Friday, March 31, 2006


Today I did something that, to the best of my knowledge, I've never done before. I wore matching bra and knickers. God, I feel so much more grown up now I've got that out of the way!

Seriously though, my underwear has never been something that I've paid much attention to. After all, no-one apart from me gets to see it, so I will admit that it's never been particularly nice stuff. But this week I bought a load of new underwear, and today I wore some of the matching stuff. I was surprised at how much difference some pants could make to the way I felt over the past couple of days, stuff that fits, that looks vaguely flattering and that doesn't leave horrible lines over my arse, particularly under my gym gear. (Yes, when I'm running on the treadmill I look in the mirror and examine how much my underwear shows).

That was the shopping success of the week. The failure is my inability to find any outerwear I like. I've got a couple of things in my head that I want to buy. A jacket, a couple of tops, trousers, a skirt. But can I find anything that satisfies me? Of course not. I think the reason is that when I was at my biggest I shopped in one shop. I could look round the shop, find the least worst thing and buy it. If it fit, it was in with a good chance of finding its way into my wardrobe. Now I've got too much choice, and I always wonder whether the perfect thing will be in the next shop. I don't need to rule out complete shops because I'm too fat, and by the time I've worked my way round them all, the first shop I looked in might have new stock that I'll need to check out.

Since I bought my suit I've realise that there are clothes that fit and clothes that make you feel fabulous. I only want to buy things from the second group (and in fact I bought some of the first lot during the week, and am seriously considering returning them), but the problem is finding them! Actually, I could get more exercise doing clothes shopping than when I run...

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Back on track

I've given myself a swift kick up the arse over the past few days. On Monday I felt fat and sure enough the scales were edging mighty close to 162. That's not good enough. I know that it was all water, but the fact that I was retaining water was a decent indication that I wasn't being as good as I could be. Plus I just felt fat (yup, I managed to feel fat at this weight, somehow I suspect I'll never be quite thin enough all of the time).

I've noticed that I've started getting far too slack. No, I don't count calories, and I still don't think I have to. But that only works as long as I only eat when I'm hungry, don't nibble and do all the sensible things right. Simply running a lot doesn't give me carte blanche to stand in front of the flapjack cupboard pulling out slice after slice. And anyway, it's all very well having messed up emotional and boredom eating habits when I'm exercising, but what if I get injured or I take some time off running. If I don't sort out my eating habits now and make them a bit more related to how hungry I am rather than how bored I am, I won't be able to get through those times without the regain from hell.

So yesterday and today I've probably been the most on plan I've ever been. No unplanned treats, no excuses. Just going back to good, pre-prepared, homecooked goodies in sensible quantities and at sensible times. Ignoring that "oh, I've not eaten for an hour and a half, is it time to get something else to chew on" feeling that nags me at regular intervals, whether I'm hungry or not.

And it's been OK. What's more, it worked, the water has gone and the scales were reading 160 again this morning. I know that it wasn't fat, but one day, eating like that, it could be. Oh, it would be slow, but I was in serious danger of slipping a bit more each day until the slippage gained the sort of momentum that would be hard to stop.

If there's one thing that I'm disappointed with myself for, it's the fact that I've got this far without sorting out some of these food issues once and for all. It's all very well losing the weight, but it's a whole different battle keeping it off, and I know that I still have a lot of learning to do. I still need to sort out my inability to leave any food on my plate, for example, my meekness when someone suggests eating something really crap and I don't want to offend them, my tendency to eat things because they're there. I'm not as bad as I used to be, but I still do it. I know I'm doing it, and I sit there wishing I didn't, but I still do it.

In one way I've been lucky that I've been able to exercise off the weight. It's been my golden ticket in the weight loss lottery. My cardio system and my limbs are strong enough to take the pounding I give them, and my mind is dead enough not to complain about hours and hours of running on the treadmill. But on the other hand, maybe if I'd had to pay more attention to the quantity of what I eat, I'd have learned a lot more. All the stuff I'm nibbling on is nice healthy stuff, so quality (which I have been focussing on) isn't an issue, but anything in big enough quantities will put you right up on the wrong side of that calories in, calories out equation.

To put it bluntly, I don't want to have to count calories. I've lost 100lb not counting calories, and the thought of having to start now fills me with fear. I don't even know how many calories I should be aiming for! I want to be able to control this, Paul McKenna style by just eating when I'm hungry and stopping when I'm full. But I worry that my control isn't strong enough yet, even after so long, to be able to reconcile the "I've made it to my original goal weight, I don't need to lose any more" thoughts with a relaxed approach to eating. I'm going to see how this back to basic approach goes for a while longer. I'm out all day tomorrow so I've done my normal Thursday food packing with two meals and snacks to get me through the day. Then it's the weekend, and we'll see how that goes. Basically I just want to feel like I'm in control (as I have done for the past two days), rather than still having this sneaking suspicion that food is controlling me.

And now it's nearly 9pm I might go and hide upstairs, with the alarm set downstairs to make the kitchen a no-go area. It's the nibbling and grazing that gets me every time, so sometimes physical distance is the only way to go.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Cross Country

I'm going back to Ripon for a blast from the past on Sunday. From what I've read the 10k I'm doing at Fountains Abbey is more of a cross country type course rather than a road race, along the same lines of the 10k I did for them at Harewood House.

That reminds me of the day when, overweight and unfit, I changed schools at 16 and discovered that my new school in Ripon made sixth formers do compulsory cross country. Horror wasn't quite the word.

Looking back, I just wish that school sport had been more inspiring. I've come to realise that exercise really is the key for me and that, before I hit hockey and other forms of torture in secondary school, I actually enjoyed it. I wonder what went wrong, and wish I'd had some form of encouragement to find something I liked doing, and to improve at my own speed.

At primary school I ran and cycled and swam and played rounders and was good at high jump. OK, so that was only because I was taller than the other girls my age, but I was still good at it. One thing I blocked out of my mind for a long time, then remembered when my last trainee was planning to move to the town where I grew up was the Mount Run. There were two schools next to each other in my town, with a hill, The Mount, behind it. It was a pathetic little hill, to tell the truth, but it seemed big when I was 10.

Every year, the two schools would organise a run against each other, up and around the hill. I don't really have any strong memories of it, but I didn't hate it. I seem to remember that I could do it, and that it didn't cause me any particular stress. I wasn't the best, but I was passable. How things changed.

When I went to grammar school, the focus was on academic stuff instead of sport. There was compulsory PE, but not a huge amount (we were discussing school sport at lunch today, and some people had to do far more than I did, as in fact did I when I changed schools). The attitude was very much that you could do it, or you couldn't. If you could you got the attention, you played for the school, if you couldn't you were a lost cause. You would have to do something, but you wouldn't be taught how you could improve.

And running, running was punishment. If you played up in PE they made you run round the school field (it was a long way!) Running never seemed to be something that was taught in its own right. Team sports were fine, there were sprints (hah, that doesn't quite describe the speed I ran them) around sports day, but running, proper distance running never happened.

I still did a surprising amount of sport though. I was enthusiastic rather than talented, but looking back, the fact that I was enthusiastic should have told me something. I sometimes got to play for the netball and rounders teams. Some cynics would say that they were short on bodies those weeks... and I wouldn't necessarily agree. But the fact is, I kept on making myself available, volunteering to play.

Maybe I wasn't the inactive fat girl I always assumed I was.

But then I changed school and, although the focus was still on the academic stuff at the new school, and I was in the sixth form where, at my previous school, my PE efforts could have been limited to relatively gentle, fun, unsupervised exercise like table tennis and trampolining and swimming rather than team sports, at my new school PE got taken to a whole new level.

And that wasn't a level that I liked. Had I built up with a sensible programme then that first cross country run (and those that followed) might not have been so bad, but having not run for 5 or 6 years, a hilly, muddy cross country run in the middle of winter could very nearly have put me off running for life. There was never any advice, on how to get better and faster and able to run more of it. We were just pushed out of the door and marshalled round the course. I remember that my biggest fear was actually NOT coming last, because if there were enough people behind me (generally because they'd snuck behind a tree for a fag on the way round) it might mean I'd get bullied into doing house cross country on top of the regular PE lessons. At least coming last you were immune to that!

When I went to university, the memory of cross country was still fresh enough that the thought of having to go on regular runs was enough to put me off joining the rugby team. But I suppose it's a testament to the runner hiding inside me that eventually the will to run overcame those memories, I laced my trainers up again and headed outside.

So, it's full circle and I'll be running cross country in Ripon again. Part of me really hopes to see my old PE teacher, preferably as I overtake her and leave her behind in the mud!

Sunday, March 26, 2006


This weekend I've set myself a challenge. Of all the things that I've consumed to excess over the course of my life so far, the one that causes me most concern is alcohol. I'm not too proud to admit that I have been known to drink too much. Getting control of my drinking was an important part of getting control of the rest of my life including eating and exercise.

But I've noticed recently that while I can happily go through the week without alcohol, if (when) I buy a bottle of wine on a Saturday I won't go to bed until I've drunk every last drop of it. (and yes, I know that getting through an entire bottle of wine in the house alone isn't the healthiest of behaviours) It's the old clearing the plate, not wasting anything. Once the bottle is open it would be a shame to let it go to waste.

So I wanted to think of a way to be able to drink according to what I feel like drinking, rather than what is available to me. So I bought a box of wine. 3 litres worth. 4 bottles. 41 units.

The reason I did this is because I know that this should be more than I can drink in a weekend. (Should being the word, althought I wouldn't put it past me). I can't see how much is left in the box and I can just pour it out at the speed that I think I want to drink it, rather than thinking there's a glass left, I'll just drink it.

This could have been a complete failure. After all, I know that I can sometimes drink more than a bottle at a time. I know I shouldn't, but equally I know that I can. But I wanted to see whether the lessons in moderation that I've learned could be channelled into alcohol.

Over the weekend I've not been too bad. I've managed to leave the box pretty much alone. I know it's there, but I can have a glass or two rather than a bottles worth. I suppose that one question I have is whether I'll be able to do my normal alcohol free weeks with it sitting there in the kitchen looking at me, but maybe a glass a day over the course of the week would be better than how I currently drink anyway.

If the box is finished by the weekend the experiment has failed and I won't buy another one. And because I can't see how much is left in the box and tailor my drinking accordingly, it should be an interesting test of what I do actually drink when left to my own devices.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Ignore me...

I dragged myself out for a 10 mile run (an hour and a half at 9 minute miles), and the blahs disappeared a little. I hated the first 3 miles or so, tolerated the next 3 and then really got into my stride after the first hour. I know that running is good for my body but sometimes I forget how good it is for my mind too. Just the act of getting out there and running somehow gets me back in touch with what I need to be doing, and sorts out my doubts out.

I also realise how eating the wrong stuff in the evening (and more importantly drinking the wrong stuff) affects my mood in the morning and my willingness to go out there and do it. It really all is interconnected, and it seems to be a lot more effort to do one thing if I've done another thing badly. Not that eating too much necessarily leads to laziness, but that it's more likely to than giving my body just what it actually needs.

So I'm feeling more back on track than I was this morning, and glad I went out there. I haven't got many other plans for the weekend. I need to sort out a hotel in Madrid and do some house jobs, I might also get round to taking some progress pictures to mark the 100lb mark if I can be bothered to dry my hair properly so it looks half decent!


Where's my mojo gone? This week I've taken my eye off the ball a bit. I've been eating too much (nothing too bad per se, but just too much of it), and I'm currently sitting here trying to summon up the motivation to run. I know that I should, but I don't really fancy it this morning.

I know that maintenance isn't a licence to relax and go back to old habits, but there's still a tiny bit of fat girl left in my head telling me that I deserve it, and that it doesn't matter if I slack off for a bit. Now, while I agree that if I'm up a pound or two next week it's not the end of the world and I can get back here, I want to make sure that I don't get myself started on a destructive yo-yo habit.

I don't know whether the problem is that I haven't done anything to "reward" myself for reaching my original goal. I haven't bought clothes or had a hair cut or bought any of the things that I've considered getting as a 160lb goal. I have no money at the moment, and I'm really trying to sort out my credit card debts. I know that I could do what I've always done, buy it now and worry about paying later, but I want to actually pay off that debt, and slowly and surely that's what I've been managing over the past eighteen months. But my refusal to spend any money on buying myself a fantastic reward seems to be leading my head to think that I could just reward myself with laziness instead because it's free.

Maybe I'll splash out on something next week once pay day comes round and a couple of bills are paid and hopefully I'll get back on the wagon sooner rather than later. I know that I can do this, but I'm just feeling strangely unmotivated at the moment. I need to keep reminding myself that nothing changes in maintenance, and I still need to just get up there and do it.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006


The scale said 160! And I have proof!

Image hosting by Photobucket

(Well, technically it said 11 stone 6 rather than 160, but as there are 14 pounds in a stone, meaning that 11 stone is 154, and six extra means 160, I promise you that it did say 160!!!)

I can cope with shrinking half an inch to see that.

I've lost 100 pounds!!!

Monday, March 20, 2006

Abducted by Aliens

Or so my boss claimed today! I've finally admitted the Berlin plan to her, and she is convinced that I've been abducted and replaced by a thinner and rather more mentally unhinged version of me. She doesn't understand why I like running and why I race. Actually, sometimes I'm not sure either, I just know that I do. And I wonder about the alien abduction thing too.

It's like the 99.5 pounds I've lost contained an important part of my brain. Or maybe not an important part as such, but the part that made me a lazy fat girl. Sometimes it seems like that person really has gone, that I'm just not that person any more. I wonder where she went, whether she's sitting around waiting to be invited back, or whether she's really dead. Is she just biding her time on a sunny holiday, drinking cocktails and eating pizza, or is she really gone?

I don't know whether losing weight created this new me, or whether the new me just arrived and pushed the fat girl out. But if the new me just turned up, where on earth did she come from? Where on earth was she hiding for 26 years? Don't get me wrong, I like her, far more than I liked the fat girl, but why did she take so long to turn up?

I'm still completely in awe of the changes that have happened in my life. I don't know whether to say changes I made because I'm not even sure I was in control of all of them. Some of them just seemed to happen, unsolicited. I never intended to become a vegetarian marathon runner, but it seems like it's happening. Maybe the alien abduction theory has some merit in it after all.


I'm loving my size 12 Zara suit more and more every day. Today I wore the skirt for the first time, and I loved my wiggle. I don't think I ever imagined myself wearing a size 12 pencil skirt, but with a nice narrow and curvy shape, and nice heels I found my arse wiggling all over the place. I swear the suit is cut like it was made for me, I walked in the shop and just knew I had to have it. I'm not sure that an item of clothing has ever done that for me before, but now I'm determined not to waste money on anything that doesn't.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Packed Lunch

I ran a 5 mile race today, the report is over on BerlinBlog. I was very good, I planned my day round it, packed myself a healthy lunch and snacks for after the race (and before the rugby match I went to afterwards, which I'm not going to talk about...), and generally felt like I was in control. I didn't need to resort to chips (the sole vegetarian option at the rugby), and I felt good because I appreciated that I'd taken the mental step to take care of my body and nurture it rather than just taking the options that were available.

That felt good.

I'm getting into the habit of preparing food for myself and carrying it with me. Putting it in little boxes or bags, taking everything I need for the day with me. Really being responsible for what I eat, and leaving nothing to change. Telling myself that I'm worth that little effort, that I can make nutritious and tasty food for myself, and that it's far nicer than the alternatives.

I'm feeling good right now. Everything seems to be coming together nicely.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


It's funny to think that I've been working on this for so long, but still have huge breakthroughs from time to time. You'd think that I'd have worked it out by now, but no, they just keep on coming.

It's a fruit and veg related breakthrough today. While I've been doing this I've been trying to eat more fruit and veg, but I've still been relatively conservative in my choices. There are some fruit and veg that I know I like, and others that I don't cook or eat. It's fairly rare that something moves from one category to the other.

Traditionally it works like this. I buy prepared food (maybe a shop bought soup or a meal in a restaurant) that contains mainly things I know I like but with one new ingredient. If it's edible I eat it again, and I get used to that new ingredient slowly. But it's a long time before I attempt to cook it for myself. I adapt recipes to make up for ingredients that I haven't tried or don't know how to cook. Change is slow to arrive round here.

But this week I've really taken the bull by the horns. I'm reading recipes and I'm buying all the ingredients it lists, with no exceptions. (Even when that leads to me getting home and wondering exactly which veg was which...). I'm cooking vegetables that I may or may not have eaten in things before, but which are in the recipe and are therefore going to be cooked. And I'm surviving.

Sadly we're not talking anything too exotic. In fact, it's almost embarassing. Things like parsnip and swede, raw tomatoes (I eat them cooked, but I've never really liked them raw). And, to my eternal shame, apples.

Apples have been one of those funny foods for me. I remember eating them at some point in the past. But I stopped doing it and although I thought that they probably would be quite nice, I didn't want to buy them just in case I didn't like them. There were other fruits that I knew I liked, and it was easier to stick to those. Today I finally did it, I bought some apples and (in the more important step) ate one. And I liked it.

But it took me a solid year of determined weight loss and another nine months before that of vaguely healthier thinking to get to that stage. Change can be slow round these parts!

One very nice thing though is that is shows that I'm still looking for ways to introduce new things into my diet, even at this weight, and I'm still looking for things that I can try to make my life healthier or easier (or both). I'm determined not to get stuck in a rut of the same old foods all the time. This isn't about losing weight any more, it's about making myself as healthy as i can be, and there are still things that I can do to work on that.

Friday, March 17, 2006


Today I ran 10k in under 50 minutes. I'm quickly coming to realise that my body is capable of more than I ever thought possible. About a month ago I was impressed to get under 55 minutes, and today I've taken another 5 minutes off that time. Every time I run 10k at the moment I seem to knock minutes off my previous best. When I do an interval run I find myself pushing faster and faster on those fast spells to make myself work harder, and realise that I'm capable of speeds I only dreamed of before. I don't think it's that my training has been fantastic over the past month (in fact I've been trying to take it easier - unless it's the rest that's doing the trick), but instead I think that my legs had it in them all along and I never dared believe it. I'm actually now trying to find out what I am capable of rather than sticking with what I know.

All my life I've been scared of failure. I've always been the achiever, the one who passes all the exams with flying colours, who gets a good career with glowing appraisals. Academically and professionally at least I don't really know what it's like to fail. And I started avoiding doing things where I might fail. If I could put down my 10 years of inactivity from about 16 to 26 to one reason (and it was more complex, but this one features heavily), it's because I assumed that I wouldn't be able to do it. I knew I enjoyed it, but I thought that my size would stop me ever achieving anything, and I was scared of looking a fool. When I was told I needed to be a bit fitter to play rugby in university my response was to give up rugby rather than failing to meet the standards they were asking for. I assumed I'd fail so I never tried.

I'm not much of a risk taker. I prefer to sit in the comfort zone, doing things that I know I can do. Reaching for the stars and coming back with empty hands doesn't tend to appeal to me, I fear humiliation and ridicule. For a long time I didn't tell anyone that I was exercising and losing weight because I didn't want it to come back to haunt me if or when I ran out of steam. The only way that I could challenge myself to do something I might not succeed at was by keeping it secret. Then my shame at failing would be mine, and mine alone. (And it still happens, although most people who know me online know about the marathon plan, I've not actually admitted it to most of my family, real life friends or colleagues).

It struck me when I was running today that I really don't know what I'm capable of. For a long time I assumed I couldn't run a 50 minute 10k, just because it sounded fast. (OK, because it is fast) I'd never tried because I didn't think I could do it. I started to wonder whether trying and failing was that bad after all. Because if you try and fail you at least know where that boundary is, and you know that you've pushed yourself right to it. You know where to find it if you want to push it back. You can sometimes learn more from your mistakes than your successes. Maybe in the process of finding that boundary you'll realise that what seemed impossible is actually not that bad at all, and that you should be setting your sights higher.

I think there's some merit in the idea of living a bit more dangerously from time to time, taking risks and not being afraid to really test myself to the limit. Meanwhile, I hope that my legs recover in time for my 5 mile race on Sunday! For the first time in a while, they really feel like they've had a challenging workout. Tomorrow is going to be a rest day, so it should be fine as the race is only short.


I have another dilemma at the moment. I'm desperate to be able to update my weight to 160. At the moment it's hovering at 160.5, and I'm confident that by Monday (which has become my normal weigh in day) with a good weekend of eating and running planned I'll have hit the magic number. The only problem is that I can't weigh in on Monday because of the combination of an early meeting in Sheffield and my recovery day from the 5 mile race. I know that waiting til Tuesday is only one day, and that one day is nothing in the context of a maintenance journey I need to be on for life. But I really want to update that ticker on Monday. I'm trying to resist the thought of popping into the gym when I get back up to Leeds solely to weigh in, but it's an appealing thought. Meanwhile, I'm refusing to go for my monthly printed out weigh in at Boots because I want to wait until I know that it will show 160. Somehow I suspect I'm being too obsessive (but then this is nothing compared to my mental state two months ago when I was trying to get to 168 and a normal BMI!).

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Maintenance Rules

I think that I must be the one of the few people who can lose a huge chunk of weight and only then sit down and write down a plan for doing it. This isn't a Revolutionary Weight Loss Plan that will earn me millions, sadly, and it's really just for my own use, but I've been thinking about how much leeway I can give myself for maintenance, and what the minimum things I need to do are to maintain my loss. I realised a while ago that there's no real difference between losing and maintenance, but it feels like I should at least think about how I'm going to deal with this going forward.

I want to get what I need to do straight in my head so that I can hold myself to doing it. I don't like the thought of "rules" too much, particularly as I've never had anything too strict while losing, but I do want to give myself some guidance. So what I've done is picked the top few things which I think have helped me lose the weight and turned them into general but achievable guidelines to keep me on the straight and narrow. And looking through them most of them seem to be common sense as much as weight loss aids. From now on (and probably for the past few months without realising it), this is my plan. This is what I need to do. I want to write it down so that I can come back and remind myself how simple it actually is.

Rule 1. Regular exercise.

This is the big one. Until September it should be a no-brainer. I have to do it anyway to prepare for Berlin, and it's an ingrained habit now. I need to remember to take time off to rest from time to time (which is why I decided against calling it "daily exercise"), but I'm going to trust common sense to tell me how much is enough and what isn't quite "regular" enough. I'm also not going to say that it has to be running, or any other specific balance of exercise. There are no fixed amounts, and it may vary from week to week, but there needs to be something.

Rule 2. Eat predominantly vegetarian.

I think where I'm going with the veggie thing is that when I'm cooking for myself I will cook exclusively vegetarian food. When I'm eating out I will try to choose the vegetarian option most of the time (some of the places I eat in Spain are very veggie-unfriendly, so this is unlikely to be 100% just yet), and I will try to give my mother and other family members a little guidance in that direction when they cook for me. I will possibly work on reducing the amount of meat I eat still further as I educate family and friends, but regard this as a work in progress. I suppose that this has to take account of what I consider to be a balanced vegetarian diet - I'm not talking about chips, chocolate and meat-free pizza, and will instead focus on beans, whole grains and *shock* vegetables, but I'm not going to set any hard and fast rules here.

Which leads to

Rule 3 - quality not quantity

This is where I remind myself that if I want to treat myself I can do so with small amounts of something really luscious rather than a huge binge on rubbish. I also remind myself that I'd rather focus on positive things from day to day, like getting all the nutrients I need, than focussing solely on keeping something (whether it be calories, fat or carbs) below a certain number. I can work with targets I need to meet or exceed (like Rule 4...), I'm not so good with targets that are maximum amounts.

Rule 4. 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day.

Everyone is meant to hit this one, so this is somewhere I'm happy to commit to a minimum amount on a daily basis. I am aiming for zero tolerance on this.

Rule 5. Portion control.

Simply put, I've learned what a "portion" is, and I need to stick to it. I have some scales in the kitchen, and I'm going to use them!

Rule 6. Limit midweek drinking, and be sensible at weekends.

I'm not going to say no alcohol midweek, that's stricter than I've been so far. It happens from time to time, and it's OK as long as there's a good reason. It being Wednesday is NOT a good reason, by the way. Leaving drinks (for example) is. I just want to keep an eye on what I'm drinking and remember that not only does alcohol contain calories (even free alcohol!), but it also impairs my ability to make good food choices while I'm under the influence and my ability to work out properly the next morning. And anyway, much like some of the other rules like the fruit and veg and the exercise, this is pretty much common sense even for people who aren't trying to lose weight or maintain a big loss. There are other health implications as well as weight.

Rule 7. Plan ahead.

One thing I've noticed during the vegetarian experiment is that I'm becoming far more organised when it comes to planning my menus. I like this me. This me works out exactly what she needs to buy for the week's meals, writes a nice organised list, and buys it in one go instead of going to the supermarket every evening on the way home from work. This me is not only saving money by reducing the amount of wasted food (and by being able to bring home cooked soup into work for lunches), but by sitting down and planning a weeks worth of meals (and then buying the stuff to make those meals) I can look at it written down on paper, make sure that there's a sensible balance of food there and that indulgences are balanced out. I'm at far less risk of grabbing something easy on the way home because I've already got something planned with the ingredients sitting in my fridge waiting for me. I'm also more likely to try something new if I've planned ahead for it. This worked a treat for my daytime eating and I'm now working on adapting it for evenings and weekends. I'm cooking more, so even if something unexpected does happen, there are healthy meals in the freezer that can be defrosted if necessary as well as a couple of standby ingredients that can be turned into something edible.

Finally one extra "rule" to add to those. Keep an eye on the scales and don't let things get out of control before making changes. Try to stick within a narrow maintenance weight range. Do not wait for a 20lb (or bigger) gain before doing something about it.

It all looks deceptively simple. I look at it and wonder whether that's really all there is to it. But I'm determined that for now there will be no calorie counting and no forbidden foods (actually, I've just realised that there are forbidden foods... meat!). I've never done tried to live by those sorts of rules, and I don't intend to start now. I have never ruled out getting stricter if I hit a plateau, and I'm not ruling it out if I start to regain in the future.

But for now, I want to stick to what I know which essentially boils down to doing enough exercise not to NEED to count calories strictly. The reason I can be relatively relaxed with food is because I burn it off. Some people would find it less daunting to count calories than to run marathons. I'd rather run marathons and not have to worry too much about the quantity (as opposed to the quality) of what I eat. This is why I'll never make a fortune selling my Revolutionary Weight Loss Plan. I think it's a little extreme for most people and nowhere near gimmicky enough. It's far too sensible. (So why exactly do people get paid to do research which gives fairly similar advice)

The more I look at my rules, the more I realise that maybe it is possible to live like a normal person in maintenance. The only problem is that society sometimes has a very skewed idea of what "normal" actually involves. Normal doesn't (or shouldn't) involve a diet of ready meals and fast food, and a general culture of inactivity. Nothing I've set out in my plan (other than arguably the dominance of vegetarian food) is anything other than common sense and is little more than the minimum recommendations for everyone, reduced obese or not. If that's not seen as normal in today's society, then maybe that explains perfectly why there are so many overweight and obese people out there. I'm starting to wonder whether being fit and healthy is "normal" at all. And if it isn't, then I'd rather be extraordinary.

Monday, March 13, 2006

The final push

I can't believe how close I am. As of this morning's weigh in at the gym I've lost 99lb. I know without a doubt that one day I'll lose another pound. It might not be this week, or next week, but it will happen soon. I know it will.

I will be a person who lost 100lb. Wow.

This isn't the end, but it feels like it. I want to be under 160lb, but I still don't know how far under. Wherever my body decides, really. I'm not going to get worked up about it now. I could gain half a stone and still have a normal BMI (not that I'm intending to), so wherever my weight stops is where it stops for now. I want to concentrate on getting a maintenance mindset, and then maybe if I start to get unhappy with where I've ended up I'll think about it some other time.

I think I'm already shifting into maintenance mode. Since switching to my veggie diet I've become far more relaxed about food, and avoiding meat is the only real rule at the moment. I buy food that doesn't have nutritional information on the label, and I cook with cheese, and allow bread and pasta in the house. I never really counted calories, but I'm paying even less attention now. I'm getting over my initial fear that I'd suddenly start gaining (in fact this week I lost more weight than I usually do). I'm still a bit scared about whether I'll be able to do this, but I'm getting a tiny bit more comfortable with the idea.

But first there's just that one pound to bust. All this journey, all this hard work, and now it comes down to one solitary pound of fat. Whose time on this body is very very limited.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Did I really wear that?

I've had an utterly lazy day today. I got up, I got my running gear together, I was almost ready to put it on and go out.

Then I looked out of the window.

It was snowing. And while I'd still have gone out (possibly) if it was a couple of weeks before the half marathon, in the new spirit of not overtraining and giving my body a rest before marathon training starts, I decided that the best thing for me to do would be to go back to bed. I want to make sure that I enjoy my running, and although running with snow lying isn't so bad, while it's coming down I could just see myself getting wet and cold and not enjoying it. So I didn't.

Or that's my excuse.

So instead I've been in the house all day, not daring to see whether the car would start today, and generally being lazy. One thing that did give me the opportunity to do was to stumble across one of my old size 22 suits. I try not to look at it too often, because it takes away from the sense of shock when I do. I prefer to forget how many families could form a useful tent from the arse of the trousers, and then look at it with new eyes every so often.

I really can't believe I used to wear that (and what's more, that at my highest it was a little snug). I used to see size 12 and 14 clothes and think that they were impossibly small. I wasn't sure whether, even having lost the weight, I'd still see myself in my mind as a size 22 and head for those sizes first. No way. I'm surprised at how easily I can pick up something that looks the right size and find that it actually is the right size. That's good.

And that's just about as exciting as the day got. I had a brief moment of panic when my mother phoned. I'm not sure what's going on, she's phoned me twice this week and it's normally more like once every six months unless she needs something (the rest of the time it's just email). She said she just wanted a chat and had seen from her phone bill that international calls weren't as expensive as she'd thought, but I was still on edge for the whole call, waiting for the bad news that I assumed had prompted the call. It seems there is none, maybe she just wanted to talk, but that's still enough to give me a slight feeling of shock!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Healthy competition

My reputation goes before me! A couple more incidents at work reinforced the way people see me now. First, someone asked me whether I had rugby last night. What she meant was, was I goig to watch a game, but new trainee who is still in the "in awe" phase, assumed that I played because I looked like the sporty type!

Then a former colleague signed up for the Capital 10k, which I'm also running in June. The blokes of the office are once again considering setting up a book on the outcome, and I'm the clear early favourite. By quite a long way. Emma's been going to the gym regularly all the time I've known her, and she's thin. But I'm the runner, and at least for now the talk is of how much I'll win by.

It's funny, I got to like running because it's a competitive sport where you're competing against yourself, depending on yourself. I have nothing against team sports, but I like the individual accountability of having your performance depend entirely on your own effort, and the fact that you can judge your performance on one day against your performance on any other, regardless of the opposition.

But now I have people that I want to beat. Maybe it's a sign of my progression to the next stage of running, the stage where I'm confident enough of my ability to even consider that. Of course, if I smash my previous times but she somehow turns in a star performance I'd still be relatively happy, but it's nice to have real people to run against, complete with a bit of banter!

I'm feeling a lot more lively than I did last weekend, I've got some jobs done and tried some new veggie recipes. I'm using more cheese and pasta than I have been doing for the past year or so, but it doesn't seem to be affecting my weight, in fact I'm so confident of seeing another pound gone next week that I bought my seven stone reward suit a couple of days early yesterday. You know how you sometimes go out to buy a sandwich and come back with a load of clothes... Still, they were clothes I needed, and they're size 12!

Today I broke down again, and managed to sit in Sainsbury's car park for an hour waiting for the mechanic (the same one, for the third time in five weeks) to turn up, without going inside for chocolate or cookies or muffins. I was very proud of myself! Not because of my car maintenance skills, obviously, but for my self control. And that meant that I was out of the house for most of the morning, thereby avoiding my normal tendency to graze all weekend.

I have wine for tonight though, it's allowed on weekends, and I have rugby from last night that I really need to forget...

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Shock and Awe

Trainee is now in awe of my athletic prowess. Someone I work with came into the office we share at lunchtime to ask me how fast I can run a kilometre, because he "can't be beaten by a girl". I told him that I ran this morning's 8k interval session in under 42 minutes (5:15 per km) and the pair of them went pale, gulped, and said almost in unison "that's actually pretty fast".

I then pointed out that if I was only running 5k (the distance he wants to beat me over) flat out I'd probably manage to run it a little faster than that.

Tee hee.

He's now gone away aiming for a 25 minute 5k (I've not quite hit that yet, I'm around the 26 minute mark at the moment but that's partly because I haven't tried to run 5k flat out while I've been concentrating on longer distances. Of course he wants to be just that bit faster than me. Being a bloke).

The funny thing is that Paul has known me for years, while trainee has known me for 4 days. So while Paul's awe was enhanced by the knowledge of the obese years, trainee's awe is simply because of what I can do now, and that's a great feeling. It shows that my running isn't merely impressive because of the contrast, but because it's actually half decent. Which I knew, but every confirmation of that still boosts me.

It turns out that trainee has been roped into doing the Great North Run and hasn't a clue where to start. I'm not sure whether my cheery "a half marathon is quite easy as long as you prepare properly" advice was what he wanted to hear or not. When I told him I got up to that distance in less than a year of running I did neglect to mention that he seems rather fitter than I was this time last year. But even without that knowledge the pressure is now on him not to join the list of people in this office who get beaten by a girl.

That list is growing. One person who was training for a half marathon has dropped out because it was too hard, while it seems that no-one dares enter the South Leeds Stadium 5 mile next weekend because I'll show them up!

More tee and definitely more hee.

Speed is definitely the way to go for the foreseeable future I think. After all, if Paul's going to run a 25 minute 5k, I'm going to have to get my time down to 24 to wind him up! I think I might throw a 5k flat out time trial into next week's schedule, just out of interest...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006


There comes a time in every former fat girl's life where her thoughts turn to maintenance. Either the imminent necessity of doing it, or the complete failure to think about it at the right time. Bizarrely I think that I'm coming at maintenance in two separate areas at the same time, but I'm realising the same thoughts need to apply to both.

I've always liked something big to aim for. I remember the day I qualified as a solicitor I felt deflated, because I didn't know what I was meant to aim for now. Whether it's tasks I set myself or pleasure, I like something planned for the future. The day I get back off a holiday I feel the need to start looking for my next one. The day after a race I wonder what I should be training for next. I like to have an aim. And recently, that aim has always been something bigger, better, more challenging than the one before. Whether it was moving from 5k to 10k to half marathon, or from a 50lb lost goal to 70, 80, 90, 100. (Indeed there's always been goal creep on the weight loss front as I'm starting to think of my goal as more like 155 than 160).

But over recent days I've started to realise that I can't keep pushing myself like this, always wanting something more. If I get to 155, what then? If I run a marathon, what after that? Eventually in everything I do I'll reach the limit where I really can't go any further, or not without changes to my life that I'm not prepared to make. At some point I'm going to have to be happy with staying at the level I'm at. (For running there is the option of running the same distance a little quicker at least, but in terms of always aiming for a longer race, there is a limit).

I need to fundamentally change my mindset to a point where I'm happy where I am. I've never been in that position before, with my weight or my fitness. I've never been in a place where I can sit back and say, this is it. This is where I need to be. I don't need to try any harder or push any further. As long as I do enough to stay here this is enough. I've never thought like that, and I worry that it will be hard to start thinking like that.

Where this really struck me was in looking at marathon training schedules last night. I'm never knowingly underprepared for anything, and I wanted to count back and double check when I need to start working towards Berlin, and what level I need to be at to start the training proper. And it struck me that not only do I only need to start training in earnest at the beginning of July (I'd been thinking mid May for some reason), the first few weeks of the sub 4 hour schedule I was looking at are less than I currently run. It says that to start off all you need is to be running for at least 20 miles per week and long runs of an hour. Last week I was recovering from the half marathon and still ran 22 miles including a long run of 1 hour 15. That was a light week compared to what I'd been doing in the run up to Blackpool.

So this led me to wonder what exactly I'm going to do between now and July. After all, the increases in my fitness over the past year (and the associated weight loss) have largely come because I've pushed myself for longer and longer each time, racking up more miles, or minutes. I've got faster too, but it has been the increases in my mileage that have really impressed me. The fact that I can run for two hours solid, for example. But now I'm in the situation where I don't need to increase at all over what I already do. Doing that would only make an injury more likely (no matter how tempting it is for me to think that starting to increase now would make the marathon easier). I could afford to scale back my mileage and still be in a position to start training for a sub 4 hour run in July. In fact it may even benefit me if I give my legs a bit of a rest from excessive mileage.

But scale back my mileage?

That's the sort of thing that tends to be unthinkable in my brain. It goes against my tendency to push for more and more and more. It makes me scared that I'll lose the fitness that I've built up, and that I'll be in a worse position come July than I'm in now. Which is precisely what scares me about weight maintenance. That I'll start sliding back, and undo the hard work that I've done. I know that it makes sense, and I know that it's what I should do, but the thought scares me. I'm scared of scaling back my exercise and eating a little more freely. How did that happen?

As far as the running goes, I have a plan to help convince myself that fewer miles is a good thing. At the moment my times are on the upper edges of what it suggests to be using the sub 4 hour schedule. (The upper edge being a minute or so above the suggested starting half marathon time...). So I'm going to try to concentrate on speed rather than distance, and try to give myself a nice solid base of running a little faster before I go back into distance running. The aim is going to be to get under 50 minutes for a 10k, and I'm entered for three between now and June which gives me a few opportunities to do that. I'm going to keep my long runs slightly longer than 10k (probably around 8 miles), and allow myself one longer run every three or four weeks or so, but nothing over 12 or 13 miles. I'm still considering entering the Blackpool Half Marathon, but I won't train specifically for it, I'll just use it as an extended training run to get more experience of racing longer distances than 10k. I will not run more than 30 miles in a week unless I have a very good reason for it, and I will make sure that my shorter runs focus on the quality of the session rather than the distance I'm running.

And for the weight, we'll see what happens. I'm not intending to scale back as such with what I'm eating, but I really want to resist the temptation to think "if I am strict with my eating this week I might drop another pound". Another pound at this point would be nice, but not essential, and I need to start accepting that. I'd rather learn to eat as normally as my status as "reduced obese" allows rather than nurturing messed up attitudes to food for longer than necessary.

So, that's the challenge ahead. To be happy to stay roughly where I am for a while.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Meat Free Update

It's a week since the start of lent, and two since I last ate meat, and I'm going well. It's been shockingly easy to stick to a vegetarian diet so far, I've had so many recipes that I want to try that I can't imagine where I'd have found a reason to eat meat. I'm enjoying being a bit more creative with my cooking, and I've not been tempted to eat meat at all. Giving up has been a non-issue because it's taken virtually no willpower and virtually no change to my mindset.

This is beginning to look more and more like it might end up being a permanent thing.

Who'd have thought it?

Monday, March 06, 2006

New beginnings

It's that time of year again, new trainee time. Twice a year they all change round, and we start again. Theoretically, one day someone might do a double seat, but I think I was the last person to manage that particular feat, quite a while ago.

This time last year we got Jeff. I wasn't quite at my highest, but I wasn't too far off. I restarted in earnest on March 8 2005, I'd been getting back into the gym habit but not really trying too hard to lose weight since January, but March 8 is the day I start seeing regular weights and notes about my exercise written in my diary from last year. That day I wrote down 114kg (down from an all time high of 118).

Jeff got to witness the biggest weight loss, in terms of pounds gone. I lost about five stone with Jeff, and the poor guy just didn't know what to say. I don't think he mentioned it once! He saw me from my blobby just coming out of the couch potato phase to someone who actually ran a 10k, and there was no hiding my motivation from him.

Then Rebecca arrived in September. Part of me thought that I could persuade her that I was the sort of person who'd never been obese, that I was just a bit overweight. That I just did what I did. Of course, people let on, and losing nearly another two stone must have helped to alert her to what was going on. Even though it was less dramatic in terms of total pounds, it took me from almost obese to a normal weight, and judging by the reactions from other people was actually a more noticeable transformation. Before I just went from fat to slightly less fat, and how many people really distinguish between degrees of fat? This time I went from fat to normal, and that's a big change.

I did manage to strike awe into her though in a way I never did into Jeff. She thought that she ate fairly healthy food and worked out fairly hard. Then she met me. We actually got quite competitive, and we'd sit there in the morning comparing what fruit we'd brought in today. At one stage we would count superfoods for the day. I was training for a half marathon (and running it) while she was dithering about entering a 5k. She learned why I was doing it, and what my motivation was, but that made it no less impressive, if a little more understandable.

And now I have Jonathon in my office. He's never seen me before, and this time not only do I have someone who's never seen me obese, he's never even seen me overweight. I'm not sure that particular secret will remain secret for too long, but for now I have a blank canvas, a mirror to see who I am now reflected. Sometimes how I see myself is too coloured by my knowledge of who I used to be, for example I sometimes think that even though I run, and run fairly well, I am instantly recognisable as someone who only runs for weight loss. It's not true, and maybe fresh eyes would see that in a way that I can't. I'm getting better, but I'm liking the idea of being able to come across as the person I am now, rather than the person I used to be. Even if he's told where I came from by someone, that won't be the person he knows, and hopefully the thought of me as that person will be alien to him. Because I want it to be alien to me, and the more people who think of me as a "naturally" sporty, healthy living person, the more I hope I'll be able to live up to their expectations, as well as mine.

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Storm in an A cup...

...if I'm lucky.

I have decided that my chest is a freak of nature. I need a new sports bra. I know that, and have been meaning to buy one for a while. This week is my ultimate limit, I need something new.

For normal clothes I'm fine. I measure round the fullest part of my boobs and I'm a 12 or 14. But that skews the picture somewhat when it comes to bra size. Instead of that overboob measurement translating to a 34-36 B or C, what it actually works out is a 38A. Or AA if I'm being really harsh on myself.

My ribs (which clearly aren't going to shrink) are quite big, comparatively speaking. And then there's nothing extra. At all. Well, maybe a little, but not a lot. Not a handful. Unless you have very small hands.

Where this causes a problem is that so many sports bra ranges start at B. If I was doing low impact stuff I'm sure I'd get away with the built in bras inside sports tops that you see all over the place. In fact, I'm sure that some more well endowed people are jealous about the fact that I could consider that.

But I don't just do low impact stuff. I run. And I want something a little more, well, supportive. I want a proper sports bra, not one of those low impact low support jobies. I want to be able to buy a bra without people wondering what exactly I've got to put in it.

I'm struck by the bizarreness of this post, that I'm whingeing about being too small (which is something that Ive never done before!). It sneaks up on you sometimes. I bought some running gear from Aldi earlier today (fantastically cheap!) and only realised after I'd tried the stuff on once I got it home, that not only are my new capris and shorts a medium, but it says waist size 28-30 inches. I remember being pleased when I got under 35, and now I'm under(ish) 30. Wow.

But I'm rambling. The thing is, I'm in mourning for my lost boobage, and I can't believe that I'm having to search out bras that deviate from the norm because I'm too small rather than because I'm too big. I've seen a couple of bras that do come in smaller sizes, but they also tend to be the less restrictive ones, and I worry. Too much, possibly, but I worry.

Will I never be happy? And which is top on the list, tummy tuck or boob job...

(there is no list, because there is no money, and a fear of surgery, but hypothetically speaking...)

Saturday, March 04, 2006


I'm going through a real foodie renaissance at the moment. I go through phases. I used to be very lazy, eating mainly prepared foods, and look where that got me. While I lost most of my weight I relied on a few staple meals that I knew I could combine together to create a plan that worked for me without needing to count calories. I knew that if I ate A for breakfast, B for lunch and one of C, D or E in the evening, then that would work for me.

But recently that's started getting a bit stale, and I've suddenly become enthused about food again. I actually want to cook, to try new recipes, new vegetables, and I want more variety in my diet again. I suppose that it's partly the switch to maintenance mode, I'm becoming less concerned about taking the weight off in a structured way and more concerned about finding a way of life that I can live with permanently.

The vegetarian thing is really helping with this as it's forcing me to think more creatively about what I eat rather than relying on grilled chicken and a couple of staple vegetable recipes to go with it. Eating vegetarian food out is not only a treat, but it forces me to eat something with veg in that I wouldn't have tried before, because there isn't anything that's fully within the safety zone I kept myself in for a long time.

And together with this, I'm really getting excited about cooking meals for myself, trying new recipes and finding new ways to cook things. This morning I sat down with a couple of recipe books and I've written a list of things that I want to make. The problem is that it's a long list. Even if I ate a different thing every day it would take me longer than just this month to eat them all, and that's not going to happen with the days I eat out and the fact that they almost all make more than one serving. Plus, the freezer's already filling up with things that I've cooked this week and had leftovers from!

The main problem I foresee is that I start eating too much because there are so many new recipes that I want to try.

Is this the start of a new healthy relationship with food or is it going to lead me back where I came from? I'm not sure, but as long as I keep an eye on what I'm eating I'm crossing my fingers that it will work out OK.

Friday, March 03, 2006


So much for balance, I can do so much, blah blah blah. Today I decided that I wasn't going to go to the rugby because of the weather, and I've got a blissful night in (together with wine and healthy food), but that's the point, it was my decision.

In the past I would go to every game. If I didn't go, it would be because I tried but couldn't manage it. Today I looked out of the window at work and decided that, even though the game was on and the snow wasn't that bad, that I didn't want to go. I didn't want to struggle over the M62 in worse than normal traffic, and I didn't want to stand outside in horribly cold weather. (How pathetic are we English, I bet this weather would be barely noticeable in lots of places).

For years rugby was the "thing I did". I've always been a bit of a loner, and I haven't fitted in too well. But in a crowd, at a game, I could join in with the swelling emotions and chants, and I could feel like I belonged. I could feel like my size and my personality weren't an issue, that I was joined with several thousand people in wanting one thing, a victory. Rugby made me feel like I was part of something, it made me feel like I belonged.

But recently that feeling has been receding. I still enjoy watching rugby, I enjoy being there. But it's not something that defines who I am any more. I have other things about me that define me far more than that. I feel like I belong in the world without having to immerse myself in a crowd, or go to every game I can physically get to.

I have other things now that I balance the rugby with. Running and Spanish and staying sane, stuff like that. Rugby is no longer the only thing that people know about me, and it's no longer the only thing that matters to me.

I was sitting at work earlier today and I actually found myself writing a list of pros and cons to decide whether I should go to the game or not. On the don't go side were all sorts of sensible things, like the fact it was cold, snowy, I would save money, I could listen on the radio. And to persuade me to go? Because "that was my thing". But it isn't any more. I have lots of things. And importantly I have things that involve me doing rather than me watching

I run, I work out, I lift. I don't just watch other people with a burger in hand. Rugby is still a part of my life, but it doesn't define it any more. And I'm glad about that.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Busy, busy

I seem to get busier and busier each week at the moment. The weekends aren't so bad (although those long runs take up increasing amounts of time), but the weeks are just one thing after another, and the jobs I need to do are piling up. Wednesday to Friday I'm out each night, Tuesday I worked til 7, I have Spanish homework to do, new recipes to try, half marathon photos to peruse, I need to keep on top of bills, book hotels for Berlin, London, Amsterdam, Madrid and Prague (which will probably need to entail actually buying and reading guidebooks to get an idea of the area), I have blog entries to write, blogs to read, tv to watch (I'm stupidly behind on Shameless and Desperate Housewives), working out a training plan to cover the next couple of months before I start properly training for Berlin. Let alone keeping up with buying new clothes like the new sports bra and running shorts I've been meaning to get for weeks.

What has surprised me though is that I haven't used this as an excuse to eat rubbish. I've had three consecutive days of work buffets for lunch and I've been sensible. I didn't get in after working til 7 on a new client pitch and order takeaway, I got in and I cooked a vegetable curry from scratch. I'm planning like a madwoman to make sure that there are always ingredients in the house that can be combined into a sensible sounding meal (I actually sometimes take my recipe book to work so I can plan menus for the next few days while I eat my lunch and write a proper shopping list to make sure I buy the right stuff). I went for my veggie cafe treat tonight before Spanish. I've planned something to take to the rugby tomorrow night. I'm not cutting out exercise to fit other stuff in, a lot of the time it's the exercise that's cutting down the time I have to do the other stuff. I'm making sure I do the things that are good for me rather than simply the things I enjoy. Not that I don't enjoy the things that I do, but I prioritise the beneficial enjoyable things ahead of the lazy enjoyable things.

But despite being busy I feel somehow balanced. Like I'm in control, and organised, and capable of keeping all the balls in the air at once. My head feels clear, my planning helps me know that I can stay on track each day, and I know where I'm meant to be and what I'm meant to be doing. I have a plan. It's a nice feeling, I'm just wondering how long it will last.


One thing that I've noticed recently is that I'm letting myself become more relaxed with my eating (in a good way). I'm getting more confident about reintroducing food that I've not eaten for a while without worrying about how it will affect my weight. I've not been low carbing as such (the fact I eat porridge every morning should indicate that), but I did cut my carbs down significantly for quite a while. I used to eat a lot of pasta and rice and bread, and I largely cut that out of my diet. Cheese, too. But after last weekend's pre-half carb loading I've found that I've been eating more bread, (brown) rice and (wholemeal) pasta because it's in the house and easy to cook, it hasn't thrown me into a huge carb binge and it hasn't led to a gain on the scales. I'm still keeping an eye on making sure I'm eating whole grains instead of refined carbs (mainly), but it feels good to be reintroducing those foods as it gives me a lot more flexibility in terms of what I eat. For a long time I've been sticking to a couple of tried and tested recipes because I know that they work and they feel safe. But with the vegetarian challenge I'm actually excited about trying new food again, and giving myself a lot more variety. It feels like I'm starting to discover a maintenance frame of mind, that I don't need to cut out entire food groups as long as I eat sensibly, and I like it. I don't want to be neurotic about being able to eat certain foods and not others, I just want to rely as far as possible on exercise, portion control and common sense. Time will tell whether that's enough, but I want to at least give it a shot.

It's working so far though, I'm down to 74kg (163.5lb) and within touching distance of that 100lb goal.