The Incredible Shrinking Woman

Tummy Mummy 10 January 2017

It is nine years (nine years!) since my first Lighter Life journey.  It was a life-changing experience for me and I vowed that I would do everything in my power to maintain my new weight.  And I did for a while.  I took up running, completed a marathon, walked down the aisle with my darling Boy (without feeling like a blimp) and revelled in my new-found confidence and health.  So far, so good.

I returned from honeymoon pregnant, and my lovely daughter was born in the summer of 2012.  I had added a pregnancy stone or two and had every intention of shifting it fairly quickly.  Things didn’t go to plan.  I was flung headlong into post-natal depression.  I became quite agoraphobic and spent days on end inside the house.  I turned to food for comfort.  I had some physical problems after the birth (my daughter weighed in at ten and a half pounds!) and couldn’t take up my beloved running, despite The Boy’s encouragement to get out and do so while he looked after the baby.  The weight continued to creep back on, slowly and stealthily.

Before long I was expecting my second beautiful daughter, who put in an appearance in the spring of 2014.  Sadly, the depression had worsened and I was really quite ill during the pregnancy.  I’d opted not to take any medication during that time because of the risk to the baby, so my focus after the birth was to get myself well again.  My physical health and fitness was considerably lower on my list of priorities.  So I simply watched my waistline expand.  Was that the right thing to do?  For my family, probably.  For me, probably not.  But hindsight is a wonderful thing.

So … here I am, pretty much back to where I was when I began my first journey.  Or, put another way, back to precisely where I swore I would never be.  I have two choices.  I tell myself that I will always be overweight and I should just accept it, or I throw everything I have at getting back to a healthy weight.  I think you can guess from the fact that I’m typing this blog which decision I’ve made … 🙂

I have to start with the food.  I’m still unable to run, but am scheduled for a surgical procedure that will eventually mean I can pull on my trainers again (I won’t go into the details for the benefit of the more squeamish amongst you!).  To that end, I’ve opted to try Lighter Life again because it worked so well for me the first time around.  I have a few more obstacles, not least the fact that I won’t have the support of a group as it’s an option I simply don’t have time for.  I may not stay on the programme until I hit my target, but at the very least I’m hoping that it will give me the kickstart I need.

Here goes nothing 🙂

 

Wedding Dress Tyranny 11 April 2011

There’s something I need to get off my chest, and I can’t help feeling that what I’m about to say may well resonate with a lot of you.

I am, as you know, getting married.  A big part of that event involves me wearing some kind of show-stopping outfit.  Now, for someone like me who has spent the vast majority of their life being overweight, the prospect of choosing that outfit and being the object of scrutiny for the duration of the day is pretty nerve-wracking.  Obviously I’m not as large as I used to be, but neither am I ‘model thin’ (and am very unlikely ever to be … I’m just not built that way).  So I put off dress shopping as long as I dared.  Much to the alarm of some of my friends (‘ooooh, you absolutely MUST allow nine months for the dress’) I waited until last weekend, approximately 6 months before the day.  The reason for this was twofold: I simply wasn’t looking forward to the experience, and I’ve also been losing weight steadily all year.

So, slightly unwillingly, I went out this weekend.  I had two appointments: one at a designer store in the West End, Pronovias (highly recommended, two month waiting list for appointments) and one at a department store in South London.  I’m not going to name them because, actually, they were very pleasant to me.  It was the Pronovias experience that I found so painful.

Firstly, I simply don’t believe the nonsense about needing to choose and order a dress so far in advance.  Frankly I think it’s intended to make you feel a false sense of pressure so you’re forced into making a decision that you might not normally have made.  It’s a pushy sales tactic, pure and simple.  I was also very alarmed to find out that I wasn’t going to be able to browse any actual dresses.  Call me old fashioned, but surely you need to see and touch the dresses before you begin to decide which might suit you?  No, all we were allowed to do was to scroll through the website.  I’ve been on their website several times.  I even have a shortlist of favourite dresses that I was happy to discuss.  I wasn’t allowed to do that, though, ‘because we don’t stock all of them so it’s much easier if we just keep scrolling through these screens’.  Easier for who, exactly?

I was told I could shortlist five dresses.  I understand that’s to prevent people spending hours and hours in there, but I can’t remember the last time that anyone wanting to sell something to me was so restrictive on my choice from the very beginning.  As it happened we were only able to shortlist three, primarily because I wasn’t able to look at the damn things and had no idea what I might like.  Seriously, how can you make choices based on models on a website?  It’s ridiculous.  We were then taken downstairs to try them on.  There was already another bride down there, but we were at opposite ends of the room, so space and privacy didn’t seem to be an issue.  The dresses were produced and I queried why she had not asked me my size.  ‘All our dresses are size 12 because that’s the average UK size.’  My heart sank.  At my thinnest my bottom half has been a size 10, but a combination of ribs and boobs means there’s no way on earth my top half will get beyond a 14.  And since when is 12 the average, anyway?  I told her there and then that I feared we would be wasting our time (my current dress size is around 16, so not exactly immense).  She said ‘well if you can’t get into them, then I can just hold them up in front of you’.  That’ll be about as much use as, say, looking at them on a website, no?

So by this point I’m very uncomfortable.  I’ve come here, in honour of a joyous occasion, to make probably the most important (and expensive) clothing purchase of my life.  I am now going to be made to feel fat and ugly in the process.  Great sales tactic.  However, I’m made of strong stuff, so I thought I’d make the best of it.  Out I stepped, in a dress at least two sizes too small, that was awkwardly pinned to my underwear, to be confronted not by my mother but by four champagne-swilling bridesmaids waiting for their friend in the next cubicle (we’d not been offered so much as a glass of water, incidentally).  I couldn’t get to the mirror without tripping over them.  I knew at that point I had to get out.

I tried four dresses in the end.  All were entirely unsuitable for me, and the one the sales assistant recommended was ridiculous.  I’ve been in smaller cars.  Hilariously she shortlisted that one and one other, which did manage to raise a wry smile from  me rather than a torrent of rage.  She also, rather patronisingly, told me that ‘the one you like is the cheaper one, which is always good!’  Is it?  Had we discussed budget?  Was it not more important to find something that didn’t make me look like a walking sleeping bag?  I stepped out into the sunshine, not knowing whether I should laugh or cry.  The whole process had taken less than forty minutes, about fifteen of which was spent actually trying on dresses … a two month waiting list for that?

My mother is an excellent woman and within ten minutes I was in Selfridges with a glass of cold pink fizz in front of me, having been via Jo Malone where my self-respect was partly repaired by a lovely man who loaded the pair of us up with free samples.  He was probably thinking ‘here’s a woman who’s been Pronovia-d’, who knows?!  Or maybe he just knows a thing or two about engendering customer loyalty … 🙂

My Mum and I discussed the whole experience (something, incidentally, we never would have done prior to my weight loss).  I told her what I’m going to tell you … I was appalled (and quite upset) that my self-esteem had been given such an unnecessary pounding.  The ghost of my previous self came back to haunt me, and I didn’t like it one little bit.  I can only imagine how cruel and damaging that kind of experience must be for any woman who’s not 100% comfortable with her body image, or is shy, or doesn’t have an impenetrably thick skin.  And do you know what?  Companies like that get away with it because we let them.  Clearly they flog thousands of dresses (minus one to this woman, naturally) so they have no incentive to change.  I’m going to write to them outlining my experience, so I’ll let you know if I get a response.  Somehow I doubt that I will.

I feel better for sharing that, I really do.  Nothing like a minor rant when you’re feeling aggrieved.  Although my experience in the other shop on Sunday was much better, I’ve been in touch with a wonderful dressmaker I know and she’s going to make me a dress.  I know what I want (and what I don’t!) and she assures me that as long as we get going in July I’ll have the dress of my dreams by October.  So I need never go through that nonsense again.

Diet-wise, it’s been a rocky few weeks.  I mentioned in my previous post that I was about to negotiate a minefield of hen-dos and weddings.  I decided that the most practical thing to do was to come off diet for three weeks, which I did.  I didn’t go crazy, of course, but I did gain 3lb and went back on diet last Monday.  All was going swimmingly until the weekend, when my horrible experience prompted me to tumble from the wagon like a rock falling off a cliff.  Which was only sabotaging myself, I know, but that’s what happened.  Like I said, my old self came right back to haunt me.

So it’s my group tonight.  I don’t know what to expect, but I know I have to go.  I have until July now to feel happy with my shape (it feels a bit like a stay of execution!) but there’s work to be done.  And do you know what?  When I get where I want to be I may well be tempted to go and dance naked around a certain bridal dress outlet 🙂

 

Ups and Downs 23 February 2011

I was slightly coy about posting last week after my group.  I didn’t lose any weight!  I stayed absolutely the same.  I genuinely couldn’t believe that it was anything to do with just a couple of glasses of wine on my ‘off the wagon’ weekend.

And it wasn’t.  Without putting too fine a point on it, it was about the c-word.  Constipation!  Now this is not something that I’ve ever suffered from before (apart from a nasty incident after a gall bladder operation, but that’s another story) and it simply hadn’t occured to me.  My counsellor suggested it, and after a couple of days of monitoring and some remedial action (lighter life drink mix and senokot, if you’re curious) all returned to normal.  The result?  Almost 3.5 kilos shifted at this Monday’s weigh-in.  Now that’s a result.

So I’m almost two stone down after six weeks on the plan, and I’m delighted.  I’m at the point now where I can really see the difference, and other people are noticing too.  I’m down a size in my jeans, and the ones that I had been wearing are so loose that they sit pleasantly round my hips, ‘boyfriend’ style.  It feels good.

Group bonding seems to be going well, too.  There are a lot of us in the group now, although a couple are about to head off into management in the next couple of weeks.  To be honest, I think that can only be a good thing (not least for them!).  There’s a risk that there are so many of us that the whole session is taken up with weighing, and also the debate can be a bit skewed towards their hopes/fears for the management phase.  I think it will even itself out, though.

In terms of exercise I’ve turned a corner too.  Not only did I run 3 miles at the weekend, but I ran almost 5 miles home last night for the first time since I was marathon training last year.  That’s bloody ages ago!  I say ‘ran’, but I was easing myself into the distance by doing 3 minutes running, 1 minute walking.  It really helped.  I also forgot to bring my running watch to work so ended up downloading a brilliant free app called Jog Log for my iPhone.  Not only does it track you via GPS, let you play music and keep a training log, but it enables you to programme interval training into it.  So a handy beep told me when I had to change my speed.  Admittedly I’ve only used it the once but I was pretty impressed.

The next few weeks are going to be tricky.  I’m at the beginning of a succession of hen weekends and weddings, which are possibly the worst events for someone on this plan.  And then, after that, the wedding dresses loom!  So I need to muster all of my willpower, that’s for sure.

 

Five weeks have flown! 14 February 2011

I keep a chart of my weight changes and I actually checked twice to see that tonight will be my fifth weigh-in.  I just can’t believe how quickly it’s going … that’s a good thing in a lighter life sense, but not in a ‘wishing my life away’ sense!

I’m a little nervous about tonight.  I have to confess that I fell off the wagon at the weekend, on Saturday in particular, and succumbed to the temptations of the demon drink.  It’s that red wine weakness rearing its ugly head again!  And I didn’t just have one glass, I had a lot (I spent Sunday with the black lips to prove it).  So of course that meant that the devil on my shoulder said ‘oh, what the hell, you’ve blown it now …’ and I had some wine last night too.  I’m not best pleased with myself, not least because I can really feel it in my body.  I feel all sluggish and my legs are aching (that may partly be to do with the fact that I spent the entire weekend decorating, mind you).  It’s amazing how, when you cut out alcohol for a period of time, you realise how much of a mental and physical effect it has on you.  It’s not good … I actually feel poisoned.

On a positive note, we’re managing to celebrate Valentine’s in a way that doesn’t involve temptation crossing my path.  We’re going on a spooky walk around London … yes, all very cheesy, but better than sitting in a bar/restaurant surrounded by arguing/smooching couples, frankly.  Despite the fact that we’re meeting in a pub, I’m going to be virtuous and stick to the mineral water.  It’s only 7 weeks until I go for my first wedding dress shopping expedition, and that should be incentive enough!

Here’s hoping that the scales don’t punish me too much tonight for my misdemeanours …

 

Those tricky old weekends 4 February 2011

Morning! I can’t tell you how glad I am that it’s Friday.  This week has been one of those that just seems to drag on and on and on … one day I’ll be a multi-millionaire and can enjoy a life of luxury instead!

I find weekends particulary tricky on this diet.  My usual weekend would begin with a couple of drinks after work, possibly ending in a takeaway or a quick pizza at the end of our road.  And then, being the age that I am, much of our social life revolves around lunches with friends who have kids, or just good old fashioned nights in the pub.  None of these things are any fun when you have to be the party pooper sticking to mineral water and refusing food.  And a hermit approach doesn’t work either.  If I hide myself behind closed doors then I just find myself getting bored and thinking about food, which really isn’t very helpful.

Thankfully, this weekend I have a bona fide distraction.  We are about to commence on a large building project at home, and are moving out so that the contractors can move in.  Pretty much everything we have is either in storage or boxed for the move, but there is an alarming amount of day-to-day debris in the house which must finally be shipped out or chucked out.  There’s also the small matter of clearing five years’ worth of crap out of the place we’re moving into (it’s had long term tenants).  So on the one hand I’m slightly peeved that my precious weekend will be very chore-heavy, and on the other hand I’m delighted that I’ll be busy and occupied for all of it.

And I wonder how many calories you can burn by shifting boxes? 🙂

I’m also fully intending to go for another run on Saturday morning.  After weeks of laziness, I went out for the first time last weekend and managed 3 miles at a steady run-some-walk-some pace.  It’s a start and I hope to be back up to doing decent distances very soon.  I think that a second marathon in 2012 beckons.  So here’s hoping that the weather stays nice and clear (cold I can cope with, cold rain isn’t much fun).

Now … just a few more hours of work to go …

 

Coming out of hiding 2 February 2011

Well it’s been almost six months since my enthusiastic last post.  I was buoyed up by post-marathon, post-engagement enthusiasm.  And then what happened?  Well (and I’m going to be very honest here) life got in the way, and I got lazy.  As Christmas approached my weight kept creeping steadily in the wrong direction, an abortive attempt to follow the Jenny Craig diet was abandoned (more on that later), my running efforts dwindled as my waistline expanded and so, in desperation, I found myself biting the bullet and emailing my local Lighter Life counsellor in December.

It was not, by any stretch of the imagination, an easy decision.  It’s not following the regime that’s an issue for me, it’s the emotional feeling of having failed.  I promised myself that this would not happen: that I would never be ‘a fat person’ again, that I wouldn’t rely on the programme as a way of compensating for my own weight mis-management.  And then clearly it all began to unravel.  I didn’t regain all of the weight – not even close – but I was sitting at the top of a very slippery slope.  I’ve been on the programme for three weeks now (8kg/18lb down and counting) and it’s taken me this long to go public about it.  I wanted to be sure that I was going to stick at it and that I was serious.  Now I know that I am.  I’ve put my pride to one side and admitted that one of the key things that kept me going last time was writing this blog.  So, here I am again.

I mentioned that I tried Jenny Craig, and failed.  It’s clear to me why that is.  Not only did it work out to be fiercely expensive (what they don’t explain is just how much food you have to buy in addition to what they provide you) but, for me, the level of flexibility meant that I simply didn’t take it seriously enough.  It was too easy to bend the rules and cheat.  I’ve learnt that I’m only successful if I do one of two things: a) stick to a rigid regime or b) follow a healthy lifestyle.  Anything in between those two things just feels faddy, unrealistic and, ultimately, pointless.  Clearly I don’t want to put anyone off if they’re thinking of trying that particular diet, I’m just saying that it wasn’t right for me.

On a more positive note, being back on lighter life has enabled me to do several things.  My ‘clear up and clear out’ fixation has come back at a particularly useful time (we’re moving out of our house to renovate it); my self-confidence is rising and I feel very positive indeed; I’ve summoned the courage to book an appointment to try on wedding dresses (early April and I can’t wait); I’m no longer dreading looking pudgy on the Big Day and, last but not least, I went running on Saturday for the first time in weeks.  Everything in my world, as they say, is looking rosy (and I simply refuse to attribute it all to ketosis euphoria).

One thing I’ve been a bit more hesitant about this time around is broadcasting the fact that I’m on the diet to all and sundry.  I was open about it the first time, to the point of evangelism, but I’ve been a bit more circumspect this time.  It’s not that I’m embarrassed, it’s just that I genuinely can’t face any ‘oh, do you really need to do that again?’ discussions.  Not at the moment, anyway.  Perhaps I’ll feel differently when I’m happily clambering back into my thin girl clothes that are currently taunting me from the back of the wardrobe.

All that remains to be said is that it’s good to be back.

 

New Goals, New Challenges, New Status 8 July 2010

My goodness the marathon seems like an eternity ago 🙂

I took the opportunity afterwards to take a break from running (and blogging) and let my body and brain recover from all the excitement.  It was long overdue, frankly … any of you who’ve run a marathon or who are training for one will know that it starts to take over your whole life and it’s very strange when it’s over.  If I think about it, I struggle to believe that I’ve actually done it.  It’s a bit like my friends’ descriptions of childbirth … you forget all about it just so you might do it again!

I also have some news.  We went away for the weekend immediately following the race and The Boy took both of us by surprise by deciding to propose.  So I’m now happily betrothed and in the early throes of wedding planning.  Part of that planning, of course, involves choosing a dress.  I mentioned in my last post that I was worried about my weight creeping in the wrong direction.  I still am, especially after a long holiday in Australia where the food was delicious and the beer plentiful.  Well, the imminent prospect of a short walk in a long dress means that I’m hell bent on getting to a comfortable weight and finally managing to maintain that in the long term.  Then I can float down the aisle in the most gorgeous dress imaginable without feeling like an overstuffed sausage.  I also won’t look back on the photos and think ‘why didn’t you rein in the pie eating before the big day’?  I’m exaggerating, but you take my point.

So, what steps am I taking?  On the food front, I’m back to counting calories.  It’s funny, I always resort to this, which probably means that it’s the best long term solution for me.  At the moment I’m recording everything that passes my lips and trying to keep to around 1300 calories a day.  I’ll let you know how I get on with that.  I have a sneaking suspicion that alcohol is the problem rather than food, to be honest.

Exercise-wise, I’m back in training.  I literally stepped off the plane back from Sydney, dropped my suitcase at home, and went to the gym.  It might sound silly, but I kept promising myself I’d do that as I sat relaxing on Bondi beach looking in awe at the athletic locals pounding up and down the sand.  I’ve managed to keep up a high level of exercise ever since, which I’m pleased about (that said, this week has been something of a disaster).  I’m running again … I’m nearly totally repaired after the race (barring the fact that I still only have nine toenails, sorry!) and am back up to 4.5 miles.  I’ve signed up for the Windsor half marathon at the end of September, and my formal schedule begins next week.  I’ve opted for quite an aggressive schedule that aims to get you in below 2 hours … realistically I don’t expect to achieve that but want to aim high rather than being complacent.

So with lots of enthusiasm and vigour, here I go again!  I didn’t think that the battle to lose the weight and keep it off would be a two and a half year journey (to date), but I’m not throwing in the towel just yet.

 

2 years 75 days – I take my hat off to … 27 April 2010

… the bloke who said ‘it’s the hottest day of the year so I think I’ll slip into my Thunderbirds suit’ and made me laugh at the start line; the little old man in his front garden shouting ‘oggi, oggi, oggi!’ at around 3 miles; the lunatic running with the fridge on his back; Uncle Bulgaria who was about half a minute in front of me and acted as an early warning for my spectators; the gospel choir singing ‘he’s got the marathon runners in his hands’; the landlord/landlady who turned their pub into a pirate ship and their locals into cutlass-waving pirates; Barnardo’s for treating us so well from the day we applied to the moment we trudged home with our medals; the random runner who said ‘come on, we’re almost there’ and got me running again at 19 miles; Daley Thompson and Snowy; the St John’s volunteer who stuck my blistered toes back together at 22 miles; the band who struck up ‘I Predict A Riot’ just as I was starting to flag; the giraffe runner for initiating a colossal cheer going through Canary Wharf; my Mum, Dad and The Boy for the sheer joy of seeing them as I rounded the corner at the Lord Nelson; all the people at the drinks stations for keeping us going in the heat; the little boy who yelled ‘high five me, Joe!’ on Birdcage Walk; all of my nearest and dearest who stood beside the road and cheered; whoever invented Vaseline; the self-titled ‘guy in the turban’ who was running to be a good role model for his kids; all the #vlm tweeters; Tom the trainer and Jane the physio and Kellie the massage therapist; every single wonderful spectator because, without doubt, you carry each and every one of us along the route.  You rock.

So, I did it.  I did it in a reasonably respectable 5 hours 23 minutes.  I was scuppered by blistered toes at 22 miles and had to walk the rest of it, so I’m mighty pleased with that time.  And my dodgy leg?  Not a problem in the slightest.  Typical 🙂

It was probably the best day of my life.  You won’t believe me, but I enjoyed every minute (except the horror of removing my sock at 22 miles, perhaps, but I won’t go into the gory details).  And I fully intend to do it again.

One thing that troubles me is that, having seen some photos of the day, I look absolutely HUGE.  Partly this is in my mind, partly this is the result of a week of carb loading, and partly this is because I need to take my weight by the reins again.  While I recover the use of my legs this week, I’m going to plan how exactly I do that.  Watch this space.

 

2 years 71 days – Well here goes nothing! 23 April 2010

So it’s less than 48 hours until the start of the Marathon.  Yes, I am running.  Yes, I am excited.  Yes, I am bloody terrified.

Since last posting it has been the usual story of ups and downs.  Despite my cleaner’s best attempts to cripple me with her shiny floors, it was only a minor setback and the following weekend I took myself off to Tooting Bec Common to attempt a genuinely long run.  I knew it was risky, and I knew that I needed to resist the temptation to play catch-up (according to the original plan I should’ve run 20 miles on Easter weekend), but I simply couldn’t bear the thought of tackling the Marathon having only achieved a relatively puny 10 miles.  I was hoping that I could manage 12, maybe a bit more.  The Boy threw down the gauntlet and told me not to bother coming home until I’d clocked 15.

Well, I did it, and it was brilliant.  I ran 6 miles without a break, then adopted the walk/run tactic which I’m going to have to employ on the day itself.  This meant taking a 1-2 minute walking (and water) break, then running the rest of the mile, then taking another break.  I was flying up to about 10 miles, then I had a minor attack of the wobbles (probably the mental barrier of ‘eeek, I’ve never run further than this’), then had massive elation at 13 when I realised I’d completed a half marathon.  My body was telling me to stop at that point (I was having a minor attack of the wobbly legs) but I simply couldn’t face the thought of not hitting the magic 15.  For those last two difficult miles I walked 1 minute, ran the rest of the half mile, walked 1 minute, completed the mile.  And I did it … also spurred on  (weirdly) by the promise to myself of a cup of tea at the cafe on the Common that I kept running past.  I don’t even like tea.

I cannot tell you how incredible I felt afterwards.  That was the moment when it clicked in my brain that the terrifying distance of 26.2 is actually within my grasp … I couldn’t have run another 11 miles at that point for love nor money, but it felt like an achievable aim rather than an insane delusion.  I was fast, too, managing a very respectable 2 hours and 37 minutes, despite the walking.  And, for the record, I did indeed have a lovely cup of tea (and a slice of carrot cake) at the cafe, in the sunshine, surrounded by lots of people who were undertaking the more sensible activity of loafing around with their kids on a Sunday afternoon 🙂

The fact that I limped like a woman three times my age until the middle of the following week is neither here nor there.

So, feeling invincible, I went out running later that week and, inexplicably, could only do 2 miles before my leg decided I was going no further.  After every high comes a low, eh!  The bad thing was that I was 2 miles from home, stupidly without cash or phone, and limping.  The good thing was that the long and chilly hobble home saved me from collapsing into a snivelling heap (limping through Clapham in tears with snot bubbles coming out of your nose is not a good look).  I simply had to pick myself up again, I told myself, as I re-applied ice packs to my bothersome groin (please forgive the mental picture that may conjure up).

And pick myself up I did.  Back to the gym, back to the cardio, back to the relentless tedium of the cross trainer.  Last weekend I felt brave enough to run again and went out to face my demons on the Common.  This time I clocked a delightful 6 miles in an incredible 1 hour and 25 seconds.  Damn those 25 seconds!  Team Doman was back in business, and not a moment too soon.

I’ve not run since (discretion being the better part of valour and all that).  Instead I’ve been eating enough pasta to sustain a small region of Italy, drinking Ribena like it’s going out of style, and getting increasingly excited about the Big Day.  I’ve also, very satisfyingly, raised over £2500 now which is a huge incentive in itself.

Best of luck to anyone reading this who’s also running … I hope you have a great race.  I’m off to register this afternoon, and then there will be no stopping runner 34661.  If you’re watching on Sunday and see a woman with a very red face and a bright green Barnardo’s vest with ‘JOE’ on the front, that will be me.  Give me a wave and a cheer.  I’ll need it!

 

2 Years 40 Days – Frustrations and Inspirations 23 March 2010

I was absolutely brimming with confidence when I last posted because of finally being able to run again.  Then I went home on Thursday, took off my shoes and promptly skidded on the wooden floor that our cleaner had thoughtfully polished to a lethal shine.  If I’d even skidded on my left leg (the good one) rather than my right it would have been fine … as it stands I am now once again unable to walk without pain, let alone run.

DAMMIT! 🙂 

Well there’s an old saying about tears and spilt milk, so I’m not going to brood on this.  What this definitively means is that I now have absolutely no chance of clocking up decent mileage before the big day.  It’s just not going to happen as the risk of further injury is too great, and that would count me out completely.  So, excitingly and rather terrifyingly, I will have to test the theory that marathons can be run on the basis of general cardio fitness alone.  Also (horror of horrors) I will also have to complete the majority of my training on that most tedious of gym machines, the cross trainer.

A few things are keeping my chin up and enabling me to overcome the desire to go and hide somewhere for a few months until everyone’s forgotten that I was supposed to be running 26 miles.  I watched the documentaries about Eddie Izzard’s insane and heroic mission to run 43 marathons in 51 days in aid of Sport Relief … after only five weeks training and with no real running experience to boot.  I watched him battle pain, injury, boredom, loneliness, distraction and personal demons with my jaw on the floor.  The Boy didn’t have to say to me ‘well if he can do that, then you can manage one piddly marathon’, because that’s exactly what I was thinking.  It was truly inspiring.

I’ve also raised almost £2000 to date for Barnardo’s.  The thought of not completing the race and not being able to donate that money is pretty tough to swallow, too.  What price my pride or lack of guts, eh?  I can say with absolute certainty that I am no longer attempting this with a view to achieving a good time.  I just need to get round (preferably before it gets dark and ahead of that maniac who does it in a vintage diving suit).

That said, it will still be an achievement.  My lovely mother is so determined for me not to give up that she’s said she will walk the route with me if that’s what it takes.  Knowing her as I do, I can assure you that she means it.

So the clock continues to tick.  When I think about the day itself I feel physically sick, and I simply don’t know if that’s down to fear or excitement.  I’ll opt for the latter.  Keep ’em crossed for me that I don’t do something idiotic like fall headlong down some stairs, or dive under a moving bus between now and then.

 

2 years 33 days – Battling The Odds 16 March 2010

Hello strangers.  I’m still alive, I’m conscious that I’ve not blogged for an eternity, and I’m delighted to see from the stats that people are still reading this blog.  Hopefully in my absence I’ve still been able to inspire and encourage people in their weight loss and fitness challenges!

Counting down the days since the beginning of my weight loss journey was starting to get a little unmanageable (especially with the increasing gaps) so I’ve included years as well as days.  That in itself is a sobering thought … on the one hand it’s only two years ago that I started the diet and the blog, but on the other it feels like a different life.  I simply don’t recognise myself as the person who attended her first lighter life class back in February 2008, either mentally or physically.

That’s not to say that it’s been plain sailing.  In fact, the last six months have probably been the hardest.  I remember sitting in my foundation group discussing the possibility of weight gain after the diet and, with my typical over-confidence, assuring myself and my colleagues that I would never, ever allow myself to gain weight again.  Well here’s the truth, folks, it’s bloody hard not to.  And before anyone leaps up and uses this as a stick with which to beat lighter life, I advise those people to sit back down.  It’s nothing to do with lighter life.  I can honestly say that I would never, ever have achieved what I have so far without the phenomenal kick start that the diet gave me.  It made me realise what I had become, what I could be, and that there were key aspects of my behaviour that were seriously holding me back.  None of that has changed.

What I’ve realised is that life is simply not a black and white case of being ‘a fat person’ or ‘a thin person’.  In the back of my mind I’d always assumed (slightly enviously) that thin people were made that way and that was that.  Well it isn’t.  Staying healthy and staying thin requires constant effort, vigilance and discipline.  I’m not saying that I suddenly abandoned everything I’d learned and gorged on any food that crossed my path.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  What I allowed myself to do was take my eye off the ball and over time some of those pounds crept slowly back.  I would say that I’m now around two stone heavier than I was when I finished the diet.

But I’m conscious of that and I’m fighting it.  My regular training was keeping the weight at bay, but then I got injured (more on that in a moment) and that’s when I noticed the pounds adhering insidiously to my waistline.  Sad but true.  You simply can’t lose focus if, like me, you are prone to weight gain.

In terms of training, I’m less than six weeks away from the marathon.  I will be running, come hell or high water, but for how many of those miles I don’t know 🙂  I pulled a muscle in my groin in early January, which was crippling, and have only been able to run again in the last three days.  By run, I mean bursts of about two minutes of running interspersed with walking.  I can manage that for about an hour and a half at the moment before my legs tire.  To put that into context, most of my fellow marathon runners will have achieved distances of around 18 miles by now.  I was up to 10 at Christmas, but now doubt that I could do 5 without a walking break.

To say that it’s been emotional is an understatement.  I’ve shed more tears over this bloody race than anything I can remember in recent memory.  I’m determined not to quit, and now that I’m back on my feet again I’m training hard in the 40 days that I have left.  The one thing in my favour is that I kept up with my cardio training (even when I couldn’t run) so my fitness hasn’t suffered.  What I lack is endurance, and you can’t come by that in a hurry.  I’m aiming to get to a point where I complete the race by running for about 8 minutes at a time and then walking for 2.  This is a controversial way to tackle a marathon (some people view it as simply cheating if you break to walk) whereas more level-headed people appreciate that not everything in life goes the way you planned it.

So … I’m back on the both the running and the blogging trail.  In all the chaos of the last few months, I can genuinely say that I’ve really missed both.  Time to get back to normal!

 

Days 624 to 646 – Seeking Inspiration 28 October 2009

OK, here comes another distance running cliche for you.  It’s a lonely old business, isn’t it?  Just you, your thoughts and the plod-plod-plod-plod of your feet hitting the ground.

Clearly there’s good and bad in that.  It’s a great opportunity to lose yourself for a while (as a friend eloquently puts it: ‘when I run I disappear’), empty your head and pound away the stresses of the day.  Brilliant.  I prefer not to run in total silence (mainly because I find the sound of my own breathing very distracting!) and am glued to my trusty iPod, but even with background music I still manage to drift away to other places.

The bad side of it is the fact that you are the only person that can motivate yourself.  You get yourself out of bed (you’re not letting a team down if you don’t show up), you choose your route, you damn well get on with it.  And, as distances increase, you’re often getting on with it while friends and family and loved ones are doing exciting things that you’d otherwise be a part of too.  It’s a bit alienating, not to mention socially disruptive.  I have considered finding a running partner to ensure that I stick to my routine, but the absolute truth is that I don’t think I could bear to have to make breathless chit-chat for mile after mile.

So, given that I’m stuck between loving the solitude and yet needing external encouragement, I’m taking some steps to motivate myself over the next six months (oh my god that makes it sound so close!).  Firstly, I’m off to New York to watch the marathon this Sunday.  I think there will be nothing more inspiring than installing myself in Central Park to watch those brilliant people racing towards the finish line.  Then, back in London and reality, I’m going to seek out some running events to complement my training schedule.  There’s a tendency to think ‘oh, I’m doing the Big One in April, so there’s no need’, but the sense of solidarity and enthusiasm that comes from other runners is damn motivating.  It’s a bit like when you’re running along an empty road and suddenly another runner passes you … it really lifts your spirits and makes you feel part of ‘the club’.

Weight-wise, I’m edging in the wrong direction again.  I did anticipate this, as I’ve had an October full of wining, dining and important social events.  This means that I’m going to behave myself in November, otherwise it’s just a lardy, boozy slide into Christmas, which would be disastrous.  I’m seriously contemplating steering clear of the demon drink for a month … well, I’m going to have to cut it out next year anyway, so I should probably get some practice in!

All that remains is to wish the best of British luck to anyone running in New York on Sunday.  I’ll be there to cheer you on, you crazy fools! 🙂

 

Days 618 to 623 – Fighting My Demons 5 October 2009

On Sunday I asked the Boy to drop me off six and a half miles from home and leave me there to run back (actually, I wanted it to be seven and a half but, despite calculations on mapmyrun.com, I came up short).  It was quite tough going, and left alone with my thoughts for that hour or so I came to an important realisation.  This marathon for me is not about the physical challenge of going that distance, it’s about the competition between me and myself.

‘No shit, sherlock’, I hear some of you mutter, as you roll your eyes and wish you’d opted to do something else with your spare five minutes.  However, I was having that thought in the context of lighter life and everything that I’ve learned over the past eighteen months or so.  Let me explain.  I began lighter life with a very broken mind (you may recall that my response to my counseller’s reference to ‘overeaters’ was ‘I’m not an overeater’, which was clearly nonsense) and one of the keys to unlocking my weight problems was acknowledging my disordered relationship with food.  Part of that was coming to the understanding that I’m in control of my life, in control of what I eat and, if you like, the person with whom the buck stops.

The slightly cruel flip side of that is the realisation that I have consistently and deliberately sabotaged myself for years.  I know that because, at the drop of a hat, I can slip back into my bad habits.  I can happily be a willing spectator while I go into self-destruct mode … and for the life of me I don’t know why.  What I do know is that it doesn’t have to be this way.  I have knowledge and tools at my disposal to enable me to live the life that I want and to be the person that I would like to be.

Running is one of those things.  I was lucky, in a way, to find that physically I can do it and mentally I enjoy it.  I’m at a point now where I can run a reasonable distance without too much strain or effort, and I’m increasing that distance gradually over time.  But here’s the worrying thing.  Slowly and insidiously I’m starting to sabotage myself again.  I was less than three miles into the run on Sunday and at the bottom of a hill.  I knew the hill was coming (because an old school friend lives at the top!) and also knew that it was going to be the only real challenge of the whole run.  About a third of the way up I stopped, almost in tears, telling myself that I couldn’t do it … ‘it’ being that actual run and the whole bloody marathon to boot!  I wasn’t in pain, or out of breath, and nor had I really slowed down as the incline went up, but I was telling myself that I couldn’t do it.  With a supreme effort of will I pushed on, only to stop again a few hundred yards later.  At that point I was angry with myself (‘why did you ever tell yourself you could do this, you idiot?’ was going round and round inside my head) and I seriously considered phoning home to be picked up.  Luckily I realised what I was doing.  I was convincing myself of my imminent failure, with no justification for doing so.  That is self-sabotage, pure and simple.

It’s the same mentality that allowed me to become as overweight as I did.  I mean, if you’re fat anyway, why should you even bother to try?  Just reach for another cake!  I find it alarming that I still think this way … hence the dawning realisation that I won’t be battling the miles but battling myself.  At that point I literally shouted at myself (if you ever hear a runner grunting ‘come on!’ at herself somewhere in South London then it’s probably me) and kept going.  I ran all the way home, too … despite the fact that at four miles a wasp managed to fly under the tongue of my left shoe and sting me, the little git (though I give him kudos for his accuracy).

How pleased am I to have managed six and a half miles?  Very.  How furious with myself would I have been if I’d given up on that hill?  Extremely.  My willingness to believe that I can achieve something is inherently tied to my self-esteem, and I’m sure as hell not going to allow myself to erode it, bit by bit, until I’m right back where I was at the beginning of 2008.

Interval training is on the schedule tomorrow.  I hate it, I really do, which is all the more reason for me to attack it with gusto!  I just need to keep reminding myself who the real enemy is here 🙂

So … the London Marathon ballot results are out.  I really hope that those of you who want to run will be able to.  I was politely rejected by the organisers, but have my charity place secured.  They did send me a rather fetching jacket by way of compensation, mind you!  Good luck to those of you who got through, and commiserations to those of you who didn’t.

 

Days 606 to 617 – The Best Laid Plans 29 September 2009

Back from Cornwall, back at my desk, and back to normality (with something of a bump).  We had an amazing holiday, with wonderful weather and all the fresh air a townie like me could possibly hope for.  I was so inspired by how fantastic it all was that I even went swimming in the sea (without a wetsuit!) and boy, did that blow the cobwebs away.

However, as predicted in my previous post, we ate, and drank, and ate, and drank, then ate and drank some more.  I realised pretty early on that any hope of sticking to a low-fat, low-carb regime was going to be in vain.  Even if I had managed to avoid the cream teas, cornish pasties and heaven knows what else, the cider and red wine would’ve put paid to my efforts.  Once again I was reminded of how straightforward life is when you’re on lighter life … total abstinence removes the need to make decisions about food.  You simply don’t eat it.  Clearly that comes with its own challenges, but there are no grey areas.

What I did do was stick religiously to my training.  I ran 2 very bramble-y and nettle-y miles from our cottage to the beach and back again on Saturday (which included an unintentional detour into a scarily boggy estuary … I don’t recommend running on quicksand, ladies and gents).  It was the first morning of the holiday, and I knew that I really had to get out there before the devil on my shoulder started muttering about not bothering.  It was definitely worth it.  Knowing I needed to do a long run on Sunday I plotted a big loop from our cottage (in Crantock) that looked like it would be a decent length.  It turned out to be just shy of 6 miles (via Cubert, for those of you who know the area) and was fabulous … despite the horrendous hills!  It really brought home to me just how flat London is (well, South London certainly) and, even though my poor old knees probably don’t agree, it was good for me to do it.  There was a long, steep hill on the last 2 mile stretch and I was sorely tempted to slow to a walk, but then encountered a family walking their dogs and made it to the top of the hill on pride alone.  Besides, a pink-faced, sweaty runner in the full kit complete with a high-visibility jacket is just about acceptable … but if you’re walking?!  I think not.

I did half of the same run on Tuesday, and repeated the whole thing on Thursday.  I reckon I achieved 16 miles in total while I was there and, given the amount of red wine swilling around my system, that was no mean feat.  Conveniently my friends had their 18 month old son with them, so I had an early morning alarm call to help get me out of bed while pretty much everyone else slept in.

On Sunday I managed to squeeze in a 4.5 mile effort from Crystal Palace to Clapham via Brockwell Park (always a pleasure) which went some of the way towards compensating for the delicious lunch that our friends cooked for us afterwards.  One of them has run the London marathon twice already, is hoping to secure a place for the third time, and has quite an infectious passion for running.  I need to spend time with more people like her over the coming months … my friends are already muttering darkly about a change in the weather and I know it’s going to get harder to go out as the nights draw in.

Tonight I’m running home.  I’ve not done that since I injured my back running home in May.  Even though I’ve completed much longer distances than that since then, I need to shake the superstition that I’ll hurt myself again on this route.  Stupid, I know, but here’s hoping that nothing goes ‘ping’ this time!

 

Days 592 to 605 – Eat Clean, Run Hard 17 September 2009

That’s going to be my motto for the next week.  I’m off to Cornwall with some friends for a week of relaxation by the sea.  I’ve been counting the days until this holiday for about three months, no lie!

The people I’m going with are some of my oldest friends and it’s fair to say that we’re known for partying quite hard (even though none of us are spring chickens any more).  This week could be an opportunity to sit on my arse, drink more red wine than most people consume in a month and feed myself with comfort food.  You know how it is … half an hour walking by the sea and suddenly you convince yourself that you have the appetite of ten men and start ordering extra portions of chips.  That would be disastrous.

I also have zero excuse for not keeping up the miles (I’m up to a comfortable 6 miles at the moment).  If I can run around London, breathing delicious lungfuls of exhaust fumes and other people’s fag smoke, then I can sure as hell run in the beautiful surroundings of the Cornish coast.  In fact, it will be a pleasure.  The only drawback will be dragging myself out of bed while everyone around me sleeps off the effects of the previous night’s dinner and beer.

Training in general is still going really well.  I’m well and truly in the swing of it, despite the minor setback of a bug over the last week (thankfully not the dreaded swine flu) that kept me separated from my trainers for a few days.  I’m intending to go out tonight for a decent 4 miles to get me back on track.

So keep them crossed that I don’t succumb to temptation and turn into a couch potato.  I hope to come back with tales of beautiful clifftop runs and healthy living!

 

Days 570 to 591 – Marathon, one, Lighter Life, nil 3 September 2009

All change for me again … or perhaps I should say that my journey has simply taken another turn.  I found out the hard way (dizzy spells, exhaustion, lack of motivation) that my current exercise regime and lighter life don’t mix.  Now before anyone gets up in arms, I would like to stress that this is personal to me and not necessarily true for all of you (or any of you, for that matter).  When I did the diet the first time around, I managed lots of walking and a bit of swimming, nothing more.  I’m currently running four times a week, personal training for an hour, and invariably going to the gym for an additional cross training or cycling session.  That’s quite a lot of exercise on 500 calories a day.

So, I faced a tough decision.  Remain on lighter life and cut back on the exercise or go back to normal eating and keep with the new regime.  With an eye on my long term goals, and the marathon in particular, I chose the latter.  I’ve set myself the new target of being roughly 1.5 stone lighter by January based on healthy eating and exercise.  Will I achieve that?  Only time (and willpower) will tell.  It was a shame because my new lighter life group seemed really nice, after a bit of a rocky start with only two of us, and I’m sure we would have made a lot of progress together.  Good luck to them!

The running is going really well. I’m almost up to the distances that I was achieving before I screwed up my back earlier in the year.  I ran 4 miles last Sunday and am scheduled to do 6 on the next.  I’m optimistic about that.  My back seems to be holding out, due to better stretching and a very focused plan with my personal trainer.  Concentrating on my abs, my core and my overall stability has really helped.  I feel like I’m running with my whole body once again, which is brilliant.  Now all I have to do is keep dragging myself out there and keep increasing the mileage.

As for the healthy eating … well let’s just say that the bank holiday weekend did me few favours, but I’ve been compensating since.  Once I get into the habit of porridge or healthy cereal for breakfast, a light lunch, healthy snacks at intervals and low-carb evenings then I’m fine.  I get on a roll.  I’ve not dared to go near the scales since going back to food, but will brave them soon.  I’m too old to be afraid of some bathroom scales!

 

Days 535 to 569 – What’s 26 miles, anyway? 12 August 2009

I’VE GOT A MARATHON PLACE!  The lovely people at Barnardo’s have kindly given me a place on the proviso that I raise at least £1600 on their behalf.  Oh, that will be a breeze … *gulp*.

When I got the news I was literally bouncing up and down with joy.  Running that race, in whatever time I achieve, will represent the final milestone (no pun intended) in the journey from ‘old me’ to ‘new me’.  To go from an obese couch potato to a marathon runner in two years is such an incredible thing that I find it quite staggering.  I know that I’ll need to hold on to that thought when I’m splashing through muddy puddles on Clapham Common in freezing rain some time in February … just keep visualising the finish line, that’s what I say!

So my training has begun.  My intention is to follow a training plan that will take me to half marathon distance this side of Christmas (I may actually run one if I can find one that suits) and then begin the serious training after that.  I’ve been advised by pretty much everybody who knows anything about running marathons that the sooner I start, the better.  To be honest, I need the focus as my training has been a little haphazard since returning from the US at the end of June.

My lighter life progress has been a bit up and down too.  I’m losing weight consistently (over a stone in three weeks) but I’ve found it very difficult to be as disciplined this time as I was previously.  I’m trying my damnedest to keep on track … I know that if I keep falling off the wagon then I’m simply shooting myself in the foot by slowing down the loss.  To be honest, if I don’t manage to keep myself in check, then I’ll need to think very seriously about whether to continue.  I’m going to give it another week and see how I go … as we all know the speedy weight loss becomes very seductive the longer you go on, so maybe that will help!

So … here’s to the second biggest challenge of my life (the first being the weight loss).  I have only three words, and three which I overuse quite a bit … BRING IT ON! 🙂

 

Days 527 to 534 – Back In The Swing 28 July 2009

I went to my group last night and was delighted to find that I’ve lost 3kg/6lb since last Monday.  That’s a very satisfying 4kg/8lb since starting this ten days ago.  Hooray!

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t need the boost.  While there’s a sense of familiarity with the diet that’s standing me in good stead, it’s definitely harder the second time around.  That’s completely understandable, really.  Nobody gets to the end of this diet the first time and thinks ‘ooh, I’ll definitely be doing THAT again’ … unless they’re crackers, that is.  So I’m pleased on all counts … pleased that it’s working, pleased that I’ve managed to slip back into it relatively painlessly and pleased that my jeans feel baggier already.

Last week was quite tough in terms of the situations I found myself in.  I sat through one of the world’s most boring all day meetings on Friday … usually (as I’ve said in this blog before) carte blanche to tuck into the biscuits and goodies to alleviate the dullness and stay awake.  Not for me, obviously.  I was the one skating the fine line between drinking sufficient fluid and taking so much caffeine on board that I resembled a zombie on a cakewalk.  They even served Ben & Jerry’s mid-afternoon, but I stuck to my guns while cookie dough was devoured all around me.

Then on Saturday we went to visit friends in Cirencester.  Despite assurances to the contrary, I pretty much sat and watched people eat and drink from lunchtime on Saturday until breakfast on Sunday.  Pub lunch … great idea!  Evening barbecue … even better!  But I busied myself with washing up, instigating the ‘name that cider’ challenge (because I was the only one not drinking and therefore impartial) and accidentally creating explosive drinks with sparkling mineral water and Sunrise Orange drink mix.

The thing is, it’s not really a hardship.  Anyone can look at their social diary and think ‘well, I can’t be in abstinence that week because x is happening, or on that day because of y’ … it’s a cliche but there’s never a good time to be doing this.  When I found myself feeling hard done by, I cast my mind back to last year and tried to think of any significant events that I’d missed out on through dieting.  I couldn’t think of one, and that’s the honest truth.  It might be frustrating at the time, but I doubt very much that I’ll look back in years to come and think ‘if onlyI’d been able to have that scotch egg at Fred’s summer picnic in July 2008 then I could die a happy woman’.  Well, I hope not, anyway.

One thing I’ve got to be careful about is picking at food.  When I did this before I was religious about it.  Not a morsel of illegal food passed my lips during foundation and, with a couple of key exceptions, most of development.  I’m currently finding myself tempted to ‘sample’ scraps of meat from the Boy’s plate.  It’s a bad habit and I need to break it.  I’ll kick myself if I knock myself out of ketosis for the sake of a pea-sized sliver of something forbidden.  What’s the point?

I’m also back in training.  I had my first session with my new trainer yesterday and it was great to be back in the saddle (as it were).  I’m still wondering whether or not to tell him about the diet, mainly because I’m reasonably certain that he wouldn’t be keen on it.  I’m going to mull that one over before I see him again.  I’m also embarking on a half marathon training programme with a view to running 13 miles (in a race or on my own) in the autumn.  That will stand me in good stead for the proper marathon training from January … if I finally manage to secure a place, that is.

So I’m feeling good and very positive.  Let’s hope that frame of mind carries me through the weeks to come.

 

Day 526 – To Tell Or Not To Tell? 20 July 2009

Well, I survived the first 24 hours and I’m halfway through day 2.  So far, so good.  I’m hoping that it becomes second nature … I ought to know the ins and outs of this diet by now!

The one thing I’m wrestling with is whether to tell people or not.  Last time I opted for absolute openness and received phenomenal support from everyone around me.  That was great.  However, this time I’m tempted to act on a ‘need to know’ basis.  The first reason for this is, frankly, my own ego.  Despite how I rationalise it to myself, there is a sense of failure associated with the fact that I’m doing this again.  Crooked thinking, I know, but there you have it.  Secondly, and more importantly, I’m worried about sabotage (it’s funny to slip back into the vocabulary of Lighter Life!).  When I was at my biggest, it was unarguable that I needed to lose weight.  It’s very different when you’re only a few stone in the wrong direction.  I’m worried that people will say ‘don’t be silly … you lost all the weight … now you’re being stupid and don’t need to lose more’.  I don’t want to do a disservice to my nearest and dearest, but that’s what I’m worried about.  Even worse, there may be those who go one step further into the ‘told you so!’ territory around LL being a bad diet per se.  I don’t want or need that, frankly.

Maybe I’ll test the water with a few people and see how it goes.  If I don’t, I’ll only have to fend off the barrage of ‘are you pregnant?’ questions that will hit me because I’m not drinking!

Secretly or not, I’ve got off to a good start.  I didn’t go through days of detox hell last time, so I’m hoping that this time will be no different.  I’m two litres into my water allowance, armed with minty mouth spray, about to go and buy extra reserves of tabasco … in short, I’m prepared.  Bring it on (again)!

 

Days 503 to 525 – Big Decisions 19 July 2009

After a lot of soul searching, I’m back on Lighter Life.  Today is my first day.

I thought about it for a long time.  I had to get over the feeling that I’d somehow failed which, given how far I’ve come since the beginning of last year, is quite ridiculous.  The conclusion I’ve come to is that I finished too early before.  I got to the top end of my target weight zone and stopped dieting … at the time I’d had enough of abstinence and part of the reason for moving into management was so that I didn’t fall off the wagon completely.  With hindsight, I should’ve stuck at it for a few weeks more to give myself that crucial comfort zone of half a stone or so.  But, as they say, hindsight is a wonderful thing!

On a positive note, I’ve got the benefit of everything I’ve learnt since starting this before.  Importantly, I’ve got a clearer idea about what ‘normal’ means to me and what I want to achieve.  Last time I was simply running in the dark.  I’m hoping that this time around I’ll succeed once and for all … I don’t want to be one of those people who relies on the diet on an ongoing basis.  That’s not a healthy way to be.

So wish me luck!  I need to regain the focus that I had last time and stick at it.  In a weird way, there’s something quite comforting about going back to the routine, but I’m sure I’ll be over that within a day or so.  Here goes nothing!

 

Days 501 to 502 – Tweet, tweet 26 June 2009

Just a quick note to say that I’m experimenting with twitter and am @tisw.  I’m not sure how it will work, but let’s see!  If I can get my non-techy head around it, I’ll put a badge on the page too.

I also submitted my application yesterday to Barnardo’s for a guaranteed place in the London Marathon next year.  I know that competition for these places can be fierce, so I’m keeping everything crossed.  Even though there’s still part of me that thinks I’ve lost my marbles!

 

Days 453 to 500 – Refreshed & Ready To Go 24 June 2009

I’ve been away for weeks … not just away from this blog but away from this country.  I took a long-anticipated once-in-a-lifetime holiday to the US (a road trip from NYC to Miami via Tennessee and New Orleans, which I recommend to anyone!).  And now I’m back and struggling slightly with the return to normality!

Staggeringly, I managed the trip without adding too many unwanted pounds to my waistline.  My weight seems to have settled (finally).  I would estimate that I’m between a stone and a stone and a half heavier than when I finished Lighter Life.  I spent about nine months fluctuating, and that seems to be where I’ve netted out.  I’m heavier than I want to be, but at least it’s stabilised and I can do something about it.

It is incredibly difficult to eat healthily on holiday, especially in a country that prides itself on portion sizes that are daunting to even the hungriest Brit.  We also seemed to be travelling through states where the local specialities were fried, or carb-heavy, or both.  I swear that finding a salad on some restaurant menus in Tennessee was like looking for Father Christmas in July.  Instead we were faced with such exotic delights as biscuits and gravy, grits, buttermilk pancakes, jambalaya, po-boys and fried green tomatoes.  And, of course, this was all washed down with beer … wine is prohibitively expensive (and pretty nasty, too, as people rarely drink it and it turns to sherry in the heat) and shorts are a no-no because the heavily chlorinated ice makes G&T taste like swimming pool water.

So, I tried to be sensible.  I ate light in the evening, drank plenty of water so I didn’t confuse thirst with hunger, and endeavoured to keep active (more on that later) to counteract long, lazy hours in the car.  I think I just about got away with it.  Only just!  I have to say I’m glad to be back home and to have more control over what I cook and eat.  Vegetables and salad are going to feature highly on my menu over the coming weeks!

With good intentions I took my running gear with me.  I ran 2 miles in a hotel gym in New York, and 3 miles around the suburbs of Washington.  I went swimming in Asheville, but was slightly put off by the dead flies in the pool (yum!) and only managed an energetic paddle.  Then we moved further south, and into the heat.  I valiantly tried to run in Memphis, but struggled to manage more than a mile … the humidity was so high that I was chewing the air rather than breathing it.  I did get raced down the street by a man in a street sweeping buggy, mind you!  After that, I had to abandon the running and simply try to jump into any available pools or oceans whenever possible!  I’ve not been for a run since coming home (I’m so jet-lagged I can barely walk, let alone pick up speed) but have good intentions of getting my backside back into training ASAP.

On that note, my lovely trainer has gone on his four month trip that will take him back to Australia.  I really will miss him as we had a great relationship and I achieved things I didn’t think I could achieve.  He’s recommended another trainer and I’m meeting him today … I’m hoping that I manage to click with him because it would be so easy for me to abandon personal training altogether, and that would be dangerous.  I need to shift that surplus stone and get marathon fit!

So … back to the routine for me, and not before time!  During the course of our travels we saw many, many people who were seriously overweight.  Some of those people, sadly, were in their teens and twenties, alongside middle-aged people who travel on scooters because they’re simply unable to walk for any period of time.  Looking at them made me realise how easy it is to be overweight in our society, how difficult it is (mentally, more than anything) to do something about it, but how rewarding a healthier lifestyle can be.  So to all of us, let’s stick with it!

 

Days 418 to 452 – The Race Is On 7 May 2009

I ran my first ever group race last night at the Cancer Research Race For Life in Battersea Park.  It was an amazing experience with a really great atmosphere.  For those of you who don’t know, it’s a sponsored 5K event, for women only and you can run or jog or walk.  A brilliant idea.

More through luck than judgement I ended up three rows from the front when they sounded the horn at the starting line.  Despite being well aware of the need to pace myself, and to resist the temptation to go too fast too soon, I shot off like a rocket and positively flew past the 1K marker.  Well, I was excited, can you blame me?  I was also experiencing something that marathon-running friends have warned me about … if you start at the front then it’s very disconcerting to watch faster people coming from just behind and overtaking you, so you tend to try and keep up with them.  Clearly I’m not a bad runner, but I’m no Paula Radcliffe, so it was slightly foolish to be keeping pace with very svelte, very speedy and clearly very experienced runners.

I learnt my lesson the hard way as I approached 4K.  I couldn’t keep up my crazy pace … I was running at 5.20/km or 8.54/mile as opposed to my usual 6.12/km or 10/mile.  That’s quite a difference!  I slowed down miserably to a brisk walk, and contemplated my rash stupidity.  A swift thump in the back and a ‘come on mate, we’re nearly there!’ from a lovely blonde lady was all the impetus I needed and I dashed for the finish.  I romped home in a very respectable 27 mins and 33 seconds which, for the pace geeks among you, is 5.30/km or 9.01/mile.  Hurrah.

What I ought to tell you is that I couldn’t have managed another metre at that pace.  Seriously.  There’s a fine line between enthusiasm and lunacy and I crossed it 🙂

I came to several conclusions last night.  It strengthened my resolve to take on the big challenge of a marathon, and reminded me of the enormity of the task that lies ahead in order to achieve that.  I’m looking at four months (at least) of pretty hardcore training, which scares and excites me in equal measure.  I’m a long way from 26 miles.  I also resolved never to go running again without my trusty iPod.  Clearly we weren’t going to get cheering marathon crowds along the route last night (especially as we were facing stiff competition from the Chelsea vs. Barcelona match), but I needed something more than sporadic polite applause and the cheery grins of race marshalls to spur me on.  Also, without music in my ears, I became very conscious of my own breathing and the collective grunting and panting going on around me.  All rather unpleasant, frankly!  Most of all, I realised how wonderful it is to cross a finish line, feel a real sense of achievement, and be handed a shiny medal to cap it all off.  I don’t think I’m a glory hunter (you’d have to be unhinged to run 26 miles purely to get some attention) but it was very satisfying and made me feel on top of the world.

I could’ve done without the mile and a half walk home, mind you!

I’ve also, incidentally, entered the ballot for the 2010 London Marathon in case I don’t succeed with New York (I find out in mid-May, whenever they define that to be).  I was thoroughly inspired by watching friends of mine this year, although having seen them limping around on the Monday, maybe I’m not so sure!  Perhaps I should’ve taken up something a little more genteel.  Anyone for croquet?

 

Days 409 to 417 – Bruised But Buoyant 2 April 2009

I now know definitively that I could never have been a spy.  Why?  Well, apart from the fact that I do actually talk about the weather a lot (which is how numerous British spies have been rumbled, apparently), any given enemy could extract information from me simply by giving me a sports massage.

I’m serious.  I had my first (sadly not my only) session with a masseur last night.  For those of you whose knowledge of anatomy is better than mine, I have very tight IT Bands which are causing patella problems.  For the rest of us plebs, my knees are sore because the muscles in my upper legs are knackered.  I’ve been advised to get this sorted out to prevent crippling injury in the future.  That’s fine, but the handful of people who actually know what I’m talking about when I mention this have all had an identical reaction … rolling their eyes, scrunching up their foreheads and saying (slightly gleefully, I might add) ‘oh, that’s really going to hurt because they dig their elbows in and everything‘.

They weren’t lying.  I lay there (with nothing but two hastily consumed Nurofen Plus on my side) and a perfectly nice lady called Kellie began what I can only describe as a sustained physical assault on my person.  I had a proper ‘fight or flight’ reaction … when I’d stopped trying to escape from under her hands I then had to resist the temptation to smack her squarely in the face.  It was excruciating, and I’m no lightweight when it comes to pain.  She gaily told me that she’s reduced burly rugby players to tears and that one female client of hers compared this massage to childbirth.  I’ve had gallstones in the past, which is also often compared to childbirth, and I have to say that this massage left the gallstones standing.  As for childbirth … well I doubt I’ll ever have sex again, just in case.

As I lay there trying to control my involuntary swearing (sorry, Kellie) I felt almost nostalgic for the days when I was a squidgy, idle couch potato whose idea of exercise was a leisurely stroll to the tube station.  But, between the blinding flashes of agony, I also thought about how incredible it feels to be ‘new me’ and how joyous it is to go out running on sunny evenings without feeling like I might die at any moment.

My diet has been nothing short of a shambles.  I’ve concluded that there is a limited amount of information that my brain can contain at any given moment … because I’m so stupidly busy at work I barely know if I’m coming or going and can just about manage to process the chain of thought that says ‘you’re hungry so eat something’ without wondering whether it should be brazil nuts, dry Ryvita or natural yoghurt and whether or not I’m sticking to three-hourly intervals.  The best I can do is make sure I have breakfast (I’ve given up on muesli as it makes me nauseous and now have a very pleasant protein shake instead), avoid carbs in the evening, steer clear of silly foods where possible and lay off the booze during the week.  I’m sure my trainer will have something to say about that, but I have to be reasonable otherwise I simply end up beating myself up.

I’m not quite back up to my previous running levels as I only got the all clear about a week ago.  I’ve done a 2.5 mile and a 3.5 mile run so far and fully intend to get back up to 5 before the end of the weekend.  Otherwise I needn’t have bothered with that delightful massage, need I?

 

Days 381 to 408 – Broken Body, Broken Mind 24 March 2009

This may be the longest gap between posts ever, for which I apologise unreservedly.  I’ve been flat out busy at work and, frankly, the last thing I want to do when I get home after a day like that is log on.  But here I am … eventually.

I buggered up my back two weeks ago, which was a real blow.  I was running home and everything was going really well … I was enjoying it, my pace was good and it was feeling relatively effortless.  Then, about half a mile from home, it went ‘ping’.  It hurt so much that at first I thought my house keys (in the bum bag around my waist) had accidentally jabbed into my back.  Sadly not.  By the time I got home it was crippling.  I had no choice but to go and see a physio.  She told me I had trapped a facet, gave me lots of exercises to do and banned me from running and other high-impact or weight-orientated activities until it was better.

I really hoped I’d be able to run again last week, but she only gave me the all clear this morning.  Trust my luck that it’s been the sunniest week of the year so far and I’ve been trapped inside!  But I’m hoping to get out tonight if I ever escape from my desk …

As always seems to be the way with me, that was another example of ‘one step forward, two steps back’.  I was really getting into the swing of my diet and my training before the back incident.  I had even begun to do circuit training with my trainer … what sort of hell on earth is that?!  It’s true that the sense of achievement after four exhausting circuits is pretty much second to none, but it doesn’t make it any damn easier!

The problem was that the physical setback gave me quite a massive mental setback too.  I slipped into a mindset of ‘I don’t know why I bother’.  That attitude is very much old me vs. new me, and I was alarmed to find myself thinking like that.  It’s taken quite a lot of effort to snap myself out of it, too.  I’m hoping that when I get back into the gym then I’ll rediscover my motivation.

So here’s to sunshine and enthusiasm, and boy are they overdue 🙂

 

Days 373 to 380 – Fitness one, weight nil. 24 February 2009

I’m exercising like a demon.  I’m finding it easier to get out of bed in the morning and am managing to stick to my rather punishing schedule of four cardio sessions a week, which is great.  I don’t find myself thinking ‘oh I can’t be arsed today’, I find myself thinking ‘if I don’t do it today then I’ll just have to do it tomorrow’, which is quite a significant mind shift from my old, lazy self.

And it’s paying off.  I’m conscious that, whatever type of exercise or fitness challenge I set myself, it’s getting easier all the time.  I’m a million miles away from ‘super fit’, but I’m not sure I’d still class myself as ‘unfit’.  That’s what keeps me going on the treadmill in the morning.  Talking of which, I’m trying to mix it up between outdoor running and indoor running.  At the beginning I was super keen to reject the gym in favour of the great outdoors, but there are definite benefits to combining the two.  Not only is it a bit more gentle on my joints (especially as a relative novice) but I can vary my speed and incline at will … it’s all very well being able to plod along a flat pavement, but I need to start tackling those hills.

On the diet front, last week wasn’t so great.  I knew that long, catered meetings would play havoc with my good intentions.  It was partly because the food on offer wasn’t particularly healthy, and partly because I simply lacked the willpower to avoid some of the naughty things available.  I’m not going to make excuses … I buggered up.

But … I’ve picked myself up!  I ate so healthily yesterday that I deserve a halo, frankly, and I intend to do the same all week.  I can’t start throwing in the towel because of one week’s setback.

I also bit the bullet on Sunday and applied for the New York marathon.  I find out in May whether or not I’ve been successful.  So keep your fingers crossed for me … 🙂

 

Days 367 to 372 – Routine, schmoutine 16 February 2009

Well, the last few days have been a case of one step forward and two steps back … this is becoming alarmingly typical for me, it seems.  It turns out that I did actually injure my left leg in the spin class on Monday, and the fact that I went ahead with my run on Wednesday morning really didn’t help.  I’m having to learn the difference between sore muscles and injured ones, and last week I learned the hard way.  I spent the end of the week limping around and giving off a pungent odour of deep heat rub as I tried to get my leg back to normal.  Mission accomplished, however.  It meant I was able to go for a run on Sunday morning around the Common, although I had to limit it to 3.5km as I was pushed for time and nervous about my poor old pins.

Despite the hobbling, I was relatively successful with my training last week.  I managed 45 mins spin on Monday, 45 mins yoga on Tuesday, a 4 mile / 6.5 km treadmill run on Wednesday, weight training with my trainer on Friday and a short run on Sunday.  I was very pleased with that.  Oh, and add an hour mucking about on the Wii Fit on Saturday (yes, that is how we spent a large chunk of Valentine’s day!).  This spurred me on to repeat the same this week but, irritatingly, it looks like life is going to get in the way.  I have to spend two days of this week in all day meetings out of town (proper 8am to 6pm jobs) which is going to make fitting everything in very difficult.  It’s frustrating that my attempts at making a firm routine can get disrupted so easily … that, unfortunately, is one of the ‘perks’ of my job.

The diet went reasonably well too, although it fell apart over the weekend (although I’m theoretically allowed two days off).  The combination of my Mum’s birthday dinner, Valentine’s Day and having guests round on Sunday meant that I consumed considerably more naughty food than I should have done.  So I’m going to have to try and be extra strict this week … and going to catered meetings is going to make that tricky.  Funnily enough it was easier when I was doing lighter life.  I didn’t have to navigate the minefield of whatever food was on offer, I simply had to eat my packs and be done with it.  The excuse of a ‘special diet’ meant that nobody batted an eyelid, whereas turning up with your own food in a bag could be construed as weird and/or rude.  Maybe I just need to bite the bullet and do that.

I’m still struggling to eat as soon as I get up.  Even though I’m only eating a tiny bowl of muesli, I literally find myself forcing it into my mouth.  It’s amazing how you can get really turned off a food that you previously didn’t really care about either way 🙂

I’m going back to the spin class tonight.  I’m not sure if we’ll have the same instructor, but I’m hoping it’s someone else.  When I discussed the class with my trainer, there was a lot of head shaking and eye rolling.  Apparently, cycling with one leg at a time, cycling with zero resistance on the bike or doing squats while pedalling are absolute no-nos, and we were told to do the first two.  I know that people’s opinions on what is or isn’t good training will differ, but it makes me a bit nervous to think that the instructor might not know exactly what they’re supposed to be doing.  I’ll see what happens tonight and then make a decision about the class.

And then I have to go home and eat a healthy dinner of smoked fish and no carbs while the Boy merrily tucks into the roast leftovers from the weekend.  Boo!

 

Day 366 – High Speeds And Good Vibes 10 February 2009

Well, I survived last night’s class.  I arrived early and opted for a bike in the back row … mainly because I couldn’t bear the thought of anyone being given a close-up view of my lycra-clad backside as I struggled and sweated away.  I then spent ten minutes trying to adjust the damn thing so that my knees weren’t hitting me in the chin with every pedal and my hands could actually reach the handlebars.  My trainer has been banging on about the importance of getting your bike in the right position … sadly he’s never got as far as showing me exactly what that position is (a big thank-you to the patient woman next to me for helping out).  Having got comfortable (well, as comfortable as it’s possible to be on a concrete saddle that’s the width of a ruler) I was ready to go.  Unfortunately, the world’s tallest man had opted for the bike directly between me and the class trainer, so I couldn’t see her at all.  I decided I’d be fine if I just concentrated on what she was saying.  Now I’m sure she did a splendid job of instructing us, but if you can imagine trying to listen to a diminutive woman with a heavy Eastern European accent yelling over the top of ear-splitting dance music then you’ll get some idea of what the experience was like.

But I got into it.  I managed to deciper ‘sprint!’, ‘rest!’ and ‘turn it up 10!’ from whatever else she said, which was helpful.  (By the way, if anyone can explain to me how an unmarked resistance dial is turned up or down in units of ten, I’d be very grateful).  I didn’t have a heart attack, I didn’t have to stop pedalling, and I didn’t embarrass myself … although my left foot developed a life of its own and fell out of the pedal clasp twice, which was alarmingly painful as my leg crashed down towards the floor.  Oh happy days.

Feeling extremely virtuous I went home and cooked a carb-free stew of lean beef, beetroot, cabbage and courgettes … and bloody good it was too.  That said, I was really quite hungry again by the time I went to bed and can only put that down to the lack of carbs.  I’m hoping that I get used to that in time … even on lighter life I used to have my food bar in the evening.

This morning I was up at some ridiculous hour and forcing myself to eat muesli.  That’s another thing I need to get used to as I don’t normally have breakfast for a good two hours after getting up.  Immediate eating is a must, apparently, if I’m to make friends with my ever-sluggish metabolism.  I then took myself off to a yoga class on the way to work.  Now, without offending anyone, I have a natural antipathy towards yoga.  It’s all a bit worthy for me (and I have vivid memories of having to leave a class early in hysterics many years ago thanks to a particularly flatulent member of the class).

But this morning was great!  I really enjoyed myself, despite being hopeless at most of the exercises.  It became abundantly clear to me exactly why I need to do this.  My stability and balance is so poor that I can’t even balance on my left leg … how pathetic is that?  Now I know why my trainer rolls his eyes and mutters about yoga when I lift a weight and topple over.  So I’m going to try and stick with this class.  Apart from anything else, it’s a great way to start the day (believe it or not).

I’m due a 4 mile/6.5 km run tomorrow and I’m actually quite looking forward to it.  My only slight worry is that my poor old left leg might give up on me as my spinning clumsiness means I’m sure I’ve pulled something.  Here’s hoping I’ve not been a victim of my own enthusiasm, eh.

 

Days 354 to 365 – Happy Anniversary! 9 February 2009

What a cheerful little soul I was last time!  Dear me … I must remember not to blog late at night after a glass of wine or two.  I clearly get terribly, er,  philosophical 🙂  Actually, the long and the short of it was that I was doing too much.  I was setting expectations of myself that weren’t achievable, was therefore feeling a sense of failure, and getting royally pissed off with myself as a result.  I’ve acknowledged that now, and I’m trying to be disciplined without being unrealistic.

So it was a year ago tomorrow that I began the process of turning my back on my old self.  In a bizarre twist of coincidence (and I swear I didn’t plan this) today is the day that I’m beginning my new food regime, as recommended by my fabulous (and ever patient) personal trainer.  It’s odd to be in a situation where I’m dieting again, but I’m trying not to see it that way.  I’m trying to see it as the second phase in my development … phase one was from fat to thin(ner) and phase two is from unfit to fit.  If I’m going to place hefty physical demands on myself, then I need to feed my body the right things.

My new regime is based on eating little and often (6 small meals a day) and getting my carb intake early in the day rather than late.  All perfectly sensible.  So my food intake today looks something like this, all washed down with about two and a half litres of water:

7am (much, much earlier than normal!): a small bowl of muesli and skimmed milk.

9.30am: a handful of brazil nuts and small apple.

12pm (again, very early for lunch): a grilled chicken breast with brown rice and salad.

2.30pm: more nuts.

5pm: half a small tub of low fat cottage cheese on two Ryvitas.

8pm: lean meat with either salad or steamed vegetables (but no carbs allowed).

Exciting, huh?  The more astute among you will have noticed the absence of chocolate, biscuits, cake or booze … more’s the pity.  The intention is that I will eat according to this plan for at least 5 days out of 7 (obviously changing the types of meat etc.).  Frankly, given that I spent half of last year subsisting on soups and shakes, I know that I can do this.  And, as I’ve said before, having a regime really helps me.  I’ve proved over and over again that I have no discipline when left to my own devices.  I’m clearly better than I was, but I’m not ‘fixed’.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

In terms of exercise, I’m back on track.  I know now that the reason I was beginning to ‘fail’ with the running was because I was pushing myself too hard and too fast.  I’m now happily getting into the regime of one short run (4 miles/6.5km) and one longer run (over 5 miles/8km) per week, along with one additional non-running cardio session on my own and one weight-training session with my trainer.  On top of that I’ve been strongly recommended to add yoga and/or pilates … if I don’t run out of hours in the day I’m going to try that too.  I’m trying to enjoy the novelty of this routine so much that it becomes a habit.  We’ll see.

To that end, I’m off to a spin class this evening.  I’m absurdly nervous, to be honest … I’m not good in group exercise situations, and I have a sneaking suspicion that everyone else will be athletically brilliant whereas I’ll make an idiot of myself.  I’m going to get there super early so I can bag a bike at the very back of the class.  Perhaps the one nearest the door … 🙂

 

Days 348 to 353 – Another Year Older 28 January 2009

It’s my birthday today.  Well, strictly speaking, it was my birthday yesterday, given that it’s almost one in the morning.  And I just had a very strange moment in the bathroom (how freaky does that sound?).  I was merrily cleaning my teeth when I looked down at my legs and feet and was struck for the millionth time how different I look.  It was around this time last year that I was bracing myself to begin lighter life in a week or so.  A year ago I was very fat, very unhappy about it, and desperate to change.  I was also very scared about it.  Now, I’ve been through what can only be described as a rollercoaster ride and yet I’m still feeling a bit awkward, a bit unusual, and not 100% certain about myself.

The ‘big diet’ is over.  I’ve come so far since last year that I can’t quite sum it up in words.  However, I’m still struggling.  I’m still not totally comfortable with myself.  I’m still in a situation where I’m setting myself strenuous (unrealistic?) goals in order to feel happy.  Does this ever stop?  Will I ever wake up and feel at peace and at ease with myself?  In all honesty (and I’ve always tried to be honest in this blog) I don’t know.  And that really bugs me!

On the running front, I’ve been told to ease up.  My trainer spoke to a physiotherapist colleague of his, and she told him that I shouldn’t run more frequently than twice a week.  She was worried about the damage that I might do to my joints and bones … fair comment, given that I’ve done pretty much zero exercise over the last thirty-odd years of my life.  However, that feels like a setback for me.  I’ve finally found something that I feel happy doing, and I’ve been told to put the brakes on.  How bloody frustrating!  And to add to the irritation, I know that they’re right.  I ran home last Thursday and had to stop after only three miles because I felt exhausted.  As I said in my last post, I had just begun to feel that I could actually be a successful runner, and yet on the next running outing I just couldn’t complete my target of getting home.  Frustrated and angry I rang the Boy, and his immediate response was to tell me that running three miles was an achievement in itself and I shouldn’t beat myself up.  Of course he was right, but that didn’t alter how I felt at the time.  Grrrrr!

I went for a run this morning.  Just once around the Common.  I was in great spirits (birthdays do that to you) but I was very conscious that some of my impetus was missing.  I need to brace myself again.  I’ve come to learn over the past months that I need to consciously push myself forwards … the problem is that I’m not used to what I would call failure.  It knocks me sideways.  Having hated so many things about myself for so long, and then having overcome that hatred, it’s pretty bloody tough to face up to the fact that you might still be as flawed as you always were.

Am I being hard on myself?  Probably!  These are the kind of negative thoughts that would, in my past life, have made me take refuge in food (I guess).  And that’s not the case.

Despite what this post may suggest, I’m embracing the beginning of my 37th year (not least because it has been hilarious to remind my parents that their first born ‘baby’ is now 36 years old).  I have learnt more about myself in the last twelve months than I care to think about but, at the risk of speaking in cliches, I have to move onwards and upwards.

In terms of my diet, my trainer is going to give me a diet plan on Friday morning.  Half of me is going to resist this vehemently, whereas the other half of me will be quietly relieved to think that (once again) my nutritional discipline is out of my hands.  I’m interested to see what he suggests … I’ll share it with you all and you can judge for yourselves.

Here’s to the imminent end of January … it’s the month that everyone hates, isn’t it?  Well, apart from us Aquarians 🙂  Good luck to all of you who’ve chosen the new year to make significant changes to your weight and your health.  Take it from one who knows … you won’t regret it.