Is a diet the answer?

It is that time of year where we start to regret the Christmas over indulgence. A friend said to me the other day ‘Christmas ended up being the whole of December for me’. This is so true. These days we have Christmas parties, work gatherings, and generally find any excuse to start buying all those delicious festive treats that have adorned supermarket shelves since late October.

Once the decorations are down, and we do not sit in the soft glow of fairy lights, the truth emerges. We might have put on a few pounds, our skin might be a little dehydrated or had a break out of spots. However it effects you, we all have that guilt complex that makes us vow to do something to reverse what we have done to ourselves.

Slimming World, Weight Watchers, Lighter Life, Slim Fast. These are just a handful of the ‘diets’ we hear about today aimed at helping people to lose weight. What do they have in common; they provide you a snippet of information for free to entice you to buy a membership to an exclusive club with all the secrets to lose weight or buy their specially designed weight loss products normally at an extortionate price. Each provides a unique methodology for weight loss over a period of time, but are any of them actually sustainable? Does anyone enter into a diet with the intention of following it for life or is it a temporary change in their habits to reach a goal?

As anyone who has experienced one of these diets will tell you, they work for a while but as soon as your body accepts the new portions and combinations of food you eat, your weight loss will plateau. The only option is to continue to reduce portion sizes and cut things out, on these such diets, and then what; we just eat nothing? Latterly you reach your goal and start to introduce food into your diet again that was ‘banned’ or restricted. Inevitably weight creeps back on.

Nowadays these diet regimes will talk about exercise too. But they all miss the main principle… most likely to keep you paying for their advice and buying into the corporation.

The simplest advice out there is; Eat less and move more. I got to thinking about this, is it in fact that simple? Calories in versus calories out will determine your weight loss, gain or maintenance. That is all you really need to know to make this work. The more you eat, the more you need to burn off to avoid fat gain. If you can combine the idea of eating less and beginning to move more then you should be able to lose weight.

I have a good understanding about food groups and what these foods mean to your body, but you don’t really need to be an expert to make this work. You will hear people talk about empty calories, good fats, bad fats, super foods and so on. Ultimately energy (calories) is energy and fat is fat. Take in more energy than your body needs for the amount you move, the more will convert to fat that then needs to be burned off. You will not burn fat until you have burnt the energy surplus in your body. Hence why weight gain is easier than weight loss.

Weight loss/ gain is merely a simple equation. There are many apps these days with databases that will calculate the calories you have eaten and what you have burned. It puts the control in your hands to be the maker of your own destiny. If technology is not your thing, food labels display the calorific content of the food contained.

Exercise is moving, in whatever way works for you. You don’t need to get an expensive gym membership, buy an exercise bike or the latest celebrity DVD. Start small, make a little change to your habits; go for a walk, join an exercise class, maybe a steady bike ride. Build up your enthusiasm for exercise, don’t overwhelm yourself by setting unrealistic expectations of yourself. If you haven’t run before perhaps aim to get to 5k rather than a marathon and so on. You should only exercise for you and not compare yourself to others. It will be your biggest downfall. The internet has a vast array of free videos to introduce you to new exercise too. Everything from aerobics, to HIIT exercise programmes and yoga, there is something to suit everyone.

Using this principle I am starting the year eating smaller portions and reducing the ratio of carbs in my diet. I am drinking more water and a little less caffeine too. I am not depriving myself of any food group or treat merely moderating what I have. Exercise wise, before Christmas I would have considered myself to undertake light activity. I walk my dog at least once a day, and went to Pilates once a week. Now I will continue with both, adding in a dance aerobics class once a week plus a 6 week training plan to be able to run 5k by Valentine’s Day.

So if you feel you have more pounds on your person than in the bank in January, don’t subscribe to a profit making diet plan but simply eat less and move more. It is far more sustainable as it is habitual change.

Good luck to all you post festive fitness fanatics in the making 🙂




Phase Two

hello-janSo here is 2017, the big 3-0 is a mere 9 months and 2 days away. I was lucky enough to have a nice long Christmas break and feel refreshed. It gave me time to reflect on the first three months of Project Fab 30 and plan the next three.

So how did the first three months go? The blog posts were less frequent than I had anticipated but between all the fun I was having and a heavy work schedule it was hard to fit them in.

However it went rather well. I started Pilates and continue to go weekly. I am better at it than I thought I ever would be and can feel myself getting much stronger. Did it help me lose 1 stone? Well, almost but not quite. I fear the Christmas indulgence might have had an adverse effect too.

The cook-up-and-freeze meal planning has been a great success and I will be continuing with that up until the summer months arrive. It has been such a time saver and a money saver too! It is also nice to know, after a long day at work, there is a healthy and tasty meal already half prepared.

I am continuing to cook new dishes, albeit not every week and my passion for baking is growing. Christmas brought new recipe books and some fabulous new baking equipment.

I have been to lots of lovely and interesting new places. I am not talking world travel of course but exploring the area we now live a bit more, new places to shop and eat. This year I hope to branch out a bit further.

I am still working on the volunteering but think I have found a few feasible options. I want to focus my efforts on the local community for now, but there is another charity close to my heart but not too far from home I am looking to contact.

All in all the first three months have had the desired effect, making time for the things I enjoy and spending time in our new home.

So its time to think about what I want to achieve in the next three months and how it can contribute towards my goals for 2017. Here they are;

  1. 5k by Valentine’s Day
  2. Write first short story
  3. Lose first stone
  4. Start new dance exercise class
  5. Food prep for breakfast and lunch (like dinner)
  6. At least one blog post a week
  7. Keep baking!



Project Fab- A busy few weeks!

It has been a busy few weeks full of fun and jam packed with work but Project Fab 30 is still going well.

New experiences and places pop up every week. I have been to watch a car rally, explored lots of new parts of the forest and found some truly stunning places with the dog.

I ended up accidentally trying a new exercise class, when I turned up at the wrong time for my make up Pilates class. Instead I found myself whizzing round the floor like a dancer on Strictly Come Dancing at ‘Fitsteps’. It was so much I have decided to keep going.

In the kitchen the fortnightly cook ups are still happening. I cannot tell you how much easier it makes our week-day evenings. It also means I enjoy cooking those more indulgent meals at the weekend as it feels less of a chore. The money we are saving is unbelievable which is an added bonus.

I have not quite stuck to cooking meals from my cook books but have tried out some new recipes. Halloween weekend we made posh pizzas. I am lucky enough to have a bread maker so whipped up some fresh dough and made; one smoked salmon, artichoke and blue cheese pizza and one pulled beef brisket. They were well received.

I have exceeded my baking target making both a triple chocolate and cherry tiffin and a classic pineapple upside down cake (complete with decorative glace cherries), apple tart and most recently a cinnamon and nutella cake which is a big hit! With the festive season coming up I intend to keep baking and see what treats I can make for family and friends.

I have been in touch with a charity organisation and waiting for them to get back to me with a view to joining and supporting their work. It will probably be in the new year now but it is something I am looking forward to.

The weight loss target is not going so well… it might be all the cooking and baking at weekends that is conflicting with that one. So with it being the most indulgent time of the year, I have decided to focus on this in 2017. Which gives me time to plan a bit more.

However I did manage to achieve one of my new years’ goals (resolutions didn’t really define it so well) for 2016 a couple of weeks ago and secured myself a new job, a promotion in fact. After everything that prompted Project Fab 30, this was the boost and achievement I needed.

On that note it is time to start thinking about the next set of goals for Project Fab 30 and 2017…





Week Two- Project Fab 30

What a week it has been! We were building up to our week off and I wanted to start it with a bang. So Friday evening was French night in our house. After sipping champagne we sat down to a lovely meal, and I hit two of my goals; cook something new from a cook book I own and baking once a fortnight.

Neither dish was complex but James Martin’s Tartiflette was a hit with roast duck legs and fresh steamed asparagus. I halved the recipe and, anticipating I might not get Reblochon in Asda, looked up good alternatives and went with Port Salut. It was an indulgent cheesy treat!

My baking was not exactly GBBO level of technique or creativity, however it was a success (which more than we can say for some of the GBBO contestants). I made an Apple and Vanilla tart. Using pre-made puff pastry this was a simple dish, but provided and light, sweet and refreshing dessert after a rather heavy meal. As ever I modified the recipe slightly and added cinnamon to give it that wintry taste.

At the weekend my new experience/ place to visit was to watch our local rugby team play. This was a lot of fun and it reminded me how much I love to watch live sport. We stood in the cold, wrapped up in our winter jackets drinking a pint out of a plastic cup. It had all the feel of an autumnal Saturday. Our local team lost the match but we will be back to cheer them on again at their next home match.

Back to the kitchen now… I had another cook up this week, and this one might be even better. For less than £25 I have made meals for 11 nights. As we tend not to plan our weekend meals this means we have food for almost 3 weeks of working days (Mon- Thurs). I made a beef stew, a pork chilli and a spicy tuna and vegetable pasta sauce. Each dish is so versatile so different sides can be added to  make it feel like a different meal. I stocked the cupboards previously so we are not short on pasta, rice, potato, sweet potato or vegetables. But when you have prepared the main part of your meal so cheaply, picking up the fresh ingredients to go with it does not seem such an unnecessary expense.

This way of keeping organised is helping with my other goal, to lose weight. I was pleased to see the number on the scales getting smaller and this is down to more controlled portions and not having excess food in the house to tempt me into snacking.

So here is to another great week. I am off work so have lots planned to keep it fun and interesting.


Week One- Project Fab 30!

This week I have been filled with enthusiasm and embraced my new goals.

I have managed to get organised in my kitchen and prepare food to keep us going for two weeks at a significantly lower cost than our normal weekly food bill. We had family over at the weekend and I managed to cook a new dish, albeit not from one of my own books, check out my post in Hearty Recipes and Food Adventures for all the details.

This week I also started a six week course of Fitness Pilates. I have tried Pilates many years ago, but aside from knowing it is similar to Yoga, had no idea what I would be doing!

The class was fantastic. It is not a high impact exercise but it focuses on core strength and using your muscles properly. I found I was stronger than I knew and was able to do some of the more complex exercises with greater ease than I expected. The instructor is friendly and not pushy. It was a very invigorating work out and I can’t wait for the next session.

I have started to look into a charity or voluntary group I can join and am having a think about how I could contribute or be useful before I sign up for anything.

Finally, my new place/ experience this week; shopping in Monmouth. I have been to Monmouth to go to the supermarket, but this was a more indulgent shopping trip. Monmouth is a very quaint market town crammed with beautiful independent shops. One particular company dominated the high street with it’s charming clothes, kitchenware, toy and gift shops. Check out The website is just as brilliant as their shops.

All in all it was a great start. Next week includes more cooking, walking and planning some new experiences for our week off at the end of the month. I will also be tackling my nemesis… baking!


In the last 3 months, we have moved house, already decorated two rooms, got a dog, had guests over on 6 weekends, and been out and about at weddings, and other fun events. All the while both working full time over 40 miles away from home. It is safe to say life has been rather busy, and our general domestic organisation has gone a bit awry. We have been grabbing lunch on the go and dinner has been an afterthought at the end of every day, running to the shops and grabbing something quick and easy.

Consequently we are wasting money and probably not eating as healthily as we should be. So I decided to get organised and stock up on delicious hearty meals for the winter.

Our general routine is to plan and buy ingredients for meals in advance from Sunday evening to Thursday night. Friday and Saturday food is planned around other activities. However this does not normally mean bulk or batch cooking, but simply having the right ingredients in to make the meals on the plan.

I see a lot on social media about planning and preparing food to succeed and cooking in bulk reduces cost, but requires time, freezer space and a lot of containers!

So today I have spent £38 which has made enough food for two people for 9 nights (Tue- Thu and Sunday this week and Mon- Thu and Sunday next week), and lunches for two people for 7 days (Wed- Fri this week and Mon- Thu next week). The cost includes the ingredients for the food cooked and the sides required to compliment them; rice, pasta, bread, potatoes, sweet potatoes and vegetables.

I have made;

  • Pork Goulash
  • Bolognese
  • Chicken curry
  • Mushroom soup
  • Roasted tomato, red pepper and basil soup

It goes without saying the soups are full of healthy and delicious vegetables, but so are the main dishes. The curry is packed full of aubergine, squash and broccoli, and the bolognese is brimming with peppers, onions and mushrooms. Using lots of fresh veg is a great way to make your meat go further and ensuring you don’t need to cook fresh veg with every meal to make sure you are getting your five a day.

So for one afternoon of work, I will now save time and money in supermarkets and will have more time for long walks in the forest with the dog and making improvements to the house. Not forgetting putting my feet up with a good book in front of the fire!

N xx


Phase One


After a nice walk around our beautiful village last night and some time with my trusty notebook and pen, I came up with my goals for October- December, aka; Phase One.

So here it is;

  1. Try a new sport or exercise
  2. Lose 1 stone
  3. Get more organised in the kitchen to eat healthier and save money
  4. Cook one dish I have never made before once a week (from one of my many recipe books)
  5. Bake once a fortnight
  6. Join a voluntary or charitable group that supports the local community
  7. Visit somewhere new or experience something new every fortnight

It might not seem ambitious, but encompasses most of the things I have been putting off, and who knows what it will lead to.

Let the fun begin, starting with some well earned time in the kitchen!

Time to make a plan!



Project Fab 30 has begun.

I have exactly 360 days until I turn 30. I want to be the best, happiest version of myself. Some things in life are not in control and can knock you sideways emotionally and physically. I cannot account for those along the way but what I can do is change other things around it.

I am starting to develop a plan. I find it easier to break things down into chunks and tackle them one at a time. So I am breaking the year up into quarters (roughly) and will set myself goals to achieve.

My focus is;

  1. To be proud of myself
  2. To be happy
  3. To improve my health and well being
  4. To challenge myself

Nothing else matters this year. I intend to turn 30 with the biggest smile on my face. This will be my biggest Hearty Adventure yet with lots of little adventures in between.

First up October to December!


Project Fab 30

Did you know when something bad happens to us in life, we become a statistic? I think it’s a way of people making sense of the negative impact this could have on you and help them, and perhaps you to get over it.

On my 29th birthday I became a statistic. Not because of my age, the day was merely a coincidence. The statistic means that the  course of my life had been changed from where I thought it was heading. So now I have decided that I am taking control again. I will not be dictated to by a statistic, by a label.

I have had the most amazing time in my 20’s, but some of that has meant I compromised on other aspects of my well being and personal development. Well no more. I intend to spend the last year of my 20’s becoming the best, happiest version of myself and hitting my 30’s with a new energy and passion for life. I will be in control of my own destiny!

Follow my progress over at Project Fab 30 and on instagram @projectfab30.