Christmas Tag Post of Traditions, memories and favourites!

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I love Christmas and recently posted on the Just Average Jen Facebook page asking everyone what your favourite part of Christmas dinner was. I love reading about other peoples traditions and the fun they have as a family over Christmas so was excited to be tagged by Katie at www.livinglifeourway.com to answer some questions about what I love about Christmas to share with my readers.


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Preventing Blocked pipes and an Absorb Bin Giveaway!

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Please note this is a collaborative post which I have been paid in either items or money to share with my readers.


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Ben following Slimming World - 3 weeks on an update

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I recently shared about my son Ben joining Slimming World as a young member on the Free2Go plan and thought I would share an update 3 weeks into Bens healthy eating journey. The original post can be found by clicking here if you haven't read it and would like to.


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Jen's Favourite Herbs and Spices

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I find that herbs and spices help to keep my food interesting so I thought I would share them with you as I know it might help others to keep their food varied too.


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Christmas Stuffing

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So its almost Christmas and you want stuffing but its high in syns, this syn free stuffing I make is yummy and so easy to make!


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Sausage Casserole

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The sausage casserole I make is really easy and always a big hit so I thought I would share the recipe I follow for you to try too.


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Butternut Squash Risotto

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Butternut Squash Risotto


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Lasagne Topping Creamy cheese sauce

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Lasagne is one of my favourite foods and always has been but it can be full of cheese and very unhealthy! The way I make it now I enjoy and whilst it isn't the same as a full fat cheesy sauce I do not feel like I am missing out when I have this so I thought I would share it with you to try too.


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The easy way to cut a mango

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Are you one of the people that buys pre-packed mango because it is so fiddly to cut up? Have you tried my method of cutting a mango? It takes a couple of minutes and will have you swapping from pre-packed to save money when you can. A fresh mango can often be bought from around 60p depending on where you shop and how in season they are. Pots of mango are around £2 so if you can get used to easily cutting them it will save you money quite easily. Here are my steps to easily cut a mango!


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Gardeners Pie

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This is the recipe I use for Gardeners Pie which is taken from the Slimming World Veggie Deluxe book. I often adapt the recipe and my usual adaptions/substitutions can be found below the recipe itself.


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Mediterranean Vegetables in a Balsamic Tomato Sauce

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Mediterranean Vegetables in a balsamic tomato sauce


Serves 4 as a side dish
45 minutes including preparation time
2 courgettes
1 carton passata
4-5 peppers
3 large red onions
250g small mushrooms with stalks trimmed (or larger ones quartered)
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
3tbsp granulated sweetener
15 cherry tomatoes


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Healthy Kids....Ben Joins Slimming World

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Today my son Ben joined Slimming World. I know that many people are unaware of what Slimming World can do for younger members so in this post I aim to answer those questions and explain why we as parents made the decision to join Ben up as a young Slimming World member. What my concerns are for him, what my hopes are for him, and most importantly how he feels about it.


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Ten Supermarket Money Saving Tips

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I was recently asked to talk on BBC Radio Nottingham briefly about my supermarket tips to save money whilst eating healthily so I thought I would share some with you.


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Mushroom Soup

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I love mushroom soup but most of the commercially available ones are less healthy than homemade so I had a go at making my own and as I like it I thought I would share it.



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Finding Your Lost Mojo

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Everyone has times during their weight loss journey when life gets in the way. We all encounter a gain at some point and sometimes this is a huge gain from a fantastic holiday. Others are seen as luckier with smaller gains. Whatever the reason for the gain and however big the gain is I think the more important issue to address is how the gain affects you.


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CLIF Bars, Shot Bloks, Shot Gels and Builder's - A review

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I was sent a box full of goodies from CLIF a few months ago now. They were a sample of their products designed for sports for me to try. I must say as a new runner I was a bit unsure at first given that I had never understood fully the need for protein bars or energy gels and saw them more as an extra item that is unnecessary and sold to those that will waste their money on anything. I do have to say however I was wrong in this assumption and hadn't realised that protein bars do have more use than just an overpriced chocolate bar for the weight lifters at the gym!


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Meal Planning Goodies Giveaway!

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To celebrate that it is a whole year since I started my blog Just Average Jen I have decided to do a small giveaway as a thank you to all my followers and supporters old and new. I have used a program called Gleam to run it and it is very easy to enter. There are different ways to enter using various social media platforms so you can enter in more than one way! Here are the prizes...


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Nervous about joining a group? So was I...

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A good friend of mine Catherine told me all about the Slimming World plan back in January 2013 when I stayed with her for a few days just after New Year. I didn't join Slimming World until 29th January 2014, over a year later. Why didn't I join? The reasons are quite simple, I was scared of walking into a room full of people I didn't know and being judged about my weight. I was also very anxious about whether I would be wasting my money and not actually lose weight.


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My Running....an update!

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As my regular readers will know I lost over 10 stone in weight without any exercise at all. I got to my weight loss target in June 2015. I continued to eat healthily and not exercise, well until the end of April 2016 when I decided I wanted to run! I set myself a challenge to run the Great North Run, a popular half marathon (13.1 miles) to raise money for the Samaritans charity. This is a charity close to my heart and one I was passionate about helping so there way no way I was going to not complete this challenge I had set myself. So I started running, building up gradually at the end of April. The Great North Run took place on 11th September. You can read more about why I chose to support the Samaritans and the task I had set myself here.


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10 tips to make it a lifestyle change not a diet

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I am often asked for tips from my readers who say that they start losing weight following a weight loss plan such as Slimming World but get bored or find it hard to stick to. I think the reason for this is that so many people see it as a diet, a temporary measure to lose weight. The first thing they think of is that to lose weight you need to diet and by diet you think starve and eat foods you don't like in order to lose the weight so that you can be at the weight you desire. I have been guilty of this in the past too and this is probably why other eating plans and diets I followed did not work and I became morbidly obese. I believe the key to successfully losing weight and keeping it off is to make it a change to your lifestyle. Eating healthily isn't just a measure to lose weight it is a way of staying a healthy weight when you are happy with your size. The way we think about food has to change otherwise we lose weight and then regain it again because our unhealthy habits are still there. I imagine most of my readers have at some point been a yoyo dieter too so you know where I am coming from here!


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My food diary - its not all salad!

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Recently I have been asked many times what I eat on a day to day basis to maintain my target weight, or close to it anyway! I post a lot of the food I eat on Instagram and get messages asking if I really do eat that much and not put on weight. I do have a big appetite I always have had, hence becoming a size 30 morbidly obese woman living off custard cream biscuits, takeaway and unhealthy meals. I have always eaten a lot and I have always been the sort of person that snacks easily between meals and can't go in the kitchen without grabbing a bite to eat at the same time. Before I joined Slimming World I thought nothing of eating a family size 400g pack of custard creams for my breakfast, a whole family size shop bought quiche with oven chips, cheese and beans for lunch, followed by a tea of a 12 inch takeaway Pizza with garlic bread slices and greasy chips. Of course all this food was just my main meals, I snacked on more custard creams, family size bags of chocolate, tubs of ice cream or large share bags of crisps.


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Running...10 tips of where to start!

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It is a daunting idea isn't it starting running! That was how I felt 20 weeks ago when I decided to sign up for the Great North Run and start running! I am sure I am not alone in that until this point my only real experiences of running were primary school sports days and cross country at high school. Both of these always filled me with dread, I was never a runner, I hated any sports at school especially running! A few times during my weight loss journey I attempted to run but each time gave up after a couple of runs, because I hadn't really got a plan and didn't know where to start.


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EventClip Pinless Number Fasteners - A review

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As my regular readers will know recently I took up running and on the 21st August ran in my first race event, Mansfield 10K. Of course I was nervous and had so many things running through my mind. Would I be last? Would I even be able to complete it? What if my tracking chip failed and they didn't record me as having run it? I am a born worrier and worried about all the little details. My partner has run a few races before and used a set of magnets designed for holding his race number on to his top, other people use safety pins, or clips but as a new runner I was a bit unsure what to use. EventClip Pinless Number Fasteners was one thing I kept seeing advertised on Facebook and I liked the idea of it, they looked secure, wouldn't put holes in my running tops, and wouldn't rub, but like anything do you believe the adverts? Rather than ask around I thought I would give them a try. I ran Mansfield 10K with my partner Stuart who used his magnetic number holders and his sister Clare who used Safety pins so I feel I can offer a good comparison of all three of these popular choices.


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Healthy cooking for kids!

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As you know I have a 10 year old son, he isn't the fussiest of eaters but equally he can sometimes be challenging and difficult to encourage to try something new. I find that involving him in cooking usually helps. He enjoys mixing things up and making decisions about how much of each ingredient to add. When Ben feels like his food is made especially for him to his design he cant wait to eat it! For this post I thought I would share some recipes and ideas I have found work for Ben and are Slimming World friendly so you can make the whole families meals at the same time! Obviously given that the idea of lots of them is encouraging the children to help and chose ingredients and quantities this wont be full of recipes but I hope it can give you some ideas.


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TranquiliTea - Chocolate Flavoured Tea - A Review

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When my friend started selling loose leaf tea I was a little sceptical, I have never used anything other than a teabag and thought it seemed such a fiddle. I love flavoured teas and have tried so many different brands, flavours and blends but always from a teabag! Recently I took a closer look at my friends website whilst I was relaxing watching TV instead of packing boxes to move house! Alongside the different green teas, fruity teas and various flavours that all sounded intriguing I found something that really caught my attention, chocolate flavoured tea! Now this was enough for me to put aside my concerns of using loose leaf tea and give it a try. Wow, who would have thought chocolate flavoured tea? My first thought was that it seemed too good to be true but my curiousity had my taste buds tingling and I had to buy some! I ordered a few other flavours too, just for testing purposes of course!


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Eating to be happy?

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Firstly I would just like to apologise for the delay in my latest blog post, things have been hectic here with my son changing schools, appointments and we have moved house so I have not had time for much and unfortunately that has meant a delay in blog posts. Now things are less chaotic here I am again and there will be much more frequent blog posts again and lots more to come with reviews, recipes and both running and weight loss inspiration every week!


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My absolute essential buys on Slimming World!

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I am regularly asked what kind of food I ate throughout my weight loss journey and also now as I aim to keep the weight off. I have posted many of my favourite recipes in previous blog posts (feel free to search my blog using the desktop version or just scroll through previous posts) however this is more like my essentials shopping list!


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Love the skin you're in

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It's so easy to think that our weight is what makes us love or hate our bodies but I don't think it is that simple. Body confidence is as much in our mind as it is in our reflection I think. Can you remember when you were last happy with what you saw in the mirror? Do you value yourself as a person? Do you believe others when they give you compliments?


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Is running in the mind or the legs?

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Since I decided I wanted to start running and signed up to run the Great North Run for the Samaritans Charity (before I had even started any training!) people have told me many times that running is mostly in the mind! They said the biggest hurdle to overcome is mentally telling yourself you can do it. On hearing this I was very sceptical and thought it was utter rubbish! Obviously there is some physical ability there too in what they are saying, but these people say if you can run for a bus then you can run a marathon if you want, its all in the mindset! My opinion was very much that 99% of running is physically being able to and the remaining 1% is the mental side of having that urge to run.


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A taste of summer!

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It is almost the end of May so allegedly it is almost summer though sometimes lately I am not convinced! Anyway, I thought I would share some of my favourite summer recipes with you. Please remember to check yourself that any ingredients you use are syn free or a healthy extra choice as these are always subject to change and you are responsible for your own weight loss. If you are anything like me in the summer you want cooler food and things that can be eaten well outside maybe with a glass of wine (synned of course if you follow Slimming World!) or for a BBQ or with friends. Salads are great for the summer but we don't want to feel that's our only choice do we! Here are some summer recipes I have enjoyed that may help you with some ideas.
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A beginner to exercise, where to start!?

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You may be reading this and be thinking that you might like to start exercise but don't know where to start? Or maybe you're reading this just wondering how I am getting on in my efforts to learn to run and complete a half marathon all within less than 20 weeks!


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My next challenge...a bit of magic!

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Here we are, a post I have been excited about writing for the last few weeks, a post I have written numerous times in my head and reworded again and again on the laptop!

As you will know if you have followed my blog for a while I have lost over 10 Stone (at the lowest weight I have been I had lost 10st 5.5lb) by following Slimming World with no exercise. I have never been one to enjoy exercise, even at school I did everything I could to avoid sports from twisted ankles to forgotten kits with the extra excuse of irregular monthly cycles thrown in there once in a while! I have however for years wanted to do a marathon for charity and last September after the Great North Run had been televised I had one of my bursts of determination and went out for a couple of run/walks and was determined to start running but as usual I soon gave up! My previous blog post about exercise can be found here. 


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10 ways to get that extra speed!

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Some of us love vegetables and find it easy to add extra speed foods (some vegetables and salad known as speed foods to those not following Slimming World!) to our meals, others struggle either because they don't like many vegetables or they have children who don't and want to feed everyone the same meals. Here are some ideas that you may or may not have thought of which may help you get the speed foods on your plate without always having the same things.


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Does losing weight help depression?

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I have suffered with depression since quite a young age. I know as young as 11/12 I first felt suicidal and worthless and over the years this has never completely gone, I have gone through periods it has been better than others but it has always been there. I have since around that time, possibly in some aspects before, had very low self confidence and hated myself in general not just my physical appearance. I am currently having counselling which is looking at the underlying issues behind a lot of this. I will try to be as open in this post as I can as I am not ashamed of my depression. I had a physical condition like epilepsy for example there wouldn't be a stigma about saying I have it so I do not believe there should be for depression. I am certainly not looking for sympathy or reassurance just to be open and honest and hopefully help others.


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Does that sneaky extra bit matter?

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What I love about the Slimming World plan and food optimising is that it doesn't feel like a diet, there are no real restrictions and not endless measuring weighing and counting! The only things you need to weigh and measure if you are not following a recipe are the healthy extra choices and whatever you use your syns for. Therefore most meals can be made for the family all at once, something I disliked about previous diets I had tried, something you can make for guests easily and it not look like diet food, and no shakes, pills or wraps, simply cooking yummy healthy filling meals!


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Little tips from big losers..

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The majority of my blog posts are my little tips and ideas based on my Slimming World success and what worked for me and helped me lose my weight. Obviously that has all worked for me otherwise I wouldn't have lost almost 10 and a half stone just by healthy eating and no exercise but what works for one person doesn't always work for everyone so for this post I thought I would compile you all a list of tips from some of the countries top Slimming World success stories. Some of the names you may recognise and others you may not but with their weight loss success I am sure you will see they are all amazing and with their tips you can be too! Hopefully there will be a tip or two amongst them that inspires you or gives you a good idea or two!


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Comfort eating can be ok!

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We all have days where we feel particularly low in mood or just don't feel like cooking a healthy meal and want to feel like we are eating a stodgy meal. Before thinking about losing weight these periods would involve take away meals, family size packs of chocolate, share bags of crisps and tubs of ice-cream. We all know that eating these in large quantities is not healthy, but in small measured amounts such as on Slimming World you can still have these comfort foods.


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Sugar Tax, helping the future generation?

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In the news this week there has been a lot about childhood obesity and the plans in the budget of a "sugar tax" on sugary drinks. The reason used for this is to prevent childhood obesity getting worse. This is something I am sure a lot of my readers have strong feelings about so I have put back my next blog post for a day or two so I can do this one!


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Just Average Jen - who am I?

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I thought I would write a post just telling you all a bit more about me, the person behind the Just Average Jen blog. There are over so many followers to my blog now so I know the majority of you will know nothing really about me and I feel it is important for me to be a person that you all know about and can relate to rather than just a name!


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A diet for life?

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Many people set out on a diet to lose weight for an event like a wedding. Others maybe aim to lose enough to be considered for an operation or for help with fertility problems. Whatever the reason is, most people on starting any kind of diet or weight loss plan don't think about the long term and focus just on the weight they want to lose. Here are my thoughts on whether a diet should be for life.


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It's all about the change....no scales!

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As the song "All about that bass" says "don't worry about your size" remember its not all about the number on the scales it is about how you feel about yourself. Here are my thoughts on keeping motivated when the number on the scales is not what you want to see.


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Is it boredom or hunger?

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As I start this blog post it is 2am and I am in hospital with my son. Ben is asleep, I've had a short sleep but now I am awake with very little to do and it would be so easy just to eat to relieve the boredom and stress. Instead I thought I would start my next blog post! I have previously written a post about depression and comfort eating which you may also find helpful which can be found here.


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Letter to my 12 year old self

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We all have regrets and we all look back on our life wondering what we would have done differently so I thought I would write to my younger self. I am sure some of you will relate to some of it and I know thinking about this has made me think about how I parent my son too in some ways.


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Half way hints for when you feel like giving up!!

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When you start your weight loss journey you inevitably have a target in mind be that a target weight, a target clothes size or a target such as being able to go on an aeroplane without a seatbelt extension! Whatever your aim it is pertinent to you and whether you have 10lb to lose or 10 stone it is still likely to be an emotional and difficult journey for you. As I needed to lose a lot of weight and know the feelings I had surrounding this I guess a lot of what I say will be most applicable to others aiming to lose large amounts however I believe people with less to lose are still likely to experience the same feelings and struggles.


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Romantic weight loss for two!

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Looking for inspiration for date night foods you can cook yourself? Will that meal make much difference? The choice of course is yours but I wanted to do a blog post of some ideas for a Slimming World friendly meal. Of course there are so many meals you can eat on Slimming World, things like steak, Slimming World chips, and salad that you could have on plan quite easily but I wanted to put together a few ideas that are a little different and may feel a little more special if you don't have them regularly!

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Quark: what is it and how to use it?

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One of the weird and wonderful things you discover through Slimming World is Quark! I never knew it existed before and I am sure I am not alone in this! So, quark is a skimmed milk soft cheese that not only is free on Slimming World but it is also a P food so can be had on a SP day! Up and down the country in Slimming World groups people are asking, what is quark? And, how can you use it? Many people are put off buying it and trying it as they just are unsure of what to use it for, so this post is full of simple ideas for you that may give you a little something to try from starters, to desserts and everything possible in between it is a pretty versatile ingredient and as most supermarkets sell it I would say its worth giving it a try! Quark is usually around 80p-£1 a pot so not that expensive and worth experimenting with!
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Fridge to plate in less than 20 minutes!

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So, we all have days that we just do not have much time to prepare a meal or filling snack. Maybe we are busy with the children,. working late or just feeling depressed and cant motivate ourselves for long. On this basis I have put together a list of some simple meals for these days that you can cook start to finish in 20 minutes or less. Obviously everyone has different ovens and takes differing times to prepare things but the following I can do in 20 minutes or less so I hope most of you can too! They may be things you already make but there may be an idea or two to help you too.


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Don't Give up - hints and tips to keep you going!

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Recently I have had a lot of messages from my readers asking for my help because they are starting to struggle. Starting to lose weight at the beginning of January was a great idea but now they are thinking of giving up. Whilst I respond to all the messages I get it can take me a while at times so I wanted to put together a post with my advice in and also for those who maybe are feeling like they want to give up and just need that little push to keep at it. So here are my top tips to stay on plan! Whilst I do Slimming World and my tips are based on this I cant see why they couldn't be used in any other weight loss plan.

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Losing Weight and Gaining Confidence!

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When I joined Slimming World one of my primary aims as I have been open about previously was to increase my confidence enough that I felt that I could get out of an abusive relationship. I have never been a confident person anyway but a lot of my confidence had gradually gone by regular put downs and as such it was a downward spiral. When you don't feel confident in yourself or in the way you look it is so easy to think that extra chocolate bar doesn't matter!


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You don't have to get fit to lose the fat!

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So, it's a week into January and up and down the country there are people buying new exercise equipment, joining slimming clubs, and signing up for gym memberships all in a bid to lose some weight and get rid of fat!! For some this is the first year they've done this, for others this is a regular January thing and come February or March the exercise gear will be at the back of the wardrobe, the take away menus will be out and the gym membership card will be in the old purse! Will you be one of those? Will you be a dieter in January and give up by February?


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Dieting while the little darling is trying to dunk doughnuts!

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Me and Ben, he can cuddle me easily now!

"Mum, what can I have to eat?", "Mum, I'm hungry", and "Mum, can I have some sweets?". I am sure I am not the only mum who hears these phrases all the time!! Children have a massive impact on what food we buy, what we cook, and the time we have to cook. I am a mum of one, I have been a mum for over 10 years now, in some ways it gets easier in other ways it gets harder. There are children that wont eat certain colour foods, certain texture foods and of course all children seem to love anything unhealthy!


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New Year, New You.......but for how long?

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So now were in 2016, and people across the world are making new years resolutions and planning to change their lives this year. Whether it be stopping smoking, getting fit, losing weight, learning to drive, learning to swim, be more caring to others, change jobs, or something else a huge majority of people go into February or March having given up already! I am also like this and often have given up mine! In recent weeks I have been asked many times what made me stick to it and how I would advise someone else to keep going in their new years resolution! I am by no means an expert, the exercise bike I use as a clothes horse is proof of that!! However in 2014 my resolutions were to lose weight, get fit, be more positive about myself and end my abusive marriage, I didn't get fit but managed the rest so I am happy with that! So here is my words of wisdom for anyone who thinks they may help them!!


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