Excess Baggage – Week 2

Thanks to everyone who tuned in last week to my first episode of Excess Baggage. I love the conversation it started. It goes to show that different approaches work for different people. 

I’m two weeks into my little lifestyle change and things are settling down. It’s not yet a habit, but isn’t yet boring. I suspect that’s because I’m trying to find that balance between repetition and variety and also because I have my breakout days on the weekend to look forward to.

My approach…

I’ve found in the past that minimising sugar and limiting starchy or high GI foods works for my body. 

Integral to this is plenty of fresh non-starchy veg, low – medium GI carbohydrates, a reasonable amount of quality protein, some healthy fats and dairy. For me, it’s all about balancing the blood sugars.

Boundaries and I have at best a loose relationship so that means that weighing and measuring is required – at least at this stage – to guard against calorie creep. It’s not so much my diet as my portions that are out of control. To that end, I’m (loosely) following the broad principles of CSIRO’s Low Carb plan and their Low GI Total Wellbeing Plan – along with recipes from my own collection of cookbooks and tips and hints from my foodie heroes. What can I say? I like to mix things up.

It looks a tad complicated at the start, but I quite like all of that planning and creating. As I’ve said before, I don’t regard food as my enemy. Nor am I coming at this from a point of self-loathing. I might not be happy about the way that I’ve treated my body, and I don’t think I’ve shown it the respect it deserves over the years, but I actually don’t dislike myself. As such I’m not of a mind to punish myself at all, and especially not through deprivation of flavour. 

That’s why I quite like this plan – at the moment, anyway. It gives me the flexibility that I need to play around within the structure and the ability to pack flavour into evening meals that the three of us are happy to eat.

The basic principles:

Each day you can have:

  • 1.5 serves of bread (I’m sticking to low GI sourdough, rye or spelt), cereals, legumes, quinoa, couscous or starchy veg 
  • 2.5 serves meat or eggs (one serve = 100g meat or 2 eggs)
  • 10 serves of “healthy fats” such as olive oil, avocado, hummus, tahini, nuts (eg cashews, walnuts, almonds, pecans)
  • 3 serves of dairy such as skim milk, Greek yoghurt, cheese
  • Heaps of veg – other than starchy veg such as peas, corn, pumpkin, sweet potato etc which are included in the bread allocation

This should total up to about 1200 calories a day, but I’m not being too precious or too restrictive or counting calories – life’s too short and I’m way too easily bored.

Here’s how I’m doing it:

  • Workday breakfasts, lunches and snacks are being kept uncomplicatingly the same each day. This works for my schedule and means I can have a walk at lunchtime and pop a soup in the microwave when I get back. As an aside, that’s a Nigella tip…
  • Breakfast is either a boiled (or poached egg) or tomato and basil on a slice of sourdough toast, or a serve of porridge lovingly stirred by my husband.
  • Lunch is whatever soup is in the freezer. Week 1 it was cauliflower soup, last week was chicken and vegetable, this week its a different chicken and veggie.
  • Snacks are 20g nuts (which I’ve packaged into portions so I don’t eat the whole bag), a couple of cruskits (equivalent to 1/2 a serve of bread) with tahini and tomato or 100g of Greek yoghurt.
  • I’m not really a coffee drinker but do have a small skim flat white at the beach each morning. The rest of the day I drink black tea, or hot water with fresh ginger and lemon.
  • Dinner is varied each night but consists of protein and veg. This is where I get to be creative.
  • If I want rice with my dinner, I swap out my cruskits for 1/4 cup rice. The same principle applies to quinoa, couscous or sweet potato.
  • If I’m having an Asian soup for dinner with only 100g meat (like this Quick Beef Pho) I might have some tinned tuna as a snack during the day.
  • Most importantly for me, I’m skipping the Monday-Thursday wines.
Quick Beef Pho

As I said, boundaries and I aren’t friends and I tend to rebel if things feel too restrictive. If we go out on Friday evenings, I’m trying to stick to a small steak and veg or salad but Saturday evening to Sunday lunchtime is pretty much whatever I feel like – even pasta – which slows down my weight loss but which I think keeps me on track for longer.

If you’re the type who likes to have a menu planned, the book certainly does that, but I like to have some freedom to move so I’m not following the plan itself.

How am I going?

On the plus side…

  • Week two is done and I’m seeing some movements on the scale – in the right direction, just under 2 kgs so far. I’m expecting this to settle down to around 0.5kg a week.
  • I haven’t felt hungry, but I do miss my midweek wines. 
  • The food I’m eating and cooking during the week is much the same as I usually do, but the portions are controlled and I’m not having the extra starchy carb at every meal.
  • The balance between repetition and variety is okay at the moment and I’m not bored or feeling restricted…yet…
  • I’m also moving more – and my body is complaining a tad about that.

Working on…

I‘m not aiming for perfection, however I do need to work on the following:

  • My weekends. As I said, my boundaries aren’t good so when they’re removed ie weekends and holidays, chaos tends to fill that vacuum. My worst-case scenario is spending the first half of each week undoing the damage from the weekend.
  • Water – I’m not drinking enough of the stuff.

And finally, my recipe for this week…

Vietnamese Poached Chicken Salad with mint and coriander

This one comes to you from Rick Stein’s “French Odyssey” and is on the menu weekly in our house. Sometimes we add salad leaves, other times we make a coleslaw of sorts from Chinese cabbage or wombok with some shredded carrot and capsicum, beans or whatever. 

For the chicken:

Bring a large shallow pan of water with a good hunk of sliced ginger (about the size of your thumb) to the boil. Add 4 small chicken breasts (work on about 150g chicken per serve) and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat, cover the pan, and leave them to go cold in the liquid.

For the salad:

Peel half a large cucumber, cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon and then chop it into matchsticks. Pop these in a large bowl with whatever salad leaves you’re using, some sliced spring onions, a good handful of torn mint leaves and coriander leaves. I happen to think that bean sprouts are the most pointless vegetables on earth, but if you like them, throw in a good big handful.

For the dressing:

Bring to the boil in a small saucepan 4 tablespoons fish sauce, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons lime juice and 1 tablespoon light soft brown sugar (yes, it’s sugar, but it’s 1 tablespoon people, for 4 serves). Mix ½ teaspoon cornflour with 1 teaspoon of water and stir this in too. Simmer gently and then take off the heat and allow it to go cold. Finally stir in 1 finely chopped (or grated) garlic clove and 1 de-seeded and finely chopped chilli – we use the small hot ones.

To put it together:

Toss the salad and pile it on the plates, slice the chicken and divide amongst the plates and drizzle over the dressing. If you want some crunch you can throw in some finely chopped roasted peanuts and a tablespoon of dry-roasted sesame seeds.

Author: Jo

I write, I bake, I chase sunrises.

29 thoughts

  1. Your eating plan sounds much like mine. I eat really well and mostly only good things but tend to eat too much of them. I love your phrase, “boundaries and I have a loose relationship.” Ha! I know that well. I also must balance proteins and carbs, too many carbs makes me hungry. Since I also work from home I have to be sure to go swimming or try to get in 10,000 steps, which is difficult to do when you sit all day! It is always a work in progress for me!

    1. Aaah yes, I work a day job but remotely from home. I walk every morning at 6 and then again at lunchtimes. Otherwise I could spend the whole day on my butt with a total of less than 2000 steps! Thanks for dropping by.

    1. Thanks. Sensible is not normally a word associated with me, but is, I suspect, necessary at the moment. I’m having fun playing with deliciousness.

  2. This sounds like a sensible and doable approach Jo and I’m glad you’re seeing results already. You know enough to realise that any losses will settle down after a while but as long as you stick to your plan all should be good.I find winter is quite hard and I tend to slip into some bad habits as the need for cosiness takes over. I;’m also aware I’m not moving as much as the weather outside isn’t conducive to being out there! I will have to watch my intake more than usual I feel. You are going well and inspiring others too! #mlstl

    1. It’s going to be so much harder I suspect once the losses settle down. I’m hoping that by posting weekly I might help myself stay accountable.

  3. Glad you’ve found something that’s working for you Jo – and that you know that there weight loss will taper down over time. Your diet sounds a bit like the Keto diet – but with a few carbs still included to break it up a bit. I’ll be following your progress as I try to whittle my weight down a little more too.
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I’ve shared on my SM 🙂

  4. Sounds like you have worked out something that is going OK for you. I have increased my walking and thanks to my reconstructed mouth I cannot eat in great quantities any more. However, I can get some high calories into me with ease if I am not careful. I have put on 6 kg in 11 months (still 24 less than my heaviest so ‘winning’) I do not want to buy any more clothes so that’s a motivator for me. Good on you Jo. Thanks for sharing. Denyse #mlstl

    1. So far it’s working. I suspect things will slow down soo & that’s when it will be difficult to maitain.

  5. glad its working for you. its so hard when we get older our metabolism slows right down so what we were once able to eat whatever we wanted we now have to have some restraint. visiting from #MLSTL

  6. Well good on you and good luck with it all. I have to say it sounds a bit complicated for my simple little mind. all that planning and measuring. I’m not keen on anything that looks like a diet. I eat pretty well and not that much, but trying to up my exercise at the moment in an effort to knock back the kilos. Never ending!

    1. I quite like planning – but then I’m a project manager in my day job so it’s how my brain works. My idea of a diet is a broad structure with my own working of it within – I could never do a prescribed plan. Having said that my portion sizes have crept up to such a level that measuring and weighing – at least until I get that back under control – is necessary. Plus, I have a lot to lose…at least 20kgs…

      1. Good luck! I’m a big planner too in work life but not when it comes to food! That could be because I looooove good food but don’t like cooking. We do eat small portions in our house and I think portion size is key. It does become a habit which can be broken. And I love Vietnamese salads.

  7. Jo, thanks for the update on your goals. I know for me, watching carbs is a big thing. And portion control. And getting my steps in. The temps here have been so high – days at 32C without the heat index… with heat index, over 37C – I’m just not getting out and about. But at least fruit is in season, so my eating is high in peaches, melons, and berries! I’ve never been a big soup eater… perhaps I need to reconsider that. Thanks for the inspiration! visiting from #MLSTL.

    1. Yep, all of that – portions, carbs, steps…I don’t eat a lot of fruit – berries mainly. My part of Queensland grows the bulk of Australia’s winter strawberry crop so at the moment they’re super cheap. I like the simplicity of soup – a heap of nutrients in one bowl and sitting down to eat it feels as though you’re sitting down to a meal. Plus on a work day it’s easy to grab out of the freezer. Thanks for following along.

  8. Hi Jo,
    Was very interested to hear about your journey. We follow WFPB at our house and have seen excellent results. We feel that if we eat WHOLE grains we don’t worry about carbs as the GI is balanced out by the fiber and other nutrients in the whole grains.
    We are not perfect, but severely reducing dairy and meat has made all the difference.
    Glad I saw your post…that’s what I love about #MLSTL

    1. Yes, whole grains are great like that & balance the GI well – as does the protein. For me at the moment it’s about an awareness of the amounts & portion sizes as our diet itself is (mainly) a good one, although absolutely not perfect. Thanks for coming along on the journey – I have around 20kgs to lose so it will be a long journey! And yes, that’s what I love about #MLSTL too…

  9. Good for you Jo. You have a plan and one that isn’t a quick fix diet existing on lettuce leaves. We need a balanced approach to healthier eating and exercise and taking a long term approach may not see instant results but when it happens you will keep that weight off. I’m also glad you haven’t cut out carbs or ‘good fats’ because these are essential for a healthy diet. Thanks for sharing your journey with us at #MLSTL and I’m supporting you all the way!

    1. Thanks Sue, life’s way too short to go without excellent bread! I hope you’re patient, because this will be a long journey!

  10. Your title is perfect, Jo, on many levels. A key point I read in your posts, so far, is that this journey is individual and not a cookie cutter approach. Your Temptation quote did make me laugh out loud. I know you will be successful:)

    1. I have no idea why I am ehenault on your site and Erica/Erika on other sites. I think I am still one person:)

    2. Thanks so much for your support. Yes, it’s such an individual thing and my goal is to travel lighter – hence the title.

  11. This sounds so sensible and so manageable, even I could do it! I try not to drink during the week but I certainly feel the difference when I do. Now that the birthday festival is almost over, it’s going to be more water and less wine! I don’t know about you but I find eating the same things although a bit boring makes it so much easier to stick to!

    1. I so agree re keeping it the same for a couple of meals a day. I’m so over soup by the weekend but at least I know exactly what I’ve had & what I’ve got to look forward to. I’m still drinking too much on a weekend & undoing the good I’ve done so need to work on some tactics re that. I start every weekend by telling myself I’ll alternate wine and water or have spritzes or even ice in my wine and by the time 5pm comes around I’ve forgotten all those tricks.

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