a big challenge.  In fact, if it all seems too much, I’d recommend giving up sugar before you attempt THM, or the THM desserts will call your name and therefore put a strain on your wallet.  If you want tips on how to wean yourself off sugar before plunging into THM, here are my tips on how to do it.  Of course, plenty of people have successfully gone cold-turkey, but I just think it is easier to do THM without the fancy ingredients when your sweet tooth is already under control. A lot of people lurking on the THM Facebook pages worry that adopting this lifestyle will cost them megabucks.  It’s not hard to see why when mouthwatering THM desserts are posted on there daily – recipes which generally contain expensive ingredients like almond flour, erythritol, cream cheese and a cup of egg whites.

But here’s the thing: you don’t need expensive ingredients to do THM.

You just don’t. My THM shopping list doesn’t look that different to my pre-THM list.  Sure, I’d love to eat THM cheesecake and muffins every day, but my budget doesn’t let me.  Many THM dessert and bread ingredients are super-expensive here in New Zealand, and they are very tricky for me to source locally.  I ran out of THM approved sweeteners, so I’ve been going without ‘sweet’ treats for a while now until we can afford to get more.  I’m perfectly okay with this (as the longer I live without sugar, the less I want dessert at all) but baking is something I love to do, so I’m looking forward to making some of the dishes I’ve pinned on Pinterest one day! Here is how I feed myself, my half-THM husband (he eats THM dinners and sometimes lunch) and my toddler (who often gets carbs on the side):

  • I keep things really simple.  I generally have S breakfasts, E lunches, and a mix of S and E dinners (E dinners tend to be cheaper by the way).  This simplicity is important to me as I want food freedom.  I don’t carb count or agonise over whether I’ve just eaten a ‘crossover’ or not.  I’m pretty sure the THM authors want this freedom for you too.
  • We skip dessert and sweet snacks (we rarely eat dessert anyway).  If I find myself hankering for something sweet I eat some Greek yoghurt.  It’s not sweet at all, but the creamy texture feels ‘desserty’ to me.
  • We eat a lot of ground beef, white fish and tuna.
  • Inexpensive dishes like Taco Salad and Chili are staples in our house.
  • I can’t stand sweet things for breakfast, and find porridge/oatmeal too stodgy to face first thing in the morning, so I tend to eat eggs for breakfast.  I know many people get sick of eggs every day, but I don’t mind them – which is weird, because I normally hate eating the same thing all the time.  At times when there is only one portion of leftovers, I eat last night’s dinner for breakfast.
  • If I need a snack I might have a boiled egg, an apple with a smear of peanut butter, vege sticks, a ryvita with vegemite, or a couple of slices of tomato with a piece of cheese on top.
  • We eat a lot of beans or rice.  I love quinoa, but it’s pretty pricey so I only get it when my budget allows.
  • Instead of making low-carb bread, or buying expensive low-carb wraps I eat Ryvita.
  • We eat most of our pre-THM budget friendly dishes (usually they are very easy to THMify by just omitting carbs), like slow-cooked stews, Asian stir fries, soups and salads.
  • We make protein go a long way by making simple stir fries, padded out with lots of vegetables.
  • I make almost everything from scratch, except tomato sauce and mayonnaise.
  • Lunch is often tuna salad, which is pretty inexpensive.
  • I don’t buy almond milk (although it’s not too expensive here).  Prior to THM I rarely had cow’s milk anyway, and figure a splash of it in my one-cup-a-day-tea isn’t going to kill me.
  • We meal plan.  We’ve been doing this for years.  Not only does it save me precious time at witching hour and at the supermarket, but we also waste much less food. (If you would like to see one of my meal plans, do give me a holler.)
  • We buy in bulk when we can.  We are on a Dollar Diet, and that’s given us some fantastic wiggle room in our budget.  I’ve been able to get loads of ground beef, chicken and fish at really low prices this way.

If you are a ‘lurker’, don’t let all those tempting baked goods and desserts stop you from climbing on board the THM wagon.  You can enjoy the ride without them.  I plan to buy the THM Baking Blend and THM Sweet Blend one day so I can have fun in the kitchen, but until then I am content to chug along without them. What are your THM budget tips?

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Trim Healthy Thursday: The end?

Not the best week at sticking to THM. I had two meals out at friends, one of which was a pizza party, which is pretty much as bad as it gets in THM land.  I just don’t want to be ‘that guest’ who is a pain to cook for.  Unless someone is really interested in the way I’m eating and has asked if they could make something specially for me, I just shut up and eat what is put in front of me.

I failed to buy enough THM food for myself to last over the Easter break, so I overdid it on the carbs again  I had to resort to sandwiches one day (the supermarkets shut in NZ on Good Friday and Easter Sunday), and I also had some roast potato and kumara with our special Easter Sunday meal.  After eating bread I noticed I got really tired.  Interesting, especially as there are no preservatives in our home made bread, which can often be what causes fatigue in some people.

But I have been back on plan for several days and am branching out into THM bread, making Cheesy Rolls and Pan Bread.  Everything has been really simple – S breakfasts, E lunches and mostly S dinners.

THM Cheesy Rolls (no carbs)

THM Cheesy Rolls (no carbs)

Giving Trim Healthy Mama a go for two months was a New Year’s resolution of mine.  I’m really proud of myself for sticking with it.  Am I going to continue?  You bet!  Eating the THM way hasn’t been difficult and has been a source of some delicious, nutritious recipes.  I haven’t always gotten things right, but hell, who does?  I continue to be inspired by the weight loss testimonies that appear on THM Facebook pages daily.  Not just from people who needed to loose a few pounds, but from people who were seriously overweight, and who, like me, have struggled with their weight for years.  So here’s to more weeks of THM!

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Trim Healthy Thursday: Week 6 – a sense of loss

After sneaking in too many carbs last week I redoubled my efforts and apart from one ‘off-plan’ meal this week, I managed to stick to the Trim Healthy Mama way of eating all week.

It really helps that it is reasonably easy to adapt most of my staple recipes to THM.

I didn’t try out any new THM recipes this week but I did discover a new favourite lunch.  On THM you control the amount and type of carbs you have, never mixing fats and carbs in the same meal.  Someone on the THM New Zealand Facebook page mentioned that one of the varieties of Ryvita (a rye-based cracker flatbread) was ‘on plan’.  I haven’t missed bread hugely (much to my surprise!) but I really wanted something sandwichey the other day so I got some of the Ryvita.  I smeared it with lite Laughing Cow cheese, and topped it with cucumber, tomato and a bit of chicken.  Yum!

2015-03-31 11.28.26

I weighed myself a couple of days ago and had lost 4 kilos.  So pleased!  I try not to get too hung up on what the scales say as you often see results in other ways.  My clothes are still getting looser.  A top that was a little tight on me before THM now fits me perfectly today.  And I swear I’m not imagining it, but I needed to tie my shoelaces tighter this morning!

Ah, thanks THM.

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Trim Healthy Thursday: Week 5, feeling great!

This has not been the best week at sticking to the Trim Healthy Mama plan.  I probably managed it 70% of the time as I snuck in more carbs than necessary.  One day I just had to have something bready so I bought some wraps (haven’t sourced any low-carb wraps in NZ that don’t cost a small fortune…), which I figure were still better than a thick slice of D’s bread.

I had too many just ‘S’ meal days as well, and ate waaaay too many sausage rolls at my MIL’s party.

But I have not abandoned ship, disgusted at my lack of willpower.

My clothes are still getting looser, and I’m eating well.  The last few days I have been back on track, daily switching out my S and E meals, and eating some pretty yummy food, like taco salad.  As ‘diets’ go, this one is much easier to plod along with.  With some diets, the minute you hit a snag, it feels like game over.  You want to hurl your goji berries and spirulina out the window.  With THM being so close to how I was eating previously, it doesn’t feel like a Herculean effort to get back into it.

The best, best, best thing is how I’m feeling.

I woke up last Sunday finally feeling better after picking up some sort of bug in Adelaide.  Actually, I didn’t just feel better, I felt great.  More energetic than I have felt in a long time. And my energy levels have (mostly) remained at this level.  Prior to THM my energy levels would wax and wane.  Particularly in the afternoons, when looking after my two tots would feel like an eeeeeeeeeeeeeternityyyyyyyyyyyyyy.  But this past week I haven’t struggled at all.  I still have energy left at the end of the day to do stuff around the house, rather than collapse on the sofa.

If that’s not incentive to keep going with THM, I don’t know what is.