Calorie Deficit

Who knows all about this subject?  It’s not a “thing” I was even aware of!  Just shows you how much I wing it in my every day life!

I was watching Extreme Weight Loss (the American show with Chris Powell) – it’s a great motivator, as I sit on my bum for a solid 40 minutes drinking coffee.  Seriously, though, it is.  They were talking about the number of calories a body needs daily before any exercise.  So, I found a handy calculator, put in my height, weight, etc and I was delighted with the number – my body needs A LOT.  Take away the calories you need to reduce by per day (500 for 1lb, 1,000 for 2lbs, etc) and bingo – there’s your new calorie goal for each day.  Easy peasy.

Previous to this, over all these years, I was going on hearsay, probably worked out on averages.  But I’m not average.  I’m a stonking great six foot middle aged woman – there’s not many of those around!

I can do this, the maths tell me I can.  I don’t need to starve, I just need to be clever and organised.  And stay off the wine.  It creates “munchies” right into the next day.

I’m expecting to record another kilo loss by this time next week and every week thereafter, so watch this space …





Happy Christmas Eve Eve!

You will never believe what I did or didn’t do today – I completely forgot to weigh myself first thing this morning! Mondays are my weigh-in day and first thing in the morning before breakfast. But, because it wasn’t a school day and it felt like a Saturday, I didn’t realise I should have been on those scales holding my breath!

Ah well. I did step onto the scales of doom around midday and they showed the same weight as last week – hooray! That’s the best I was hoping for but it wasn’t the exact science of being measured at the same time every 7 days. Could I have been 3 ounces lighter 5 hours previous?? I’ll put it down as zero gain/zero loss. Not bad after all I consumed on Saturday night.

Only 2 more sleeps until we see how good or bad we’ve been this year. I’ve been good – honest! I am so looking forward to Wednesday, for the first time ever we aren’t planning on stepping over the threshold, unless it’s to give Sam a go on his new bike (if Santa has one for him, of course!).

We’re having my mother- and father-in law down for Christmas day. It’ll be our first year celebrating without our darling Linda, who enjoyed Christmas as much as any child. It was all about the wall-to-wall movies and exploring those mysterious packages under the tree. It will be a day of mixed emotions but we were all delighted with the tribute she was given in the Camphill News.


The in-laws aren’t big fans of turkey, but they love honey-glazed gammon. I’m quite excited about cooking – I haven’t had that privilege in many many years. My menu is planned down to the very minute – I suppose it brings out the control freak in me, timings are what I thrive on! In control of my own kitchen, I can produce a schedule that involves lots of timers going off to jolt my failing memory/time judgment that it’s time to do the next step.

To balance all that out, the table setting will be relaxed and designed by Corrado (but will include matching cutlery and stemware!), the meat can relax as long as it likes and a blind eye will be turned to those who do not want to eat their 5-a-day. I know I didn’t want to fill up on the veg when I was 8 or 10, the only food group I was loyal to then was the selection box.

After lunch today, it was action stations – we zoomed up the road to Ballymoney to make our pre-Christmas visits.

We came out of the Elliotts with wrapped surprises for the new kittens and then went on to the Kinnairds where our kids were indulged in hide-and-seek.

On the way home we called into Sainsbury’s for a bottle of Sloe Gin, because I needed some for my puddings. It wasn’t the bun-fight I was expecting, there was no need to sharpen my elbows and I shopped and paid for that vital ingredient in record breaking time.

The excitement of the build-up is impacting on the appetites of the kids – they didn’t want dinner tonight but were quite keen on knowing what sweet treats were available for afterwards.  They were forced to eat some pasta carbonara 🙂 (quick, no thinking and a sure-thing with the boys)  while I cooked up a chickpea spice-fest for the adults after the kids were packed off to bed.

I’m guessing, but the chickpea curry could not contain more than 450 calories per portion. I can’t see where the fat was, apart from the slightest drizzle of oil to fry off the onions and spices. The rice was the biggest culprit in the calorie count, but it was boiled with green lentils so has the mythical protein celebrated by vegan nutritionists. Apart from all that, it was delicious, a tad fiery, the individual spices gave their own hit and overall it was very comforting. It was my own recipe of spices but I think it was excellent!

Cathy's Chickpea Curry
Cathy’s Chickpea Curry

chickpea joke

Can you diet and enjoy Christmas?

That's me, the one in the red dress beside the photo-bombing guy in the mankini!
That’s me, the one in the red dress beside the photo-bombing guy in the mankini!

Of course you can!

Unless you are in a race to win “The Biggest Loser”, there’s no reason why you have to give up the diet, or even not start, in December. Just lower your sights and, at worst, go for “no gain” at this tempting time.

Find the right eating plan and you can do it.  For me it’s all about portion size and a kick up the backside. This is what attracted me to the Hairy Diet in the first place – reading the recipes, you wouldn’t know you were dieting. (To me) the secret is heeding the portion size. If the recipe says “serves 4” and you’re only cooking for yourself, you need to have 3 storage boxes lined up beside your plate ready for dividing up the end result. It becomes second nature after doing this a few times and then you realise the benefits – after a couple of weeks of industrious cooking and variety, you can take the next few weeks off and reap the benefits of those freezer portions. Sometimes the flavours develop in the cooling process or the texture changes for the better – last week’s moussaka is a perfect example.

Anyway, getting back to Christmas. Last night, I went to a Christmas Party Night, much loved of office workers and other large groups. It was a typical hotel function – book food in advance, have it served as soon as you sit down, everything cleared away and the loud music begins. We were the “Cathy Mullan Party”, as the laminated A4 table display told us! I do wish I’d thought of a better booking name. We could have been the “Putting the World to Rights” or the “GIPSies” after the school our children have in common. The world was our lobster.

The vegetarian choice wasn’t much of a choice and, to my constant exasperation, it bore no relation to the season or traditional menu.  It was spinach and ricotta cannelloni, which is the perfect pub grub for me – garlic bread and salad on the side. But I do love Christmas veg – carrots, roasties, mash, Brussels sprouts. Luckily for me, the server offered a side plate and a bit of everything from her silver tray. I ate that first – it was very well cooked, slightly al dente (except the mash and roasties) and still brightly coloured. The pasta was OK, but it was just fuel to me.  The side salad had no business on the table, it wouldn’t be served on Christmas Day in our house!

Festive pasta!
Festive pasta!
Five pepper-Corn Rib Eye rib eye of beef cooked in a five pepper-corn crust - really?
Karen M: Five pepper-Corn Rib Eye
rib eye of beef cooked in a five pepper-corn crust – really?
Roast turkey with a bread stuffing served with all the trimmings and a roast gravy
Karen H: Roast turkey with a bread stuffing served with all
the trimmings and a roast gravy

Memo to Christmas party venues: the vegetarian likes to celebrate the season too – allow him/her to enjoy the vegetables that are traditional for December! An old fashioned nut roast or similar with a tasty sauce would be perfect. Makes us feel less “look at me, I’m making a point here”.

I haven’t eaten that much pasta in a long while so by the time the dessert was served (my choice was raspberry ruffle cheesecake) I was full up. I couldn’t do it justice, sadly.corrs cheesecake

The rest of the night was good craic – the people watching from our vantage point of a table on the side of the dance floor was great fun. As Karen M posted on Facebook “I have never seen so many bald men in one place”!! And they weren’t just groups of bald men, they were bald men in Christmas jumpers! Their counterparts, the Christmas Party Women, were in a uniform of short black dresses, bare legs and platform shiny shoes. Whether they fitted into their outfits or not! Meow!

I’m no oil painting myself, so I am qualified to judge – ladies, you let the side down. Haven’t you seen the foundation underwear displays in M&S? The good news, from what was on display last night, is that cellulite is a fashion accessory these days!  Brilliant! I have enough if anybody needs some!  Karen H and I were the only women in longer dresses – did we miss a memo?

We danced along with DJ Robbie Magee but didn’t reckon on the cabaret singer first – it was cheesy but in a fun way!

We might have eaten about 3 million calories each but we worked off at least 50% of that during one dance – Baggy Trousers (Madness). We deadpanned the traditional dad-dancing style to that tune but didn’t reckon on the full-body workout it gave us! I couldn’t speak for 10 minutes after!! Karen H, I do hope you have deleted that video!

The good news is that I went home semi-sober at 1.30 am and when awakened by the two kids and two kittens this morning, I was able to lift my head without wincing and actually smile, despite the cone shaped hair on top of my  head.

Corrado suggested we all drink some extra vitamins to make sure we weren’t sick on Christmas morning, so I got the juicer out and we clinked our glasses full of carrot, apple and ginger juice. A force to be reckoned with – I was like the Duracell bunny for hours!juiceI’m under no false illusions about weigh-in tomorrow. I have overdone the quantities in the last day or so. But I’m hoping for a zero gain at best.

Wish me luck!Funny-Christmas-Jokes-Saying

Chilli Lemon Tuna and Broccoli Spaghetti – sort of

David didn’t fancy porridge this morning – could he finally be getting fed up with it? It’s only once a day I’m feeding it to the family – it’s not like it’s every meal :D.

So he had a rindless bacon sarnie and I had a couple of slices of toast with a poached egg. To be honest, I didn’t really enjoy it. The egg was lovely but the toast annoyed me, every mouthful was a chore. (It didn’t occur to me to stop eating it though!) Maybe my body was trying to tell my brain that we don’t do toast anymore, it’s not that nutritious and full of empty calories? Or, more likely, 50/50 bread isn’t nice!

It wasn’t as cold outside as I thought it was going to be today, there was no drastic drop in temperature (according to my meteorological bones), but I still didn’t take any chances and I ignored the garden, which is in desperate need of a tidy up before the predicted high winds arrive. So I stayed indoors and put off house tasks too. I probably spent too much time online today! Loved seeing all the lovely flags from the countries of readers of my blog today. To all the new people, “welcome”! It made me very 😀 😀 😀

So, for lunch I did my Wednesday thing and cleared out the salad drawer in preparation for my organic veg box arriving. I had a rainbow salad – that’s what I decided to call it, I wasn’t following a specific recipe. There was spinach (left from the yummy curry last night), pomegranate, tomatoes, olives, celery and I added a small handful of mixed nuts. I never dress salads, I find it distracts from those lovely textures and flavours, but it wasn’t dry at all. I felt a bit smug afterwards – how pure and healthy am I? LOL!

Cathy's rainbow salad
Cathy’s rainbow salad

That didn’t last, just before it was time to pick the kids up (they wanted me to do it today instead of getting the bus) I sat down with a coffee and scoffed one of Corrado’s new favourite chocolate biscuits – Club Fruit. (If you want a lot of chocolate on your biscuit join our Club) A wee trip down memory lane, they were very popular biscuits in the 1970s and 1980s but seem to be making a comeback! Club Milk was my favourite, but Tesco doesn’t do them. I only had a salad for lunch, so I’m not going to beat myself up about it – I didn’t check the calorie count, I hid the wrapper from myself too quickly to check that. But I’m sure it’s not that bad?

Anyway, the obligatory visit to the bakery on the way back from school didn’t tempt me as much this week, maybe the Club did me a favour!

Dinner tonight was pasta. Chilli Lemon Tuna and Broccoli Spaghetti, to be precise. OK, maybe not tuna – I defrosted salmon by mistake. And maybe not spaghetti – I used bucatini. And, I’ll admit I had to use regular round broccoli – there was none of the fancy tenderstem (which is actually nicer because it doesn’t turn to mush if you slightly overcook it). But it was almost the same! Chilli Lemon Salmon and Broccoli Bucatini. Sounds good.

With ...
With …
... without
… without

I had been avoiding cooking pasta – I had no idea how calorific it was until I started reading the labels in early November. But I missed it and this recipe looked fresh and tasty – and spicy. What’s not to like?

For my meat-free version I just had the pasta with chilli oil and a sprinkling of Parmesan.

It was delicious. I loved the spicy kick from the chilli oil and the crunch of the broccoli along with the softness of the tomatoes and the tang from the lemon. It was superfast to make too – everything was prepped and ready by the time the pasta was cooked.

David loved the salmon. I know that salmon is slightly heavier in calories than tuna but the bucatini is slightly lighter than spaghetti so in my confused head we’re even stevens!

One word of warning – if you haven’t tried bucatini before and your favourite part of a spaghetti meal is to suck it off the plate until the sauce splashes all over your face, this is not the pasta for you. It’s hollow, so not as much fun!


First week of my first attempt at serious dieting



Look at those chins!  This is me in the local paper with my older son at a Halloween Spooktacular.  My last few days of being carefree about what I was stuffing into my face at all of my many meals per day!  (Breakfast, post-school wave-off coffee time, elevenses, lunch, pre-school bus return, dinner, after-dishes cuppa and pre-bed time snack).

I’d bought David, my husband of 20 years, the Hairy Dieters book for his birthday at the end of October (the day before my own birthday) – half joke, half serious – until I read the recipes and thought that, actually, this is the sort of food we love now but with a calorie count and recommended portion size!  Then our 10 year old son got involved and, as he has been torturing us to get healthy for ages, he demanded that he helped choose the menu for the week and to actually cook it!

So, out with the multiple chins and in with the skinny jeans … or that’s the plan.

We’ve tried everything from the Easy Baked Chicken* to Doner Kebabs* and not one meal was given less than 9 out of 10 for flavour and satisfaction.  Except for Sam (8) – unless it’s processed, he doesn’t score it.

*I am a nuisance vegetarian so have had to substitute the meat – in my case it was “easy baked Portobello mushroom” and “falafel kebabs”.

First weigh-in tomorrow (in the privacy of own bathroom) and am optimistic.  The plan is to be at my Ideal Weight Part One by July 2014, losing 1.5lb per week.  Ideal Weight Part Two will commence thereafter, if there is no mass of baggy skin and the weight loss actually looks good!