Friday 25 February 2011


First published in Jan 2010, and now in 2011 basically in the same situation, just this time it's the Bodybuilding competition is upon me in June instead of a photo shoot. Let's see what January 2012 will bring.

However, that I am going down each winter only shows that I am human, and that I have something to go down to, shows that my way of losing weight actually works. My skin is getting tight, and now end of February I am feeling pert and fit already. Off into a new summer we go!

So! I have to shed a couple of pounds… actually I have to shed something like four couples of pounds!


Oh My, I always have been preaching not to do this:
Ladies, take your time,
you will get there,
the slower the better,…
Yeah, yeah!

Oh well, all of the above is true! But, what if…?

... what if you get the once in a lifetime opportunity to go on a photo shoot with a semi professional photographer who wants to see muscle and not wobblies? ... and what if you are 48 and are wobbly around certain areas?

No two ways about it – you need to shed some couples of pounds – quickly! Luckily, thanks to the Big Sugar Experiment I already was on the roll. I didn’t weigh myself because I had a hunch that over winter I had gained about a stone – which for me is about a good dress size – and that about half of that was gone already; so I was sort of back to the state of last autumn.

What I need now is back to a state I have never been in!
So I am basically where I was when I started the whole Project Rika thing: Get your bum up, do the right things and…
… be persistent!

Double chocolate brownie
180 cal ~ 20 minutes of

One of the things to be persistent about is to stick with the sugar experiment. No sweets have touched my lips since that week after Easter when Imola’s cry for company reached me via Twitter. Whoops, there is one more thing to be persistent about: Be truthful at least to yourself! I had two slices of b-day cake …which I don’t regret as they were really yummy and didn’t cause me to fall back into bad habits.

The next thing is to count calories. Not every single one, but for food units. It’s all about getting to know my actual needs again. By the time I will have achieved what I wanted to achieve I should be able to go back to auto-pilot and forget about the counting.

One is so forgetful when eating; one doesn’t tend to be very accurate in remembering.

Bakewell Slice
203 cal ~ 2hrs vacuuming

Butter biscuit
105 cal ~ 50 mins of
raking lawn

I basically know my bits and nevertheless completely lost track during this last winter – so if anybody out there would want to try it out: Forecast your daily calories and then start counting. Compare the numbers at the end of the day… You will be surprised! And you are not alone. Detlef, dear hubby, told me that he read an article about people being asked to keep a food diary while being filmed at the same time.

Turns out they forgot to note down about a third of what they had eaten. Not that they wanted to cheat, they were just eating without thinking.

Me, Mrs. Stuck-up, thought that couldn’t happen to me…I just count in my head … I’m so good at this…  Ha! … an egg here a glass of Shandy and a cappuccino there and all of a sudden I was a couple of hundred cals over… Oh, crumbs!

Now I have a sheet of paper and a pen in the middle of my kitchen and nothing touches lips before pen touches paper. There we are back to the rules-thing. To make something work one has to have a framework and stick with it! I should read my own website more often!

Musli Bar
142 cal ~ 2hrs vacuuming

50g Oats
180 cal ~ 3 hrs of house cleaning
200 ml skimmed milk
75 cal ~ 1 hour watering plants by hand
50g Raisins
90 cal ~ 1 hour walking 3 miles/hour
check out how much an activity burns on Activity Calorie Calculator
This food thing really is a biggie…because it is difficult to know the calories of stuff one mixes together when cooking random recipes, I am sticking with a few recipes I measured out. Sort of weightwatchers like – just that they charge you a lot of money for doing the measuring for you. So I am basically thriving on Voluptuous Lettuce, pasta version because I know it makes around 500 cal, Chicken Soup where a bowl is setting me back a 400 cal and stuff like bread with cheese, boiled eggs and bananas.

That sounds very boring, but it has all the fibre, protein and veg my body needs to stay fit and healthy. So I got lucky that already a while ago I found my set of non-threatening food stuffs that I really like. That saves me some time now, although it is fun to create new recipes and to measure and count, so I will know that I can indulge in the food I love and how much I can have without feeling guilty.

There is however, one big hiccup in this mad and mean game! One doesn’t really know which activity burns how many calories, so one doesn’t know how much per day to aim for.

I had a compelling experience with a friend who was rowing on the indoor rower for the first time. She did brilliantly well, and after 20 minutes the display told her that she had just burnt 200 cal.  The poor thing was so shocked and instantly regretted having eaten that biscuit earlier that day, worth about 100 cal. She had no idea how little energy the body uses - actually it’s the other way round: How much energy these lovely little food items have that we stuff into our traps without really thinking about it.

There should be laws against certain food preparation habits: Never mix flower with sugar, or fat with sugar, or flower with fat! And none of the above is to be combined with eggs! This way bakery would go out of the window and never bother us again.

So, how much is it that Mrs. Normal can eat per day?
The average is:
2000 calories
… and 2300 for the gentlemen, as usual – they have it better, but looking around me they don’t really make use of it. They just like their beers too much, it seems.

That brings us to the biggest question of all:
Losing 1kg of fat – how many calories is that?

Tighten your seat belts and hold on to something strong – the answer is:
7000 bloody, shrieking calories! 

That is two and a half day of not eating at all – what wouldn’t really help since a body is a sneaky lazy thing. It always chooses the easy way which is consuming muscle rather than fat, so one would not just have lost weight, but all the energy as well.

This is why all those 'lose 3kg in a week' diets can never ever work. A weeks food allowance for a woman is 14 thousand cals while three kilos of fat is 21 thousand. Even if I wouldn’t eat a thing I would be 7 thousand short. Not gonna work, is it?

All these short term diets play with the water content of the body. They drastically reduce salt and are laid out to make the body lose water – that can make up to 2 kilos. But at one point the body will retain it again, so it’s not a real fix.

Hence the trick is to eat little enough to lose fat but just enough of the right things to keep the muscley bits. This is the bitter but truth that can’t be avoided:

Food must be taken care of, …
… and must be taken care of in a way that we can live with it for good!
And then there is the last thing to be persistent about:

It is the best alliance we have in fight against fat. There is no way we can tell the body which bit of the fat we want to lose – but we can build muscle to make the remaining fat less obvious. And the best news of all:
Muscles burn a lot of calories!
What do you think why I am a muscley girl? OK, I like it, but if I wouldn’t have them I would get fat from just looking at food. So for me it’s the more muscle the better!

Realistically one can save 500 cal per day by eating less and moving more which equals a pound of fat per week. So: 4 weeks to go! That makes 4 pounds - oh well, it’ll have to do! One has to choose the goals realistically to not be disappointed. This whole thing has one brilliant side effect: I am saving a lot of money!
My food is simple hence cheap and I don’t need a lot. Oh my, all this money put into cakes and biscuits - and I am lucky that I don’t drink alcohol… Since we are doing a lot of numbers and conversion here I probably should now transfer calories into pairs of shoes or t-shirts.

And here are my beads of wisdom to be successful in this game:
  • Don’t start the food stuff during the second half of the cycle - during this period the body demands more carbohydrate rich food. Get yourself a head start during the first half, and then just try to maintain the level during the second half.

  • Never use a scale during the second half of the cycle – women tend to retain up to 2kg of water during this time making it appear as if you were gaining weight despite eating less: Extremely frustrating, you don’t want that.

  • Never, ever use a scale more often than once a week. It is just natural that on a daily basis the weight is changing up and down a couple of 100 grams. Don’t go scale-bonkers. You will feel from your mood and how your clothes fit whether or not you are getting there.

  • Don’t be disappointed should you go through a phase when with less fat you actually look worse. Fat loss usually happens faster than skin tightening – hence the take it slowly, girl! The slower the better the chances are that it will become all tight again. And – no two ways about it – to get a tight skin one needs the exercise.

  • Take good care of your skin. Massaging with special oils and natural Aloe Vera can even help a bit with stretch marks. My personal favourite is pure Aloe Vera gel. It smells a bit like onion at first but that stuff is just brilliant and I use it all over, even in the face and as eye gel.

  • Be truthful to yourself! No comment needed there…

  • Do your own weightwatchers thing: Choose the foods you like and which give you a good mix of a lot of protein and fibre, medium amount of slow carbohydrates, and little fat and measure out the calories per portion. Have fun in the kitchen and be creative, combine stuff that nobody ever did… as long as you like it!

  • During weight loss phase: Steer clear of sweets and alcohol.

  • When on the right weight: Lose the ‘daily’ approach and get a feeling for what your weekly average is. Measure cals of treats like sweets and alcohol and transfer them into sportive action. No action, no treats!

  • If the waistband is nipping again, quickly steer clear of sweets and alcohol again. Sometimes a couple of weeks is enough to get back on track. Be vigilant of colds… less activity and cravings for carbos are a killer. Don’t try to fight it during cold, but take remedial action as soon as it is over.
The one thing I learned from moving from ‘dieting’ in the old days to ‘resuming good habits’ these days is:

It’s not about the weight!
It’s about losing fat to a healthy level.
It’s about keeping/building muscle to stay/become fit.
And most of all:
Having fun!

And now we have a video demonstrating the effort needed to burn just 100 calories. So better don't put them on in the first place.

Thursday 3 February 2011

Innocent Chilli Con Carne

Carne means meat, so please don't beat me up for making it with pork mince... Just feel free to change to beef or chicken, or quorn for a veggy version.

I never really got the difference to Bolognese sauce, but I was never really good in sticking to a recipe anyway. My Bolognese always had mushrooms, so why not add a few beans and chilli powder and we have a chilli. So, as usual with my recipes feel free to amend. Don't like garlic - leave it out, fancy some fresh or dried basil - be welcome to add.

My version is worth 100cal per 100g finished dish.
You need:
500g lean mince (pork, beef, chicken)
250g close cup mushrooms
1 can = 400g Tomatoes
1 medium to big onion preferably white, but red is OK
2 gloves of garlic
70g =  1/2 a tube tomato puree

2 tbs oil, preferably olive oil
4g Salt
1 tsp Pepper
1/4 tsp chilli - or to taste, rather add a bit more at the end
70g full fat Philadelphia cheese, plain (some cream is fine as well)
A frying pan with lid

Now prepare everything before you heat the frying pan; throwing it all together will go very quickly, no time to prepare stuff in between.

From the mushrooms cut off the ends of the stem, if they are grey in the middle and feel a bit soggy take them out and throw away. If the mushrooms peel, then peel them, otherwise just very quickly rinse them (but only if they are still closed, they hold water like a sponge) and roughly chop them in 4-6 pieces each.

Peel the onion and cut it in rough cubes.

Peel the garlic gloves and roughly chop them.

Pour the tomatoes into a bowl and check for funny bits, take them out and roughly mash the tomatoes, works best by using hands.

Weigh the salt and measure the other spices with it into a small bowl or saucer

Drain and rinse the beans, there is sticky stuff at the bottom which I don't like.

Heat the frying pan with the oil full power.

Add the onions, stir until slightly brown, careful with red ones, it's hard to see.

Add the garlic and brown as well, careful, goes very dark quickly, should you get into the danger zone, take off the heat and quickly, add a little sip of water to make it boil; on that occasion you might want to open a window.

Add the meat and stomp and stir until it becomes all crumbly.

Sprinkle the spices and thoroughly mix in.

By now there should be a bit moisture in your frying pan which comes from the meat, if it is very dry either reduce heat (gas) or add a bit of water (electric), just enough to not have it burning

Add the tomato puree and stir it in

Add the mushrooms 

Add the beans

Stir it all together and put the lid on.

On lowest heat, let simmer for an hour. Stir 2-3 times especially towards the end to check that it is not sticking.

Then melt in the Philadelphia cheese.

Ideas for other spices
  • Paprika powder,
  • Cumin powder,
  • Coriander powder,
  • Basil
  • Oregano

Calorie count
  • 640 kcal - 500g low fat pork mince
  • 32 kcal  - 250g mushrooms
  • 51 kcal  - 70g = 1/2 tube tomato puree
  • 92 kcal  - 400g can tomatoes
  • 261 kcal - 240g can kidney beans (strained)
  • 172 kcal - 70g Philadelphia cheese, plain
That makes about 1250 calories per pot. The whole pot weighs 1200g. That means that 100g cost approximately 100 calories.

How 2 Serve
I usually have it just as it is. It however is a perfect dish to serve at a party (this portion probably would serve 3-4 people):
  • It goes well with pasta, but even better with white bread and a 
  • dark, strong yet fruity red wine. 
  • Offer a simple salad of strong leaves like lamb lettuce, rocket and spinach, mixed with cherry tomatoes and a balsamic dressing to add some freshness.