Thursday 30 April 2015

Lisa Gets Leaner | Spoonie Food - Soup in a Can

Part of having a chronic illness is finding ways to eat that don't involve much spending of energy. Half the time you need food to function but have to function to achieve food. Luckily, lots of oven and microwave meals exist, along with pre-chopped vegetables and lots of pre-packaged snacks. However, when you're trying to be healthy and/or lose weight these are not always ideal. Being vegan they are not always readily available, and if they are they're not always affordable (Oh, Vbites frozen pizza, if only you were 50p). Finding healthy, low calorie vegan food that doesn't involve much prep is a task, but one I enjoy, so as I combine things with little effort and result in something decent, I shall post details here.

We begin with an easy soup, erm, recipe? Just in time for summer.

Ingredients/pre-made foods as pictured:

1 can Heinz Lentil Soup: 186 kcal
1 Kingsmill wholemeal brown roll (Any will do, I prefer Co-operative own brand): 167 kcal
Dairy-free spread (Vitalite): 70 kcal
Sriracha (Bangthai): 20 kcal
Pinch of basil. *shrug*

= 443 kcal

Instructions (I'm sure you can guess, but...):
  • Heat up the soup on the hob or in a microwave
  • Flavour to taste if required
  • Grill the bread roll in two halves
  • Pour the soup in a bowl
  • Spread the Vitalite on the roll
  • Sriracha that soup!
  • Dunk the roll in and enjoy!

Obviously you can change this up with any soup you want, any bread you want, adding wholewheat pasta or brown rice instead of bread, using any spices or herbs, if any (not EVERYTHING needs sriracha, apparently). I have featured this combination because it has protein, vegetables and fibre, lentils are fabulous and filling, the chunks of veg are satisfying and I can have a whole can at only 186 kcal. Also you can stock up on canned soup in the winter when it's on offer and keep it in your cupboard for when you're low on spoons and big on hunger. I choose a rolls over sliced bread because they are more filling than one slice and less calories than two. 

Gods of chronic illness, bless soup in a can.
Thank you, Heinz for your accidentally vegan soup in a can.

Monday 27 April 2015

Lisa Gets Leaner | Tea | Pineapple and Grapefruit Green Tea

Something I have been doing to cut out a fair few calories a day in my losing weight mission and curb my appetite in-between meals is to replace my usual sugary, milky* tea with herbal/fruit tea. I've found it hard to achieve until now.

While I'd like to just replace normal tea with green tea and feel like a healthy person, it just... ew, no. it does NOT hit the spot, or even taste that nice. Fruit and herbal teas are always appealing, but 90% of the time they sound amazing, smell amazing, and taste... well, like not much at all. Definitely not nice, or like they smell. They tend to be so disappointing I don't want to try new ones because the emotional scars left by previous ones are so deep.

However, now I am more serious about weight loss, I am more serious about my 0-1 kcal tea and will be reporting here any that are actually worth the money. This has been inspired by one tea I have recently discovered. I sincerely hope there will be more!

The tea in question is Pineapple and Grapefruit Green Tea from Twinings, beautifully modelled here by R2D2.

While the taste of green tea is still pretty prevalent, it hits the centre of your tongue and is diluted either side by the fruity yumminess of grapefruit and pineapple. All the bitterness plain green tea brings is eliminated and it makes a very pleasurable drink. I am very pleased with this one and will be exploring more of the Twinings flavoured green tea rangevin hope of more joy.

Happy tea drinking!

*Dairy-free milk, obviously ;)

Wednesday 22 April 2015

Adventures In Coffee

Now, having a job and chronic fatigue means lots of brain fog at work. While as a rule, you're not meant to have caffeine with this kind of chronic illness as it tricks your body into thinking it has more than it does and you suffer more because of it, the Spoon Shortage page on Facebook is always posting coffee memes. This, along with a year of serving countless coffees to people (most whom would rather have it with cake than tea?!) has triggered curiosity in me. Why do people love coffee so much? If I have some to get me through a shift I have to do anyway surely it'll help more than hurt? Can I actually find coffee drink I can get past my nose, into my mouth and swallow?

Previously in my few attempts at trying coffee, the smell invaded my nose and made me gag before the mug could even touch my lips, let alone tip some coffee into my mouth. After exploring the refrigerated Freefrom section in Tesco I discovered iced coffees, already made, with chocolate. Now, if there was a gateway coffee drink for me, one without nose-invading steam and CHOCOLATE would be the one. So after a while, I bought a couple.

It took the Easter holidays for me to turn to coffee to function okay at work, and I tried the Mocha first, as it was the most chocolaty. 

I was (for some reason) surprised how strong the coffee taste was. I was expecting it to taste like coffee chocolates, or my Latte lip tint from Lush or something, but it really was coffee with a chocolate, not the other way round. It reminded me of the first time I tried lager. I didn't like it, of course I didn't I was 12. When I swallowed it my nose scrunched because it was so gross, but I soldiered on and sure enough, my nose stopped scrunching and I became accustomed to the beery taste. So, with this in mind, I slurped on. After just a couple of gulps the coffee taste made less of an impact every time I swallowed and I managed to drink the whole bottle without hating it. I then wished I bought two of the mocha bottles rather than a mocha and a cappuccino to get used to the taste more, but hey ho, I'm hardcore.

Only a few days after that I tired the cappuccino version. It was a very similar experience to that of the mocha; “Oh, wow, it really tastes like coffee... wait, why am I surprised? Drink on, I can handle this, drink on. Drink drunk. Okay then. Not horrendous. Not amazing. Coffee.” I do think I shall be sticking with my chocolaty, cold coffees for a while before braving warm ones. Or even non-chocolaty cold ones for that matter. This is partly because I rarely come across coffees I can actually drink and partly because I am a wimp. Hot black coffee is what's most widely available to me at the moment and that really is the deep end. However, if I find myself in a proper coffee shop I may have to brave the warmth for a nicely flavoured, properly prepared “milk”y drink of some sort.

As for the caffeine factor I can't say I noticed whether it helped me feel more awake or function better because I forgot to take any notice and the same goes for whether my payback increased. I'm sure, at least, I felt better because I had drank some coffee and that's meant help. Which is why I am likely to continue this adventure into the land of coffee in the future. You can come along too, if you like.

Do you have any advice for starting to drink coffee? Any would be greatly appreciated!

Friday 10 April 2015

Lisa Gets Leaner

Hey, guys!

Here begins the first of the blogs about weight loss as an ex-anorexic with chronic fatigue. It makes weight loss super scary and extra hard, but I seem to found a way of doing it! So, here is my first goal, and how I've managed to turn it into a feasible, achievable thing!

One the left below is my-terrible-at-posing-self in a size 20 dress from Primark. As with all dresses of theirs in this size, it fits my bust and belly. On the right is a size 18 from the same shop. As you can see, while it may be fine around my waist, the bust and belly areas are a little too tight to get away with, and there is a huge amount of sideboob/bra not visible in the photo. My first goal is the get my boobs and gut into the size 18 comfortably!

The way I have found works for me (and will NOT take over my life this time!!) is calorie counting. With the help of the a few things:

~ Diet Aids ~

The first is the application MyFitnessPal which sets a realistic daily calorie goal generated from one's weight, height, average daily exercise and how much you want to lose. It's very easy to add calories and track them.

I find this helps me keep to measuring out my portions and servings correctly - 30g of cereal is nothing!, and keep my meals sort of level. What makes this super handy is its huge database of foods which you can also add to yourself. While I find it easier to just work out and add calories manually, if you are likely to eat something again, you can search for the food or scan its barcode to easily add its nutritional value and calories to your daily entry.

As you can see, my recent foods in the Snacks is full of healthy choices! If anyone has a definitive answer to whether those Frys bars are vegan or not, please let me know. I crave chocolate so bad sometimes, I just hoped for the best.

One of my favourite things - which I'm sure you will learn about me as this blog continues, is visual evidence of achievement. A good graph is a grand way to represent progress of weight loss and MyFitnessPal provides this. Which makes me happy.

(Excuse the volume thingy, if you have a Samsung Galaxy Ace 3, I am sure you know just how difficult it is to get a screenshot.)

But my favourite thing about this the information it gives you after completing a daily entry:

Even if I go over my goal enough to warrant projected weight gain, it doesn't make me feel like crap about it like that sassy little shit, the Wii Fit Board (will be discussed shortly), and it blows my mind that this information could be my future.

Another application I have found helps is My Diet Coach. The Pro version, which I have now paid for also offers a calorie counting feature too, but I prefer MyFitnessPal for this. What I do use it for though is setting daily goals to keep my diet on track - you can customise these completely.

As you can see, achieving these goals gains you points, which help you level-up and earn fashion items for your strange little avatar thing. I think she is supposed to provide you with inspiration or something.

Therefore, weight loss is now a game. I like games. I can do it successfully now!

This ones visual weight tracker is not for me, but here it is anyway in case it is for you:

 What are these strange units of measurement called kilograms? I though grams were for baking.

Now. The Wii Fit Board. If you have Wii Fit Plus, I am sure you are familiar with the character they have created out of the balance board/scales. It's really rather annoying and likes to toy with your emotions. If you gain weight, it makes you think long and hard about why you did and makes you feel SUPER guilty, only to then tell you how it's completely normal to gain 2lbs a day through normal body processes! What an ass! All that aside though, I do like Wii Fit. It's how I weigh myself. And check my balance for some reason. I find how fat my Wii is hilarious, and the general experience much more fun than standing on some scales. Don't worry, I really am not a strong believer in BMI.

It also has this!

YAAAY! A nice graph AND nice words, sometimes.

Before I began working part time I used this game to do some light exercise daily, but I do enough physical work at the pub these days. I'm sure as my energy levels improve I shall hit up the games and yoga again though. For now it is just my scales. Scales I enjoy.

~ Keeping anorexia at bay ~

A few days into my new diet I did slip into a few hours of scrolling through pictures of skinny people on Tumblr and purging my food. Turns out what helped me was talking to a friend about it rather than keeping it a secret. This friend is losing weight with me too, which helps me feel less alone, less disgusting and like a normal person doing a normal thing that I shouldn't be ashamed about. In line with this is being open about my weight loss, posting updates on social media and talking to my friends about it is so relieving. It's like a safety net. Everyone is really supportive and that makes me feel loved and safe.

I hate to admit it but having ME/CFS does play a role in this. If I cut my calorie intake too drastically I completely break down and compromise my job. Which is very sobering for me.

When I find myself listening to the anorexic thoughts in my head rather than letting them float by, I manage it by talking to somebody about it or writing it down and practicing some cognitive behavioural therapy techniques I have learnt through years of therapy. I'm sure there are great rescources online out there for help with this but what I do is to write down all my anxieties and find out the real issue causing the worry. I remind myself of why I am losing weight and why I am doing it the way I am rather than starving myself. I look for evidence of the thing i am most scared of and evidence contradicting it. The contradictory evidence always trumps the anxiety's "proof" and after a deep breath i find I listen to it and eventually calm down. Does that make any sense? I hope so.

Talk to people. Seek help if you need it.

~ Weight loss and Chronic Fatigue ~

As I mentioned before, I cannot cut my calorie intake very drastically without relapsing, so I keep my goals realistic and relatively small. I also eat little and often, small meals every 3-5 hours and keep mainly to whole grains, pulses, vegetables and fruit the best I can with a 80% / 20% rule on healthy food / naughty food so I stay sane.

I found a booklet from Freedom From ME really helped me which a kind friend of mine sent me. It includes lots of tips on how your diet can help you manage your symptoms, and has lots of recipes which are easy to cook lots of and have over the next few days, or keep in the freezer. I find if I have energy to cook on my days off I cook in bulk so i can eat well for the next week without having to cook each time.

If I find myself suffering more than usual I allow myself a little extra food and don't beat myself up about it. I find being sensible is the key.

I realise that currently my fatigue is mild-moderate. If yours are more severe you may find success with The Fast Diet which involves eating normally for five days a week and fasting for the other two. I have heard many people with ME/CFS sing its praises so it may be worth a try if you are wanting to shed some pounds.

Overall I find I am losing weight with hardly any effort at all. Just not overeating and avoiding takeaways. I hope this provides some useful information on how it is possible (for me, at least) if this is something you want to achieve, too.

If you have any tips for losing weight with ME/CFS and/or a history of disordered eating I'd love to hear them. Maybe we can help people!

Thanks for reading,

Coconut Water No-no

~ I interrupt this blog to bring you an urgent newsflash ~

This coconut water tastes like off milk. OFF. MILK. From cows. That milk. It's really disappointing considering how good their smoothies are and not worth it however desperate you are for the water de coconut.

Consider this a warning. Or  just a bad carton/batch. Does anyone else drink this brand of coconut water? Do you like it? Is there a secret to enjoying it? I'd love some advice!

PS. I'm sorry, Naked. I shall big up your beautiful smoothies soon <3

Friday 3 April 2015


  Now, I've never been any good at reviewing things properly, but I do get excited about things and want to tell the world about them, so rather than reviews, you will be getting recommendations from me, starting with music.

  Back in 2008, Kevin of Do the Dog Music sent me an E.P by a band of younglings from east London called The Skints. Those five tracks were the only thing I listened to for quite a while once I'd hit play. It was a fresh and exciting mix of reggae, ska and punk, with some conscious political/social lyrics. My favourites things! Everything they have released since then has been just as sick - less punk, more reggae with some more lovey-dovey lyrics thrown in, but still absolutely stonking.

  This February they released their third full length album, FM, and in true new The Skints fashion, I haven't been able to listen to anything since. If you like reggae, you really need to get your hands/ears on it and if you can make a tour date you definitely need to go see them - they are incredible live.

  You can check them out on Youtube, below is the first track from the new album featuring the legendary Tippa Irie and Horseman.

  Their videos are also brilliant, thanks to the lovely Chris Hugall :) Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday 1 April 2015

And So It Begins...

Hello there, blog readers.

I am Lisa, I like dogs and I have been advised to blog, so here I am. An introduction seemed to be the most logical first post so here goes:

I am 27 years young, yet living the life of a 17 year old due to suffering from Chronic Fatigue and having to move back to mother's in Purbeck, UK after university to rebuild my ability to actually do things. At university I studied illustration and although hating the course, developing this exhaustion I didn't understand, having regular break-downs and being in and, I bagged a degree! Making me a bachelor of the arts. Posh posh. Or not, considering how many people have them.

I am currently wasting that degree at a pub under a broken castle, serving beer and trying to be a waitress despite my inherent clumsiness. In-between shifts I am trying to complete my second perzine in a series I'm publishing called The Jellygoose Chronicles. I shall write about the wonder of zines and what they are soon as I find most people haven't a clue what they are. The first issue is available from my Etsy shop. I also have a blog for any drawing I manage to get done. I do love drawing. This time also spent dog sitting, sleeping, watching cartoons, sci-fi and YouTube videos on science, lifestyle and beauty.

My interest in beauty and make-up only really developed last year when I was asked to wear make-up for my job. YouTuber tutorials really helped with this as I learnt how to actually put things onto my face and whatnot. My upcoming zine will go into more detail into my relationship with make-up, but right now I love it, and am not dependent on it, which for me is an achievement! It really excites me so do not be surprised if this blog involves a lot of make-up.

As my energy levels improve I intend to work more, save money, move out of mother's house, become a dog trainer and study to become a dog behaviourist and reverse the damage done by Dominance Theory.That will probably take at least 'til my 50s, so for now I am on two missions:

1) Lose weight in hope it will help improve my CFS symptoms and aid possible recovery. This is especially challenging due to the CFS and being an ex-anorexic, and bulimic... and binge eater for that matter. But I'll do it!


2) Learn to drive and increase my prospects for future jobs – especially in the world of dogs.

Through following this blog you will join me on these journeys, learn about things I get overly excited about – usually beauty products, music, feminism, zines, body positive stuff, help with mental health and hell knows what else. We'll see what happens and what this blog ends up being. For now though, thanks for reading, take care and have fun.

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