Sarah Cairncross challenges herself to do Free From February and then Move It March

Free From February To Move It March

Hello. I’ve been quietly getting back on top of things and on 1st February I really kicked myself into gear. I decided that enough was enough and devised a challenge for myself that I dubbed Free From February.

I do like a challenge, I find it very motivating.

So what exactly was Free From February all about?

I knew you were thinking that. I’m a mind reader… Not!

I just know that that was the question on the lips of those who did know about it. There weren’t many of them as I just wanted to get on with things without having to explain or justify anything. I needed all my energy for the challenge!

I decided that I wanted to be free from...

  • Oil. I was using butter and olive oil in my cooking and as I’m in Greece, olive oil also gets liberally slathered on food at every taverna. During the challenge, I kept eating out to an absolute minimum and asked for salad without dressing, much to the waiters consternation.
  • Gluten. I’ve known for a long time that as I have hypothyroidism (diagnosed at about 6 years old), I really should be avoiding gluten as it really doesn’t help matters. I’ve been reading a LOT of stuff on the subject as I’ve decided I’d like to heal myself as much as possible and I’ve faced up to the fact gluten has to be eliminated from my diet.
  • Alcohol. I’ve not been a big drinker since I gave up booze whilst I lived in Australia between 2004-2006 but I do drink socially. For February I decided I’d give it a miss completely and this wasn’t much of a hardship as I tend to stay in most of the time anyway. I had however started to get a taste for Metaxa after dinner occasionally at home… This had to stop.
  • Sugar. Anyone who knows me understands I’ve had a luscious love affair with sugar since as far back as I can remember. I got good at counting at an early age so I could figure out the maximum number of sweeties I could buy for my 10p pocket money. Sugar and honey were eliminated.
  • Meat. I only occasionally ate chicken but would love fish and seafood if eating out. Having been vegetarian and raw vegan in the past, giving this up was not a big deal for me.
  • Processed Food. Leading up to Christmas I had been indulging in ‘treats’  – I now call them poison to help me reframe! These included things like tortilla chips and cheap chocolate bars such as Twix and Flake.
  • Dairy. I actually quit dairy again a couple of months ago but occasionally I’ll get a craving for cheese and a Greek salad comes with a delicious slab of feta! Oh and of course, not partaking of thick and creamy Greek yogurt with honey also got dropped at the same time. Tastes exquisite but makes me feel congested.

Why did I want to do this?

Because although I was eating a lot of whole foods, cooking from scratch, walking up and down hills, I was still feeling and looking like shite. The weight was clinging on stubbornly to me and I looked and felt OLD.

Brain fog and tiredness. Chronic constipation. Zero motivation. Spotty skin. Saggy eyes. Wrinkles. Constantly feeling cold and a general feeling of blah.

I had to change. Not just for my health but for my vanity. I do have some after all…

REALLY cleaning up my diet for a month would show me if I’d been fooling myself into thinking I was being healthy up to that point or not.

And guess what. I had been lying to myself beautifully. The results proved it!

What happened?

I discovered…

  • Eating chickpeas and beans, no matter how long I soaked and cooked them for, just didn’t agree with me. I suffered horrible gas and bloating. So I cut those out too
  • That getting back into the habit of having at least one green smoothie a day – for breakfast – was easy. I love making them and really enjoy eating them, why had I ever stopped?
  • Lentils and rice are fine for me.
  • Cooking without using oil is actually pretty easy and my food still tastes good.
  • I have naturally wanted to eat a lot more salad and have been endlessly consuming videos from The Raw Boy as he was on a raw vegan 100 day challenge whilst I was doing this. Probably drove my sister Nicola crazy but it did help me with my mindset and increase my desire to do the challenge.
  • I could tune into my body better and eat only when I was hungry and am learning to stop when I’ve had enough. How much I ate was always such a big issue when I was kid, often having to sit at the dinner table for what felt like HOURS until I’d cleared my plate or a parent caved in before I did. As a result I am now naturally doing intermittent fasting – eating between 11am and 8pm.
  • My levels of concentration have improved and I feel generally happier.
  • My skin has started to regain some glow and my eyes look a little wider.

Overall I now feel more present and positive. My digestion still needs to improve though… But that’s another story.

Here’s the video I did on 1 February to document where I was at the start. I’ll write my weight and measurements at the bottom, so scroll down if you’re interested and also to see my video on 1 March.

What now?

I’ve decided that I’m going to stick with this most of the time going forward and although I resist slapping a label on my lifestyle, the best description for it would be plant based, as I may include animal products from time to time.

This month I’m also making sure I drink 2 litres of water or more and move my body every day, instead of being a sloth at every opportunity. In fact I actually WANT to move more, which is an interesting side effect of having eaten better for a month.

Move It March

What does this actually mean for me?

  • Walking at least once every day to the point where I’m feeling like I’ve exerted myself.
  • Standing up at regular intervals and doing squats.
  • Incorporating bodyweight exercises using HIIT principles to increase my strength and stamina. I must say by the end of my first (beginners) class, courtesy of the The Body Coach on YouTube, I did nearly puke, so it’s going to be an interesting journey…
  • I will go and swim in the sea before the end of the month!

On my side though are the memories – both in my head and in my cells – of having achieved fantastic fitness in the past, so hopefully my body will get back into the groove sooner than later.

In the meantime, I’m enjoying the journey. And Greece is positively Spring like! Lots of flowers, blue skies and sunshine. There’s even real warmth when the sun’s out – it certainly beats the UK at this time of the year. You can see photos of what it’s like here and photos of my grub here.

Here’s the update video I did on 1 March and if you scroll down you’ll be able to read my weights and measurements for 1 February and 1 March to see what happened.


1 February 2017

Weight: 74.7kg / 165lb / 11st 11lb
Chest: 107cm
Waist: 91.5cm
Tummy: 106.5cm
Hips: 104.5cm
Arm: 30.5cm
Thigh: 60cm
Calf: 39cm

1 March 2017

Weight: 71.6kg / 158lb / 11st 4lb
Chest: 103cm
Waist: 88cm
Tummy: 103cm
Hips: 103cm
Arm: 30.5cm
Thigh: 58.5cm
Calf: 39cm

Do you have a theme for March? Please scroll down and leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you! x




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