Thursday, 14 July 2011


I drink 2 litres of the stuff every day while I'm at work. I'm usually too distracted in the evenings to remember to drink so if I get the 2 litres in while I'm at work anything I drink after work is a bonus, right?

The guy I share an office with must think I have incontinence problems. I get up 4 times a day to fill my 500ml bottle, then another eleventymillion times to pee.

Eating low carb

I've been a bit obsessed with eating a high protein, low carb diet lately. I've been trying to stick to under 40g of carbs, over 80g of protein and between 1000-1200 calories a day.

For me, it's almost impossible. I always end up higher in carbs that I should be, even though I don't eat any simple carbs like bread, rice, potato, pasta etc. I guess I'm not eating enough meat, and who knew there were so many carbs in vegetables?!?!

Today I thought, stuff it, I'm going to have porridge for breakfast. Well, I ate half a cup and wasn't hungry any more so threw the rest away (what a waste, but better than eating for the sake of it right?). Anyway, it's 10:51 and I'm still not hungry. Usually when I eat my standard breakfast of light yoghurt and a latte I'm hungry for a snack at about 10, and put it off as long as I can, usually having something to eat at about 10:30.

But today I'm only just starting to feel a little emptier now, and I wouldn't even call it hungry. Hmmmm. Maybe oats are ok? I've been staying away from bread, pasta, rice and potato because I know they are trigger foods for me and I'll be hungry again an hour after eating them. But oats are low on the glycemic index and should be ok in theory. Maybe I'll start including them in my diet more often.

So, it looks like not all carbs are the same. Of course, I knew this, but I thought eating anything with a higher carb content than I have been would trigger me to start craving all the other 'bad' carbs. It seems not. Huh.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Time to talk about the band

I haven't mentioned it before, but I have a gastric band (or lap band as I call it, short for 'laproscpoic band').

I had the surgery in October 2006 and lost almost 40kg, bringing me to a weight where I felt fantastic and looked great. Shortly after getting to my goal weight, in January 2007 my band slipped out of place, resulting in the need for revision surgery to put it back into place. Due to really bad reflux and 'night coughing' - one of the symptoms of a slipped band, all of the fluid had to be removed from my band while I awaited the revision surgery 3 months down the track. This caused me to put on about 6-7kg which I was never able to lose.

I don't think I ever got back to that 'sweet spot' of restriction after the revision, and that weight never shifted. Then, in July 2008 I moved to London and strangely enough was able to maintain my weight at the 6-7kg above goal. I say 'strangely' because a lot, if not all of my Australian friends who have moved to London have fallen subject to the 'Heathrow Injection' and put on quite a significant amount of weight in the initial months of living in London. This is usually attributed to increased alcohol intake, eating out more often, and eating heavier, stodgier English food.

Anyway in January 2010, after 18 months in London I had to return to Melbourne for a few months (8 to be presice) as my visa had run out and I needed to go home to sort out my Italian citizenship and return to the UK with unrestricted working rights. During this time I put on a further 6-7 kilos, due to a few factors:

  • I didn't work for the first 2 months that I was home, giving me more time to eat out of boredom (a problem for me)
  • I was excited to eat foods that aren't available in London but are favourites in Melbourne such as certain chocolate bars and biscuits
  • I stayed with my parents while I was there, so I was being cooked for again, rather than cooking for myself so I was unaware of what was going into my meals
My mum never cooks unhealthy foods, but she does cook with a lot more carbs than I'm used to eating, and I have to admit it was so nice to be 'looked after' that I just enjoyed everything she put in front of me at mealtimes.

Now I find myself back in London, around 14kg above my lowest, and ideal weight. You will know from previous posts that I am getting active again at the gym and I'm also doing the couch to 5k running program and so far things are going well. So now I am left with the task of finding that elusive 'sweet spot' with my band that will allow me the restriction to get this weight moving downwards in a more rapid and consistent fashion.

I found a great surgeon here who actually did some training with my surgeon from Australia, and I'm booked in to see his nurse, Beth on Friday. Beth is amazing, she has been so supportive of me while I've been here and I really appreciate knowing that I can call her when I have questions and she always seems to have time for me.

My only concern is that I had a barium meal done a few months ago and it showed that my bad was too tight (!) so I'm concerned that Beth won't put any more fluid into my band on Friday. I disagree with the diagnosis for a number of reasons. My surgeon in Australia is part of a practice that are at the forefront of the lap band surgery, the head of the practice was actually the first in Australia to perform the procedure. About 12 months ago I was given a DVD by the practice that explains that the band works in a very different way to how it was first believed to function.

Initially it was believed that the band provided restriction around the top of the stomach to drastically slow down the flow of food to the main stomach, only allowing it to trickle very slowly down over the course of a few hours, thus making us feel full a lot faster, and for a lot longer than someone without the band.

Now it has been proven that what the band actually does is effectively slow down peristalsis,the wavelike muscular contractions by which food is moved down your oesophagus and through to your stomach. The band is a barrier to the food getting to the stomach, so each time you swallow a mouthful of food, peristalsis will push it down to the band, where only a very small amount will get through, then the rest is pushed back upwards. Peristalsis will then push the remaining food back down again, and again a very small amount gets through and the rest is pushed back up by the band. This goes on for about a minute before the entire moutful is through to the 'main' stomach.

So as you can see, the food doesn't actually hang around in the pouch like we thought, and when you look at the barium test it's supposed to look like the food is getting stuck and being pushed back up your oesophagus (the test was performed using marshmallows as the 'food'). The test wasn't performed for long enough to show that the mouthful took a minute to get through the band, so it seemed to me that the technician performing the test is unaware of the new information regarding how the band works.

I think a better indication of the level of restriction is to assess the volume and type of foods you are able to eat, and whether you are getting hungry in between meals. During my optimum weight loss, I was unable to eat bread, or any hard, red meat such as steak, although mince was fine. I also wasn't hungry and didn't snack between meals, and my meal sizes fell within the recommended volume of half to one cup per meal.

These days I can eat a whole bread roll with all the fillings and two hours later I'm snacking on chips or chocolate! In the last month or so I have cut out all bread, pasta, rice and potato and increased my protein intake which seems to help, but I still need to snack between meals and that's just not the way I know the band can work for me.

I know I'm not a medical expert, and what's right for me might not be right for the next person, so I'll just have to have a good chat with Beth on Friday and hope for the best.

Wish me luck!

Monday, 11 July 2011

Rest days are important too

So I completed run 2 of week 3 on Friday afternoon, and while I was able to complete the entire program again (yay!), my distance covered and average speed on RunKeeper were nowhere near as good as they were on Wednesday when I did run 1.

On Wednesday I covered 3.36km with an average pace of 08:47 minutes per kilometre.
On Friday I covered 2.92km with an average pace of 09:44 minutes per kilometre.

My average pace is brought down by the fact that I include my 5 minute warm up and cool down in my RunKeeper activity, but that is a constant so the increase of almost a minute per kilometre is either coming from my runs, or the walks I'm doing in between.

Friday was my third day in a row of excercise (Wednesday run, Thursday gym, Friday run) so I was feeling a little less energetic, and I had just been at a job interview that went for over an hour so I think that drained me a bit too.

I'm starting to think that rest days might be not just for 'elite' athletes, but important for us non-athletes too. So where does that leave me now? I still want to work out as many times a week as I am now, but I want each workout to be as valuable as possible, and not as disappointing as Friday's was. My schedule at the moment allows for 4 evenings of workouts per week, but unfortunately they are straight after each other (Tuesday to Friday usually).

What I think this means is a bit of a lifestyle change is needed. Mondays I usually catch up with one of my best friend's, M for dinner. We usually eat early, at around 6pm so I could potentially squeeze a run in at around 7:30 or 8:00pm during summer when it's still light, or a gym workout. OR, I could get up earlier in the morning (shock horror!) and do my workout before work.

I've never been one to excercise in the morning, except for on the weekends, so I'm not sure how this will affect my energy levels for the rest of the day. I guess there's only one way to find out.

This then means I'll be able to run Monday (the gym's usually really busy on Mondays, I think it's full of people who are feeling guilty for overindulging over the weekend), then gym Tuesday, rest Wednseday, run Thursday, gym Friday (when it's not so busy, everyone is off getting their weekend started), then rest over the weekend.

Stay tuned for a report on my first ever 'pre-work workout'. It's too late for this Monday, I might try a later evening run tonight instead, but hopefully by this time next week I'll have given it a go.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

3 minutes!

I'm doing the couch to 5k program at the moment, and last night was run 1 of week 3. It consisted of alternating between 1.5 minute runs and 3 minute runs, with walking in between.

Week 2 was all 1.5 minute runs so I was doubling what I had previously been able to run, and I was nervous that I wouldn't be able to do it. I am extremely competitive with myself and failing at this would have been a real blow to my ego, and my motivation.

Well I decided to just give it a go, and I was able to do it!! I read on another blog that when you run it helps to imagine that you are pedalling a really small bike, and mimic that in your leg motion. I gave it a try and it actually worked, I felt like I had more energy and my knees weren't taking all the pressure any more, it felt more evenly spread over my ankles as well.

Tonight is a gym workout (I alternate between running and the gym to try and get a well rounded exercise routine), then tomorrow I'll go again for week 3, run 2.

I'm really starting to think 5k is achievable, I might just end up doing some proper runs one of these days.

In other news, I have finally found a new place to live. My house at the moment has 6 people, and only 1 bathroom. And the housemates are pretty messy. Actually, they're pigs. So I'm really excited that I have found another place, moving date is the 13th August. It seems far away but it's really not - in 2 weeks time I'm going away for 2 weeks and I'll get back the week before I move, so that gives me 2 weeks to find someone to take my room.

Anyone looking for a room in Putney? Actually after what I've just said I'm doubtful anyone reading this would want to live there!

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Appreciating the little things

Last night one of my best friends, J came over for dinner. This is pretty unusual for me to have someone over to eat at my place for a couple of reasons: I live in a share house and I've always felt like having company imposes on my other housemates so I don't like to do it too often. I'm also a shy cook. I like to experiment and cook for myself, but I really don't like cooking for other people, it makes me nervous.

I recently started a high protein, low carb diet and I've been trying out a lot of new recipes to support this new eating plan, so when J said she would come to my area to catch up last night I invited her to be my guinea pig for a new dish that I was trying out.

She came over and we had a great time just chatting, eating (it turned out great, by the way) and catching up on our lives for the last couple of weeks since we'd seen each other. It doesn't seem like a long time but in London a LOT can happen in 2 weeks so there was a lot to talk about.

Anyway, the night was really nothing 'special' but there was good company, good food and good conversation, and I went to bed last night thinking it's these little things that can really make you feel like you're at home when you're living on the other side of the world from your family and childhood friends.

On another note, I went and saw a room in a flat down the road before dinner last night and I really liked it. The flatmates (2 guys and 1 other girl) are all 30+ and seem really nice. I spent over half an hour chatting with them and getting to know how the household works and it just seems like a much better fit for me than where I am now.

I'm hoping to find out today whether I get it or not, move in date would be the 18th August so I'd have plenty of time to replace myself at my current place if I do get it.

Finger and toes crossed for this one

Monday, 4 July 2011

My first post


I set this blog up a few weeks ago but haven't had the guts to start writing until now. I guess I thought the first post should be really dynamic and interesting, but then I remembered the reason I created it in the first place and the pressure is off.

I created this blog for me. 

I have been living in London for almost 3 years now (with an 8 month break last year but that story for another time), and it's about time I started writing down what I'm getting up to so I can look back on this time of my life and remember why I'm here. I've always wanted to be a writer so this is my way of fulfilling that dream at the same time. Hopefully some people start reading this blog and enjoy what I have to say.

I'm from Melbourne, Australia and a lot of my friends thought it was weird that I moved to London when I had never even been here for a visit before. There are a lot of reasons that I moved here, and I'm so glad that I waited until I was 28 to do it - I feel like I can really appreciate being able to travel and live the lifestyle that I'm living - well, a lot more than an 18 year old would anyway!

At the moment the big things in my life are (in no particular order);

  • Looking for a new place to live
  • Looking for a better/more interesting job than the one I have now
  • Getting fit and shifting that last 12 kilos
  • Maybe meeting 'Mr right'
I want this blog to be a place that I can vent my frustrations, share my stories and record the events of my life on the other side of the world from 'home'.  I hope it makes for an interesting read for anyone out there who wants to take a look.