The Incredible Shrinking Woman

Days 244 to 251 – Red Wine R.I.P? 17 October 2008

Many times in this blog I’ve talked about my love affair with red wine.  It is, by far and away, my favourite drink in the world.  I can drink it until the cows come home … well, I can drink it until my teeth are stained black, my tongue doesn’t work properly and I collapse in a heap.  I adore the stuff.  I’m not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I do know my Shiraz from my Rioja and my Malbec from my Cabernet.

And the sad truth?  I can’t drink it any more.  Well, of course I can still literally drink it.  I’ve not developed some weird allergy to it (heaven forbid) but what I’ve discovered is that I can’t drink it like I used to.  This really came home to me over the weekend.  We were in York for a long weekend with some of the Boy’s university friends.  As you can imagine, there was a significant amount of drinking going on.  Now … I try to be measured these days.  I’m not the booze-swilling, chip-scoffing, snack-hoovering lunatic that I used to be.  I went away with the intention of eating as sensibly as possible (more on that in a moment) and drinking at a gracious pace rather than guzzling pint after pint with the boys.  So on the Friday night I sipped steadily at my red wine … and what happened?  I had to leave the pub early because I felt drunk and, frankly, sick.  This was not after three or four bottles of the stuff, but after three or four glasses!  Unheard of, in my world.

Sadly this isn’t the first time that this has happened to me since the diet.  I’m slowly coming to the realisation that I can only drink a fraction of what I used to be able to (a good thing) and that red wine is the one thing I really have to be careful of (a bad thing).  I know that wine is lethal for people watching their weight, not least because measures are huge and you’re pretty much drinking neat sugar, but for the first time in my adult life I’m having to make a decision led by my waistline rather than by my heart.  I guess I’ve finally grown up!  I just wish it wasn’t the wine that had to go.  It also leaves me with another problem.  What on earth do I drink when I go out?  I’ve only ever really drunk Guinness or red wine (hmmm … can you see how I got so big?!).  Am I now consigned to a life on the Gin and Slimline Tonics?

Before you think I am actually a raging alcoholic and should stop my whining, I will shortly be giving up booze altogether for another stretch.  For medical reasons a friend of mine will be stone cold sober between now and the end of December.  I’ve agreed that when I’m back from my holidays (New York in a week’s time, yay!) I’ll join him in his sobriety for a few weeks.  I never thought I’d hear myself say these words, but it wasn’t actually that bad to stay on the mineral water during the diet, and it goes without saying that the effect that alcohol has on your weight is enormous.  So I’m cutting it out again … although I have reserved the right to have a few glasses of something inappropriate at our Christmas party.  I’m not a martyr 🙂

Tonight is the long-awaited Moulin Rouge ball.  I spent an amusing half an hour last night while the Boy endeavoured to wrestle me into my corset, with reasonable success.  Unfortunately he won’t be there this evening to help me get dressed and I’m relying on a friend of mine.  I hope for both our sakes she’s feeling strong!  I also have a sneaking suspicion that after the ball the Boy will do his usual trick of falling asleep as soon as he walks through the front door and I’ll end up sleeping in the damn thing.  That could be grounds for divorce, frankly!

Thanks to all of you who emailed or posted after the last post.  I’m very flattered that some of you have used this blog as the inspiration to start lighter life or as the motivation to continue with it.  It means a lot to me, and I really want to wish all of you the best of luck.  I’m sure you’ll all be very successful indeed.


Days 230 to 243 – The End Of Management 9 October 2008

Well, this is it.  I’ve officially finished management.  I am now at liberty to eat and drink exactly what I like, when I like and, if I choose, I need never go near a food pack again.

And do you know what?  It feels really, really weird.  When I began this, back in February, I put the dates in my calendar.  I imagined some joyous day at the end of September (ish) when I would be whooping for joy and my new svelte self would be literally leaping up and down.  Well, in reality, it doesn’t quite happen like that!  I’m not saying for a moment that I’m disappointed, because this last year has been an incredible journey for me, both mentally and physically, but there is an odd sense of anti-climax, of being a bit lost after it all.  Does that make sense?  I remember talking in a post ages ago about a conversation I’d had with a friend of mine.  In her experience, people who are overweight can fall into the trap of thinking that being thin means that everything else in their life will be perfect.  Clearly that’s not true.  I feel almost as if I’ve gone to the other extreme … in a concerted attempt not to pin the ‘it will be perfect’ tag on my future life, I’m risking not allowing myself to enjoy it.  Perhaps my pessimistic side had nothing to do with being overweight and I am, in fact, just a miserable cow! 🙂

What I do feel is a colossal sense of separation from my old self.  Clearly I’m the same in my heart, or soul, or whatever you want to call it, but the person that goes about her daily business is not the one who was sat at this very computer a year ago.  I really do believe that I’ve achieved the aim I’ve stated in the ‘about’ section of this blog … after 35 years of being awkward in my own skin I am the person I think I deserve to be.  Without being too sentimental, there is a photo that I have of myself and my sister, taken when I was about eight and she was about four (forgive me if I’ve mentioned this before).  We’re standing in the back garden of my first house wearing our school uniforms, probably because she was just about to start primary school.  There were times when I couldn’t actually look at that photo because I would see my tiny, trusting little self gazing at the camera and I would feel that I’d let her down.  On occasion (usually after one red wine too many!) it actually made me cry.  When I look at that photo now, I feel overwhelmingly happy.

The oddest thing is that I haven’t achieved the weight goal that I originally set for myself.  I still think I was right to stop dieting when I did (because I didn’t want to lose any more at the speed that I was) and equally I still think I should lose some more.  I’m in a situation now where I’m not actually gaining weight (hurrah!), but I will need to make changes to my new regime in order to lose any more.  So more dieting for me!  In my darker moments I find myself thinking about a brief return to abstinence, but I think that’s the equivalent of a reformed alcoholic being tempted by ‘just one glass of fizz’ at Christmas!  I need to prove that I can manage my weight in the same way that everyone else does.

I’ve decided to keep this blog going for a while.  Not only do I enjoy writing it (despite being a bit slack recently!) but I want to share my experiences of the rocky road after lighter life.  In the first week of the diet I drove myself a little crazy reading lots of negative publicity online about how ‘you just put all the weight on afterwards’.  I’d like to prove that it’s not true. 

I’m still gym-ing, and still personal training, and that’s going well.  The recent pressures on my time have made it a little harder than it was, but I’m absolutely determined to stick with it.  And I can be very bloody-minded, I can tell you!  One of the suggestions that my trainer has made to me is that I eat six small meals a day rather than the traditional three.  Now, I’ve heard this theory before, and I understand the logic.  My biggest worry is that I’ll simply end up eating twice as much as I need to!  I have always had issues with discipline, frankly …  That said, I may well try it.

Also, in my ongoing pursuit of vanity, I’ve taken a drastic step.  When I began lighter life I had long, straggly, dark brown hair.  I’m now the proud owner of a very short, very blonde crop (well, I’ve got a long fringe, but both me and the Boy were worried that I might look like a man if I went too crazy!).  I cannot tell you how therapeutic it was to watch all that long hair falling on to the salon floor.  It was like losing the weight, and its associated baggage, all over again.

Thanks to those of you who emailed about my ball dress dilemmas.  I now have an outfit (corset and long fishtail skirt) which I’m quite optimistic about.  I’m going to see a dressmaker tonight to make sure it all fits and looks wonderful … the fact that I won’t be able to breathe, eat, drink or sneeze in the damn thing is besides the point!  The ball is in a week so I promise photographic evidence.

So … farewell to management and hello to normality!  Good lord, that was a long time coming … 🙂