My #21daychallenge Diary

After a good few months of just coasting along, birthdays and a boozy break in Benidorm, where I broke my ribs (it’s best not to ask), it’s time for this girl to get back focused, and get back on it.

This morning, Monday 20th May, my weight reached the highest its been for a long while. Whilst I have only put about 5 pounds on, from my lowest ever weight, my relaxed attitude is starting to show on the scales, and if I am not careful, I could start to slip back into my old ways.

So, the #21daychallenge it is, no excuses, time to get back on it and get organised.

Day 1

We have got family staying with us, at the moment, which means me and the hubster are sleeping on the pull out bed in our dining room. So last night, so as not to disturb anyone this morning I made sure I had my running kit ready, as well as my regular clothes for the day. Johnny isn’t off to work too early (thankfully) so at 6.45 I got up, drank a pint of water, got my running gear on and Willow the Be Strong dog and I went for a 3.5 mile run. This was my first proper run back after breaking my rib(s), and I can feel them, but it isn’t hurting, so I think they are on the mend. On my return from my run, hubby Johnny was leaving to go to work and 7 year old Seth was up, so I made his breakfast and went for a shower. After my shower, breakfast was 2 weetabix, with semi skimmed milk, and about 80g of mixed berries, with a pint and a half of water, and a brew. Approx 276 calories.

Fed Ruby, after her appearance in the kitchen and the dog (because I forgot when we got back from our run!), did spellings with Seth, made my lunch for work and then bundled everyone in the car for the school run. Phew!

Got to work, and had another brew – my mornings are always caffeine heavy! Another 17 calories. Running total 284 for the day, so far.

My plan is to do the weekender plan this week – Bank holiday weekend is coming up, and we are at a barbecue on Saturday and meeting up with friends on Sunday, so the weekender plan will help me to fit these in this weekend.

My exercise plan for the week is to run Monday and Friday, I will got to the gym on Friday too, and  I will be teaching HIIT class Monday, Tuesday and Saturday this week.  I will also run on Sunday morning.

10.45 am – Sports bottle of water

11.20 – I am starting to feel peckish, but I reckon I can hold on till 12 noon, for my lunch.

12 noon – Lunch – and I am ready for it! I am having what I have most days – Big box of salad with some chicken tikka pieces and a bit of reduced fat coleslaw – 320 calories, and the bottle of water!

2.55 – Had a few more loo trips – think I am on wee number 7 after my mid afternoon bottle of water.¬† Quick brew before I leave to pick the kids up from school, make tea etc and shoot over to Darwen group! This is danger time for me, as I am usually hungry whilst preparing everyone’s tea, and knowing I won’t be eating until later. Will have to be really strong to avoid dipping in the biscuit tin or breaking off a strip of chocolate out of the fridge, Johnny keeps buying the Cadbury’s Daim chocolate bars because they are on offer! #sabotage

Day 2

Managed to avoid eating the kitchen cupboards and fridge contents whilst prepping everyone else’s tea last night before group.#winning

Settled for a frothy coffee out the coffee machine, with a sweetener, it was 96 calories, and worth it. Gave me a caffeine boost for group and a bit of a sweet kick.

After group no-one had left me any tea (charming!), I was starving and the prospect of no tea ready, made me slightly hangry! So I cobbled together a piece of salmon a few new potatoes and some coleslaw. Came in at just over 400 calories.

With a couple of decaf teas before bedtime it brought my day in just over 1150. Happy with that!

This morning, I drank my two pints of water and had a slightly smaller breakfast -less fruit, to bring the calories down slightly. School run done and off to Be Strong HQ.

This challenge has really focused my attention and has started me thinking about physical goals again, so I have decided I am going to do another half marathon –¬† the Manchester half marathon in October. This will give some structure to my training over summer, and will keep me focused. My plan is to do London Marathon in April next year, so getting to half marathon distance before Christmas and then maintaining that will stand me in good stead for the marathon training.

I have just looked at the clock and it’s 10.48 – I have normally eaten a banana or some other fruit as a snack by now… and I don’t feel hungry. Just slowly sipping my water and it’s going to keep me going till lunch.

I have also started planning what I am going to take to a barbecue at the weekend. It will be a boozy affair so I am going to take a salad, and some chicken kebabs, and my tipple is going to be gin and ginger ale, that I will mix myself before I go, so that I am not tempted to drink bottle after bottle of lager. I will drink it slowly with loads of ice and some fruit in it, then it feels like a real treat.

1.00pm lunchtime – I have not felt hungry at all this morning – slowly sipping my water, ready for it to be filled up again for lunch. Lunch is my regular salad box, but I have come to realise I can forego the yogurt and bag of fruit and nut that I had got into the habit of having straight after, without any thought for if I needed it. I am going to save my yogurt for a snack before I go to group tonight.

Had to finish early today, due to an event at school, so went to that, and then home to get everyone ready for the evenings activities and off to Blackburn groups. Had a Skyr yogurt to keep me going till 9pm, and a pint of sugar free Vimto.

At group, I normally start to feel really hungry by the start of the second session, and can sometimes feel a bit dizzy but today, I have noticed that I am a bit hungry, but nowhere near as bad as I have been at times in the past. I drank another bottle of water and a half throughout the two sessions, then home for tea.

Tea meant that I went over my calories, and I had to guess, because it was made by someone else, but I overestimated it at 700 which brought my daily total to 1364. I should be on 1190 if I am doing the Weekender plan.

Today I can honestly say that I haven’t felt anywhere near as hungry, and I have been to the toilet a lot less than yesterday.

Day 3

Woke up and drank two half pint glasses of water, had a wee, and weighed myself – I have now lost 3 pounds in total since Monday morning. Now I know my weight does fluctuate throughout the week, so my thoughts are that I am going to stick with this plan and get through the weekend and see whether I am still at the 3lbs off by next monday morning. This is my ideal weight, so I will be happy with that and move into maintenance calories, but still carry on with the challenge of tracking and drinking water. A further half pint of water goes down the hatch after my shower, then breakfast with a brew – 276 calories.

Had another bottle of water on my way to Blackburn in the car, then another one with lunch which was a delicious Aldi King Prawn and Asian Slaw, with a lovely coconut and chilli dressing for 244 calories!!! Bargain!¬† I haven’t felt hungry all morning, but was ready for my lunch. By the time I had finished my water, and lunch I was full again. I am really enjoying the control, that I feel I have got back – no mindless snacking and picking. I always make sensible choices for my meals, but I am definitely thinking more carefully about what will fill me up more, so that I can manage my hunger better.

The afternoon and evening panned out much the same as the morning. My appetite is under control, and I’m definitely not snacking as much, because I don’t want to put it in my book. It is really keeping me accountable to my calorie allowance.

Day 4

It’s School Sports Day today, and there’s a lot of mum’s at school who come to Be Strong, so we are all stood there sipping our water. All are reporting the same as me, reduced hunger pangs and reduced snacking. I joined in with the facebook banter¬† and tried to beat the water drinking record – I failed miserably with my attempt at downing my 750ml – 40 seconds compared to 10!!! Never mind – its not really about how fast we drink it – however, I will try again but with glasses of water next time instead of a sports cap on a bottle.

Our house guests left to go back to Cornwall this evening, so once they had gone and I had sorted the bedrooms out again, I was exhausted.  The left over white wine in the fridge from the previous weekend proved too tempting. So I had a glass but with lots of ice and diet lemonade so it lasted me all night. Brought my total calories to about 100 over what I should be having, but I can live with that.

Day 5

It’s run and gym with my friends today after school drop off, then off to Liverpool to sign up for a course in Personal Training, which I am really excited about. Because of this my eating has been all over, as I haven’t had time for proper lunch. So it’s tea time and I am starving!!!¬† But I’m holding out for my Steak and Chips on the meal deal at Tesco. I have worked out I have got enough calories left for my tea and two bottles of beer, and I will still be on target for my weekender plan. Winner!!

Bank holiday weekend coming up and we have lots of plans with friends, so we will see how this pans out!

Days 6 and 7 – Weekend!

So Saturday meant that we were going to a barbecue with friends. I had every intention of taking chicken skewers with mushrooms, peppers and onions, but I ended up being really busy all day, and running out of time to prepare any food, and just grabbing a burger for me and the husband, and the usual hot dogs for the kids.

I’d had around 750 calories up until tea time, so that meant with my extra weekends calories I had about 1700 calories to play with for the barbecue. I was organised and stuck to my planned drinks, but may have slipped a sneaky can of lager in once the gin I had taken had run out. I reckon I had 500 calories in Gin and lager, and probably around 1200 calories in food.¬† I don’t know for definite because I ended up picking at bits and bobs throughout the night.

To do a bit of damage limitation, I planned to run the long way for the car on Sunday morning, so after a bit of a lie in, I got on my running gear and ran about 4.5 miles to collect the car. Because I got up later and then went for a run, and had an errand to do, I didn’t get breakfast till nearly dinner time, then it was a Sunday roast for tea. I did my usual of filling my plate with vegetables, but still had a couple of roast potatoes and one yorkshire pudding, so it would have still been quite a calorific tea. As we had friends over, the Prosecco came out too.

I have to be honest, the water drinking has slipped today and yesterday, so I am going to make sure I have 750ml before bed, then get straight back on this challenge tomorrow morning.

Tomorrow morning will be a week since I started on the challenge, so it’s official weigh in day. We will see where I end up. I am confident I will have lost some weight, but maybe not the whole three pounds I was seeing mid week. But, to be fair, I will be happy with that, due to being really focused for the majority of the week, and then less so at the weekend. However, it has to be said that I have definitely been more focused this weekend than I normally am, so the challenge has definitely had an impact on me.

Day 8 – Bank Holiday Monday

Another busy day, working and studying, which has meant I haven’t got back on track with the water, or writing the calories down. It doesn’t feel as urgent though, because upon weighing myself this morning, I had remained at the three pounds loss, which is where I want to be. So my plan for the rest of the challenge is to move to maintenance calories, still track, and still do the water.

Day 9

Definitely back on it today – back into a routine of going to the office – I find it much easier to be on track when I am in a routine. I had my usual breakfast and lunch, so I knew my calories were OK up until lunchtime, and drinking the water still is keeping the snacking at bay. After work and before group I sat and worked out my maintenance calories, and how to reduce them to still give me something to play with for the weekend. We have got another busy weekend planned, as it’s Johnny’s birthday and we are going to Liverpool for the weekend to watch a band, so I definitely need some extra beer and food tokens for that.

My maintenance calories are 2100, so if I drop down to the 1700-1800 mark I know that I will have an additional 2100 calories to spend over the weekend.

After eating at 1100 calories last week, I can definitely do 1700.

Day 10

Working at home today, as the kids are on half term, and I am also due to give blood, so I need to factor in the biscuits and sweet drinks you are given once you have donated. I went for a 3 mile run first thing, then had my usual breakfast. Still on the water. It is definitely becoming a bit of a habit now, its routine to fill my glasses up before I eat my meals, and most definitely in a morning, before breakfast. Before this challenge I always had a glass of orange juice with my breakfast, as well as a brew. I have knocked that on the head now, so that’s a few calories saved each day.

Had an early lunch to make sure I wasn’t going to feel faint, after my blood donation, along with my water.¬† I also made sure that I drank water throughout the morning, you have to be really hydrated when you are giving blood as it helps you to donate quicker. Then off I went to donate.

After Accrington group, tea was leftovers out of the freezer, so had to have a bit of a guesstimate at the calories for that, and also had a small glass of wine, at Johnny’s insistence – it’s his birthday week – apparently it’s the law to celebrate all week! Still ended the day on target, with a few calories saved for the weekend.

Day 11

Thursday is my rest day, as I don’t have any groups and I don’t usually go for a run. I am trying to use up the contents of the freezer and found a small portion of cottage pie to take for my lunch, and it was small, so I am guessing that it is in the region of 400 calories. However, at lunchtime I went to warm my cottage pie up in the office, only to realise that the microwave was still in Rick’s camper van from his camping trip at the weekend! Luckily I had a couple of apples hanging around in the bottom of my bag, so that meant I had a really low calorie lunch – as well as my water of course.

Today is Johnny’s actual birthday, and he has requested my worst nightmare of a tea, but it’s his¬† birthday so we are going with it and having eggs, chips and beans, and of course birthday cake.

Thankfully due to my inadvertently low calorie lunch, I end the day on target, and still drinking all my water.

I am definitely feeling less tired now, and less hungry. I have picked at the odd few sweets when the kids have had pick n mix, but I haven’t been dipping into the biscuit tin hardly at all, nor foraging in the fridge. I am also drinking less brews, especially during the day in the office. I have to say as well, this is not hard.

Day 12

Weighed myself again this morning – in preparation for the Birthday Weekend in Liverpool ahead. I have lost another pound and a half, so I am lower than my goal.¬† This isn’t intentional, but definitely gives me some wriggle room for the weekend, so I should be my goal weight after our weekend away.

Day 13, 14 and 15 – Liverpool Weekend

Off we go to Liverpool, and I have to be honest calorie counting has gone out of the window, due to the places that we were eating at. I had far too much to drink, and was feeling a bit worse for wear by bedtime! It happens to the best of us! I did make sure I had my usual water before breakfast and then some more before we set off, I also had a bottle of water in the car, so despite feeling worse for wear on Saturday night, I didn’t have a hangover on Sunday morning, which I can only put down to the water! Another bonus!

What a weekend we picked to go to Liverpool – it was heaving, as it was some European final or other (I can’t profess to be a football expert in the slightest) and Liverpool won, which also meant there was a victory parade on Sunday evening.

Despite the amount of alcohol consumed, we did an inordinate amount of shopping, walking and sightseeing. On Saturday we walked 8 miles and nearly 10 miles on Sunday, plus a bit of dancing at the gig on Sunday evening. So hopefully that will be some damage limitation. I didn’t drink anywhere near as much on Sunday, so will have clawed a bit back there too! Our food, whilst we were eating out, was fairly sensible, and not three big meals each day, just enough food to feel satisfied. Still delicious though. We had the nicest tapas I think I have ever had on Saturday night.

So Monday morning, we did a bit more sightseeing and clocked up another 4 miles, then back home to collect the kids from school. I missed them terribly!  We had a lovely breakfast mid morning, so that kept me going till tea time. I am feeling focused again after the last 36-48 hours, so I made sure I drank plenty of water with my breakfast and then had another bottle of water on the way home. Before tea, back on the water.

Day 16 – After weekend weigh in

I have taken to putting a pint of water on my bedside table and drinking that when I wake up, then having another half a pint just before I eat my breakfast. So, I did just that and went for my post weekend away weigh in. I am about half a pound heavier than Friday morning, so I am very pleased with that. I am still at my goal weight range and will be on the tracking and water now, until the challenge is finished.

Ended the day at my maintenance calories, after Blackburn groups, which is 2100. And drank my water before every meal, and in between.  #Focused!

Day 17

Run day today – so a pint of water and a 4 mile run with Willow before my usual breakfast (with the full complement of water) and the usual morning chaos. The book is still being filled in and everything tracked. I feel a real sense of accomplishment when I write in my book, because it really makes me feel like I have control. Kept up the water all day, and the tracking, this really isn’t too hard to do honestly! And it really helps me stay focused. Usual salad for lunch, but at home instead of in the office, due to having to come home for the washer to be repaired.¬† Normally when I eat lunch at home I dodge the salad, and opt for something easier to prep – like a sandwich or maybe sometimes just toast and jam – I don’t know why, because I take the time to prep it all to go in a lunch box every day that I am in the office, but since I have been tracking, I have felt like I should try harder and not pick the easier option of a quick sandwich. Last week, I resisted the urge to get a ready meal for tea on Friday, like I normally would, and spent twenty minutes preparing a lovely King Prawn and Chilli Tomato spaghetti dish for me and the hubster. And I enjoyed it so much more than a ping meal. Even Johnny asked if we could have it again!

Ended the day after Accrington group, fully hydrated and under my calorie allowance. #winningatlife

Day 18

It crossed my mind to not bother writing in my book today, as I was in control. But I resisted the urge and told myself that I wanted to see this through to day 21 now. I am feeling like I have achieved something  and I am totally back in control of my eating, and feel better for drinking all the water. My skin has improved, too. The little spots I had been getting are fading, and no new ones.

Tracked all day and made sure the water went in. Got 1000 calories left to play with for this evening (I’m on maintenance) which I probably won’t use, but if I get a bit peckish later after tea, I will drink some water and reassess if I am actually hungry, or whether it will pass.

Day 19

Today was a bit of an odd day food wise, got up late and was planning a run, so just had half a breakfast, before I took the kids to school, then off for my run. The other half of breakfast was after my run. This meant I wasn’t hungry till quite late, but treated myself to an omelette with loads of antipasti, grilled peppers and olives. It was delicious but quite calorific. Didn’t snack for the rest of the day because of this, and then went a bit leaner on my tea to make sure I was well in my calories for the end of the day, to give me a bit of wriggle room for a planned meal out over the weekend.

Day 20

Well Saturday started well, breakfast and off to Clitheroe group, then back home, a quick bacon butty and then took the kids to the school fayre and various other activities.¬† At the school fayre my friends were manning the bar, so I offered to help, and I may have had a sneaky fruit cider whilst doing my bit (oops!) I don’t have my book on me either, because I wasn’t planning on eating or drinking anything (oh dear!) So it didn’t get tracked (until after the event). After the school fayre, the shocking afternoon weather meant that we played X box Kinect and then watched a film with the kids, and Johnny did the fatal thing of opening a family pack of cheese savoury snacks. God knows how many I ate, but I know it was too many, and I didn’t track them either. Feel really annoyed with myself about this, because I am so close to the end of the challenge and I would have loved to have finished properly. Tea was steak and home made wedges, with a couple of beers, and what I thought was two small glasses of wine, until the day after I looked at the empties, and realised that Johnny had been sneakily topping my glass up. He is such a saboteur! I literally had no idea, so it’s no wonder I fell asleep and missed the end of what we were watching on TV. So I think we can say that Saturday was a disaster calorie wise, but I will pull it back tomorrow for my last day!

Day 21

Sunday morning and it’s Be Strong walk day. I am paying for the cheese savouries, as my tummy is not at its best, so that’s put me off eating them for a bit! Had my usual breakfast, and the kids wanted pancakes. There was one left over, and I gave into temptation and took a massive bite, then got cross with myself and threw it in the bin cursing myself! I wrote it in my book though. Went for the walk and it was really lovely, with a good group of people, and the weather was beautiful. Had a quick lime and soda in the pub before coming home, where I made up for the pancake by having one solitary piece of toast and a brew, and went for a run. Felt a lot more virtuous after that, and resolved to be really good for the rest of the afternoon, before Mum’s birthday tea out at a really nice pub in Oswaldtwistle. Obviously with going out, I had no clue on the calories that were in the food on offer, so I made an educated choice, and chose cod loin.¬† I think it was probably the lightest meal on the menu, so I was pleased with myself. I had tracked all day, and reckoned on about 1000 calories for my meal, as meals out are always a lot more calorific than we expect them to be. Ended the day under my target with my estimation on my tea, so I am hoping I have pulled a bit back from those blooming cheese savouries!

It’s all over, or is it?

I have learnt a lot whilst taking part in this #21daychallenge, and I think that I am going to carry on with the water, it’s become a really good habit and it has definitely stopped me snacking and picking. The act of tracking has really helped me get a grip on my eating again- particularly in the week. And for weekends, while I know I will consume more, it’s kept me alive to what I am putting in my body, rather than just consuming mindlessly. I know I have been far from perfect, but I have give it a good go, and I am feeling the benefits. I currently feel like I am back in control of what I am eating, and back to making sensible choices. However, if I feel like I am getting out of control again and it starts to reflect on the scales, i.e. I am unable to pull it back myself, and the weight starts creeping up, then I will definitely be using the ‘Check it before you wreck it book’ again to bring me back into line.¬† I can’t recommend tracking enough. It was refreshing having that feeling of self-control and accountability to my goals.

We can carry on with our heads in the sand eating mindlessly without any real knowledge of what’s going in or we can take a few weeks out to just be accountable and see where it takes us. If you haven’t tried it yet, I recommend giving it a go.

Download your #21daychallenge here, and order ‘Check it before you wreck it’ books here.

If you still aren’t convinced, read our article ‘To Track or Not to Track!’

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