Recipe time - rice and tuna salad

I've never posted a recipe before, but this one is so yummy I thought I'd share it.
It's also very easy to make and great as a summer dish.
I made it today and for the first time I used brown rice instead of white and it works just great, much healthier too :)

Ingredients (serves 4):
180 g dried brown rice
1 small tin of sweet corn (140 g)
1 large tin of tuna fish in brine (185 g)
2-3 tomatoes or about 20 cherry tomatoes (love cherry tomatoes!), chopped
20 green olives, chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard
salt, pepper, oregano, parsley, garlic, onion...

Cook the rice, boil the eggs, chop up the tomatoes, olives and eggs and, when everything's cooled down, mix all the ingredients together in a big salad bowl. Other ingredients are possible, depending on what you have handy: anchovies, bell peppers, capers, apples, nuts, cheese...

The salad itself is 4.5 points per serving, the seasoning 1 extra point, but it's possible to use lower point salad dressing if you want. I love my olive oil, so this is one thing I still indulge in :)


Inspirational videos about Emotional Eating

I was up last night till 2 in the morning, unable to sleep, and started browsing the internet for information about food allergies and food addiction, a topic I've seen pop up on a few other blogs, and I stumbled across some videos on YouTube. The girl in them - Josie - has been doing research into Emotional Eating and was sharing her findings, and everything she said really made so much sense.

So, if like me you're not only trying to shift the excess weight, but also wondering what goes on in your brain to cause you to overeat in the first place, if you're prone to emotional eating and want to understand why, you really should check out these videos. You can find them here:

I really recommend you watch all the videos, but I'll give a quick summary of them here (and this is in my own words, so you might take something slightly different away after watching them):

a) our excess weight initially comes from emotional eating. Once we start trying to lose the weight through dieting, we get stuck in a vicious circle of repression (diet) -> binge eating -> guilt -> more repression...

b) the binges can be curbed by stopping the repressive attitude towards food. To do that, we need to eat more intuitively and let our body decide what it needs to be healthy (instead of strictly calorie counting...) - by eliminating foods we are intolerant to, listening to our bodies' hunger signals, stopping when we're full... the video that touches on this - "Take a Skinny Friend to Lunch Week" - is really interesting as it highlights the differences in the way we - dieters - approach food as opposed to the way naturally skinny people approach food. And I live with a naturally skinny person, so I have plenty of opportunities to study those differences and learn from them!

c) once the binges are curbed, we're basically left with the emotional eating, which stems from a really interesting coping mechanism we learnt in childhood. There are several concepts in this part, which I find absolutely fascinating. One of them is learned helplessness (the experiment with the dogs explains it really well - check out the video for the full explanation), which means that if, in childhood, we learned we were powerless to solve a problem, we will continue, in adulthood, when faced with a similar problem, to believe we are powerless to solve it, without even trying...

The second concept concerns task-oriented and emotion-oriented coping strategies, or as Josie calls them, soothing and solving: when faced with a problem, do you focus on solving the problem, or do you focus on getting rid of the feelings (anxiety, fear, sadness) that the problem provokes in you?

We all have situations in which we are task-oriented: for me, it's stuff like organising a party, managing projects at work, organising holidays... I just analyse the situation, then act to get things done efficiently.

And then there are the situations in which we resort to soothing (emotion-oriented coping). This happens so instinctively that we don't even realise what's happened until we're half way through the cookie jar. We feel helpless (because of learned helplessness) in the situation and don't even try to solve it, we just assume - on an entirely subconscious level - that we can't do anything about it, so we reach for a bag of crisps and a beer (in my case) to soothe the emotions the situation provokes.

Identifying the trigger situations in which we instinctively "soothe" instead of "solve" can really help stop us from emotional eating. I think I do it mostly in inter-personal situation where there's a risk of conflict. I can't stand the idea of telling certain people I'm not OK with their attitude, or don't agree with them, so I avoid the conflict by stuffing my feelings down with food. The other situation in which I comfort eat is when I'm bored. Instead of taking 5 minutes to actually think about all the things that I could be doing (and there are a lot of them!), I panic... and do the one thing I feel "safe" doing: eat.

Some of the other really interesting things I picked up from these videos:
- These mechanisms go back to our childhood and are deeply ingrained. I learned these coping mechanisms during my parents' divorce, when I was 9 years old, the same age Josie was. And she mentions she was taught to diet at age 10. Same here.
- She also makes a link between being brought up by an extremely strict parent and resorting to emotional eating (as a child you are helpless to solve situations when you are brought up that way - the strict parent always decides for you), which also hits home for me. I also think a lot of it had to do with the fact that neither of my parents actually wanted to know what I was feeling and if I was OK. I had all these emotions and no one to talk to about them. So with no way to address and resolve my feelings, I stuffed them down with food.

I hope you find this useful... I'm going to pay much more attention to any triggers that have me reaching for the cupboard or fridge, and I'm also going to try to be more intuitive in my eating patterns, I will keep planning and tracking what I'm eating, but will eat when I'm hungry, stop when I'm full and won't beat myself up when I go over points...

If you stumble across any more interesting articles or videos about this, please post them in the comments!

Editing to add: I just found Josie's blog on blogger, if you want to follow her :)


As work is really, really slow right now, I signed up for a 2 day painting course last week to kick-start me into actually using some of the art supplies I've had lying around the house for decades...

It was really neat, as I was able to try out oil, acrylic and aquarelle over the course of the 2 days, which saved me buying all the material for nothing.

I definitely prefer working with oil paints. I love the way you can keep blending the colours on the paper and how the painting evolves constantly as soon as you add a new colour or brush stroke. It totally suits me :-)
I also quite enjoyed the acrylic paints, but they don't have the same feel to them.

I took some pics of the "works of art" (lol), so here they are:

The first four are oil, the last 2 are acrylic. Yesterday I invited and friend over and we had a painting session in the afternoon, so more paintings will follow :-)

Week 33 WI

At last! I have managed to move in the right direction, at my personal lowest now... After 10 weeks stagnating, I am now 0.2 kg below my previous lowest, and well determined to keep moving in the right direction.
For the first time in weeks I managed to finish the week with a positive points balance, get some activity points in and lose 1.2 kg (after putting 0.7 kg back on last week after our weekend in Prague).
My goal for this week is to keep going down, no more slip ups or half-arsed attempts!

Results so far:
Loss this week: -1.2 kg / -2.6 lbs
Total loss: -12 kg / -26.5 lbs

I now have extra motivation to lose the weight, as we have been discussing starting a family, and my doctor would like me to lose another 14 kg / 30 lbs before we get started. That would get my BMI down to 28. I'm quite impatient about it, so want to see steady losses from now on to get there as quickly as possible!

Yesterday we went to the park and played some badminton, which felt great. We're going to play once a week from now on, starting this Wednesday. In September I'll be taking up yoga again with a teacher I had 5 years ago who was absolutely amazing. And I'm contemplating trying out Jillian's 30 day shred that Joy has been talking about, I found it in bits and pieces on YouTube, but I haven't quite plucked up the courage yet...
In the meantime I'm going to try walking as much as possible, which shouldn't be too difficult with the amazing weather we're having.

Anniversary weekend in Prague

We got back last night from our fabulous 4 day anniversary weekend in Prague.
What an amazing city! The first day we walked around, I didn't know where to look, there were so many beautiful, ornate houses in every street in the old town!

We fully enjoyed every minute of our trip and I would love to go back and discover some more.... 4 days just isn't enough!

The first day was beautiful and sunny, 30°C, and we spent the day walking around the old town, starting at Charles bridge, before taking a boat trip on the Vltava river, then lunch at a cheap and cheerful vegan place (Country Life). In the afternoon we went up the tower of the Old Town Hall and walked around some more.

Around 6 p.m. it started raining and we took refuge in a lovely little pub (Le Corsaire), had a couple of beers and a light salad for dinner, before heading back to our hotel after the rain cleared.

A statue on Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge seen from the river

Us at the top of the Old Town Hall

View from the top of the Old Town Hall

On Charles bridge at dusk

The thunder storm and rain picked up again during the night and the next day it was still raining heavily, so we took refuge in the museum of modern art, housed in the impressive Veletržní Palace.

It took us over 3 hours to walk through the whole 6 floors of this massive museum, so after that we were ready for lunch, which we took at nearby La Crêperie. A yummy spinach pancake and carrot cake later, and still facing torrential rain, we decided to head to a shopping center in town for some window shopping.

Later on, the rain had calmed down, so we made our way to the Municipal building for a drink in its wonderful Art Nouveau café, then walked around some more, stopping at Nike and G-Star so Bart could spend some cash ;-). Dinner was at Thaï restaurant Orange Moon, another lovely place recommended by our Rough Guide.

The impressive interior of Veletržní Palace - 6 floors of modern art

Some modern art

Having fun in the rain

The Art Nouveau café of the Municipal house

On the third day - our anniversary! - we finally made our way up to Prague Castle and wandered through its impressive interior - actually a very long courtyart surrounded by a number of completely mismatched buildings. A local vineyard on the path back into town offered a welcome excuse for a break and a nice glass of wine.

Back in town we had lunch on the waterfront at restaurant Hergetova Cihelna before visiting nearby Kafka museum - a depressing account of his life, made even more dismal by the installations in the exhibition... coming out into the sunshine, I was just happy to be alive and feel the sun on my face!

We wandered through a park to the Kampa museum (more modern art) but opted for a nice relaxing drink on the waterfront terrace instead of another museum visit :-)

At 7 we headed off towards the next bridge up and, spotting the dancing house, made a quick detour to take a look at it before heading down river again to the pier where the Jazz boat was awaiting. I had booked us a table for dinner and live jazz music during a 2.5 hour river cruise and it was absolutely perfect! We bought the jazz group's CD and got the musicians to sign it for us as a nice souvenir. We arrived back at the hotel at midnight, exhausted but happy...

Enjoying a glass of wine with a view

A curious statue by artist David Cerny in front of the Kafka Museum - the men spell out Czech poems with their pee...

The dancing house

View of the river from the jazz boat

Live jazz with the Frantisek Uhlir Team

Monday arrived fast and we barely had time to pack our bags, put them in a locker at the station, have a quick - but very filling - Czech lunch and make one last museum visit before it was time to head to the airport. As we couldn't agree on which museum we wanted to see, I opted for a visit to the Mucha museum (I love his work), while Bart went to the museum of Communism (one depressing museum on this trip was enough for me!).
Also, a final visit to the local Adidas store means I am now the happy owner of the Adidas originals I had been looking for.

One of Mucha's beautiful drawings

Back in Brussels and it's Bart's birthday today (37!) as well as being a national holiday, so we're relaxing at home with no special plans.

Week 31 WI

Well, it's been nice and scenic on this plateau and I've had time to visit it well over the past 10 weeks, but I've decided it's time to continue my descent now. Last week was my first week "back on track", although a friend's dinner party on Friday night put a bit of a dent into an otherwise perfect week. Result is 1.1 lb / 0.5 kg off, and I'm almost back to my lowest weight yet, last visited on May 18th. Only 0.3 kg to go to get there, and I'm determined to go well beyond that this week.

Today started off the week well, with 3 nutritious and filling meals and a yogurt mid-afternoon, as well as 35 minutes on the bike while watching Mamma Mia (I love that film, I just watch it with a smile on my face the whole way through, I've always been a big ABBA fan and am sure it's better than Prozac to cure depression).

Results so far, just to recapitulate after the last few weeks of not posting, are:
Loss this week: -0.5 kg / -1.1 lbs
Total loss: -11.5 kg / -25.4 lbs

Also, Bart has promised we'd start playing badminton together as of next week and we're off for a long romantic weekend this week which will involve a lot of walking (and maybe some other physical activities, lol). I booked it a while ago as we'll be celebrating our 1 year anniversary already this Sunday and it's a complete surprise, he doesn't have a clue where we're going. I love it!! :)