The Incredible Shrinking Woman

Days Forty Six to Forty Eight – Hurdles and Happiness 30 March 2008

Phew … what a week last week turned out to be!  For reasons that are far too boring to go into, I had lots of disasters at work at the end of last week which made it very stressful indeed.  Now, my job means that I’m used to dealing with problems (I work for a London advertising agency) but flak seemed to be coming at me in waves.  Nothing was my fault, but all of it was my problem!  But I gritted my teeth and dealt with it.  I’m certain that my relentlessly positive frame of mind made it all much easier to manage.  This diet has really helped me to sharpen my perspective when it comes to things like that.  I feel much more focused, much more directed and more able to distinguish wood from trees these days.  That said, I was still bloody delighted when I finally shut the office door behind me on Friday evening.  I even treated myself to a cab home with impunity.

We went to see the Masque of the Red Death on Friday night, and I highly recommend it.  Indulging in a bit of culture at the end of the week is far more pleasant than standing in a pub watching everyone else get battered, I promise you.  I even walked (25 minutes!) to the theatre rather than getting the bus.  Walking really is the way forward.  Stick your ipod in and off you go … it’s very energising and you can almost feel the calories melting away with every step.  My plan is to attempt walking home from work a few evenings a week (I’ve still been unable to contemplate the hateful gym) if it stops raining for five minutes.  It’s a good hour to hour and a half’s walk, but most of it will be along the Thames which will be gorgeous.  So I’m resolved to give that a go next week … and one of my friends said she’d like to walk with me too.  I’m actually looking forward to it.

I also found a really good lighter life community forum (there’s a link to it in my blogroll) and have been talking to other women who are doing this diet too.  It’s a welcome relief to feel some solidarity with these people and share in their positivity.  There are so many anti-lighter life sites on the web but, without being terribly critical, the stories of failure and colossal weight gain all seem to come from people who have kind of dipped in and out of this diet, left it early or not completed the management phase when food is re-introduced.  Surely that’s the most important bit?  I’m going to steer clear of those sites … everyone is entitled to their point of view but I can’t let myself get sabotaged by a fear that this isn’t going to work.  I’m going to make it bloody work if it kills me.  Well, not literally … 

I went shopping yesterday, which made me grin from ear to ear.  I’m officially two sizes smaller on my bottom half, and a size smaller on my top (I have big ribs and fairly substantial boobs so no surprise there!) and trying clothes on was bliss.  Of course, I’m still much bigger than everyone else, but to me the difference is significant.  I even went into a couple of shops that I’ve not been in for years and didn’t have that nagging feeling that I didn’t belong there.  I did try to run before I could walk, though, and made two ‘adventurous’ skirt purchases (skirts?!) that, with hindsight, were a mistake.  They’re very pretty and would make a size 10 woman look very feminine.  On me, in the cold light of my bedroom mirror, they look like someone has wrapped a doily around a haggis.  So they’re going back in the week …

I also bought four pairs (er, they were quite cheap) of stupidly girly shoes.  I live and die in trainers, which isn’t great as they just make my legs look shorter and chubbier than they really are.  A bit of height definitely visually strips you of a pound or two and puts a confidence in your step … so from now on I’m going to dress like a woman and not a teenage skateboarder!  Although I wore a pair last night and they kept slipping off, so I was hobbling a little, but the effect was there nonetheless.  Might invest in some insoles with the spare change from returning those skirts!

Two events last night … an engagement party and drinks with another friend.  I’ve learnt that you can successfully disguise sparkling water as a gin & tonic with the simple aid of a tall glass and a straw, so I didn’t have to answer any tedious questions about not drinking.  Nobody actually commented on the weight loss (I need those compliments, dammit!) but my friend Tom kept looking at me weirdly and saying that I looked very different and very healthy.  Probably because my face is no longer smothered in a spare layer of lard.  That’ll do for me!

So now it’s Sunday, and I’ve skipped a boozy lunch in the pub (the Boy is delighted that he can go and have boys-y afternoons with my blessing) to get on with indulging my cleaning fetish.  The kitchen drawers are going to get the treatment this afternoon!  Unless the call of the TV gets too strong, that is.  Well, nobody’s perfect.


Days Forty Two to Forty Five – Astonishing Results 27 March 2008

Back home, back at my desk and back to earth with a bump.  Holidays are never long enough, frankly.

I went to meet my Lighter Life counsellor last night as I’m going to miss Monday’s session.  I was staggered to find out that I’d lost another 9lbs while in France.  So all that mountain walking has paid off!  That brings my total to 2st 10lbs (17 kilos) in just over 6 weeks.  Utterly unbelievable.  The difference is actually staggering … I keep catching sight of myself and can’t believe the difference.  I even have a semblance of a waist for the first time in god knows how long.  Roll on the end of July (my intended finish date).

One thing I did experience in France was being bloody cold.  We’ve been warned about this, but it’s a weird kind of cold.  Once it’s hit you, it takes a good half an hour to warm up again, and it’s mighty unpleasant.  Bear in mind that I’ve never really felt the cold in my life, even as a kid, so I was completely unprepared for the feeling of utter numbness.  Even my fingernails took on a bluish tone, which was entertaining but none too pleasant.  All told, I think I chose a good time of year to do this diet (Christmas out of the way, summer approaching etc.) but I could’ve lived without freezing half to death!  But, realistically, that’s been the only negative in all this time so I can live with that.

It looks like I’ve gone down another size (that’s two in total since I started) because my jeans are sliding comically around my hips.  I was prepared for buying new clothes, but hadn’t realised just how quickly clothes become too big for you, and how ridiculous you look in something that’s even a size too large.  Every time I wear something I’m conscious that it might be for the last time.  But, as a friend put it, am I really going to stop losing weight just so I can carry on wearing a top that I quite like?  Er … I don’t think so.

That same friend and I had a long discussion about weight loss yesterday.  She recently lost around 3 stone and the difference it has made to her is significant.  Although she admires my positivity, she says there’s a tendency for fat people to think that everything in their lives will be wonderful when they’ve lost the weight (you know, ‘oh I would do that if I were thin’, or ‘if I could just shift a stone or two then it wouldn’t be a problem’, that kind of thing).  I know that I’ve been almost nauseatingly positive, even evangelistic, since starting this diet, but I’m wary of seeing it as a one-stop fix for any problems in my life, present or future.  On the other hand, the light at the end of this particular tunnel is a very bright one indeed and I don’t want to deny myself the pleasure of day-dreaming about how significantly improved my life will be.  Of course I’m not naive (or shallow) enough to think that a slim physique equals an idyllic life, but I’ve only recently realised how punishingly negative an experience it can be to be overweight.  And by that I mean significantly overweight, like I was (cheeky use of the past tense there!).

For example, every morning I didn’t think ‘what shall I wear?’, I thought ‘what can I wear that looks the least awful?’ or ‘what can I wear that doesn’t make me look like a weather balloon?’.  When I went shopping, I resigned myself to a very limited selection of poorly made, over-priced, frumpy clothes (which, no matter how you dress them up in the shop, all seem to be designed for dowdy 40-somethings with the style consciousness of bullfrogs) and would buy things because they fitted (badly, usually), or covered a particularly squidgy part of me.  There’s no joy in that.  Also, although I consider myself to be a highly confident person, my self esteem was actually at ground level.  I didn’t realise just how much I would criticise myself, constantly and insistently.  Whenever I met new people I automatically assumed that their first reaction would be ‘bloody hell, she’s huge’, or, if I was lucky, ‘she’s got quite a pretty face so it’s a shame she’s so fat’.  There’s also that terrible equation that says fat = stupid = lazy = someone not intelligent enough to make the right decisions about their lifestyle … and nobody wants to be perceived that way.

Isn’t that a terribly miserable and self-defeating way to live your life?  Nagged by self-doubt and self-loathing … and, worse still, being so accustomed to it that it’s completely unconscious and automatic?  Well, those days are over.  You can bash on all you like about ketosis euphoria, but the absolute truth is that in a few short weeks I’ve banished all of that negative thinking and am resolutely positive about a happier (though not perfect) future.  So there!

Right … I’ll climb down from my soap box now …


Days Forty to Forty One – Living On Fresh Air 23 March 2008

I think I can just about continue my non-food diary without feeling a bit sick.  Since last writing, I’ve managed not to consume:

Cold meat with bubble and squeak; more croissants; a plate of seafood with French bread; three beers; samples of cured pork in a street market; bloody marys; artichokes with lemon and butter sauce; roast pork (in cider and cinammon, cooked by yours truly and one of my favourites) with mashed potato and vegetables; gallons of red wine and the first glimpses of Easter chocolate.  There’s also home-made carrot cake for everyone else later today too … another favourite!

I served up dinner last night having spent hours in the kitchen (I’m lucky in that preparing food is easy for me) and my Dad promised me he’d buy me a bottle of Cristal when this is all over.  Mmm … incentive number 146 to keep going.

So … all good … and I’m proving that it is possible to survive a holiday on this diet.  Obviously it’s not ideal, but it’s not been the hardship that I thought it might’ve been.  I keep thinking that next time I’m on holiday I’ll be able to enjoy all of these things with a clear conscience and a smaller waist, and that works for me.

Right … off for more coffee …


Days Thirty Seven to Thirty Nine – Bonnes Vacances 21 March 2008

Bonjour!  Je suis en France … et je ne mange rien 🙂

I survived a nine hour train journey with a cranberry bar, gallons of coffee and the beautiful view of the countryside to tide me over, ignoring the copious amounts of biscuits and god knows what else that my fellow passengers were consuming.  I decided then to keep an anti-food diary, based on the gastronomic delights (should that be calorific delights?) that I would’ve eaten during this holiday.  Therefore, since arriving in Amelie-les-Bains, I have not eaten (or drunk):

Rare steak and chips (probably with a fried egg on top because my Dad had one and it looked nice); a croissant with jam; my share of a platter of fresh oysters, prawns and whelks; three glasses of Muscat; an assortment of charcuterie with fresh bread and gherkins; roast lamb with roast potatoes and vegetables; some fine French cheeses; a selection of cakes from the local patisserie; another croissant with cheese; pate and cold meat with a chunk of baguette; some fresh local goats’ cheese; approximately three beers and probably two bottles of wine.

And I’ve only been here for two days!

On the plus side, I’ve sampled lots of delicious French coffee (when did ‘une grande cafe’ become ‘une cafe longue’?  Bloody Starbucks, probably), drunk Perrier until it comes out of my ears and learnt how to ask for different types of herbal tea in French.  Whoop whoop!  We’ve also been going on fantastic long walks in the mountains and getting lots of fresh air … the kind of walks that would’ve had me puffing and panting only a couple of months ago.  So it’s all bloody worth it … and the cheese and muscat can go hang!  Er … until I come back here after the diet and feed my face like a woman possessed …

The great thing is that, because of the bank holiday, my next weigh-in will mark the end of 7 weeks … halfway through the first 100 days.  Clearly, unless I lose a limb, I’m not going to reach my target weight by the end of that time, but it’s a significant milestone.  Given that I intend to be diet-free by the time I go on holiday in August, I’ve calculated that, from now, I have just over 18 weeks to go.  I’m going to stop then, come hell or high water.  So I’m almost a quarter of the total way through.  It seems achievable when you think of it like that.

Anyway … back to the eau minerale …


Day Thirty Six – Banoffee Pie Nightmares 18 March 2008

So this is the beginning of week 6!  Time really does fly.  I went to the group last night and I’ve shifted another 3 lbs, bringing the total to 2 stone 1lb (around 13 kilos) so far.  And what a difference it has made … although I was a little disappointed not to lose the crucial 4 lbs, I have to look at this overall and remember that 1 lb isn’t much in the grand scheme of things.  I’m still on track for the summer.

I had a great weekend.  I went to a party on Saturday night that was largely populated with glamorous and cool people that I barely know (I seem to be doing a lot of this, socialising with strangers).  Normally I would’ve felt awkward … it’s hard to describe the disorientating feeling of being bigger than other people, of taking up too much space, in a very Gulliver-esque kind of way … but I didn’t.  Of course I wasn’t in the same league as the skinny-jeans-and-corsets (seriously!) brigade, but I felt completely comfortable.  I even wore a top that I’d dug out of my wardrobe where it had been suffering from years of non-use, and it looked great.  I also made it to gone 1am before throwing in the towel when everyone around me was so drunk or wired that they’d stopped making sense – you can only hear the same stories three times in descending degrees of coherence before you have to call it a night!

Sunday meant lunch round at one of my oldest friend’s houses.  As I got out of the car, she was outside the house.  She told me that her first reaction was that her neighbours must also be having guests because she didn’t recognise me.  That’s the kind of comment I need! 🙂  So once again I sat through communal dining with a soup for company.  All was going swimmingly until one of the other guests produced a home made banoffee pie.  Now, I don’t have a sweet tooth, but by god I have a weakness for banoffee pie.  And, to make matters worse, he’d made the base with ginger biscuits.  I love ginger biscuits almost as much as life itself.  I could’ve cried.  It took a bucket of willpower not to have ‘just one little bit’, but I resisted.  I kept envisaging myself lying on a sun lounger in August … that did the trick!  It doesn’t alter the fact that I can still picture the pie now …

I’m off on holiday tomorrow and braced for an abstinent week.  Frankly I would’ve struggled with this a few weeks ago, but there’s a momentum behind me that is willing me to stick at this.  My feeling now is very much ‘I’ve started so I’ll finish’ … not least because I can’t contemplate the sheer horror of going through all of this again.  It doesn’t bear thinking about.  And the good thing is that my next session in a fortnight means that I’m at the 7 week marker, halfway through the initially unfathomable 100 days.

As part of my packing for the holiday I cleared out my wardrobe last night.  I literally threw out half of my clothes … the ones that are now too big, the ones I’ve always hated but kept ‘because they look OK’ and the ones I hope to be too small for by the time the weather is better.  I now have two hip-high piles of clothes in the spare room awaiting a trip to the charity shop.  I can’t tell you how good that feels.  Roll on my first trip to Top Shop!


Day Thirty Two – Knackered 14 March 2008

Pooped, shattered, knackered, exhausted … that’s me.  I think it’s partly the cold and partly the low calories, but I’m much more tired than usual.  I’m sleeping the sleep of the dead (which is a good thing) which means I’m really groggy and heavy in the morning.  It’s weird how a couple of weeks ago I was leaping out of bed like a jack-in-the-box and now I’m like a golem.  I hope it evens itself out.

The bad side effect of this is that I’m ratty.  The Boy is getting the brunt of my short temper … I just don’t seem to have any patience.  So I have to make a conscious effort to be more rational and tolerant, or I may well end up thin, friendless and single.  That’s not the plan.

Luckily we’re on holiday over Easter.  I think a bit of chilling out in the French countryside will do my mood and my energy levels the power of good, so I’m really looking forward to that.  Although it’s going to really test my dieting willpower!  We’re going to a small town where the main activity involves sitting in the town square, drinking fine Muscat and eating fresh food from the local market.  Not to mention their propensity for long, drawn-out lunches and lazy afternoons.  So we’ll have to strike a compromise between that and being outdoors-y types going for long walks in the mountains … sadly without a rewarding glass of red wine for me at the end.

I can’t believe I’m facing my fifth consecutive sober Friday night … how time flies, eh?


Days Twenty Nine to Thirty One – The Boredom Effect 13 March 2008

I’ve noticed just how much people stuff their faces when they’re bored.  I sat in an all day meeting on Tuesday and watched an array of people chomping steadily on croissants and pastries, a hefty lunch, cheese and fruit, cookies and more chocolate bars than are stocked in your average newsagent.  I don’t think there was a single minute in that whole day when at least one person wasn’t wiping some crumb or another from their lips.  I thought I’d feel envious, but I just felt amused.  I know that the theory of meetings is that you need energy (i.e. sugar!) in order to keep people alert, but it’s bollocks.  People crave the excuse to amble over to the food table and ponder the merits of a Twix vs. a Galaxy Caramel purely for a way to pass the time.  I’m not saying I’m any different … in fact I was a bit alarmed to think that normally I would’ve left the room having digested a sizeable amount of worthless sugary calories myself, given half the chance.  As it was, a soup and a nut bar more than sufficed, washed down with what felt like gallons of peppermint tea.

I went to a gig last night (the fantastic Jesus and Mary Chain at the Roundhouse, in fact) with some people that I’ve not seen for a very long time.  The fact that I wasn’t drinking raised an eyebrow or two, and one friend actually took a photo of me drinking mineral water as it’s such a hilarious rarity, but nobody else really commented.  I was thankful for that, as I didn’t want to get into the whole diet issue with everyone.  I guess that it’s not as unusual for people to spurn the booze these days and, at worst, they may just have thought that I’m actually a recovering alcoholic and were too polite to pass comment!  Hmmm … what’s more socially unacceptable?  Being overweight or being an alcoholic?

Other than that everything is still going well.  My new replacement jeans are not just slightly roomy, they’re too damn big.  I’m in that awkward phase between sizes, and resolved to the fact that I’ll look fairly badly dressed over the next few months, but that’s a tiny sacrifice.  As a friend put it, I’ll become well acquainted with H&M.  Well, H&M is considerably better than ‘those loathsome fat girl clothes’, as I heard them amusingly described by a dieter on TV the other day.

I even managed to stay up to 1am last night which is something of a novelty in these low calorie times …