Friday, October 28, 2005

On the road again

So, I'm off tomorrow for a week in Gran Canaria. It may seem like I have a lot of holidays but... OK, I do have a lot of holidays, but I plan them carefully to get the most holiday for my money. For trips to Gran Canaria I only have to pay for the flights anyway as I'm visiting family, so it's not so bad, honest!

This time is kind of scary though. I'm meant to be learning to scuba dive. I don't know whether I've mentioned this before or just hinted at it. But the reason my parents live in Gran Canaria is that they run a diving school over there. My dad is an instructor, and my sister is an instructor. My mum doesn't dive, for health reasons. And I don't dive because I was scared of pouring my ample flesh into a wetsuit.

I claimed that I didn't like the sensation when I tried it in the pool, but I think everyone knew that was bollocks. My mother let as much slip when she was over earlier in the year with a comment along the lines of "you won't need to wear the biggest wetsuit now".

No matter how much you think you can disguise your precise size in nice clothes (for evidence, see the fact that the people at work think I'm a size 12 when I'm blatantly not), when it's a question of having to squeeze into a wetsuit provided by your parents, there's not much room for argument. I'd have had to admit that I was horribly obese, and that wasn't something I wanted to do.

It wasn't a fitness question. I've always been a strong swimmer, no matter what my size. It was a neoprene question. The thought of my arse in rubber wasn't overly appealing.

But I've been pencilled into the diary for a try dive on Monday. And the course starts on Tuesday if I like it. Part of me wants to try it, but part of me wants to hate it so that I don't feel bad about waiting so long purely because of my size. If I don't like it, it won't have made a difference. If I like it, that's three wasted years. I suspect that only makes sense in my head.

Another sign of my growing social acceptability is that my sister asked if I wanted to go out with her and her mates while I'm over there. Even though we get on well, I've never been out with her over there before. Sadly, the thing we were meant to be going to is the day after we come back, but maybe a drunken night in Playa is on the cards anyway. It's strange, I spend so many holidays in Gran Canaria and I've never yet done the going out drinking thing that it has a reputation for. But with lots of new confidence and lots of new skirts, who knows.

Anyway, I'll be back next weekend sometime, after a week off the treadmill (both metaphorically and literally), hopefully not too far off the wagon but refreshed ready for the last push before christmas party season.

I'll have a sangria or two for you all!

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Self control

On Tuesday I put a piece of chocolate in my bag and carried it round with me all day before eating it at a time that suited me late on in the afternoon. Yet another victory for self control.

This is something I've been trying to work on. It's OK singlemindedly cutting out or avoiding certain types of food to lose the weight, but then what do you do? Can you keep that level of control up? So I've been consciously focussing on modifying my attitude towards food at a deeper level than just hitting myself with a big stick when I slip up, and trying to gain the upper hand in that mental struggle. You can't live life in a sterile environment, cleansed of all those trigger foods, and you can't expect to always be able to plan ahead. What you can do is control how you react to those difficult situations and how you deal with temptation.

So my big thing at the moment is to confront the old foods, and then to walk away, knowing I don't want to eat them. If I can do this now and ingrain the habit, while the weight loss motivation is still there, it will be easier later to stop myself stumbling. So I look at cakes in the supermarket, ask myself whether I really want to eat them, and leave them on the shelf. I make a point of really looking at the nutritional information, so I can make an informed decision, and I remind myself that I control what I put in my body, not the other way round. I need to know that I can live with chocolate in my bag, or my house, or anywhere where I am without feeling the need to eat it. And I'm getting there.

The other thing I'm really trying to control at the moment is how I eat. It sounds less obvious, but has really helped. One thing I absolutely refuse to do now is to eat while I'm walking or (mainly) when I'm standing up. If I'm going to eat something, even a bar of chocolate, I sit down, then I eat it. It's strange, but it's really started to bug me when I see other people doing it now. People who buy a bar of chocolate in the supermarket or the shop over the road from work and who are biting into it before they even get out of the door. People who buy a bacon sandwich on the way to work and have finished it before they get to their desk.

If I did that, I would see that as a sign that the food is getting back in control of me rather than the other way round, which isn't a position that I want to be in. That I can't have something in my hand and not eat it, that I can't even defer the eating for 2 minutes. So I make sure that I decide when and where I'm going to eat something, not the other way round. Even if there's nowhere to sit, I'll stop and stand still, out of the way, and eat on my terms.

I'm in control, and I'm intending to stay that way.


Today's installment of betting on my arse comes courtesy of the secretaries. Rather than focussing on speed and athletic prowess, their interest is in the clothes size. Apparently this is a regular topic of discussion, and the general consensus seems to be that I look like a 12.

If only. Still, if I can't actually be a size 12 yet, I can console myself with the thought that misguided people think I look like one…


I had a meeting today on an ongoing project we've been doing. My first meeting on it was in about May, and I haven't met with the client since about June (I drafted a contract, they put it in a tender pack and have spend months going through the tender/clarification process, and have only now come back for amendments). Anyway, the last time they saw me must have been about 40lb (and several haircuts) ago, and they never even saw me at my heaviest.

So I walk down to reception to meet them and notice the looks. Two middle aged blokes, probably the least likely people to comment, but they've noticed. Clearly. I wonder whether they're going to say anything, but they manage to cover up the amazement and act all professional. Then an hour or so later, under the cover of a conversation going on elsewhere in the room, one of them says under his breath "I don't mean to be rude, but can you tell me what diet you're on so I can do it, I've never seen anything work like that"! Of course the other people overhear and ask what he said so he ends up repeating it in front of the room.

I still find it very funny though to see the disappointment on their faces when I reply. "It's exercise, sorry…"

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Place your bets

I've mentioned before that I'm running the Abbey Dash at the end of the month. I know some other people who are running it too, notably my 8 stone something former colleague. I have a bit of a competitive spirit and although I know that she's thinner than me (obviously) and generally fairly fit (being a bit of a gym bunny herself), I also know that she hates running (she does a lot of spinning, but not running) and that I tend to run faster and far longer on the treadmill than she does. She's never run the distance before, and I have. So I've been motivating myself by the thought of at least matching her, if not beating her.

It turns out she's not particularly confident, and has mentioned this to some of my other colleagues. And now I hear that they've opened a book on the result. Not on who finishes first, but on how much I beat her by. Talk about pressure! But still, if I needed motivation to step up the training I've got it now. Maybe I should put a bet of my own on too!

(Seriously though, if you're planning to bet on how I do, give the money to charity rather than the blokes in my office. Either donate money now using this link, do what I do and donate based on how much weight I lose in training, or donate something for every minute under 70. Or don't donate at all, I won't hold it against you, I just thought I'd plug the link in case there's anyone mad enough to want to donate money to someone they've never met).


Another day, another load of chocolate and cakes to resist. Elaine's 50th birthday at work. Elaine is the eternal diet talkerthe person who is more interested in telling people about her diet than actually doing it. And bringing in chocolate for everyone to eat. She likes doing that.

Anyway, today I presented a seminar on competition law at lunchtime (and people actually tell me that I'm really good at doing presentations! I could have fainted at that comment!), and there were free Kit Kats. I was planning ahead though. I knew it was Elaine's birthday, and I guessed what would be coming. So I didn't eat one. Then the cream cakes arrived. I don't like cream cakes, so managed to get through that.

Then the presentation in one of the boardrooms. Wine. A cake. And (god help us all) a chocolate fountain. Still, I had self control. I was getting increasingly proud of myself. I turned down the wine (what's the point, I have to go back upstairs and speak to a client, and I have to drive home, so why start drinking at this stage). I turned down the cake. I decided that out of all the things on offer, the chocolate fountain was the one. I dipped a couple of strawberries in it, and I was satisfied.

And that's the key, isn't it. To choose something rather than eating everything. To think, and take a decision. To choose one treat that you really like, rather than a bit of everything. And it's working.

I've got a post I want to write about control, and winning the power struggle with food. This is part of it, but I'm hopefully going to flesh it out over the next couple of days before I go on holiday.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005


There's been an interesting debate today on the BBC website about whether obesity discrimination exists.

I've found it fascinating, although I've not registered to make a contribution. I'm fairly undecided as to where I stand on this. On the one hand, I can quite believe the result of the study that fat people do face discrimination. My own personal (and limited) experience is that when I applied for a training contract 6 years ago (god! so long!) I had a whole string of interviews, but only got offers from the two firms I'd actually worked in for a week or two. Coincidence? And to some extent I can understand why it happens. I don't agree with it, but I understand.

But on the other hand, the response of some of the contributors astounds me. The generalisations are stunning. All fat people are lazy, apparently and there's nothing that can't be solved by eating right and going to the gym. It's all our fault. We don't deserve to be employed.

Now whether there are some merits in those arguments for some people, a sweeping generalisation like that just makes me angry. Maybe I was lazy before I started on this journey, and maybe I didn't care about my appearance or my presentation, but the quality of my work hasn't changed over the past year. I'm still the same person, and however much I weigh from day to day doesn't really affect that. You see a different person at different stages in this process, but deep down it's all the same.

The person you saw at 17 stone or 16 stone or 15 stone certainly wasn't lazy and certainly did care about what she was eating, just because I was still obese didn't mean I wasn't thinner than I had been, or that I wasn't completely focussed on making myself healthy (which by the way was more of a distraction from work than being obese ever was!)

For me, yes, going to the gym and eating right has made a hell of a lot of difference, but I'm not everyone. The answer isn't always that simple. Sweeping generalisations don't take account of circumstances, and the broad statements I've been reading are far too cliched to even believe people think like that. Maybe they don't. How do you express complex opinions in one paragraph, but I was still left speechless on more than one occasion.


I've been thinking more about how I'm going to celebrate getting to a healthy BMI. I'm planning something nice and indulgent and luxurious to treat myself, although the details aren't quite there yet. Although I then started thinking about it bit more, and I thought of another thing I may be able to do to celebrate.

It's a long shot, but it's doable. There are 8 weeks til Christmas. I need to lose 14lb. That's less than 2lb per week. It's possible.

I hesitate to set it as an "official" Christmas/New Year goal, I can't expect to lose at 2lb per week so close to goal, and I've got a couple of holidays eating into those 8 weeks. But you never know. There's still a chance I could be sitting down to eat that turkey at a healthy weight, which would be the best Christmas present I've ever given myself.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Free chocolate has no calories

It's a well known fact, and absolutely true, honest. Which is why I was gutted about my treatment at the hands of the chocolate gods this afternoon. Due to iron willpower and the motivation that comes with size 14 bikinis and neoprene, I hadn't eaten chocolate since last Sunday. But I was feeling tired and in need of a short sharp energy boost this afternoon and decided, with a completely clear conscience, that chocolate would fix it. So I went to the chocolate machine, and chocolate did indeed fix it. Who needs Jimmy Saville?

But the chocolate gods were obviously in a bad mood with me. So what do they do other than transport a huge amount of free chocolate and plonk it on a desk just outside my office. There must be at least a kilogram of the stuff there, I kid you not. And apparently it's very nice.

This poses a dilemma. Free chocolate is usually acceptable to me. This is on the basis that it doesn't arrive too often and can therefore be rightly termed a "treat". Which is what chocolate should be. Free chocolate isn't an every day snack, and for this reason above all others, it has no calories. Well, not many. Let's be honest, a single mini galaxy out of a tub of celebrations or two maltesers isn't going to cause lard to stick to me in huge quantities, and by the time everyone has had their share (and with a little self restraint) you don't eat much of it anyway. Hence the no calorie theory.

Obviously it helps that I don't count calories. If I did I may be obliged to add something, but I don't, so I won't.

So, there's the calorie free chocolate, but I've just eaten a bar of galaxy. A big one, not the mini ones in Celebrations, obviously. Well, not big as in the 200g Friday night bars, but big as in full, normal size. Of course the old me wouldn't have had these scruples and would have headed straight for the free stuff as a kind of chocolatey second helping. But the new me analyses a bit more.

Why do I want the chocolate? Because it's there. Do I have a need for chocolate? No, not really, I've just filled that particular gap in my life. The chocolate-ometer is showing full, having recently been topped up to acceptable levels. I'm not hungry at all, let alone for chocolate. Is this chocolate the nicest chocolate on earth? I don't know, but the chances are it isn't. It might be I suppose, and to find out I'd have to try it…

Stop. Right. There.

I know this trap. It's the not wanting to miss out on something trap. I've seen it at work before, and I've beaten it before.

And I've beaten it again. I didn't need chocolate, so I din't eat chocolate. It eems such a simple concept, but surprisingly hard to deal with sometimes. I'm getting there, bit by bit. I'm slowly winning more and more battles, and I'm in control.


Someone at work (in fact the source of the chocolate) told me today not to lose to much so I don't look gaunt and too skinny! Personally I think I'm waaaay off that point at the moment, but it's nice to be thought of as being able to get to that point, even if it's still fairly unlikely.

I'm still trying to work out what I'm really aiming at here. First I aimed for 40kg, but decided to revise the target a little to 100lb. But both of those were really picked because they were nice round numbers than because I wanted to be that number above all others. Realistically if I stopped now, I'd be relatively happy, but I don't think that I'm ready to stop losing yet.

And I still don't know when I will be. Will I know when I see it, will I get to a weight and know that's where to stop? Will my body just decide for me, and stop losing? Whatever, I'm fairly sure I won't end up as a skinny lollipop head, but I'm kind of intrigued as to what body I'm going to end up with.

I can see a shape emerging, but I still don't know what the final outcome's going to be. It's funny that I've come so far without knowing what I'm aiming for, really, but one day maybe I'll work it out.

Sunday, October 23, 2005


-------------Long Post Warning------------------

I was doing Pilates this morning and as I did something with my legs in the air (never a good look on a Sunday morning) I realised how bony my ankles and feet look, and how misshapen my left ankle really is. So, on that theme I'll try again, with the story of the moment when I thought I'd never exercise again.

As I said in a recent post, I was always fairly active growing up, but not too interested in organised sport. I always half thought about getting fit but never quite got round to it. I was probably in a thinking about it phase over Christmas 2002.

It was my first Christmas in Gran Canaria after my family moved there, and I'd had a great time. I was due to fly home on the Thursday after New Year because the works Christmas party was on the Friday (for some reason they always used to have it after New Year). That party was legendary, free drinks all night, free hotel rooms, the entire firm from across the country in one place for one evening only, and worth flying home for.

My flight was about lunchtime so I'd had a leisurely morning. I'd driven to the supermarket to pick up some stuff to take home, and I was all packed. My plan was to fly home via Madrid, get to Manchester late, stay the night somewhere between there and Leeds, go to work, drive down to the party, stay over night the next night in the firm provided hotel and then, finally, make it home on the Saturday.

My parents live in a row of tall, thin townhouses. The garage is set slightly down from street level with a slope going down to it, and with some steps going up to the front door which is slightly up from street level, on the floor above the garage. The steps don't open out onto the flat pavement, but onto the sloping driveway. This is important (and possibly dangerous, since the events of Christmas 2002 the landlord has changed the layout of the steps on all the houses he owns on that row).

I was all packed up so I carried my bag out to the car. I think my mum was on the roof terrace putting out some washing. As I got to the bottom step, my ankle gave way. I always used to go over on my ankles when I was fat. This is something I've not actually done for a long time, maybe I'm putting less strain on them now, I don't know, or maybe my ankle was just inherently weak and is now stronger due to the events that followed. My case was nice and heavy, filled with christmas presents and cheap alcohol, and I had no chance of keeping my balance as my ankle turned, on a sloping surface and carrying a heavy case. Over I toppled. I remember very little about how I landed, but I think that my case must have landed on my leg or ankle somewhere and caused it to bend in ways it wasn't meant to bend.

My cry was audible from the roof and the end of the row. My mum came running down, as did the English neighbour. I'd managed to get myself into the seat of the car by this point, without fainting, which was actually quite an achievement. It was a little comfier than the floor. Within 30 seconds of falling I knew exactly what I'd done. I didn't nee doctors or x-rays to diagnose it, it was obvious. Still, the English neighbour convinced herself that it wasn't broken because I could move my toes. I tried to convince myself that maybe it wasn't so bad. But failed.

Being resourceful (and having all my documents to hand) I decided to phone my insurance company straight away. And got nowhere. Apparently I needed a doctors certificate to say I wasn't fit to fly before they'd look into getting me a replacement flight. I tried to persuade them that as my flight was in two and a half hours, I would miss it purely by attempting to get a doctors certificate, but no, they couldn't do anything.

By this point I think the car was being driven to the local hospital. No sensible thoughts like calling an ambulance or going to the nice, multilingual, private place. Oh no, we went to the local state run place. Got to the car park and instead of dropping me off at the entrance my mother, in her infinite wisdom, decided to find a parking space first. It was busy, of course, so I then had to hop across the car park. I had acquired some crutches by this stage (my family is the sort that always has crutches lying around, at the moment there is a pair in the back of my car for some reason), but I wasn't used to them and there was frequent foot-ground contact which hurt like hell.

I got to reception, and got to stand up while my mother argued with the receptionist in very bad Spanish. Apparently I wasn't allowed to be seen there (or seemingly even be offered a seat) because I was a tourist. Never mind that I had my E111 which entitled me to treatment, or that it was the closest hospital, it was for locals only. Don't you just love equal treatment of EU citizens... I finally got to see a doctor there who followed my diagnosis approach and said it was broken without needing an x-ray. I didn't really expect to be told anything else, and although there weren't any bones poking out, it was blatantly obvious. I (finally) got a painkiller (and even more blissfully got to lie down while they administered it) and then got sent on my way. Not because I was a tourist this time, but because I needed to go to the big hospital in Las Palmas where they dealt with this sort of thing. I only got the jist of this with my very basic Spanish, but was quite worried by the use of a word that seemed to be surgery. That was worse than I expected, and not overly promising.

So I got bundled back into the car, and we went to pick up someone Spanish who might be able to translate (might have been useful to think of that earlier!) on the way to the other airport. By this point my mother is banning me from eating in case I need surgery and I'm wilting in the heat. The pain has abated a little, but only a little. We had to argue to get close to the hospital in the car, the guards wanted us to park miles away, but one look at the ankle and they let us into the ambulance entrance.

I got out of the car, and seriously by this stage it was disgusting enough that people would turn and point. It was swollen up to roughly the size of a football, and was very clearly not right. Not right enough that I actually got a wheelchair to sit in for my stay in this hospital. But not quite bad enough that they managed to write the right thing on my x-ray forms. Completely oblivious I got to x-ray to be asked why my right knee needed to be x-rayed when it was clearly my left ankle that was the problem!

X-rays in hand, I got taken back and plastered up. No mention of surgery now, which at least sounded more promising. Until I discovered they were just deferring it. The doctors wanted me to fly home and be operated on at home, on the basis that I'd have physio at home and it would better be done by the same hospital. At the time I was gutted, I quite fancied a prolonged stay in Gran Canaria with my family rather than facing an English winter on crutches alone. But with hindsight I'm not sure I'd have fancied being treated there...

I got sent on my way with a cast on my ankle, some drugs to take and very little advice. Was I meant to keep weight off it? Was I meant to keep it up? What the hell was wrong with it? No idea. I got carried back up the steps into the house (poor Eduardo's back has never been the same since...) and back to the battle with the insurance company. They would cover repatriating me, of course, but the problem was logistical. It was the weekend at the end of the Christmas/New Year holiday. There were flights off the island, but they were all full. Eventually I managed to get some seats going via Amsterdam, and my mother who decided to come with me on the basis that I had no-one at home to look after me had to pay full price (£1000) for her seat as the insurance company didn't see that as a good enough reason. The flight was on the Sunday, and on the Saturday someone asked whether I had a fit to fly certificate. A what? The hospital hadn't given me any paperwork really, and certainly not any sort of certificate, although they'd provided medical reports to the insurers to validate my claim and say it was medically necessary for me to go home.

So off round the hospitals we went. The state system said that no-one other than the doctor who originally treated me could sign a certificate. Which wasn't much use at about 10pm on a Saturday night, 10 hours before the flight and when he wasn't on duty. So we tried the private hospital and wondered why we hadn't gone there in the first place. A bit of money changes hands and they'll sign anything.

I woke up on the Sunday morning and wondered whether I actually was fit to fly. There was a patch of blood on the outside of the cast. I tried to calm down. When I fell I'd scraped the toes on my other foot, and told myself that I must just have knocked a scab off in the night and transferred blood onto the cast like that. I tried to ignore it and not think too hard about where it was coming from.

We got to the airport. I had 3 seats and my mother had one. The airline wanted to seat us in 2 blocks of 2 seats. Fantastic. We managed to hold up the check in queue for about 20 minutes until they actually found us some suitable seats, then dashed through to get on the plane. I think I'd located a wheelchair at the airport, having had my borrowed crutches taken off me at the door to the airport so they could stay in Gran Canaria. I hopped up the steps to the plane (the best aerobic workout I'd had for a while!), and collapsed onto the seat.

At Amsterdam the only thing I could think about was that the patch of the blood was distinctly bigger than it had been earlier in the morning. That's one of those things that you know instantly is NOT GOOD. I've never been as relieved to see Manchester in my life as I was at the moment when that second plane touched down. But the stress wasn't over. Waiting at baggage reclaim we quickly realised that our bags weren't coming round on the belt. The wheelchair pushing bloke who'd been sent for us quickly worked out what had happened, apparently Amsterdam is notorious for hanging onto bags for longer than it should. We registered our claim, and headed outside to the waiting ambulance.

I got to the hospital, and no matter how bad I thought it was, I wasn't prepared for what happened when they took the cast off and did their own x-rays. It turns out that not only was my ankle broken in two places (which I hadn't been told) - both the bones, but it hadn't been put back into position when they put the first cast on, and the broken jagged ends of bone had cut off some blood vessels, which had burst, caused the surrounding skin to decay and generally done bad things, which was where the patch of blood had come from. The swelling hadn't gone down at all over the past three days, and there was no way they could operate for another five or six days.

This is the point at which my mother in particular got particular panicky. She was convinced that they'd need to amputate my entire foot. Phrases like "we'll see what we can do" and "what on earth did they do to this?" aren't calculated to inspire confidence, to be fair. I was never quite so pessimistic, but came to realise that it was a horrible horrible break, made worse by the "treatment" I'd received, and that I'd be lucky if it ever recovered properly.

I spent until Friday lying on my back with my leg in the air. I've rarely been so bored in my life, surrounded by all the old women with their winter slipping injuries, broken hips etc. The orthopaedic ward is a barrel of laughs, believe me. I was scared shitless at the prospect of surgery (I'm a wimp about that sort of stuff), and I was gutted about the amount of damage I'd done to myself.

The operation and the weeks with the cast on passed. It all went so slowly. My upper body strength got surprisingly good, hauling the lump of my weight round on crutches, but I wondered whether I'd ever be able to walk properly, let alone run. Not that I could run before, but I'd always intended to start, and now I didn't think that would ever happen. Physio was a slow, painful process. When the cast came off my ankle was still horribly swollen, immobile and even better covered with scars. They'd had to cut both sides of my leg to get all the metal work in, and I couldn't believe what a mess it was. The patch of decayed skin still looked tender, the scars looked raw, and my ankle looked like it should be half the size it actually was.

I slowly started to walk properly, but gave up all hope of it being normal. A year passed, which was when they said the swelling should have gone down by, and it hadn't. (Two and a half years later it still hasn't). But it started getting stronger. I got more confident, and I started to think it might be normal again after all. I started to exercise, fairly cautiously at first to avoid injuring it any more, but then properly. It flared up when I first started to run, and for a week or so I could only put weight on my left foot very cautiously, but since then it's been stronger than ever.

And what's more, I think that the exercise will help me never do it again. I don't think that ankle will break again, not with all that metal in it, but I was always worried about my other bones. I know a fair few heavier people, and the funny thing is that of all the people I know it's the big people who've had serious injuries from innocuous objects. A suitcase, a leaf, a boat, a gravelly slope. I'm no doctor, so I don't know whether it's just a coincidence, whether it's extra stress being put on the bones or whether it's the effect of the weight putting strange pressure on the bones as we fell, but we all broke in our own ways. Maybe it is a coincidence, but since I started losing weight I've become more balanced. I don't go over on my ankles any more, and if I do trip on a paving slab or something else I regain my balance before I hit the floor. That has to be an improvement from the constant grazes I had on my legs in the past.

So I still have a misshapen ankle to prove to me what I've been through. I think the experience helped me because it forced me to put up with pain, with not being able to do what I wanted to do, and with facing my fears. That's been invaluable in other ways, and I'm proud of coming through it stronger and fitter than ever.

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Working Hard

Sometimes it seems to me that this process is ridiculously easy. I've not really had any huge binges or traumas doing this, I've not plateaued and the weight has come off far more quickly than I ever anticipated. Sometimes I feel like I've just got lucky.

But then other times I know that I haven't. Even though I constantly downplay what I do, I realise that I actually work incredibly hard at this. I constantly astound work colleagues by my discipline in eating and exercising, and maybe I need to reflect on how hard this actually is sometimes.

I was talking to my boss about pain the other day. She's recently had a baby, and we were talking about how people say that you forget the pain of childbirth relatively easily. She said that she didn't think it was just that particular sort of pain, and asked me if I could really remember how much my ankle hurt when I broke it. Thinking about it, I couldn't. I can remember it hurt a lot, and I can remember what particular things really set it off hurting, but I can't remember precisely how it hurt or how it felt.

I think it's the same with exercise in a way. When I'm on the treadmill it sometimes kills me. Trying to get another minutes worth of running out of my tiring legs, or trying to haul myself up one last hill. But once I'm in the shower I forget how hard I've worked and how much it was hurting, and the daily chore of going to the gym dissolves into just a question of getting up early and getting there. When I'm not actually exercising, it's the getting there rather than the doing it that seems like it's the hardest part.

Maybe that's why I don't see it as that hard. I concentrate on the relative ease of getting to the gym, rather than how damn hard I work when I get there. I see people posting about their exercise, and it sometimes amazes me how much harder I work. Of course there are a multitude of reasons for that, I could be younger, I could have been building up my fitness for longer, I could have had better base fitness to start with, I could be (and I sometimes forget this bit) a far amount thinner. I'm not intending to say that other people should work harder, but rather that I shouldn't downplay what I actually do.

And with food, it's similar. People constantly comment on how healthy my diet is and how they're amazed at my willpower. Yesterday I ignored a huge pile of free Kit Kats at a work training session, whih is just one of a series of daily battles. Just because I've hit on combinations of food that I like and that are good for me doesn't mean that I should say it's easy. I still have to eat them every day, and not go back to my old habits. It's funny, when I'm wandering round the supermarket I keep on seeing foods I used to eat that I'd completely forgotten about, and it's only at that stage that I realise what I've given up. I don't crave them as such, but because the changes to my diet have come about very gradually I sometimes feel like I've not made any changes at all, which is of course complete rubbish. I have, even if I don't realise it most of the time.

It's nice that it doesn't feel like hard work most of the time, but I think it's also nice to sit back and realise how much I've changed, not least so that I feel like I've earned this all the more.


A WTF moment when I stepped on the scales this morning. 13 stone (182) dead on. Which is 3lb down from yesterday. I know it's mainly water (believe me, I did expect a decent loss, the amount I was on the loo yesterday), but I also know that I'd been retaining water for the past week or so, so I'm hoping that this is the "real" weight rather than a freaky one. Usually once water has gone it stays off for me, so fingers crossed. Whatever, I seem to be firmly back in losing mode after my time off, and very pleased to be back on the wagon.

I cleared out my wardrobe today and swear I now have more clothes to throw out then I have in my wardrobe. There are some lovely clothes in there, but I really can't allow myself even the thought of wearing them again. Almost everything size 18 or above has now been chucked out (except my work suit which I still need to replace before chucking), and I need to promise myself that I'm never going back. And work to keep that promise to myself.


Every once in a while, usually on a Saturday, I finally get round to spending some proper time reading those other blogs that I link to and, eek, I've been tagged by Liz with:

1. Go into your archives.
2. Find your 23rd post.
3. Find the fifth sentence (or the closest one to it)
4. Post the text of your sentence in your blog along with these rules.
5. Tag five other people.

"I was working out that to get to the sort of weight I would like to be at it's going to be a long process, and that after that my "short term" aim would be to keep the weight off for at least a year to give any hope of keeping it off in the long term."

Reading back through that post was good for me. It was the moment that it clicked that maintenance and long term thinking would be the only thing that would work to keep the weight off long term. I remember how I sat back, looked at a planner of the whole year, and worked out that even if I lost weight at a fairly rapid but healthy pace I'd still only be nearing a healthy BMI by the end of the year (and this was back in April).

I pondered though, whether I could do it, and whether I'd be able to stick to it for that long.

"Of course, my rough jottings now don't take account of anything that could throw me off my stride. Another foot injury, illness, falling off the wagon like I did last autumn. Losing my motivation. A plateau. And I'm desperately trying not to hold myself to the figures I set out, because that way I foresee failure. Hopefully not dismal failure, but I don't know whether I can keep up this progress consistently for that long.

But then part of me says, why not? Just go for it. If you fail to lose another 29kg then what does it matter if you've managed to lose 25. Or 15. Or even 5. You'll still be improving your health, your weight, your fitness, and there's always next year. But maybe once I set a target and miss it it will cause me to lose my motivation and throw me off the wagon completely."

Anyway, the reason I'm glad to have found this is that it's late October, and I'm still here and I am doing it. The target has changed so that I'm a bit further away from it now than I was on the old figures, but I've been losing fairly consistently for that whole time, and I'm pretty much where I hoped to be on my April numbers. They're not the be all and end all, but it's nice to be on track and to be able to look back and say "I did it, after all".

I need to go away and think of 5 people to tag now, which is always the hard bit...

Friday, October 21, 2005

Bad Bad Blogger

It just ate a really long post. B@stard.

One day I'll get round to telling the ankle saga (otherwise known as the moment I never thought I'd exercise again), but having got midway through it (it's a long story) I can't face starting again just yet. Ah well, it's a treat to look forward to.

Instead, let's just focus on the figures.

75lb gone!

Yes, 75!!!

Sometimes I look at myself (usually individual body parts rather than the whole), and I see thin. My BMI is now lower than my age for the first time ever, at 27.4. There was a shoe shop that advertised a couple of years ago (maybe they still do, I have sky+ so I don't watch ads...) to "act your shoe size" rather than your age. For me, it's act my BMI. I don't know whether I acted 38.1, but I do know that I felt a hell of a lot older than I do now, and a hell of a lot older than I should have done at 26. As my weight and my BMI goes down I feel younger, not just thinner and fitter.

The other BMI related development is that I'm now just about at the mid point between obesity and normality. It took me so long to get to 29.9 that I can't believe I'm half way to 24.9 already. Not that I want to stop at 24.9 necessarily, but I can't imagine how good it will feel to get there for the first time in my adult life.

I've got a quiet weekend this weekend. I have absolutely nothing planned for the first time since about January, so I plan to clear out the wardrobe, and possibly some of the other areas of clutter in the house. I'm sure I'll come across some horrendously baggy clothes, and possibly other mementoes of fatness, so I'll try to post some photos if I find anything funny.

The other victory of the day is that I've started doing thin girl things like getting discounts in garages. I took my car for its MOT today, it only needed some stuff doing to the lights - realigning them and some new bulbs. Anyway, the mechanic called me and said that it would be £20 to do, which was fine (and I expected it to fail on something more expensive - I didn't know what, but I assumed there'd be something). I went to pick it up and he said "what did I quote you on the phone, was it £15 or £20". I did my sweetest, cutest look and said "£20 I think, but you can charge me £15 if you want". And he did! I'd never have dared to attempt that move at my old weight. I don't know whether it was a being cute thing or a Friday afternoon thing, and £5 is hardly going to make me rich, but as a practising ground for the dark arts known as feminine wiles, everyone has to start somewhere!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The makings of a Gym Bunny

You may have gathered from this blog that I exercise a lot. I don't know whether it comes through that I actually enjoy it, but I do. Mainly, at least. I was thinking the other night about how I got fat in the first place, and what I really don't understand is that I always liked exercise, but for some reason I just stopped doing it, and got horribly obese in the process. With hindsight it seems such a simple thing to have put right earlier, but I never realised at the time.

Growing up I was always fairly active. My dad was into canoeing and was a scout leader, and I went along with him to meetings and canoeing lessons. I had swimming lessons. We did the local "10 mile walk" every summer, one of the highlights of the year. We went on long walks when we were on holiday. We lived on the edge of town and I'd go on long bike rides up and down country lanes. I'd play in the fields behind my house, and we'd go tramping across them to either get into town or to go sledging in the winter. My abiding memory of childhood isn't of food or parties or holidays, it's of cycling to the top of the hill near my house and freewheeling back down it. Time after time after time.

But if I was generally active outside of school, I don't remember school sports with the same affection. The important distinction here is that I was enthusiastic, but not actually very good. And in schools that had a fairly strong competitive ethos that naturally meant that the girls who would play for the school or play for the county got the attention, and those who wouldn't tended to languish. I hated hockey with a passion, but other sports I quite liked. I even did play netball and rounders for the school (I've still got my rounders colours stashed away somewhere at home), but more to make up the numbers because of my enthusiasm rather than because of any inate skill.

I was bigger than average at this stage, and of course with a teenage mind I was convinced I was horribly fat. Was I? To be honest, I don't have many pictures of me to check against. Maybe my parents do, but I'm coming to realise that I didn't have any fat on me that wasn't losable, had I kept up the exercise with just a little more conviction.

The sad thing is that I always wanted to exercise, but was convinced I was too incompetent at it to be "allowed" to do it. I started playing rugby, but when I moved from school to university I persuaded myself that everyone was far better at it and fitter than I was and I should just give up. I didn't seem to appreciate that fitness isn't inate, it comes if you work at it and that the only thing that was going to get me fitter was doing the thing I didn't want to do until I was fit.

I'd get passes for swimming pools and go regularly but not frequently. Every couple of weeks maybe I'd get myself down there. I never got out of the habit of doing it at all, but I never got into the habit of doing it often. I'd look at gyms but convince myself that they weren't for people like me. And above all I wanted to run. Secretly I longed to one day run properly, maybe even a marathon. I never admitted it for fear of looking stupid, and I made sure that my early attempts were carried out when no-one I knew was likely to see, but I wanted to run. Again, I quickly realised that I couldn't at that point, and took that as a sign that I'd never be able to do it, not as a sign that I needed to start slowly.

And as study and then work became more and more demanding I stopped doing as much. I suppose I was still relatively fit for my size, but the little I had been doing to maintain myself at maybe borderline obese fell away and the weight piled on. I started to forget that I'd ever really enjoyed exercise, and I stopped having the "once I get a pay rise I'll join a gym" thoughts completely. They turned into "what's the point, I'll never go" thoughts instead.

So what changed? To be honest, I still don't know. The summer before I joined the gym I'd half heartedly started trying to run again, without much success but with a little more persistence. My weight finally started slowing me down and while I was never too bothered about my size, I was bothered about not being able to do as much as I used to, at 26. I started to realise that I had to do something about it.

And then the low risk option came up. A 6 week no strings gym membership. I saw it advertised and I just knew. If I could stick to it for 6 weeks I'd feel more confident about a permanent membership. And if I couldn't then at least I'd not wasted any more money than absolutely necessary. I'd have wasted some money, of course, because along with the membership which wasn't cheap as such I had to buy something to wear at the gym, but it wouldn't be an indefinite monthly tax on my inactivity.

And it all came flooding back so quickly. I enjoyed it. I enjoyed doing something a bit faster, or quicker, or harder than I could the last time I tried it. I enjoyed challenging myself not by what other people could do but against what I could do before. I realised that this wasn't about other people, being the fittest or being the best, it was simply about being fitter, and that anything was better than nothing.

I didn't even realise the weight loss potential. I had it in the back of my mind, but I wasn't aiming for anything dramatic, just something to make me a bit more comfortable and a bit fitter. I didn't realise how much difference the exercise would make, and how much I'd enjoy it and stick to it.

I see new members in the gym all the time. They come for a week, maybe two, really enthusiastic and regular as clockwork. Then they start arriving later and later in the morning, then they start missing more and more days. Then they disappear, to be seen once in a blue moon. It still mystifies me, how I ended up being one of the ones who sticks to it. There are others, a little band of regulars, but how did I break into that group when so many others have failed? I wish I had some secrets or some encouragement for them, something to pass on so that they can do this too, and I don't like to see it when they drop away.

I really don't know why it clicked for me, but that’s what convinces me I'm going to succeed and keep this off. Exercise isn't a struggle, and it isn't a horrendous chore. I quite like it and I'd rather spend an hour or so every day exercising than spend another minute how I was, let alone be like that 24 hours a day. (Actually, that's not quite true. Maybe I'd spend a minute or so like that just so I can really see the difference and make myself a fat cast so that I can remind myself how far I've come when I forget). The hard bit was getting fit, now I've just got to keep myself there and remind myself that I'm an exercise junkie and proud of it.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Pinching myself

I'm having one of those moments tonight, where I suddenly realise what I've done to myself. I'm sitting here typing this wearing size 14 jeans. Knowing that somewhere out there on an island in the Atlantic off North Africa, my sister is sitting there also wearing size 14 jeans, moreover size 14 jeans that I know fit me because I tried them on before she did.

I'm only very marginally bigger than my sister for the first time in my life. As children I always had the size that came with two extra years, and by the time things levelled off as we headed towards adulthood I was well on my way to being heavier. But I'm back, and I have a strange feeling I might be the thin one some day.

That's an amazing realisation. But I know that there's plenty more weight I can lose if I carry on doing this. I can see it, I can hold it, and I know that what I'm doing will get it off. If that happens then I'll pass her and venture into truly unknown territory, for either of us. And I can't believe that it could be me who discovers it first.

I've always been the clever one, she's always been the pretty one. She's not thin, exactly, but she has a lovely figure, which really suits her. She looks damn good, confident, sexy, and I can't believe that the body I look down at and see lots of flab on is almost the same size as the body I've always envied.

And the funny thing is, I feel guilty. Not that we've ever discussed it, but I always accepted my lot, that I was the clever one, she was the pretty one. I didn't compete with her and she didn't compete with me. I'd overshadow each and every one of her academic achievements by going one better as her results came through (the side effect of being 2 years ahead, as she got one set of results through I'd complete something a level or so up, and with better grades), but she'd overshadow me with her popularity, gorgeousness and all that sort of stuff. Just as she never lived up to my academic achievements, I never lived up to what she achieved on a more social level. A less lively social life was the price I paid for the time studying, and I associated that (possibly wrongly) with my fatness and her prettiness.

Anyway, I ramble, but I've always felt less guilty for being better than her at some stuff by reminding myself that she's far thinner than I am. Except she's not now. And I'm starting to feel like it's too selfish to want to be both the clever one AND the thin one. Even though there's tons of stuff she's better than me at, and despite the fact it doesn't really matter. Ingrained habits die hard.

The upside is that I'm going over there soon and in desperate need of some clothes to wear while I'm on holiday. Hmm, wonder where I might find those. Even at the moment people ask me where I got my coat or my jeans and I have to admit they're not mine. I've never done the sisterly clothes swopping thing, but am looking forward to giving it a go!

Monday, October 17, 2005

Bikini Back to Basics Blitz

I didn't mention the bikini back to basics blitz before? That would be because I've had virtually no time to sit down with the computer for longer than about 5 minutes in the past couple of weeks. I'm absolutely worn out at the moment!

Anyway, on the way to Marrakech I bought a bikini at the airport. I've never been one of those fat girls with a complete horror of bikinis. Just covering the flesh with skintight swimming costume as opposed to leaving it bare isn't going to hide the fat, is it? And a bikini is far more user friendly for those wearing a bikini under clothes in case you have a sudden need for a swim or sunbathe days. So I've always worn bikinis, but usually with the assistance of a sarong, and anyway, they were quite voluminous. Plenty of fabric, shorts bottoms, or vest tops, or proper bra type tops rather than triangles and string.

Well, the new bikini is more of the triangles and string variety. And it's a size 14. Now, that shouldn't be a surprise on the basis that I am a size 14, but it still looks bloody small. Not much coverage of anything, to be honest, although it does fit. As it should, with me being a size 14 (still need to repeat it frequently to believe it!)

Anyway, that's the bikini bit, but the blitz bit? I blogged what seems like ages ago about my 3 week "break". It did get a bit more breaky than it started off, as I started slipping back into feeling more comfortable about giving myself treats every now and then, but it's come to an end. Quite successfully, really. I started at 189, went down to 186 in the first week and am now back up at 187. Which is 2lb lower than the figure I was aiming for as an achievement. Maintaining on my mother's cooking and eating out isn't particularly easy.

I've said before that this time last year I well and truly fell off the wagon. I regained most of the weight I'd lost last summer (only about 12lb, but still more than I needed to), and I got out of the habit of doing good things for myself. It wasn't so much the fact that mum was here and I got out of the habit for 3 weeks, it was the fact that I never got back into it because the mornings were too dark and cold and the food was too nice. It took me til the new year to remember what I was meant to be doing.

So, not this year. I want to get back in the saddle before I end up in the same place this year. I have 2 weeks before I go to visit my family in Spain, and I know I could sit here and think that there's no point doing it for 2 weeks then stopping again. But that would be bad thinking, last year's thinking. So instead I'm thinking of the bikini. Every pound I lose before I put that thing on is one pound of extra confidence that I can actually carry it off. And hopefully it will get me back into the routine of doing this and keeping it going over winter rather than just summer.

So even if I don't quite summon up the guts to wear the triangles (and believe me, the sarong will still come in handy for this one...) the bikini will have served its purpose of reminding me what I'm doing and keeping me on the straignt and narrow.

I'm not intending to do anything drastic, just cutting down the snacks that seem to have been creeping into my eating habits (eek, no chocolate for 2 weeks?) and having a good "clean" 2 weeks on the understanding that it's not forever. I'll be back on the more maintainable version of what I do when I get back, with treats in moderation, but with it being a manageable timeframe I'm interested in seeing whether I can do it.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Fat friends

I was over in Manchester yesterday, meeting up with a load of old rugby friends, some of whom I haven't seen since about April. We all post on a message board, out there in internet land, and I meet some of them fairly regularly, but the big, everyone turning up, meetups are much rarer. So it was nice.

I do find it funny, when people tell me I look "well". I'm not denying that I do look well, but I know exactly what they're trying to say. Do they really think I'll object if they come right out and say it? "Where did your arse go?" That's what they mean. Come on guys, I won't be offended.

Although I know damn well where my arse went, it seems. I swear I was one of the thinnest people there, and as I've been shrinking, my arse seems to have transferred to the arses of some of my mates, and taken up residence there. I couldn't believe the fact that I can be one of the thinnest people in a group, and that this is really me. And I thought about my other friends, and

There is always only one question in my mind when I see fat people now. "Was I ever as fat as her?" But also, why are all my friends fat? I would half think that it was a self esteem thing, that I wanted to be around people who made me seem more normal, so that I wouldn't stand out, but that theory doesn't work. I met all these people online, through words before I met them and saw what they looked like.

I know I've already hidden away online where people can't see me, and maybe I'm not the only one. But I don't think it's just that. I looked round the rest of the crowd at the game. I seem to notice fat far more than I every did. And maybe the lifestyle encourages it. Meeting up with the sort of people who watch rather than play sport, who meet in pubs for an afternoon, who grab a pie or a burger at the game. Who talk about things on the internet rather than doing them. Maybe it gets to us all in the end. I have some fantastic friends and I'm not planning to give them up just because I have this new healthy lifestyle, but I need to find a way to avoid falling back into the same traps that got me before.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Who I am

I'm going away to Marrakesh for a while tomorrow and will only be back online later on next week, so I thought I'd try to leave you with something interesting to get a bit of debate going on in the comments hopefully. Problem was, I didn't know what until I read Beverly's comment on my last entry, which really got me thinking.

Isn't it interesting what kind of personas we can adopt when the people we're with don't know our past histories? So, what I want to know is, were you truly being yourself, or were you being the girl you always fancied yourself to be, were she not buried under a layer of fat?

I'd be interested to hear other opinions on this, but I'll start you off with my thoughts.

For me, I never thought about what life would be like to be thin. I never consciously thought "I'd do that if I was thin" or that I'd be a certain sort of person. I wasn't thin, and there was no point on dwelling on what might have been unless I was truly willing to put my heart and soul into doing something to achieve it. I've always taken the view that I live very much for today, in the body I'm in, and I don't complain about things unless I'm willing to do what it takes to change it.

I was never dramatically unhappy with my weight. Not really. Maybe I should have been then I might have done something about it sooner, but maybe doing it this way is better in the long term because the harder I have to work at sorting the problem out, the more ingrained the habits I pick up while doing that will be. I don't think I even realised how my weight coloured my personality and my perception of self. Being fat was who I was, and I didn't think that being any other size (even if I considered that possibility) would change that. I've always had a lack of confidence, and I appreciate now (and probably always did) that it is linked to my size, but I suppose I thought that I'd never be a confident person, no matter what.

The confidence seems to have come in a couple of ways. The first is quite straightforward, if I can do this, I can do anything. Of all the things I've ever tried to do in my life, this is the one where I never dreamed I'd succeed at all, let alone to the extent I have done. If I can run 10k, lose 5 stone, wear a size 14 then what else can I do? And linked to that is the realisation that I'll never find out unless I try. So it's time to take the plunge. I'm finally going to try scuba diving (three years after getting easy access to free lessons and equipment). If I don't like it I don't like it, but if I don't try it, I'll never know. The same with Spanish (it's all paid up now), if I don't go I won't know how useful it is, will I?

I'm far better at taking a compliment as it's meant now. Before, I'd shrug off a compliment as unmeant, or unmerited. I got lucky, or it's sympathy. Now I know I've earned them I can get the confidence boost that comes with them.

The other thing is that I now see myself as far more of a blank canvas to be different people. Dressing up, if you will. When I go shopping I try on clothes in styles I'd never have considered before (OK, styles that weren't available before anyway, but I wouldn't have worn them if they were), and even if I never leave the changing room in them and don't buy them, I can see myself being a range of different people. Before, and I've blogged this or something similar before, my way of thinking was that a fat girl with nice clothes is still a fat girl. That doesn't hold true for everyone, I know, but that was how I thought. Now that I'm not exactly fat, or not obese at least, but not properly thin I kind of feel that my body's more neutral, and that I can dress up, put on a personality for a night, and try it for size. Really trying to explore possibilities to find out who I'm more comfortable being. Confidence comes from that in a way, because the clothes do change my way of seeing myself, and my expectations of how people will react to me. It's playing a role, but maybe I need to do that for a while to find out which role is really me after all my messed up fat inspired thinking.

That comes back to the old "fat" thinking. No matter what I said or did, I thought that people would still judge me for being "fat". Maybe it's rubbish, but if you think that way then you think that way, with justification or not. Now I can think that people listen to what I say, not stare at me wondering exactly how much I had to eat to do that to myself. So I'm willing to say it.

At one point I thought that I didn't stop myself getting so fat to hide, to try to make myself invisible. But I came to realise that there is no hiding when you're fat. Not really. Because even if you can hide your emotions or your hurt beneath the fat rolls, you can never hide the fat itself and it becomes who you are and defines you far more than whatever you were trying to bury.

So I really don't know whether there's a specific personality that's "me" any more. Every second, the person I am at the time is "me", whether it's the underconfident fat girl or the trying on a role for a while slimmed down version. A precious stone has lots of different sides, all reflecting the light in different ways, and that's the way I prefer to see it. There are different parts of me, one might be more visible at any one time, but it's one complete entity. The good and the bad. Just me.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Is it 'cos I'm cool?

Oh, what a change. I'm now the cool solicitor, the role model for trainees across the firm. And I still feel like a fraud.

First Friday drinks today (on a Wednesday), and for a change I was drinking because I didn't have the car anyway. So I went along and went with the flow. Whereas in the past I'd have been on the edge of groups, not daring to join in for the fear of being "too fat" to be accepted, today I was right in there. The life and soul of the party. As it were.

I realise that, no matter how much I envy the trainees their relative youth or their enthusiasm, they are in awe of me to an equal extent, the way I was in awe of 2PQE lawyers when I started here. But the difference is that I come across (god knows how) as vaguely cool and grounded and, god forbid, relatively normal. Compared to other lawyers at least.

So there I was, lapping it up, feeling popular, organising my brand new Spanish conversation group with a couple of people who want to learn Spanish but aren't ready to sign up for a course, plugging my upcoming training sessions (borne out of a desperate need for CPD points before the end of October) and generally playing the role of someone who has their life sorted out (if only they knew).

And then a couple of secrets slip out. First of all the fact that I'm younger than half the trainees. Where on earth did my early 20s go and why did I waste them on this? I have trainees who are two, three, four years older than I am, and I'm 2 years qualified. Why didn't I drink my way round the world like they did? So, that comes out. Then the barman of all people comes over to me and goes on about how he would hardly recognise me. So I have to admit to people who have only met me within the past couple of months that I may have lost a certain amount of weight. Erm, about 5 stone. Or a little more, possibly. And not that I spent THAT much time in the pub before, honest.

There goes the air of cool, straight out the window.

Never mind, it's hardly a state secret the number of people who have seen it happening, but I like to cultivate the image that I'm just normal, rather than "formerly obese". I want to put that behind me, and the more people who don't know about it, the better as far as I'm concerned.

And I'm drunk, so may delete this in the morning...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Moving On

Something seems to have finally clicked over the weekend. I think I've got to a point where I can start looking at other stuff in my life other than my weight, and start to make plans about who I want to be.

I've been focussed on the physical aspects of me in a fairly concentrated way since the early part of the year, and while I've had fantastic results, and I don't regret a second of it, the rest of me seems to be slipping into the background and I want to get it back out into the open. If you look at a person, weight shouldn't be their defining feature, and there are so many other things about a person that are worthy of note. That's one of the things that annoys me about this whole process, the fact that all people want to talk about is my weight rather than all the other things that make me "me".

But, to be completely honest, over the past few months there seem to have been getting fewer and fewer of those other things. I still travel, and I still watch the rugby, but sometimes it seems like all my other "big plans" have been lost in my determination to get fit and once and for all do something about my weight. I go to work, I go to the gym, and I collapse at home at the end of the day. I don't go out drinking, and I don't meet people. Put simply, I've become far too dull, and now I want to get my life back.

This is a good time to do it, too. I've finally got my confidence back and I'm happy that I can now walk into a room and have people judge me for me rather than my size. Maybe they wouldn't have judged me for my size before anyway, but I always worried that they would and it was my own fears rather than the actions of other people that was the problem. Now, no such worries. If I meet new people they need never know about it unless I tell them.

Over the weekend something clicked. Visiting my godmother was fantastic, she is the person I've always wanted to be. Strong, single, independent, capable, good at her job and with a fantastic group of friends. Who are also mainly strong, single, independent and capable. She's a fantastic role model for me and I love her to bits. She's managed to create a life for herself that doesn't rely on husband and kids, and she's who I want to be.

It struck me that she hasn't got that life because that's just what happens when you're single or because she's lucky, she's got that life because she's worked at it as much as her career, meeting new people, keeping hold of the people that really matter, constantly learning new skills and always having something to do.

And the fact that I don't have a super fantastic life at 27 doesn’t mean that if I don't work at it I won't have one by the time I'm 50 like her. If I carry on like I am, happy to sit at home with a book or the tv in the evening, I won't meet the people I want to fill my life with, but equally if I throw myself into drinking or clubbing I won't necessarily meet people who I actually get on with and who share my general outlook on life. I'm not a party animal and never will be, but I could cope with getting out of the house once in a while.

So I decided to combine one of the "big plans" with a reason to get out there and meet new people. Since my parents moved to Spain three years ago I've been meaning to learn Spanish, getting part of the way with a teach yourself book and then grinding to a halt. I'm fine with self study, but I don't get the conversation practice I need and I don't have the structure to devote a certain amount of time to it each week. So I've signed up for a Spanish course that starts next week, and hopefully this will be the first step in moving on and concentrating on my life rather than my weight.

I'm a bit worried that the course I've signed up for will be a bit basic, but hey, even if it is then I can use it as a way to get back into the habit of studying without having to do it particularly hard!

Monday, October 03, 2005

Pleasing my inner bitch

Oh, I shouldn't do it, I know, but I never knew competitive dieting could be so fun... My boss came back to work from maternity leave today. She's been off work for 7 months, and hasn't seen the whole transformation first hand. A transformation which almost precisely coincided with her leave (possibly because I had no boss to overwork me???)

Anyway, for 18 months she stuck religiously to the Atkins diet. And I mean religiously. She would kick up a fuss in restaurants if they wouldn't modify a dish for her, she'd be very picky, and lost a decent amount of weight. I would never have stuck with that for as long as she did, and full credit to her for doing it. It must take a hell of a lot of willpower to stick to something so restrictive for so long.

Then she got pregnant and stopped doing it. I've never quite understood how she could possibly think something was healthy for her if it wasn't healthy for the baby. If (and this is a very hypothetical if) I were to get pregnant I can't see that I'd need to change what I eat very much at all, it's generally healthy, and it's enjoyable. But to spend 18 months eating stuff that you wouldn't eat while you're pregnant, don't you wonder whether it's healthy even when you're not pregnant?

Anyway, I digress. She had the baby, and she didn't pile the pounds on a such. She's pretty much maintained her loss. I'm not sure whether she's back on Atkins now and whether she's used that to get it back off again, but I'm sure she will be soon. She still has (release the inner bitch) a fair amount to lose. (I'm not saying that I don't, by the way, pot calling the kettle black time, possibly).

But it's hitting home. I started heavier than she did, and I'm definitely now thinner. And not only that, I'm starting to realise that I'm probably also thinner than one of the trainees. I'm not the fat one in the department, and I'm intending for things to stay that way. My inner bitch is quite enjoying this.

Not least because I can see her eyeing up what I eat, all those lovely carbs, chocolate when I fancy it, treats, no weighing and measuring, no bizarre unworkable rules, and no stress. I know it's because I exercise and she doesn't, but part of me loves that jealousy that seems to be lurking just under the surface.