The Incredible Shrinking Woman

Days 170 & 171 – The First Big Test 31 July 2008

This is just a very quick post.  As I’ve mentioned a million times, I’m off on holiday tomorrow and won’t be back in London until 13th August (so I’ll do a monster blog then!).  I’m obviously excited about going, but I’m nervous about how strong my willpower will be in the face of the usual holiday excesses.  I guess the fact that I will be in swimwear every day should be incentive enough to remain strong!

Wish me luck … 🙂


Day 169 – To Abstain Or Not To Abstain? 29 July 2008

Well the bad news wasn’t so bad.  I’ve gained 1lb, which is pretty impressive considering I’ve been to a wedding and a birthday party since my last weigh in (not to mention the fact that I’ve indulged in several glasses of wine in the sunshine too).  So I felt good about that.  The trouble is, I still haven’t reached my all-important target.  I think that the original target I set myself of ten and a half stone (about 67kg, I think) was optimistic.  I’m currently hovering around the 12 stone mark and, to be honest, the thought of being a stone and a half lighter seems too much to me.  That said, if my weight is going to creep up slowly before it settles down, it would be smart to shift at least a few more pounds before I finally knock this diet on the head.  Perhaps, and I hate to admit this, my decision to go into management early was the wrong one.

My counsellor suggested that I might think about going back into abstinence for at least a couple of weeks.  Apparently one of the other women in my management group has decided to do that because she was fluctuating slightly and, like me, didn’t have a ‘safety barrier’ of half a stone or so.  Clearly this isn’t a decision to be taken lightly, for many reasons.  Firstly, it will be bloody hard to give up food again … not impossible, but hard.  It would feel like someone had taken all of my Christmas presents away on new year’s day.  Secondly, and this is more important, I don’t want to start leaning on the diet in the wrong way.  I can’t let myself get into the mentality that lighter life will ‘fix me’ every time I fall off the wagon.  Clearly I’m not in a crazy on/off situation just yet, but it would be a bad habit to get into.  And thirdly, shouldn’t I simply shift the weight slowly like ‘normal’ people do?  One of the reasons that I went into management slightly early was because I was worried about the effect that any more rapid loss would have on my body … I was on the cusp of that delightful (and oh so sexy) deflated balloon look because my poor old skin simply couldn’t keep pace with the loss.  So the decision is quite a big one.

Whatever happens, I have a couple of weeks to mull it over.  I’m off on holiday on Friday for ten days with the Boy and his family.  There’s no way I’m going to attempt abstinence then … not least because his lovely mother has paid for us to go and it’s an all-inclusive holiday.  Of course I’m not going to binge like a starved pig, but I would feel more than slightly guilty if I didn’t join them at mealtimes.  I would feel like I was taking my own booze to a pub … terribly bad manners and downright rude, frankly!  So I’m intending to give the whole abstinence thing some serious thought while I’m lounging by the pool and see how I feel (and what I weigh) when I get home.

In keeping with my good intentions I’m going to the gym again tomorrow morning.  It’s a bit tragic that I’m actually quite looking forward to it … I think I need to get out more.  While I was having email banter with the Boy today the subject of my new-found zeal for health came up.  I asked him if it ever occurred to him that I’m not the same woman that he met, and whether that was a good or a bad thing.  His reply?  ‘Don’t worry, I can see past all that to the fatty within’.  Charming 🙂


Days 166 to 168 – Sunshine & Second Chances 28 July 2008

This morning I went to the gym.  Seriously, it’s true.  I decided that I’d give it one more try (and by that I mean one more attempt at going regularly, not just one more visit!).  If I still hate it with a passion, I’ll give up my membership and be done with it.  So, armed with my new gym outfit (what bliss not to look like a sack in a baggy t-shirt and nasty tracksuit bottoms) I left the house just after 7 this morning and less than an hour later I found myself sticking my ipod in my ears and stepping on to the cross trainer.

And honestly?  It wasn’t that bad at all.  It’s amazing what a difference the weight loss has made.  I always used to feel that I stuck out a mile in the gym … being red, sweaty, wobbly and out of breath.  This morning I was still red, sweaty, wobbly and out of breath, but I didn’t feel twice the size of everyone else in there.  I blended in.  It reminded me of the discussions my group had right at the beginning of foundation about the desire to be normal, to disappear into the crowd and not be noticed … and about how weird it might sound to thin people that all we wanted was to be delightfully, blissfully, boringly average.  Well, I achieved that averageness this morning, and it felt good.  So I shall be going back on Wednesday morning.

The weekend was fantastic.  We drove to Wiltshire on what was reputedly the worst day on the roads since time began and suffered nothing more than a minor delay outside Stonehenge.  The picnic went off like a dream, the weather was marvellous and a great time was had by all.  It was a terribly English day involving strawberries and cricket and the like.  All that was missing was Pimm’s.  The heat and the promise of a free pub breakfast had us up early on Sunday and we were back in London by lunchtime … plenty of time for a relaxing Sunday at home before the impending doom of work on Monday morning.  Fantastic.

I was pretty well behaved, food-wise.  I had bread for the first time in ages, as most of the picnic revolved around sandwiches, and coped OK.  Bread is one of my triggers, definitely.  I’m the kind of person (or should I put that in the past tense?) who can happily eat her way through half a loaf of bread without blinking.  So it was an interesting test for me.  I was aware, though, that I felt quite bloated after eating it.  I know it’s terribly fashionable to have ‘issues’ with wheat, but it reinforced my intention to attempt the gluten-free option when I start making my own bread again (although I’ve been warned that it tastes disgusting).  Again I was struck by my ability to ignore food.  I can happily sit back, surrounded by piles of delicious food, and not feel the urge to eat until I think I might explode.  I don’t know the psychology behind this, but I’m the kind of person that needs to clear things away and tidy up (it drives the Boy mad when I say ‘have you finished?’ when he’s merely resting his fork for thirty seconds) and I obviously viewed eating as a way of clearing up.  I don’t think it was merely greed … it was something different.  In many respects I truly was a human dustbin.  Well, not any more.  I still don’t like leaving debris lying around after a meal, but can switch off happily after I’ve eaten and not worry about the fact there are still four plates of egg sandwiches left untouched, for example.

Tonight is weigh-in night as I was unable to make it last Thursday.  I’ve missed two sessions in a row, which is very risky.  So I get to find out the sorry truth this evening.  Am I managing my diet or do I need to be brought back into line?  Well, I’ll let you know tomorrow …


Days 164 & 165 – Challenges 25 July 2008

I think I’ve got to the bottom of why I’ve been feeling fat.  I think, weirdly, that there’s a certain anti-climax associated with reaching the end of this diet.  I know I’m not exactly at the end (I could probably happily lose another stone) but I’m in a place that’s comfortable and I’m clawing my way back to normality.  Losing weight steadily and rapidly has dominated my thoughts and my life for most of this year … now that the end is imminent I’m feeling a bit lost, I think.  That is manifesting itself in me feeling uncertain about myself and becoming over-conscious of my imperfections.  I need to find something else to focus on to distract me!  Clearly I don’t want to return to bad behaviour and slack habits, but I think I need to be clear about what the goals and challenges are for me over the next few months and give myself something to aim for.

In terms of small challenges, I’ve had to go out for lunch on two separate days (for work reasons) which is always a bit of a minefield.  Because I’m a coward (and because I like the food there) I opted for the same restaurant two days running 🙂  It’s a charcuterie, which meant that I could stick to meat with salad and avoid overloading on carbs or having to run the gauntlet of fatty sauces.  I’m quite proud of myself, actually, because I’ve managed both of these lunches without the urge to stuff myself rotten, to have that extra course, to choose something delicious but unhealthy from the dessert menu.  I guess I didn’t realise that it wasn’t normal to leave a restaurant table feeling fit to burst until I stopped doing it.  I need to make sure that I stick to this mentality in the long run!

This weekend is going to be a bit tricky, too.  We’re off to Wiltshire for a friend’s 30th and the main event is a picnic in the grounds of a beautiful National Trust property.  Now picnics, like barbecues, are a nightmare.  The opportunity to over-indulge on unhealthy snacks is immense, so I need to be on my guard.  No Pringles for me!  Also, we’re staying overnight in a lovely, quaint country pub … I know that the Boy and the rest of the party will already be planning their huge English breakfasts for Sunday morning.  That’s something that I definitely need to steer well clear of.  The good news is that the thought of a fry-up actually makes me feel quite ill.  I’m more of a black coffee and vanilla protein shake girl these days!

I have to say that I’m loving the weather.  Even the fact that my office has no air conditioning and bears a very close resemblance to a Turkish bath by about noon can’t spoil that for me.  It’s so liberating being able to wear whatever I want and not be the irritable, overheated fat girl in the corner wishing she could remove some clothing!  I was never brave enough to bare my flesh when I was bigger … I have more than a passing admiration for those people who are.  But the new me is happier, more relaxed and a darn sight cooler than the old me, that’s for sure.

Here’s hoping that the weather holds for our picnic tomorrow … munching on sugar snap peas under an umbrella isn’t much fun in anyone’s book!


Days 162 & 163 – Weird And Not So Wonderful 23 July 2008

I feel fat.  I don’t know why.  I’m not sure that I look any bigger, and my clothes still fit just fine, but I feel odd.  I’m getting the strange sensation of looking in the mirror and seeing my old, chubby self looking straight back at me.  Now, because the weight loss on this diet is so rapid, there is much discussion about your mind catching up with your body.  A lot of people struggle to adjust to their new physique.  The weird thing is that for me, the opposite was true.  I felt like a thin person from about the second week of the diet (in fact, from the minute that I started throwing clothes away) and have been unable to recognise myself as the person I once was.  So how come, almost six months down the line, I feel ‘old me’ creeping back into the frame?  It’s not a pleasant feeling … perhaps I just got too used to rapid and consistent weight loss every week, perhaps it’s because I’ve missed a meeting and feel a bit rattled about that, perhaps (horror of horrors) I am actually gaining weight again … whatever the reason behind it, I don’t like it.

Other than that, things are going well.  One of the great things that I’ve learned on this diet is that we rely too heavily on carbs.  My diet consists pretty much entirely of protein, salad and vegetables.  I thought I would miss bread terribly (I used to eat sandwiches or baguettes pretty much every day) but I’ve not missed that at all.  Of course, for the sake of convenience, I’ve often thought it would be nice to just pick up a sandwich when I’m out and about (and I must confess to a duck and spinach wrap over the weekend when I misjudged my mealtimes) but it’s no great hardship to avoid the dreaded carbs.  I even found myself snacking on half a bag of watercress yesterday that I had left over in the fridge at work.  Snacking on watercress?  The old me would have laughed in my face for such ridiculous behaviour … probably cramming two slices of toast and peanut butter into her mouth as she did so.  It’s amazing how things change.

I also went back to the gym near my office.  I joined it in a fit of enthusiasm back at the end of last year and signed up to a three month programme … the idea is that you state your goals, have a workout regime constructed for you, and have your progress monitored by one of the personal trainers.  I was weighed, measured, poked and prodded a little and promptly instructed to do 15 minutes warm up and 20 minutes rowing three times a week.  20 minutes rowing?  Not on your bloody life.  I tried (and failed at) this for two weeks, literally fighting back tears on the damn rowing machine, then suggested to the trainer that it really wasn’t going to work for me.  I was told (and I quote) ‘you’re not here to have fun, you’re here to lose weight’.  I ran away and never went back … well, until Monday.  The thing is, they have a pool there.  It’s a tiny pool, granted, but there’s never anyone in it, they give you a nice fluffy towel to use and you don’t have to swim through suspiciously warm patches because there are kids around.  As I splashed up and down it occurred to me that my chances of a fitter and healthier life are going to increase dramatically if I get into the habit of using a gym that’s conveniently placed about three minutes from my desk.  So I’m going to invest in a tracksuit (or whatever the hell you’re supposed to wear in a gym) and brave it one more time.  If the thinner me still hates gyms as much as big me, then I’ll finally cancel that membership, stick to the local pool and spend the change on lipstick.  To hell with it.


Days 157 to 161 – Debit & Credit 21 July 2008

Apologies for the radio silence on the blog over the past few days.  It’s been a bit manic, but I’m getting back to normal now.  I’ve even finally set up my broadband at home, having been offline for over six weeks, so I can blog from there again.  Hooray!

Firstly, I managed to miss my weigh-in on Thursday.  I went to see Leonard Cohen at the O2 and for various reasons had to be there really early.  So the upshot is that I still don’t know what the damage from Canada is!  In the midst of unpacking the house I’ve found our scales, but I just don’t trust their accuracy.  I was intending to visit my counsellor on Saturday, but managed to miss that too (see … I told you things were manic).  I really need to make sure that I keep on track with management and don’t cockily assume that I can miss sessions.  That’s a sure-fire way to pile all the weight back on, frankly.

I seem to have got into a bit of a rhythm over the last couple of weeks, and I’m not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing.  I tend to be quite lax at the weekend and (within reason) bend the rules a bit, then behave more strictly during the week.  Is that what ‘normal’ people do?  Or is that just a sign that I’ve not fully addressed my issues with food and I’m still indulging myself?  It’s a tricky one.  I’ll give you some examples and you can judge for yourselves.  In the week I have a shake for breakfast, protein and salad for lunch (usually ham or chicken with watercress, sugar snap peas and a dollop of cottage cheese) followed by a fat-free yoghurt, some fruit later in the afternoon and a bar in the evening.  That all seems quite acceptable to me.  At the weekend I stick to a similar routine, but I might have a piece of bread with my salad (bread is still off limits) or might eat in a restaurant and have potato with my meat (that’s off limits too).  The thing is, it seems to be working for me.  I’m not over-indulging, I haven’t so much as been near a sticky dessert, and I feel good.  I’m just not sure whether it’s a healthy debit/credit attitude, or if it’s dangerous yo-yo behaviour.  I guess that only time will tell.

One thing I am worried about is alcohol.  I’m allowed it now, and I thought I would really hold back having been sober for months.  The truth is that I can see myself building slowly towards heavy drinking again (I have such a terrible weakness for red wine).  That, more than food, is going to be my ongoing battle in the months and years ahead I think.  Moderation, moderation, moderation needs to be my mantra!

But I had a great weekend.  With the move back to the house and the gradual return to food I feel that life is getting normal again, which I’ve really been craving.  I went to a cocktail party on Saturday night and gave another new dress its first outing.  It was quite a boobalicious, floor-length pink number (from Monsoon) and I loved wearing it.  It was another one of those occasions that would have been fraught with stress back in the old days, whereas now I feel confident when surrounded by people in their glamorous outfits.  It’s such a relief!

So … another week begins, the sun is shining, my swimming kit is in my bag … here’s to a week of successfully sticking to my good intentions!


Days 151 to 156 – Canadian Adventures 16 July 2008

Ladies and gentlemen, Canada rocked!  The wedding was wonderful, the weather was amazing and we all had a fabulous time.  Some lucky sods are still out there continuing to have a lovely time, but I’m back at work and trying not to yawn every five seconds.

Diet-wise, my intentions went out of the window.  I didn’t go completely bananas and start wolfing down plates of chips with side orders of spaghetti carbonara, but I didn’t exactly hold back either.  In the main I stuck to salads (with chicken or fish), made sure all dressings were on the side and only ate until I was full.  The old me always cleared her plate.  What I will say is that I went swimming every single day that I was there.  Not only was there a beautiful art deco pool in the hotel that was an absolute pleasure to swim in, but on the day after the wedding we were invited to the bride’s parents’ house in Chelsea, Quebec for ‘drinks and a swim’.  Their house backs on to a river and we spent hours in it … I’ll remember what it felt like to be in that water when I’m ploughing up and down the pool in Clapham!  I can’t tell you how amazing it felt to be one of those people who’s able to join in … I wasn’t ‘the fat one’ sitting morosely on the jetty, fully clothed and envious of everyone else in the water.  Happy days indeed.

I also finally got to wear the dress that I bought all those months ago and, as promised, here are the photos to prove it:

It was perfect, and even survived some very dodgy late-night dancing.  The same can’t be said for the shoes, mind you …

So I’m back home and back in my house (hooray!).  The building and decorating is finished and it looks amazing.  All that remains is an endless round of cleaning and unpacking until we’re completely back to normal.  I also have to apologise profusely to my neighbours as I currently don’t have any curtains in my bedroom window.  I completely forgot about that as I leapt out of bed this morning, naked as the day I was born … 🙂