Sunday, July 31, 2005


It's really hitting. I feel like I've eaten loads today (and that's probably because I have, comparatively). But I'm still hungry, and wondering what other food I have in the kitchen to raid. I'm trying to beat this, and to hold on without giving into a major binge, but I'm getting worried about whether I can or not.

But this isn't a whingey post. No, the more interesting thing is that when I felt really hungry at about 3.30 today I didn't give in and eat something. Instead I got up off the sofa, went down to the park and walked for nearly 2 hours. I discovered new paths I'd never been down before, and a really lovely wooded gorge that you wouldn't have thought would be so close to my house in the city. OK, so it's not very gorgey compared to proper gorges, but it's more than adequate for my purposes. I'm trying to work out a way to work it into my park runs, but the path is a bit more challenging than the surfaces I usually run on, so I'm not sure whether it's a good idea just yet. Still, it's nice for a walk every now and again when I'm having a bit of a rest day.

I didn't sit here trying to persuade myself to do it, I just got up and stretched my legs for a while. There have been many times when I'd have just reached for more food at that point and dealt with my hunger that way, but now the thought didn't really cross my mind.

And I'm not going to give in this evening, even if it involves going upstairs and setting the burglar alarm down here in an attempt to keep me away from the kitchen. I know I've eaten plenty today, so I'd rather not give in to temptation. Maybe just a couple of nuts first though...

Still Losing

And it's still coming off, much to my surprise. Down 3lb in total from last Sunday, which isn't bad at all. Maintaining my 2lb per week average loss, and inching closer to 199lb every week. I'm now under 206lb (93.1kg), and it's still hard to believe the amount I've lost. I keep on having days where I expect to step on the scale and see it reading 118. Or indeed anything over 100kg. I remember how pleased I was to get past that mark, and now I'm heading towards 90kg at a cracking pace.

I do need to pinch myself sometimes. I spent so long thinking that weight loss was something that I could never do, or at least nothing as significant as this. But I've one it, without any major dramas, without making a big deal of it, just putting my head down an getting to work.

People ask me how I'm doing it, and say things like "losing weight's really hard work". But, in all seriousness, I don't find that it is a lot of the time. I know I exercise a lot more than I used to, but that's fun, so it doesn't really count. And eating. Well, I discovered something that made a lot of difference with that. I realised, finally, that food doesn't make me happy.

When I ate rubbish, it wasn't as a "treat" or even because I enjoyed it. It was because it was easy, and because I didn't have the courage to try something new. Once I discovered quick and easy healthy food that I could eat instead, I realised I was no less happy or satisfied eating it, and that my mood doesn't depend on what goes through my mouth. It seems strange for someone who used to be over 18 and a half stone to say, but I don't actually like food that much. I need to eat it because I get hungry, but it doesn't give me the amount of pleasure that I always imagined that it did. Or not pleasure that lasts and really makes a difference to my mood.

And I think that adds to my feeling of disbelief. The fact that I've done all this, but it doesn't even seem to be that difficult. I know there are probably frustrations ahead, but for now I'll just keep on rolling and see where it takes me.

Saturday, July 30, 2005


When I first started running I did it all on the treadmill. I didn't want the embarassment of people seeing me running outside. It helped me, in a way because I got visual evidence of how much better I was getting, seeing the distances ticking over, and seeing the speed increasing week on week.

But as I started running longer distances I started to realise what other people had always said. It is boring after all!

So in the past couple of weeks I've started making a conscious effort to run outside, to get some fresh air and to do something a bit more challenging, with hills and different running surfaces. I'm very lucky to live near one of the nicest parks in Leeds, with a lovely lake to run round. You can look at a satellite photo of my route here. I'm really considering taking a camera out sometime and taking some photos because it's really lovely.

The greenery and the views are all very well, but what really makes running outside worth it for me is the fact that people actually smile at you, and say hello as you run past. Random people, who you've never met before, and may never meet again. Whether they're out running, walking their dogs or just having a stroll, it seems to inspire them to friendliness that you never come across walking round the city streets, shopping or on public transport.

It encourages me. People aren't stopping to point or laugh, they're not worrying about how slowly I'm going. They're saying hello, and it feels almost like they're cheering me on for doing something good for myself.

It's strange, I always run alone, and always thought of exercise (or the exercise I do) as a fairly solitary thing, but it's the smiles of strangers that really keep me going.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Shrinking Violet

So, I'm at home alone on a Friday night. To be fair, it's not a regular occurrence, but that's because I usually have a game to go to, rather than because I'm having a big Friday night out. I'm just not really into that sort of thing, and never really have been.

I've always been the quiet one. At school, at university, at law school, at work. I've not been one for partying or socialising, and I've tended to hide, unnoticed, behind my fat blanket. When I go out, I end up standing in the corner, lost for words and for witty replies, not having the confidence to really get to know new people.

It's part of the fat girl mentality to some extent, I think. Or at least my fat girl mentality, I suppose it affects different people in different ways. I've always associated fat with unpopular, and even though I know many lively, bubbly fat people, I've never been that way for myself. I have friends, of course. But not best, drop everything, friends. I've rarely had a true partner in crime who would bring me out of myself. The closest I had to that is an old uni friend, but since she moved away from Leeds a couple of years ago, we've started to drift apart a little.

I'm such a different person online to off it. Online I talk, I open up, and I let people get to know me a little. Off it, I struggle to find words, or the confidence to express myself, and I don't dare let anyone get close. Most of the time this doesn't actually bother me. I actually like peace and quiet, rest, and space to myself. I don't need to be constantly surrounded by other people to make me happy. But sometimes, I wonder who will be there to catch me when I fall. I wonder if I might have a more fun time if I let myself enjoy myself unconditionally from time to time.

And as the fat comes off I realise that I can't hide behind my fat girl mentality any more. It's no good hiding behind the fat = unpopular excuse. As the fat starts to disappear, all that's left is me, and it's time to start being who I am rather than hiding myself away behind my own pre-conceptions.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Everything Fits!

So, I cleared out the wardrobe, and there's nothing in there that's too small. That reminds me just how far I've come, to be at the lowest weight I ever felt it was worth saving clothes for. I'm so proud of myself, and want to banish all those fat clothes for good. I want to hold onto some to give me the visual reminder of how far I've come, but I never want to actually have to wear them.

There are times when even though I see the numbers on the scale changing I don't really appreciate how much weight I've lost. I can compare the numbers I've lost with things I can relate to, and I can take the compliments from other people. But looking down, I can't visualise what my body used to be like, and a lot of the time all I still see is fat in the same places. I know I fit in smaller clothes, but sometimes I don't realise just how much difference there is between the sizes.

Well, trying some of those fat clothes on last night I think I have more of an idea. OK some of the skirts still just about manage to balance on my hips rather than fitting snugly round my waist, but if I pull them up to where they used to sit I see a huge vastness of gap between my body and the clothes. And I just can't believe that I used to fill it.

I never thought of myself as hugely fat before, I just didn't notice it. But now I realise just how bad I must have let it get. I'm just glad I realised when I did, really.


I went out for lunch today, and was so proud of myself. I'd planned for it to be my main meal of the day, and I'd decided I'd let myself have chips for a change, but even so I ended up picking one of the healthiest vegetable wraps on the menu. And then having bought the chips, I didn't even finish them. In a way, I think that took more willpower than not having them in this first place. They were on my plate, they were paid for, but I was full, so I stopped. It's funny, I always used to make sure I cleared my plate but conveniently ignored any salad that was on it. Well, I've finally got out of that mindset, and I feel so much prouder for it.

I think what it taught me is that I can trust myself. It's not a question of trying to stick to certain rules I've made for myself, it's having the confidence that I'll make the right decisions for myself, on a fairly consistent basis. There doesn't necessarily have to be any huge magic to it, just an appreciation that I can do this for myself, by myself, and that I have the intelligence and the common sense to work it out.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

New Improved YP, now with 20% less fat

So, I've updated the tickers, and I'm now past 20% of my original body weight. That's pretty damn impressive, even if I do say so myself.

Obviously, a girl only has one option when celebrating an achievement like that. Shopping is becoming rather too much of an addiction at the moment, and I'm afraid to say I gave in again.

In a very frugal way, obviously. I realised today that my clothes fall into three categories.

(a) old.

(b) from the sales.

(c) from tesco.

Let's take my lovely new clothes here. Jacket, £15 from Tesco (bargain! particularly since my realisation yesterday that I don't have a coat). Size 16, obviously. Top, £2 from Tesco. Skirt £11 from Warehouse sale (oh yes, another size 16). So even though I'm shopping, I'm not quite spending all my money on clothes...

But the more important thing I decided to do today is to try on everything in my wardrobe and hopefully remove most of it because it's too big. Hopefully I'll get round to posting some pictures of the more amusing or important clothes later tonight.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005


I'm feeling far better about myself and this whole weight loss thing today, after last week's soul searching. There are still a couple of issues on my mind that I'm working through, but generally speaking I'm back in business. I've had good workouts for the past two days - not running as far, but running much faster and working on the cross trainer at a higher intensity than I usually do when I'm jogging. I fancy a nice long run sometime soon, but at the moment I'm enjoying working harder for a change.

I'm also looking at changing my diet around a bit. I've found stuff that works for me, and is making the weight fall off nicely, but I'm just sick of feeling tired all the time. Although the food I'm eating is perfectly healthy, I'm looking into fiddling around and trying to eat lower GI/higher protein foods where I can fit them in to see if I can beat that feeling. Generally speaking, I don't eat many particularly high GI foods, but I just feel like I could make some small changes in my diet and feel a lot better without affecting my weight loss too much.

So much for the scale avoidance though. Because I was feeling so good this morning, I gave in to temptation, and sure enough it does seem to have started moving down again. Still, in a token gesture to my intention not to weigh as often, I'm not going to record it unless it's repeated on proper weigh in day tomorrow. So prepare for the air to turn blue if it's not!

I was fiddling with figures too today. I was looking back at my loss since I really started working at this in March. Even though I joined a gym last July, by March I was a mere 9lb lighter than I had been at the start. Since March I worked out today that I've lost 42lb (plus the loss I'm not counting yet from today...) in 20 weeks, working out at a pretty stable average of a smidgen over 2lb per week. Of course, that's an average and there have been weeks where I've lost less and weeks where I've lost more, but I'm quite glad that it's fairly settled at a pretty healthy rate, while also coming off at a decent rate.

Oh, and I have a photo I need to take and blog. Out of interest I tried on my old size 22 suit trousers this morning. I've never seen anything quite so baggy on me! They were never tight, but they weren't particularly loose either, I started noticing them loosening up when I lost half a stone or so which was a lot sooner than some of my other clothes. Loose isn't the word now. I doubt they'd even stay up.

The other thing I realised the other day when it went a bit cooler than it has been recently is that with losing most of this weight over summer I've overlooked one area of my wardrobe that's going to need replenishing. Could I find a coat or jacket that didn't drown me? Not a chance. So either the weather needs to improve again, or I have yet another excuse for shopping...

Monday, July 25, 2005


How times change. Once upon a time, my idea of a relaxing night in would involve a large slab of chocolate (or even two), a bottle of wine (possibly washed down with a little Baileys), the sofa and the tv.

But, without even trying, I seem to be giving all those things up, slowly and surprisingly.

When I first started this I decided that nothing was forbidden, but that if I started getting cravings I'd try something else first. So at the first chocolate twinge I'd have a piece of fruit, and at the second I'd get chocolate. I carried on like that for a while, and it was only recently that I realised that not only don't I get the second chocolate twinge any more, but I don't even get the first. What I get is a craving for fruit.

Strange but true.

With alcohol, this used to be my big downfall. A bottle of wine a night wasn't unusual, to be honest. Not every night, but not once a month or even once a week either. And half the time I didn't even feel that drunk afterwards, such was my tolerance for it! I used to worry about sliding into alcoholism, and I'd worry that I wouldn't be able to give up. When I started at the gym I used to try not to drink during the week, purely because it would mean that it was harder to get up to work out in the morning. But I'd still drink at the weekends. Then, slowly, I started to lose the will to drink. I found myself turning down drinks. I found myself getting surprisingly drunk, surprisingly quickly. Last night I was out with friends. I was driving, but told myself I'd have one drink before coming home. I chose a red wine, due to its supposed "in moderation" health benefits. Only a small glass, maybe 1/4 of a bottle. And I left half of it. I'd had enough. I didn't need to drink, and it felt like I was forcing myself. This isn't me.

And as for the tv and the sofa. I have sky+ and every week I astound myself with how little there is in my planner. And doubly astound myself when I realise that I haven't watched half of the little I recorded. I just don't sit down in front of the tv any more.

But I am starting to pamper myself. But in a different way. Tonight the plan is to break open my new pilates video, have a nice (hopefully vaguely relaxing) session doing that and then to have a lovely bath complete with candles and a good book. I've recently got re-addicted to Lush. I first fell in love with their products when I was a poor underpaid trainee, and couldn't really afford to spend £2+ a go on bath stuff, no matter how nice it made my skin feel.

But now, I've ventured back into the shop. It might not be cheap, but it's a lot cheaper than a bottle of wine and some chocolate, and it's so much better for me. My body has been working so hard getting rid of all this fat, and my poor legs have been running around all over the place. Why not get as much moisture back into that skin to prevent sagginess and pamper myself at the same time? And if the bath smells of chocolate, then at least it won't set off cravings any more.

It's strange. Since I moved into this house I've had, roughly, 4 baths. Three of those have been in the past week. I can't give all the credit to Lush though, I think it helps that I now feel far more comfortable in the bath, and can put more than a couple of inches in the bath without displacing all the water down the overflow when I put my arse in. And the water now mainly covers my belly, making me all warm and snuggly. And I can look at my body without feelings of shame. Yes, bath time is back, and I'm loving it.

So tonight, and maybe tomorrow, I'm going to pamper myself, in the healthiest way I know.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Skinny Minnie

I've had a good today. The scales were pretty much exactly where they were last Sunday, which was a result in a way (by Wednesday they'd gone up pretty much 1lb per day, so at least it's coming down again). But that's nothing, really. What matters is how I look, and how I feel.

I've not really mentioned the rugby thing on here. I watch a lot of rugby league, and I support a number of different clubs. One every week, and a couple more when I can fit them in. One of those two clubs has been missing out a bit this season, I've had other commitments clashing with their games, and I've not made it up there for a while. I have a load of good friends up there, and I haven't seen them for ages.

I will admit that this is partly deliberate. At one point a month or so again I think I could have made it to a game, but a vain part of me wanted to wait until I could make their jaws drop when they saw me, to wait until there really was a visible difference.

Well, I went up there today, and those jaws were on the floor.

It helped that I was wearing my gorgeous Gap jeans. There's no longer a little bulge over the waistband. They fit perfectly. And boy do they make me look thin. The number of double takes I spotted was such a boost to the ego, and the use of the words "thin" and "skinny", rather than just "have you lost weight?" (I noticed this a while back, people changing from asking a question, to people knowing without a doubt, and wanting to know how). One of my friends had a look of amazement almost every time she spotted me.

The one thing I was most proud of, though, was my response. My fat personality would usually say "but I'm still a size 16 and almost 15 stone, I'm nowhere near being skinny, I'm still fat. Obese, even". But today I tried to take the compliments and to try to believe that they were right, and that I am getting thin. Ish. That's something I've never really been able to do before, if someone has complimented me I've assumed they're blind, or deluded. But I'm starting to be more comfortable accepting that I do look different, and better now, and that I've earned the right to accept a compliment or two.

Hopefully this is an important step to silencing the fat voices.

Saturday, July 23, 2005


So, in my new, non-daily weighing plan, tomorrow is the first weigh in. I'm planning to wean myself off by weighing twice a week (instead of seven times) at first, and then down to one. So tomorrow is the day. And whereas before weighing in has been part of my routine, nothing to worry about, now I'm starting to stress about what damage I might have done in the past three days. Realistically, none. I've exercised well, I've eaten well, and there is no way I've done anything that would lead to a big gain. But there's still this whole "what if I could have stopped it earlier, had I known" thing going on, as well as a fear that my "fat" weight will be down, but my water will be fluctuating, and I won't know if my weigh in is abnormally high. It's stupid, I know. What does my weight matter, really? I mean, I know it does in a general sense, but what difference does it make if I'm 1lb more or less than I was last week? Either way I'll be roughly 50lb lighter than when I first started, and I'll still be (roughly) a size 16 (in some shops, at least), so why am I so worried?

One thing I've realised recently is maybe I'm getting scared. I'm in uncharted territory now. Tomorrow one of two things could happen (well, three, but I'll put the first two together). Either I have gained or plateaued, both things that haven't really happened to me before. I'm scared about how I'd deal with that, and whether I'd have the strength to carry on going through it.

But more strange than that, is the strange "fear" that I've lost more. Obviously, I want to have lost more, and maybe fear isn't the right word but I'm painfully aware that I just don't know "how to be thin". I'm as thin as I ever have been in my adult life, and I just don't know what goes on below this weight. What I do know is that my history of obesity has given me mental scars as well as physical ones, and while I can deal with the damage I've inflicted on my body, I don't know whether I can do that with my mind, or not as easily. How do I start to believe that I can be attractive, thin, normal, and that I can stay that way?

I know I'm nowhere near there yet, but at a size 16, people who have known me for years are using the word thin about me. It's all comparative I suppose. Wearing my new Gap jeans today (which aren't technically a 16, but do pull me in nicely), I've had a couple of people marvelling at the new me (and one of those only saw me last week, in some old stuff!). But mentally, I'm still the person who rarely believes that she can be attractive, and that people could be attracted to her.

I know that as my weight goes down I might have to deal with things that I've never had to deal with before. This isn't the time to talk about the whole relationships and sex thing I've got going on (or more precisely the thing that isn't going on), but in the past I've been very happy not to have people hitting on me randomly, and happy to live my life hiding behind a veil of fat.

As that protective layer comes off, I won't be able to hide behind that any more. And that scares me. I don't know how I'll be able to deal with looking like a normal person, but thinking like a fat one. I don't know whether I can stop thinking like a fat person. I don't know whether I'll be the same person as I always have been. So, even though I want those scales to be down in the morning, I know that each time they drop, I'm taking another step towards that uncharted territory, and a whole new adventure.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

All in the mind

The more I think about this journey, the more I realise how it's my "fat chick" way of thinking rather than my physical limitations that affects my chances of success. I know from my progress so far that I can do this, but there are times when I just don't believe I'll ever be anything other than fat.

Today at work someone said to me that she couldn't believe how well I am doing. Well, that's the problem. In a way, neither can I. And that makes me start thinking that this success is only temporary, that I'm fooling myself if I think I can keep it off, and that it's something so unbelievable that I won't taste the success for long.

Since I turned 16 or so I've had 11 years of constantly realising how fat I was. Not always as fat as at my highest, but for almost all of it I must have been fatter than I was now. I looked at my mother, and I looked at my grandmother, and I took it for granted that being fat was my fate. That there was nothing I could do to avoid it, and that the best I could hope for was to like myself despite it. And like myself I did. My weight never bothered me in the slightest really. Or at least, I should say my size. I never actually knew my weight so by definition it couldn't bother me. It was only the day that I realised how much I actually weighed that the trigger in my head which had been on the verge for a while (and which had already made me join a gym) actually realised what I had to do.

It's one of the great ironies of this journey that I can be far more obsessed with how awful my body looks now, 50 pounds lighter, than I ever was at my highest. It's strange, the double image. When I look at myself and compare myself to how I used to look I see myself looking absolutely gorgeous, thin (ish) and pretty. When I block the old image out of my head and think about how other people look, and how I want to look, I see myself looking just as bad as I ever did. Before I started this journey I never thought about that at all, and was just happy being me.

Anyway, I digress. (Nothing new there...) What I'm trying to say is that I ingrained into myself the idea that I was fat despite anything I tried to do. And therefore there was no point trying. My diet was never wholly unhealthy. It was more generally healthy, with the occasional binges. Chocolate, and alcohol mainly. I never lived on crisps, or chips, or takeaways, or sweets, or biscuits, or cakes. But when I binged, boy did I binge. And although my food was generally healthy, I suspect my portion control was off. But to me, all I could see was that here I was, eating pasta with low fat sauces, chicken, some fruit and veg (not 5 portions at that stage, but some), and I was still fat. Therefore it was inevitable that I would always be fat. No diet would help me. And that mindset lasted even after I started at the gym. I didn't join the gym to lose weight, I joined the gym to get fit. Strangely I barely even imagined that it would help me lose weight. I was a member for weeks without bothering to step back on the scales. And then I did, and I realised that maybe there was hope for me yet.

But still, when I'm feeling down, the old fat girl comes back. She tells me how much more stable my moods were before, when I had one less thing to worry about, when I was happy with myself despite everything. She tells me that there's no point wasting a year or two trying to get thin, when that isn't in my destiny. I ignore her the best I can, countering her arguments with thoughts about how much better I feel now in the good times, even if I feel down in the bad times. And there are more good times than bad times, it's just that they're not so interesting to write about.

I'm slowly coming to realise that it's the inner fat girl who is my problem. It's not my eating habits, which I can stick to now. It's not exercise, which I love. It's those nagging doubts that make me wonder whether it's all worth it. Earlier I seriously started considering whether something like hypnotism would help to shut her up, because if I could just get rid of her voice I'd be fine, I really would. And I wonder how long it will take to convince her that this isn't just some brief visit to being thinner, but something that can last for life.


Stage 1 in the silencing the voices plan was, of course, to step away from the scales. One day gone, and I'm coping. Today was easier because I decided to swim and didn't go into the fitness room at the gym where the scales are. Tomorrow might be another matter though.

Today was a lot calmer, I don't know whether it's because of the lack of weighing (although I'm now obsessively using my body fat monitor instead), or because of my lovely relaxing evening last night. After going out last night for a run round the park (about 4 miles in total, but I walked some of it), I made myself a lovely bath, lit some candles and relaxed. I then lit different candles, got into bed, and relaxed. How much nicer it is to get my sanity back by genuinely treating myself rather than giving myself "treats" that aren't even good for me like the old staples of chocolate and wine!

So the voices are a bit quieter, but I know they'll be back, more's the pity.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The demons are still circling, stealing my sanity and making me want to give up. Or at the very least to take a break, to take some time off this journey, and to recover for a while. I'm trying not to, and I haven't so far, but I need to work this through, in my head, and in words on a screen. I've done so well so far, but the voices are shouting stop. Give up. Go back. And I don't want to listen to them.

The three pounds I lost at the weekend claim to have miraculously come back. I know, logically, that they're not fat. 60g or so of chocolate and a little cheese? That's not enough to make me put on 3lb of fat. Other than that I've been eating what I always eat. But the scale seems to be getting stubborn, and I don't like it. Every day it goes up a little. That's not good, and it gets me doubting. Doubting that I can lose, even doubting that I can maintain. Doubting that there is any point to this at all.

I slept a little longer last night after a nice bath, til 5.15am, but I'm still tired, and I'm still feeling like I'm going to run out of energy and stop doing this. I just sometimes wish I could click my fingers and be done with it. To be thin, and not to have to worry. But thinking like that is thinking like a dieter and not a lifestyle changer, and I'm trying not to do it. But reminding myself that I'll never be done with it doesn't make it any easier at the moment.

I tried yesterday's morale boosting skirt and top on again at home last night. My self loathing re-appears and tells me I look awful and lumpy in it. Even though it looked nice in the shop, I find myself arguing that it's a bit too small and that I won't fit in it, ever. Even though what I'm deliberately trying to do in the sales is buy clothes that are a little small rather than ones that are already a bit loose, in order to maximise the amount of wear I get out of them. And even though it's a far better fit than the size 20 trousers that are falling off me today used to be (I bought them in February 2003 by mail order. The first time I even fastened them was in late April 2005, at which point I wore them to work for a day and split a seam. They're now distinctly baggy). And even though I see people wandering around every day in clothes that fit worse than that.

I try to get support online, and my doubts tell me that it's no substitute for real, in the flesh, people who can come round, give me a hug and tell me that it's going to be OK. I've never really been lonely, and I choose to live my life like this, mainly alone, but it doesn't give me that reassurance that I sometimes need. Most of my family and friends have moved away, and I'm left here, generally happy, but sometimes wanting something more. Sometimes I think that going it alone is a recipe for failure, and that there will be no-one there to catch me when I fall.

I felt crappy at the gym this morning and didn't work out much. For some reason that meant that I'd never be fit, and would fail miserably in the 10k, even though I ran 10k on Sunday (after 5k on Saturday). I know it's not true, but I can't stop myself thinking it.

I know the arguments to counter every doubt I have, and I rehearse them in my mind. But it's easier to trot them out when you're not talking about yourself, and when they're not your own demons.

But there is one argument, the clincher, and the one that makes me think that everything is going to be OK. When contemplating some "time off", I was trying to think about what I would eat instead of what I'm eating at the moment, and what I would do in the mornings if I didn't get up to go to the gym. And the strange thing is, I realised that I would do very little differently, that I wanted to eat what I'm eating, and that I like doing exercise before work. I tried to think of something I could do tonight to make me feel better and to cheer me up. And it didn't involve a bottle of wine or a huge slab of chocolate. It involved buying a load of bath goodies from Lush and pampering myself.

So in the middle of all my doubts, I saw the silver lining in the cloud. No matter how bad I feel for a couple of days when I'm down, it's working. This is a lifestyle change, and it's happening. At the moment I don't need to consciously stop myself from becoming some lazy person who I'm not "allowed" to be or to stop myself eating things I'm not "allowed" to eat. I want to do this, and it's not that I can't stop because I shouldn't. It's that I can't stop because I'm not sure I know how to any more.

And maybe the answer is hidden in that somehow. Maybe I just need to beat the last addiction. To give up the things that are getting me down while keeping the majority of the new healthy lifestyle. The scale addiction has worked for me so far and it's been a great help. It's kept me motivated and it's kept me sticking to this on a daily basis. But maybe now that I've got the new lifestyle habit worked out maybe it's time to lose the scale, or at least such frequent weigh ins, and to take the pressure off a little. To trust myself to do the right things, to just be who I am, and to relax. Do I need the accountability to make sure I don't slip back into my old ways? Possibly, but then again, maybe it's worth a try. So maybe that's the way through this, and the way to get my sanity back.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

A whole new world of shopping awaits...

Oh dear. I've reawakened my long dormant love of shopping. Or maybe acquired one in the first place as I'm not so sure there was much to reawaken.

I never realised how many shops there are out there in skinny person world. I've spent my life just walking past them, never bothering to venture in. Limiting myself to the two or three shops where I could find a generously cut size 20 (and *ahem* at my highest "slightly" larger sizes that I didn't admit to, even to myself. No matter what I was wearing I would insist that I was a 20. Which isn't what the labels said...). Not daring to consider the word "fashion", just looking for something that fits. No wonder I wasn't interested and didn't understand why other people loved shopping. I just didn't know the riches that were available to them. Well, now I do!

And the sales! Can we talk about the sales, please? Why could I never find anything so cheap yet gorgeous before? It's mid-July, I can get months of wear out of these summer clothes (well, if they still fit me for months that is), and they're selling £35 clothes for £10.50. Let me in there! I'm doing very well at picking up a bargain or two recently, which makes me feel far better about the fact that I hopefully won't be able to wear them for long.

So today I did something I've been dreaming of for a while. I ventured into a shop where they don't sell anything above a size 16. Real skinny-person territory. This was a very distant dream not so long ago. Yet today I came out with a skirt and a top. And I even left another skirt in the shop, not wanting to be too extravagant. OK, so the skirt could do with being a teensy bit looser, but it didn't look half bad. I went in there in my size 20 suit (which I haven't worn for a while. If I had done I might have realised before I put it on this morning at the gym that it makes me look like a child dressing up in her mother's clothes, it's so baggy in places) looking OK, but nothing special. Half the battle was believing that it was worth trying them on. I picked them up, looked at them and nearly turned back. But I took a deep breath, I tried on the clothes, and I looked amazing. (I promise this is nothing to do with sucking my stomach in while taking that deep breath…) The person I saw in the mirror wasn't the person I've been all my life, it was someone thinner, more confident, and many many times hotter. I didn't expect to see that. Because I still wear my old clothes I sometimes don't realise how much better something that fits properly can look. Wow. A little tight in places, but still, wow.


One thing I've noticed recently is that people no longer ask if I've lost weight. They tell me that I have, they ask how much, and they ask how. I love it! At first I think people are a bit unsure and don't want to ask if you've lost weight in case you haven't, in case they've got it wrong. So it might take them a while to let on that they've noticed when actually they've suspected something for a while. Now it's obviously so clear from looking at me that I have I'm feeling so good about myself.


The good thing about my bit of lunchtime retail therapy is that it's helped to fight a couple of demons that have been building up for a while. Even though I said I'm happy at this weight over the weekend, for some reason I've got really worked up about fluctuations recently and I'm getting paranoid that I'm about to hit a plateau. And then the demons really come out.

The basic theme of their arguments is that I can't hope to lose any more than I have done, and I'll be lucky to keep it off. That I'm destined to be fat forever. And they tell me that I only said I'm happy at this weight because I know that their arguments are true. And they keep on convincing me that my loss is now going to grind to an absolute halt and never re-start. Telling myself that maybe I wouldn't be that bothered, that I've lost the most important weight now, that anything else is a bonus doesn't work, it plays right into their hands. Even though I don't want to be bothered or obsessed they're still there, and I can't get rid of them.

But a bit of shopping shows me that I can do this, that I have done this, all by myself, for myself, and that there's no reason why I can't carry on with it. And if it keeps me believing in myself and keeping the demons at bay, I think that's £21 well spent.


Oh, and this morning I woke up at 4.58. So much for my total blackout, lots of sleep plan.

Monday, July 18, 2005


To be honest, I've been feeling a bit shitty recently. Liking the weight coming off, and feeling much better than I used to, but I've been getting unbelievably tired in the afternoon. Inevitably this leads to the feeling that I need more energy than a couple of satsumas can give me.

So today I had a mini chocolate binge. Except, looking back, it wasn't a binge at all. Or not an old-style binge. I bought a Galaxy bar because I needed a boost, then got back to find a huge slab of Dairy Milk that had been brought in for us to share. Before, I'd have eaten the whole thing. In an ideal world I'd have left it alone (and not bought the Galaxy in the first place). In the real, slightly flawed world I took a couple of chunks off it and then left it alone. So it wasn't a 400g bar like I used to eat in little over one sitting, but it was more than I was planning for, and if I hadn't been feeling so run down I wouldn't have eaten the extra.

I always seem to have tons of energy in the morning, and then it fades away as the day goes on. By 2.30 I'm at the stage where I could literally fall asleep on my desk. And indeed, to my shame, I occasionally do. I know this is no good for my health, my productivity and my career, but I just can't seem to get out of the cycle. An what's more worrying is that I know that this general feeling of tiredness will make me more likely to reach for easy food. Ready meals. Pizza. Chocolate. All the stuff I've been managing perfectly well without until now.

I've tried eating more calories at lunchtime. Today I had an organic lentil soup that was about twice as many calories as the soup I usually have (I also have a huge portion of fruit with yoghurt at lunchtime, so I'm hardly starving myself). Other than feeling bloated for an hour or so with the weight of it in my stomach, it had very little effect. Likewise the organic bean chili I had on Friday. (2 and 3 portions of veg respectively, bring it on!).

So the next step is to tackle my sleeping habits. In summer it's always like this. I operate according to daylight. And when it gets light at 5am well, I wake up at 5am. It's OK when I go to bed early enough, but more and more often I just don't. I'm beginning to think that a little more sleep will make all the difference, so tonight's task is to block out as much light as possible, get an early night, and hope for more energy tomorrow afternoon.


What's in a number? Well, it depends if it's a good number, really. My BMI is still stubbornly, obesely stuck at 31, but I'm on the verge of ignoring it. You see, as well as my startlingly non-obese waist measurement, I got a body fat monitor today. I measured my body fat and looked at the chart. And I was "overfat" rather than "obese". I can't describe the thrill that gave me! OK, so there's still work to do to get that measurement even lower, but I'm heading in the right direction. So, with two out of three measurements indicating that I'm no longer obese, do I believe them, or do I wait for that BMI to finally drop below 30? My current thinking is that two out of three isn't bad...

Sunday, July 17, 2005

The home stretch

Ah, how I love that moment immediately after that time of the month when my body suddenly decides that it doesn't need all that water after all and my weight drops suddenly. It usually stays off too, which is even better. So, this morning, that puts me at 94.8kg/209lb. 95kg/210lb were big milestones for me, and I've made it.

210lb means that I've lost 50lb. On my notional target of losing 100lb, that puts me half way there. I don't know if I can lose 50lb more, or if I want to. Sure, the weight charts say that I can, but really? To be honest, my most important task now is to keep the 50lb that I've already lost off. If I lose the other 50, then that will be brilliant, but I feel comfortable at this weight, I feel happy, and I feel relaxed with my eating. If I was given the choice, get really thin for a while, then put it all back on again or stick at this weight forever, I'd choose the latter option. I don't want to go on ever more extreme regimes to get down to a figure that was originally plucked out of the air. If what I'm currently doing gets me slimmer (and I'm convinced that it will), then that's great. But if it doesn't, well, I'm so much fitter than I used to be, healthier, and happier. So why stress about it too much.

I've done the important bit now. I've lost nearly 20% of my original weight, and my BMI is almost under 30 now (I've been saying this for ages, but it really is. When I first calculated my BMI I overestimated my height slightly, and 95 was the magic number where it would dip below 30. Since then I've recalculated, and reckon that it will happen at about 92-93kg, but I'm not far off that). My waist is 33 inches (doing the BBC's find your real age test last night I was impressed to see that the two options were under 35 inches and over 35 inches, it made me happy to choose the lower of those!), and I'm generally healthy. It's more important to hang onto that and make sure I stay that way than to do anything which will trigger the yo-yo effect.

I'm 14 stone something for the first time I can remember. I've said before that I've never really paid attention to my weight and don't know what I weighed at any point in my life. But I'm fairly sure that whatever those mystery weights were, they weren't 14 stone something. Of course, I must have passed that weight on the way up, but I imagine it was in a speeding through sort of way, not a lingering, and being stable sort of way. When I started this I was over 18 and a half stone, and the 14s seemed a hell of a long way away. t was a horrible realisation when I worked out that the 14s would be only half way there. But now it doesn't seem so daunting. I've done it once, so I might be able to do it again. What's 49lb now? (see, I even got a head start on the second half with that extra lb).

So, the hardest work seems to have been done. I've lost the most important of the excess weight now, and I've thoroughly re-trained my exercise and eating habits. Now all I need to do is to carry on with this. And as I appreciate that I'll have to do that for life, I think the plan is to "lose like I'm maintaining". To carry on doing the good stuff, and to appreciate that my body can't be defined solely by a set of tables. I'll see what weight this regime takes me to, and whether I'm happy there. Based on how I feel at the moment, I suspect that I may well be. I might make my lifestyle a little healthier yet, by introducing new types of fruit and veg, and possibly some fish (a bigger hurdle than even salad was), but I won't change the general approach, which is no counting, no stressing, no obsessing, and no hard and fast rules.


Training update time. A good weekend of running. Yesterday I did 5k on the treadill, today I did 10k. This was the first time I've really backed up running days, but I see that a lot of training programmes have longer runs on Saturday and Sunday with other runs spread out through the week. So I decided to try that this week, and it seems to have worked fairly well. I wanted to do the shorter run yesterday so that I still had energy in my legs for today's run, and the plan worked. So that takes me to a total of 22.5k for the week, which is more than creditable I think! I still haven't got round to doing the amount of outside running that I was hoping for, the air conditioning in the gym is far more tempting at the moment, together with the fact that I can keep track of distance and time far more easily. But I will try to do some running outside before the 10k, as I know it will help me a lot to practice being a bit less regimented and allowing my pace to alter a bit more over the run to deal with hills, different terrain and other obstacles. Maybe one for next week?

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Waisting Away

First the latest shrinkage figures

Neck: 37cm 36cm (-1cm) 34cm (-2cm)
U/Arm: 33cm 32cm (-1cm) 31cm (-1cm)
Bust: 109cm 105cm (-4cm) 102cm (-3cm)
Waist: 94cm 89cm (-5cm) 83cm (-6cm)
Tummy/Hips: 121cm 118cm (-3cm) 109cm (-9cm)
Thigh: 63cm 61cm (-2cm) 58cm (-3cm)
Calf: 44cm 40cm (-4cm) 40cm (no change)
Ankle: 25cm 24cm (-1cm) 24cm (no change)

So it's clear which part all the weight's gone from!

A quick note. This country's half hearted metrification has left me confused to some extent about measurements and weights. Being a child of the 80s, I was taught metric measurements. For both height and weight. It was only after a while of doing this that I started tracking my weight in pounds as well as kilos, as it makes more sense to other people and also helps me understand what other people have achieved when I read their stats or comments. So there's a mixture of figures now. All the machines and the scales at the gym are in kilos so I weigh myself in kilos and then convert it later. Measurements I do in cm, I haven't really got the hang of feet and inches, ever.

But I will make an exception here. I picked up a free mag the other day, so I've not got a web link for this, although I'm sure that the same guidelines are out there somewhere. But I'll type out the little diddy piece...

Your waistline is a better indication of your heart's health than your total body fat. Researchers found that waist size gives a better idea of risk factors, such as high blood pressure, blood sugar and cholesterol. Men should aim for a waist size of 35 inches or under and, for women, it's 33 inches or less. Additionally, where the fat lies is important. Apple shaped bodies, those with excess abdominal fat, ar believed to have a higher risk of health problems, including diabetes and breast cancer.

The reason I quote this is that, if you're not familiar with metric, the aforementioned 83cm waist measurement is, in inches, slightly under 33. I think you'll understand why I'm happy with that.

Peace and Quiet

For the first time in ages I have absolutely nothing planned this weekend. I got the rugby out of the way last night, so it's all me-time from here on in. And even better, it's sunny, so I'm currently sitting in the garden reading the new Harry Potter (well, not right at this moment, as I'm typing this, but in general). Unfortunately I suspect that my neighbours are barbequeing, so I'm expecting tempting smells to come over the hedge any moment now. Still, I'll try to make this my little area of bliss, chillness and relaxation for the weekend.

I feel like I'e been dashing around trying to keep up with myself for far too long. ot that I've been excessively busy at work, just that I keep on trying to cram more and more stuff into my life, and I don't know whether it all fits properly. It leaves me tired, and prone to collapsing on the sofa. I think I need a bit more balance here. So if my mates phone about goig out for a drink tomorrow I'll decline. I want to relax, rebalance and refresh myself.

Also, I need to do some more measurements. My last ones are nearly a month old. I've been checking my measurements during the month, and they look very nice indeed, but I've been telling myself I wouldn't post them on here until the month is up. I'm getting quite excited about them and hoping that the tape measure doesn't suddenly throw a fit and not let me have the nice figures i've been looking at recently.

I'm not being totally lazy this weekend though. I'm trying to get some house jobs done, and I've also done a really good gym session this morning. I'm planning a good run tomorrow too, so I won't be slacking, promise!

Yesterday I made a breakthrough. I allowed myself a muffin for various reasons. Low fat, but still not part of my normal diet. I didn't even enjoy it that much! I ate it, butI realised that it's not something worth craving. Another breakthrough in a year of surprises.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Today's post is brought to you by the number 14

Why are clothes sizes so maddening? There are times when it really bugs me, and times when it puts a smile on my face. A bit of both today.

First, the Gap jeans development. When I lived in the US briefly, it was just about the last time I managed to wear anything from Gap, and I suspect that my clothes stretching with me was the only thing that kept me in them while I was there. But I've never been able to get back in them. I can get back in the old ones I last wore about 7 years ago, but they're stretched to buggery, and the buttons are falling off from the strain. US size 14, UK size 18 (although I swear that they're not quite that big, they seem to be significantly smaller than size 18s elsewhere). New, unstretched pairs have been a different matter though. Anyway, I've been edging closer to getting into them in the shop, and today I stumbled across the Gap sale. £9.99 for £40 jeans? I was going to get my ass into them if it killed me (and even if I didn't, I may have bought them anyway). To cut a long story short, they fastened, and looked great. If you ignored the overspill at the top (and at the moment it would still take a fair bit of ignoring!). However, based on jeans I've worked my way through recently, I'm confident the overspill will disappear soon enough, and in memory of the old pair I'm not going to stretch them first and ruin the buttons etc. Those babies are waiting until they fit properly, as a little mini challenge.

Anyway, back in the world of UK size 18s and slightly more generous sizing. Despite my brief foray into the world of size 16 (wearing the size 16 jeans at the moment, as it happens, but I'm more and more convinced that they are an aberration and were cut very very very big), I'm firmly an 18 at the moment. I look on the sizing guides, and I'm right there. I wanted to go to the Next clearance shop, where there are no changing rooms, so just to check I popped into normal Next to try on a couple of 18s to make sure I was looking at the right sizes. 2 pairs of trousers, no problems. I didn't need to go down a size (one day...), but they fit fine. And then a skirt. I thought it felt a little tighter than I was expecting, and it sat higher on my waist than I was expecting (it wouldn't sit lower on my hips due to the increased girth lower down). But overall it looked really nice, and suited my shape. I was almost even tempted to buy it. But I decided not to and put it back on the hanger. It was only at his point that I noticed that the size on the label wasn't the same as the size on the hanger. Yes, I'd tried on (and fastened!) a size 14.

I've never worn a (UK) size 14 for as long as I can remember. Maybe at the point when I moved up from childrens sizes to adult sizes, but I'm not convinced, and have a feeling I might have gone straight into 16s. I'm not kidding myself that it was anything other than a forgiving cut, fastened round the wrong part of the body, but still. A size 14! How on earth did that happen? I know I have a lot more weight to lose before I can do that on a regular basis, but I'm still going to re-live the joy of spotting that label in my head whenever I get discouraged.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Don't Die With The Music In You

So there I was, running away on the treadmill (7.5k this morning, faster than I've ever run that far too), and the New Radicals came on my iPod, you get what you give. One of the lines in this song is very similar to the title of a book by Aussie rugby coach Wayne Bennett, "Don't Die With The Music In You". So I've kind of picked that idea up and run with it. Or at least jogged a little.

Two thoughts came to mind. The first is something I was musing about briefly in yesterday's monster one year review post. I spent 26 years (well, not all of them, but lets say 8 since I turned 18 then) half wanting to exercise, but being afraid of failure. Other people waste their gym memberships, and so would I. Other people yo-yo diet, and so would I. There is no point losing weight because I'll put it back on. Of course, I'd never tried, but I was accepting failure as inevitable, based on other people. I didn't know what abilities I had, what my motivation was like, whether I'd stick to it. I suppose, in a way, I still don't know whether I'll fall off the wagon in a month, a year or a decade's time. But I at least owe it to myself to give it a try. Imagine realising that I'd been able to lose weight this easily (relatively speaking, it's not easy, but far easier than I expected) only when it was too late to do anything about it. That would be worse than trying and failing. At least if I fail, I know I've tried, and that I've done all I can to do this for myself.

The second thought relates to all the other things that some people think they can't do because they're overweight. I know I'm partially guilty of this one myself, with my wetsuit fear that has so far stopped me taking advantage of all that free scuba diving I have access to. But really, subject to any genuine health or safety concerns (no point bungee jumping if there isn't a rope that won't snap…), why wait? If you can physically do it, why not just do it? Sure, you might look a little silly, or some idiots might comment, but why should that stop you doing something you've dreamed about. If you want to swim with a dolphin, do you think it cares if your swimming costume bulges a little? If you want to do something but are put off by the fear that maybe you can't, that they don't have equipment big or strong enough, why not ask? I'm as guilty of this as the next person, but I've finally realised that you can only regret things you've wanted to do but haven't done, not the things you have, no matter how big a fool you looked.

Maybe the fact that there are (or at least were, hopefully there are no more) people born and bred in this city who were prepared to blow themselves, and their surrounding passengers, to bits in the name of hate has rubbed in the fact that there's no point waiting for tomorrow to do things if there's a chance that tomorrow will never come.


A quick update on the 10k training. Having temporarily ditched my new trainers because I got a horrible blister on my right foot when I ran 6k in them on Saturday, I'm back in my old ones, which rub my left toes. They felt far better, probably just because they've been worn in, and I ran 7.5k in them this morning, as I felt like I needed a long run after a couple of days trying to wear the new trainers in without running very far in them. It's looking promising for the 10k. What I did this time that I didn't do before the 5k was carry on at my current 5k treadmill pace after I got to 5k - before I was slowing down a lot for anything above 5k and using it almost as an extended cool down before getting into the proper cooldown programme. Today I ran the first 6k at the same pace, and the extra 1.5k a little slower, but still faster than I was running the extra before. If that makes sense. It felt good, despite the remnants of the blister, so I might try switching my trainers again next time I run while still trying to wear in the new ones on non running days.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

1 year, 47lb.

Not shabby progress at all. Under 1lb per week on average, but only just, and there is more too it than that. Periods of losses, periods of gains. Periods of acclimatising myself to the changes in my lifestyle, and periods where my old habits threw me off track.

I'm so proud of myself for making it this far, and for getting back onto the wagon when events conspired to throw myself off. And I need to retain the memory of this feeling, so that I can look back on it in the future and keep myself going.

I've come a long way, but I can't lose sight of the fact that the journey is much longer and more complicated than a simple 12 month slog. I have to keep remembering why I've worked so hard.

This time last year I didn't hate myself or my body, but I didn't love it either. It was just something that I lived in. But now I feel pretty. I'm no supermodel, but I look in the mirror and I kind of like what I see. That's such a revolutionary feeling that it constantly amazes me. I just can't wait to keep going to see how much more I can amaze myself over the next year.

Happy anniversary to me

I didn't know it then, but 12 July 2004 changed my life.

It was an uneasy relationship at first. An initial first flush of excitement, and then a period of growing disinterest and disillusionment. And then, as spring started drawing nearer, we got back together again. We became closer, almost inseparable in fact.

It's been an interesting year with my gym membership.

To put it into context, I did the Sport Relief mile on 10 July. I got round, but I didn't exactly run all of it. Or even most of it. I started off well, for the first 200 metres or so, and then ran out of steam. But in the bag there was information about gym membership from one of the gyms that had been helping out. There was a free day pass, I recall, although I never used it. It did get me thinking though, that I was finally earning enough money to be able to afford to pay for a gym membership.

It didn't get me thinking enough to do anything that weekend (I was still too sore!), but I pondered it on and off over the weekend. I wasn't thinking about losing weight at all. For a start I didn't know how heavy I was, and I was relatively happy with my weight. Sure I'd have liked to be thinner, but I had almost accepted that I was fat, and there was nothing I could do about it. I'd always been fat, and I always would be.

On Monday morning I woke up, and didn't know that I'd change my life that day. I drove into work, parked in the usual place and walked to the office. I walked past a hotel (which I didn't even know had a gym). I noticed a banner advertising their summer offer. A 6 week no strings membership. No joining fee, no minimum contract. Just 6 weeks. (indeed, they're doing a similar thing this year as part of this scheme). I started thinking more seriously about it, and gave them a call. I went to look round at lunchtime and paid up there and then. I knew that if I thought too much about it I'd back out. I'd find something else to spend my £60 on. So I joined. I figured that even if I rarely went, I've spent £60 on stuff that's equally useless in the past, so it wouldn't be a huge loss. And I could just walk away if necessary.

I then realised that I had nothing to actually wear to go to the gym and had to go shopping. So much for it just being £60.

The next day arrived and I had my induction. That was the moment I got on the scales. For the first time in many many years. I'd never worried about my weight. Indeed I have no idea what I weighed at any point in my past. Even when I was weighed at the doctors or wherever I never remembered the number. I just ignored it and moved on. So in fact when the scales registered 118kg I had no idea what that meant. Whether it meant I was extraordinarily heavy, fairly fat but passable, remarkably light for my size. The number meant nothing to me. Even when I realised it was over 18 and a half stone, I didn't have many numbers to put it into context with of what I should weigh.

I started going to the gym, and I enjoyed it a surprising amount. As I exercised, memories came flooding back. I'd always actually vaguely enjoyed exercise. I wasn't very good at it, and maybe that meant I didn't get as much attention or assistance as those people who were half decent. I just got left to struggle round on my own. I did used to play on school sports teams, and I played softball at work. I'd make an effort, when it would have been far easier for me to hide on the sofa with some chocolate. But somehow my brain didn't make the connection before I was 26 that I actually enjoyed exercise.

Within a week or two of starting at the gym, though, I'd made that connection.

At first I didn't tell anyone. My mother came to stay with me for a week during those first 6 weeks, and I stopped going. I popped in for a lunchtime for a swim, but I didn't let on. I didn't want to build it up until I knew I could stick with it. I wanted it to be something I was doing for me, not because other people were encouraging me to do it.

Five weeks in, I still didn't know whether to go onto the annual membership. I knew that if I used my membership as much as I had been doing I'd be fine. I'd get value for money. But I heard so many stories about gym memberships going unused I kind of assumed that mine would be one of them if I took one out. Strange that I was put off for so long by the fear of failure rather than a fear of exercise. And then one day I decided to take the plunge. Committing myself to a year of membership, whether I wanted it or not eleven months down the line.

I carried on going to the gym. I lost about a stone in total. At this point my weight loss was somewhat accidental. I remember sitting there and thinking "this is great, I can lose weight and eat rubbish!" I wasn't exactly trying to make a big change and lose huge amounts, I was just trying to get fitter. Some people noticed, and I started to come clean.

And then I came slightly off the rails. At the beginning of October my mother came to stay for three weeks. I went back to the gym for two weeks and then my dad came for a week. Then I went away for a week the day he left. And the day I came back, my sister and her boyfriend came with me to stay for two weeks. And then I was burgled, then it was christmas. Three months just seemed to be wiped out like that. At this point I wasn't assertive enough about it to say - this is what I'm doing, I'm doing it for me, and I want you to support me. I just slipped back into being the person they expected me to be, because it was easier that way. I put most of the weight back on again, and my clothes went back to being tight.

At the beginning of January I wasn't quite back where I started, but I was ready to try again. I only got into it slowly in January, and in February I swam a lot, but didn't use the gym. I lost another four or so pounds, to put me to maybe half a stone off my highest weight. And then in March it clicked. I started really going to the gym, and I started trying to sort out my eating habits too. Nothing too revolutionary, but thinking about what I was eating, and being a bit more careful. The weight started dropping off, and I started feeling great.

Since March I've started being more vocal. When my family come over I tell them that they can't use my car unless they give me a lift to the gym in the morning. On a Saturday morning I tell them I'm popping to the gym while they get showered and have breakfast, and before I do anything with them. I tell them what I want to eat rather than going along with their stuff (even though it's my house, if they're in the house all day they sometimes cook for me).

So, it's been a year, and I've changed so much. Not just my weight, but my outlook on life, and the way I deal with people. I never realised what I was starting on that day in July when I woke up and dragged myself out of bed. But I'm so glad I did what I did that day. It changed my life.

This has been a monster post, but I've enjoyed looking back and reminding myself how far I've come this year.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Learning to listen to myself

Someone at work asked me today whether I'm on a diet. No, I've lost 46lb by accident, I should have replied. Can you help me find it so I can reattach it to my arse?

Actually, I did say no. Because I'm not. Sure, I'm watching what I eat, and I'm eating more healthily, but I don't consider it a diet. I think I've blogged this before, but I do honestly have a bit more to say this time, so stick with it.

It seems to me that a lot of diets are essentially negative. Don't eat certain things. Don't eat more than a certain amount of them. Don't do this, that or the other. Follow the rules and you'll be thin. I don't like that way of thinking.

I have no forbidden foods, and no strict rules. All I try to do is to look at my options and choose something that's more healthy than what I would have otherwise chosen. Not necessarily the healthiest thing available, but something better. And I don't focus on the food itself, but on more than that.

One thing that frequently surprises me and that illustrates this is in relation to alcohol. I've always been a heavy drinker really. I've had periods where I've given up or cut down. But when I drink I really go for it. And I used to drink often too. At home, alone, over the weekend. After work. At lunchtime with friends. A bottle of wine here and there soon adds up. But I've stopped.

Of course I still drink occasionally, but that's the important word. Occasionally. And the other important words are "in moderation". But more important than that is my reasoning. It's not alcohol is bad. Don't drink it. Alcohol will make you fat. Alcohol already has made you fat.

It goes something like this. You could have a drink now. But you're meant to be going to the gym in the morning. You like going to the gym before work because it wakes you up. If you drink you'll have a bad night's sleep, and will be really tired in the morning. What's more you will struggle to get out of bed and might end up skipping the gym. You will be sleepy through the day and might even resort to a bacon sandwich on the way to work. Which you won't enjoy anyway due to the hangover that made you buy it in the first place. You'll wake up, you'll moan "I'll never drink again", and where will that have got you?

I focus on the positive, tangible things, on the way eating or drinking stuff will make me feel, rather than on any numbers on the labels or any rules in a book. Maybe I can't visualise 300 un-needed calories. But I can visualise feeling sluggish and tired. I've discovered that if I listen to my body it will tell me what to do. Is it really asking for chocolate, or am I resorting to chocolate because it's quick and easy when I could get myself something far healthier if I just make a bit more of an effort?

No-one could write that book or that plan for me. And it takes a certain amount of trial and error until I find something that makes me feel fantastic inside as well as much improved and thinner externally. But I do find it. And it's something that works for me. Something I don't need to think about and obsess about.

I can justify a slightly "naughty" day once in a while by listening to my body. Occasionally it tells me it wants a treat. Which is fine as long as it's not every day. So I learn to distinguish between the cravings that leave as quickly as they arrived, and the ones which hang around and which need to be satisfied. I don't have those too often, so when I do, it's OK. Why beat myself up about it?

I find that this way I don't crave things half as much as I expected to. They're allowed, but I don't want them. Maybe if I did I wouldn't be able to do this. Listening to a craving body and giving into it might not work. But listening to a body that's rejoycing in the taste and freshness of the food it's been given is a joy. I even find myself going to buy chocolate to give myself a treat and walking away with a salad because I decide I'd prefer it. That's not denial, and it's not a diet. It's free will.

What this leads me to is that there's no such thing as a goal weight. What I mean by that is that I'll leave it to my body. I'll feed it what it needs, and I'll exercise. And I'll let my weight settle at a weight it's happy with. No obsessing if it wants to be 10lb heavier than I want to be. And no ripping up my gym membership once I get to an arbitrary magic number. I don't want to change anything, and I don't want to see this as a journey with an end point. I have a figure in my head, but that's purely calculated by taking my highest weight and working out what I'd weigh if I lost 100lb. Nothing scientific, I don't even know if I can lose that much, but it seemed a nice round number to start aiming for.

But to be honest, if I stopped losing weight tomorrow I'd be happy as long as I never put it back on. I'm far healthier than I was this time last year. I'm borderline non-obese (my BMI's edged down to 31ish, and my waist measurement is pretty much the number they say indicates the start of obesity), and I'm fit. I also have an understanding of myself that I can use to keep myself that way for the rest of my life.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Proud of my scars

I went to a barbeque today with some old university housemate, and wore the size 16 clothes. I love those clothes, they just give me so much confidence! Anyway, when I got them and posted a picture, on here and elsewhere, I got a couple of comments that I was brave to wear a strappy top. Well, I don't see it as brave, and I always have done. Likewise I wear bikinis. I don't hide my body away where no-one can see it.

Let me explain. I wear what is comfortable. In particular bikinis are so much more convenient than a one piece swimming costume I'm willing to take any amount of embarassment. And anyway. A one pice hardly conceals your fat does it? It's still there. it's still perfectly visible. And it's still not anyone else's problem but mine. I will admit that I usually wear a sarong, shorts or a skirt over the bottom half, but I am fine with my bikini top.

Something similar is my ankle. When I first had my ankle pinned a friend at work (the sort who is half your weight but constantly telling you about their latest diet and weight loss kick as though they are the only person in the world trying to lose weight. She's also a little vain) was saying that she'd hate to have scars on her legs. And for a while I agreed with her. They looked ugly. The scar down the outside of my left ankle is about 5 inches long. I also have one on the inside of my left ankle which is smaller, but less well healed. But after a while I realised that I couldn't wear trousers, floor length skirts and/or boots for the rest of my life. My scars are part of who I am, and anyone who has problems with that isn't my problem.

I started seeing my scars in a new way. Instead of being disfiguring, they reminded me of how I beat some of my fears. Having a serious operation. Enduring more pain than I thought was possible. Managing to re-learn how to walk properly. Learning how to walk on crutches. Taking it further, learning to run on my ankle, despite what it had been through. My scars aren't a bad thing, they are a positive reminder of how far I've come, and remind me that I should be proud of what I'm achieving.

So my fat arms, poking out of my top. Well, first of all, they're who I am. If you don't like them, then why does it matter to you? It doesn't matter to me. I wear clothes that will be comfortable, and that will fit my lifestyle. Even if they were covered, then I'd hardly be a size 8, would I? And anyway, what seems to you to be a load of fat reminds me of how much fat that used to be there has now gone. I like being able to see my body, it reminds me of how far I've come. There isn't a day at the moment when I don't look at a random body part and get amazed at how much smaller it is. So my arms aren't a problem for me. They're a reminder of what I've achieved.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Missing. Two boobs

Seriously. I'm sure they disappeared overnight. As if to prove me right the scale was down 2lb this morning*. If someone's going to come and remove weighty body parts overnight, please can you focus your efforts on my stomach and my arse? Thank you. They are much more deserving of your efforts than my poor depleted chest.

*This could also be weight I'd already lost, which then reappeared when I got back from holiday, and which has now gone. But I'm going with the boob theory.

Anyway, although I'm pretty much back where I was 2 weeks ago (or half a pound or so down), I'm also 2 - 3lb down from the start of the week, so I'm feeling good that the scales are on the move again. Other than the fact that I fear I'm going to sabotage myself with pubs and barbeques this weekend. But really, I'm not that bothered. I have confidence in myself that a slightly naughty day or two won't throw me completely off course, so I'm off out to enjoy the sunshine and the company of my friends.

Non Scale Targets

It struck me last night that I'm no longer exercising to lose weight. Of course I know that it should have that effect, and I wouldn't have startedhad it not been for that initial aim. But at the moment I'm exercising to train fo the 10k rather than for any other, scale related reason. The reason why this is important is motivation I think. I'm pretty much in uncharted territory, so I don't know how I'll react to various things. In particular, what if I stop losing so fast. Will I get disillusioned? Will I just get to the stage where I ge sick of having to try? By having a clear, non-scale goal I can kind of separate that from my other goals, meaning that even if my eating slips or I lose sight of my weight, I need to keep on running and moving, at least for another 10 weeks.

This time last year the thought of exercising for 10 weeks solid would have been horrific. Now I wonder whether it's enough time, and it's not at all daunting. That is very surprising for me, and shows how far I've come in the past year. I'll hopefully be expounding more on the "in the past year" theme during the week, but in a way I've come full circle. When I first joined the gym last July I didn't do it to lose weight primarily. Yes, I weighed over 18 1/2 stone, and yes I needed to, but I wanted to get fitter mainly. I didn't weigh myself obsessively and I didn't do anything with my diet. I just worked out. I lost a little weight, but I lost it slowly. I wasn't focussing on that as a goal, more as an added benefit. It's only since I reassessed my aims in March that the weight started dropping off. Now, although I'm going to keep up the healthy eating and the weighing to keep myself accountable, I'm back at looking at fitness as an aim in itself, not a byproduct of losing weight.

I've got the tape measure out again. Measurements aren't due for another month, but I like a sneak preview. And even though since 16 June I've "only" lost 2 - 4lb (partly due to holiday, which I'm fine about), the tape measure seems to be tightening again. And my second stage of this is to go to various online stores and check their sizing guides. The good news? It seems that my top is now almost certainly size 16! I've never been top heavy, but the tape measure agrees with the sizes, and says size 16. However, this is not necessarily a good thing. I'm typing this in bed on the laptop and have just looked at my chest. Where the f*** have my boobs gone? I'm sure they were there last night. Well, they're not now. They're practically non-existent. This is not good. They were never huge, but they're certainly not now. Hmm.

Back to the sizes, my bottom half is still more of an 18. But it's now edging towards the bottom of the range of measurements for that size, and it's only a matter of time before it drops down to 16. I've not actually tried any clothes on for a couple of weeks, and might have to do that to test out the sizes in real life, but it's definitely looking more promising.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Today's discoveries

I was thinking again earlier today about how much my body is thanking me for what I'm doing. Small things that I'd never really connected with my weight before.

I may have mentioned before how I badly broke my ankle a couple of years ago and had to have it pinned and plated. One thing I noticed at the time was the fact that all the people I spoke to who had done something similar were also similarly heavy. And I was chatting to someone at the gym about having bones pinned (such exciting conversations we have) and she mentioned someone else who had done something similar, adding "she was really heavy at the time". I don't know whether there is an established, medical corrolation, maybe it's just the people I know, but it never seems to be the skinny minnies I know who are hobbling round in plaster (other than sporting injuries, but not just from falling over).

That extra stress I was putting on my joints can't have helped their stability. And I don't think it's necessarily that my bones were weaker (although they may have been), but I've noticed that since I started losing weight my balance and poise has become far better. I used to go over on my ankles all the time. Having one reinforced with metal kind of helped me on that side, but I'd still do it on the other side on a regular basis. And quite often I'd go crashing to the floor, as the scars that remain on my legs testify (not to mention the grazes that healed). And what I also pondered today is that when I trip (as, bizarrely, I did just as I was pondering this, on a raised paving stone), I don't fall. I stumble, and I regain my balance. There is no floor-arse contact any more. I don't know whether this is connected to my weight loss, or whether it's just me finally working out how to walk properly, but whatever it is, I'm most grateful.

I sit here, moving my fingers. As I do so, I can see the bones/tendons on the back of my hand moving (I don't know what they actually are, but you can definitely see them really clearly). I shake my wrist around to watch my watch (which has a solid, fixed size wristband) sliding up and down my arm. I tie my hair back because I'm having a bad hair day and the sight of the fatness of my face doesn't appall me. I look in the mirror and I see definite signs of emerging hotness. Other people probably can't see it as much, but as I have my previous selves to compare to, next to those bodies I'm a goddess. Only if I wear the right clothes and look at myself from the right angle, obviously, but at least there now is a right angle and a right outfit.

I don't feel embarrassed walking into the library and checking out a running book. I go to buy new trainers and I actually think about what they'd be like to run in, not solely what they look like.

Back to the gym to start the 10k preparations today, having finally and irrevocably signed up for it last night. After yesterday's events and spending the evening watching the news, I felt exhausted this morning and only got to the gym relatively late. Just something gentle, I told myself, as I'm also still recovering a bit from Wednesday. So I jogged fairly slowly (although this "slow jog" was at a speed I considered to be going flat out just a couple of months ago), and to my surprise covered 6k. And then I only stopped because I had to get a shower and get to work (having only started working out quite late) rather than because I was exhausted. The muscle in my leg that had been a bit stiff actually loosened up as I jogged and has since felt much better. So maybe a decent 10k time within 10 weeks isn't impossible. If I look back to what I could do 10 weeks ago, I've improved fast, and there's certainly room for more improvement yet. Maybe that dream of a sub-60 minute 10k is as achievable a sub-30 minute 5k turned out to be, even though that looked nigh on impossible when I was lining up on Wednesday night. I know I will get round, even if I have to walk a little of it, but I want to be able to run it properly and not be the fat girl at the back. I'm currently looking into training plans and working out how best to approach this. Ideally I want to do some more running outside as well as some treadmill runs to keep me in touch with how far I'm going and how much I'm improving.

Except of course, I don't plan to be as fat by them. My brand spanking new challenge now has a ticker, and aims to see me below 200lb by the end of August. And by that stage my BMI would be under 30, and I wouldn't be obese. Running 10k for charity in a non-obese body. That's certainly something I never saw myself doing at the start of the year! Let's just hope I can manage it.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Strange Day

There are some sick bastards out there, aren't there? What makes people think that they have the right to blow apart innocent people to get their point across?

Words can't really express what I feel about this, or not eloquently. Disgust, mainly, sorrow, and a bit of selfish relief that everyone I know in London seems to be OK.

What a come down from yesterday. From the joy of beating the French, sorry, winning the right to stage the Olympics, the high of Race for Life and the excitement about the amount of money I raised, to this.

The other big development of the day (back to my weight and fitness rather than sick sick terrorists) is the 10k thing. I've been half heartedly thinking about doing a 10k, but have been putting it off until "after Race for Life". Well, it's after Race for Life now. And I have found this. It looks ideal.

But it's only about 10 weeks away. That suddenly seems very close. And 10k suddenly seems very far. Not that the 5k last night tired me as much as I expected running it at that speed to do, but 10k is twice as far. And I've only managed it once before. Still, that's once more than some people I guess.

I think I'm going to do it. But where does that leave the Abbey Dash? I haven't been able to find any details for that yet, so don't want to miss out on a 10k altogether. But at this rate I might end up doing two. Eek indeed!

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

28 minutes 37 seconds

There's not much need to say any more than that. But I will anyway. Finally, the big day.

During my treadmill training my fastest was (from memory) just under 32 minutes. Relatively respectable for someone my weight, but the 30 minute mark was a distant dream. Also, my training didn't include many hills, so I was realistically hoping for something between 32 and 35 minutes. Remember that. Carefully.

I'd taken precautions before the event like getting safety pins (having read this excellent post which is far more amusing than this is going to be...) I'd put all my stuff in my bag this morning and taken it to work with me just in case I didn't have time to go home. I'd booked myself on a course this afternoon so I knew I'd be able to get away at 5ish.

But still I panicked. I know that the company doing the course usually hold them at the hotel where my gym is. Which is one reason I picked it. I figured I could go to the gym quickly at lunchtime purely to get my 4 hours free parking and make a quick getaway to get back, eat something and get down to the park for about 7. But no. They decided to use another hotel on the other side of town, nowhere near where I park. When I finally got back to the car at about 5.45 (the course having, obviously, overrun), I realised that there wasn't actually much time to eat anything once I got back (which would be about 20 minutes later) if I didn't want to feel full for the race. Maybe my planning wasn't so impressive after all.

Anyway, having tackled the traffic and got home I walked down to the park. Having already walked across town, then another mile to the park I was beginning to wonder exactly how much ground I was going to have to cover today.

It was pouring with rain. Which meant my mates didn't turn up. They weren't running, but said they'd come along to cheer. And hold my beer money. Lightweights. So I stood around on my own for a while. In the rain. The warm up which had been billed as starting 20 minutes before the race got going at roughly the time the race was meant to start. By which time I'd been standing in the rain for nearly half an hour. Lovely.

I got a decent place at the start. Among the "runners". Me. A runner! I managed to cross the start line with the clock showing a mere 20 seconds or so. Still 20 seconds I intend to knock off my final time when I'm in smug mode.

And it went surprisingly well. There were times when hills, people cutting me up and running on wet grass made me think I was running far slower than normal. Not to mention the horrific sight of Jimmy Saville not once but twice along the course. He'd managed to position himself at just about the only point along the course where there were people going both ways so you had to pass him twice. (and speaking of that point, how made up was I when I realised there were still people on the way out as I passed it on the way back).

So I wasn't expecting to break any records. I was just focussing on getting round really, in one piece, and vaguely alive. So as I ran round the last corner and caught sight of the clock imagine my shock. Not 32 minutes or so.

28 minutes!

That certainly inspired a sprint to the finish! And a damn impressive finishing time of 28 minutes 37 seconds. Knock off those first 20 seconds and you're getting close to 4 minutes faster than I've ever run 5k before. Despite the hills, the rain, the grass, the slow start, the annoying celebrities and the other people. I was absolutely ecstatic.

Now the only question remaining relates to the nice big bag of white chocolate maltesers I got at the finish. It would be rude to turn them down, really...

And of course, the biggest thank you has to go to all the lovely, generous and wonderful people who sponsored me. I was originally hoping for about £50 (plus my contribution). So I was overwhelmed by the fact that I'm closing in on £350 (and will probably make it if those people who have promised me unspecified amounts of cash cough up), including money from people who I've never even met and who only know me online. So to all those people, if you're reading, a very big thank you. Please forgive me if I don't come round and give you a big hug and buy you a pint in person, but your support really does mean a lot to me.