Sunday, October 30, 2011

Atkins; Phase Two minus One, Week 4

I'm not sure what happened but the weight loss stalled. Perhaps I moved too quickly onto O.W.L. My weight just wasn't shifting despite following the diet exactly. I still exercised 3-4 times a week and ate my 20g of carbs + 5g of new foods from O.W.L. I decided maybe it was the melon? So I've stopped eating that and I cut back on the strawberries too. Instead of having it everyday as a snack, I'm having it every other day. In the last 3 days, I'm finally back on track with a 2lb weight loss. Weight loss to date is 14lbs. I guess I need to stick on Induction a bit longer as this weight loss is more stubborn than my mother. 

On Wednesday I had severe sugar cravings. I haven't felt this way at all throughout the pass 3 weeks. I very nearly caved. I even contemplated diabetic chocolate! I must've stood at the aisle staring and reading all the labels for a good 10 minutes. Finally, Hunky came to the rescue and reminded me that 1) diabetic chocolate sucks and 2) I'd only be cheating myself. Such a supportive husband! The next morning, the feeling was gone. Wow, I came so close to giving up. Sigh, I really, really do miss my sugar. Last night, I did have one chocolate covered almond. It came all the way from Spain! I felt incredibly guilty but Hunky (again) reminded me that this is a long term thing and I shouldn't be so hard on myself for eating one miserable chocolate almond. So instead of feeling bad, I went for a jog this morning. 

Lunch - grilled chicken salad with avocado, ham & balsamic dressing

Thanks everybody for the encouragement. Its a constant battle with my inner sugar demon. Its only been 4 weeks but it feels more like 4 months. 4 more weeks to go! I think I'm going to have to up my exercise too. Will keep you posted!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Atkins: Phase Two - O.W.L

I made it! Its been 17 days since I started Atkins and I'm still alive! I thought I'd just dieeeh from sugar and carb deprivation. Drama much? So now I am in the second phase of Atkins which is Ongoing Weight Loss or OWL for short. Like Harry Potter but not quite as magical. Sigh. So this week, I can up my carb intake by a whole 5g! Woohoo. You know I am being sarcastic right? Whats 5g? Basically 1/2 cup of strawberries. I know, sounds really lame huh? But I've been so deprived that I am ever so grateful for that sweet, sweet taste of strawberries! I can also eat raspberries and blueberries but who can bloody afford those here? My other fruit choices are rockmelon and honeydew which fantastic! It has a great sugary hit and I thought I wouldn't be able to stop myself from eating more but surprisingly, I managed to stay satisfied with that tiny portion (half cup) of rockmelon.

On the scales, it has been impressive. 11lbs to date but I don't really feel it. My clothes feel more or less the same. Okay, maybe I can breathe a little better in them but more importantly, I can breathe a little better when I'm exercising! Scary, my poor heart must've been working so hard. Breakfast remains a challenge. I've been having omelettes. Cheese and tomato, plain cheese, cheese and mushroom, mushroom and chicken, etc... Sigh. I've had soft boiled eggs several times just for a change. This morning I had scrambled eggs and sauteed mushrooms. Super rich as I used 1/4 cup of cream for the eggs. Very satisfying. I think I might go buy some bacon for breakfast this weekend. Yum. 

My afternoon snack! Grilled chicken with homemade mayo, hard boiled egg (white) and alfalfa sprouts

So my challenge now is slowly adding different foods from the carb ladder. I'm suppose to go slowly, adding 5g of carbs each week while monitoring my weight loss. If I continue to lose weight, then I can keep adding til I find my limit. This is going to be a battle for me because I am so impatient. I guess it would help once I'm able to have a bigger variety of foods to select from. Until then, lovely glorious pieces of fruit!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Atkins; Phase One - Induction

I have been on a diet for the past two weeks. It came to a point where I was just feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. And I can’t even say its baby weight because I put it on after I gave birth. I made the mistake of eating like I was still breastfeeding except I wasn’t. So all those naughty calories just stuck and BAM! Suddenly I had put on 7kgs! I was 3kgs from my baby weight when Her Madesty was 3 months old. How could I have let this happen? Instead of losing 3kgs, now I have to lose 10kgs! Sob! So, it was time for drastic measures. No, I couldn’t “just cut down on the food'. If I could just control my eating habits, I wouldn’t have found myself in this predicament in the first place.

I did a little shopping around on the net for diets. There are so many out there but the two that shows consistent results have got to be Atkins and Dukan. My friend is on the Dukan diet and she swears by it. Its quite similar to the Atkins philosophy but I think it is less severe in terms of its variety but its also less tasty as it doesn’t allow for any oil or fats. So with that in mind, I embarked on the first phase of Atkins; Phase One - Induction. A grueling 2 weeks of protein and total net carbs of 20g. I soon discovered how little 20g of carbs are! Anything vaguely fun and tasty naturally has more carbs. I can eat cups and cups of lettuce and that would be fine. But ¼ cup of pumpkin and I’ve already used up ¼ my daily net carb. Do you know how little ¼ cup of pumpkin is? Its tear-jerkingly little! I also look back and think that I must've had 1000g of carbs a day previously. 

I needed to do this diet because I really had to break my bad habit of snacking. Its pretty bad as I'm so use to eating a little here and a little there. I can't blame it all on work either. So since I can’t have sugar and carbs anymore so why bother snacking right? The first three days I really missed my sugary snacks and resorted to snacking on beetroot. Beetroot! Is this what you skinny ass people do? Snack on beetroot? Its so sad.

Atkins definitely gives you results but its not without controversy. After all, eating so much meat and practically zero carbs can’t be good for you. I read about Atkins being bad for your kidneys and cholesterol. So I decided to test it for myself. I did a blood test 4 days into my diet. My cholesterol, as expected, was over the healthy limit. I was relieved to find that it was only my LDL (bad cholesterol) that was elevated. My HDL (good cholesterol) was well within the norm as was my Triglyceride levels. My kidney and liver function were good. And the only thing that showed the symptoms of Atkins was found in my urine sample. Ketones. (Lifted from Wiki - Ketones are metabolic end-products of fatty acid metabolism. In healthy individuals, ketones are formed in the liver and are completely metabolized so that only negligible amounts appear in the urine. However, when carbohydrates are unavailable or unable to be used as an energy source, fat becomes the predominant body fuel instead of carbohydrates and excessive amounts of ketones are formed as a metabolic byproduct. Higher levels of ketones in the urine indicate that the body is using fat as the major source of energy.) So the good news was, my body was beginning to burn fat but the bad news was, I was dehydrated. I swear I drink close to 4 litres of water a day but I’m constantly parched.

Homemade fishballs with chicken broth, choy sum and spicy chili sauce.

There is a misconception that you can have as much fat and protein as you like. They encourage a sensible amount of good fats and only about 170-220g of protein each meal. So while technically I can eat a whole turkey for lunch, its probably not a good idea. I am conscious of what all this protein might be doing to my body so I try to eat mainly fish followed by chicken and hardly any beef and pork. Do I feel hungry? Honestly, no because protein really fills me up. The only thing is, I still really miss my sugar. I dream about having chocolate cake. Sigh. And the only sugar substitute allowed is Splenda. I bought a packet and it sucks!! I’ve never bothered with artificial sweeteners so maybe that’s why I think its gross. It sucks so bad that I don’t bother putting it in my coffee anymore. The taste is not even close to sugar and the taste stays in my mouth for hours. Gross. It’s amazing how everything taste so amazing once you start appreciating the simple things again. I had grilled salmon with fennel salad and it just tasted soooo good. The salmon tasted so sweet and the fennel really packed a punch in terms of flavour. I was totally satisfied because everything was just so tasty. 

That’s the thing about Atkins. You really have to spend time planning your menu and buying good quality produce. And that’s why Atkins is a very expensive diet! I’ve more than doubled my weekly grocery budget. For me, if I was going to do this, I would do it right. I've followed the diet exactly. Which makes life a little harder but its so worth it. I can still go out to eat but at selected restaurants where I know I can have lean proteins. Japanese is always good. I just have sashimi and some teppanyaki. I know it would be easy to reach for the quick options like sausages and canned meats but I just don't want to go down that road. That would be like replacing one bad habit with another. Having said that, I did have a couple of sausages and chicken wings at a friend's barbecue over the weekend. See, its still a pretty sociable diet. Oh, but I guess it would be a big turn-off for drinkers as you can't have any alcohol at all during these two weeks. 

Today is the last day of my two week induction on Atkins. I’ve lost 9lbs. That’s a little over 4kgs. (I switched my digital scale to lbs because its more fun seeing the pounds come off!). I’m almost halfway to my goal. I think it probably helps that I’m fitting in some form of exercise at least 3 times a week. I’m ready to move on to Phase 2 of Atkins: Ongoing Weight Loss. I get to introduce some fruit! Yay! 

Sunday, October 09, 2011

The Quest for the perfect Victoria Sponge

Its often said the best things in life are a slice of victoria sponge with a cup of earl grey. Or something like that. I love a good sponge. Its the perfect balance of cake. Light, fun but with some depth unlike its airy fair-weather friend the chiffon. Mind you, I love a good pandan chiffon too. Sigh, what can I say? I just love cakes! So anyway, my sister requested for a Victoria Sponge cake for her birthday and being the good sister that I am, I made her one! When it comes to all things English, there can only one guru to turn to and thats Delia of course. She even has illustrations of 4 different sponges that have slight variations in the recipe. Studying her all-in-one recipe, I had serious doubts it would work. Gasp! Yes, I doubted Delia! Forgive me D! I'll never question you again. It just sounded too simple. So of course I went for the harder one even though she specifically said the all-in-one "is the best sponge of all". Me stupid yes. I tried the classic and honestly not worth the effort. Not that its so complicated but the all-in-one is amazingly idiot-proof. Trust me, I'm an idiot.

Don't expect a sponge like the ones in local bakeries here. This is a full-bodied PG13 version. 

Delia Smith's All-in-One Sponge
110g self raising flour + 1 tsp baking powder
110g butter (or margarine) at room temperature
110g caster sugar
2 large eggs
2-3 drops vanilla essence

To finish: icing sugar, jam, lemon curd or fresh cream

Pre-heat oven to 170C and line 2 x 7" round tins with greaseproof paper

1) Sift the flour and baking powder into a large bowl. Sift from good height to give the flour a good airing
2) Simply add all the other ingredient into the flour mixture and mix thoroughly. If the mixture doesn't drop off a wooden spoon easily, add 1-2 tbls hot water to loosen.
3) Divide between the 2 tins and bake for 30 mins ( I found I only needed 20 mins in my oven)
4) Pop it out of the tins and cool on a wire rack the moment they come out of the oven. (Yes, its freaking hot to handle but don't question Delia!). Peel of the paper carefully.
5) Once cooled, spread generously with jam and freshly whipped cream. Y-U-M-M-Y!

6) If you want more depth to the cake, increase mixture to 175g of flour, sugar (I only use 110g) and butter and use 3 eggs. Allow extra 5-10mins cooking time.