The Incredible Shrinking Woman

Day Seventy Nine – A Matter Of Taste 30 April 2008

I was thinking this morning as I made my shake how much my tastes have changed during this diet.  Obviously we have quite a limited range of foods, but I’ve found that over time I’ve reacted differently to them.  When I first started I adored the Thai chilli soup, as it was spicy and tasty and felt like real food, but by about the third week I couldn’t even open the pack without thinking I was going to throw up.  So since then I’ve been on a combination of mushroom, chicken and vegetable soups, albeit all of them mixed with a healthy dose of tabasco and black pepper (our only permitted foodstuffs) to mask the slightly chalky aftertaste.  The vegetable and mushroom are fine, but my enjoyment of the chicken one comes and goes in waves.  Why?  How?

When it comes to the sweet stuff, it’s been even more peculiar.  I tried a handful of them in the beginning, found out that I loathed the chocolate one (imagine expecting a hot chocolate and getting a dusty, unsatisfying and unsweetened substitute) but found I loved the caramel, vanilla and banana.  Now all of these are teeth-curlingly sweet, and it’s that really sacchariney, fake sweetness … like eating a spoonful of Canderel.  I don’t really have a sweet tooth, but these are delicious, as is the equally overpoweringly sweet raspberry & cranberry bar.  There’s no way I would ever have eaten anything like this at all before I started the diet … in fact, they would’ve made me feel ill.  More surprisingly, the fairly innocuous peanut bar, which I thought would be failsafe, took me about a week to get used to as all I could taste was salt.  Now I don’t even notice that.

Recently my penchant for sweetness has increased.  I no longer like the caramel shake, because it’s not sweet enough, and am back on the chocolate ones but only if mixed with a spoonful of one of the water flavours (fruits of the forest or orange).  To give you an idea of how sweet that is, it’s normally quite palatable if you dissolve one spoonful in a litre of water.  I now like it when there’s a spoonful in one shake, which is about two thirds of a pint.  I even enjoyed a strawberry shake last week on a whim, and for my entire life I’ve actively loathed the taste of strawberry.  Why do I like it now?  How?  What’s happening to my tongue?

The upside of this is that it’s forcing me to seek out more variety in my diet, which goes some of the way to alleviating the monotony of having the same food week in, week out.  The downside is that I’m now a bit nervous about what I’ll want to eat when I’m back in the world of normal food.  Will I have gone from being a savoury girl to the kind of maniac who sees a tub of cookie dough ice cream and rushes for a spoon?  Will all of the foods that I previously loved (and can cook with aplomb) now taste revolting?  And, horror of horrors, will I find that mixing sweet and savoury in food (like dried fruit in a salad, or apples with cheese, or raisins in couscous) is delightful rather than absolutely repulsive?  It’s a scary prospect, I can tell you.

I guess I need to embrace my new journey of food discovery, and be prepared not to take anything for granted.  That’s very strange, because by my grand old age you tend to be reasonably secure about what you know, what you think and what you do.  It’s quite revolutionary to think that I may have changed as much on the inside as on the outside … OK, I know that’s probably not bleedin’ rocket science but it’s slightly daunting nonetheless.


Day Seventy Eight – The Home Straight 29 April 2008

Another weigh-in last night and another 4 lbs gone.  So I’ve passed another marker – 4 stone.  Hooray for me!  I also can’t believe that I’ve been doing this for almost eighty days now.  How does time go so fast?

Our group wasn’t really a group last night … one was away, one was early, one was late and it was just me!  So I picked up my food and had a chat with the counsellor.  She was asking me what I’d learned over the past weeks and it was really interesting to think about that.  So, once again, I left the group feeling really positive and geared up for this week.

I forgot to mention that the Boy bought me a brilliant present.  I’d mentioned that I wanted to drink more sparkling water at home (as I get bored with tap water at the weekend and sometimes struggle to do the requisite 4 litres).  Last week a large package turned up on my desk.  He bought me a sodastream!  Now, I’ve not seen one of those since I was a kid and we had one at home, but it’s brilliant!  So now I have chilled sparkling water on tap at home, and mighty happy it’s made me too.

Who would’ve thought that I could get so excited about water?  I think that might be more than slightly tragic …


Days Seventy Four to Seventy Seven – Boobs, Booze & Babies 28 April 2008

Another Monday, another imminent weigh-in.  I’m excited, as usual, and this week I’m not worried about the loss being a small one.  I have to concentrate on the bigger picture, and with the beginning of May approaching that really means that the end is in sight.  Also, for the first time in years, the advent of warmer weather is making me excited about baring my new frame in public (not completely, you understand …).

I went to good old M&S in the week to find out what my bra size is.  I was delighted to find out that I’ve gone from a 40D to a 36E!  So that means that I’m losing it where I want to without turning myself into an ironing board in the process!  Given that it’s likely to change again I bought four sets of underwear … and, as is becoming a theme with this diet, was delighted at how inexpensive it was.  You really do need bigger wallets for bigger sizes … and to say that being a 36 has opened up my choices is an understatement.  I really had to resist the temptation to go crazy.  I still haven’t quite summoned the courage to throw out my old underwear, though.  Some of it is really nice … but I guess if it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit.  And I have to say that a well-fitting bra has done wonders for my silhouette.  Yippee!

Saturday night brought yet another birthday party and yet another opportunity for everyone else to get happily smashed while I stuck to the water.  Oh well … I should be used to it by now, although I have to say that I’m so far into this now that it’s sorely tempting to break the rules, or at least bend them.  I feel the same way about food, too.  I think it’s because I feel like such a different person and the end is in sight … even though I still have a long way to go I no longer look in the mirror and feel such a sense of disgust that I swear blind I’ll not touch a scrap of food!  I didn’t anticipate that it would get harder to keep to this as time went on … I assumed the first week or so would be the real test.  But I need to stay focused and that’s what I’m going to do.  I was especially spurred on by the fact that two separate people who were standing behind me didn’t actually recognise that it was me … that’s pretty motivating.

My sister came round on Sunday with the baby.  I’ve not seen him for a few weeks.  He’s now ten weeks old and absolutely massive … my arm nearly fell off after holding him for an hour or so.  But he’s gorgeous.  I had a comedy moment with my sister because she’d been in the house for about ten minutes or so when she suddenly stopped mid-sentence, swore loudly and commented that I’d lost ‘shitloads of weight’.  It was hilarious.  She was incredibly positive … I had wondered how she would react given that she’s always been ‘the thin one’, but I needn’t have worried.  Her response was very encouraging.

I also saw my Dad on Sunday.  He admitted that, although they would never have dreamed of saying anything to me, my weight had long been a cause of real concern for both of my parents.  I’m glad he told me that, and even more glad that they didn’t get on my case.  I realised a while ago that I had to get to where I am now under my own steam.  No amount of badgering, interfering or cajoling would’ve made me take the decision to diet.  Well, it might have convinced me to start, but there’s no way it would’ve carried me through.  I would simply have notched up another failure.

So it’s been a busy few days but rewarding ones.  I passed two milestones … on Monday I passed the halfway point in terms of the weight I want to lose, and on Friday I passed the halfway point in terms of the time I want to spend on the diet.  Looks like I’m on track and, frankly, don’t stop me now …


Days Seventy Two to Seventy Three – Working It Out 24 April 2008

I’ve been off work for a couple of days because I was feeling under the weather, so I spent Tuesday and Wednesday in my kitchen in front of my laptop.  It’s amazing how much I get done when I’m not in the office … no distractions, no noise, no temptation to wander off and do something else. 

What this did mean was that I had a lot of time to think.  I realised that normally I would’ve filled a lot of that time with food … I’ve commented before on how much people snack when they’re bored or idle, and I’m no exception.  One of the key things about this diet is that I’ve finally realised that I do have certain problems with food.  No shit, Sherlock, I hear people cry!  Well, it’s not as obvious as all that.  Even when I stepped on the dreaded scales for the first time at my lighter life introduction meeting and saw the horrible truth, I was still telling myself that I wasn’t an overeater, that my weight was probably down to over-indulgence (mainly in booze!) over many years and an abject lack of any serious exercise.

Now I’ve come to understand that what I thought was a slightly laissez faire attitude was actually a reflection of my utter lack of discipline around food.  I would snack at will, would never actively turn down enticing food that was on offer and would indulge myself in unhealthy, calorie-laden food without a care in the world.  I’ve well and truly realised what my weaknesses are … I don’t have an overly sweet tooth but instead love things like chips, bread, dairy and crisps.  (Now … what is the point of crisps, really?  I was thinking that this morning.  They have no nutritional value and are so incredibly bad for you, and yet I would happily eat them on a daily basis.  I never intend to do that again.  Crisps will be restricted to the occasional tortilla if I’m at a party, and that’s a promise to myself I won’t break.)

This reliance on stodgy, carb-laden foods is quite typical of overeaters, I think.  It’s classic comfort food, isn’t it?  Just the kind of thing that gives you the illusion of feeling good while you’re eating it … and then makes you feel bad when it goes straight to your hips.  I’m going to have to be very careful about not slipping back into that way of eating when I finish this, or all my efforts will have been in vain.  I know that I’m probably cured of my chips addiction, but I know that bread will be a real struggle.  I love the stuff, even though it does actually make me feel heavy and bloated.  Perhaps I’ll spend some time before the end of the diet trying to find recipes for healthier, lighter (gluten free?) bread.  But processed white bread from the supermarket will be a definite no-no.  It’s crap, let’s face it!

People keep asking me what my first meal will be.  Even though I’ve got over 10 weeks to go, I’ve been thinking about it too (well, it’s only natural!).  I know that the eating plan in the management phase is very strict (and rightly so … imagine what a big plate of sausage and mash would do to my insides after 21 weeks of abstinence … ugh) but all I can say is that there’s a plate of sashimi out there with my name on it.  And, despite the rules about re-introducing alcohol, it will most definitely be washed down with a glass of my beloved red wine.  Now that’s going to be a meal worth waiting for 🙂


Day Seventy One – Getting A Grip 22 April 2008

Well clearly I was on a bit of a downer yesterday.  But I needn’t have worried.  I lost another 6 lbs, which more than makes up for last week.  Having done a bit of re-calculation (we’re weighed in kg, which is actually easier) my total loss in 10 weeks is now exactly 25kg/55lbs/3 stone 13 lbs.  That puts me on the home strait as I’m slightly over halfway to my target.  Hooray!  And with 11 weeks to go (4 in foundation then 7 in development) before the management phase when I re-introduce food, I’m definitely on track.  I can’t tell you how good that feels … I’m practically jumping for joy!  And without risking cracking the kitchen tiles when I do so, too … 🙂

We had a really positive group meeting last night, despite slightly diminished numbers.  We only have three more meetings to go as a foundation group, which is fantastic but a bit sad at the same time.  Obviously you get very close to the women in your group and, though some of us will go into the development stage together, it’s not going to be quite the same.  I think we should all be very proud of ourselves, mind you.  We’ve come a long way and everyone is looking amazing.  Not only that, but we’ve discussed and worked through so many of the issues that have held us back for many years which, frankly, is arguably more important than the actual weight loss itself.  Hooray for us!

I had another friend over for dinner last night (to help us plough through the leftovers from Sunday!) and she was incredibly supportive.  I really have realised throughout this process what nice friends I have.  I’ve been lucky enough not to have experienced any of the negative responses that so many people do.  Without exception, people have applauded what I’m doing and spurred me on.  It would’ve been impossible if that weren’t the case.

She suggested that when this is over I treat myself to a Thai detox.  Twice in the last few years she has spent 10 days in a retreat in Koh Samui doing this.  It sounds terribly extravagant, but apparently it’s actually very cheap and very beneficial.  You basically eat fruit and veg only for a couple of days, then go into 8 days of fasting, i.e. drinking only detoxifying drinks.  It also entails DIY colonic irrigation twice a day for the duration.  Hmmm … I’m not sure I’m drop dead keen on that, especially after her rather lurid descriptions of what came out when she did it (er, everyone had finished eating by that point, thankfully).  Maybe I’ll think about it, but the thought of abstaining from food again in the foreseeable future isn’t particularly appealing right now!

So … I’m embarking on my eleventh week in a very positive frame of mind.  Downhill all the way from now on …


Days Sixty Eight to Seventy – The Fear

Now this is going to sound stupid, but I’m quite nervous about the group tonight.  It’s not that I’ve cheated, or given up … it’s just that I don’t think I could bear it if I’d only lost 2 lbs like I did last week.  I know that might seem like an over-reaction, but it’s not exactly heartening to go through all of this without the light at the end of the tunnel which is the weekly weigh-in.  I’m also not feeling too well, which isn’t putting me in the most optimistic frame of mind, it must be said.

But let’s be positive!  I had a great weekend.  On Saturday I went to see my Mum and she kept telling me how impressed she is with my progress and how different I look.  Considering she probably knows me better than anyone on the planet, that was very encouraging.  Then in the evening we went to a friend’s birthday party in a bar in Soho.  Absolutely everyone commented on the weight loss.  As one (male) friend put it, ‘this is so weird … it’s your voice I’m hearing but it’s not your face I’m looking at’.  A slightly odd compliment, but a good one.  I did struggle a little when everyone else was on the champagne and cocktails, but after ten weeks I’m well and truly used to the mineral water.  Actually I had to resort to soda water, but even that was fine by me.  The only disappointment was that I hit that point again where everyone else was so drunk that I couldn’t communicate with them and had to leave earlier than usual.

On Sunday I had lots of people over for lunch and cooked again.  I made, among other things, my first ever cheesecake (lemon and mint with a ginger biscuit base, if you’re interested … all my own recipe!) and of course didn’t even taste it.  I didn’t so much as lick my fingers.  Now that’s restraint.  As for everyone else, I think they found the whole thing harder than I did, to be honest … it must be weird to have someone cook for you and not eat anything.  Not that it stopped them from getting stuck in!  My only weak moment was well after lunch was finished, strangely enough.  I’d left the veg on the side to cool down and, of course, everyone was snaffling cold roast potatoes as they wandered in and out of the kitchen.  I suddenly really craved one … how come they didn’t interest me when they were hot, but when they were sitting there, cold and slightly greasy in a bowl, they suddenly became very attractive?  I have no idea.

I really want the weather to get better so I can do more walking.  I’ve got a bit of momentum going and it will be a shame if the rain gets in the way.  Given that I’m very low on clothing at the moment, I don’t really want to buy a weatherproof jacket to walk in if it’s not going to fit me in a few weeks.  The clothing issue is a bit of a nightmare, as it goes.  I simply can’t justify re-stocking my wardrobe until this is over, so in the meantime I’m having to be really strict on washing and drying the few clothes that I have.  And I know … it’s a nice problem to have, really.

Well … two hours until the group.  I’m keeping everything crossed.  If I’ve not shifted a decent amount this week, there will most definitely be tears.


Days Sixty Five to Sixty Seven – Being Firm 18 April 2008

Hooray … another Friday!  My tenth Friday on this diet, no less.  And, all told, it’s been a pretty good week.

Dinner with the Boy’s family was fun.  They were very complimentary about my weight loss and my willpower.  His Mum said she thought I had real strength of character, which was nice.  I needed all of that strength, too, as the steak that his Dad was eating looked particularly appetising.  I’m lucky in that I’m not desperately craving food, but these days when I see it I do think ‘oooh, that looks tasty, I’d like a bit of that’.  I guess that’s normal.  Abstaining from what everyone else eats on a daily basis is quite a drastic thing to do, after all.

I also did invest in the MBT walking shoes.  I broke them in on Tuesday night which meant I only managed to walk home as far as Vauxhall before my heels threatened to blister, but it was worth it.  They put a weird kind of spring in your step and you do become more conscious of the way that you walk.  They didn’t make my calves ache, as I’d been warned they might, but they have made a significant difference to my bum!  Without giving you too much information, it feels more solid.  Mmm … nice mental image for you there.

Their firming effect is a bloody good thing.  One of my main concerns about this diet was (and still is) the effect that it might have on my skin.  Clearly, fast and drastic weight loss has implications for how you will look afterwards … at worst, you’ll look like a deflated balloon.  I’ve been doing everything I can to avoid that and have been slathering myself in all manner of lotions and potions, as well as doing specific exercises to tighten up the squidgier parts of me.  I was recommended to try Bio Oil so I’ve been covering myself in that when I get out of the shower in the morning.  To be honest, it’s absurdly expensive and I’m not sure that it has any firming effect per se, but the daily massage can’t be a bad thing and my skin is lovely and soft.  No more scratchy elbows for me!  In the evenings I’ve been moisturising again before bed, which is a bit of a faff but could make all the difference.  A decent covering of Cocoa Butter Firming Lotion is good, although you do go to bed smelling like a gigantic chocolate and it plays hell with the sheets, even if you do wait ages for it to soak in.  I’ve also been using a variety of Dr Hauschka oils (Rosemary and Blackthorn, to be precise) and Neal’s Yard Rosehip oil which is supposed to be good for evening your skin tone and improving the appearance of any dreaded stretch marks.  I used to consider myself quite a low-maintenance kind of a chick, but now my bedroom is overflowing with all manner of strange unguents.  Fingers crossed that at least some of the effort pays off … I have to be poolside in August (gulp) and the saggy turkey look is not a good one.

I was in Amsterdam again yesterday and managed the regime adjustment with no problems at all.  I’m getting so used to this now that things like that are quite easy.  Although there were some very nice looking tomato, basil and mozzarella sandwiches on the go at lunchtime!  But not for me and my trusty food bar.  On the way home I caught up with a friend and ex-client that I’ve not seen for a few weeks and her response to the change in me made it all worth it.  She’s a very driven and motivated person, and I’m still brimming over with my new-found enthusiasm for life in general, so we sat in a cafe in South Kensington and were sickeningly positive all evening.  I apologise retrospectively to anyone sitting within earshot if our enthusiasm put you off your dinner.

And now it’s almost the weekend.  I’ve got a full house for lunch on Sunday and can’t wait to cook.  I was thinking optimistically about a barbecue but, frankly, I think we’d be risking hypothermia.  So maybe it will be the last roast of the season instead.  Washed down with my beloved red wine … oh, I do miss it so!