Category Archives: Positive Thinking

A Look Back on October

As with life, business is full of unexpected twists and turns, flips and fuggles and October 2017 has been just that.

As we approach the final day of the month – Hallowe’en (which as someone with a phobia of zombies is really not much fun at all) it is surprising how much things have changed in just 31 days.

And then I suppose that is life itself – you can tread water for ages before suddenly a huge wave comes along that sweeps you somewhere completely unexpected, leaving you tumbling headfirst into new waters trying to catch your breath and hoping your swimsuit hasn’t ended up in a compromising position.

We hadn’t been treading water exactly. The last few years have been full of steady growth – of us, as well as the business. But this month, our first month trading officially as our bathroom business, has definitely been all about swimming in a very different ocean from before.

So we were always due to hit a few waves as we crossed into new waters.

In short, October 2017 has been challenging, rewarding, terrifying, frustrating, demanding and – overall – exciting!

We started our first job under the new company banner on October 2nd. A dated, traditional bathroom to be transformed into a luxury shower room for its elderly residents. It was always going to be a challenge to complete within two weeks as they also wanted a storage unit to be built in one corner, but it was just about do-able.

It wasn’t just the new business name, this was the start of our new way of working, our new approach of scheduling jobs into timescales and making them happen, as opposed to a less confident, slightly airy-fairy approach of things taking as long as they need to take – impossible to plan around. Dean and our newly-trained employee Craig were fired up and ready for the new challenge.

Meanwhile, in my office I was feeling pleasantly smug that we were in a seriously good place. Carla, our wonderful VA, and I had some highly polished systems and we were ready to get busy! We got on great, the time difference between the UK (me) and the Philippines (Carla) completely irrelevant. Her loyalty to us and her excitement for our future matched mine.

And then, the worst happened – she became ill. A few days off turned into a week, then, because she hoped to be able to come back, stretched into a few weeks. I have no reason not to believe her – she has sent me the medical documents, although I didn’t ask – but sadly it looks like she will need surgery before things will improve.

At first her work sat undone, waiting for her return. But when she did attempt to work, it was clear she wasn’t able to concentrate and mistakes were made. Eventually, last week I had to tell her that we would find someone else – someone temporary – in the hope that Carla can return to work eventually.

I called a lovely lady who runs an admin support service, who I had met at a networking event, and as I type this she is beavering away at the mountain of receipts that has mounted up as I waited for Carla’s return.

Staffing, and managing staffing, and knowing how to manage staffing, will be one of the biggest challenges ongoing, I can tell!

Back to the bathroom, which proved to be extremely tough. Once the bathroom was stripped out, everything that could have been tricky or challenging proved to be. The pipework was strange, the drainage challenging.

Dean made a couple of silly mistakes, that he kicked himself for, including prepping the room for a shower tray that measured 160cm in length.

Missing out the crucial extra 20 cm that he needed for the 180 cm tray ordered and paid for and waiting in the couple’s garage!

Actually I may have kicked him for that one, too.

A replacement tray was ordered, and the couple agreed they would be happy with the smaller size. I reduced their bill for the inconvenience – it seemed the right thing to do. Other challenges were – eventually – conquered – and they are pleased with the outcome. We need to go back for one more day to fit the storage unit doors and fit a last trim to the splashback around the basin. We have lost a lot of money on this job, and it will hit us hard.

But the learning was priceless. Even as we pushed our way through it all, both Dean and I had a strong feeling that everything that was happening was right and was happening because it needed to.

As a result, we have sharpened up our practices, improved the wording of how we go to price up jobs and – hopefully – put a few systems in place to prevent silly mistakes from being made.

The next two jobs – one completed and one still ongoing – another elderly couple going from bathroom to shower room – have both gone completely differently. We took the learnings from the first job, and both have been much kinder to us anyway.

As a result of receiving so many inquiries from older people, we also decided to register for VAT sooner rather than later. It was – still is! – a complete unknown for both of us, but October 1st was our start date and so October 31st will be the date of our first return. Gosh. Kind of sums up the whole rollercoaster of a month.

Oh and in between it all we are working on our own house. We finally have some heating installed, the kitchen is ripped out and the skeleton of the downstairs is being revealed – stones and timbers that haven’t seen the light of day since approximately 1790. What a gift to have the opportunity to transform a property. What an honour.

Oh! The learning curves can be breathtaking at times but the journey is spectacular! Here’s to November!

 

 

4Networking and the BNI

I’ve only gone and done it.

I’ve joined not one, but two, networking groups!

I joined 4Networking a couple of months ago now. Our nearest group is in the next town, assuming our bathroom and wetroom business grows as we hope it will, that will be our next area. So it’s a good place to make contacts.

4Networking is a network across the UK of business professionals, every meeting involves a speaker and everyone then gets three 10-minute one-to-one’s with other members. Once you join you can visit other groups and it’s all quite gentle, friendly getting-together and promoting.

And then … this week I joined the BNI! (Business Network International).

So the BNI is 4Networking on steroids, basically. Only one of each profession is allowed to be a member of each group, or chapter, and then all the members work to help each other by gathering referrals as they go along.

It’s pretty hardcore, and I’m a little nervous.

But I think it’s pretty crucial for the business and also for me as an individual.

Because I’ve never had what I would call a ‘real job’ and never had to work to targets or similar, I know that one of my weakest areas is in pure hard selling. And I’m pretty sure the BNI will help me improve on that.

I’ve signed up for a year.  One morning each week I will meet the rest of my chapter at 6.30am for breakfast and networking, and I’ll give them the details of the potential clients I’ve found for them. And the clients I get from them I will have to ensure we act on and do the best job possible.

It’s all slightly scary! But here’s to the future – the future’s bright, the future’s BNI!

 

 

 

A Wasted Journey… almost

So it could have been infuriating.

On Wednesday night Dean and I left Cumbria for the 223-mile journey down to Peterborough.

We were due on the Joint Venture course at Progressive Property*. Two whole days of learning how to work with investors – which agreements to use, how to ensure we stay well within the law and within agreements that will work for us, any potential investors and everyone else.

Wednesday was a crazy day. Hey, every day is crazy for us!

My parents have come to stay for a month (I enrolled them in Sam-and-dog-sitting some weeks ago), and just before they arrived Dean decided to take down a wall and the old ceiling in their en suite. Then he found the existing shower was faulty. Then, both jobs we had ongoing developed unexpected issues. So, everything fell behind schedule and when my parents arrived, wearily stepping into the house after a long, long drive, the room was still filthy and full of tools and Dean was flustered and busy with hours ahead.

Naturally, one of our neighbours/friends who has been incredibly supportive then called to say her bath was leaking into the floor below.

It was also enrolment night for Sam at his new college course.

We had an appointment booked with potential bathroom clients which I had provisionally aimed at approximately 5.30pm.

So the plan was to casually swan off, all ready and prepared at 4.30pm, pop into college with Sam, then leave him settling in with all his new friends and with money to take the train home while we headed south, via the potential clients.

Of course that didn’t happen!

At 4pm, with Dean still hard at work, I took my mum and the dogs up to the field so she could see what to do when it came to walking them.

At 4.50pm I took Sam into college, he enrolled, but of course we couldn’t leave him, they needed to speak to me. Apparently adults are still responsible for young people, even once they have reached the dizzy age of 16!

Dean and I finally left at 6.30pm, got to the friend/neighbour’s who had by then gone out, we made it to the client’s house at 7pm – they want to go ahead, which is good news – and eventually set off on the long road south at 8 pm.

And then came the final disaster. As we neared the final 90 minutes of the journey, the A1 was closed with a diversion in place. It took us on a wide tour of central England, a long line of diverted traffic crawling through sleeping villages and past dark farms, as we argued over whether we should stick to the diversion or follow a different route using our phones. It was well past midnight by the time we got to the hotel and entered our stale smoke-filled room. The mattress was pretty lumpy and uncomfortable – a little like a water bed, wobbling every time one of us moved.

We arrived at Progressive Property towers just before 9;30am on Thursday feeling absolutely shattered. Even through my exhaustion I sensed something was wrong when I saw the small group of peple gathered there, with trainers I recognised from a different course – I’ve done plenty of courses at Progressive, I usually can’t recommend them highly enough.

My sinking feeling turned out to be right. The course had been cancelled some weeks earlier and for some reason I was never notified. It was pretty mortifying after the long drive and the cost of the fuel, hotel and, most importantly, our TIME.

But, it was my own fault for not checking and, with the benefit of hindsight, it seems extremely stupid to have set off for such a long way without double checking the event was still on. (In my defense, all the courses I’ve attended previously at Progressive Property have all run as planned, in fact they’ve all without fail been absolutely superb learning.)

We returned to the hotel in a disappointed daze, gutted to have wasted so much time, but determined to make the best of it that we could. We popped to the shopping centre next to the hotel and bought some new shirts for Dean (he was a man in desperate need of a few shirts!) Then we set  off for home feeling shattered and resentful and dreaming of the wonderful sleep we would have had that night if we were at home. As Dean drove, I leaned against my pillow and tried – failed – to sleep.

And then, something miraculous happpened. From somewhere came a second burst of energy, and we started talking about the property we’re living in, the one we’ve been considering turning into a house of multiple occupancy – an HMO.

We priced up pretty much the entire work needed, something we’ve been planning to do for ages. If the sums don’t work, we won’t do the work needed to create the HMO, so this was crucial.

We also stopped at a few kitchen places on our way back up north.

It meant that once we arrived back at home, to two delighted dogs and three bemused humans, we could begin a serious discussion about what to do with the property. And so the decision was reached. There will be no HMO. Instead we will renovate to a high standard, ready for a family home, and either let it or sell it as such.

The work needed to make this old, slightly awkward property into a 5-bed, 5-en suite HMO is just too much and too expensive. It would take every penny that we have, and it would take forever. And right now we need to keep hold of some money, and we need as soon as possible to be able to concentrate 100% on the business.

And although I’d been looking forward to putting an HMO together, it is a relief to have finally made a decision. Now we can move forward, get it done, and get back to business.

I would have preferred not to spend hours in the van, traipsing for miles through the dark, not really sleeping on a dodgy mattress, and losing a day’s work.

But by deciding not to let the day be a waste, we turned something that could have been really negative into a positive, and that was definitey worth doing.

(Oh, and Progressive have offered to reimburse what we’ve spent and they’ve given us a choice of dates to attend the next course, so we will be back – although we might change hotel.)

 

*Progressive Property is probably the UK’s biggest and best property success story, started by two friends and colleagues, Rob Moore and Mark Homer, and offering fantastic training into how to make money from property. Their courses are awesome (we’ve been on loads of them) and it all starts at their Multiple Streams of Property Income course (MSOPI) which is a 3-day course all about property. Tickets usually cost a few hundred pounds but they are free if you get referred from someone else – if you would like free tickets email me at projectlifesuccess@gmail.com and I will make sure you get yours!

Anger, earthquakes and 4Networking

Crikey, what a day yesterday was!

It began dramatically enough. Actually it began REALLY dramatically, only a few hours after Dean and I fell out quite badly.

It is unlike us to ever argue but I was annoyed at him going off to golf (he generally plays three times a week – am I being unreasonable?) while I was left to supposedly take Frankie to dog training class, even though I have so much work to do on the business. Then at 4.30 am he woke me by standing up and pulling the covers, sharply, to straighten the bed.

He swore he didn’t do it deliberately, but I know that I could feel the malice in the action. It’s really not as though he has EVER done that before. So, I switched the light on, an argument ensued, he stomped off to a different bedroom and I picked up my laptop and started working – my alarm was due to go off at 5.30 anyway.

At 6.30 I waited for Carla our wonderful VA to get in touch for the first of our weekly Friday morning meetings. She spent yesterday preparing much of the financial reports, profit and loss calculations etc, that we had agreed would be on the agenda.

Then a message came through on Skype:

“Izzy there is an earthquake here.”

“We are hiding under the table. I’m scared.”

When someone you have gotten to know sends you a message like that, you forget all your domestics. A tense thirty minutes or so followed, until she messaged saying it seemed to be over.

The meeting, when it finally happened, was a success. And they will only get better, as they become habit and we start to explore and compare reports further. It was interesting to see how within a few minutes of seeing the first report, we were talking about the need to reduce how much we spend in materials and other outgoings. (Dean and I were talking for the meeting, although it died off again soon after the meeting closed).

This was exactly how our weekly business meeting looked!

I remember Kevin Green, the multi-millionaire whose weekend we attended right back at the start of our self-improvement journey, saying it was so important wherever he was in the world that he knew the exact figures for his business. Every Thursday his PA Suzanne preps the reports so he has it all to read during breakfast on Friday. It made perfect sense at the time – except I didn’t really know quite what those reports would consist of.

I do now though!

I’m just going to go off on a tangent for a minute, bear with me:

The Law of Attraction – it’s true!

You probably have heard of The Law of Attraction. If you haven’t already, you MUST watch the film The Secret. I am very open to the claims made by believers of the Law of Attraction, but I have to say I often felt like it somehow passed me by.

Recently, though, I have found it working more than ever. I’d say that actioning change in our lives can create some pretty impressive energies, bringing sometimes the people or knowledge we were just needing, into our lives at the right time. Now I don’t know if that’s the Law of Attraction or simply a movement of energy, but I like it!

And so it was, 4 weeks ago, when I made my first visit to my local 4Networking group Friday morning breakfast. (I joined, immediately, because, well, just because, and no doubt I’ll post about it in more detail later.)

The guest speaker was a solicitor, and as it customary her 20-minute presentation was not about her business, but giving content and value to those who were present.

On this occasion, I heard her speak and knew it was what I was needing to know, exactly at the right time. I wrote each one of these points and they quickly became:

Our Weekly Business Meeting Agenda!

1. Profit/loss for the week

2. Profit/loss for individual jobs

3. How much have we invoiced this week?

4. How much are owed?

5. How much do we owe?

6. Cash flow – what’s the bank balance today?

7. How much owed to tax?

8. How much owed to VAT (not yet!)

I was thirty minutes late to the meeting yesterday morning, my third visit, and I explained during my 30-second spiel what had happened, and how grateful I feel that I live in a country where we don’t have to worry about earthquakes and other natural disasters. I mean, no one knows what is going to happen tomorrow, but Britain is a pretty safe place to be.

Did you know? Your Network is Your Net Worth

Success and wealth gurus are forever reminding us how our Network is our Net Worth – here’s a great article explaining the theory behind it – and whaddaya know, someone even wrote this book about it!

Right now, my network – ie, the people I know and hang out with – is pretty much:

Me (all day at home)

The dogs Foxy and Frankie (delightful company but no great investment potential)

Sam my stepson (also fab but again, not a current business partner)

and

Dean (and the less said about him the better).

So I definitely need to get out more! Joining 4Networking was a deliberate move to grow my circle and list of contacts. The meetings are super-friendly and enjoyable – and as you can see, I’ve learned loads already.

So all in all we’ve had a pretty good week (notwithstanding arguments and earthquakes). We’ve finalised our letterhead, we have spoken to plumbers, tilers and a joiner to get them all on board, our new systems are in place on the en suite renovation that began on Monday. I’ve updated some of our details on Checkatrade, with more to do this week.

We’ve also pretty much pinned ourselves down to start work on this property (the one we’re living in) at the start of October. We’ve booked the tilers for two weeks at the end of November, so now Dean and I need to sit down and draw up a plan for the renovation, working backwards from then. Both exciting and terrifying!

Dean and I have pretty much made up now, I’m glad to say, so we can concentrate on moving forward. He’s playing golf again today, but that was booked ages ago. I’m just hoping for the odd occasion when he actually acts like he is happy spending time with us instead of constantly obsessing about golf. That truly would be a miracle so maybe there’s little chance of that happening, but you never know, now the Law of Attraction is kicking in that miracle might just occur!

 

 

The Key to Success

Ever wondered just what is the key to success?

I only just posted a few moments ago about my weight loss journey, and how I have just lost 22 lbs in only a few weeks on the amazing Exante Diet

Even thought it’s getting quite late I found myself drifting towards YouTube and the latest films uploaded by the fantastic people I subscribe to. Between them, they’re doing so much to inspire me on my weight loss journey as well as the other ways I am bringing success into my life.

And I just couldn’t not share this wonderful productin from the lovely Terri Savelle Foy. Seriously, listening to this lady is like sitting down with a good flat white and your best ever friend.

She has answered one of the questions I have often asked myself: What is the Key to Long Term Success?

You simply HAVE to watch the video, so I’ve shared it here. I just love hearing about how she started out on YouTube, back in 2008, with no followers, and how she has built her channel.

And I don’t think Terri will mind though if I tell you before you watch it, the key to success is to stick to it. Like glue.

Like me, doing this blog and my YouTube channel. They’re only small right now because right now small works for me. But I know one day they’ll be huge – as long as I stick to it.

If I take a break here and there, my followers will take a break too, and they won’t come back.

If my commitment to my success wavers, so will my chances of success, and like my followers, they probably won’t come back.

Stick with it, folks, whether it’s weight loss, business or relationship success, even if it’s training a new dog (which is exactly what we are doing right now) and you feel like you are getting nowhere, stick with it. Results will come! And when they do, you had better be ready for them!

xx

 

How to Stay Motivated?

O.M.G. I do love Gary Vee!

So I just came across this short little video and if you have ever, EVER, found yourself lacking even the tiniest bit of motivation, you need to watch this:

Are these the three lines that win the Internet 2017?

“How do you keep yourself motivated?”

“By remembering that you might die tomorrow.”

“That’s true.”

GAAAAAH!!!! Thank you Gary!

So today I’m hitting the edit suite while the rest of the country enjoy a long weekend – I’ll be cutting and creating for the next four days.  Eating 100% Exante products. Because I actually could die tomorrow, and all this would be over, without me doing what I need to do or being what I want to be.

And THAT’S the scariest thought of all!

Stay motivated, folks!

xx

 

 

Weight Loss Journey – weeks 3 and 4 – and chocolate

So it’s Week Five of my Exante Diet 2017 Weight Loss Extravaganza… and I’m hanging on in there.

The facts:

Week 3 – April 2 – down 3lbs – new weight 12 stone 4 lbs (172lbs)

Week 4 – April 9 – down 1lb – new weight 12 stone 3 lbs (171 lbs)

Ok, I’m going to be honest now, I have cheated at times.

And ‘cheat’ is the word to use, because I’m so annoyed at myself!

It really was all going so well. I even joined the Exante Diet Facebook Group’s 30-day April Challenge – 30 days of nothing but Exante products – just one measly month of self-control – and so far I’ve barely managed more than a couple of days.

Must get back in focus.

What?

MUST GET BACK IN FOCUS!!

Ok, I heard ya.

Today has gone pretty well, but as the Easter weekend approaches I just know the village will be full of tourists eating ice creams (the weather is forecast to be warm) and omitting that general relaxed, hey-let’s-get-some-food holiday vibe from their pores. You know, the kind of vibe that makes you think, ooh, I’ll have some holiday food too… I mean, I deserve a break…

And then there’s the Easter eggs… (nooooooo please, for the love of God, don’t mention the chocolate Easter eggs!)

Oh, you did. You mentioned the chocolate Easter eggs…!   🙁

(I am sooo hoping that I don’t fall victim to the curse of Easter Eggs, and that I don’t have to admit you next week that something terrible has happened. Like I was cast under a spell forcing me to gorge my own body weight in chocolate, but forever cursed never to be satisfied. Oh, wait, that’s pretty much real life. Yikes!)

Anyway, I’ve done some soul searching these past couple of weeks and I’ve realised one reason why I am letting myself fail – ie, succumb to ‘proper food’.

I love love LOVE the Exante Diet Indian Daal curry pot, right? And what’s not to love – they’re filling, so tasty, just like a really good Indian meal, and amazingly convenient, just add hot water and they cook in their pot. This is the bad boy himself:

I ran out of them a couple of weeks ago, so I’m trying to eat all the other foods in my special Exante Diet drawer of delights, but not everything is hitting the right spot…

My drawer of Exante Diet products!

So last night came my epiphany: if not having my favourite things means I’m struggling to stick to Exante, then I need to ensure I have my favourite things. Easy!

I immediately logged on to the Exante website, hit an order for 10 Indian Daals (and ok yes, a few more products as well) and pressed Pay Now…

The new Indian Daals and friends should be joining the delights already in my Exante Diet Drawer within the next few days*.

And then I will have NO excuses!

(*Seriously this is why I love Exante. No consultant to weigh me, no appointment to book, just the freedom of late night shopping and knowing that whatever I order will arrive pretty soon after. LOVE EXANTE!)

Exercise…

On a brighter note, I have been doing some serious exercise recently. The lighter nights have been perfect for getting out further and further with the dogs. I haven’t run this week, but Sunday and Wednesday we did some monster walls, climbing steep fells and clocking up a few good miles each time. Plus some pretty wobbly legs.

Here’s my latest video of my week 4 weigh in, filmed on location… at the top of a fell, obvs:

Good luck for Easter wherever you are! Here’s hoping the chocolate monster doesn’t attack any of us!

xx

 

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Week Two Weigh In – Ok!

Exante Diet Day 15 – January 23, 2017

DISASTER.

As of today, I have lost:

  • My phone (the one I take all my photos and videos with because my other phone has no memory available),
  • My keys. I am using my spare car key and hoping no one needs me to lock up at work.
  • My bank card. Because I put it in my pocket when I went to the shop instead of carrying my purse. But which pocket??
  • About 2 years of my life trying to sort, delete and file data that is sucking the life out of my poor overworked laptop.
  • And 2 lbs.

So to sum up, the first three I can not live without, the fourth is a tragedy and the last one I will be delighted to live without!

Yep, it’s not the 4lb I set myself last week, but it nearly could have been – Saturday morning I did a sneaky weigh-in and a beautiful 179lbs showed up. Since then though, I ate a large chicken salad on Saturday night and then three of Dean’s leftover roast potatoes. And yesterday – Sunday – I succumbed to a serious sugar craving and ate sweets.

So it was no surprise that I weighed in at 180.6 lbs this morning.

But it’s still good news. I am in the 12 stones gang – 12 stone 12lbs to be precise. And that’s 10 lbs off my starting weight, in just two weeks. So not bad at all.

Onwards and upwards for this week, although I can feel myself wavering a little. I’m not hungry, I’m just…

Dean has gone to the village pub with the lads that we have working for us and the little voice inside my head is seriously tempted to join them for a meal. At least, you can see what’s on the menu, the voice keeps whispering.

Maybe I could, I hear myself whisper back… Yikes!

Favourite Exante Diet products:

My new favourite Exante products are the Cookies and Cream bar (wow, just wow) and the Stollen bar (yuuuuummeeeee). I am STILL overcooking the porridge, despite cutting back to 1 minute 30 seconds twice. Either our microwave is a monster or they need to change their instructions.

The Red bean chilli is still the best thing ever. EVER.

Fallen into an Editing Hole

Outside of the world of diets, I am STILL editing the charity films from October!! At least, two are now completed and I am on with the third. After waiting nearly three weeks for a response to the first two films, the guy I showed them to (who is not the lady who commissioned them, she is trecking around somewhere remote for two months) just sent a loooooong list of amends. To which I replied that amends will not be possible. And then cried. Seriously, I have worked until like 4 am the last few nights.

What a valuable lesson though:

Never again will I take on work at a low budget.

From now on, if the budget won’t pay for an editor, I am not doing it. Because if I do, everything else suffers and I don’t move forward in any way. Editing is so time consuming and when you’re doing it bit by bit, an hour here and there, it takes so long.

By the time these films are finished and I have been paid, I may as well have being paying them to let me make them!

But … the experience has been hugely time-consuming but it has been priceless in its reminder to always value myself highly.

When I have a fully-running video production company with paid directors and editors, that’s when I can do freebies and favours. I know now I can deliver fabulous films so it is time my price got fabulous too.

I feel so much better for saying that!

Lost phone, lost footage, lost hours…

This weekend I spent hours trying to make space on my laptop for all the footage I’ve filmed on my phone for my YouTube channel. I had almost made progress before I lost my phone. I have been so slow updating my channel, mostly because of these films but also because I don’t have a proper studio set-up, it is all being run very hand-to-mouth and basic. Honestly, that takes up so much time!

Lost House… (sort of)

This week we made the decision to put our house up for sale (not the one we are renovating, our lovely family house back in Leeds). I have bought several houses but never sold one so I am feeling pretty nervous about it all. On Saturday, we (Dean, me and the dogs) are moving down for (Dean for 4 days, me for a week) to redecorate and get it all looking lovely, then on Friday February 3rd I am meeting the estate agent and she will take the photos. EEEEEEEEEEEEKKKK! It’s happening!

And when it does sell, I might just buy myself a lovely big iMac to do all my work and editing on.

Exciting times ahead!!

xx

 

Project: Life Success

Changing career aged 40+, building my own business, losing weight, taking control & finally making a success of my life!

Intro to the Exante diet – VLCD!

Weight Loss 2017. Week: One.

Please excuse the horrible feet folks – not that the number on the screen is much better!

My starting weight… 190.3 lbs

Yup. 190 pounds. Point 3. Wowzers!

Or as we say in the UK, 13 stones and 8 pounds. Wowzers!

Actually, I thought I might have crept over 14 stone, at 196 lbs (one stone = 14 lbs), so I guess it could have been worse. But, overall, a combination of sitting down almost every day working on our businesses, eating wayyyyy too much and not doing any serious exercise. Work I can’t change – yet. Exercise I am hoping will increase as the nights get lighter. So time to tackle the eating.

My goal of losing 43 pounds (actually 44, assuming  I go into March, my birthday, which I no doubt will) means an end target of 146 lbs. In Brit-speak, that will be 10 stone 6 lbs – actually a good weight for me and one I remember being very happy at many years ago. (The key three words here being ‘many years ago’).

 

In Ibiza in 2005, probably around 140 lbs (10 stones)

Will I get back there? Who knows! But, I am pleased to report it has started well, comrades!

The Diet I am Following:

I’m on the VLCD (very low calorie diet) Exante Diet, which is an affordable, HUGE range of meal replacement products. All high in protein and all around 200 calories.

If you want you can do just three products a day, so a total of 600 calories, with such high protein that you are almost certainly going to go into ketosis, which means you don’t feel hungry AND have loads of energy.

Or, you can add additional foods in varying amounts. I am doing the Total Solution, three products a day plan, and also allowing what could be best described as some nibble room.

So far, so good., but I’m realistic:

In 2015 I lost a big chunk of weight on the very similar Cambridge diet, from 187 lbs (13 stone 5) down to 150 lbs (10 stone 10). Here is how I did it.

I felt great at that size and since then have (very enjoyably) put it all back on, plus more., but despite trying to get back on the dieting wagon several times I have really struggled to stick at anything.

My last attempt back in October 2016 using my leftover Cambridge products failed at day 4. So, I know the odds are against me.

Cutting out normal food is a challenge, even if you are in ketosis and not actually hungry. So much of food consumption is based on rituals, habits and for our individual emotional reasons, not purely on hunger at all. Mine definitely is.

But, if you want to lose weight, if you are tired of being overweight but know you will fail at a traditional diet, I really do recommend giving a fast, intensive VLCD a shot. If you are wondering how to lose weight fast, this is the best way I have found.

Advantages of following Exante Diet:

  • If you stick reasonably to the plan you should see a big weight loss in the first week which is very inspiring.
  • After that you could lose 2-3 lbs per week, probably double the weight loss of a more traditional diet. Fast weight loss has to be the biggest motivator!
  • The diet products distance you from normal meals. The amounts are set so it is hard to overeat.
  • If you go into ketosis you burn fat but are not hungry. Actually, you can feel amazing, so much energy!
  • All the products contain 1/3rd of the recommended vitamins and minerals so even on 3 small products a day you are getting everything your body needs.
  • Exante is affordable – from approximately £1.50 – £2.50 per meal.
  • Exante products are delivered to your door – so convenient!
  • There is so much choice! Meals, shakes, bars and desserts.
  • The Exante Diet facebook group is super friendly and supportive.

Disadvantages to the Exante Diet (my findings so far):

  • It’s a diet. Nuff said 🙁
  • If you need support, the Cambridge diet works though you finding a local consultant, you then buy the products off the consultant. This worked ok for me 2 years ago but I now like the freedom of being able to buy what I want. Also, it irritated me slightly having to be weighed in front of someone else, then explain myself.
  • You MUST drink a minimum of 2 litres of water every day (this is the case with ANY vlcd diet). This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but be prepared to visit the bathroom more often!

Ok, not too many disadvantages so far… I will update with any as I go along.

So here we go, folks: I’m giving it my best shot and this blog PLUS my Youtube channel is going to be great for accountability! If THIS doesn’t keep me on the straight and narrow, I don’t know what will!

Diet Day 1 – January 8th 2017

I bought a set of bathroom scales yesterday and so this morning should have been a day of setting them up, taking my day one weight and measurements, etc.

Instead I was called on a rescue mission to help Dean whose van had broken down on his way to work! After pouring a few bottles of water into the radiator we realised it was not shifting and suddenly had to get the van to the garage. My day was thrown into turmoil and I didn’t even get chance to weigh myself until about 3 pm.

It’s amazing how life can overthrow even your best-laid plans.

Anyway, I kicked off with Exante Apple and Cinnamon porridge. I loved this on Cambridge, but it was a little disappointing. The microwave instructions were way over so the whole thing boiled over and spilled everywhere, then it tasted a little synthetic.

Later I followed with a Thai Green Curry. Ugh. Tasted like soap, seriously. Two products in and both were disappointing, I started to worry this whole thing might be a disaster…

The Spiced Apple Shake saved the day! It was super yummy, not too flavoursome but creamy and delicious. What a relief, at last something I liked.

I decided to allow myself an additional product and added a Peanut bar to the day’s total. Again, this was a nice surprise. Quite filling and really good. Thank goodness. 1 day in, 4 products down and 2 big thumbs up!

The day went really well. Being busy definitely helps. I had several coffees, and every time I felt hungry I had a product which then satisfied. There is a LONG way to go, but it was a good start.

Diet Day 2 – January 9th 2017

OMG. 3.5lbs down on the scale in the morning! OBVIOUSLY it’s all water, but, wowzers! Imagine if that weight loss happened every day! I tasted the familiar sweetness of ketosis in my mouth from early morning which means yesterday must have meant more to my system than I had realised!

Today was the first of my two days at work, so I popped a couple of shakes in my bag in the morning. Only to realise at work I had no blender to shake them! Luckily I had my last Cambridge spaghetti bolognaise in my drawer, which can easily be made with water and the office’s 150-year-old microwave. Yum. That was one of my favourite Cambridge products and still tastes so good.

At home at 6pm I ate a second peanut bar which was as good as yesterday’s.

Later I had a Gingerbread Latte shake. I love gingerbread lattes so I was nervous of trying this, but it did not disappoint. Really good and such a relief!

In addition, I ate a couple of avocadoes to avoid them going to waste (they’re calorific but so good for you!) and a chicken drumstick (Dean had cooked a few the night before) and that was day two done.

Diet Day 3: January 10th 2017

It is sooooo helpful to be busy! A crazy morning trying to get through our own business paperwork, then I went into work – I agreed to split my second day over two half days for a few weeks to see if we can get more done.

I didn’t eat until leaving at 6pm when I had my first chocolate coconut shake – OMG soooooo good!

Then my evening meal was the Beef and Black Bean pot. I don’t think I soaked it for long enough and it certainly doesn’t taste of beef, but it was good, warm and filling and satisfying.

The Chocolate shake ended the day – really good, reasonably chocolatey and very pleasant. Phew. I am loving the shakes!

In addition, I had a chicken drumstick. Probably the worst thing to eat as it had the skin on, but hey, at least it wasn’t bread.

Diet Day 4: January 11th 2017

So traditionally this is my toughest day. All my restarts have pretty much ended up on the rocks on day 4, and true to form the day started with me feeling amazing.

I swept into work on a ketosis high and thundered though my duties until 2 pm. At home I tried the moussaka – a (veggie) meaty dish which you add water to then microwave. Hmmmmm, there was a strange taste that I couldn’t quite work out at first, but I decided I liked it and finished the  bowl. It was satisfying and filling, pretty much a bowl of mince beef and I ended up adding about a spoonful of Caesar dressing for a fresh flavour. It would be good with vegetables added.

Later I sat down with a cup of tea and the Chocolate Mint cookie – squeeeeee! One of life’s treats! I shall definitely be ordering a large pack of them – chunky, chewy, satisfying and more of a cake than a cookie.

As expected, I felt myself wavering later that day. Amazing how you can switch from the crazed “I have so got this” and “I never need to eat again” high of keto-induced energy to sudden, killer cravings of “I must have bread and carbs” – all within such a short space of time.

Previously, I have given in, but somehow I found an extra strength on this day. I did cheat – but I made myself a huge salad with some (slightly out of date but ok) mackerel I found in the fridge. I don’t usually eat fish but this was bought and there is no way Dean would eat it if the date was out. It was soooo good to eat!

I figured a huge salad was better than 8 slices of toast, which it could easily have been!

From now on I will endeavour to always keep salad in the fridge so if I am tempted to eat I will make a salad and then see how the cravings are later.

It was a relief, an achievement and a triumph to get to the end of day 4. Already past a huge milestone. To celebrate, I tried a pair of jeans on that were just too tight to be comfortable last week. What a delight to be able to get them on without crushing my insides!