A tale of two Thanksgiving dinners in Portland a trip to Coos Bay & lessons learnt to date about diet and exercise

Me and my selfie stick. Coos Bay, US
My first hike by the ocean

My first hike by the ocean

I am afraid the foodie theme from my weekend in Seattle has continued with two Thanksgiving dinners in Portland.  I was fully expecting to have my first ever vegetarian nut roast seeing that Portland seems to have more than its fair share of vegetarians. Instead I had  two terrific turkey dinners with one on the a actual Thanksgiving day and the other on the Saturday following.  In the UK I usually avoid roasts like the plague especially turkey.  However I think there is no need to avoid eating turkey in the US as the meals I had were quite simply delicious.  Apparently Americans salt the birds for at least a day beforehand and something in this process makes the final product so good to eat.  Both dinner parties provided organic free range birds accompanied by lots of organic goodies.  I hope I can replicate the meals on my return to the UK.

Currently I am in in a place called Coos Bay observing the development of a case from a safe distance in conflict of interest and confidentiality terms. In other words I am observing the case without interfering in any way that will be detrimental to the client or breach their privacy and  best interest. (I am still a lawyer after all!)

I am staying in a fascinating hotel called The Mill Casino. http://www.themillcasino.com  Apparently the US allows native Americans to own gambling establishments even though this is illegal for non native Americans.  The hotel is full of gambling machines and slots plus nods to native American culture in the decor.  It is owned and operated by The Coquille Indian Tribe and has a lovely stretch of water that can be seen from the rooms on one side of the building as well as a small gym and delightful hot tub.  I am a big fan of all things coastal so I am really enjoying the view out the hotel window and looking on to the water.

Time away from my base  always gets me in a reflective mood and on my walks by the water I have been thinking about my journey to a stable healthy weight.  I thought I would share some of my thoughts as follows:

  1. Moving our bodies is a privilege and not a chore so we should take advantage of day to day activities that keep us moving and by extension fit and healthy.  Those of us who don’t have cars should not resent walking to the bus or train station or indeed our final destination.  We are getting exercise and it all counts towards good health.  On my part I am going to try to increase the amount of walking I do generally.  I have also been impressed by the number of cyclists in Portland and plan to cycle even more on my return to the UK. I plan to do every journey by bicycle unless there are compelling reasons not to.
  2. Getting good quality sleep, rest and recovery is key to weight loss and fitness.  I personally struggle with sleeping and have done so for many years especially when life pressures weigh on my mind.  I have tried powering through by working out very hard so I am exhausted and sleep deeply.  This has often backfired and I find myself feeling tired from lack of sleep on top of not being unable to recover properly from a hard work out.  From my personal research it would appear that when our bodies are stressed we pump out more cortisol which in turn makes us put on more belly fat.  I have had to abandon these tough workouts that I enjoy so much and go for incremental and cumulative exercise as described above. Once my body is back in balance I plan to go hard in my workouts again but only if my body can recover appropriately.    
  3. Reducing stress is related to sleeping problems with me and is a tricky one.  Stress is useful for our survival but most of us have too much stress in our lives.  On my part I plan to take up regular yoga and pilates classes when I get the chance.  I am also planning to do more things that I have not permitted myself to do in years including more singing, reading & writing, dancing and enjoying painting, gardening and drawing.  I am going to give myself permission to do these things because they de-stress me.
  4. Avoiding excessive carbohydrates and non organic and intensively farmed produce. If you grow up eating a heavy carbohydrate diet like I did it could be a disadvantage when you are older.  Weight loss can be harder if you have to substitute new healthier foods in place of what you are used to eating already or reduce portion sizes.  It has taken me a long time eat 1 or 2 slices of wholemeal bread instead of reaching for 4.  As for food like rice, yam,  or Nigerian swallow food.  This term is used a lot by Nigerians to describe starchy  foods that are prepared by forming them into a dense paste and eaten with thick savoury soups. Using your fingers or fork you take a portion of swallow and dip it into the soup and  swallow. I am still experimenting with alternatives like adding or substituting these with proteins and vegetables.    I am also planning to experiment with making my own protein bread.  Seeing the sheer numbers of black people that suffer from diabetes and pre-diabetes has convinced me that reducing portion sizes generally as well as reducing the proportion of carbohydrates we eat will always be a good strategy for optimum health. I plan to do a longer more detailed post about the possible effects of intensively farmed non organic food on our waistlines and general health.  Suffice to say that going forward I will buy more expensive produce or go veggie where I can.  More to follow on this.
  5. Exercise buddies are great! Like minded people help a lot in my experience.  I have a WhatsApp training buddy who helps to keep me honest along with several social media diet & exercise and online groups where we give each other encouragement all the time and cheer each other on. I also like to go on long walks with a friend.
  6. Love yourself as you are at every stage of your weight loss and fitness journey no matter how much fat you have to burn or flab you wish to firm up. I think learning to love and accept yourself as you are increases your wellbeing and happiness which  keeps you going for longer.  Those of us brought up with the tough love message can struggle with putting ourselves first.  One way to tackle this struggle is to just think of how kind and patient we would be towards a toddler and treat yourself exactly the same way.
  7. Know your numbers! According to medical professionals we should all know 5 numbers including our weight, waist size which should be no more than twice our height, blood pressure, cholesterol level and fasting blood sugar. I personally want to work on achieving good numbers and hope to have a good figure as a bonus.
  8. Knowledge is power so keep reading and researching because today’s good advice is replaced by something better tomorrow.  It’s the nature of science.  I wish that I had known earlier on in my life how excessive carbohydrates were affecting me adversely.  On the other hand I know that a paleo diet probably is not for me.  By reading and researching I think I am beginning to find a balance that works best for me.  Each person has to learn what works best for their own body.
  9. Consistency is king so keep going no matter what the scale says. I have been on what might be the words longest plateau for the entire year of 2016 and yet my body continues to change in shape for the better and my numbers keep improving.  I plan to keep going until the number on the scales catches up with everything else.
  10. Know your hormones especially if you are female.  We have an onslaught of hormones affecting our bodies and by definition our weight loss efforts.  This has been a revelation for me.  When I first realised how all of this could have affected my dieting efforts over the years making me yoyo I felt discouraged.  However the more I arm myself with information and knowledge the more I am convinced that we can all manage our weight effectively at any age. I have more to share about this so watch this space.

As this is a really long blog post, I will sign off here even though I could say more.  I never stop reading and learning so I have a lot to share but overwhelming my reader is never my aim.  I said I would  write more about my quest to find the perfect gym for my stay in Portland.  Sadly my visit is coming to and end so I don’t know how many more new gym visits I will manage in Portland.  I will keep you posted all the same.

Until next time it’s



Enjoying watching the sun set after my first hike by the ocean

Enjoying watching the sun set after my first hike by the ocean


Author Julie

Lawyer (co-founding partner/solicitor of a legal aid practice), blogger, feminist, lover of fashion & beauty. I believe that there are two types of people - the living and the dead. Age has nothing to do with it.

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