The Incredible Shrinking Woman

Day 109 – Brain Like A Sieve 30 May 2008

Well, after over 16 weeks on this diet, it finally happened.  I came to work without any packs!  I have to say, given that I can be a bit ditzy at the best of times, I’m bloody surprised that I’ve not done it before.  My excuse is that I had to chivvy the Boy off to Chicago this morning, so I was busy finding phone chargers and packing toothbrushes and that kind of thing.  Thankfully I had my breakfast shake, so I’m not fainting from starvation, but I am getting extremely peckish!  I’m staving it off with water and coffee and my lovely boss has said that I can go home whenever I want and work from there.

So why am I still at my desk, I hear you cry?  The absolute truth is that I’m waiting for my very first delivery from  As I’m still living in two pairs of jeans (one on, one in the wash) I decided it was safe to get another pair as I don’t think I’m going to shrink sufficiently in the coming weeks for them to be wasted.  And given my new-found taste for fashion, I’ve purchased some ‘boyfriend’ jeans (for a very reasonable £28).  They’re going to be quite baggy and loose fitting … exactly the kind of thing that would’ve made my legs look large enough to tempt passing lumberjacks in the past.  But now I’m going to give them a go … like my adventurous maxi dress purchase a few weeks ago, there’s a high possibility that they’ll go straight back, but you have to try these things!

Tonight I’m off to the official opening of my friend’s Soho bar, which means more avoidance of cocktails.  I’ve been a bit of a coward on Friday nights since this began, to be honest, and skulked off home claiming diet fatigue and the like.  But I’m not going to miss tonight for the world … you can’t let your friends down simply because you’ve got to steer clear of the booze, can you?  The mantra ‘you can have one in a few weeks’ will be going round and round inside my head when the Manhattans start flowing … I’m still a little bit disconcerted that I’ve actually found avoiding alcohol harder than avoiding food.  I guess it’s the social nature of drinking that’s the problem, and the effect that it has on people around you.  I mean, you can happily converse and socialise with people irrespective of how much food they’ve consumed, but once they’ve fallen off their cliffs into drunken oblivion it’s like trying to engage with Martians.  But tonight promises to be fun despite my enforced sobriety, and I can guarantee I’ll be the only one without a whopping hangover in the morning.

Given that the Boy is now away for ten days, I’m free as a bird all weekend (and secretly looking forward to it).  The tomboy in me is going to decorate my kitchen with a bit of help from my Mum, and then the girl in me is going to indulge in the backlog of Next Top Models and Project Runways that are clogging up my Sky+.  I might even sneak off to the cinema to see the new Sex & The City film, all by myself, although I have a phenomenal weakness for popcorn so I may well have to wear a peg on my nose.  Now that would be stylish.

Oh la .. the jeans are here … right, I’m off home to try them on.  I mean, I’m off home to get my foodpacks and do some work … 🙂


Day 108 – Braving It 29 May 2008

Last night I bit another bullet … I went to meet a fellow lighter lifer for a mineral water or two and I wore a skirt.  Not any old skirt, but a short denim skirt that I daringly purchased in Top Shop (Top Shop!) last week, in a perfectly respectable size 12.  I finally felt brave enough to bare my knees to an unsuspecting public for the first time in about fifteen years.  When I say bare them, I was polite enough to wear a pair of tights and tall boots as my blue skin, pitifully un-toned flesh and array of bruises might otherwise have caused spontaneous vomiting as I made my way to the pub.  But I did it!  I realised while I was halfway there that I was shuffling along, head down, paranoid about what people might be thinking (pathetic, eh?) and doing a pretty good impersonation of my fat self, so I stuck my chin up, sucked in what needed to be sucked in, and strode the rest of the way.  I can’t say that I got any wolf whistles, but nobody glared at me in disgust either.  Hooray!

Needless to say I’m back in jeans for work today … one step at a time, eh? 🙂

The friend that I met has now gone into the management phase of the diet, and by all accounts is doing really well.  It’s making me even more excited about getting to that point myself … I can’t wait.  I know that for a lot of people the prospect of a return to normal eating is quite scary (what if we screw it all up?) but I have to say that I’m relishing the challenge.  I feel a bit like I’ve passed my driving test but haven’t yet been able to go for a drive on my own.  That may sound over-confident, but I have to believe that the new me will be able to cope with normal life, otherwise this hasn’t worked for me in the way that I hope it has.  I’m really curious, excited and downright impatient about seeing how I approach my thinner life.

I’m going to see my counsellor tonight to talk to another one of her groups.  Apparently they’re all finding it a bit tricky to stay on the lighter life wagon, and she thinks that meeting someone who has been through the foundation process might help them.  I feel quite flattered, to be honest … do I play good cop and encourage them or bad cop and tick them off for cheating?  Only joking … there’s only scope in this diet for good cops!  They’re suffering from an outbreak of ‘if we eat some protein then we’ll still lose weight and be fine’.  Well, that may be true, and it’s human nature to find ways to bend the rules (especially if you’re a serial dieter), but they’re missing the whole point of abstinence.  Without sounding like a stuck record, it’s fundamental to our future success to fully address our issues with food and over-indulgence, otherwise we won’t be able to remain in control of our diet when the lighter life process ends and we go it alone.  Abstinence is the tool that allows you to get there, to get to that point of control.  It’s not about just losing those pounds every week … you can wire your jaw and do that, frankly, but you won’t have dealt with any of your psychological issues and will find it very difficult not to slide back into old habits and bad eating.  I hope I manage to give them a bit of encouragement … it’s impossible not to be positive about this programme when you’ve had the kind of experience that I have.  Fingers crossed!


Days 106 & 107 – Black And Blue 28 May 2008

I looked down at myself in the shower this morning and had something of a fright.  I’m absolutely covered in bruises.  Doubtless this has something to do with the fact that I was shifting furniture and packing crates all weekend, but I’ve never bruised like this before.  I look like a slightly chubby Amy Winehouse impersonator.  I know that some other lighter lifers have mentioned their tendency to bruise more easily, but it hadn’t really affected me until now.  I have absolutely no idea why this diet might cause it to happen, but at the moment my legs and arms don’t look particularly great!  That said, I did notice that the weight seems to be shifting from my legs at long last (my knees look like knees, not like two dents in a sausage!) so perhaps some skirt wearing is imminent …

I had a lovely evening last night.  I met a friend I’ve not seen since Christmas and she was flabbergasted by the change in me.  She kept calling me ‘Mini Joe’ and insisting that I stand up and twirl round at regular intervals so that she could look at me.  I guess I’ve got used to the change in me being relatively gradual … it must be a hell of a shock if you’ve not seen me at all.  She interrogated me about how much I’d lost, what I weighed before, what I was aiming for etc.  That kind of question would’ve made me cringe in the bad old days, whereas now I feel confident enough to be very open about anything like that.  I think it might be my way of ensuring that I never go back there ever again.

While writing I’ve just received a hamper from Fortnum & Mason as a thank-you for tutoring on the course a couple of weeks ago.  It’s full of wine, champagne, biscuits, teas, preserves and chocolates … none of which I can touch for weeks and weeks and weeks!  What’s lovely, though, is that when I am able to eat those things I have some very high quality items on which to test my new food boundaries.  It’s quite a nice incentive to have, I think, and what’s fantastic is that I now know that I can trust myself not to go crazy and binge on anything in the hamper.  The only issue will be trying to stop the Boy from pilfering stuff while I’m not looking!


Days 102 to 105 – Ringing The Changes 26 May 2008

Aren’t bank holiday weekends brilliant?  I’m sitting here now, in front of the fire, with the Boy and the cat and it feels like a Sunday … what bliss.  And the best news is that it’s Tuesday tomorrow, hurrah!

It was a busy weekend.  On Friday night I went to the pre-opening night of a friend of mine’s bar (Bordello on Wardour Street) which was great.  He invited a few of his friends along to check the place out … it’s taken him a year to get it up and running so we’ve all been dying to see it.  There are some excellent cocktail barmen there, offering an impressive drink selection, so I was a bit sorry that I wasn’t drinking but kept telling myself that I only have a few more weeks to go.  One of the barmen made a cocktail for us to try (a Thai Sorbet … his own invention) and I must confess that I had a sip, just to be polite.  It was delicious and made me look forward to the day when the thinner me can enjoy a fabulous cocktail without feeling like a greedy pig.

The rest of the weekend has been very domestic.  As I may have mentioned before, I’m just about to have an enormous amount of work done on my house.  I have to replace all of the heating pipes (oh the joys of an old Victorian property) and am then finally redecorating after over two years of living with bare plaster on the walls and generally very shabby decor.  Any of you who’ve ever had to rewire a house will understand!  So we’ve spent all weekend clearing out and packing up and choosing paint colours so that the builders and decorators can do their jobs.  I don’t think that the timing of this house makeover is a coincidence … the fact that I’m changing myself and changing where I live all at the same time is significant to me.  This year will go down in history as the year that I really turned things around and sorted out those things that I’ve put up with for far too long … my weight being the most obvious and visible one.  And the whole diet experience has had an effect on how I’ve approached the house task too.  I’ve found it so much easier to get rid of things that I don’t want and have just been holding on to.  I now get pleasure out of giving away and recycling things that have been lurking in the back of dusty cupboards for years.  I’m also living in a state of euphoric expectation … coincidentally the end of my time in development coincides almost exactly with the work being finished.  A new me will be in a new house facing a new adventure with food … it’s almost unbearably exciting.

I had phone call on Saturday from my good friend Claire who was the person who introduced me to lighter life.  I don’t see her very often these days and she scared the living daylights out of me a while ago when I turned up on her doorstep to be confronted by a svelte, gorgeous lady who was half the size of the person I’d seen only a few months previously.  She called to find out how I was getting along … the last time I saw her in the flesh was the week before I began the diet.  We had a long and very positive conversation about lighter life.  Despite both being quite cynical people, with a tendency to be rebellious, we’ve both surprised ourselves by how much we’ve learned and gained from the whole experience.  I’m not just talking about the weight loss, but the counselling and the behavioural therapy too.  I admitted to her that before I started I was worried that I’d find the counselling embarrassing and, frankly, a bit naff.  I was also sceptical about the whole ‘abstinence is the solution’ premise … something that I fully understand now.  She laughed and told me that she had been exactly the same.  She’s been able to maintain her weight for about two years now and says that she relies on what she learned during her counselling every day.  If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is.

Speaking to her was so important.  I now have exactly six weeks of abstinence left, and then management.  I feel now, more than ever, ready to tackle the coming weeks with as much vigour as when I began the diet.  It would be easy to skulk away from the whole experience now (I keep being told that developers is hard, because it’s a kind of no-man’s-land) but I have to do it.  Forty two days and counting … 🙂


Day 101 – Getting Noticed 22 May 2008

Now then, please forgive my vanity, but I’ve noticed a strange new phenomenon.  People on the street are actually checking me out … me!  It’s hilarious!  Builders in vans have been smiling at me at traffic lights, security guards in shops are engaging me in conversation and completely random people are looking me up and down.  I know that unwanted attention can be a royal pain in the arse, but at the moment I’m really conscious of this (does it happen to normal women all the time?) and actually quite enjoying it.  People I don’t know look at me and think I look nice … that is incredibly flattering having spent years shuffling along, draped in fat clothes, trying not to be noticed by anyone.

You wait, I’ll be moaning about lecherous old perverts in a few days’ time, I bet you …

Jokes aside, it occurred to me the other day that this diet makes you very self-obsessed.  You think about what you are doing and, more importantly, how you look for the vast majority of every day.  And I don’t know if this is just me, but I’ve had endless conversations with people about the diet, and how I feel, and what I’ve lost and blah, blah, blah, blah.  Am I turning into the incredible boring woman?  Am I risking becoming incredibly vain?  I do hope not.  I wonder how long it will take for me to stop talking and thinking about this diet.  By my calculation I’ll be done with the final management phase by the end of September … but after that will I spend the rest of my life saying ‘I used to be extremely fat, you know’, or getting into tedious discussions about what people eat and why?  In short, how much of a long-term impact will this diet have on me?  It’s a bit peculiar that my ‘note to self’ will have changed from ‘try not to hate yourself too much’ to ‘try not to love yourself too much’, because nobody likes someone who’s full of themselves.

And on that note, I’m going to take my vain self clothes shopping to look in some more mirrors 🙂


Day One Hundred – How Far Can Too Far Go? 21 May 2008

What a glorious day for my hundredth day on the diet!  When I started this, back in early February, this moment seemed to be an eternity away.  It was cold, miserable and I was very overweight indeed.  Now it’s threatening to become summer, the sun is shining, and I’m a shadow of the person that I was.

The reaction to the before and after photos has been mixed.  They’ve ranged from ‘holy crap, you were a heifer!’ to the open-mouthed inability to find any words at all.  I still don’t know how I feel about them.  Some people have been kind enough to say that I never actually looked like the before photos in real life, but the truth is that I would often catch myself in the background of group photos, caught off guard, and that is precisely what I looked like.  It’s no wonder that my self esteem had hit ground level and begun to dig.

The weird thing is that people are now counselling me not to get too thin.  As you can imagine, on one level the idea that I might ever be too thin is deeply hilarious.  However, I know that what they are saying is well-intentioned and there is an element of sense in their warning.  The target for me is very clear on this diet … a healthy BMI and a body that looks good.  I have a rough weight target, but that’s simply because I plumped for the weight that was bang in the middle of my safe weight zone.  It’s not hard and fast for me.  Recently, though, I’ve found myself thinking that this is my best opportunity to be genuinely thin, if that’s what I want to be.

Now, this is unusual thinking for me.  Obviously as a fat person I would daydream frequently about being thinner, but I wanted to be slim rather than thin.  For me, there’s a crucial difference between the two.  I have always abhorred the whole ‘size zero’ obsession and am, frankly, appalled by the fascistic body consciousness of some people.  Yes, we have a problem with obesity in the richer parts of the world and yes, everyone wants to look good and be healthy, but this relentless drive to be underfed and small to the point of being virtually invisible is something that sickens me.  For example, I remember becoming genuinely angry when I read an interview with Renee Zellweger around the time she was filming one of the Bridget Jones films.  She was talking about gaining weight for the part, and commented that she got so big that she couldn’t bear to look down at her naked body in the shower.  And how big was she?  Size 12.  So with that one careless statement she consigned hordes of perfectly healthy size 12 women (or, more importantly, girls) to thinking that they were physically repulsive.  It made me want to give her a good slap for her sheer stupidity.

That said, I’ve found myself idly wondering what it would be like to be super thin.  Clearly it’s not going to happen, and I have no intention of taking my weight loss to extremes, but I’ve been curious about the fact that those thoughts creep into my head from time to time.  Perhaps I’m just one of those people who has a permanent sense of dissatisfaction, and a drive for improvement, and I’ve masked this for years and years with the one reigning thought of ‘I wish I was slim’.  I guess it reinforces the fact that being at a weight that I’m happy with won’t mean that everything in my life will be perfect from that point on.

Even if I did want to be pencil thin for the rest of my life, it won’t happen because I’m just not cut out to be a body fascist … I love food too much and I think that life is too damn short to spend every spare second of it on scales, or in the gym, or wondering whether you’ve had one lettuce leaf too many.  That thinking is partly to blame for my weight gain in the first place, I grant you, but in reality (and when I’m under control) I’m actually much more from the ‘everything in moderation’ school of thought.  It strikes me that a relentless and excessive fixation on being thin is just as bad as being colossally overweight … both are very unfulfilling ways to live indeed.  I’ve been there and done that and will never go there again.


Day Ninety Nine – The Camera Never Lies 20 May 2008

OK.  Here, as promised, are the before and after photos.  I’ve just been sent them by my counsellor.

They take the before pictures at your first meeting but don’t show them to you.  This means that you get a delightful surprise (or is that a shock?) when you’ve completed foundation.  I have to say that I clearly chose the most revolting outfit possible for my first meeting, and I’m finding it genuinely difficult to look at those pictures without wanting to cry.

You can judge for yourselves …

The first photos were taken on 11th February, and the second ones on 19th May.  I’m 33 kg / 5 stone 3 lbs lighter in the second ones.  I wish I had my measurements to hand, but I don’t, so I’ll add those later.

I just can’t stop staring at them, with a mixture of delight and shame at the same time.  It’s unbelievable.

Here are the measurements, as promised.  My chest is 10cm / 3.9in smaller, my waist is 17cm / 6.7in smaller and my hips have decreased by a colossal 27cm / 10.6 in.  This diet certainly works 🙂