Sunday, 25 August 2013

How to lose a lot of weight (100lb, or 7 stones and counting, in my case)

It amazes me to say this, like I’m having some sort of
wonderful dream that I’m about to wake up from. But, the truth is that I have
lost 101lb or 7 stones and 3 lb so far, in about a year. Little old me! Me who
has been fat her whole adult life, and who has been on every diet going. Yet one
of those endless tries at weightloss worked, even though I suspected they were all going to end in
misery. Yay! Don't give up!

Let me tell you, there is NOTHING special about me. If I can do
it, you certainly can.

This is me on the 24th August 2012, and the 24th August 2013:

24 august claire

In my experience, people who ask this question want me to
answer that I’ve found a magic tablet / supplement / diet plan, and the weight
has fallen off quickly and easily. I bloody wish. Sadly, the “secret” of my
weightloss is no secret at all. 

If you want to take away a headline, then this is probably

To lose 100lb, you
need to do what you do to lose 1lb, but for longer.

Like, durr. We all know that. But, do you KNOW that? Really
know it in your heart? Because, in my experience, people tend to expect that I
have dieted harder, been more extreme, found something new. But it doesn’t work
like that. You didn’t get fat overnight, you aren’t going to get thin overnight
either. You need to change your habits. Long term. Long. Term. But you know this.

Whilst we’re about it, I’m not keen on the word ‘diet’
either. I haven’t followed any commercial diet plan, been to classes or had hypnotherapy, or read a certain book. I have no beef with other weight loss
plans, I suspect its about finding one that suits you. This time, for me, I
have NOT DIETED. I have eaten healthily and counted calories. I've just eaten sensibly.

Tip 1) Don’t diet. Eat
wholegrain, eat your five a day. Try not to eat too much meat, but enjoy it
without guilt when you do.

Tip number two would be this. And
yes, you are reading right.

Tip 2) Eat cake every day. Yes, really. Yes, I
have eaten cake every day and still lost seven stones. Pinky promise.

Counting calories is just magic, I promise. Don't dismiss it because its not as fashionable as Dukan, or 5:2 or whatever. A
calorie is a calorie is a calorie. You could eat just Mars bars every day - if
you stop when you get to your allocation, you’ll still lose weight. It might
not be sustainable long term, but it works. This means that NOTHING IS OFF
. Yes, that’s right. Take a minute to think about it and let it sink in.
You don’t have to give up anything. You can have whatever you like and you can still lose weight. Even 7 stones. 

For me, I have a wicked sweet
tooth. My normal diets usually go like this: start hugely committed and stick
to them rigidly. Fight that darned sweet tooth. Have some success. Get a bit more
laid back. Fancy something I shouldn’t have. Dabble with the banned food. Maybe
gain a pound or stay the same. Thereafter, for the next few weeks / months, I
can be found face down in the banned foods, scoffing as though my life depended
on it. My self esteem goes through the floor as, yet again, I have failed, yet again.

Well no more, my friends. What I did was to work out exactly
what I needed, and what I could give up on. Wine I liked, and crisps, but I can
generally give those up without too much stress. Chocolate, cakes and biscuits?
Not a chance. These are my weak spot. So I have them every day. There are a few
rules. I count EVERY calorie, especially the treat ones. I only treat myself
once a day. It's better to go out for cake, because the rest of the cake isn't whispering to you. If I can substitute a treat for something that hits the same spot but is
more filling, I do that. A great example is Nutella on crumpets as a mid
afternoon snack. It has roughly the same number of calories as a bar of
chocolate, but actually fills me up more whilst still satisfying the craving.

Prioritise the cake (or whatever your 'thing' is) – its what keeps you on the wagon. Its
much harder to fall off if you allow yourself to eat anything you fancy. Do
this every day. Enjoy it. Nothing is banned. I even allow myself wine and crisps on occasions.

Tip 3) Write
everything down

As I type it’s the end of August 2013. I have written down
every single thing that has passed my lips, with the exception of two days (that
I regret when it was my children’s birthdays) since January 2013. Every single
thing. It keeps me accountable. I love ‘My Fitness Pal’ which is available as a
web site and app. It is a database of calorific values and helps you record
what you eat. It’s a GOOD discipline to get into. Do it and do it religiously. 

Tip 4) Weigh
and measure

Yawn! I can hear you from here. Weighing portions is so
unfashionable. We perceive it to be a massive bore. You know what? It takes
seconds. It keeps you on the straight and narrow. It helps produce pretty
graphs in My Fitness Pal. Trust me on this; just do it.

Tip 5) Exercise

I’ve just lost 50% of the audience, I know. You know this
stuff. I was the MOST unfit, 20 stone lump of womanhood, seriously, I couldn’t
run for a bus. I was almost 40, mother of 3, morbidly obese. Don’t tell me you
can’t exercise, because you can. I know you can because I did.  I downloaded the Couch to 5K app (C25K, I used
the Zen Labs one, but there are loads and they’re all the same) and I had a go.
It was not a pretty sight, but I did it. Remember this:

It’s never easy, but
its always possible. Nothing worth doing is ever easy.

You can do it. All you need is a decent sports bra and, once
you’re sure you’re going to stick with it, a pair of proper running shoes – but
I didn’t even buy these for six weeks. If its too hard, repeat a week. If I can
do it, you can. 

Within five months, I was running a 10K. Looking knackered,
and a bit grey, but I did it. A year ago I would have laughed in your face if
you’d told me I would run a 10K, but look! Here I am! I'm about a stone lighter now too.


And that’s the basics. I am hoping this blog post will be useful
to those who are trying to lose weight, and will be a place I can refer others
when they ask me what I have done. Of course, I can only speak for myself. If
you have any questions, experiences, tips or suggestions, please will you consider leaving
them in the comments section below?


Good luck with your journey. Your health is the most
precious gift. Hard is the new black, yes? You can do it too.


Claire x

Friday, 26 April 2013

I'm a Loser, Baby...

The eagle eyed amongst you might have noticed by my Twitter feed that I've taken up running recently. It's true - don't laugh! Believe me when I say I was about as fat and unfit as they come. When I quietly mentioned that I fancied having a go at running to my nearest and dearest, around the end of December, no-one said much. You could see that, although they didn't want to be unsupportive, they were thinking "yeah, right! I give that a week!" I didn't post on here about it because, if I'm honest, I didn't think I'd keep it up myself. I didn't buy myself any running gear or fancy trainers (for a few weeks, anyway). It just sort of snuck into my life. However, I'm slightly amazed to report that, sixteen weeks later, yes, I am still running three times a week and yes, I am loving it. No-one could be more surprised than me! I now run 5k three times a week, and I'm signed up to do the Hull 10K on the 19th May. I'll be honest, this absolutely terrifies me. Still, it's good to get outside one's comfort zone, yes?

It's all been part of a drive to live a healthier life. There are lots of reasons why I wanted to improve my health, and I'll share those in a future blog post. However, dear God, I wanted to be WELL. 2 years of illness made me realise that health was a precious gift and if I didn't do everything that was within my power to wring the last drops out of life, then I was a fool.

I've been asked to share pictures by lots of people now. I've lost quite a bit of weight. This isn't just from running, I've been consciously eating healthily too - and breastfeeding has helped me, certainly. I've been stuck in a weight loss plateau for the past 5 weeks and, although I am diligently eating healthily and exercising at different levels of intensity 5 days a week, its very frustrating. I've not put these photos together before, so it seemed like it might be a good motivator for me too.

Although I've lost weight, this is part of a journey. I've been losing weight very slowly for 10 months now. I expect I still have another year or more to go. I'm over half way, but this is very much a work in progress. This picture sums that up better than words:


This was me at the start of my journey (July 2012), at the heaviest I've ever been. I only own one photo as I found them all so revolting that I deleted them straight away. My Mum has some on her camera though as she refused to delete them for me. I am hoping that I get my hands on those one day.


This was me in January 2013:


This was me yesterday:



That's 80lb gone for good, or just shy of 6 stones!

I feel better for it in every way imaginable. I just feel more comfortable in my own skin, I'm not afraid of running up stairs or running for a bus or similar. My IBS symptoms have gone - ditto headaches and random aches and pains.

I still have another 4 stones to lose to get to a sensible BMI; I was very overweight. I see this as a work in progress. I've never been a thin adult but this time I am going to nail it, before my 40th in March 2014.

You'll probably be curious as to how I've done it. I could write a whole BLOG about that, its not always been successful and its not always been pretty. In short, there's no secret or trick, I've just eaten healthily and exercised. Eaten less, moved more. However, here are some of the things that have worked for me. They may not work for you; I honestly believe we need to find our own recipe to living a healthy lifestyle.

  • I write down everything I eat and drink, without fail. It makes me accountable. I use My Fitness Pal - its free

  • I exercise between 3 and 5 times a week. Mainly running, but also swimming, walking, cycling, dancing and weights. I need to exercise to eat the type of food that I want.

  • Great music and gripping audiobooks motivate me to exercise.

  • I eat a treat every day - biscuits / cakes / chocolate all work for me. In order to do this I exercise and juggle calories from elsewhere. it keeps me motivated.

  • I realised I don't like most diet food, so I don't eat it. I just eat a bit less.

  • I weigh all my carbs without fail

  • I eat wholewheat

  • I've mostly given up alcohol. Sweet treats were more important to me. 

  • I eat smaller portions - its not as painful as I thought it'd be

  • The Hairy Dieters book is BRILLIANT

  • I home cook from scratch as often as possible

  • I follow healthy eating blogs and I belong to a supportive Facebook group. We all need cheerleaders.

  • I give myself days off and don't feel bad about it - this is a lifelong change. I'm not fat because I eat Easter eggs at Easter. I'm fat because I eat a packet of biscuits every day without thinking about it

  • It wasn't my willpower that was lacking, it was my ORGANISATION. Meal planning and shopping ahead make healthy eating far more likely

  • My tastes are changing the longer I eat healthily. I'm not even that keen on McDonalds these days. This is a very big deal for me.

  • I forgive myself if I make poor choices.

  • This is controversial - Slimming World didn't really work for me. I lost weight initially but I failed to keep it off (many, many times) because it didn't teach me about portion size. I needed to be more directly connected to calories in order to re-educate myself.

There are more, I'm sure. If anyone wants to add me on My Fitness Pal or Runkeeper, I'm ClaireBoynton. I'm happy to provide encouragement and support.

If you're inspired by this post, please will you consider sponsoring me for the Hull 10K? I'm raising money for the Jane Tomlinson Appeal. She was such an inspirational woman, and a great example of someone who achieved what she set her mind to. The charity does great work in supporting children's and cancer charities - sadly I have known too many people this year who've been diagnosed with cancer - scarily all of them women, and all of them my age. One of them is no longer with us :( 

If you can afford it, £1 would make such a difference.


With love


Claire x





Thursday, 7 February 2013

Wednesday, 23 January 2013

Crochet Class 4: Granny Trebles

During this tute you'll learn how to form the iconic granny stitch, and you'll make a teeny, tiny granny stripe blanket!

I'd love to see pictures of your finished work, please leave comments either here or on You Tube, or the Facebook group (Mrs Bee's Emporium). As always, I'm happy to answer questions, give clarification or advice - just ask!

Happy hooking!

Claire x


Crochet Class 3: Hooks, Slipknots and Chains

Here is the third video tutorial in the series - in this episode you finally get your hands on the yarn! Learn how to hold the hook and yarn, how to make a slipknot and how to make chain or foundation stitch. Don't forget your homework!



Please let me know what you think in the comments below - I'm new to this and want to get it right! All suggestions appreciated. If you require further clarification I'd be only too happy to help too - and don't forget to share with me pictures of your work, so I can shower you with praise and appreciation! We're all in this together!


Claire x

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

This Moment

My daughter's gorgeous chubby, doughy baby legs. All too often they're covered up with tights and babygrows, but today they get to go free. She loves them exposed because it means she can chew her toes. I love them exposed because, quite honestly, I think they are the loveliest, velvetiest things I have ever touched.



Monday, 21 January 2013

Crochet Class 2: Watching

Here we go! The second class in the series. I know, I know you're desperate to pick up your hook and GET ON WITH IT! But hold your horses. At some point over the next few days, I can almost guarantee you, you will go throught The Long Dark Night of the Soul. With crochet, its kind of the law. Lots of people say "I tried crochet and I could get the chain stitch, but then I got stuck"

Well yes, the thing is with crochet that all the pain and misery is front loaded. That's why it's called the Long Dark Night of the Soul. You probably will feel like giving up, you'll swear, and chuck the blasted yarn across the room a number of times. But each time you feel like giving up, please watch this tutorial again. You can't watch someone crochet too many times. You are developing muscle memory, just like when you learned to walk or learned to drive. Eventually you will do this without thinking.

You WILL get there. 

Practice, practice, practice - it's the only thing that works!

(sorry to sound so smug, but it's true)

Claire x


Monday, 14 January 2013

Fancy Learning to Crochet?

new year! I hope you all had a lovely Christmas and are buzzing with enthusiasm
for 2013. All was lovely here - Florence's first Christmas was relaxed. We
spent a lot of time with family and we also lazed around and ate far too much,
but that was fab and just what the doctor ordered. Father Christmas bought Florence her first tooth, which
arrived, without fuss, on the 28th. All I can say is "ouch." I'm
still breastfeeding. Just.

a lot of people like to take up new hobbies in the new year, I thought it'd be
a great time to put together a project for those who want to learn to crochet.
In 2012, I met several people who were keen to start but said that even the
most basic tutorials assumed that they knew all about yarn, etc. This is a real
beginner's guide. As the weeks pass, we'll make a granny square blanket,
or a cushion cover if that's your preference (you start in the same place and then decide which project to follow half way through.) All you need is 6 balls of DK
(double knit) yarn and a 4mm crochet hook. If that sounds like gobble-de-gook,
then watch the movie where I explain alll about it. You can just buy one
ball of yarn if you're not sure you'll like it, and see how you go.

I hope the
tutorials will be part information and part support - learning any new skill is
a challenge and I want to be there to assist, reassure and pass on experiences.
My own personal challenge right now is losing weight and I am a *total*
exercise novice (embarrassingly so), so I empathise with the new crocheters. If
you're an experienced crocheter and have any advice you'd like me to pass on,
then please email me. I'll give full credit to all contributers.

So, here we go.
All feedback appreciated:

medium from Claire Boynton on Vimeo.

If the embedded video player isn't working, there's a problem with Typepad. You can find the video by following this link: 

Online Yarn Recommendations:

For this project, I'll be using Debbie Bliss Rialto, as I
have it in my stash already. However, the following would also be good. I've given a brief guide to price according to which yarn you choose, too.

Lovely -
(cost approx £25 for finished blanket / cushion)

Gorgeous -

Luxury -

Bargainous luxury merino -

Mid price Acrylic / merino blend -

Stylecraft Special DK is a nice acrylic
in several colours that comes highly recommended. I've not used this yarn or
this company, so can't recommend personally. Word on the web, though, is
they're good:
(£8.94, but that's for double the amount of yarn, so you could make two

RICO Creative Cotton - have used this
yarn and this supplier. Would recommend both. The yarn is similar to string and
can be a bit splitty, so buyer beware, it could be tricky for a newbie. That
said, it's a good price for a natural material:

Hope that helps - as I say, that's just some suggestions for those who are feeling overwhelmed by their first yarn purchase, there are thousands of other options especially now it's sale
time. Just check its DK / double knit and can be machine washed (superwash).
I'm very happy to take a look at your potential yarn purchases, just PM me.

I really like as their prices are
reasonable and their customer service second to none. They don't pay me for
recs though, lol, so feel free to shop elsewhere. A note of caution about Kemps
Woolshop - their prices are excellent and I've always received parcels quickly,
HOWEVER their search engine is a total PITA. I've just searched DK yarn and the
first few items are not DK weight. If you plan to order from Kemps, I'm happy
to double check that you have the right weight yarn.

Good luck!


With love

Claire x