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Friday, 22 February 2013

confession #000022

... or, the punisher

last night was a night of sheer indulgence.  i don't know what led me to it but i just could not help myself.  there was just not enough chocolate in the apartment to satisfy by sweet tooth.  being a very diligent person and somewhat of a control freak whenever i set myself to losing weight, i registered every gram onto myfitnesspal food tracker and by the time i got to bed, i realised i blew my target by about 700kcal! to be fair with myself, it was more in the region of 500kcal.  when i set up myfitnesspal account and set my targets, it allowed me a daily intake of 1200kcal but since i'm not exercising much at the moment (as in, not exercising at all), i'm trying to stick to 1000kcal per day instead.  

so today, is punishment day.  and the punishment comes in the form of soup.  it's not that i don't like soup - far from it.  i generally say that i wouldn't mind having it on a daily basis but truth be told, it can get quite boring ... still, i suppose with a little bit of imagination, and a strong determination to reach my weight goal, i can outlive the boredom.  

one thing i always mention whenever i speak about my life in krakow is the soup kit.  this is a very ingenious way of getting veg into one's system at a very, very low price! all the groceries or supermarkets i've been to so far stock this so i really don't have any excuse.  basically, this is a polystyrene tray with (usually) 2 carrots, 2 parsnips, 1 or 2 onions, a piece of leek, a segment of cabbage and a chunk of kohlrabi.  some stores would also include a couple of celery sprigs. all of this costs approximately 2.60zł which is something like €0.63c!  the contents of the kit yield 2 hearty portions, each of which is something like 107kcal.  how's that for healthy, cheap, low calorie and tasty all together?! 
vegetables organised neatly
it only takes a few minutes to wash, peel and chop all these veggies and throw them in a saucepan with a vegetable stock cube.  a few more minutes on the hob until all vegetables are nice and tender and voila - your soup is ready. i usually prepare this while i'm having breakfast in the morning so i find it ready when i stop for lunch.  also, i tend to prefer my soups pureed rather than seeing all the chunky bits, but that's purely a personal preference.  
the soup cooking away nicely
as i said, having this soup on a daily basis would be rather tedious and can certainly lead to the motivation levels diminishing with every spoonful.  but having such a low calorie basis allows for a few twists which can certainly enhance the flavour and make it more interesting and wholesome.  i love marmite so whenever i feel a little low on energy, i just add a teaspoon of marmite to it before serving and it takes on a whole new flavour.  also, a 3cm cube of feta cheese is a nice addition at about 90kcal, or even a couple of tablespoons of baked beans (approx. 150kcal for half a small tin) - the spicy variety work best.  meat eaters can obviously add some lean meat to it to give it some substance.  even a slice of heavily toasted bread can make the difference and not break the weighing scales.  
and here's the pureed soup.  i added 3 sauerkraut and mushroom pierogi (my personal favourites) as i needed to keep going for a busy afternoon full of errands and appointments (approx. total soup + pierogi 290kcal)
the bottom line is that this punishment, is not necessarily so punishing after all! 

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

confession #000021

... or the carbohydrate calculation

as you may have guessed by now, i do not eat meat.  it's partly a conscious choice following much internal debate and readings, and partly a biological choice since my body seems to respond strangely to other land mammals.  i do, however, eat fish and land mammal derivatives like eggs and dairy.  though, i must be careful with dairy, since this, as well, makes my body respond strangely ... and loudly.  but i'll stop there on this matter. 

being what can therefore be termed as a vegetarian, can actually make it a bit difficult to be on a diet. following a high-protein diet is practically a non-starter.  how many beans, nuts and pulses can a body ingest?  also, the idea of re-introducing meat in my diet does not appeal to me for the reasons above. besides, the added increased chances of heart, renal and cholesterol problems, as well as chronic bad breath, all of which are reported to be side-effects of this kind of diet (i'll let you do the googling on this), somewhat outweigh the cons of a carb-filled diet ... at least for me.  yes, it's true.  too much carbohydrates, if not expended by the body, can turn into sugars, thereby increasing the risk of diabetes, as well as weight gain.

but that's where the calculations kick in.

i've recently realised that i was having carbohydrates almost at every meal throughout the day.  and unfortunately, it was always the wrong type of carbs.  the whiter, the more refined, the better.  that was my mantra.  i confess that given half a chance, i would still opt for white rather than whole meal bread / rice / pasta.  but a change had to be done, and it had to be done quickly.  'white' carbs are absorbed by the body much more quickly, leading to sugar spikes - and lows - which in their turn lead to snacking ... possibly for more 'white' carbs.  take a look at this article to see what the experts have to say.

one way of shifting out of this rut was to actually make use of more 'body-friendly' carbs.  aside from opting for the whole meal / wheat varieties, i wanted to re-discover that little gem called, the potato.  this humble spud can be used in so many different - and healthy - ways as a carbohydrate base for meals.  have a little look at this comparison between pasta and potatoes and i'll let you be the judge.  last week, i craved mum's roast potatoes, and together with some other veggies, this made a meal on its own, with relatively low calorific value!  potato wedges are another great option, and so is potato mashed with carrot or turnip (but holding off the milk and/or butter!).  oh, and i'm dying to try my hand at making my own placki or polish potato pancakes ... but i need to check the calorific value of those first.

anyway, so today was 'potato day' in our little flat.  trying to find a culinary compromise for a voracious meat-eater and a dieting vegetarian is no mean feat.  however, i seem to have succeeded.  i prepared some jacket potatoes for lunch and topped them with cottage cheese instead of butter.  as a side, i must admit i had a little help from hortex.  frozen veg can really come in handy during busy days! i had a bag of peppers mixed with onions, tomatoes and zucchini which i just dry-fried with no oil and seasoned with a paprika mix. according to myfitnesspal app, the meal set me back a mere 254 kcal and i was quite nicely full.  i would recommend a more sizeable portion for a man or someone with a more robust physique than myself (based on my boyfriend's need to snack a couple of hours after lunch).

i think potatoes in general are given a very bad rep.  i think i shall make it my mission to avenge them and make them popular once again!

p.s. you may have noticed that i've made some changes to the blog's look.  i'm trying to find a way of visually conveying my eclectic personality through this little space i have on the web.  i hope you like it!  xoxo

Sunday, 17 February 2013

confession #000020

...or, the split personality issue

two posts on my facebook newsfeed have inspired me to write this post, pretty much on the fly.  well, almost really.  after seeing them, i saw to the dishes, and then hurried back to my macbook to write. so, probably, the dirty sunday lunch dishes contributed as well.  anyways, i digress. 

so the two posts i saw on my news feed were a shot from orla kiely's presentation at the london fashion week aw'13 and an advert to like the association of certified tattooists' page.  the two posts could not be more contrasting and yet they both triggered my interest in an equally strong way.  

so first, orla kiely.  i've been a fan of this brand for quite some time and have often fantasised about having one of my future home's rooms all decked out in pure 70s retro kitsch, complete with the classic orla kiely leaf-print wallpaper and matching cushions.  

in terms of clothing apparel, the designer has the same appeal - an appeal which has been quite consistent over the last eight-or-so years ever since i first lay my eyes on the leaf print.  having said that, i never got round to buying anything, despite my utter devotion to the brand.  but this year's presentation for aw'13 might break the mould.  i still have to find out the price-tag on this absolutely gorgeous squirrel cardigan and the equally covetable t-bar shoes.  but this may very well be the day when all forms of caution are thrown to the wind.  

as i mentioned earlier, the second post was an invitation (suggestion / promotion, call it what you may) to like a tattoo-related page.  i must confess that i've already got a few of those pages in my 'likes'.  tattoos have always been something that i admired, nay, desired, from a distance.  i won't go into the details of all the discussions i had at home or with friends about the pros and cons of tattoos.  i'll just let you in on the bottom line, being that i'm "all for".  yes, i know that they can get wrinkly and blotchy when the skin looses its elasticity, and that you have to re-fill them every now and again, and that (unfortunately) society (is ignorant enough that it) does not look at them in a positive light.  i must put a disclaimer here and state that i am not a fan - at all - of the 'feminine' tattoos (e.g. little flowers, dolphins, butterflies etc) or the tribal / oriental lettering kinds.  i've a bit of an issue with positioning of tattoos as well - bellies, lower backs and ankles are a complete no-go zone for me.  i'm more of the 'bad ass' full/half sleeve classic japanese style or vintage 'sailor' style tattoos.  yes, the type you see the guys and girls on miami / l.a. ink sporting.  of course, not everyone can carry a tattoo - the attitude needs to be there to live up to the tattoo one's getting. 

and this is where my split personality comes to shine.  in this world, i believe i come across as the 'orla kiely' / 'mad men' secretary kind of girl - most of the time, nicely put together with that touch of quirky vintage style which some love to hate.  but in the parallel universe that's in my mind, i see myself as an inked girl, with an open birdcage on my neck, a mexican 'dia de los muertos' skull on my right ribcage, a pond of koi fish or a phoenix for a sleeve and an 'i love my mom' sailor-style heart on my chest bones.  i guess the only common denominators which brings my real and fantasy worlds together is a lick of red lipstick, a flick of black eyeliner and tonnes of black mascara ... 

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

confession #000019

... or, retail therapy is the only cure

oh, yes.  those of you who know me well, know very well that i have two main fixations: dieting (hence this blog) and fashion (hence the ever-expanding wardrobe).  

whenever i start a diet, i always tell myself that i won't buy any clothes until i go down a size or a few inches. to be quite honest, i say the same thing every time i look in the wardrobe(s) and notice just how many things i have which i haven't worn in a while.  but, i guess, just like every other addiction known to man, it's hard to wean oneself off ... especially after over 15 years of sheer indulgence.  

and still, i keep buying like there's no tomorrow.  and somehow or other, i very, very rarely feel any guilt about it whatsoever.  

this last week or so - since i've been somewhat unwell thereby limiting my venturing out in the snow - i've found my consolation in online stores, as i always do after all.  first off, i started with the fancy which is my go-to place for style inspiration as well as innovative gadgets (the geeky type, mind you!).  being a fancy box subscriber, over the last months i had accumulated a few fancy gift cards which the people at the fancy were so kind to send over.  i was somewhat wary these would expire so i finally got myself a floppy wool fedora which i had been eyeing for quite some time.  i can't wait for it to be delivered! 

floppy wool fedora from the fancy

next thing i went to was a t-shirt from nightcall's collection of rik lee illustrated tee's.  at the moment, i'm getting back in touch with my more casual / street style self so i'm constantly on the lookout for quirky bits and pieces which speak to my little hipster self.  i've been following rik lee on instagram for quite some time and i couldn't pass by an opportunity to wear his art.  if i ever pluck up the courage to get myself inked, this guy stands a good chance of receiving a call from me asking him to design a tatt for me.  

women's wolfy crew neck from nightcall

next thing, i surfed over to pull&bear's online store.  the perks of living abroad are many, and among them is the 'order online, collect in shop' advantage.  i'm always chasing against time and at the moment, the idea of trying clothes in store gives me nightmares with all the layers i'd be wearing.  moreover, the 'order online, collect in shop' system gives you the possibility of knowing before hand whether the item you're after is actually available in your desired size (most times it is).  anyway, i've always associated pull&bear with the kind of hipster / relaxed street wear i like so i knew i couldn't go wrong and ordered myself some gorgeous monochrome pants and a cosy aztec knit.  while in store collecting my items today, i bought myself a roy liechtenstein inspired tee and some wedged trainers.  i never thought  a day would come when i would actually buy a  wedge but it did - let's face it, they're not that fugly and they're super comfy for running around on errands.  plus, they are to be considered 'a little extra gift' from my valentine so i shall cherish them forever (or at least until they go out of fashion ...)

Pull & Bear Jacquard Jacket
all the lovely stuff from pull&bear

i've also recently come to the realisation that topshop also have an online store and they ship worldwide.  oh the joy! i remember buying from topshop on a regular basis when they had a little shop on tower road in sliema.  ever since they relocated (twice), i somehow haven't felt comfortable shopping there, with the current store actually intimidating me! so the fact that i can shop in my pj's at any time of day or night came as a very welcome surprise.  once again i went for a couple of tees (one of which was luckily on sale).  i don't know where this obsession with t-shirts is coming from.  possibly it could be because here in krakow it's warm enough inside to hang around in a t-shirt. possibly it could be their versatility: dressing them up with jeans, heels and a blazer, going down the preppy road with a skater skirt and brogues or just lounging in them and jazz pants at home.  

**Double Triangle T-shirt by Illustrated People -
Triangle Disc Ring - BLACK
Open Triangle Ring - WHITE
Tall Geek Tee - LIME
all good girls go to topshop

i think all of this shopping has done me the world of good.  the prospect of receiving my deliveries makes me feel like a child on christmas day.  and another plus is that the diet seems to be working!  i wasn't sure if the pull&bear pants would fit but they did! so, yes, i'll sleep quite happily tonight. 

and this is just because this song has been drumming in my head since i woke up this morning

Monday, 11 February 2013

confession #000018

...or, the day i blew it

the diet, that is. and i've got the photo to prove it.

it's just been one of those days when i felt the whole world around me crumbling and my much coveted levelheadedness - which, i must confess, was not always there but had to be acquired over the years - take a back seat and just refuse to cooperate. i won't bore you with the why's and wherefore's of this little breakdown.

suffice to say that food did its usual, yet not appreciated, job: give comfort.

i will console myself with the knowledge that most of the 'extras' weren't all that bad ... how harmful can a yogurt drink be? or a couple if small slices of toasted crusty bread... when bread hasn't featured in my meals for over a week? oh, but they all add up.

i was going to have a final wtf kind of indulgence. while queuing up to pay at carrefour my hand reached out for a kinder surprise. i'll always prefer that to any gourmet chocolate. but it wasn't meant to be. the bill says I paid for it but i either forgot to pick it up, or dropped it on my way to the tram, or a sweet-toothed commuter nicked it off my shopping bag. either way, i guess i should take it as a sign.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

confession #000017

...or, the next nigella lawson

there are days when I just can't stop cooking. i wake up in the mood for it and don't stop until i would have cooked up a feast fit for an army.

usually, this kind of cooking marathon tends to include the baking of some cake or cupcakes but being on a diet, i resolved to just being inventive with veggies. moreover, with the two of us feeling the effects of winter to some degree or other, i want to make sure that we get all the nutrients needed to ward off any other colds or flus.

also, i recently got into the habit of having a cooked - mostly protein based - breakfast to start the day. to be quite honest, i'm not sure if this is the correct way to go about it ... but the calorie count of 1 egg + 2 slices ham flavoured soy sausage + an ounce of cottage cheese seem to add up to less than the usual bowl of fitness cereal and soy milk! fancy that!

anyway, so today, once i managed to awake fully (rising at 05:30 doesn't actually mean you wake up at 05:30), i cooked us a brunch with some lovely grilled veggies reminiscent of our little mediterranean island. i then got the craving for some real home cooked grub. i knew what I had to do.

just before i had moved out last year i had bought a moleskine recipe journal to take down all of my favourite recipes from mom's repertoire. and wherever i shall live, i shall always keep this recipe journal with me. there's still some recipes which need to be written in ... particularly those which mom inherited from her own mom's knowledge of north african cuisine ... not taking down those recipes earlier has been my biggest regret since nanna's passing.

given half a chance, i would probably drop everything and dedicate myself to cooking. but then again, i fear that by doing that, it would lose much of the allure and therapeutic effect it has on me.

Friday, 8 February 2013

confession #000016

... or, the annual appointment with mlle. flu

this time, last year, i was in bed nursing a 38º fever.  the year before that, i was probably doing the same thing.  and the year before that.  it seems that the second week of february is my annual 'sick week'.  
right now, i feel like some influenza cowgirl, with packets of tissues for guns in her holster, and sipping vitamin c drinks for beer.  oh well, we all go through it at some point or other and i do thank my lucky stars that it is just a cold and nothing more.  

but certainly, it makes you re-think a lot of things.  

luckily, being on a diet at the moment means that i'm somewhat eating more healthily.  that's something i know i'm doing for sure. and much thanks goes to the people behind myfitnesspal who came up with the app and website which is so very convenient for calorie-counting and food monitoring.  it certainly taps into my occasional lazy girl symptoms by providing a bar-code scanner in the app version, saving you the hassle of browsing the database for that one obscure item you're munching on.  kudos to the creators.  

it also makes you think of what to wear so as not to relapse or lengthen the healing process.  being in sub-zero temperatures on an almost daily basis for the last month or so meant i had to do two things which i never thought i would do: 

  1. wear thermal underwear - yes, including 'long johns' (actually, would the female version be called 'long janes'? oh, heck, i'll just call them leggings ...)
  2. wear fur - the faux version, mind you.  
the first is more of a practical reason.  it's bl**dy cold, at least by my mediterranean standards and my obsession with fashion and style have had to take a back seat.  but that's where the second point comes in to save the day.  in actual fact, i've always preferred winter clothes to summer clothes - the whole hat-scarf-coat-boots ensemble really speaks to me of elegance, effortless style and overall comfort.  
my little winter wonderland

while most of my clothes end up feeling a bit more snug because of the thermal layering, i at least get to wear the full on head-to-toe winter gear which i feel somewhat awkward doing back on the rock.  and despite having been quite a sun-worshipper in my younger days, i feel i've somewhat found my niche.  

and if i manage to get out of bed, this is what i'll wear, complete with a matching sore-red nose

Wednesday, 6 February 2013

confession #000015

... or, happiness is in the heart of the beholder

this is actually something i've just thought up.  

i'm living in a country where the average woman's waist is somewhere around the 23'' and the average woman is as tall as steeples so my mediterranean curves stick out like a sore thumb despite the lack of height.  i do notice that i am seen as somewhat alien.  it is obvious to the community i'm trying to infiltrate that i'm a foreigner and much as i try to speak the lingo, or dip-dye my hair blonde, i will still remain different. 

not that i mind being different after all.  at least, that is what will make me unique. but being different at times makes you crave a certain belonging to the 'norm'.  and when the 'norm' that you behold is pretty much uniformly beautiful, it can make it more difficult to accept your uniqueness. 

i'm not sure if my embarking again on a strict calorie-controlled diet and regular exercise (as soon as this silly cold lifts off - promise!) is triggered by my wanting to 'belong here'.  i know i want to be healthier.  i know i want to be in the best shape i can be for my self and my loved one.  i know i want to fit in my clothes properly.  i guess these are all triggers.  i know i want to be happy in the skin i live in.  

most of me is happy and feels blessed at all that's happened in the past year and a half of my life.  but there's still that little - albeit terribly vocal and irritating, much like a chihuahua - part of me which is not.  and it's all because i don't feel happy in my skin.  one day.  i know one day i will be.  i just have to be strong.  

confession #000014

... or the return of the macaroni and cheese 

oh yes, i’m back to blogging.  has it been, what four months already? possibly more since i last stepped into this little space i’m allowing myself for confessions.  it’s been quite a busy four months, i can tell you that: i’ve been to krakow as i had mentioned in earlier posts, visited paris, had the busiest and most intense work months, celebrated christmas and all that ... and ate my way through these months like there's no tomorrow ... 

in fact, i'm restarting this blog a couple of kilos heavier than when i started it originally.  i fake wondered what went wrong last time i weighed myself a few days ago and found i hit the 53.6 kilo mark.  i was fake surprised when i tried on one of my most coveted and expensive pair of jeans and found that it just wouldn't close ... and if it would, i would have to forfeit breathing for the day and run around with a glorious muffin top of shame.  

i knew exactly what i had done to get to this point:  i had been eating my feelings.  first it was heartache and missing my beloved abroad which made me seek chocolate, cheese toasts, pizzas, creamy pastas and so on ... then in an act of celebratory abandonment, it was over to more of the same, with the addition of ice-cream and delicious polish food to define my happiness.  unfortunately, the consequences are that i am now feeling constantly lethargic and hating the sight of myself in the mirror.   

spending a lot of time abroad now, i must admit i'm indulging in yet another passion of mine - shopping.  i've always wish we could have shops like h&m, intimissimi, bijou brigitte and six back home, not to mention larger (and more widely stocked) zara, pull&bear, mango etc etc ... and now i have them all just a 15 minute tram ride away.  i can't deny that i've shopped like my life depended on it in these last weeks.  but there has always been a downside to that.  

a number of times i've had to return items for a larger size - or something completely different, not wanting to admit the weight gain.  (i've kind of giving up of trying clothes in store since that would mean shedding tonnes of layers worn to keep me warm in the freezing temperatures outside.) most purchases consisted of long-line oversized sweaters or loose dresses.   i was finding comfort in the fact they are so fashionable and so practical at hiding all the lumps and bumps gained over the last months.  

but that is it.  it was a fake comfort.  i'm not one who likes body-con dresses, pencil skirts, cropped tops and any flesh-baring clothing but i've practically denied myself the option of even going down that road should i want to.  

so here it is.  as shallow as one might think a blog on weight loss and a grown-up girl's struggles with her image is, this blog is back.  i won't blame you if you don't follow, i won't hate you if you think this is puerile or frivolous.  but if you choose to follow, i thank you as of now, for your support.