The World According to MoominGirl

A collection of thoughts, musings, ramblings, adventures and oddities from the technicolour world of MoominGirl, a.k.a Muumityttö

An Update

Well, it’s certainly been a while since I’ve been here!

My life got pretty darn full, and my gallbladder has also been a big problem. I’ve spent a few days in agony and discomfort, followed by a few okay days, for the last few months. There really is nothing like gallbladder pain. It’s all-consuming and very difficult to live with. Luckily, a week on Monday I’ll be having my gallbladder removed by a 45minute key-hole procedure.

I must admit, I’m finding the prospect of going into hospital a little daunting. Apart from my gastric bypass (last June), I’ve never really been in a hospital. They’re not fun places and I’m hoping to be out as soon as possible!

Because of the pending operation, I’ve been spending my time getting up-to-date with my University work, in anticipation of needing recovery time.

But I’ve also been out and about, getting ideas for blog posts and the like. So MoominGirl.com will be back up and running at full capacity as soon as I am!

So, I’ll see you on the other side of the Op!

Gallbladder

Many apologies for not updating for some time.

My gallbladder is causing me a lot of problems. I have to have it removed and I’m on a waiting list for the surgery.

I have been told that the likely cause is my rapid weightloss. It is also common to have gallbladder problems after Bariatric surgery.

I’ll be posting again as soon as I’m firing on all cylinders once more.

Write Your Own Recipe Book

It’s important to know what works for you and what doesn’t, but even more-so after major gastric surgery. I bought a dear friend a recipe book when she got married. It isn’t a recipe book written by some celebrity chef, it’s a little ringbinder that she can put her own recipes in. I was so impressed with it, that I got one for myself. I got mine from Paperchase, and they have a whole range of them.

Now I write down any recipes that I try and enjoy, or ones for food that ‘goes down’ particularly well for me. My own personal recipe book is starting to take shape. It’s really fun to watch it grow, and it’s reassuring that I have my own little Bible of recipes that work well for me. When I’m feeling particularly uninspired and unsure what to make for a meal, it helps to have a collection of ideas that I can turn to.

It also makes it easier to share recipes with friends, which can be great fun. If you attend a weightloss support group, sharing recipes with people in a similar position can be useful and rewarding.

I’ve found that keeping a track of recipes also encourages me to eat a wider variety. My recipe book contains everything from a number of ways to prepare chicken, to Moussaka. My recipe ringbinder came with dividers to split it into sections including ‘fish’, ‘meat’, ‘baking’ and ‘desserts’. It’s nice to feel organised! And it means that I don’t have to trudge through my many (and I mean many) recipe books when I fancy making something.

Now I have all of my favourite recipes in one place, I’ll be sure to share them on my blog more often! I definitely recommend getting your own recipe book/folder to write in, or just collect the recipes you have in a notebook or ringbinder. It’ll help spice things up, and help you keep track of what works for you. As Elizabeth David once said, “As everybody knows, there is only one infallible recipe for the perfect omelette: your own.”

“Whatever the question is, the answer is cupcakes.”

I’m a baker. I have been for years. I get so much enjoyment from pottering around the kitchen. I get even more enjoyment when I give my friends and family a box of baked goods. Even though I’ve had bariatric surgery, I still treat myself and have some of my baked goodies when they’re about. 

I firmly believe that it’s all about moderation and balance. Lots of fruit, veg and a nice varied diet is the ideal, but varied does include those indulgent foods which are less good for us. I’m not suggesting that you should replace a healthy meal with a slice of chocolate cake. I’m just saying that I believe that by having a cupcake every now and then, you won’t do your body a great deal of harm.

Obviously, if you are struggling to digest sugar post-bariatric surgery, do not try out eating indulgent snacks, but you may find that your tolerance for sugar improves over time. You can also have fun trying out recipes that contain sugar, and replacing the sugar with sweetener. A lot of recipes work well with a sugar substitute, but some do turn out to be total disasters! 

I’m having a bit of an American-themed bake fest at the moment. Yesterday I took to the kitchen to make red velvet cupcakes and whoopie pies. For those who aren’t in the know, red velvet is a sponge made with a bit of cocoa powder but more of a vanilla taste. The buttermilk in them adds to the depth of flavour and when the buttermilk and cocoa combine with the vinegar, it produces a red colour. This is accentuated by the addition of red food colouring. Whoopie pies are little sponge sandwiches, usually filled with buttercream. They’re somewhere between a cookie and a cake texture and originate from the American Amish community, and that’s your baking history lesson for the day! ;-)

I tend to make my baked goods in two sizes these days; my size and regular size. For my size, I fill the bun cases a little less than half full and use less frosting/topping. For the regular size, I fill the cases 2/3 full and give a generous topping. That way, I can enjoy my indulgent treat without over doing it, and I can feel ‘normal’ by eating what other people are. It’s especially easy to do this with whoopie pies, because you pipe the mixture onto baking trays. Smaller ‘blobs’ of mixture make smaller pies. Simple! I like to make my whoopie pies in a bite-sized way, like a petit four, whereas the normal size of pie is a good few bites!

I don’t want my surgery to limit me. I want to live my life to the fullest and for me, a big part of that involves eating like a ‘normal’ person. I want to eat healthily but have some not-so-healthy foods included in that. Basically, I want to have my cake and eat it. I enjoy baking and giving it away, but I enjoy sampling it too! David Grayson once said, “Looking back, I have this to regret, that too often when I wanted a cupcake, I did not have one,” and I definitely don’t want to be able to say that!

It’s important to have a balance in your diet, especially after bariatric surgery. Balance isn’t about depriving yourself, it’s about establishing harmony with your food.

If you’re going to have a bash at baking, try experimenting with sugar substitutes and portion sizes. Make a smaller sized goodie for yourself, and leave the normal sized ones to friends and family, who I’m sure would appreciate your offerings!

I hope you have as much fun in the kitchen as I do!

 

 

P.S – I love baking so much, that when I found this David and Goliath t-shirt, I just had to get it. It’s just way too cute! It’ll be my standard baking attire from now on!

Ahoy there, Flower!

I’ve just posted my January article.

It’s a layman’s look at the Spring/Summer trends which are making their way from the catwalks and onto the Highstreet.

I’m really excited about this upcoming season! And I think there’s something for everyone.

You can read it here

Enjoy

You Call That Exercise?!

I’m weird. I’m quite happy to admit it. I enjoy working out at the gym. I enjoy walking and jogging. Once I manage to haul myself out of the house, I’m perfectly fine with exercise. Despite that, my favourite type of exercise is the type that doesn’t feel like exercise. Working out with weights at the gym feels like exercise. Shopping doesn’t.

Okay, so you gym bunnies out there are going to be raising an eyebrow at that. How can shopping be exercise?! Well, for someone carrying a lot of extra weight, anything that involves moving around is exercise. If you’re moving, you’re burning calories. Burning calories is the principle of losing weight. If you’re eating well and putting low fat food into your body, you’ll start burning the calorie reserves (aka that extra weight) and that’s the top and bottom of it.

When you’re out shopping, you’re walking around. You’re also stretching, bending, reaching, twisting and (if you’re anything like me) you’ll be getting hot and sweating off a few calories. When you set off for a walk, you’ll be saying to yourself “I’m about to walk a mile“, but when you’re out shopping, you’ll be concentrating on what you’re doing and not how far you’re walking. Try using a pedometer which counts how many steps you take. You’ll probably be quite surprised at how far you walk around the shops without realising it!

Following gastric surgery, if you’ve been pretty inactive for a while (like me) then it’s best to introduce exercise very slowly. It’s no good to try and half kill yourself at the gym 6 weeks after your operation. You need to build up your activity levels. A dash around the shops is the type of exercise that will get you moving, without you really realising it. A big part of exercise is the psychological aspect. People find working out in the gym difficult because all they’re doing is concentrating on every move they make, how much each muscle hurts, how long they’ve been doing that exercise, etc.

Another favourite I’m-exercising-but-don’t realise-it activity of mine is to go for a day trip. Last weekend I went to York and had a good wander around the city. When you’re walking along chatting with someone, you don’t realise how far you’ve gone! The next day we went to Scarborough and did the same. A nice walk along the seafront was a great hidden workout. 

There are lots of little ways you can increase your physical activity at home too. When you’re hanging washing out, leave the basket inside the house, or just outside the door, and take one item at a time down to the washing line. Those extra paces will get your heart pumping and give you a mini workout. Gardening is very good, but be careful not to overdo it, especially with regards to your back. I also like to bake a lot. It’s surprising how active you can get when you’re just moving around the kitchen, and giving a mixture a good beat with a spoon is a good workout for the arms! It’s getting to that time of year when a Spring clean is on the cards. Wandering around the house giving it a good dust and tidy up will certainly burn some calories!

The most important thing to remember is that if your heart is pumping and you’re moving about, it’s exercise. It doesn’t have to be at the gym and on exercise machines, it can be anything that gets the blood flowing, increases your heart rate and gives you that workout feeling. Walking is great exercise, but it doesn’t have to be a march around the block, it can be a stroll from shop to shop. After gastric surgery, it’s important to move around plenty and to increase your fitness levels. Don’t try and become a gym bunny straight away. Pace yourself and increase your activity levels gradually. There are plenty of things to do around the house that will give you the feeling of exercise without all of the strain of a full workout.

Good luck!

No More Nail Woes

Since my operation I have DEFINITELY noticed that my hair and nails haven’t been doing too well. I was warned that it would take a while for my body to settle down and get back into rhythm with itself, and I was also warned that things like hair, skin and nails would suffer. It’s all to do with vitamins and minerals. I’m taking my vitamin tablet every morning and my calcium twice a day, but sometimes you need a bit of extra help. I’ve already started using a shampoo that’s packed full of nourishing bits and bobs to minimise fall-out, so my hair is gradually improving.

My nails are the next big problem. I love painting my nails and try to keep them at a decent length, but since my operation they’ve been extra flaky and keep cracking, breaking and generally disintegrating. I’ve tried a bunch of hardeners but nothing really seemed to work. I did some online research and had a chat with a local hairdressers/beauty salon. They recommended acrylic overlays. Now, I’ve had acrylic nails before and had some real horrific experiences with them. My worst experience involved an 8hour removal session and a LOT of acetone which nearly dissolved my hands, so naturally, when I heard the word ‘acrylic’ I did have a slight heart-attack moment. 

Anyway, my nails were in a real state and so I went along for an appointment today. Acrylic overlaying doesn’t involve false nails. I just had layers of acrylic put over my own nail. This means that my nails are now absolutely rock hard. My nails will continue to grow naturally, and then when I get my next overlaying treatment in three weeks, the growth will get acrylic’d and be equally hard. So I’m going to end up with nice and long natural nails. Win Win! I’m really happy with the result and recommend it. Not many nail bars in my city offer overlaying, but it’s worth seeking it out.

The lovely girl who did my nails also finished them off with a beautiful OPI shade and some white & glittery lines. Very nice indeed. I’m looking forward to seeing how my nails go over the next few weeks. I was told I have quite long nail beds, so they have potential to be nice and long! So long as they don’t crack and break, I’ll be very happy!!!

Shopping the Season

It’s January and that means the fashion world’s Spring/Summer season is landing in stores. If you’re as new to the joys of the fashion world as I am, you should look out for my January article which is coming up as it’ll tell you everything you need to know about S/S 2012. This is really the first season I’ve been able to shop for, as I now fit into Highstreet clothes! Before, I didn’t have a clue about trends or seasons either, and whilst I have an awful lot to learn, I’m trying to soak up all the information I can like a sponge. I’ve been having a look at the upcoming Highstreet collections online, but yesterday I went to the city centre to get my shop on!

First port of call was Superdrug. This season, pastels are going to be huge, so I wanted some eyeshadow in the right kind of shades. I got 3 pots of Barry M’s Dazzle Dust in ‘Baby Blue’, ‘Lime’ and ‘Fuchsia’. The names may not sound too pastel, but the shades definitely are. I am quite tempted to mix ‘Fuchsia’ with one of the Benefit Lust Dusters to make it a little paler though. It’d mix especially well with the limited Christmas edition shade called ‘Snow Bunny’. Make-up absolutely follows the trends in the same way clothes do, so pastel eyeshadow hues are a must.

I’ve been eyeing up the newest items to be released by Dorothy Perkins online. Their first collection of the year is New Gen (although I checked online today and Riviera Chic is now up) and it features a host of items which summarise the trends of season. There’s a lovely mint green peplum dress, some cute nautical stripes and some floral prints. My favourite item by far is the black floral print t-shirt (described on the site as ‘black floral border print tee with short flutter sleeves). Floral prints are going to be huge in S/S 2012. The t-shirt just had to come home with me! I also bought an A-line black knitted ‘shirt dress’ which has a cute little collar and cuffs. It  fits in nicely with the preppy naval trend.

I’ve also been coveting items from the H&M S/S collection (online), but I didn’t have chance to look in there yesterday. I totally blame Carphone Warehouse and my telephone for needing them to look at it… *grumble grumble*. New Look also have some great new season items. I bought an uber cute jumper from there. Photos will definitely follow. It has a panda face… need I say more?!

I recently joined Stylist Pick (a blog post on this is in the pipeline!) and my first pair of shoes arrived yesterday, which was a nice welcome home after my mini shopping trip! To go with the preppy smart chic trend, I went for a pair of suede and patent black brogues. They are so darn cute! And fantastic quality!

I should also mention that whilst I was out, I stopped off at The Handmade Burger Co. for some lunch. It was my first visit and I was incredibly impressed. The staff were very friendly. I explained about my surgery to the manager and asked if I could have a reduced portion or a child’s portion. He let me have a child’s meal, which was a small burger, tiny portion of chips and a drink for just £5.15! I was delighted at the service and the food tasted great. Definitely one of the best burgers I’ve had recently! It was the perfect portion size for a post-bariatric surgery patient too. 10/10 and very highly recommended. Will 100% be going back!

If you’re venturing out to have a look at the new season clothes, I hope you have as much fun as I did!

 

 

 

 

Off the couch and into 2012

I’m back from my Christmas holiday break. Christmas was lovely, and, like usual, a very quiet affair in my household. But, like I’m sure most people did, I totally over indulged. Christmas is just too tempting. There’s food everywhere and very little of it is low in fat! Despite this, I’m not annoyed with myself because I know I enjoyed my festive season and that’s all that counts. But, I am feeling a tad sluggish and in need of an energy boost!

Today it was announced that actress Gwyneth Paltrow is about to start a 21-day cleansing programme (at a cost of £274) which is reinvigorate her and kickstart a healthy 2012. Obviously, we don’t all have that kind of money to blow on a regime of protein shakes and supplement. I believe we don’t all need a programme that strict or extreme either. I don’t make new years resolutions, but I do make an ‘I will’ list for the coming year. One of the things on my list is to make sure I eat well/healthily. A big tip I want to share that keeps me on track with my eating is to make a weekly ‘menu’. Just spend 10minutes once a week writing down what you intend to cook for your main meals. By spending a couple of minutes planning your meals, you’re less likely to skip a meal, or just dive in the freezer and cook those leftover battered chicken pieces that are hidden in there. I find that making a menu also helps me feel organised and in control. I am intending to beef up my meals with some more veggies in 2012. I’m trying to drink more water too.

I knew at the end of 2011 that I wanted to increase my fitness levels in 2012, culminating in running Race of Life in aid of breast cancer this coming June. Since my weight gain, I’ve been incredibly inactive. I joined the gym for a while but didn’t keep it up. Because of this, the prospect of exercising is certainly a daunting one. The idea of exercising in winter is even worse! When it’s cold outside and you’re nice and warm on the sofa… who wants to put on their running shoes?! I heard through the grapevine that the NHS had put together a ‘couch to 5km’ programme and decided to investigate. There are a fair few of these training programmes available online, but the NHS one has been tailor-made by fitness experts, and it’s absolutely free.

The first thing I noticed about the website was (apart from how easy it is to use!) that it is absolutely crammed full of tips and advice for everyone, from seasoned runners to absolute beginners. I made sure I read through their tips for running in the winter, because I was worried about exercising in the cold and struggling with it. Their plan aims to get you off the couch and able to run 5km (or running for 30minutes) in just 9 weeks. The idea is that you run three times a week, with a rest day in between. The programme comes in a series of  podcasts which are free to download and can be downloaded from the site or from iTunes. I was pretty sceptical about what the podcasts would be like, but they are actually fantastic.

Today I tried podcast 1 for the first time. It started off with a five minute brisk walk, and then alternating 60seconds of running with 90seconds of walking. The ‘personal trainer’ in your ear tells you when you run and when to walk. She also gives you motivating encouragement and the music that is in the background is pretty good – it’s unobtrusive and not at all like the dodgy electronic stuff you get played down the phoneline to you when you’re on hold. I set off doing the brisk walk, and found it quite alright. Then it came to the first 60seconds of running. I did a very light jog but felt like I was about to implode when I finished. I was totally disheartened and thought there was no way I’d manage the programme in 9 weeks, maybe more like 90 weeks!

Needless to say, I carried on with the podcast. I had my 90seconds of walking and then it was time to run again, but this time it was (quite amazingly) a lot easier. I found the 90seconds of walking was the perfect amount of time to recover and prepare for the next run. I only completed 2km today, but as it was my first go, I didn’t want to over-do it. I haven’t exercised properly for years, so I didn’t want to shock my system too much. Tomorrow I’ll have a rest day, and then after that it’ll be another 2km for me.

Best of all, I really enjoyed myself. I felt energised and refreshed. I also felt really positive about starting  my exercise regime. It was a really great experience.

I can’t wait to give it another go, and to progress through the programme. I’ve also signed up to ‘Map My Run‘, which is a great site for runners. You can use Googlemaps to create running routes. This is especially helpful as it tells you how long the run you’ve made is. It’s also free to use. You can enter in information that will calculate your daily calorie allowance, and you can record any exercise you do. The site has community pages and you can view routes created by other users. There are a bunch of similar sites out there, but this is the one I use. I also like HeiaHeia.com, which is like a GetGlue or Foursquare site, but you log in any exercise you do. It’s nice to keep a log of the exercise you’re doing so that you can look back at your achievements. Celebrating the exercise you have done will keep you motivated and enthusiastic about working out. I always want to shout it from the rooftops when I’ve done some exercise, because it can be so hard to keep motivated and fit it into your busy daily life.

So there you have it! As tempting as the couch might be (especially in winter), it is possible to get yourself off it and get fit. The NHS’ ‘Couch to 5km’ programme really seems to be a great option; you do it in your own time and you have the option to pause whenever you want. I found the first podcast to be motivating and encouraging. I will definitely keep going through the programme until I’ve completed it, but I won’t be annoyed if it takes me over 9 weeks, as I’m very much out of shape at the moment.

I’ll keep you informed on how it goes! But I really recommend taking a look at the website (here) and considering giving it a go for yourself!

Merry Christmas

However you celebrate it, or even if you don’t, I hope you have a lovely and peaceful Christmas.

And try not to eat or drink too much!

Christmas blessings from me to you. May your heart and home be filled with joy and happiness.

Take care and enjoy the season.

See you on the other side ;-)

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