Jennie & Andy: Diets and Brows!

jennie&andy‘We’re getting married THIS year!’, is probably the most over-used phrase in our house at the moment. Since the moment the clock struck 12 on New Year’s Eve I have said it to Andy more times that I can count. Now we’re into April, it seems like we’ve suddenly gone from having a wedding ‘next summer’, to having a wedding only a few short months away. The six months to go mark seems to have sailed way past, and now we’ve got less than 150 days until the big day! I’m ridiculously excited, but slightly terrified too!

This turning of the year has got me back into the wedding frame of mind. I slipped out of planning mode for a bit at the end of last year; the big things were booked, it was too soon for the little details, everything seemed so far off. Suddenly though, I’m gripped with a new sense of urgency. There’s lots to do, and lots to do now! I’m back pinteresting like crazy, hunting down the perfect way to decorate a jam jar, attempting to draft wedding invites, and trying to learn how on earth paper pom-poms are made. I’ve started a wedding ‘to do’ list, to try and make sure everything gets done before the big day. It’s a very long list….!

The first thing on my list was tackle the Dreaded Wedding Diet. I know Paris got onto this months ago, so I’m a bit behind, but now we’re well into 2016 is here, it’s time to get wedding dress ready!

The wedding diet had been a bit of a joke, usually only referred to as I was tucking to a massive curry (with all the added extras) or a slice of cake. Now though it seems time to actually do something. I don’t have a particular weight in mind, I’m just hoping for a few less lumps and bumps under my wedding dress.

The first thing I did was tackle a Whole30. The idea is for 30 days you eat ‘clean’. No grains, no dairy, no alcohol, no sugar, no additives. It sounds absolutely horrendous when you see it on paper like that, but in reality it’s not that bad. I did a couple of Whole30s two years ago and lost about a stone and half and felt really good. Weight loss aside, it left me with more energy and better skin. No bad thing in the wedding run up.

The thing I like best about Whole30 is that encourages you to eat. As long as you follow the rules you can eat as much as you like. Hurrah! I’m not good with restrictive diets. I get hungry quickly (Andy’s taken to carrying emergency snacks around with him), and I’m not a nice person when I’m hungry! I would be horrendous to live with on something like the 5:2 diet. Similarly I’m not very good at the ‘a little bit of what you fancy’ rule. When I fancy pizza, I usually fancy the entire pizza.

courgette noodles and cauliflower fried rice

The lack of pizza was a bit of a challenge, but otherwise I quite enjoyed the food, and I’m trying to keep the rules up as much as possible now I’ve finished my 30 days. My freezer is chock full of individual portions of soup, vegetable curries and stews cooked up in big batches. I’m eating lots of courgette noodles and cauliflower rice (see above). They’re surprisingly satisfying so I’m not feeling deprived. The hardest bit I found was breakfast; my usual porridge or cereal was swapped for eggs, eggs and even more eggs. I got so sick of them some days I could easily have just skipped breakfast entirely. All those eggs were worth it though, and I finished the plan a stone lighter. Part of that could be due to the be due to the food poisoning we both picked up on our Christmas holiday in India though, so I guess I can’t take all the credit!

christmas in india

Photo-bombed in India.

Three weeks ago I finally bite the bullet and joined a gym. I’d been putting it off for so long because gyms in Hong Kong are veeeery pricey. The cheaper ones, like one I used to go to, are full of aggressive sales staff, pushing you to sign up to personal training by attacking you with comments about how fat you are, and how you’re doing everything wrong. I struggle to motivate myself to exercise at the best of times, so knowing that I’d have to face that every time would usually be enough of an incentive for me to stay at home. I decided this time it was worth paying a little bit more for somewhere I’d actually enjoy going to, and so far its paying off. My planks and squats might be rather pathetic, but I can feel myself getting stronger already.

The next thing on the list ended up there a little by accident. A few weeks I popped into Benefit for an eyebrow wax. I usually just tackle my brows myself with tweezers, but I had a discount coupon so thought I’d treat myself. I mentioned to the brow technician that I was trying to tidy my eyebrows up a bit because I was getting married in the summer. She let out a gasp. There was panic in her eyes. When in the summer she asked? June? July? When I told her August she actually sighed with relief. That’s fine, she said, that gives me time to sort this out!

Now, I know my eyebrows are a little bit scruffy, but I never realised my eyebrows were that bad. I went through the standard faze of terrible over plucking in my teens (I’d share a picture, but its just too embarrassing!). At one time they were so short and pointing my brother took to calling me ‘Spock’. Another time I started plucking between my eyebrows and went a bit far one way. Tried to even it out but went to far. Tried to even out the other side and so… you get the idea, until I had a less than attractive two-inch gap between my eyebrows. Thankfully those days are long gone and these days I don’t do too much more than a little bit of tweezing. Even this, apparently, is too much. My eyebrows are a point of horror for brow technicians. I left the shop under strict instructions not to touch my brows in any way, and to go back to benefit every month to let the stylist fix me.

So that’s that, the next few months will see my To Do list ticked off with hopefully a slightly slimmer, slightly fuller browed me!

Jennie x


The 4-Week (Sort Of 5:2 Diet) Wedding Blitz!

Morning Uttersons!

Hope you’re well and not too bitter about this very un-Spring like March weather we’re having at the moment. As I type I can see sunshine and blue sky out my office window, so I certainly feel more upbeat than a couple of days ago. Not only was it cold and wintery, but it was also my first ‘fasting’ day and the day that shall now become known as the-day-I-thought-about-food-CONSTANTLY-and-was-thoroughly-miserable day.

Yes, as of this week I am dieting.

Now for those of you who know me well, this is completely laughable- and as I am planning on sharing my progress with you over the next month it also has the potential to be completely and utterly embarrassing. You see, I CANNOT DIET. I don’t physically possess willpower or self-discipline, and eating good food and drinking bad things is one of my greatest pleasures.  My mate Dave’s favourite story about me is how, when house-sharing with my two best friends a few years ago and tracking our weekly weight-loss via a chart on the fridge, I lost a grand total of ZERO over the course of a year, bar natural fluctuation. In fact, I may have possibly gained weight. Ahem.

Now before we go on I should say that I don’t have a lot to lose. I’m 5’4″ and on Monday I weighed in at 9 stone 10 lbs which gives me a BMI of 23.3 and puts me near the top end of the ‘normal weight’ category.  Despite my short legs and square bum, I’m pretty happy with my body and a fairly confident person…

…But we can always do better, right?

Image via Just For Fun

Image via Just For Fun

There’s a general consensus that you have to be your slimmest and most beautiful on your wedding day, and certainly in the boutique I’d say that 9 out of 10 brides tell me guiltily that they ‘obviously will be slimmer’ come the big day. They could be a size 6, they could be a size 16; everyone does it. And despite my firm belief that confidence comes from within and my mantra to brides-to-be that ‘he’s asked you to marry him as you are, not as how you could be when you’ve lost a stone’, I’ve still found myself firmly wedged in the ‘but I do just want to drop a couple of pounds before the big day’ camp.

So ok, it’s a girl’s prerogative to feel her best on a day when all eyes are on her. But what’s the best way to do it? Well, by exercising several times a week and eating sensibly throughout your engagement of course. Except if, like me, your gym membership card is a little dusty and you can easily swallow down a Big Mac Meal and eight Maryland double chocolate chip cookies for your tea when you are neither drunk nor hungover, then you may need a bit of a Last Minute Panic Diet.

My LMPD of choice is the 5:2 Diet.


Touted as more of a ‘way of life’ than a diet, it’s kind of taken the country by storm in the last six months- and I’ve certainly heard it talked about a lot at the boutique by brides, their mums, their friends, their work colleagues… everyone seems to know someone who’s either on it or has done it.

The theory is that most people ‘fail’ at dieting because they can’t keep up the deprivation. However, to lose weight you do need to eat less calories, so on the 5:2 Diet you eat normally (but within moderation) for five days of the week, and then ‘fast’ for two days. I’m using the word ‘fast’ loosely because you are actually allowed to eat up to 500 calories on those days. Or 600 if you’re a man. And in the book there is a whole section on how fasting like this is actually good for our bodies, how teaching ourselves that we’re not totally reliant on food is good for our minds, and the numerous other health benefits that follow, etc etc.

So as someone who hates depriving myself of the JOY that is food, I thought it might be something that I could give a go. For a period of time. A reasonably short piece of time. Say, 4 weeks… which takes me neatly up to my first dress fitting on 10th April.

I’ve also signed up to My Fitness Pal– a FREE online diet tool that allows you to track your calorie intake, exercise etc. It’s not so useful on the 5:2 Diet because it gets a bit hysterical on the days when you don’t consume enough calories, and tells you off on the days you go over their recommended daily allowance, but it’s a very straight-forward and comprehensive system that allows you to keep an eye on just how much you’re consuming.

According to My Fitness Pal, I need to eat 1300 calories a day to lose 4 lbs in 4 weeks. But as I said earlier, I don’t want to be ‘dieting’ every day, so I’m kind of ignoring that and trying to stick to as close to 2000 calories as I can on my ‘normal’ days (the healthy amount for women) and then the 500 calories on my ‘fast’ days.

Fast Day #1 was on Tuesday and, well, it didn’t go quite as well as I’d hoped. (See what I mean? The will-power of a gnat.) I had wound myself up so much the night before that I’d made myself hungry before I went to bed… and continued to feel ravenous from when I awoke at 7am until I went to bed again at 10.30pm.  I ate the following:

Breakfast: Nothing. (It’s usually my favourite meal of the day but from what I’d read it’s easier to get to lunch time before eating than it is to go from breakfast to dinner.)

Lunch: Batchelor’s Chicken Noodle Cup-A-Soup (95 cals), medium banana (105 cals)

Dinner: Innocent Mexican Veg Pot (324 cals), Hartley’s Low Cal Cranberry & Raspberry jelly (10 cals)

Snacks: Kallo Rice cakes with yeast extract (32 cals each)….. x 5

Grand total: 694 calories

I didn’t mean to snack at all but I had moments of weakness mid-afternoon, and then again before bed when I’d wound myself up that I was so hungry I wouldn’t be able to sleep. HAVING SAID THAT, I still consumed around 1500 calories less than I usually eat, AND I have a fairly active job… so I’m not beating myself up about it.

I didn’t find it hard per se, but it wasn’t enjoyable. I could physically feel the hunger in my belly all day, despite drinking lots of water and green tea, and listening to a news report on the radio on my drive home, the mention of a man called Norman Lamb did make me say out loud, ‘Mmmm, lamb’, before I experienced the strongest craving I’ve ever had for my least favourite meat…  but it was ok.

It was good to know that I could eat ‘normally’ yesterday, although interestingly I did only have two sausages as opposed to my usual three, and I separated my own potatoes to make the mash as Paul likes his with half a vat of butter. That allowed me to have a glass of wine and a couple of chocolate digestives in the evening and still be around the 2000 calorie mark AND I went to the gym in the morning. So for the time being we’re on track…

Fast Day #2 is today (hungry already!) and then I’m going to enjoy my weekend before weighing in again at the gym on Monday. I’m dubious but hopeful.

So what about you lovely lot? Anyone else on the 5:2? Or a different Wedding Diet altogether? Or are diets just a waste of time and we should be happy with what we’ve got? I’d be very interested to hear your thoughts, tips and words of wisdom…

I will give you an update next week but don’t worry, I don’t plan to talk Diets alone for the next month. Jeez, I couldn’t think of anything more depressing!

‘Til next time…

Sama xxx