Wednesday, April 26, 2006


I must look at this as a fabulous opportunity. But I have to admit that I'm a little scared.

My boss is pregnant.

Long time readers may remember some of my previous work related posts, this one gives most of the background.

When I joined this team as a trainee there were three solicitors and me. I qualified and made that four solicitors. All nicely spaced, and all working very nicely together. The two most senior of them weren't even married at that stage (although they were most certainly together). Towards the end of my first year as a solicitor they married. Just over a year ago as I came up to two years PQE she had a baby and the other (not part of the couple) solicitor left. Which left the husband and me to hold the team together while my boss was off on maternity leave.

She came back, and all was OK again.

And then N left at the end of March. I became the second most senior person in the team. At the time I joked that I'd be OK "as long as Joanne doesn't get pregnant again".

Except Joanne got pregnant again. Ah.

From the conversation we had today it seems that her preference is still very much as it was when N left, to recruit below me. That was fine while I was envisaging sitting in the middle of a team of three. But if we go that way, I get six months at the top of a team of two. (Indeed, at the top of a team of one if the recruitment doesn't go to plan...).

That's responsibility. Scary levels of responsibility. I'd be 3 year PQE by the time she goes off on maternity so there's no problem from a "regulatory" point of view. At 3PQE you can run a branch office, so I'm fairly sure you can also be in charge of a team without incurring the wrath of the Law Society. But from a negligence point of view it clearly opens up whole new areas of risk if there's no-one there to supervise me on the nitty gritty from day to day. There are a couple of people who I could call on for help if something big came up, but basically, the buck would stop with me.

Obviously, if I do it, and I do well, it would be fantastic experience. It certainly wouldn't harm my reputation or my chances of promotion. But it's still quite daunting. I suspect that I don't have a great deal of other choice, unless the perfect more experienced candidate happens to come up between now and October and we do recruit above me rather than below me.

Still, one thing that it can't harm is that Joanne was meant to be making her recommendation for my pay review this afternoon. I suspect that my bargaining position is just a bit better than it was this time yesterday!

(And the inner bitch is secretly smirking about the fact that she won't be getting her title of "most impressive weight loss in the firm" back off me for at least another year or so after I stole it from her last time she got pregnant...)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Reality TV

Today, in between being incredibly busy at work and having a second almost perfect eating day, I've mainly been pissed off with Jade Goody. If you're not from the UK, be grateful that you don't know who she is.

She turned up to run (sorry, "run") the London marathon in tennis shoes on the back of no training. Sorry, she'd eaten curry and made a "fitness" video. Amazingly she made it to 18 miles before giving up, but give up she did. And got tons of publicity on the back of it (and I know I'm adding to it...)

And how much did she raise for charity? £500. Better than nothing, but I managed to raise nearly £400 when I ran a 5k race last year, and I'm no celeb (OK, so arguably neither is she, really, but even D list is more celeb-y than me). Most people on charity places needed to raise far more than that to run, and I bet a lot of people on non-charity places raised more too.

Now, I wouldn't mind if she ran badly but did it because she was committed to raising loads of money for charity. And if she didn't raise much money but took the training seriously because she really wanted to run, then that would be fine. But to basically take the piss out of the whole thing by not training, not fundraising and then turning up to get some publicity just winds me up.

On the other hand, if Jade can make it to 18 miles, I can definitely finish!

Monday, April 24, 2006

Peace... or not!

I've got the house (and the kitchen) to myself again for two weeks before I head over to Spain to see mum and dad and their new house, so I'm looking forward to some peace and quiet with early nights and a bit of "me-time".

Unfortunately, I'm not sure I'll get it. Work has gone crazy and I just realised that I only have 9 (no, make that 8) days left in work to finish off a mountain of stuff before my holiday. I have all day meetings tomorrow and on Thursday, and a long list of unfinished jobs I need to clear up before I go away. I really need to get my head down and get down to it, ticking those jobs off as soon as I can before my stress levels hit the roof!

Still, I'm not going to let my exercise or eating slip (in fact, I tend to eat better when I'm busy because I don't have time to think about snacking), and I had a fantastic run this morning (for full details see BerlinBlog when I get round to writing it...) I want to have a good 2 weeks before I go away and start eating rubbish. Hopefully with the bank holiday I should be able to cook up next week's food over the weekend, and this week is pretty much sorted out.

I'm still eating veggie, other than a slight brush with chicken yesterday where I had to pick the chicken out of a curry because there was nothing else remotely suitable for me on a menu when we ate out. There is one vegetable I refuse to eat, mushrooms, and this pub had a grand total of three vegetarian options, and all three included mushrooms (this despite being lured in by a menu with two lovely looking things, which we were then told were no longer available, having been replaced by mushrooms and more mushrooms).

I actually don't enjoy eating out that much at the moment. Other than a couple of places in Amsterdam, I tend to find pubs and restaurants (in this country, but even more so in Spain) have far less imaginative menus than the stuff I cook at home, and because I now enjoy cooking for myself I don't see eating something bland or re-heated as a treat any more when I could eat a freshly prepared vegetarian feast at home. There are exceptions, of course, but they tend not to be the sort of places my family want to eat...

Anyway, there's work waiting for me so I suppose I'd better get on with it!

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Slowing Down

I've been struggling a bit this week, and today, with my mother being here. The fact is, I've noticed that while I've been distracted over the past two years, she's slowed down. Or at least the gap between our energy and fitness levels has increased, due to me getting fitter, and her getting less fit.

So this week I've been torn. I like spending time with her, we don't see each other that often and it is nice to spend some time together. But increasingly I'm feeling like I really have to slow down to accommodate her into my life, and that's taking some doing. In Amsterdam we didn't walk that far or that fast, it was nice and flat, but she was still struggling to keep up. Due to her infuriating habit of wearing wholly unsuitable shoes she's now got a blister which she makes such a fuss about you'd think her foot was falling off. So while we'd planned to go shopping in town and to the rugby today, she's now going on about staying in all day. Not that I can check, as she's not got out of bed yet while I've been up for 2 hours, just waiting. Not going out for a run because I don't know what time she's getting up and I therefore don't know how much time I have, so just waiting.

I don't want to resent spending my holidays with her, but to be honest I like doing my city breaks on my own, in my own way rather than being slowed down or distracted by someone else's feet. In Athens she wore stupid shoes and lost the toenail on her big toe. It's usually less drastic, blisters and the like, but every time, without fail. I just wish it wasn't so all or nothing with her. I don't see her for months, then I'm expected to use my holidays to take her away, or to spend two weeks splitting my time almost exclusively between work and trying to keep her occupied in a town where she doesn't know anyone. If there's one thing I miss about them moving abroad it's the fact that we don't have the sort of relationship where we can pop round and see each other for an hour or two at a time, but lead our separate lives.

When I was a pliable little clone of her it wasn't so bad. She's always kept me very close, trying to fit her interests to what I like to do. It got very claustrophobic from time to time, if I decided I liked something, suddenly "we" did too. Like her sudden enthusiasm for vegetarian food and healthy eating. She may well have liked it before, but she's only started harping on about it since it became part of my life. As though she's not allowed to have interests if they're not something that I have too. (On this subject, the most infuriating question of the past two weeks has been, at regular intervals, "is x good". I keep trying to explain that no one food is "good" or "bad", that they have different qualities and it's about how you combine them as much as anything, what you eat them with, and in what quantities, but there's still the constant question "is this good?" together with the assumption that if I eat it, it must be, even if it's actually my naughty treat).

But now I feel like I'm speeding up, and moving away, and it's something I want to encourage. I don't just want to be a mini-clone of her (whether it's me doing the cloning or her). I want to be an independent person, who can go and do things on her own without constantly requiring maternal approval or handholding. But equally, I feel guilty about leaving her behind, about cutting those apron strings and saying that we want different things now. I want to get the balance right, but I'm still struggling with it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


I'm here really, I'm just not getting near the computer for long enough to put a coherent post together, what between entertaining my mother, worrying about the growing crisis at Wigan, planning more holidays and eating far too much.

Amsterdam was fab, particularly the food. I don't know whether fab vegetarian food has always been around or whether I just notice it more now, but I was in veggie heaven. Sadly it wasn't all healthy vegetarian food, with large quantities of cheese and two cakes most days, but I got back to the gym yesterday and the scales were pretty much where they were before I went away, which will do me!

I've got some good runs in on the treadmill since I got back, my eating hasn't been so great. There's been lots of post easter chocolate lying around at work, and I haven't been exercising much restraint on that front. I keep telling myself I'll get back to it soon, but it hasn't really happened yet. Still, being at 160 a month after hitting it must at least count as maintenance, even if I'm getting to the stage where I wish I could get that number a bit lower now that the novelty's worn off.

Something else I noticed in Amsterdam - I can actually pull off a co-ordinating capsule style wardrobe that still left room in my luggage (hand luggage only!) for a hairdryer and hair straighteners. I looked myself in the mirror, and I'd got city break style nailed for the first time in ages. It helps that my clothes take up less room in my bag though (hee hee!).

Anyway, that's all I have time for. I am still around, and I'll try to post more over the weekend or early next week when sanity is restored!

Friday, April 14, 2006


I know two people who have given up things they really love for lent. My no meat thing isn't a challenge by comparison I didn't eat it in the first place really, and it's been such a positive thing with trying new food that I've not felt like I've been giving anything up.

But my colleague and my friend have been having a much harder time of it. One of them has given up chocolate and cakes, and the other has given up crisps. They've been ultra disciplined for the last month and a half, but are each planning blow-outs over the weekend, at which point they'll go back to where they were before.

Neither of them need to lose weight, and neither of them are doing this because they want to give up chocolate and crisps permanently. But both of them have asked me how I have been able to apparently completely change what I eat on a permanent basis, while they can't carry on with their abstinence from their vices for a single day after the end of lent. They wish that they could be just a bit more controlled, even if they don't give up chocolate and crisps completely. They just want to eat them a bit less. If they can give them up completely for lent, why can't they cut them down the rest of the time?

It seems to me that it's the classic "diet" problem. The only reason they can give up is because they have an end date. Deferred pleasure. They can pass up on the crisps today because they can eat extra on Sunday. Anything with a fixed timescale, whether the end is measured by a date or a weight or another goal, has that problem. Even though the changes look the same, the mindset is slightly different. And sometimes we do it almost unconsciously.

I didn't set a specific end date on my no meat thing. I knew that it coincided with lent and that it would be nice to do the whole time, but I never thought that I was giving up now for a limited period of time. I saw it as a stage to making permanent changes. A trial run which may end before committing on a longer term basis, but still something that isn't just for now. It's more enduring than that.

I'm not going to give up something for a month or so each year. I'm going to make changes that make my life better and healthier on a permanent basis. I tried to explain this to my friends, but I think they were too busy stockpiling crisps and chocolate for Sunday...

Thursday, April 13, 2006


I'll be off to Amsterdam (via the rugby, of course) tomorrow, so have a great Easter everyone, and don't eat too much chocolate. Or if you do, do it because you want to rather than because you feel like you should because it's easter...

I made it to my 20 mile target for the week between Monday and Thursday, so I'm giving myself the weekend completely off, I'll eat and drink what I want, and I'll enjoy myself.

I'm hoping that I'll be able to locate somewhere that brings belgian chocolate and beer over the border for a real Easter treat! mmm. belgian chocolate. mmm cherry beer.

I'm still, bizarrely, meat free so I'm now going to try to make it to Sunday to finish off lent the way I started it. Not that I was doing the vegetarian stuff because of lent, but it would seem fitting to make it all the way. We're meant to be going to a vegetarian restaurant that's recommended in the guide book on Saturday night, so there's only really tomorrow that will be a challenge to get through before getting to the finishing line. I can't believe it's been so easy! My mother said she'd make something meaty today which I was OK with, then I got home and she said she'd decided to make a chickpea curry instead which was a nice surprise, and has kept me on the veggie path for a day or so longer. How long it lasts isn't particularly important to me now, but it's a nice thought to be able to say I did lent properly.

Anyway, I have to get up pretty early tomorrow considering it's a bank holiday, so I'd better get off to bed!

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

TMI about TOM

First of all, I know there's no substitute for getting proper medical advice about this one, but I don't know whether I'll see a doctor about this one, because it doesn't bother me that much. Enough to write about it, but not enough to do anything about it.

Basically I haven't had a period since the New Year. Not a proper one. It's now mid April. That's a long time, even for me. In one sense I'm not that bothered, because I don't really want one. But on the other hand I guess I'd rather know if there's something serious behind it.

I always used to have fairly irregular periods, up to around 13 weeks between them. Most of the time it was less, but 13 was the record. Once I started losing weight everything became a lot more regular, which was a bit of a pain in the arse to tell the truth, I was used to not having to worry about them too much!

But now, they seem to have stopped again. I had one over the new year and then what can only be described as spotting in mid/late February. Very light spotting at that. Not what you'd call a proper period at all. And that's it for the year. Nothing more than that. That's not normal. When they disappeared before taking agnus castus used to provoke a reaction, but there's no sign of anything trying the same approach this time.

I'm kind of tempted to go to the doctors just to check that there's nothing serious behind it, but I don't really want a "cure". I just want to make sure it's nothing that has more wide reaching implications. I don't want to be put on the pill to make it more regular, because I'm quite happy being period free as long as it's not affecting my health. I don't want or need any tests to see whether it's a fertility related issue. And I don't need a pregnancy test (best call the Catholic Church if that one comes up positive...) And I'm not sure I want to faff around taking time out of work to travel up to the doctors and back when it's not something that bothers me. But then it would be nice to have a reason for it.

I'm just rambling now, so I'll go and ponder elsewhere.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Vegetables 1, Mother 0

I'm still meat free, despite the arrival of my mother yesterday.

She sometimes winds me up with the food thing when she's here. Not because she tries to feed me rubbish (although she often manages, unintentionally, to throw me off track by cooking something that's not too bad, but with huge portions that I then feel obliged to finish off. No, it's not particularly what she cooks, it's her slavish devotion to finding out exactly what I'm eating and copying it. I can leave a tub of yoghurt in the fridge, or a pack of vitamins in the cupboard, then I come home and she's bulk bought them.

I should be flattered. After all, she's only doing it because she wants to achieve what I've achieved, and it's not like it's an eating regime that I wouldn't recommend - my food is far tastier and healthier than almost anyone else I know, so she could be doing worse. But really, she doesn't need to be so obvious about it. Take inspiration from it by all means, but copying it won't give her my results.

She needs to lose weight. She's over 15 stone I think, so not as heavy as I used to be, but still obese. I do want her to lose weight. But the food I eat works for my lifestyle. It works because I burn it off. I eat more than a lot of people who are losing weight. Running 7 miles before work this morning gives me the scope to eat lots of nice healthy food instead of small amounts of nice healthy food!

She won't run. She walks a fair amount, because she lives by the sea in Spain and can walk a mile or so along the coast into work. I'd walk to work if I had that commute!!! She's not entirely inactive. But there's a wide, yawning gulf between her physical activity and mine. I know that while my food isn't as bad for her as a diet of ready meals and takeaways, it's also not going to make her lose weight on its own. But no matter how much I tell her that, the message doesn't seem to get through. So she copies it devotedly.

But combined with that, is a strange resistance to change. She was poking around in my fridge within 10 minutes of arriving yesterday asking what everything is. She looked at my apricot and apple pots and asked what was in them. I then got informed that I don't like apple. Well, clearly I do, or I wouldn't have any in my fridge, would I? I know that I didn't eat apple, but why does that mean that I can never like it, that I can never try it? There are lots of things that I eat now but never ate before. Am I banned from trying them? Surely not, but apparently I "don't like apple".

This is an attitude I picked up on and replicated for a long time. I didn't like fruit and veg, and I was fat, and I should never try to change because no change was allowed. That was who I was. Then I suddenly broke out of my self-imposed limits, and realised that everything I ever thought about myself was wrong, that I could change, and that I'd enjoy doing it.

Anyway, I wasn't sure whether to go back to meat eating yesterday at the greek, or whether to stick with the veggies for a while longer. I was afraid of making a bit statement that "I am now a veggie" when I'm not sure that I am. But equally, I didn't want to cave within hours of her arrival, as though I do things for myself when I'm alone but revert straight back to my old self when she's here.

In the end, I seem to have got the balance right. I had potato keftedes and vegetarian moussaka at the Greek yesterday, and I tried out a lovely butter bean and feta stew this evening. But before I even ordered at the greek I took mum up on her offer to cook a meaty dish I really like on Thursday. So I was clearly ordering vegetarian through choice rather than because I'd irrevocably given up meat, but was free to make the slightly less "final" statement that I've changed, and I now like veg. I really don't know why I'm placing so much importance on this making a statement thing, but I do want to show that I've moved on, and that I'm allowed to like apple now.

Tonight Mum had said she'd cook something if I gave her the recipe, but I ended up cooking most of it for her in the end. Never mind, I got it cooked how I wanted it, without loads of salt or extra ingredients. We had the stew with steamed green beans and chargrilled mediterranean veg, and she LOVED IT! Hopefully, even if she doesn't lose weight, I can introduce her to a couple of new healthy recipes and train her to cook them when I go over to stay with them next month. I'm not sure that my dad would be so welcoming of vegetarian food though...

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Happy Bloggiversary to Me!

I started this blog on 9 April last year, and I've been rambling away about this weight loss stuff for a year now. How time flies! There are other anniversaries, like the anniversary of the day I really started, and the day I re-started, but this is the first anniversary I actually get to look back at what I actually said that day. And I said a fair bit with three whole posts - here, here and here.

The first one is dull, so we'll skip over that. The second? Numbers, talking about a ticker that is no longer at the top of the blog. A bit of history about where I'd got to to date, a reminder of how much I've lost since then - that I was down about 18lb from my highest - a whopping 82lb more than I weigh now. Wow!

And the third? I didn't realise it at the time, but the third post held the key to almost everything I've done since. Yup, my third post was about running. It's worth quoting in full.

The other thing I'm doing when I go to the gym is trying to get in shape for the Race for Life. I've written more about this on my other blog, but it fits well here so I've carried it over here. I've never been a great athlete, and I've always been overweight, but I've finally decided to do something about it. I did a mile last year. I didn't exactly run it all, but I got round faster than some people which at that stage (before I started going to the gym) was an achievement in itself. This year I wanted to take it a step further so signed up for the Race for Life for Cancer Research. Unfortunately, at that stage I didn't know how good a choice that would be. A week or so later I found out about my sister's cancer scare, which is still ongoing and unresolved.

I've not really started my fundraising properly yet, but I do have an online donation page which you can use if you want to.

If I manage this (and I'm now managing 5km in the gym in about 36 minutes so there's hope), I might even sign up for the 10km Abbey Dash which I believe takes place in November. Of course, it would be easier to get round if I'm lighter...

Oh yes, I signed up for the Abbey Dash. And then some. I think that my inner runner was already making a bid to be noticed, even though I didn't know it!

And I can now run 5k in 24 minutes too!

Saturday, April 08, 2006


The Veggie Experiment is drawing to an end, and I thought that it would be a good time to look back and assess against the goals I set myself when I started it.

Firstly, this is more about giving up meat and trying new things to replace it than it is about being strictly vegetarian. I'm doing this for me, not the animals (does that sound awful?). So, on the basis that it's on the "trying new things" list, fish is allowed. For now.

I definitely succeeded with the trying new things part, although that didn't include fish. I had a tuna salad in the first week, and that was it. In one sense that means I wasn' as adventurous as I could have been, but I was more strictly vegetarian than I'd imagined, and I tried more vegetables as a result rather than resorting to fish as a meat substitute.

Linked to this, I'm not going to be a strict vegetarian, and I won't be bothering with vegetarian cheese and scouring lists of ingredients to make sure there isn't any sort of animal product in there. If a bit of chicken stock gets through in a soup I'll survive.

I don't think any chicken stock snuck in, but I didn't go the whole hog with vegetarian cheese. I did try soy yoghurt though, for a change.

Thirdly, I might not actually do all of lent. March is a definite, as is early April, but my mother is coming over for Easter, so I might stop a day or two early once she comes to save explaining what I'm doing and forcing her to change what she cooks for me. (I may make a stand over a salad occasionally, but I'm still a wimp when it comes to standing up for what I actually want to eat).

She arrives tomorrow (hence the experiment coming to an end. I did start a week early, so it works out the same as lent but moved a week earlier. More on this one at the end.

Fourth, to stick with the trying new stuff theme there are two ways I'm planning to do this. One is that I have a vegetarian cook book and I want to try at least one new recipe each week. I'm in a bit of a cooking rut quite a lot of the time, and I really want to get into learning how to cook new things. The second is that my new Thursday pre-Spanish treat is going to be a proper meal at a vegetarian cafe I've found. Sometimes if I go out to eat I find that one unusual, untried vegetable makes me scurry back to the safe "chicken and chips" options on the menu, but if I take away that option I will be forced to try things that include things I've never tried before. I'll try to make sure I pick something different off the menu each time, to expand the range of what I eat. I went last night and enjoyed what I ate, so money permitting I'll be going back regularly.

New recipes was a huge success. Instead of one new recipe a week it turned into a new recipe every time I cooked, and a pile of more new recipes that I want to try that will probably keep me going for the rest of the year and beyond. I haven't eaten out at the vegetarian place as much as I planned - purely because I've cooked so much good stuff at home that I've needed to eat up, so ended up taking spare portions into work to reheat. I have eaten out at vegetarian places three or four times over the month though, and enjoyed it every time. The one thing this experiment was certainly not about was deprivation!

And finally, this is not an excuse to eat cheesy chips or cheese and onion pasties for a month. They may be vegetarian, but that's not why I'm doing this. I'm not going to lose sight of my goal to eat more fruit and veg, and I'm not going to try to stuff my diet with meat substitutes. I'm not giving up chicken so I can eat fake chicken, I'm giving up chicken so I can eat more vegetables instead.

I ate tofu once, other than that it's been fruit, vegetables, grains and beans all the way. Not a piece of fake meat in sight. I'm really proud of that, I've really stuck to what I wanted to do in a positive way rather than simply giving up meat.

And now? Well, Mum arrives tomorrow and we're going out to my favourite restaurant in Leeds for lunch. I love their beef stifado. I also love their spinach pie, and wouldn't mind trying their moussaka. I could make a vegetarian choice if I wanted (the spinach pie), but I'm trying to decide whether I will. It's not just a meal, it's symbolic of whether I'm going to stick to this permanently or whether I'm going to end up as "veggie-lite", essentially doing the vegetarian thing for myself but being more relaxed on holiday/when I'm with family and they are cooking for me.

I'm certainly not going to go back to eating as much meat as I did, but still have 24 hours to ponder whether this is the time to turn fully vegetarian. It's not a now or never thing I suppose, if I don't do it now I can always do it at some point in the future, and maybe if I eat meat tomorrow I'll be able to guague how much hold it still has over me.

Friday, April 07, 2006

The Day of Rest

I feel so lazy this morning! I'm not exercising on a weekday morning. I don't have an early meeting somewhere else in the country. I'm not ill or injured. I could get to the gym quite easily.

But I'm having a rest day.

This is the first time I've not gone to the gym on a weekday when I could have made it for over a year (seriously!). I've missed weekdays because of other commitments, and I've had rest days at weekends. But never on a weekday. A year!!! I don't always exercise hard, I might go in and have a gentle swim. But I always do something.

I tend to make sure I go to the gym during the week because it fits into my commute better that way, but I've been reassessing what I do this week. The main thing is that once I start the marathon training in a couple of weeks time I do two longish runs on Saturday and Sunday and take Friday off as rest to prepare. That makes sense.

Friday is often my low intensity swimming day anyway, so it works quite well with what I usually do, other than the mental side of believing that I can lie in bed ignoring the alarm and still get back into it the next day, I do think that I partly go to the gym every day through fear of what will happen if I don't. Friday is also good because I'm usually out Thursday night and Friday night so it's nice to have some time on Friday morning to do a couple of jobs. And this week it works because I'm racing on Saturday rather than Sunday, and I'd usually take the day before a race off.

So I'm trialing the whole Friday as complete rest thing today. The race tomorrow is only 5k and I'd probably have coped with it if I'd swum today. But once I get up to running big distances over the weekend I'll need this rest day, so I may as well get into the habit of it now!

Of course, I didn't change my alarm so I'm still up at the crack of dawn, but at least I'm just lazing around instead of dashing into town. The only downside is that I'll have to brave rush hour to get into work. gah!

Wednesday, April 05, 2006


I was very proud of myself this morning. I got to the gym and it was packed, almost all the equipment in use and some of the people on the treadmill were people who I knew would be doing long workouts. I know there's a sticker on the treadmill that says to limit use to 15 minutes at busy periods, but most people ignore it, and as I've started ignoring it too it would be hypocritical of me to whinge. Also, I was planning on a 40 - 50 minute run so could hardly kick someone off because they'd got to 20 minutes without letting someone else have a go.

In the past I'd have given up and done something else. But I'm a runner now, and I wanted to get that run in. Almost without thinking I knew what to do. It was a lovely sunny morning. Cold but bright. I went back downstairs, put my tracksuit bottoms back on over my shorts, grabbed a woolly hat and headed back out of the gym.

I've recently been looking for new running routes round Leeds and someone had recommended the canal as a nice route. This is one I'm definitely going to try in marathon training - I'll get the bus or train a suitable distance out of town and run back in. You can get down onto the towpath not far from the gym, so I decided to give it a go.

I'd never run up there before so I had no idea of distances, I just decided to run at a relatively comfortable pace for 22.5 minutes, turn round and run back for a 45 minute run. I guessed that it would be around 5 miles (which is what I recorded it as in my training log), but I'm not getting hung up on the precise distance or pace.

And I really enjoyed it. I was a bit cold at first - if I'd known I'd be running outside I'd have worn a longer sleeved top, but after a while it wasn't so bad, particularly once the sun got some warmth in it. It was lovely and peaceful.

I love canals, they look so serene and unhurried, and even better other than three locks and a couple of bridges they're nice and flat too! I've got canals in my blood to some extent, this is a photo of one of my great grandfather's boats. He used to transport goods up and down the canals and do pleasure cruises from Wigan Pier at weekends. I've seen his photo in a couple of museums and pubs round Wigan (according to my grandmother he'd turn in his grave at the latter as he was a committed teetotaller!) There was a big row between my grandmother and her siblings when he died, and the boatyard (which used to be close to Old Trafford football ground) is long gone, and most of the boats were sunk (although one of the boats is in a museum at Ellesmere Port I believe, which I keep on meaning to go over and visit*), but I still love canals.

But I was meant to be writing about running. I ran up the canal, I turned round and I ran back. I actually managed a slight negative split, getting back in just under 44 minutes, although I was just trying to run comfortably rather than at a certain pace. And I enjoyed it so much more than the treadmill.

I've been pondering for a while buying a rucksack so that I can run to work instead of running inside and I will probably do that to fit in the 8 mile midweek training runs I'll need to do for the marathon. If I'm running instead of sitting on a bus I will have an extra 30 - 40 minutes of running time to play with. I don't want to do that at the moment because it's still cold enough that I need a coat to travel home from work in, and I don't want to carry a bulky coat in a rucksack on the way in. But I don't see why I can't run down the canal more often once I've dumped my gear at the gym, like I did today. I'll dress a bit better for it, but just being out in the sunshine and having a bit of variety has made me feel so much perkier today.

Of course, it does make me wonder whether I'm paying my gym membership simply for the privilege of being able to use their showers, but never mind. I do like having the gym there as a safety net, but I'm developing more and more options to use as alternatives, and far more enjoyable ones at that.

*On this subject, I've just sent an application form off for the Chester Half Marathon. If I get a place (the closing date is tomorrow so I don't know whether it will get there in time or whether there will still be places), I might pop in after the race, it's years since I went to see it.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006


I had a sudden moment of clarity earlier. Since I got to the 100lb lost point I've been feeling surprisingly down on myself a lot of the time. I've been going through bingeing spells where I stand in the kitchen shovelling food into my mouth. I don't tend to talk about the bad times on here, even in the anonymity of cyberspace I prefer to keep some things to myself, to maintain the illusion of someone who's always in control and smiley and happy and doing this the right way.

It isn't always like that, believe me, and what I don't say is sometimes far more important than what I do say. I can only type this today because I'm having a good day. When I'm having a bad day, I think that if no-one knows it won't make any difference.

They're not major binges, but I don't feel in control at all. I feel like food still has far too much control over me, and that I haven't learned a thing.

Since I hit 160 I've been feeling this more and more frequently. I still have good days, but I notice the bad days more. Is it because I've let myself relax too much? Possibly, but I think there's something else behind it.

No matter how often I tell myself "it's all about health and fitness and good things that aren't necessarily linked to weight loss goals", the fact is that the fact I've been losing weight has masked some of the grubby stuff under the surface. If I ate too much, well, that wasn't a huge problem because I still lost a pound. If I had a bad day, it was still better than it was before, and the weight still came off with the exercise.

But now there aren't weight loss goals any more, and I really, truly am focussing on my behaviour I realise how my weight loss has clouded my understanding of how I eat. I realise that it's not OK to just stand with a bag of muesli eating spoonful after spoonful out of the packet. Or raid the nuts and seeds and dried fruit and eat mindlessly. Just because I do enough exercise not to gain weight doesn't mean that I should eat if I'm not hungry.

I realise that I don't just want to be thinner and fitter. I want to be in control, and not just an emotional eater who got lucky with sport. I want balance and moderation and control.

Control, control, control.

Today has been a good day. Yesterday wasn't bad. But I know there will be more bad days to come, and I know that I will have to deal with them. At least now I've sorted out my feelings a bit I know what I need to do, and I'll try not to sweep it under the carpet any more.

Monday, April 03, 2006


Whew, it's 9pm and I've just finished a mega stint of cooking. I've made vegetable tarts, butternut squash and chilli soup and another batch of my apricot and apple stuff (recipe to come, on request). Because I was out for most of the weekend I didn't do my normal cooking spree, and with my mother coming over for a couple of weeks at the weekend I want to make sure that the freezer is full of stuff to eat for lunches etc so that I don't need to cook too much while she's here.

I'm amazed at how much more I'm cooking for myself now. I can go for days without eating anything prepared by anyone else (other than stuff like yoghurt, and other not quite in their natural state ingredients like bread and cheese). The strange thing is that the thing that made the most difference to my current cooking spree isn't familiarity with vegetables, the increased number of recipe books in the house or anything like that. It's the fact that I went out and bought some containers to put the leftovers in so that I can carry them into work and reheat them without worrying about them leaking everywhere.

It's funny how it's the simple things that make all the difference!

Anyway, back to the recipes. For the apricot and apple thing you need 125g of dried apricots, 4 apples 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon honey. Soak the apricots for as long as possible so they're nice and plump then cut them into smaller pieces and put them in a pan with the water they were soaking in. Peel, core and cube the apples and put them in the pan too. Add a bit more water if necessary (depending how much you used for the apricots) so that the water just comes below the top of the apples (this is trial and error I think), and boil for 10 minutes. Then you split the fruit mixture into individual pots (I use ones with a nice secure lid so I can take it to work), I find that it does about 5. I usually chill it like this, and then the morning I want to eat it add a couple of spoonfuls of low fat plain yoghurt (soy yoghurt works surprisingly well), and some pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds and linseeds, plus a sprinkling of extra cinnamon. Then I pop the lid on, take it to work, put it back in the fridge at work and tuck in at lunchtime.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Sweaty Betty

I ran another 10k, details, as ever, on BerlinBlog. Then, not wanting to miss out on old pleasures, I dashed down for a 2pm kick off at the rugby.

Except I didn't have enough time to shower and change, so if you notice an empty zone behind the posts, or the low attendance, on the video, it's because people couldn't bear to stand near me!!!

Actually, to be fair, I felt far less sweaty than I usually do after a race, so with a couple of cleansing wipes and a bit of deodorant, then putting some extra layers over my running kit I was good to go, and I was glad that I had too as we won for only the second time this season.

I did notice one thing though. I used to like having the excuse to eat pies and burgers and chips at the rugby. Even when I was losing weight, a rugby match was a good enough excuse for a bit of indulgence. Then I got to the stage where I didn't mind the rugby food, but I liked other stuff too. And now, I'm so glad I took my houmous and mediterranean veg sandwiches (on wholemeal bread of course...) because the burgers and chips and pies just looked so appealing. I wanted to declare an exclusion zone round me (and not just with my sweat!) not because the smell was tempting me, but the smell was making me feel ill.

How have we arrived at a place, as a society in general, where that stuff is considered as food, or as a treat. Even if it's not an every day diet thing, how could anyone see chips or burgers as a treat? How could I do that? There are now lots of other things that I'd rather eat. Not necessarily amazingly healthy stuff - maybe a nice flapjack made with honey and oats and nuts that still packs a fair calorific punch, but at least stuff made with real food, not reprocessed regurgitated crap. I don't want to come down too hard on people who eat it, because I know that I used to too, but it really does amaze me now I see it from this side of the fence.

I realised yesterday that I can spend hours or days saying things that would never have come out of my mouth before. Like the gorgeous apricot, apple and yoghurt thing I cook for my lunch. I mentionned that it works really well with soy yoghurt, then realised that I'd just given away the fact that I tried soy yoghurt... I promise I own't turn into a hardcore vegetarian (although it's 6 weeks tomorrow since my last piece of chicken), but I get excited about new ways to cook lentils and beans, and that worries me slightly. Not in a bad way, but in a how did I get here sort of way.

Anyway, I'm a little drunk and rambling so I'd better stop here, although before that I'd better just mention that WIGAN WON! It's far too rare at the moment (2nd time this season?) so I'd better make the most of it while it lasts.