Friday, 29 April 2011


WHOOOPP!! No, wait.....


I can hardley believe the day has finally arrived!!

And now it feels SO STRANGE! I've worked hard to reach this goal (although I've enjoyed the journey a lot!), and I can hardly believe the day is here.

I've reached my 50lb weight loss goal!

1st August 2010 - 188.8lbs
29th April 2011 - 138.8lbs

3 stone 8lbs!

It's taken 9 months. Averaging 5.5lb loss per month - 1.3lbs a week.

I've kept a record every week of my weight loss, or in some weeks my weight gain!

I've made the graph below to show actually monthly weight loss. As you can see I got off to a flying start in the first two months. I guess that's because I had a lot to lose!

I spent the month of October in New York City, which is what spurred my on to lose weight - I wanted to be fitter and healthier to fully enjoy my NYC experience! November & December were fairly slow months weight loss wise. In January I started exercising and took up running - and it shows on the chart! In March I had a coupl of weekends away. April, back on track again. And here I am today, having finally reached the goal I had set my sights on!

This was my body mass index at 188.8lbs - off the charts!

Today.... I'm in a healthy weight range for my height!


Waist     Before  44"    After 34"    Dropped 10"
Hips       Before  45"    After 38"    Dropped 7"
Thighs    Before 25"     After 21"    Dropped 4"
Arms     Before 14"     After 10"     Dropped 4"

Dress Size: Before 16/18 - After 10/12

Before and After photos!

Putting these photos together has been a strange experience. I'm not sure who I recognise more! The 'old' me or the 'new' me!

Seeing the photos side by side is a bit of a shock.

I wasn't unhappy when I was bigger. I thought I looked fine. My confidence was high. I liked myself and my curves.

I knew it wasn't healthy though.

But now...I feel SO much better. When I started losing weight, I didn't really imagine how I would feel. It's like a mental as well as physical weight has been lifted, much to my surprise.

I feel healthier, I can move around easier, I feel even happier, my confidence is even higher, I have a sense of achievement and pride in my efforts, and I do feel like my new body is rewarding me.

What next.....?

Well, I can't rest on my laurels! I've achieved my goal and now I want to keep it. So, I'm entering the 'maintenance' period.

I will put everything I've learned and the past 9 months experience to good use. I've practically overhauled my eating habits, and I'm loving the healthy way of eating. I've never felt deprived during losing weight, and I haven't found it hard work. I've actually enjoyed the whole experience!

There are some things I've been waiting to do when I got to goal, so I'm going to get these checked off...

Get new running shoes. Check. I did that a couple of weeks ago.

Photo shoot! I would love some new photos! And I need some new profile pictures for my online presence.

Clothes - I'm not going to go mad (and I don't like this seasons colours), but I would like a few new items.

Bras - Whilst I've been shrinking I've kinda made do with cheaper bras as I knew they wouldn't last very long with my changing shape. Now I want to invest in some perfect fitting ones!

Hair - I don't think I'm going to go for a big change, but I would like to at least have my hair cut and shaped.

Get some old clothes adjusted - I've kept some of my old clothes that I really love. Just a few, beautiful, quality items. Some I haven't been able to wear as they were too small, and now they are too large! So I need to take these to a seamstress to have them taken in.

Blogging subjects on this blog - Lots of my posts on this blog are weight loss related, but there are so many more subjects I want to talk about! Simply due to time, I have to select which topic to write about and of course weight loss is important to me. So, I may reduced the weight loss posts to once a fortnight, instead of weekly, just so I can squeeze in some other subjects!

If you would like to catch up on my weight loss journey since January, you can find all my weight loss related posts here.

I think I'm going to spend the rest of the day wearing the biggest smile EVER! :)

Follow me on twitter! @karenstrunks

Monday, 25 April 2011

Weekly Weight Loss Report - Week 16 - Hello 9 STONE & new friend introduction

glitter text

I'm in the 9 stone range! 9 stone 13lbs. It's been a long time since I saw 9 stone. Possibly over 10 years or maybe longer!

Just broke the 140lb barrier!

This has been a lovely surprise to say the least!!

To back track to the weekend and my official weigh day which is Saturday. I weighed myself on Saturday morning and noted a 1.2lb loss. Thanks goodness I thought! If you have been following my weight loss, you will know I haven't seen a loss for about 3/4 weeks, so I was happy to finally see the scales move. Being so close to my 50lb weight loss goal, I'm kinda getting excited about when it will happen.

However, I had a manic Saturday and Sunday. Saturday started with at 5.30am alarm call for a BBC Radio Wales interview (video link) about the 4am Project, then I had to check out a wedding venue for a wedding photography booking, I fitted in some food shopping, a meeting about the 4am Project event I was organising at Birmingham Central Library, some 4am Project prep, then after grabbing about 3 hours sleep, I was up at 1am on Sunday morning for the actual event itself (which went fantastically well I'm pleased to say!). Sunday was spent attending to the 4am project in a sleep deprived but happy haze.

My point is, I didn't eat very well. I don't think I over ate too much, but I was defintely reaching for quick snacks and more processed food than normal. I thought I was bound to have put back on that 1.2lbs!

So, I broke my own only-weigh-yourself-once-a-week rule, and stepped on the scales again this morning. And what do you know? I only lost another 2lbs! Suprised, shocked, delighted!!

This means I am only ONE pound away from my 50lb weight loss goal.

Starting weight: 188.8lbs
Today's weight: 139.8lbs
Total lost: 49lbs (3 stone 7lbs)

Weight loss chart since August 2010

Of course, I might put a 1lb or two on again, I might not, but right now I'm celebrating!

I usually put a photo of my fruit and veg haul for the week up. And this is what I selected this week. Not quite the huge haul of previous weeks but I still have some fruit & veg from last week to use up.

I thought this week I would show you some of the other non fruit and veg items I bought too.

Low fat crisps, cooked slamon, fruit cake slices, sliced ham, guacamole, salsa, chicken/bacon/mayo sandwich filler and houmous.

Some of these items are more processed than others, such as the cake, crisps, ham and sandwich filler. The other items aren't so much.

Of course, I'll be eating other things this week too such as eggs, chicken, maybe pork, rice/pasta, and the odd square of chocolate, but on the whole I'll be eating 80/90% unprocessed food with 10/20% processed as I always do (except for this past weekend!).

Oh, and peanut butter! Nearly forgot that. I'll probably have a few spoonfuls of that on some rice cakes!


Last week I completed the most miles I have ever done in one week since taking up running at the beginning of the year. 14.57 miles!

This was split over 5 runs, the longest being 5 miles and the other were shorter runs or intervals.

Click on images to enlarge.

And today I completed 5 miles in my fastest time ever! 53 minutes and 31 seconds.

I've said before that I wasn't bothered about time, but it's actually nice to see improvements. I'm still amazed that I am getting out there and doing it. I'm pleased to report my new running shoes are doing a great job of keeping my feet blister free!

Meet my new friend!

Yep, I've gone and got myself a bike! A neighbour was selling it at a good price so I thought I would invest in it, imagining all the miles I could cover whilst taking in the scenery!

I haven't been on a bike since I was about 10 and I got off to a rather wobbly start. A neighbour who was watching the whole event said "You're cycling just like you've just had the stabilizers removed". He was right!

But....after a few minutes I kinda got the hang of it, tentatively testing the brakes, and how to turn corners. Sounds so simple right?!

I only took it on a 5 minute test run, but at least I didn't fall off. I think it's going to take a little while to build up my confidence. And strength - it was much harder work on my legs than I had imagined. However, as with my running, given practice, I'll improve.

I'd like to customise my bike (and name her!) at some point. She is blue/purple at the moment and I think she needs to be red! I'm not sure how to go about this, if it'll be easy or not. I don't want to make a mess of her either, so I'll have to do some research!

So, a rather eventful weekend all in all! :)

Just one weight loss tip today.

Don't give up.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Weekly weight loss report - week 15 - Virgin London Marathon inspired blog post

Weight wise I'm still the same weight as I was 3 weeks ago. When I stepped on the scales yesterday (Saturday is my weigh in day) I must admit to being a bit annoyed. With the scales, not myself. Or maybe it's displacement annoyance lol. Anyway, I got over that pretty quickly. I'm still doing all the right things and doing lots of exercise too. And the annoyance quickly disappeared when I tried this dress on and found it to be a perfect fit!

I bought this dress for my trip to NYC last October. It was definitely a tight fit then and I actually never wore it. When I was searching for something to wear today I pulled it out and was so pleased to see how good it looks on me now compared to when I bought it!

Weight loss wise I'm just going to keep on doing what I'm doing. Eating right and exercising.

I'm SO close to my 50lb weight loss goal, it's hard to not get a little impatient I guess, but I know it WILL happen.

These are some weight loss charts from this last month.......

From this year....A few ups and downs!

And from last August when I started trying to lose weight.

I'm getting there!

As if you could miss it, it was the Virgin London Marathon today (What happened to Flora?!). I attempted the London Marathon in 2007, and then never ran another step until this year. Now I have my running groove back!

I love watching the London Marathon on tv, and finally thought it was time to treat myself to some new running shoes.

The shoes I have been using date back to my pre marathon training days - YEARS AGO! Even though I'm pretty sure I haven't done 500 miles in them, they started to feel like they weren't as cushioned as before. Plus due to losing weight, my feet have got narrower! AND my old ones were causing blisters. It was high time I invested in myself and my running with a new pair.

I was going to wait until I had got to my goal of losing 50lbs, but inspired by watching the London marathoners, I decided that today was the day.

It's funny how a company's use of social media can be such an influencer. I found I definitely give more business to company's that are on twitter for example...well, those that are responsive anyway. Not only were Up & Running on twitter, and responsive, but they were giving me some running tips too! So a few tweets with Up & Running and I was set to go!

I spent about an hour, maybe less, in the shop with Dom who went through my gait analysis, and about 6 pairs of running shoes to find the right fit for me. And I've come home with these babies! Asics GT-2160 in Deep Purple.

You can't underestimate the importance of getting the right running shoe! I've made a video of some of the process involved, from using the treadmill and computer to analyise the fit and the gait of my foot, to trying on lots of different pairs and Dom gives some great tips along the way!

If you have been inspired by the London Marathoners today, if you only invest in one running item.....make it your running shoes!

A few new-to-running tips

  • DO get fitted properly in a running shop for your running shoes.

  • DO get some proper running socks.

  • DON'T run in cotton socks.

  • DO start with a walk/run programme.

  • DON'T worry about your time

  • DO carry some ID with you....just in case.

  • DO schedule your runs into your week as you would anything else.

  • DO build up a running base before you start sprinting!

  • DON'T be afraid of hills. Much ;)

  • DON'T put on too many layers

  • DO wear sun screen

  • DO keep hydrated

  • DON'T tell yourself you can't!

I did my second 5 mile run yesterday! I had my friend Ben as my running buddy and we hit Cannon Hill Park. It was a really great run. It was also a little too hot (and I think I'm going to struggle running in the heat), and I did get blisters (in my old trainers) BUT I did feel that if it wasn't for the heat and the blisters, I could have kept going for 6 miles - which is my next goal.

Here's a map of our route.

If you click on the image, you can see all the data in a large picture.

And the GREAT news about this run is I knocked SIX MINUTES off my last 5 mile time!!

I haven't been blogging my weekly runs as I started out doing this year (time!), but I'm still doing it. I've changed things up a little and instead of doing all my runs at the same pace/distance, I've introduced hill reps and intervals. These are shorter periods of activity, but very intense compared to slower steady runs. I'm still hula hooping and I even did some stair climbing last week!

I was curious to put all the running data I have together to see how often I had run in Cannon Hill Park. This is an image of all the times I've run on a certain path in the park - quite a lot!

A brilliant running themed weekend overall! Well done to all the London Marathon runners too. Truly inspiring!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Goodyear UK Spirit Of Safety - My Blimp Experience!

UPDATE: 13th July

I've just heard news of the Goodyear blimp crash that happened in Germany yesterday.

The pilot, Mike Nerandzic, was killed. It's passengers were saved.

@documentally recorded an audio interview with Mike Nerandzic on the flight he went on in (similiar to mine below)

Goodyear have released a statement.

To be honest, I feel sick about this news. RIP Mike. My thoughts go out to him, his family and the passengers.


Yesterday I had the opportunity to take a trip in the iconic Goodyear Blimp!

This is the first time in 10 years that the blimp has graced our skies and it has returned with a brand new blimp called Spirit Of Safety.

From March til October the Goodyear Blimp will be visiting 20 European cities, and promoting road safety initiatives.

Do you want some Blimp facts and figures? I've got some for you!

  • The first Goodyear Blimp was built in 1917
  • Amelia Earhart christened the Goodyear Blimp Defender in 1929
  • The Blimp starred in the opening title of James Bond's Goldfinger film in 1964

If you click on the image below you can see a history of the Blimp.

I made a video of my trip on the Blimp.
From landing to taking off, seeing what the ground crew do, meeting one of the pilots, inside the blimp, and it's 'steering' wheels!

All headphone'd up and up in the sky. The views were amazing!

The 'dashboard'.

There are wheels on either side of the pilots chair. I'm not sure if they are used for steering or power.

My official Goodyear Blimp photo taken by Philip Riley
And I even got a certificate! Treasured mementos from a once in a lifetime day.

Many thanks to Connect PR and Goodyear Blimp for the blimping amazing day!

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Weekly Weight Loss Report week 14 - Finding motivation

I missed last week's weight loss report as I was away in Cardiff having a hyperlocal blast at Talk About Local's un-conference.

I did over indulge a little last weekend and put on 2lbs. So, this week, weight loss wise, I have the same results as two weeks ago.

The excess 2lbs went on quickly and came off quickly.

Being only 4lbs away from my 50lb weight loss goal is getting quite exciting. I must admit I'm so proud about this progress. This time last year I wouldn't have been interested at all in losing the excess weight. If you had of brought up the subject I would have said "I'm fine as I am. I'm happy. I'll get round to it one day". Half acknowledging that from a health point of view it's better to be slim, but at the same time giving stubborn resistance to changing myself.

And I guess this is one of they main keys to losing weight: You can't lose weight for anyone else but yourself. YOU have to be ready

You can't do it for your parents, friends or partners

It's going to be your personal journey

And only you will know when you are ready.

Of course you can understand friends and family concerns and why they would want you to lose weight. Their motivation is for you to be healthy and live longer. That's so natural!

But from my experience, somethings got to change in YOU.

You have to make the switch in your mind and find your own motivation, whatever form that may come in.

Perhaps you are just curious to see what happens if you start to eat healthier and move a little more.

Perhaps there is always something you have wanted to do, but have been physically unable to due to excess weight

Perhaps you are just sick of feeling the way you do, whether that's mentally or physically.

Perhaps you have an event coming up that you would love to go to and have your eye on a certain outfit that you would know will looking amazing on you when you have lost some weight

Perhaps you know, deep down, that your putting your health at risk, and you really do need to make a change.

It's your body and you can take control.

Losing weight doesn't have to be a miserable experience! I think that's what put people off trying some times. They foresee a life of deprivation. It doesn't have to be that way. It's about BALANCE.

I haven't felt deprived in the last 7 months. About 80/90% of the time, I'll have a healthy diet consisting of natural non processed food, and the other 10/20% I'll have what I feel like. For example, last night's tv snacks consisted of cake, peanuts and crisps with a glass of wine. Now I just watch my portions, and find myself easier satisfied with small amounts.

If you want to lose weight, be patient with yourself. Give yourself the time you and your body needs to adjust. Your taste buds will change too. Give it time.

Figure out HOW you are going to lose weight. I think most of us know this one really. You would have to be living in a cave not to read or watch something on tv about healthly eating and balanced diet, and exercise. Do some research if necessary, but I would be keen to point you in the direction of a healthy sustainable way to lose weight. Check resources that support this.


That's a phrase you hear time and again. Well, actually, I'd have to disagree with that. Diet's DO work. IF you stick to them.

Atkins, Cabbage Soup, Low Calorie, Grapefruit, Hollywood, Meal Replacement, Baby Food (YUP!), Maple Syrup... you get the idea!

HOWEVER, these are fad diets, and I would strongly recommend you don't go down this route. Sure, you might get a quick weight loss result in the first week, but at what cost? These diets aren't sustainable, and they don't teach you how to eat 'normally'. Be lured in by their promises at your own risk!

There are a few weight loss companies that seem to have a good reputation, so if you need some extra guidance and the option of having support, you can attend meetings with others people losing weight, or join communities online. I'm talking about Weight Watchers, Slimming World and Rosemary Conley.

Out of those I have only tried Weight Watchers. It must have been about 15 years ago, and I lost weight, and got to my goal. I joined again in December 2010 for a month's free online trial, and they have shaken up the food plan quite a bit since 15 years ago, and it seems more flexible and it definitely encourages healthy eating with lots of fruit and vegetables. I thought I would give it a try, but I didn't stick to it, so didn't lose much weight. And that's totally MY fault, not Weight Watchers. As I said, if you follow a plan, it will work. I didn't follow it. (I was too busy eating After Eights over Xmas!) ;)

Around Jan/Feb I started to pay a bit more attention to calories for a few weeks, and then realised I don't want to be a calorie counter. I just found it too time consuming, and prefer to eat more and instinctively. It's what worked for me when I started this weight loss journey last August and it suits me.

Take time to find out what suits you. There may be some time invested in trial and experimentation. You may experience set backs. Just see those as learning experiences and a way to find out what isn't working for you so you can adjust and move on.

From experiencing the benefits of weight loss personally, I'm so glad that I took my head out of the sand and got rid of the stuborness I had in relation to losing weight. I'll reach my goal soon enough, but that won't be the end of the journey! It will just change direction a little in that I will be working on keeping off the lost weight :)

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Prague Press Trip - Day 2 - Walking Tour, Dining Al Fresco and The Augustine Hotel

After a good first nights sleep in Jalta Hotel and a hearty breakfast, I wrapped up warmly and met our tour guide for a 2 hour walking tour of Prague City which Czech Tourism had arranged for our group of travellers. Conveniently our tour started on Wenceslas Square. This is how it used to look in the olden days.

What our tour guide didn't know about Prague! As we walked through Wencenslas Square she pointed out various buildings, all of which had a story to tell.

I particularly liked the decorations on the buildings.

And I even learnt about the Czech Cubism movement that was particularly active between 1910-1914. And there is even a cubist museum in the heart of the Old Town where you can learn about the movement and see examples of the work, and there is a shop where you can buy original and reproduction pieces.

We wandered the cobbled streets and reached Charles Bridge. As you would expect, this is a particularly tourist laden area!

Hello! :)

The bridge is lined with little stalls selling photographs, drawings and jewellery.

It is also lined with about 30 statues!

This chap below is John Of Nepomuk and he is a saint. In 1393 he was thrown off the bridge to his death as order by King Wenceslas!

We stepped down from Charles Bridge and wandered a little further across another bridge. The railings on the bridge were adorned with hundreds of locks, many of which had love hearts and initials carved into them. Peering through the railings there was a little golden imp guarding the water way.

A little further was a wall covered in graffiti, and I think is known as the John Lennon Wall. Most of it was done in tribute to John Lennon, though after seeing this, it is suprising to hear that Mr Lennon never actually visited Prague.

After building up quite an appetite with a few hours walking around the city, it was time for a spot of lunch. We went to Kampa Park which is just at the foot of Charles Bridge on the 'other side' (not the Old Town side!).

Despite it being a bit chilly we opted to dine outside. The restaurant had thoughtfully provided some blankets which we put over our knees!

This was our view.

I selected a salad of seared tuna, with mango, tomato, avocado, spinach and sea weed. My fellow travellers were more sensible and had something warm!

Hurrah! Al fresco!

After lunch we went our separate ways, and I took a stroll through the narrow cobbled streets and did a good deal of window shopping.

A night out had been arrange for us, so I took the chance to have a little nap before the evening began, and I know I wasn't the only one to do that!

We had been invited to dinner at The Augustine Hotel. I bought a new dress just for the occasion!

A coach collected us from the hotel and about 10 minutes later we had arrived at The Augustine.

I believe it's a 5* hotel. And it deserves every star. Very impressive! I really want to stay here on my next vist to Prague *hint* ;)

It has 101 bedrooms and 16 suites. It used to be a monestary and the monks used to brew their own beer here. There are still some monks living on the site.

We had a champagne reception. I could really get used to this treatment!

John Morris, Head of Industry Affairs at Birmingham Airport, me, and Julian Carr, bmibaby's Managing Director.

Some of us took the opportunity to have a little tour of the hotel and it's rooms.

They were AMAZING! What luxury! Apparently a lot of movie & music stars stay here when visiting Prague and I'm not surprised.

We then went to the Brewery Bar which is like an underground cave, but MUCH nicer! We stayed here until about midnight enjoying the gorgeous buffet. The chef even accomodated my wheat/diary free diet. It was a very nice evening and a good chance to meet my co travellers.

A few of us shared a taxi back to the hotel, but the night was still young! I just had to treat myself to a cocktail (a Manhattan) before retiring! ;)

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