Wednesday, May 31, 2006


Yes, I'm eating dessert. But it involves fruit so I'm not going to feel guilty. And it's my birthday (if you hadn't already gathered that!) Read down if you can't work out what's going on, there are a couple of earlier posts from this evening which might make things clearer.

Anyway, the last photo was jeans. And now, because I'm midway through sorting out which of my old clothes are still in a fit state to be sold on ebay I can give you my new jeans on top of my old ones. Actually, it doesn't look as dramatic as I was hoping, but it's still worthy of a photo.

What's more worth a photo though, is this. Which means it's time for the story behind the jeans.

On Friday I decided to face one of the things I hadn't dared do yet and go into Harvey Nicks and try some jeans on. When I was about a size 16 I went round with a friend and realised that the jeans would still all be too small. I hadn't been back since. It was a while before I realised that by this stage I'd probably fit into them by now.

So I went in, and I tried some on. They were sized by waist size rather than dress size, so I just picked some and tried them. A couple of "mistakes" here. First of all I picked a random pair of 7 for all mankind jeans and didn't realise that they were actually one of the more expensive pairs. Therefore the £215 price tag freaked me out just a little. And secondly, I wasn't quite sure what waist size equated to the dress sizes I'm more familiar with. Still, going by fit, I worked out that a 30 was relatively comfortable, and a 29 was wearable (far better than you see a lot of people wearing), but would mean that I'd have to make sure I never regain another pound.

It was only yesterday when I was looking at cheaper jeans in TK Maxx that I noticed that all the 29s were labelled as size 10. Size freaking 10!!!

Anyway, fast forward to today. I'd tried the massage/facial idea and drawn a blank, and I was getting more and more drawn to the retail therapy idea. Then, just before lunch, my guardian angel arrived, with a Sunderland accent. Gibbo!

Gibbo used to work with me, then moved down to London. She's a size 8 and has a fantastic figure. Fake boobs, but fantastic. She's pretty fit too, but has wimped out of the 10k I'm doing next weekend because she's worried how much I'll beat her by. I last saw her in February, and even though I don't feel like I've lost much weight since then, she was staggered. "So, you're a size 10 now then?", she said. Am I? Really? (The answer, in most shops is no, but I'm getting to the stage where, with a good cut on a thin day, I might just stand a chance). Chatting to her at lunchtime distracted me from the job of finding somewhere else for a massage, but reawakened my passion for a really good pair of jeans.

The jeans I tried on on Friday were £215. By the time I left work I'd almost persuaded myself that it wasn't that much, and that I'd find the money from somewhere. I legged it out of work at 5 to give myself time to go to Harvey Nicks before it shut at 6. I was considering going home, eating, then going to the gig, but then I thought about all the rewards I haven't given myself, and the fact that the money I didn't spend on the gig could be spent on The Jeans. I made my mental apologies to my bank, and headed in.

And, oh joy! On closer examination I realised that the jeans I tried on on Friday were £75 more expensive than a very similar pair, same brand, same basic cut, and certainly not worth that amount more. If I'd almost been willing to spend £215 on a pair of jeans (by closing my eyes as I typed in my pin) then £140 was almost nothing. Still rather more than I usually pay for jeans, but nothing by comparison.

And anyway, here comes the justification. 1) It's my birthday. 2) I never got myself my goal reward. 3) If I ever wanted an incentive not to regain I just found it. I bought the 29s which are just a teeny bit tighter than they should be. Which basically means that I need to make sure I maintain if I want to fasten them. And boy, do I want to fasten them!

They are a weight maintenance tool, not an indulgence. Honest!

Main Course

If this is the first time you've visited tonight, scroll down. This is a slow, ceremonial unwrapping of the present I bought for myself, which is being blogged all the way.

I don't normally drink midweek. Luckily with my half marathon this weekend tomorrow is a scheduled rest day, but you may notice me getting more and more drunk as the day goes on.

Open the bag, and you get another layer of wrapping. Almost like a birthday present! (Except I know what's inside. Actually, scratch that, these days I know what's inside most of them because my parents ask me rather than risk getting me something I don't like).

I hate my scummy green carpet, but the wrapping shows up better against it than against the white throw on the sofa.

I forgot to say earlier, that I made sure I dressed for dinner. Admittedly I'm just wearing a Primark denim skirt and a cheap Bershka top from Spain, but it makes me feel hot so who am I to complain!

Nice thing number two, my sister's present. A really nice top, very summery, but still very nice, and a matching necklace. Better than that, it's a small. Better even than that, it fits! Nothing like a bit of sizing vanity to make my day even before I make it to the gym (and not at all because I know there's no way in the world her boobs would fit into that top, and that she'd be forced to get a medium or large for herself. Oh no, such thoughts wouldn't cross my mind...)

This doesn't look particularly exciting, I'm not very good at getting ready meals out of their containers gracefully. Still, it tasted edible enough so who am I to complain?

I've realised that I'm actually running out of courses, so it's time to unwrap the paper. Woo hoo!


First of all a question - what on earth does the Queen Mother need a draper for? She's dead?! She's not just dead, she died in 2002. Do Harvey Nicks really not change their bags often enough to take that off?

This is number one in my list of things to do after hitting 28 but before 29. Make my first purchase from Harvey Nicks. Ticked off on my birthday, but the fact I'd never done it before explains the fact that I'd never noticed the bag before.

Anyway, I thought I'd take photos of my food as well as the great unwrapping. Even though I didn't cook it, I'll take some credit for combining it, here we have courgette and cheese fritters and butternut squash parcels on a bed of rocket, spinach and watercress.

Surprise one. The boy from Sunday emailed me last night and texted me today. I guess I didn't utterly repel him! I'm quite happy about that. I don't want any sort of full on relationship with him at the moment, but I've always whinged about the fact that some blokes see a "date" as leading to only one outcome - romance or nothing. Well, probably a quick shag more than romance, but I'm being polite about it. What I sometimes want is just friendship, and if I can get that from the boy from Sunday I'd be more than happy.

Music wise, I've moved on from Jack Johnson to James Blunt.

Treating myself...

So, the big day and I came to a decision. I actually tried to book a facial/back massage but the person who does them was only working til 6 today despite it saying it was open til 9. So... plan B.

I had thought of going to a gig this evening that was recommended in this morning's Metro, but midway through the day the plan shifted to a bit of retail therapy and a 3 course M&S meal in with nice music and wine, and candles and stuff.

And opening the bag, which I'm going to do very slowly savouring the moment. And blogging it slowly, too...

The plan is, roughly, to unveil a little more about the treat and the rest of the day (a couple of nice surprises!) between each course (appetiser - olives and ouzo, starter - mediterranean nibbles with salad and wine, main course - courgette and aubergine bake with mixed beans and wine, dessert - fruit tart and dessert wine - all nicely mediterranean themed with me only needing to get up from time to time to put stuff in the oven), leaving me time to unwrap.

So we'll start...

What would come in a bag like this?

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Pity Party for One

I'm about to whinge, big style. Sorry. But I would like some advice, so please bear with me.

It's my birthday tomorrow, and I'm trying to think of something to do to celebrate it. I got quite depressed earlier this afternoon when I realised that not only don't I have any plans, but I haven't got any friends local enough to make spontaneous plans with, and above all I don't have anyone in my life who will make spontaneous or surprise plans for me.

I have a grand total of nothing planned. I might meet up with a friend for lunch or a drink after work, but we've been meaning to do this for a while so I suggested tomorrow to remove the embarrasment of not doing anything on my birthday and to justify a bit of indulgence. And anyway, I suspect that work may now force the cancellation of those plans, as I have a 1.30 conference call which rules out a lingering lunch, and which may well go on all afternoon, beyond the time at which my friend will need to go back home to York. I had considered drinks with another friend, but she has a housewarming party on Saturday so I'll see her then anyway... except that it's the night before a half marathon so I'll probably turn up for an hour or two and not drink. Rock and roll, baby! I have the excitement of a single present from my sister to open, because my grandparents usually deal in cold hard cash for these events and I was with my mother when she bought me a present from her (perfume).

I'm not blaming anyone. I know that I've made choices in my life that have steered me away from my family (by staying in the UK) and my friends (by focussing on healthy, worthy things rather than sheer hedonism). For the most part I'm happy with those choices, and I wouldn't want to change who I am. But if I can't rustle up a bit of fun and festivity on my birthday, when can I? And I start feeling a bit down that my life is just so dull. I do things that lead to goals, like running and Spanish. I don't just let my hair down and have fun for the sheer sake of it.

Someone mentioned to me the other day about all those goals I never treated myself for. I had all sorts of grand plans about personal shoppers and fab haircuts and new bikes when I got to goal, but my priorities changed, and I didn't have the money, and I didn't treat myself. And I worry that tomorrow will be the same.

The past two years I've been on holiday for my birthday. That's allowed me to take my mind off the gaping holes in my social life at home. Being alone on holiday is fine, but sitting on the sofa alone, in front of the tv on the birthday really brings it home to me how alone I am sometimes. Events like birthdays are when I really do miss having, for want of a better word, a partner, or really close friends and family who live nearby.

So I want some ideas on how to treat myself. I don't want to spend a huge amount of money. I'm not the sort of person who thinks that a good time can be bought by throwing money at it. Spending ridiculous amounts of money on beauty treatments is more likely to make me feel poor than indulged. I'm not saying that I want to do something completely free, but I don't want to waste my money either. Something that's a reasonable amount of money, but not blow the weekly food budget expensive.

This is where I put a call out for ideas of something creative or unusual I could do that's single girl on her birthday friendly. To strike off the easy ideas first, I've checked the cinema and theatre listings and there's nothing I fancy on.

I could treat myself to some indulgent food. I could go up to Betty's in Harrogate, or to Harvey Nicks, or to the highly recommended vegetarian curry place. But indulgent food and wine are better shared, particularly when you're eating out. Plus I don't want to get into the old rut of rewarding and treating myself with food all the time. The same with a post work cocktail or three. Is it really fun to sit there on your own, particularly when I have such fab food at home every other night of the week?

I could buy a dvd or a book and some music, or rent something, or see if there's anything on pay per view, but I get easily distracted at home and I'm not sure that I'd either stick it out til the end or feel like it was anything special.

The idea that's winning in my head at the moment is to get some of the lovely looking picnic type food I've seen in M&S recently, maybe a small amount of sparkling wine and a rug and head off to the park for an indulgent picnic overlooking the lake (I have a spot in my mind). Maybe with a walk first to burn a bit of it off. And maybe popping into the pub on the way there or the way back. I could take a book and some music on my iPod. But having a picnic on your own is just a little sad, no? And even if it wasn't, the way the weather's been recently it's not a sure bet that I'd be able to do it. I've checked the weather forecast and it doesn't predict rain, but it's not a great deal warmer than today either, and I wouldn't be sitting outside this evening. But if it's looking nice tomorrow afternoon that's an idea I might just try. Another idea if the weather's nice and I get out of work early is to travel a bit further afield, to somewhere like Brimham Rocks or Ilkley Moor and do the same thing - bit of a walk, bit of a picnic (but without the wine, if I'm driving).

I could go to yoga for the first time in weeks and hopefully get rid of some tension. But again, I'm not sure that would feel overly special. I could go shopping, but expensive jeans and running gear aside there's nothing I really want to buy at the moment. I could go to late night opening at the running shop, but that really is taking my running obsession too far!

I could have an indulgent bath, and some home beauty treatments, but my bathroom is a bit scummy so it never feels quite as decadent as it should, and spending an age cleaning it beforehand isn't my idea of a treat! Likewise the garden, it needs some work before I could consider spending an evening relaxing in it!

I appreciate I've ruled out a lot of options here, but if anyone has any ideas of what I can do to make my birthday feel just that bit more special than usual, leave me a comment! Or bully me into doing something I've ruled out by making a good case for it. I'm not looking for the most memorable evening of my life, and I don't know whether I'll be able to do much depending on work, but I just want something a bit different to cheer me up and get out of pity party mood.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Family Duty

I visited my grandparents earlier today, and now I'm feeling a bit down. Not about the fact that my visit took away the fun of the annual "Grandparent Birthday Card Sweepstake" (in which you guess how late my card will arrive), but about the whole family thing.

My family isn't big. My mum's an only child, and my dad has two childless brothers. I don't have a single cousin. And both my sister and I have reached our mid-late 20s without any sign of children. Not too unusual compared to our peers, but compared to the ages when my parents and grandparents had children, getting on a bit. (Not to mention the fact that I'm not sure I'll ever want children, but probably best not to shatter their dreams just yet).

One of my uncle's old school friends was round there for the weekend, with his wife and two small children, and it really struck me how much my grandparents liked having the kids around, to play with and pamper. They may not have been family, but they were treated like the most important people in that house.

I don't know, it just made me feel bad that I can't give them something they obviously want. Not that I'm suggesting I'd go out and breed just to make my grandparents happy, but I just feel a bit down.


I also started to wonder today whether I'm getting just a bit too obsessive about my food. I popped round there at about 11, and they wanted me to stay for lunch. But I knew that I have a fridge full of fresh healthy food at home that I need to eat up before it goes off, and that I'd rather eat that. This coming an hour or so after I tried to gently dissuade my other grandparents from taking me to a hotel they like to eat at for Sunday lunch when I go to visit them next Sunday. I keep trying to get through to them that I really don't see an overcooked traditional Sunday lunch as a treat, particularly when there are no veggie options that I can think of.

I want to relax more about the quality of what I eat, but I just look at some of the food other people eat and wonder where the taste is. I'm not saying that their tinned tomato soup would have been a particularly bad option, just that it wasn't as nice as my freshly made lentil dahl soup.

I wonder whether I'm obsessive about my cooking and eating, and whether I need to put quite so much effort into it. But then I look at what I eat, and wonder how on earth I manage to eat stuff that's so tasty without being absolutely huge. I talk a lot in general terms about how much I love my food, but rarely talk about it in detail so I thought that over the bank holiday weekend I'd make a note of what I eat and share it with you all.

So here goes. First the health warning is that (despite my recommitting post) I'm more on a maintenance phase than a weight loss phase, so I'm more relaxed than I could be about things like cheese and good fats. And secondly I exercise a lot to burn at least some of this off, on Saturday I ran 5 miles and Sunday and today were nearer 7 miles.


Breakfast - Fruit porridge with yoghurt (basically I make my porridge with water in the microwave with a serving (80g) of frozen fruit stirred in. I then stir in a pot of low fat fruity probiotic yoghurt)

Lunch - home made broad bean and mint soup with a couple of slices of wholegrain bread

Evening meal (at the rugby) - lentil, broad bean, feta and cherry tomato salad on a bed of watercress, rocket and spinach (homemade of course!), followed by apricot and apple compote with fat free plain yoghurt, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and linseeds.

Snacks - a little 70% chocolate, an apple and a pomegranate, a slice of wholegrain bread with houmous.

Drinks - water, 1 espresso, a couple of glasses of red wine


Breakfast - fruity porridge

Lunch - tofu and veg stirfry - the veg in this were asparagus, red pepper, spring onions and spinach, together with noodles and spinach.

Evening meal - aubergine, leek and tomato lasagne with onions a la grecque and a portion of steamed veg (carrots, sugar snap peas and baby sweetcorn)

Snacks - a little 70% chocolate, 2 slices of wholegrain bread topped with ricotta and raspberries.

Drinks - water, 2 espressos, 1 hot chocolate and more red wine than yesterday.


Breakfast - fruity porridge

Lunch - homemade lentil dahl soup with wholemeal bread

Evening meal - chickpea and vegetable casserole with onions a la grecque and asparagus

Snacks (so far) - 70% chocolate (see a theme developing?), wholegrain bread with ricotta and raspberries, one of my grandmother's freshly baked cookies

Drinks - water and (probably) wine

The end result of all this yummy food (other than me feeling absolutely stuffed full!) is that the freezer is now FULL. I broke my own rule by buying new pots to freeze things in rather than eating some of the existing stuff first, and I've run out of room to put those pots. It's time to start eating some of the stuff I've already cooked. The only problem is that these new recipe books are just too tempting!

Sunday, May 28, 2006


I feel really cute today, I spent time beautifying this morning after my run with a face mask, new smellies, doing my hair properly and choosing some fab clothes. It's rare that I put that much effort in at the weekend, and I've been walking around in a lovely smelling cloud all day.

The reason for all this effort? Well, I was meeting up with a bloke for coffee. I hesitate to use the word date, because it's a bit more complicated than that, but I wanted to feel confident and gorgeous, and I didn't see why I shouldn't make the effort.

The bloke I was meeting up with me contacted me through an asexuality website I sometimes post on, which gives an indication of some of the non-datey aspects of it. Neither of us are looking for a conventional relationship, for a start, and although we've been emailing each other for a while it's all been on a very non-suggestive, non-emotional level. To be honest, I don't know what he's looking for, and while I'd like companionship from time to time, and to be in a non-sexual relationship with someone who understands, I'm not sure that I'm looking for it from a toy-boy who lives in Southampton.

But still, he was up in Leeds this weekend helping a friend move house, and wanted to meet up. Never one to say no to an excuse for sitting in a cafe whiling away a few hours chatting, I agreed, hence the primping and preening. I didn't want to do it to impress him as such, just to make me feel good about myself. I'm fed up of looking scruffy and shabby, and I wanted to see what I could do with myself if I tried. It's been a while since I've had a good excuse.

And... we got on, but I'm not sure how much "spark" there was between us. We chatted away for a good two hours, and I could have stayed for longer had he not needed to drive back down south for work this evening. He's maybe a bit young, there's a good three years or so between us, and I felt incredibly old sometimes compared to his recently out of university slumming it on floors stories. And he lives in Southampton, which isn't exactly convenient for getting to know each other better. He's actually up in Leeds again in a couple of weeks, but I'll be in London so I won't be seeing him then, whether he stays in touch after today or not.

I don't know, sometimes I think that it would be nice to have someone to share my life and my stories with, but I don't want that person to be the wrong person just because there's a gap in my life and someone, anyone, comes along to fill it. If he's not Mr Right, then I'm in no desperate mood to compromise. This could be a slow burner, but my gut instinct is that it won't be.

Still, it gave me a good opportunity to look gorgeous, so it was worth the couple of hours I spent talking to him!

Tuesday, May 23, 2006


The last two months have been nice. I hit 160lb back towards the end of March and have managed to stay there ever since. I've bounced around mainly between 158 and 162, initially at the top of that range and more recently towards the bottom, but very rarely outside it. I went back up to (ack) 164 immediately after I got back off holiday, but that was just water, honestly. I'm back down to 158 as of today, which is an improvement!

It's been nice being a bit more relaxed about my eating, about allowing those snacks to sneak in there, but I'm starting to feel like it's time for me to recommit to melting a bit more lard.

I'm not talking about getting rid of a lot, but I feel like there's a bit more fat there which would benefit from not being on my body. Or at least my body would benefit, I'm not sure if the fat has any strong opinions. I don't want to set myself any strict goals. If I never lose another pound I'll be more than happy. BUT there's a nice milestone coming up, and it would be nice to hit it. At 154lb I'll not only hit a nice round 11 stone, but I'll also dip slightly below 70kg (I think it's something like 69.8). That's 4lb away Nothing too daunting, but still a new number to aim for. I kind of miss losing, and even though I know that there will come a point where I can't or shouldn't lose any more, I don't think I'm there yet.

I'm not planning to do anything drastic to get there. Just up my exercise as part of the marathon training. I've "officially" started my training plan now, and the mileage increases week on week anyway. And alongside that, try to cut out some of the snacks. I've been wanting to do that from a "control" point of view anyway but I think that it will be easier to do if I have a goal in mind that it will help me achieve.

I've enjoyed the maintenance break, but I'm inspired to lose so I may as well seize the moment!

Monday, May 22, 2006


I'm really getting addicted... to cook books! I've managed to buy two in the past three days, and the list of recipes I want to try is getting longer and longer and longer by the day.

It's funny. When I was obese I didn't really like food that much. I liked the feeling of my stomach being full, of having something in my mouth. But I didn't get excited by flavours and textures and ingredients. I just ate, for the sake of eating. I wasn't excited by trying a new recipe, and I didn't cook. I just ate.

Now, on the other hand, I'm really getting into finding new ways to cook things, new combinations of ingredients, new techniques. I look forward to cooking new stuff, even if I don't intend to eat it immediately. Soups to freeze for work and stuff like that. Far from never needing to cook because I'm cooking for one and have lots of extras to freeze, I've started cutting down quantities so that it gives me more of an excuse to cook again soon!

I'm learning, too. I'm adapting recipes to fit into my lifestyle more easily. Adding extra vegetables, or switching ingredients around so that they're more balanced. I don't buy "diet" cookbooks any more (although I have some fantastic recipes from some of them). I have the confidence in my cooking that I don't need to follow a recipe exactly, and can make it a bit more healthy than it would have been without killing the taste.

I love it, I love the feeling of cooking something that I've made for myself, and the sense of achievement when something tastes far nicer than anything I've ever bought from the supermarket. I love the jealous looks I get at work when I go to the fridge for my lunch and reveal what I've brought in today.

But meanwhile my shelves are groaning under the weight of cookbooks. I really need to stop buying them.

Sunday, May 21, 2006


I came across some old progress photos over the weekend and they really shocked me. It's been a while since I had it reinforced into my brain just how fat I was, and I didn't realise that it was quite that fat.

I always used to convince myself that I carried my weight well, and that was a form of denial that allowed me to put off doing the necessary for far too long. But now, with the benefit of knowing what my body can be like, I realise that I didn't carry my weight well at all. Or at least, while I may have looked better than someone else who weighed eighteen and a half stone, I didn't look half as passable as I thought.

The even more worrying thing was that some of these progress photos were taken at about thirty or forty pounds down. Holy shit, if I was so fat then, then what the hell did I look like before. And I remember being pleased with those photos, so it must have been bad.

It is funny how your perspective changes. As your goals move, so does your satisfaction with your previous goals. It's good, but scary that gaining half a stone still seems as undesirable as it ever did, but it would actually still put me at a normal BMI for my height. Regardless of whether that half stone is added here, or on top of my starting weight, it's still not something I want to do.

I'm still trying to get my head into a maintenance mindset, but this is a good part of it. I don't want to set my personal limits too high, to say that getting out of obesity was such a good thing that anything below that is OK. I've looked through the pictures, and it's not. Not compared to what I know I can be.

This is the one thing that scares me the most. Before, I could blame my fatness on genetics and on all sorts of stuff that I couldn't control. I could persuade myself that I just wasn't the sort of person who was built to be thin or athletic. But now that I know I am, I know that it's all down to me if I fail. If I fall onto the yo-yo rollercoaster, there will only be one person to blame.

So I guess it was good to remind myself why I don't want to go back. I know what I need to do, and I need to make sure that I do it.

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Better late than never...

It's time to talk about Spain! Gran Canaria was Gran Canaria. We did the usual sort of stuff, I went up to Las Palmas and we went to Mogan, and I managed to stay in control of my eating. This was the big thing. I'm not saying that it was perfect, but it was within the parameters I'd set myself of staying vegetarian if possible and making sure I got my minimum of 5 portions of fruit and veg. I was a bit worried about the first because my dad is very much a meat man. Without even really bothering about the two veg, most of the time! And in terms of fruit and veg, almost all the restaurants seem to focus on meat and chips, with maybe a lettuce leaf or bit of tomato. Not to mention that veggies don't seem as common over there, so it can sometimes even be hard to find a salad.

I suppose this shows how my priorities are changing in this phase of the journey. It's fairly likely that a chicken salad is "healthier" than a vegetable pizza. But the vegetable pizza fits better with my current goals, and when I'm on holiday it's nice to allow myself a bit of slack anyway. Sometimes pizza was the sneakiest way to ensure I stayed veggie. When going out to eat with my family it was more likely that we'd all find something we liked in a pizzeria than in a tourist restaurant or even a traditional Spanish one. It was planned pizza, and it was controlled so I'm not going to get worked up about it.

Then on to Madrid, which was absolutely fantastic. I'd never been into Madrid before (although I've been through the airport a few times), and I'll definitely be having a stopover again. My hotel was fantasically located and I had a balcony overlooking the Puerta del Sol (one of the main central squares). It was shabby, but cheap and you definitely couldn't complain about the location. (Other than the impact on my sleep from the people going backwards and forwards all night - Madrid is very definitely a late night sort of place! And then the roadworks started early the next morning...). This is the view from the balcony.

Also in Madrid, the food choices opened up somewhat. Although the traditional Madrid food is more offal based than anything, being a big city there was a huge variety of choices. Armed with my trusty Time Out guide I plotted and planned my route round places that seemed like they'd offer me a decent choice of vegetables rather than just the option of gazpacho and tortilla. There are all signs of changes, that I'm searching out places, even where they're off the beaten track, rather than going for the tourist options on the main squares. That I'm actually valuing the quality of what I eat enough to pay extra for it and go out of my way to get it.

Something strange happened with my eating. I realised how much more adventurous this vegetarianism has forced me to become. In the past I'd have picked a meal on the basis that I know I like everything in it. If in doubt I'd resort to chicken and chips, after all, that can't have anything suspicious in it. But now, and particularly when I'm operating in a different language, I'm just starting to order stuff and see what arrives. Of course there's still an element of choosing which one I think has more things I like in it, but I'm not worried that there might be a rogue ingredient that I hadn't counted on. I'm more willing to try things, even if I know they're there and I don't know whether I like them. I even deliberately picked up some cauliflower from a salad bar to give it a try (verdict: not bad).

This is huge progress, and a real vindication of my decision to cut out meat. If it hadn't been for that decision I'd never have tried half the stuff I've tried over the past three months. I feel more open to trying new things, and more willing to experiment a bit than I ever did in the past.

But also on food, in Madrid they have these things called chocolaterias. I think you can guess what they sell... When in Spain you have to eat chocolate and churros. No, really, you do... Although (heresy coming up), I was actually a little disappointed with them. They weren't the gorgeous, knee weakening experience that I remember. I even started to wonder whether it wouldn't be nicer to dip strawberries in the chocolate than the churros. I will be expelled from Madrid and never allowed to return!

My other Spanish vice would have to be the alcohol. And to go with the alcohol, the tapas. I found, in Madrid in particular, that I could sit in a bar, on a lovely square, enjoying a glass of wine and a plate of olives for under 2 Euros. And that they'd charge me pretty much the same for a bottle of water. Can you guess which option I went for? I was rescued a little by the habit of some bars of serving meat based tapas, which I was able to resist, but I'm developing a serious taste for olives. They were another of my "I don't eat those" things, but they're definitely not on that list now!

The other fab thing about Madrid was that it was the San Isidro festival. The actual feast day was on Monday, and I flew home on Sunday evening, but on Friday night and Saturday night there were parades which were really enjoyable, complete with some of the locals dressed up in their traditional outfits. There were also farmers market type places which gave me the perfect opportunity to test out my Spanish. I can now taste a number of bottles of wine, say which one I prefer, and discuss which bottles I'm going to buy. I knew that these lessons would come in handy!

Seriously though, I spoke loads more Spanish in Madrid than I ever need to in Gran Canaria, and I was impressed by how much more confident I was at doing it. I may not have actually learned a great amount in my Spanish lessons so far because of what I've picked up over the past few years, but I have managed to get the confidence that I know that what I'm saying's roughly right, and that makes a huge difference.

And last, but most certainly not least, clothes. There were the clothes I took with me, which were almost without exception size 12, and which looked fab. Even the cheap Primark stuff looked good, and I started to really believe that it was the confidence of the person wearing them (me!) rather than the quality of the clothes that did that. I wore a size 12 bikini in public! (and got slightly burned in places that had never been exposed to daylight since my mother made me run around naked on beaches). I didn't try to hide myself away, I wore short little mini skirts and teeny weeny tops, and I felt like I actually had the right to wear this stuff now.

But as well as the clothes I took with me, there were the clothes I brought back. Yup, I found the Mango factory shop. And I found more branches of Zara than even I can cope with. And Bershka, Stradivarius, Pull & Bear, Desigual. The list could go on and on. And then on and on a bit more. And the best thing? That I could walk into them knowing that there was stuff in there that would fit me. I bought some fab tops, a new suit, new trousers for my Zara suit and various other bits. I don't know whether the clothes are any better than what I could find here, but I just have more time to shop which must count for something!

And finally, the introspective bit. I've always liked going on holiday alone, for two almost conflicting reasons. Firstly it lets me get to know myself a little better. But also, it lets me be someone else. I can sit at home every weekend doing little more than playing on the internet and watching tv, but on those weekends when I travel Europe alone I feel like a different, more adventurous, more impressive person. I can walk around a city where nobody knows me and escape my normal life for a bit.

But in Madrid I realised something. I wasn't trying to be anyone else any more. I was being me, because that was who I wanted to be. I was confident, and I was enjoying myself, and I was thin. I was me in Madrid, but I was still me.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Ah, sanity returns

It's a Friday night and I'm safely home at a reasonable time. After this week's madness I'm very relieved about that. I got the last thing that I needed to do out to the client at about 4.40, so there was no way I was going to start doing anything else at that point. No, I just sat around and waited to come home. I wasn't going to risk being delayed!

So now I'm back and eating the last of my frozen meals before I reacquaint myself with fresh food after a trip to the supermarket. I've not actually made it there yet, I'm currently tossing up whether to do it this evening or to just open a bottle of wine now and go in the morning. I have a strong suspicion that tomorrow morning is going to win that particular battle!

I'm just glad I got through the week. As manic as it's been, I know that if I can manage that without completely falling off the wagon, then maybe I'll be OK. Even when I'm busy I can still find a way to fit an hour or so of exercise into my day. That said, I really enjoyed my rest day lie in this morning!

I suspect I might fall asleep pretty early this night, particularly if it's wine assisted. But hopefully over the weekend I can start getting my life a bit more in balance. And possibly go shopping to spend my pay rise...

Thursday, May 18, 2006


This week I've realised again how my priorities have changed. Work has been manic. I got back home at about 10pm on Sunday night. I left the house at 6.15am on Monday and got in at about 8.30. Tuesday was 6.45 - after midnight. Wednesday 6.30 - 9pm. Today 6.15 - 9.30.

On Sunday night I got back to a house with no food, with no petrol in my car and with my tyre deflating. I intended to get some petrol and air for the tyre on Monday evening, then go to the supermarket.

As of now there is no food in the house, no petrol in the tank and no air in the tyre. My case is still sitting unpacked, with my holiday clothes unwashed, and I feel like every ounce of energy has left my body. I left Spanish midway through the lesson tonight because I just couldn't keep on going in the knowledge that I'd only get home at 10.30.

I haven't eaten well by my normal standards. On Tuesday I had cheese sandwiches for lunch, nibbled on biscuits throughout the meeting and grabbed something from Kings Cross at 9.30 to eat on the way home. Yesterday I ate pizza.

But equally, I've eaten as well as I could in the circumstances. I've made sure I've snacked on fruit as much as possible. I've grabbed a few vegetable and salady things from M&S at Leeds station on the way home on the basis it's the only place in the city centre that's open late enough and sells fruit and veg. I had extra veg on my pizza. I've been raiding the freezer to take food into work (but suspect I'll need a big cooking session at the weekend to restock). Not perfect, but not too bad.

And better than that is the exercise. I've had to adapt, but I've done it. I ran on Monday (which was probably a good idea with hindsight!). I had to skip Tuesday because of the London trip, then I combined my run with my commute on Wednesday by running to work. Today was a bit more normal, so I managed a 5.5 mile run from the gym this morning. Over 15 miles is pretty creditable given the week I've had. I'm definitely looking forward to my rest day tomorrow!

It's interesting how my priorities have changed, and how I'm making time for different things. I'm probably not going to the rugby tomorrow night because it would be another post-midnight night (and I can't get the car sorted out in time). But I am getting up early, even after a late night, to go for a run, and I am spending that extra half hour to ransack the freezer for something nutritious to eat the next day. I'm realising that exercise really is a priority now.

A bad week will always throw you off track to some extent. But unless it's a really, really, bad one, there's usually time for just a little bit of "me" time. And I'm using it to exercise rather than to sleep, or to watch tv. I still have to eat, and with a bit of thought (and having some pre-cooked stuff available really helps) I can at least make it slightly less bad than it could have been. That's the important thing, really.

I may not always be perfect, but at least if my priorities are right I won't be as bad as I might have been!

Hopefully I'll get round to the monster holiday post at the weekend. Roll on some sanity!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I'm back from Spain, honest, I've just got so much on at work that I'm finding it hard to get near the computer, let alone compose the long post of all the stuff that I want to get out on here.

So, you won't get the details in full, but the highlights have to be...
  • wearing a size 12 bikini! in public!
  • realising that I'm actually pretty cute in a short skirt and summer top!
  • shopping in Madrid!
  • eating sensibly on holiday!
  • feeling confident!
  • speaking lots of Spanish and being understood!
  • falling in love with Madrid!
  • only being 1lb heavier than when I went away!
  • wine and olives!
  • chocolaterias!
Since then, work has been mad. In the past three days I've recorded over 30 chargeable hours. Bearing in mind that I'm only meant to do 6 a day, that's quite a bit of (unpaid -grr) overtime. Yesterday I left the house at 6.40am to get an early train to London, and got home from my meeting after midnight.

But I've still managed (just) to get some exercise in, and to eat relatively sensibly. Not as well as I usually do, but better than it could have been. I had to miss Race for Life this evening because of work, but I made sure I ran into work (to be honest, it takes very little longer than the bus, other than the discomfort of running with a bag filled with files - god knows how I managed to run when I carried far more weight than that on my arse alone!).

Anyway, I've got lots of nice pictures and more interesting things to say, but you'll have to wait to read them because I need to get some sleep for once as I'm actually in the house before 10...

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Hasta luego

With the first really warm day of the year, it's just hit me that it's May. Which triggered questions... Where did the first four months of the year go? Why do I always wear unsuitable shoes and shred my feet at the first sign of sunshine? Have I really run over 400 miles since the start of the year? (The answer to that one being a resounding yes - I was going to do some map jiggery-pokery to find out an equivalent distance on the ground - Leeds to "somewhere else" but I haven't got round to it sadly).

I'm off to sunny Espana at the weekend, so this will probably be my last opportunity to post for 10 days or so. I wanted to do some rounding up and a bit of a review of the first third of the year before I go though, so bear with me!

Weight. That's the biggie, isn't it. It sometimes astounds me when I realise that I've been a healthy, normal weight for nearly four months now. At least as far as BMI goes anyway. But that doesn't astound me quite as much as the realisation that even if I gained 10 pounds overnight I'd still be (just!) at a normal BMI. I haven't updated my stats on the sidebar since I hit 160 (more on that below, in my thoughts on maintenance), but for the record I'm now at 71.6kg/158lb/11 stone 4. I'm only losing very slowly at the moment, but I am still losing.

Maintenance. Maintenance has its ups and downs. It's taken a bit of time to get used to the idea that I don't need to lose weight and therefore shouldn't be disappointed if I don't. I've also still got food issues that exist and need to be dealt with even though I'm supposedly "finished". But on the whole I've been pleasantly surprised. I've been eating relatively freely for the past six weeks, and I've certainly overindulged a lot more often than when I was focussed on losing those last few pounds. But I haven't gained, and have even lost a bit, so I seem to have found a happy medium where I can live as I want to live at a sensible weight. I could get thinner if I tightened up on portion control and calories, but for now I'm not sure that I want to. I'm just relaxing for a while.

I've also been pleasantly surprised at my ability to grow less dependent on the number on the scales. I still weigh myself whenever I go to the gym, as a sort of early warning system, but I've stopped writing that number down obsessively every day. My diaries for the past couple of years are filled with numbers, but since March the numbers are few and far between. I know that the trend is edging downwards but I don't get hung up on the minute details any more. I don't weigh 160lb any more, even though that's what the sidebar said until today, but until today I just wasn't bothered enough about the change to update it. Even though the update would have been to a "nicer" number!

Food. I'm loving the vegetarian thing. Love, love, love it. Most of the time I don't even fancy the meat based options on a menu so it's a complete non-issue. In fact one time, presented with a chicken curry (after my self-imposed target of Easter), I picked the chicken out because I just didn't fancy it even though I'd mentally allowed myself to eat it. I'm not doing this because of the animals, I'm doing it because I prefer the way it makes me feel, and every time I eat vegetarian it's a positive choice to do that, because it's the thing I feel most like eating at that meal.

I've tried lots of new recipes, and I've become a far better cook in the process. It's also pretty much broken my link with calorie counting too. When I first started, although I didn't count calories as such, I had a vague calorie range in my head for certain meals. So if I was looking for something for lunch I'd try to find something within a sensible sounding range. But over time I noticed that I was hesitant to eat anything if it didn't come nicely packaged with nutritional information to pore over, and if it wasn't the "best" choice I could find. By eating home cooked food I've stopped caring about that sort of thing. It's all about balance, and for as long as I can eat relatively sensibly and not gain weight (and over the past six weeks I seem to have struck that balance), I'm not going to get hung up on whether I would be eating 50 less calories if I substituted this ingredient for another. I'll follow the recipes and adapt them as I see fit.

I might eat meat next week. I don't know. The thought of "datiles con beicon" at Dino's in Playa is pretty tempting, but I'll just take it as it comes. I might find myself living off tortilla and margherita pizza for a week, or I might just give in to meat on a "not in the UK" basis. (I find that rule is good for all sorts of naughtiness...)

Running. Wow is the only word for this one. At the start of the year I don't think I'd ever run over 10k, and I'd never run that in much under 59 minutes. Now I can run 10k in under 48 minutes, and I've run a half marathon in under 2 hours. I usually run between 20 and 30 miles a week, and I occasionally run 9 - 12 miles in the morning before work. I've run over 400 miles this year. I usually place in the top third or so of women at races. I'm training for a marathon. That's an improvement on every count.

Other stuff. Work will be "interesting" over the rest of the year. Let's leave it at that. One of my new years resolutions was to do an activity weekend type thing. I'm not sure I'll be doing that any more because of Berlin. But that's a weekend away doing something sporty, so I guess it ticks that box fairly well anyway. What were the others? I can't actually remember, but I think that trying new food was in there, as was running, so I'm not doing too badly. Money possibly was too. I'm not exactly saving at the moment, but I'm not spending more than I can afford either. (Thanks to the god of chip and pin. The other weekend I'd almost decided to blow my self-imposed budgets and use a credit card to buy some new clothes. I got as far as handing the card over... and realised I'd torn up the pin before reading it and couldn't pay with that card. I knew there was a reason I didn't learn my pin to any card that doesn't automatically come out of my bank account either instantly or at the end of the month, to save me from those moments of weakness...). My finances are still a work in progress though.

Holidays. Now the fun bit. I've worked hard to get where I am, and I'm going to enjoy myself. I am not going to let myself feel guilty for the odd cocktail or for not getting up to go for a run in the morning next week. I have learned to trust myself. I don't eat angelically 100% of the time anyway, so I'm not going to beat myself up about not doing that on holiday. I know that I usually put on a couple of pounds when I'm on holiday, and I know that they're usually just water and come off again just as quickly. I'm not suggesting that I'm going to go on a week long eating and drinking binge. I'll probably swim a fair bit, I might run occasionally, and with my mother's current health kick I'm sure that I'll have vaguely sensible things to eat most of the time. It might not be as veg-heavy and nutritious as what I normally eat, but it probably won't be too bad. But I won't worry about that.

I also won't worry about the fact that my stomach isn't perfect. To be honest, however much I think it could be improved I'm slowly starting to realise that when I walk down the street my body actually looks in better shape than a lot of the people I pass. It's a body I've worked hard for, and I have the right to show it off.

Which is precisely what I intend to do. In a bikini in Gran Canaria, clutching a cocktail or two. And then living it up in Madrid.

Have a good week! I will!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Inspired to Write

I've seen this advertised in a couple of magazines now, and I've submitted my story to "Inspired to Run". You can read it here. I didn't know what category to put it under - it's more than "just" weight loss, or beginning running, or race success. It's a bit of everything, and a bit more besides. I submitted it and now I'm being critical again, thinking about all the things I could have said, but couldn't include within the 1200 word limit. How running has made me feel whole and in control. How it has changed my mind as well as my body. It's made me saner and happier. It's made me appreciate the steam rising off the lake on a cold morning, or the serenity of the canal before the world wakes up. The crunch of frost underfoot on a winter's run, and the clear blue skies of a May morning. I've run in the semi-darkness along a beach front in Spain, and I've seen parts of my city I never knew existed before, because I've just put on my trainers and explored. But despite not saying all those things, I still quite like what I submitted.

I don't know whether I want to win as such. The thought of having my starting weight emblazoned across multiple magazines together with my name and photos is a bit daunting as it would finally, irrevocably, reveal my identity (and out me to people who never saw me at my absolute highest weight). On the other hand, running kit, £1000 and a training session would be a lovely prize.

Mainly I just wanted to tell my story. Other people tell me that I inspire them, so I wanted to set my story free to inspire people who maybe don't hang around on weight loss boards or surfing through fatblogland. I don't want to become all evangelical, but running has changed my life for the better so completely that I feel like it would be selfish to keep that "secret" all to myself. If I can do it, other people can. [And if you want to rate what I wrote, feel free ;)]

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


When I started this whole weight loss journey I had no conception of what I'd look like thin. I'd never been thin, and didn't know where the weight would come off. I had no idea what was underneath all those layers of fat. I never even really thought about it, part of me assumed that I'd never get there, and the other part of me realised that there was little I could do to spot reduce, and that the lard would come off wherever it felt like it.

It's stupid really. I wear a size 12, and I'm disappointed with my figure. I look at my body and wish that there were some curves there. Well, I wish that the curves that are there weren't, and that I had curves where I don't. If you see what I mean. I'd quite happily trade the remaining bulge of my stomach for at least a hint of tits or arse. I'd like to be able to keep jeans up without having to anchor them on with a belt. I'd like to be able to fill a top or a bra bigger than an A cup. I'd like to have a lovely feminine figure.

I do what I can with clothes. I'm learning what styles and shapes I need to wear to accentuate what I have. I try to get something that will pull my waist in, and I'm close to resorting to extra padding in the bra department. I'm getting there.

And I don't want to suggest that I'd go back to my excess, lard filled curves of last year. I'd rather be fit, thin and straight up and down than obese but curvy. But I never realised how many body hangups I could still have at this weight. I guess we women are never satisfied.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Thin clothes

And what have I been doing? Not too much exciting stuff, but important stuff like work, sleeping and trying to sort out the garden a bit. Oh, and I've been running another 10k PB (see BerlinBlog for details)

I've also been doing some pre-holiday shopping. I'm off to see my folks in Spain on Friday, with a stopover of a couple of nights in Madrid on my way back. Of course, over winter I've not had much need to wear summery clothes, and even last time I was out there, at Christmas, I was a good dress size bigger than I am now (and I was wearing clothes that were a bit baggy for the most part). So obviously, this gives me a perfect excuse to go shopping. Like I need an excuse...

The good bit. I'm very definitely a bona fide size 12 in pretty much every shop. Sometimes I even pick stuff up and buy it without trying it on in Primark because it's so cheap and I'm pretty confident it will be OK. Can I just say how much I'm loving Primark at the moment. I wouldn't necessarily wear Primark for work, but for cheap and cheerful holiday clothes it's a godsend. I got a load of swimwear and summer pyjamas on Friday - I didn't try any of it on, and I was a bit worried about how much flesh would be exposed by the bikini, but it looks fine.

That's worth repeating. This time next week I may be hitting the pools wearing a size 12 bikini.

Me? This time last year I was in Budapest, visiting one of the spa baths. I think the swimming costume I was wearing was a size 20, and I'd just about managed to squeeze into some size 18 trousers for the first time in a couple of years, although they were still a one-off rather than me being a bona fide 18. My aims extended very little further than size 14 (and even that was a vague dream). So a size 12 bikini? Wow.

And what's more, my stomach doesn't actually look as bad as I'd feared. Sure, it's a bit wobbly and doesn't have the firmness that I crave. But it's passable. I might even wear that bikini without feeling the need to put something big and baggy over it, and feel good doing it.

(On a similar subject, yesterday I braved the open, naked, shower thing for the first time. The showers at my gym are in cubicles, but after the 10k I needed a shower before heading over to the rugby, and as it finished at a council leisure centre there were showers there. Except they were communal. I had actually remembered to take a towel - being used to my relatively posh gym whenever I end up in the council places I realise there's something I forgot and wimp out - so had no excuse. So with the naked, communal shower demon slayed, it's time for the bikini without a sarong and kaftan demon).

I think that it's when I'm trying clothes on that I really realise that I've made it here. I can try styles that just don't work on fat people, and I can pick up a size 12 and know that it will fit. I can go into a thin shop and realise that I don't even need the biggest thin shop size. And I'm going to enjoy wearing all my new thin clothes on holiday, and showing off what I've worked so hard to achieve.

I might even get round to taking that long overdue progress pic...