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My year, health-wise...
2015 was interesting. I was diagnosed with a slipped disc (which happened nearly 9 years ago on xmas eve) right before xmas last year, and had to spend a lot of it lying down or standing, or sitting on a special kneeling chair. So I've been overweight (BMI = obese) for quite some time, and the back injury hasn't helped. I was getting a lot of sciatica and numbness down my right leg, as the disc pressed on the nerve. Couldn't stand up for very long, and could sit, but would rise in agony. Turns out my upper body has been carrying all my weight for 8 years and finally got fed up of it. Standard chiropractice wasn't helping, so I had a course of IDD - a stretching treatment. It took 18 treatments, and all of a sudden I could sit at a restaurant for more than 20 minutes before the pain got too much. From August onwards, sitting too long made my left knee feel sprained. Turned out I'd been standing wrong for the last 9 years and the hamstring on that side was too short. Eight weeks of hamstring-focussed workouts at the gym and things are definitely improving - the knee feels normal now, although I still get a bruise-like ache on the slipped disc side. Apparently it'll never be perfect - but I'm in remission and fitter than I started the year. I now need to work on core-strengthening exercises, but for various reasons I've not managed to get a gym refocus session booked yet - had a bad head cold last week and had to cancel. But I'll be right back on it as soon as I can, if I can squeeze a booking in in amongst the January rush.

At the same time as all this, I've been logging my weight and as of September, logging my food intake, with the aim of losing weight. So far I'm 2st 2lbs down from my heaviest - and I've gone down a dress size and two cup sizes. So I'm posting my diet tips, in the hopes someone else might profit from it. I still have almost 2 stone to lose in the hardest time of the year, and calorie-wise this week has been a disaster - but I'll keep on logging and trying to limit the damage.

  1. Log everything you eat. Everything. Even if you had a bad day. Log it, don't beat yourself up over it, and move on. I use myfitnesspal, set to lose 2lbs a week - and if you stick to it, it does work. As I'm usually slightly over calories, 2lbs a week means I've some wiggle room and sometimes the loss is just 1lb.

  2. Will power - you'll need it. Don't put temptation in your way - if having chocolate in the house means you have to eat it, don't bring it into the house. On the flip side of this, if you have enough will power to only eat individually wrapped mini bars of chocolate (I like Green N Blacks Selections) - and having access to mini bars means you won't go to the supermarket and buy a standard size bar (and then eat the lot, and feel guilty about it) - then do it like that. I keep the GnB in a hard-to-see spot in the 'fridge, and only eat one if I have 100 cals left of an evening. Knowing it's there curbs the cravings somewhat - it's there if I need it, and I find I mostly don't need it. Or swap the chocolate for a low cal hot chocolate drink or a piece of fruit.

  3. Avoid small sweets - it's impossible to work out the calories unless you happen to have weighing scales with you. I can't be doing with all that maths, myself! Work is tricky because birthdays mean cake or sweets for free - but it's not free calorifically...

  4. If you're going to drink your calories, do it after 8pm and stick to just one glass of wine or one beer. Before 8pm and your resolve will crumble, and it'll lead to more drinks.

  5. Exercise. Try and do 20 minutes every day you get chance - a 20 minute walk around the block, 20 mins on the exercise bike. I try and do one Nordic walk a week, and two gym visits a week. The nordic walking "gains" me about 384 calories. If you're using MFP, logging your exercise gains you extra points which you can eat or save at your leisure.

  6. I don't hold with fad diets that cut out a major food group or advocate only eating one thing. Everything in moderation - if you cut out something completely and start craving it, the diet is not going to work for you in the long term. By all means make sensible swaps - brown bread over white, etc - but if you don't like the food, don't force it. Resentment only brings a diet meltdown!

  7. Healthy eating is for life, not just for xmas. Try new foods; learn new recipes.

Right, well, I've rambled on far enough now. Here's to a happier, healthier New Year! 
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