The Incredible Shrinking Woman

Day 276 – Focus, Focus, Focus 11 November 2008

I’m pleased to say that I’m in a much better frame of mind today!  I was really annoyed with myself yesterday … but the good thing is that my impromptu weigh-in at the gym was the kick in the backside that I needed.  It has forced me to get back on track … I think that after the rigorous regime of lighter life for all those months the natural rebel in me was beginning to resist my new-found (and blatantly necessary) routine.

So I’ve taken a grip of myself again.  I am now religiously counting calories.  Yes, it’s dull and yes, it’s one of those things that we all hate doing (and why we end up in a situation where lighter life is the answer) but I can’t argue with the simple truth that I need to be very conscious of what I’m eating and drinking, in the short term at least.  I’m keeping a daily food and exercise diary and will be weighing myself once a week to track my progress.  During lighter life I kept a spreadsheet of my weight loss … the Boy has suggested on numerous occasions that I should keep this going now I’m eating again (and not because he’s trying to make me anorexic, but because he knows how undisciplined I am!).  I will be monitoring the progress of my weight from now on, hopefully in a downward direction!

One of the main things that I learned on lighter life was that I don’t have any boundaries.  This doesn’t just apply to food, it applies to everything.  I need to have some sort of structure to stop myself from spiralling out of control.  Some people cut up their credit cards, and some people count calories … to me it’s the deliberate imposition of control and it amounts to the same thing.  Take my training as an example.  When I have an appointment with my trainer I make the effort to be there (even at ungodly o’clock on a Monday) but when I’m left to my own devices I can just as easily stay in bed, or in front of the TV, or go to the pub instead.  I have no inherent discipline at all!  Even beginning this blog was an intentional device to help me stick to the diet … it’s much harder to admit defeat, or cheat, or crawl back under your stone when other people are watching.

I feel better already, after just twenty four hours.  I’m happier in mind and I feel lighter in body.  Strange, isn’t it?  I also don’t feel guilty.  I was getting into that mindset of ‘you naughty girl, you had a glass of wine / bar of chocolate / extra slice of toast’, which is utterly pointless.  That gets you into an absurd cycle of comfort (or, more accurately, punishment) eating which, as we all know, is a one way ticket to weight hell.  It’s so much more beneficial to have a mindset built on balance.  Yes, you can have that chocolate bar, but you need to understand what it implies in the context of what else you feed your body on that day.  That’s control, and that’s adult behaviour.  As a novice to this way of thinking, being very mindful of my calorie intake until I can trust myself to make the right decisions automatically is a very good step forward.

So I’m taking my positive self out tonight to meet a friend of mine.  And, with my remaining 600 calories in the bank for today, I may just live dangerously and have a small gin and (slimline) tonic.  So there! 🙂


Days 270 to 275 – Back To Reality With A Bump 10 November 2008

The good time I had in New York came back to bite me this morning in the gym.  I’ve not had a personal training session since before I went on holiday (over two weeks ago) and have only managed a pitiful two cardio sessions on my own in that time.  So this morning I had a sleep-shattering 7am session with my trainer.  And guess what?  I struggled more than I have ever done before.  He did warn me that in a matter of a few days you can lose your level of fitness, and that my stability would suffer first (I wobble hilariously all over the place when I have to do anything that requires balance), but that still left me woefully unprepared for the reality of how crap I would actually be.  I felt as if I was back to square one.

Worse still, he weighed me for the first time since I began training with him.  I am now a dreadful 8 kilos heavier than when I finished dieting.  OK, I can put some of that down to my holiday, but it’s not a good place to be.  Had he not said to me ‘don’t let this break your heart, and don’t fixate on it, but use it as a reminder to spur yourself on’ then I would undoubtedly have been crying in the shower.  I have to say that I do love the way that my trainer approaches what he does … he is very straight and pulls no punches (well, he is an Aussie!) but tries to frame everything that he says as encouragement.  I fully expected to get a bollocking for slacking off over the past couple of weeks, but that wasn’t the case at all.  He just reminded me of what I’ve achieved this year, stressed the importance of keeping at it and warned me of the dangers of letting my training slide at this point in time.

He’s right, too.  The run up to Christmas is notoriously awful from a health and weight perspective.  It’s dark and cold all the time, which doesn’t exactly encourage you to leap out of bed and be active.  Hot, carb-laden comfort food seems to be high on the agenda (who really wants to eat salad when it’s snowing?) and the prospect of cozying up in a nice warm pub with a lovely pint of Guinness is very welcome indeed.  Well, I have to be strong.  My resolution to stay on the wagon crumbled on Friday night, but I got a grip on myself yesterday and spent a very sober Sunday night at our local pub quiz drinking mineral water like it was going out of fashion.  I dread to think how truly useless I would’ve been in the gym this morning with a hangover to boot … I think I might actually have been sick.  No more alcohol for me … I have to keep reminding myself that I might just as well be spooning sugar into my mouth.  It’s a miserable thought, but it’s true!

When I began lighter life, and the pounds started falling off, I had many conversations with people curious about how I would react if the weight just piled back on once the diet was over.  It seemed positively ludicrous at the time to think that I would ever let myself get big again … and only a few months later I’m finding that the pounds are making their insidious creep back on to my waistline.  Irritatingly, it’s not as if I lost the weight and then immediately reverted to my bad old ways, either!  This begs the question that many of us have asked ourselves over time … how do thin people manage to stay thin?  I know it’s all about balance (calories in, calories out) but it’s not easy.

That said, there is a huge amount of encouragement to be gleaned from the lighter life experience.  As I sat on one of the machines this morning, desperately trying to summon the energy to push heavy weights with tired arms just a few more times, I thought about how angry and frustrated I used to feel about being as overweight as I was.  That anger made those weights fly into the air, I can tell you!

On a more positive note, I thought I’d post a couple of pictures for reference.  The first is the Boy and I in New York in January of last year, about two weeks before I began the diet.  The second was taken two weeks ago.  Yes, I know I’m wrapped up in a coat in both pictures, and I guess I’m getting used to the difference between old and new me, but sometimes it’s still striking …

NY Jan 07NY Oct 08


Days 252 to 269 – The Bigger Apple 4 November 2008

So here I am, back at my desk for the first time since my fabulous trip to New York.  I’m jet-lagged and struggling to concentrate, but really chilled out.  Having not managed to get a blog in before I left, I swore I’d get onto it as soon as I could.

New York was amazing.  I’ve been lucky enough to visit there many times over the past few years, but it never disappoints.  And this was my first trip as thin me!  One of my goals (or, more accurately, one of the lights at the end of my diet tunnel) was this holiday, which has been planned for months.  Whenever you mention New York, people’s first reaction tends to be ‘oh, you’ll do tons of shopping!’.  Prior to this trip, that wasn’t the case.  Shopping as an overweight person in London is bad enough, but shopping in the clothing mecca that is Manhattan is a thoroughly miserable experience.  I so badly wanted to visit the city as a ‘normal’ person, and now I have.  Despite the vagaries of the exchange rate at the moment I still managed to come home with an extra holdall of good value clothes … the timing of the diet and subsequent wardrobe clearout meant that I ended up with absolutely no warm winter togs so I promised myself a re-stock across the pond.  And re-stock I did.  I’m dreading looking at my bank balance …

Diet-wise I tried to be good, but it was bloody hard.  As we all know, holidays are challenging things when it comes to what you consume because everyone wants to have a good time and let their hair down.  Add to that the size of American portions, the fact that everything seems to come with a topping of melted cheese / mayo / pure lard and the fact that beer is the beverage of choice and it’s easy to be on a hiding to disaster.  On a daily basis the three of us (me, the Boy and a friend) would comment on what we came to know as our ‘New York chub’ and lamented the tightening of our collective waistbands.  To that end I refused point blank to make any purchases in a larger size than I’d achieved by the end of lighter life … if a sweater or a dress is a little snug at the moment then I’m damn well going to diet until it fits properly now I’m home.  I’ve gone back on the wagon for the foreseeable future (partly because of the chub and partly in solidarity with a friend of mine who’s off the booze too) and I’m anticipating that it will make the difference that I need.  Added to that, I’m cutting back on carbs and being very strict about portion sizes.  I’m going to have to bite the bullet and get on the scales tonight so I can measure that success (or lack of it) and stay on track for my goal of a ‘perfect’ weight by the end of the year.  The clock is ticking, and I need to get my act together.

Maybe it’s because my perspective is different now, but I couldn’t help noticing how much bigger the people in New York seemed to have become since my last visit in January 2007.  I’ve always had a slightly Sex-And-The-City-esque view of Manhattanites as well-dressed, stylish urban types in considerably better physical shape than some of their counterparts in the ‘supersize zones’ of the USA, but this time I really did notice a difference.  Thankfully, that difference was among the adults.  There were very few examples of the terribly overweight children that I encountered on holiday in Tenerife.  Perhaps New Yorkers are ahead of their European counterparts when it comes to changing the nutritional habits of their kids.  Let’s hope so.

So now it’s back to reality with an unpleasant bump and not even the whiff of any time off until Christmas, but I can’t really complain 🙂  I just need to make sure that I stick to my resolutions and don’t use November and December as an opportunity to pile on the pounds, as many people do.  I’ll be thin in January if it kills me!  It’s my birthday in January so I’m always very reluctant to commit to hellish detox regimes … I’m going to buck the trend and do the detoxing this side of the festive season.  That would genuinely make this the year that I proved to myself that nothing is impossible!

And talking of which … good luck Obama!