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.