Sunday, July 30, 2006

Dedication and Obsession

OK, so just as I post, whining about how I can't think of anything new to say any more, something pops into my head. (On that subject, I'm not intending to delete this any time soon, or stop posting, just to realise that it's better to post something interesting infrequently than the same old crap day after day without adding anything new or interesting).

Anyway, back to the subject, even though I'm no longer focussing on losing, it occured to me how controlling and obsessive I've got about my food and exercise, sometimes without realising it.

The first example is food related. I spent Friday lunchtime working out my menus for the week, and then went food shopping on Friday night. (The life of a marathon runner in training, who can't afford to have social life induced hangovers, so ends up in the supermarket at 9pm on a Friday). It was only when I got back that I realised that I'd arranged to go to a Spanish conversation group on Wednesday evening. And my first thought? Well, I can't go now, I already have my food planned.

Hang on. Much as I like to incorporate good food, as opposed to takeaway ready meal fatty simple carb crap, into my diet (used in the general sense, of what I eat), since when did my food likes and dislikes take over the rest of my life. Yes, if I'm going somewhere and it's possible to eat well as opposed to crappily then I will do the preparation to make sure I can eat well, but if I can't, well, which is more important, making a slightly less good choice or giving up on my life? I've been getting better about going out there and enjoying myself, even if it is the sort of enjoyment that comes with a coolbag and lots of healthy snacks, but sometimes when I forget about the life plan before I make the food plan I slip back into anal tendencies.

Happily I think I've knocked my obsessiveness on the head this time and persuaded myself that it's OK to change the plan once in a while. There's a difference between planning round my life and arranging my life round my planning. After all, I don't want to turn into someone who weighs sliced bread.

Still, I do still try to make sure I can fit my runs round whatever else I have planned. If it means getting up even earlier, I do it. If it means taking it easy on the booze (even free booze at work does!) then I take it easy. This morning I had a bit of an abortive long run (the details are on BerlinBlog), and I spent most of the walk home mentally rejigging my schedule for the next month working out how to fit an extra long run in, and which cutback week to drop out of the schedule.

I was comparing my attitude to my trainee at work. He's meant to be training for the Great North Run, which is the week after Berlin. So he is running out of time at roughly the same speed I am. Except that he doesn't even seem to have got started yet. Every week he comes up with another excuse of why he didn't go for a run. Now, while I don't advocate being totally obsessive (and there are times when I've adjusted my schedule in advance to take account of other stuff I want to do, trips to London and holidays, for example, once a run is on the schedule I do it. I don't wake up in the morning and listen to excuses, I get out there and I do it. I don't sit in the pub until last orders thinking that it doesn't really matter. It does. Or it does to me.

I guess some people would just be happy with finishing, and completing a marathon. But for me, if I'm going to do it, I'm going to do it properly. The same goes for eating and pretty much everything in my life. So when I've planned something out, the temptation to stick to the plan is sometimes overwhelming. (Admittedly sometimes my food plan goes along the lines of a couple of planned meals and "a few treats, depending what I feel like"), but that's still the plan and something I can hold myself accountable to.

For something like marathon training I guess a bit of obsession isn't such a bad thing, but I'm still trying to get to grips with being a bit less anal when it comes to other stuff.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Writers block

Sometimes it just seems like I've run out of things to say. I've been doing this for long enough that most of the big revelations have been and gone, and been blogged. I'm not in the middle of a crisis where I have all sorts of unexplored feelings that need to be outed. I don't need advice, I just plod along doing what I do.

I've started to feel more disconnected from the whole weight loss blogging thing. It's kind of been there, done that. I don't feel like I have that much in common with people starting their journeys any more. I don't remember what it was like to be that big, to have so much weight staring me in the face, needing to be lost. I don't remember what it was like to live off pizza and junk. My mind is gradually writing over my memories of what it was to be that person, and replacing it with new thoughts and ideas of what it is to be me.

I suspect that my posts on here are going to get less frequent. This is dangerous, maintenance and avoiding complacency is still going to get hard, and maybe I need to focus on what I'm doing a bit more instead of relying on the marathon training diet (general theme - eat as much as you fancy and then have a couple of slices of toast for extra carbs). But for now, particularly with the sunshine and the longer days I'm getting out there and just being me, rather than thinking about all this.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006


Sometimes it seems like the planets and the stars are aligning in perfect co-ordination and I've found my magic number. One number keeps on reappearing over the past couple of days, and it's a number I didn't expect to have much significance in a weight and clothing situation.


I can't shake it off. However, that isn't such a happy event this time round. Because this time the number 10 is found on my shoes.


10 is not a good number on shoes. Not when most shops only go up to a size 8. 10 is most decidedly not a good number. I suspect that this incarnation of the number 10 may give me untold grief in the future.

9 was bad enough. And herein lies a story, for I am a freak. Most people get smaller all over when they lose weight, including losing size from their feet, but for some bizarre reason my feet appear to have got bigger. Or at least differently shaped. They used to be more of an 9 wide, whereas now they're thinner but longer, and the size of shoe I wear differs hugely depending on the style.

Take your standard flip flop type shoe. I can now get in an 8 in those. Without even the need for the wide. (Normal shops! wahey!). My feet are narrow enough to fit in them, and the style is open enough to allow for a bit of overspill at the front and the back. My toes or my heel may overhang a little, but they're wearable.

Work shoes, on the other hand are an entirely different matter. A normal 8 is entirely out of the question. I don't even attempt to go there. My old fall-back option of Evans doesn't work because all their shoes are extra wide, and my feet aren't. A 9 wide just has too much room in the wrong places.

So I tried resorting to the purgatory that is trying to find normal width size 9s in non-fat girl shops. This is possibly one of the most frustrating experiences known to woman, and has given me a hatred of all things shoe related. Well, I already had a hatred of all things shoe related, but the hatred has been reinforced.

First of all you have to find a shop that sells size 9 at all. So no nice shoes from Office then, or many other shops I've stared lustfully through the window into. Then you have to brave the shop assistants and try to find out what styles they might have in a 9. I'm sorry, but life (or at least the lunch hour) is too short to ask individually about each pair of shoes you like. Invariably they don't have the ones you like.

Recently it's not been so bad, during the sales the shoes are all out on racks, neatly (or not so neatly) sorted according to size. That's manageable, I can look at the 9s, see if there's anything I like and try it on. Except that I've noticed that the work shoe type styles just don't fit. Even in a 9. This is not a good thing.

There is no way that my toes are going to accept being squeezed into those shoes. No way on earth. So recently I've been wearing mainly flip flops and sandals to work. Not because I don't want to wear nice business like shoes, but because I simply don't have any, and can't find any, that fit.

And then, a blissful discovery. I went to Long Tall Sally to try suits on in the sale. I'm just about at the shorter end of their target market, but I've had nice suits from them in the past (although they only go up to size 20, and I remember well ordering a size 20 suit by mail order when my ankle was broken and realising by the time I went back to work that it wasn't close to fastening. I still managed to burst the seams the first time I wore the trousers, a couple of years later, when I thought I'd lost enough weight to get back into them).

This time I wasn't intending to try 20s on though. In the January sales I'd tried on a size 10 suit just to see how far off I was (it went over my thighs, which was a start, but was nowhere near to fastening), and I thought it was time to repeat the exercise. I picked a suit in size 12 (which they had in jacket and trousers) and some extra trousers in a 10. The 12 fit comfortably, and the size 10 trousers fit, but rather more tightly. Not as tight as those 20s, but it might have been uncomfortable to wear, particularly in hot weather. If I'd been in love with the suit they were probably wearable enough to buy, but I wasn't, so I didn't. But that's not the 10 I'm talking about.

What I did see was that Long Tall Sally now do shoes. And not just any shoes. Big shoes. They only had the pair I wanted in a 10, so I tried them on, and they fit! They're a bit on the big side, but they're more comfortable than any of the 9s I've tried recently. They were snapped up in record time, such is the urgency of my need for work shoes. The bliss of having something to wear on my feet...

10 definitely seems to be the number of the moment!

Saturday, July 22, 2006

More on the number 10

The nice thing about living in such a metrically challenged country as England is that there are multitudes of ways to measure your weight. Well, three at least. Kilos, stones and pounds. Even though the scale at the gym measures in both kilos and pounds there's also a cheat sheet in the consultation room which converts from kilos to pounds. It's printed on both sides and it goes from 0 up to 140kg/22 stone. That's 308lb, if my maths head is working today.

On each side there are seven columns, one for each 10kg. So the front side goes from 0 - 70, and the back goes from 70 - 140. When I started I was pretty near the bottom of the fifth column of seven on the back. That's pretty damn near the highest weights it goes to. I always looked at the back. My starting weight, my 100lb goal, everything, was still on the back.

It was only when I got down closer to my goal (which worked out at about 72lb) that I started to realise how close I was to turning the sheet over. But then I got on the maintenance kick, and I've stopped really focussing on losing.

I mentioned yesterday that I hadn't weighed for a while and I wasn't particularly looking forward to the prospect this morning. How wrong I was! Somehow, and I really don't know how, while I've been on holiday (and the part weeks before and after which have been spent running outside rather than going to the gym), I've lost weight.

I got down to a low of 155lb a while back, but had found myself drifting back upwards towards 158 which seems to be a weight my body likes. I was expecting to be in the 158 - 162 range this morning, with the assistance of a bit of holiday weight.

So it came as quite a shock when I stepped on the scales and didn't see the customary 7 at the start of my weight. (It starts off in kilos, then you can switch to lb). I blinked, got off, back on again and it was the same. 69.7kg, or 153.5lb.

That was a nice enough surprise to start with, but then I went to the sheet to see what that is in stone. I realised that not only did I have to turn the sheet over to look at the front (!!!), my weight is now below 11 stone. Because my goal weight was 11 stone 6, I never really thought beyond the 11s. They seemed far enough away for me, so it was best not to think about what lay beyond that.

But now, for the first time in forever, I'm 10 stone something! OK, 10 stone 13.5, and only just sneaking under that 11 stone mark, but still 10 stone something.

The number 10 likes me at the moment :)

Friday, July 21, 2006

Body image

Time for those body image revelations, then.

Although I've clearly lost a lot of weight, sometimes it takes a while for my mind to catch up. While I don't wake up and reach for the size 22 trousers, and I don't worry when I sit down whether the chair will hold my weight, I do think that I sometimes over-estimate my size. Because I was obese and overweight for so long it's hard to think of myself as anything other than that.

I was actually shocked this morning when I was thinking about stuff and realised that it's nearly a year since I was last obese. I might have to celebrate that non-obesity anniversary, the day I finally became merely overweight for the first time since god knows when. (Or at least god might know, I certainly don't, having neglected to keep records on the way up).

But that was after the big, holiday, bikini related revelation. It's not that I've suddenly lost a pile of weight (in fact I haven't actually weighed myself for nearly three weeks. For a former daily weigher that's almost a miracle, and I'm getting vaguely worried about what the scales will say if I go into the gym tomorrow for a paced treadmill run). But my mind has started to catch up with my body and realise what the reality of the situation is.

I'm not obese. I haven't been for nearly a year. I'm not overweight. I haven't been that for nearly six months. I'm not nearly overweight. I'm not almost fat. I'm not thinner than I was but still a bit porky.

I'm thin.

Four letters, but they've been hard to get through my thick head sometimes. For my whole life, thin has been other people. Thin hasn't been an ambition, even. I never dreamed of being thin, and even had I dreamed it I'd have never expected to get there. Not articulating it as a goal has made it hard for me to accept that I've made it anyway.

There's something about summer. Clothes come off or get smaller, and, for those people like me who have started to really pay attention to where they fit into the great scheme of things, dress size wise, it's an opportunity to really assess. Visiting hotel pools and beaches and seeing other people in bikinis, short skirts and, on certain parts of the beach, nothing at all.

And I started to really realise that, while I may lose out in comparison with 16 year old Spanish beach queens (seriously, this one group spent all day every day on my patch of beach, and had fantastic bodies. Bitches), if I look at other people in their late 20s I'm not half bad. OK, so my stomach isn't quite firm (although it is getting surprisingly flat), but whose is once the years and babies and pizzas start to have their effect. I'm not perfect and never will be, but I'm not half bad.

Wearing a bikini I realised that I was passable, at least. Although I've always worn a bikini rather than a one piece for comfort and ease of wear reasons, it's been more as a piece of underwear, and I then whip my clothes off for a quick dip in the pool or the sea when necessary. I might sometimes wander round without anything covering my top half, but I'd never have worn bikini bottoms without a sarong, or a skirt, or shorts covering my arse. Partly because of my shocking laxness when it comes to de-forestation of the bikini area, but mainly because I didn't like that part of me.

But this time I decided that I would do a "walk of victory". I love getting the bus from my parents' house to Meloneras, at one side of the Maspalomas dunes, walking along the beach for 2 or 3 miles (through the nudist area) and coming out in Playa del Ingles where I can catch the bus back. I've always worn clothes over my bikini this time, but this time I decided I'd join the multitudes who wear simply bikinis. (Or less, in the middle section). So I walked for 3 miles or so in total in just a bikini.

Children didn't go running. People didn't avert their eyes from the horror. It was OK. I found myself realising that I looked pretty good compared to a lot of other people on the beach and that there was absolutely no reason to be ashamed of my body any more.

But it got better. I got to the end and put a ludicrously short skirt on. Divide your thigh roughly half way between knee and arse. Move the dividing line up a little, then a little more. That's the length of the skirt. I put on a top that was pretty much see through and showed the bikini underneath. I stood at the bus stop. And got chatted up. Not by an alcoholic OAP or someone I'd not go near with a barge pole, but by someone pretty cute and friendly. Not my scene, and although I took his number I didn't intend to use it, but still flattering and a confidence boost. In a bikini.

And then, believe it or not it got better. I went shopping in the sales. While trying on dresses in Mango (size medium). The clothes are labelled in sizes for all sorts of country. Spain, Germany, UK, Mexico, USA. In all sorts of combinations. (In fact, it gave me a thrill to notice that a Spanism medium is a USA/German small). Sometimes they get a letter in Spanish, or UK sizes but a number in other sizes. And it came to my attention that a medium is, in Mango sizing, a UK 10, pretty much. I don't know what sort of fantasy land they live in if they think that 10 is medium, and 12-14 large, but that's what the labels were suggesting. And medium was definitely the size that worked for me in dresses. Even better was when I went into a different shop and bought some trousers. OK, so they're a loose fitting style, but I've never bought anything in a size 10 before. Part of me does wonder whether the size equivalents are exact, but part of me just looks at that label.


As I'd already, finally, noticed, I'm thin. No qualifications, no nearlys, almosts, or fairlys.

(On the vague subject of body image, I realised a while ago that the photo of me in the title bar thingy is actually nearly a year old - I took it in Dublin in September 2005. I really need to get round to coming up with a new snazzy look that includes a photo that looks a bit more like me!)

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

A bit Spanish

I'm back, straight into an English "heatwave". I'm sorry, and I suppose it might be warmer down south, but it really isn't that warm. It's nice and pleasant, but I was surprised when I went out for my run this morning how chilly the air felt on my bare legs. God help us all if it was actually really hot...

Anyway, that's off topic. Strangely, today's post is as much about what I've done since I got home than what I did when I was away, suffice to say it was a fab holiday and a lovely break, but I didn't actually do that much. I just sat and relaxed on the seafront near my mum's house a lot of the time, but that was what I needed.

Admittedly, when I say seafront, I mean the specific part of it that has one of my favourite bars in the entire world on it, and I mean the part of that part of the sea front that consists of one of the seats outside said bar, but it still didn't involve walking much more than 100m from the front door...

When I come back, particularly if the weather's nice, I always seem suddenly inspired to try to incorporate a bit of Spanishness into my life. If I had to point to the one major difference between the Canarian lifestyle and the English one (other than being able to live your life in the knowledge that it will be sunny tomorrow), it would be the way people just live their lives in public spaces. Here on a nice sunny day, people go home and sit in the garden, or they go and sit in a beer garden. In Arinaga people go and sit on the sea front. Their houses and apartments don't even always have gardens (beyond a small terrace or patio), but they open the front door, they put some chairs on the pavement, or they go to the beach, or wander up and down. The word I'm thinking of is the Italian "passegiata", but the Canarians do it well too.

(As I found out to my cost on Sunday when I attempted to go for a run at about 7.30 or so. At precisely the time the entire town decided to go for their Sunday evening pre dinner walk up and down the front. I really had to work on my sidestep and suspect I ran far more than the three miles I was intended with the constant weaving in and out of groups of people).

You don't see that many people running over there. Maybe it's because I wasn't up early enough to catch the early morning runners, but what you do get is people going for a walk in the evening, once the heat of the day has gone, and just diving into the sea for a quick swim. Walking three miles and catching up on the gossip of the town seems a more civilised way in many respects to burn off 300 calories or so, rather than forcing yourself to run 3 miles because you don't get any other exercise for the rest of the day.

Anyway, today the weather was nice and I got out of work at 5. I had my iPod (oh how I love my new shiny video iPod...) and a good book in my bag, and no particular plans for the evening. So instead of going home and sitting in the garden I got off the bus at Tesco, grabbed some water, some olives and a single serving bottle of wine and walked to the park where I spent a blissful hour or so. I sat, I read, I drank and nibbled in a Spanish aperitif style. In total I must have walked somewhere between 2.5 and 3 miles, which by my reckoning just about burns off 100 calories or so of olives and 200 or so of wine, far more pleasurably than coming home and feeling like I couldn't eat or drink it. It satisfied that burning post-work desire to eat something, and has allowed me to postpone my main meal for the evening until it's a bit later (which in turn will hopefully eliminate the need for post meal snacking). I got to relax away from the house and the nagging feeling that I maybe should be doing some chores, and even though it was nowhere near as sociable as the Spanish version (where everyone seems to know everyone else), it still felt good to be reclaiming public space rather than hiding away in the garden.

Just a quick postscript, which I'll hopefully expand on at the weekend. While I was away I also had a bit of a body image revelation and started to see my body as it really is now. This was helped by a little sales shopping, the realisation that a Mango medium is not only my size but also closer to a 10 than a 12, and my purchase and subsequent wearing of a pair of really comfy trousers that were labelled, unequivocally, as a UK size 10. That sort of thing helps the body image no end!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

The Skinny Jeans Club

Right, I'm heading over to Spain later this evening so this will probably be my last post for a while. To make up for it, I seem to have a bumper batch of ideas in my head.

First of all, assertiveness and priorities. I mentioned that my dad was coming over to stay last night. Yesterday morning he said that he'd like to go over to his mother's for lunch today. I knew he'd want to go over there (he saw them yesterday too), but on the basis that I had jobs to do (and a 16.7 mile run) I said that lunch might not work particularly well for me, and that I'd prefer to go over later if we were going over.

I was out late last night, and when I got in at midnight he told me that he'd arranged for us to go over at 12.30. Amazingly, I stood up for myself! I said that if he wanted to go for lunch, he could, but that I had other plans (which I'd already told him about in the morning), and that if he wanted to go, have lunch then come back for me at about 3 and take me back over there (it's only a couple of miles away), that would work better for me.

Not least because I'm not entirely sure that my grandmother grasps the concept of vegetarianism, and I'd be constantly worrying about what I could eat if she's decided to cook a roast (which is the sort of stuff my dad will have been persuading her to cook, because it's the sort of food he likes - my idea of hell on the other hand!).

So, I went for my run, as I'd planned, I stood up for myself without missing out on seeing my grandparents altogether, and I feel assertive. My stroppiness may have been something to do with the untimely arrival of TOM (although better yesterday than later in the week when I'm away, as at least the worst of it should be gone before I think about putting a bikini on), but I'm glad I stood up for myself, and what's important for me now. My fitness is important for me, and I wasn't skipping that run to save three hours which would have meant I could do my jobs before going over there for lunch. I'd planned that run, and I was going to do it. (And it was a fantastic one too, so I'm glad I did!)

Second - the Skinny Jeans Club. You know, since I got The Jeans I've found myself noticing other people wearing designer jeans far more easily. Once you've been there, you seem to notice them more often (or maybe I just never even thought about them before). anyway, it was dress down day at work so I was wearing my jeans then went straight to the rugby. At the rugby someone actually sat in the seat next to me (it's usually empty). Thin, well made up and turned out, and definitely wearing expensive jeans. A look of acknowledgement passed between us, and we started chatting. She even asked whether I was going out in Wigan later because she was from out of town and wanted someone to show her the "sights". Maybe she'd have talked to the obese me too, I don't know, but something in me doubts it. being the sort of person who is thin, and wears expensive jeans, marked me out as being someone more like her, and we had something in common. Maybe there's nothing in it, but I definitely clocked her jeans, and she definitely clocked mine!

And finally, the biggie. I'll be away for the actual anniversary, so I thought I'd write a little about it now.

2 years.

This time 2 years ago I was sitting here in absolute ignorance about how much my life would change. It really was a snap decision the day I decided to join a gym, 12 July 2004. The idea only got put into my head on the Saturday, and by Monday lunchtime I was clasping a gym membership. If you can pinpoint one moment to change a life (and that's difficult, because even within this process there have been so many mini-moments of insight and re-commitment), that was it. That was the biggie.

It's not been 2 years of slavish devotion to a plan, and there was a three or four month period where I was (shock) gaining weight. But generally it's been a downward trend, and I count it all as one journey, rather than as two.

I don't think the person I was two years ago would recognise me now. Sitting her with renewed confidence, wearing a size 12, going out for 16 mile runs, being vegetarian, and just enjoying living life.

But what I do know, is that the person I was two years ago would have been insanely jealous of the person I am now, and I do prefer the new version of me far more than I liked the old one. I want to do everything in my power to make sure that I'm never that person again. I haven't been that person for two years, and I don't intend to go back.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Outgrowing the gym?

I realised this morning how little I go to the gym at the moment.

Don't take this the wrong way. As you've probably guessed I'm nowhere near giving up exercise. But I don't tend to do it in the gym any more. The treadmill has lost the little bit of appeal it ever had, and I run outside. Sometimes I go to the gym first, dump my stuff, run up the canal and shower at the gym afterwards. But increasingly I'm going for a run from home, having a shower here and then getting the bus into work. I have more variety of routes round here, rather than simply up the canal for the required distance. I go to the gym on Mondays to cross train (weights and swimming usually), and sometimes to do a pace run on the treadmill, but otherwise I'm happy exercising outside.

For summer, at least...

This is interesting timing. It's almost two years since I joined the gym for the first time. I'll miss the actual anniversary because I'll be on holiday, but this is what I wrote last year on my first anniversary. Can you believe I've been exercising regularly for two years? I can't!

The gym was good motivation for a while. I could try different things, and paying for it kept me going. But now? I kind of feel like I've learned about how I like to exercise, and I've sorted out a routine, and I can fly solo without the gym there as my safety net.

I'm even thinking heretical thoughts about cancelling my membership. Not because I don't exercise, but because I exercise in different ways, and one swim a week in the council pool would add up to much less than my gym membership.

But a bigger part of me wants that safety net still, I want to know that even if it's raining or snowing I can go somewhere inside and run, I can use the weights, and the pool, and the fluffy white towels. If I can't run for some reason, I have other options at the gym. I wonder about how I'd keep on track if I didn't have the option of the gym. Would cancelling the gym membership make me think that I'm not an exerciser any more.

So I'm torn. Financially I could do the same exercise cheaper by paying per visit. But psychologically, could I cope with not being a gym member?

Monday, July 03, 2006


My dad's decided that he's going to pop back to the UK to see his mother. On Friday. "Seeing his mother" doesn't tend to equate to staying with his mother, so he'll be staying here, and that's not much notice to hide the evidence of my shocking domestic un-goddess-ness.

I can cook, and I can keep the place just about sanitary, but I've never really got the hang of basic domesic jobs. And as for the gardening, lets just say that I tend to go for the uncultivated look. I have no problems making things grow, the only problem would be finding them, I suspect... I dread to think what lurks in the garden. Possibly a tribe of pygmies, if I looked hard enough.

Ah well, it's not going to get done by Friday, so I'm not going to stress too much about it. I'll just tidy up a little bit, and save up a couple of jobs for him (like deciphering the mystery of why my kitchen lights don't work, or putting up a couple of pictures I've been meaning to do something with for a month or three.

The thing that worries me more is that I don't really have a good relationship with my dad. We never seem to have anything to talk about, and it always feels really awkward and stilted. I've always been closer to my mother, and to be honest I rarely spend time alone with my dad. Which probably shows in our relationship. I'm not sure we'll make any progress this time either, he actually arrives on Friday, I have plans on Friday night which he's not expecting me to cancel, a long run on Saturday morning, and then I get rescued from the one-on-one-ness of it all by flying over to Spain with him for 10 days with both my parents.

Speaking of which, it looks like my eating might be rather better than I was expecting. Not that my dad will be happy about this prospect. I think I've mentioned before that my mum isn't exactly sylph like, and tries, although not too hard to lose a bit of weight. I think she's pretty jealous of what I've achieved, and the way I've done it, but knows that hardcore exercise isn't for her.

Whenever she comes over she really enjoys what I cook and what I eat, but never really takes the lessons back over to Spain. Part of the problem is that dad is very much a meat and no veg type man, and when it's just her and him she finds it hard to persuade him of the merits of lentils and chickpeas and spinach. But when I go over there, she's really open to adapting what she normally makes. I suppose that makes me really lucky, and yesterday she emailed me asking me to bring some of my recipes with me for when I'm over. I think my mother is adapting to the concept of me as a vegetarian better than I am! Rather than sabotaging, or failing to understand why I am so obsessed with eating good food, she's taking the opportunity to try some of the things I eat, which is absolutely fab. I spent some of this evening scanning in some recipes to email over to her so that she can check she can get all the ingredients and let me know what sort of thing she fancies (I can't carry all the recipe books over sadly!)

I'm not claiming that this will make my eating perfect. We'll still be eating out a fair bit (possibly more than normal if my dad wants to get his meat fix!), and I'll still be drinking rather more red wine and beer than I should. And running less. But at least I might stand a better chance of feeling like I've got some planty nutrients into my diet and being a bit more on course than I used to be over there.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Perfect Weekend

You know, the more I do this, the more I realise just how enjoyable it is. I've had a lovely weekend. Very simple, but utterly blissful.

The trip to London yesterday went well. OK, the journey down there was pretty sticky, and had me wishing that my car had air conditioning. Or electric windows that work. But still, I managed to get in a 7 mile run before I set off, I had a couple of fruit/water stops, and a nice lunch on a picnic site near Northampton, I got there in one piece, watched another Wigan win (3 in a row!!), and had an incident free and fast journey back.

And I ate well. I try to let myself eat more, and more carbs on a Saturday in advance of the Sunday long run, but it still looked pretty healthy. After my fruity, yoghurty porridge before I set off, I stopped for some cherries for a mid-morning snack. I had bagels with houmous, roast peppers, cherry tomatoes and rocket for lunch (2 bagels). I had strawberries when I got to London, my cous cous salad before kick off, and nibbled on olives with feta cheese and pomegranate during the game. Add some muesli and yoghurt when I got back, and it looks pretty good.

I ate nowhere near everything I took, but that was to some extent deliberate. I wanted to give myself options, so that if I suddenly had an apple craving, or a salad craving, or a red peppers dipped in houmous craving I'd have some stuff in my coolbag to satisfy that. I figured that even if the food was wasted entirely (which I doubt because I'll probably find a use for it during the week), it would be better to err on the side of caution than finding myself resorting to an overpriced coffee and muffin by the side of the M1. Or chips at the ground.

But not to worry, the strangest thing happened. The people in front of me at the game were eating donuts. I looked at them and I genuinely couldn't see the attraction. likewise with the burgers and chips that were heading in a steady stream towards the stands. And as for the beer, I just didn't fancy one. Usually away games in London involve public transport and/or an overnight stay and copious quantities of watered down lager. But even though I knew that one wouldn't affect my drive back, and it was a hot day, I realised that I'd be more satisfied with the flavoured water in my bag. I'm eating what I want, what I want just happens to be good.

Then back home, thankfully a little cooler going northwards, and I got back just before midnight. No time to stay up and watch the video of the game though, I knew I had a 15 mile run to get done this morning, and I knew that the earlier I could get it done the better in view of the weather. I have to admit I woke up this morning dreading it. But it wasn't too bad at all. It was hot, and it was nearly 2 minutes per mile slower than my intended marathon pace, but I ran almost all of it, and it was surprisingly manageable. I'm starting to get to the point where I really believe the marathon plan isn't quite so crazy after all. I covered 15.5 miles in the end, in 2 hours 40, and I'm still capable of walking so it has to be good!

And this afternoon, the Sunday treat of utter relaxation and making up some of those 1550 burnt off calories (much as I'd like to convert them into an instant half pound loss, to be honest I'd rather fuel myself for another week of training ahead). And a bit of extra sleep from last night, too! I've been sitting in the garden making the most of the sunshine, with a little red wine and a lot of good healthy food.

Something I was pondering yesterday was about "making it special". I could have made myself a picnic with carefully weighed and measured portions, making myself stick fast to a pre-planned eating schedule. I could have just stopped by the side of the motorway instead of heading off into the countryside. But that extra bit of time and effort just made it feel so much more decadent and indulgent. Having proper crockery and cutlery, and having a mini-fridge of options to choose from meant that the picnic couldn't possibly feel like deprivation. I'm starting to appreciate how important it really is to take time to appreciate good food (and wine...) rather than just bolting it down in a snatched 15 minutes between the first and second half.

I'm going to spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing and chilling out. I'm really starting to love the balance of Sundays with that long run first thing to make you feel all virtuous, followed by enforced, but decadently pleasurable relaxation for the rest of the day. Marathon training does have some benefits after all!