A month on, and I'm starting to see light at the end of the tunnel. For the first time in months I have clear weekends in my diary, a bit of time, a bit of space, and a bit of energy to put into the parts of my life that I put on hold in August and never really managed to pick up again. I've already been to running club as many times in January as I did in December, and I'm planning a day out at the weekend doing something fun. It's been a while since I've done that. As I pick the pieces up and put them together again, I feel like it's time to go back to basics.
So this morning I had an encounter I wasn't looking forward to. The post-Christmas date with the scale. Since November I've been slowly but surely gaining weight through parties and comfort eating and drinking lots of wine. I've still been running a fair amount, but some of my other exercise has been a bit erratic - so although my running miles have been similar, I haven't been swimming or cycling anywhere near as much as I used to. Before Christmas I'd made it up to 155, and was a little concerned as to the effect christmas might have had. My clothes are tighter than they should be, and I know that I'm eating too much.
To be fair, it wasn't actually too bad. 156, so only a pound gained from the festive pig-out, even if I am about 8lb up from where I was before Amsterdam. 8lb isn't a disaster. I could still gain a stone or so and be a healthy weight, and it's a mere drop in the ocean compared to the 104lb I'm still down from my heaviest. At my lowest I was wondering whether I'd be better off carrying a few more pounds to fill me out a bit. But I don't want it to turn into 10, or 12, or 14, or 104. I know that what I'm eating now is too much, and not good enough quality, and that if I carry on doing it the regain won't stop here.
I also feel like I should be able to run faster if I'm lighter. There are studies on this, apparently. I don't necessarily want to go much below my Amsterdam weight, but I don't want to be slowed down by being too far above it. Every second counts if I want to get under 3:45. (Although having said that, I won a 5k in a new PB time on Saturday, so I'm hardly slow at the moment).
I know that this sounds remarkably like a new year resolution type thing. This year I want to lose weight, and all that sort of stuff, but it's more about getting back to doing what I used to do, and what I know I should be doing, rather than starting anything new. I know how I need to live to maintain my weight and train properly, I just need to lose a few bad habits that crept in while I was distracted. If I lose the habits and stay this weight, that's OK, but I don't want to keep the habits and carry on edging upwards on the scale.
So I declare war on...
1. Snacking. It keeps my hands busy, and keeps my mind off other things, but it isn't good. Half the time I'm not even hungry, but I want to do something. A bit of fruit, fine, but I must not raid the chocolate machine at work every afternoon, and I must remember that when people bring sweet goodies in for the office to share, there should be some sharing going on rather than me hoovering it all up, picking up a bit more everytime I go past. In the evenings I may need to reinstate my "shut the kitchen door, go upstairs and put the burglar alarm on downstairs" routine, or simply make sure there isn't quite so much rubbish to snack on in the first place.
2. Starbucks. The espresso machine at work was broken for ages so I started going to Starbucks for my caffeine fix. But once I was there instead of getting the nice, low calorie, espresso I'd have had at work, it somehow turned into toffee nut hot chocolate. Full fat. Huge. With cream. And a cake. And I know that doesn't have caffeine in it anyway, but it didn't stop me ordering it. My objection to this one is financial as much as it is weight related, as all those drinks and cakes make a dent in the budget. Now the free machine at work is working again, I should be able to kick the calorie and fat filled drink habit.
3. Alcohol. My comforter of choice. I'm sure I'm not alone in having had rather too few alcohol free days in December, I'm sure, but I can't carry on like that. If I get thirsty in the evenings I need to remember that herbal tea can be as warming as mulled wine, and that I don't need to put a slug of brandy in my (low calorie) hot chocolate (without cream). I'm not going to give it up entirely. I half considered an alcohol ban until London, but with Annette's hen do and wedding as well as various parties sandwiched in there I'm not sure that's realistic. I will, however, aim for moderation and reinstate my "not during the week" ban. And I will try to control the tendency to eat everything in sight once I get a bit tipsy.
4. Pizza. The pizza shop at the end of my road opened a few years ago, and I never set foot through its door until December. That was a big, big, mistake. I discovered that their pizzas are very nice indeed, and lost sight of the fact that even pizza with virtuous sounding aubergine, rocket and sun-dried tomatoes is still pizza. It should not be something I eat every week. Ahem. Now I have more time to shop and cook for myself I will not allow myself to stop in there on my way home from work on a regular basis.
It's not rocket science, and certainly it's not the sort of calorie controlled, points counting hell that half the office seem to have thrown themselves into for the New Year. I'll still finish off my christmas treats, just take a bit more care about doing it slowly. It's just exercising a bit of common sense, and realising that while real life was suspended for a while as more important things took over, there's no reason for that to become my way of life on a permanent basis.
It's also the start of my focus on serious training for London. I know from past experience that it helps during marathon training if I'm eating the right stuff, and not feeling sluggish from eating rubbish. I know that if I drink too much and eat rubbish the night before a run, I'll get to three or four miles and have a sudden, desperate and uncontrollable urge to go to the loo. Which isn't nice. My body complains like hell, and yet I still do it. No more, it's time to take my training seriously. If I want to achieve my goals, I need a nutrition plan as well as a running training plan. It's not just about the miles I run, it's about how I feed my body, and what I've been doing recently doesn't cut it for marathon training.
I'm not going to set myself any targets, any deadlines for losing a certain amount of weight. I don't want that. All I want to do is to start feeling good about what I'm eating again. I hate that feeling when I look at the empty flajack wrapper, or pizza box, or wine bottle, and try to work out what possessed me to eat it. I hate the feeling of being out of control, of not being able to take charge of what my hands are reaching for and what my mouth is ordering. I hate looking at my cooking blog and realising that I haven't tried a new recipe worth posting for months (recipe for mashed potato, quorn sausages, peas and gravy, anyone?).
I want my old clean eating life back. I miss it.