Tuesday, 27 December 2011

A Post-Christmas Confession

Hi, my name is Sue, and I can't actually remember when I last tracked my food properly.

Yep - I'm a Weightwatchers member who doesn't seem to be following the rules right now.  Which is probably why my weight wandered back up to 13st recently. 

Last week's loss of appetite did then cause it to drop back down by a few lbs, which was rather nice, but having made it up to and through Christmas Day with no obvious damage, I do seem to have been paying rather too much attention to the chocolate the last couple of days.  And one senses, that without a tracker to keep me honest, that could be a little damaging if left unchecked.

I've rather fallen into a pattern since last week, of only having one big meal a day.  If I eat a proper lunch, I just have a bowl of soup for tea, and not accompanied by my usual couple of slices of toast.  And other days, I just don't bother eating very much until tea-time and then have a proper meal.  This is all very good behaviour.  The overwhelming (and growing) allure of the Naughty Cupboard (full of all the sweets and goodies) is not. 

So, if I can't step away from the sweeties over the next couple of days, I'm going to have to go back to tracking properly, and to be quite honest, I've rather enjoyed not having to track and just adjusting my eating naturally to suit.  For now, I've simply removed myself up to my bedroom (at my Dad's house) and away from the siren call of the kitchen.

Since I've been home, I've managed to complete the first two training runs for my half-marathon - a 30 and a 40 min easy run, respectively.  I find it odd just running for a set time and not worrying about distance or pace, and have been working in a cool down walk at the end of my runs by running out a few mins further than I need to, so I can cool down on the way back to the car.  It's been lovely running back on the Malvern hills again, although I was somewhat irritated to realise that I've forgotten to bring my iPod Shuffle home with me, so they've musically unaccompanied runs so far.  One thing I will need to do, and soon once I'm back in Bristol, is go to the running shop and get some new shoes.  My poor trainers have literally got a hole in the side, which is a sure sign of how many miles they've got in them now - I've had them for a good couple of years and have probably done all my running in them since I started in 2009, including the training for 2 10ks and a duathlon.  I'm not sure they've got a HM in them too.  I did get to test out my lovely new Icebreaker base-layer on my runs though - I swear it's even lovelier for being a half-price bargain!

I'm hoping that I'll be able to get back into my running fairly quickly and that I'll see my fitness start to improve quite soon.  The first 4 weeks of the plan don't look too terrible, as this week is a 35 and another 40 min run, and the long runs over the next two weeks are 45 and 55 mins.  That doesn't sound too terrible, but after that it starts to look a bit scary.  I'm supposed to be doing short interval runs both last week and this one too, but I have a feeling they'll both get skipped - I know they're supposed to be good for you, but I loathe them with a passion and I am just not ever going to be a fast runner.  I think the compromise will be this:  skip the first two, then the 4 or so weeks are 3 steady runs a week with no intervals, and then the intervals come back - hopefully by then I'll be feeling fitter and will be able to face them a bit better.  We'll see.

Anyhoo - I'll be keeping an honest eye on both my eating and running and see what happens.  If I have to be stricter with myself, I will be, but I'd like to prove to myself that I can just bimble along in a more relaxed fashion and still make slow progress in the right direction.

Other than that, my sale shopping is all done - I raided Fat Face yesterday and left with a full bag - new coat, new cords, a jumper-dress and a cute knitted headband.  That officially is my whole sale shopping budget done.  Other than that, I'm still trying to find a surf board for myself, which is proving annoyingly more difficult than I anticipated - at least if I'm going to be good and stick to my budget.

I've got a fairly quiet week this week, seeing a few friends but generally chilling and still catching up on all that lovely missed sleep from the last couple of months.  Towards the end of the week, I'll head down to London for a relaxed New Year with friends, then New Years Day, Chris is back from snowboarding (lucky sod) and I'm heading down to see him for my last few hours of freedom before it's back to work (and oh boy, is it going to be chaos) on the 3rd.

I'll let you know how the eating and running goes!  And honestly! :o)

Hope everyone's enjoying the post-Christmas food coma!

Sunday, 25 December 2011

Merry Christmas!!

Here's wishing you all a very merry Christmas this year. I hope you're all spending it with family, friends and loved ones.

Christmas chez Sue is a rather understated affair with just myself, my Dad and my Grandma, but it's nice for all that. Somehow, it's still a rather stressful day because of the need to cook the whole lunch, pack that and Christmas tea plus all the presents up, and decamp 50 miles away to my Grandma's house for the day, but it's gone relatively smoothly so far.

There was a minor trauma this morning when I was admiring possibly the most perfect roast potatoes I've ever produced as they sat roasting in the goose fat, only to discover as I flipped them over, that the roasting tin had decided that today was a good day was a good day to die, and there was silver lining stuck to the underside of virtually every potato. Noooooooooo!! We managed to rescue them though :-)

Christmas this year has been marked by something different for me: a marked lack of gluttony. Although I'm no longer feeling sick, the need to snack or over-indulge has stayed away. Instead I've been back to eating very intuitively - I eat when I'm hungry and don't when I'm not. I don't pay too much attention to whether it's a meal-time or not, and I seem to have stopped suffering from my eyes-bigger-than-my-stomach syndrome for the moment. It's rather nice to feel just comfortably full and not guiltily stuffed or tormented by all the festive foodstuffs around me.

Tomorrow will be a chill-out day - my true Christmas day to relax and do what I want to. Mostly reading, and getting in my second HM training run I think, with maybe a quick trip into town to have a peek at the Fat Face sale when it opens and see if I can get the coat I've had my eye on all season!

Merry Christmas one and all!!!

- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, 22 December 2011

One Appetite: Missing!!

Woohooo - it's been a bit of a roller-coaster week, as expected from my travel plans that I had!

The work Christmas party was great fun, but thankfully I neglected to get drunk and make a prat of myself. What a shame. Instead I shuffled off home at about 2am, in a relatively sober state and with a camera full of photographic evidence of other's shame!

The Enchanted Christmas on Saturday was lush. Very pretty and very silly, and not a little bit smushy, but we'll just gloss over that shall we? Beautiful Christmas-lit forest was strolled around (new conclusion - every tree should have a floodlight and a mirror ball in it!), Christmas tree decorations were (attempted to be) made (and much giggling at how crap ours were), super-chocolatey hot chocolate was consumed, followed by roast chestnuts and mulled wine whilst watching the carrollers - it was all very good. Afterwards I was treated to dinner at River Station in Bristol .... but only after we'd wandered all around town trying to decide where to go and finding everywhere busy and practically ending up back where we started - classic incident for us!

Sunday saw a very lazy lie-in followed by a bimble to the M Shed museum with Chris and Hannah. I was meant to be going to candlelit carols in the evening but didn't feel up to it and spent the evening lazing.

On Monday, still not feeling fabulous, I trundled down to London to see the girls. We hit Winter Wonderland on Monday evening, which was excellent, Kew Gardens on Tuesday followed by cake in the village for lunch, and then Jo took me to see Wicked! on Tuesday night as my b'day present - amazing!!!

I'm now finally back at my Dad's for Christmas and wholeheartedly ready to relax. That's the last of the running round now. The next few days are just chilling out and short trips to see local friends.

Something weird has happened though. My appetite has disappeared. It started on Saturday night after the lovely dinner out. I had to stop half-way through dinner as I was so full, and started to feel sick an hour or so later. Half nauseous, half so-full-it's-painful. I wasn't sick and I wouldn't have said I was that full when I stopped eating, but it took a couple of hours to go away.

I didn't eat again til lunchtime on Sunday, by which time I felt properly hungry again. I had a single panini, no trimmings. About 4 hours later - feeling sick again. Exactly the same sensations, and it lasted all evening. With a bit of dizziness and lethargy thrown in for good measure. Again, I wasn't sick, but hence no carols.

By the time we were at Winter Wonderland on Monday, I'd managed a half bowl of cereal for breakfast and 2 bits of toast for lunch, but the smells of all the foods at the markets held absolutely no appeal at all. Not the Belgian waffles, the burgers, the confectionary - nothing. I managed one small cup of mulled wine, but couldn't have any more. I did manage some fajitas when we got home, but less than my usual greedy self, and thought maybe I was getting better.

It's been coming and going since then - on one day I'll be ok-ish, but even then I'm still eating less than I normally would, because I've no inclination to snack or gorge. On other days I'm barely eating - yesterday was a busy day as I drove from London to Bristol, packed at the flat and loaded the car, popped into the office to sort some bits, ran a few quick errands and then drove home to Malvern, but all I ate all day was 2 pieces of toast at about 9.30-10 in the morning and then a very light meal with my dad in the evening. I just wasn't hungry at all.

I don't know if my body just overdosed on rich food last week and is rebelling this week? It's all very odd. On the upside, I think I've lost a lb or two as a result!

Will just have to keep an eye on it and see what happens!

- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Festive Frenzy

I seem to have allowed myself to be thoroughly swept up in the spirit of the festive season this year and I suspect a chunk of that is due to feeling much happier this year than I have for a while.

This time three years ago, I was pretty miserable. I was overweight and at the end of my tether. Nothing much seemed to be right with my life. That Christmas resulted in a pact with my best friend Jo that we would really make the effort to lost weight and improve our health in 2009.

By two years ago, I was over 4 stone lighter, and in losing the weight I was starting to realise all the other ways I was trapped and dissatisfied with my life. Lighter but still miserable, just in a different way. The thing with becoming aware of yourself is you start to see how big the rut you're in really is, and how far you're going to have to go to get out of it.

Christmas 2010 was right after a big period of change - I'd been travelling, given up my job, moved cities, cut some ties, or at least distanced myself a bit. I'd maintained my loss for a year, but was still largely trying to work out who this new person was. Surrounded by a new place and new people, I was slowly getting to grips with her, and I'd had a period of introspection with the help of some councelling to get me there. I'd moved out of my comfort zone and was surprisingly finding it wasn't that uncomfortable at all. Bristol was proving a fresh start to be who I wanted to be.

A year on from there, and I can't believe how many new friends I have now, and how settled I feel here. I've maintained my loss for 2 years now, I've tried so many new things, and I know now that I'm still evolving. I feel more secure in myself. This is me.

Over these weeks in the roll-up to Christmas I have celebrated, and will celebrate, with many friends who accept me for exactly who I am - something I'm learning to do too. They encourage me to do fun stuff, push boundaries, grow personally and just be me. 

That's no slur on my friends I've left in Malvern at all, they're all lovely too, but in the hothouse environment of a close-knit group in a small town, most of whom were at a different place in life to me, I was stifled. Now I can enjoy the time I spend with them, although I regret I haven't seen them quite as much as I'd like to, and appreciate them for who they are, rather than occasionally resenting them.
This Christmas, I've shopped and planned until I'm relatively organised (for me at least). I've got something fabulous to wear to the work party tomorrow night, that makes me feel great - helloooooooo black sequin skirt, silky bronze assymetric top, little black fitted blazer and sexy black heels (or maybe slouchy suede boots for ease of walking and dancing!). My Secret Santa has been selected and wrapped. Most of my presents have been ordered or worked out, and festive fun has been planned.

And yes, having a lovely new man on the scene doesn't hurt in ramping up the excitement and feel-good factor :o)
Christmas, so far, is looking like this:
  • Work Christmas party tomorrow - 3 course lunch at the lovely Bordeaux Quay followed by .... probably lots more drinking and some silly dancing, I should imagine!
  • Enchanted Christmas at Westonbirt Arboretum on Saturday early evening with Chris.  A floodlit walk through their beautiful woods, followed by mulled wine and roasted chestnuts in their little Christmas village.  Yep, it's smooshy and vomit-inducing ... and I'm totally looking forward to it.  Shoot me.  Followed by dinner in town and possibly Christmas drinks with our friends depending on what they organise.
  • Candlelit carols in Clifton with my friend Sarah from work on Sunday evening.
  • Monday I'm off to London for a couple of days to see Jo, and I think our friend Lissa is now joining us.  The Costa Rica Girls reunited!  We're going to Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, ice-skating, Christmas markets, more mulled wine, and general Christmassy goodness.  Plus lots of gossiping and a bit of wine, I should imagine.
  • Back home to Worcestershire on Thursday - hopefully I'm going to catch school friends for drinks in the evening whilst they're home (damn these people who are all getting married and not coming home for Christmas anymore - it makes it difficult to catch up!)
  • Coffee catch-up with another friend and her husband on Friday.
  • Christmas with my dad and grandma.  Low-key, chilled out and comfortable.
  • Hopefully get hold of my friends Bridget and Tim and see them between Christmas and New Year, either at home or in their new gaff.
  • Back to London for New Year - simple and relaxed - watch the fireworks by the Thames and more girly fun.
After that it will be back to work for the silly season.  Between then and now, it's like a Christmas binge!  Hell, I've used the "C" word 15 times in this post alone!

One thing I do need to be aware of is my weight.  The festive season is not generally too kind to the waist-line, and I'd like to emerge the other end without damage.  Since seeing 13st again on the scales last Friday, I've actually scraped back down under there.  What I haven't been doing is tracking.  Neither is my exercise at the level it would usually be.  There is a fine line to tread between success and disaster, and I need to be careful. 

This week will see me miss both my spin class (I had a team lunch out with work today) and my circuits class (work party tomorrow).  So that's a general lack of exercise happening.  On the other hand, I'm due to start my half-marathon training plan next week, which should see me running 3 times a week over the holiday period.  2 hours of running in the first week and building from there.  That's a slightly frightening thought, but if I stick to it, could prove to be a waist-saver. 

Despite not tracking I'm trying to be quite balanced with what I'm eating; so a big lunch, or afternoon snacks (we had work drinks in the office yesterday) is followed by a very light tea.  Since starting reading the Mindless Eating book, I'm also suddenly finding myself more conscious of my behaviours.  The chapter I started reading last night was called The Forgotten Food, and looked at how the mind / body often doesn't remember what we've eaten - I was very conscious of that at lunch today because we were at a buffet restaurant which is the worst culprit for that sort of behaviour.  I can't say how I'd have behaved if I hadn't read that chapter just last night, but I can categorically say I've just had one small / medium plate of Chinese food, a bowl of Pho soup which I didn't finish because I realised I didn't need to, and a small bowl of dessert.  And I'm stuffed.  I don't know if it's because I'm very conscious that I've eaten a lot, so I'm feeling full, but most of the people I was with had 4 or 5 plates of food, and one guy had 7, so I'm very pleased with my 3.

Reading that book over Christmas is going to prove interesting, as I have a sneaking suspicion it might provoke me to think a bit more about what I'm eating.

Hope you're all gearing up for a happy, fun but healthy holiday too!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

A Little Light Reading

I headed off to go and do some more of the dreaded Christmas shopping last night. Not my favourite task because, like packing to go away, it requires an element of forethought and planning and frankly, I'm more of a live-in-the-moment kind of girl.

As I wandered round the mall, gathering bits from my list and ideas for other gifts, something caught my eye:

Could this book be more appropriate for me? The author is a leading expert in food psychology, with particular interest in how marketing and our environment affects us, and the book covers a number of studies and discusses how we can reverse the trend. It's split down into lots of punchy chapters, so I thought I might aim to read a chapter every day or so.

Once I'd wrapped up as much of my shopping as I could, I picked up the car and headed for home. I've been fancying takeaway for a few days now, but had been putting it off. Partly because when I order online and get it delivered I end up with a lot of food. Instead I decided to find an actual takeaway on the way home last night and just order the one thing I really wanted. So much better - I had a delicious duck chow mein (dodgy looking takeaway but scrumptious food - the duck breast, complete with crunchy seasoned skin, was sliced across the top of the noodles - heaven!) and didn't feel over-stuffed or bloated.

I read the introduction and first chapter of Mindless Eating then trundled off to bed.

- Posted from my iPhone

Monday, 12 December 2011

30 Second Hangover Cure

I can't believe that another weekend has been and gone already - where does the time go??? 

After my colleague's sad, sad news on Friday, I sort of threw myself in to the weekend, with a determination to enjoy what I've got.  Friday night was the surf club's Christmas party, and I managed to book a taxi and actually be ready on time, which is always a surprise for me!  I had a sparkly top, some massive fake eyelashes, and a sensible budget of cash for the night, and the will to have fun. 

I was a bit surprised at my menu choices - I evidently picked my dinner when I was in a very health-conscious frame of mind, but it was tasty anyway, and I dodged the bloated feeling after a meal involving pizza or pasta, because I'd opted for veal with vegetables and little tiny roasted potatoes instead.  I enjoyed some top-notch gossiping over dinner with a few glasses of prosecco, and some crazy dancing in the club afterwards, but took myself off home at a reasonable(ish) hour of 2.30am, because I was conscious that I was getting tired, had had enough to drink and needed to get up in the morning.  The 30 min walk home from the club was good to clear my head, and possible because I'd had the forethought to pop some flat pumps in my handbag in a plastic bag to change into - ultra-organised!

I still woke up feeling a bit fuzzy and tired on Saturday, and it was a bit of an effort to drag myself very slowly out of bed and get sorted, but I managed to leave pretty much on time to go and meet Chris at his place, and after a quick lunch it was back in the car and off to the coast.  Let me tell you, that a mid-December surf in the UK is the best hangover cure you can get.  All feelings of fuzziness will be eliminated in under a minute and leave you feeling wide-awake!

I had my first session on a proper surf-board as opposed to a beginner's soft-deck on Saturday.  I hired from a local shop and they offered me a choice, and since I'm trying to find a board to buy at the moment, I thought it would be good to get a feel for a proper board.  Lighter and shorter than I'm used to, but actually lots of fun.  The surf was a bit choppy and changeable, but I managed to catch a few waves, and probably managed to get to my feet at least 5 or so times, so I was pretty damn happy with that.  Chris had opted to take his surf-canoe down instead and was off out back catching the surf, which actually worked out pretty well, as we were keeping an eye out for each other, but he wasn't close enough for me to feel self-conscious about constantly falling off in front of him.  We checked in with each other a couple of times, but mostly enjoyed solo practice time for me, and remembering old tricks and playing for him. 

I came out when my hands finally got too cold to move, but having had a couple of good waves to finish on.  My hands were so cold I dropped the board twice on the way up the beach as it just slipped out of my grasp!  Definitely need to look into getting some gloves to go with my winter wetsuit and boots!  Once we'd managed to struggle out of cold, wet gear and crawl into warm, dry clothing and strapped everything back to the car, we beat a hasty retreat to the closest pub for hot chocolate and brownies.

The good thing about spending time with Chris is that I seem to eat quite well when I'm with him.  Normally, post-surf time is an excuse to chuck a load of sugar and fat down your neck in an attempt to warm up and ward off the post-surf exhaustion that tends to sneak up on you.  Instead, I enjoyed the brownie and hot chocolate, and then we jumped back in his car and headed back North, where he cooked me hake with garlic and lemon, tenderstem broccoli and lovely mashed potatoes with nutmeg and butter, whilst I slumped on the sofa with Strictly Come Dancing and a gin and tonic... at his encouragement.  You've got to love a guy that takes you surfing for the afternoon, then reminds you Strictly is on whilst cooking your tea and making you a drink!! Good man!

Saturday evening and yesterday were pretty much all about the chilling out - bad tv on the sofa and a lot of dozing and hanging out.  I was quite pleased to see that the scales had shuffled back down under 13st this morning too.

This week is all about planning and tidying up odds and ends.  It's the last week in the office before the New Year, and I've got another Christmas party and some work drinks eating into my office hours.  I've got plans to finalise for next weekend, next week, and the New Year, and a few more presents to buy - nothing to stressful, but I need to be a little bit organised about it all.  I think I shall maybe do my Christmas cards tonight and a bit more research on the presents I have left to buy.

Thanks so much for your lovely compliments on the photos too .... I really love them, so it's nice to know others think they're good too.  It's obviously not what I look like day-to-day, but it's good to know I scrub up well ;-)

Friday, 9 December 2011

And Just Like That ...

Everything can change in an instant.

That is what I have learned today, and I wish to God I could have learned it in a better way.

Yesterday, I walked home from work, thinking that whilst it had been a shit day, it could all have been infinitely worse.  The damage to the phone was only cosmetic - it could have been totally busted.  My landlord seems at least to be willing to talk about the deposit.  All the little niggles that had gone wrong during the day, were just that: little.  They could have been big.  I started to look at it all in a more positive light - nothing truly terrible had happened.

I went home, got changed, and drove up to the photographic studios to collect my photos from the shoot, and then over the river to collect the veg box for my friends who are currently putting me up.  All was safely achieved, and I went home.  I had a mutual moan with Hannah's about how shit our respective days had been, ate some comfort food in the form of a jacket potato with beans and fresh bread and butter, and chilled.

The photos were beautiful (more on that another time - I'll show you a few soon), and by the time it rolled round to being time to go to the pub for surf club, I was feeling much better.  I trundled up there, and was a bit surprised to see nobody there I knew, but realised this meant I would be able to reclaim my valuable parking spot at Hannah's and not have to move the car in the morning.  See - every cloud has a silver lining.

This morning, I walked to work, enjoying the sun, and still with a bounce in my step over how lovely the photos had turned out.  I felt good, and shiny, even if the scales did show my the dreaded 13st this morning - the wages of too long spent not paying attention.  But even there, I'm slowly returning to my exercise routine, and I'll be running regularly soon, and it's within my control.

I was complimenting one of my colleagues on her new hairstyle just half an hour ago - a lady I know and like and enjoy chatting too, and her response was this: "well, I  might as well tell you, I've got cancer". 

Secondary cancer.  Just a couple of weeks ago, she went for a routine mammogram, and they found a large lump.  Last week she went back for the results, and they told her it had doubled in size, in just those two weeks - it was very aggressive cancer, but the good news was her lymph nodes were clear, and they would operate. 

But this Tuesday, further tests revealed that it is in her blood, and has already spread to her lungs. 

In the space of a week, in the space of that instant even, all hope has been taken away.  They won't be operating, because it will just keep coming back.  All they can do is treat it, and see how long that works for. She'd cut her hair so it wouldn't look as bad when it started falling out from the chemo.

She's dying. 

I can barely take it in.  How can that happen?  She's not even 50 yet, doesn't smoke, lives pretty healthily, but she's dying anyway.  The only question now is how long she fights it for.

Everything else tastes like ashes today. 

We should take care of everything we have, because I've just learned today, that it takes approximately 5 seconds to have it all snatched away from you.  Appreciate the hell out of what you have, kids, because in the end, it's all you have.

Live well.  Love well.  Take care of yourself and those you care about.  Forget about what doesn't matter and just focus on what does.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Karma's A Bitch

And She seems to have it in for me this week.

Seriously - I seem to be having the worst luck ever.  I feel a bit like I had one nice weekend, and now I'm having to pay for it big-time.

So far this week:
  • I've walked into the sharp corner of the coffee table twice - one bright red stripe to each knee - and a bench on the way to work - huge scrape / bruise to the shin.  All in the space of 12 hours.
  • I finally managed to get hold of my errant ex-landlord to chase him about my releasing my deposit, only to be told that actually he wants to deduct me £185 for cleaning.  Cleaning!!  I vacuumed, washed, swept and tidied that flat when I left, and it was in pretty much exactly the same shape as when I arrived.  It was tidy and habitable, and there was no damage outside what you'd expect for a year's normal wear and tear.  I hadn't even smashed a plate or glass in my time there.  Unfortunately, the landlord didn't go to inspect it himself, but sent a professional inventory clerk, who even more unfortunately went in with the new tenant.  It would appear that the new tenant has demanded everything be professionally cleaned, including the sofa, which already had faint marks and wear and tear when I moved in.  No way in hell am I paying for some new tenant's super-finicky cleaning requirements, especially since the clerk probably didn't see the flat before I moved in so therefore can't make a judgment on the condition.  I'm just so fed up with all this shit from this house-move.  I'm disputing the deduction, and the only vaguely good thing is that when I spoke to the landlord yesterday, he sounded like he's open to negotiation.  Mind you, the agency are being a pain and could take a masterclass in "it's not our problem and we won't be helping".  Thank god the law comes down on the side of the tenant on this, but means I won't probably be getting any of my deposit back any time soon until it's sorted.
  • I was still technically dating somebody else until yesterday, who I'd been seeing for a couple of months.  It was sort of dying the death anyway, even before the new boy came along, and I was kind of hoping it would all just fade away quietly, since we hadn't seen each other and had barely spoken since before I moved, but no such luck, and I had to tell him last night.  I haaaaate letting people down, even though it did have to be done and he agreed with me, but it was still traumatic and crappy.
  • I dropped my iPhone (the new one I've only had for about 2 months) on the way to work this morning and cracked the screen, scraped / chipped the top.  Great.
  • The surfboard I'd found on eBay that seemed perfect was withdrawn from sale before the auction even flipping ended.
  • And just for a finale - my fruit salad box didn't close properly this morning, so as I was carrying my notebooks and breakfast to a meeting, I suddenly felt something cold trickling down my left side, and realised that my notebook, on which my salad box was resting, was a little lake of orange juice that my dripping all down my pale jumper and grey trousers.  Great.
So you can see why I feel just a little bit put upon at the moment.  Unreasonably or not, I feel like this is my payback for actually having a nice weekend.  That just as I might be able to line up one part of my life, everything else starts falling apart.  Grumble, grumble, grumble.  I probably just need to get over myself, and accept that bad stuff, bad days, well, they happen from time to time.  And sometimes it will all seem like it's coming at once .... especially if it's on the back of a stressful period (like not having a house) and you're probably more sensitive than usual to all the little things.

Le Sigh.  Just time to batten down the hatches and keep plodding I guess.  The house stuff will all sort itself out eventually.  Breaking up with Andy was the right thing to do.  The phone is only cosmetically damaged, bruises will fade,  and the fruit juice has dried out.  And in the meantime it's nearly Christmas and time to catch up with my friends and family and appreciate what has gone right.  Nearly the end of the year now.  Fresh starts, a brand new year and brand new adventures hover on the horizon, beckoning us forwards.  I just need to tidy up the loose ends and move forwards.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Wales Weekend

..... or the post that was nearly entitled Fluffy Bunnies, because I appear to have lost the plot.
I had an unashamedly fantastic weekend.  Except I do feel a little shame-faced about it, because I find myself in an annoying gushy state, where I seem to have some kind of coy grin glued to my face everytime somebody asks me about it.  God help me - I seem to be having a Soppy Phase.

My friend Liz at work was killing herself laughing at lunchtime, because I famously doesn't ever get involved with other people - I dabble, I play, I flirt ... and then I run off screaming in the other direction.  And yet here I sit, having just come back from a weekend that Liz pointed out would have given heart palpitations to much longer-standing "new" couples: The First Weekend Away (And With Other Couples Too), and I loved it.  Bollocks.  My reputation is ruined.

As Liz put it "you've gone from meeting to married in about 3 weeks!".  I'd argue it's not quite that bad, but I do appear to be unusally chilled out about it all.

The weekend itself was in North Wales, in a friend's little cottage, complete with log fires, lots of team board games and winter walks in the rain and mud.  And a smattering of snow on the way home.  It was about as twee cliche as you can get!  Dan, who's cottage it was, also prepared an obscene amount of good food to keep us going - from the vegetarian variation of a tartiflette (with roasted squash in - yum!) followed by caramelised pears that greeted us on our arrival on Friday, to the American pancakes in the morning, full roast dinner with local lamb and every trimming you can think of, homemade lemon mousse with lavendar shortbreads, and the amazing meringure creations and warm scones we finished with on Sunday afternoon. 

Surprisingly, despite all that, I didn't actually eat too much on Friday or Saturday, as we were out walking and not snacking, and the portions weren't that crazy and I refused seconds.  I didn't drink too much either, as it was red wine on Friday night, and I bought my own bottle of white for Sat, but only had about 2/3 over the course of the evening.

The original plan was to spend more time outdoors, but the weather was pretty foul - we were all kitted out for going up Tryfan on Saturday, but it was so windy when we got there and raining hard too, that we decided it would be too exposed and went for a walk up the valley next door instead.  Even then, we were getting blown sideways and drenched, so I'm pretty glad we didn't go up the Tryfan as the words "scrambling" and "gale-force" do not go together in my book.  On another trip perhaps.

Anyway, it's all back to earth with a bump now - back to work and starting to fret about what Xmas presents to get various people, and how little time there is til the craziness of the festive period takes off, and day-dreaming about next weekend and going off for a sneaky surfing trip followed by dinner with .... oh FFS - someone please tell me when I'll snap out of this???  It doesn't last long right?

Right - feel free to laugh at me - I'm just going to go and bury my head in shame ...

Thursday, 1 December 2011

I've Started So I'll Finish

Hmmmm - yesterday's committment to the plan didn't quite go to plan.  It wasn't terrible but it was definitely a far more "relaxed" attempt than it should have been.  And that is not going to help!

I was reading through my blog feeds this morning and this post gave me a wake-up call.  A get-off-your-ass-and-make-the-effort kick up the backside (thanks Phil!).

I can't remember the last time I had a proper food-Nazi day when I was really strict with myself.  In fact, I've been rather relaxed for a little too long now, and I know it because the scale tells me so.  Having got back down to my lowest point over the summer, I'm now back hovering where I spent most of last year.  And most of last year was spent thinking "my clothes feel a little too tight!".  I'm still maintaining, obviously, but I'm maintaining at a slightly higher weight than I really feel comfortable with.  That's doubly annoying since I hadn't actually lost everything I wanted to yet - from where I am now, I have another stone and a half or so to go.  20lbs.

20lbs exactly, as at this morning, as it happens.  I've been hovering in that 10-20lbs to lose bracket for the last two years, which is great because it means I've maintained a 40-50lb loss for that time, but annoying because I don't feel like I'm finished.  The story doesn't have an ending.

In the past 3 years since I began this whole adventure, I've started or tried so many new things: running, surfing, climbing, wake-boarding, dating again, liking myself, hell - even inspiring other people.  It would now be really good to finish something - losing this weight.

Obviously, I still need to work out what approach is best for that.  For today at least (again) I've prodded my inner food-Nazi until she's woken up, roared and taken command (and I'll figure out how tonight's cocktail meet-up with my new flatmates fits into that) - I'm not sure if I just aim to maintain that, one day at a time, until I get where I want to go, or try some other routine to get me there.  20lbs is really not that far though.  Especially if I break it down into 4 lots of 5lbs each.  For now, howabout I aim for that first 5lbs, to take me back to 12st 7lbs.  There doesn't seem like a better time to start than today, with Christmas and all the parties looming!

I'm meeting with my new flatmates tonight to discuss the housing situation, and then I have to try and pack for this weekend away with The Boy (I'm just going to have a mini freakout here for a moment).  No backing out now as he's already told his friends I'm joining them for the weekend.  breathebreathebreathe.  I'm sure it'll be fine, fun even, it's just I've always kept all of my relationships very separate from my friends before - hell, none of them usually last that long, so why complicate them with introducing friends into the mix and worrying what other people are thinking? 

Guess that choice has been taken away from me this time - a big step into a big, bad new world (don't judge me - I'm about as emotionally advanced as 13 year old when it comes to relationships - always have been!).  New things might be scary, but so was trying all the new stuff I listed above, so why not this too?!?!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Reasons To Be Cheerful

I could sit here today,  and tell you about how grumpy I am.  I could whine about how it's not fair, and I get all the bad luck and nothing good ever happens to me.

But I shan't. 

I mean, yes, I did get the news yesterday that my moving in date of 1 Jan to the new flat has fallen through.  And yes, I couldn't find a proper parking space last night or this morning (or in fact, the winter coat and flat work shoes that I went shopping for last night which caused me to move the car in the first place).  And yes, I managed to spill toothpaste down myself this morning (note - don't attempt an entire conversation whilst brushing your teeth - it doesn't work) and was therefore late for work.  But frankly, none of that is the end of the world.

The toothpaste came out.  The car can be moved tonight.  And there are always have other options on the flat - the girls I was planning to move in with are still keen to do so and we just have to work out where.  In the meantime, I've done a bit of research and there are places I can move to for a month or so after Christmas if I need to.  Or we could look at getting a different flat that's available sooner.  And my wonderful friend Hannah actually suggested I could just stay at hers for a bit longer if I need to.

Plus there are reasons to be cheerful:

  • People at my work are lovely, and they give out compliments all the time - I've had 2 people 3 people (another one just came to chat to me at my desk whilst I was writing this) tell me how much they like my new black lace tights today - one of them I don't even know terribly well and stopped me in the corridor just to mention it!
  • My friends are super-awesome.  When I told Hannah about the flat problem last night, she just offered that I stay another month with her (subject to her flatmate's agreement of course).  Other friends have rallied around with suggestions and condolences and further offers of beds.  Then there's the fact that they always have nice things to say when I see them, and seem to genuinely care what I'm up to.
  • I might be between permanent abodes, which is unsettling, but it's definitely saving me some cash.  With any luck, by the time the flat thing is settled, I might have a little extra lump sum to put to my debts.
  • I will be ok.  All of this stuff, testing as it is, will make me stronger.  The more things I survive on my own, the more I know I can and the more capable and confident I become.  I will find a lovely new home.  I will sort my debts out.  And I will be healthy and happy.
  • And there just might be a rather nice man interested in me.  An actual bona fide man from the real world, not the world of the internet, but a friend of a friend.  We've only met up a couple of times so far, but we get on well and he's invited me away this weekend for a casual weekend with some friends of his, some of which I know too.  Eeeeeeep!  I'm still trying to decide if that's a good idea (2 of the girls are terrible gossips so it might all be a bit under the microscope) but it's exciting none-the-less.
On a more boring front of food and activity, I don't seem to be doing an amazing job unless I keep a really active eye on it, so I'll aim to make today a good day, and just keep taking it one day at a time.

More anon, Challengers of Life!

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

And Now For Something Completely Different ...

Last night was time to try something new.  A friend had bought a two-for-one voucher for a climbing taster session at Undercover Rock in Bristol, and had sent the cry out for willing victims to come with her.  Naturally, not being at all accident prone (or a tiny bit scared of heights), I jumped right in there and volunteered myself.  Then another friend decided to join us, and thus it was that the three of us were stood looking slightly intimidated outside a random church in a suburb of Bristol at 6.30pm last night.

It turned out that all of us were slightly nervous about heights (clearly, we'd all thought this through properly), so there was a certain amount of nervous anticipation as we watched the climbers going up the walls like spiders, hanging in improbable positions, and very occasionally, falling off.  Then our instructor appeared and quite firmly lead us off in a totally different direction to some walls that looked a lot more friendly.

The first trip up the wall saw me scamper quite quickly up a beginner's route (4? 5a?  Who knows!), but then suddenly realise that I was quite a long way up at the top, as I hesitated trying to figure out the last step-up / hand-hold.  Then there was  a slight dicy moment as I reminded myself that it's ok to trust the harness when you abseil back down, and in fact that relaxing is much more comfortable than somehow trying to hold your entire weight on the line via your hands.  Once the first time jitters had subsided though, and I'd had a quick break whilst belaying the two girls up and back, I set off up a different route much more comfortably the second time.  Up and back quite comfortably.

I'd have quite happily gone for round 3 on the wall, I think, but from the climbing wall, we transferred through to one of the bouldering areas to try something a bit different.  I loved these!  Short climbs with only a short way to fall, so you could scamper up and back and then try something different.  On our section we had pink routes, which were the easiest and purple with yellow spots.  I tried two of the latter, before spotting one last pink that I reckoned I could just fit in before we all finished.  Apparently this one was different though, as the instructor said although it was pink, it was more complicated as it straddled the corner of the room and a jutting out section of wall, and you had to move laterally as well as vertical.  She offered to coach me up it though, so I was game to try, and whilst it was definitely more challenging, it was also more fun because I was really having to think about where my hands and feet (and bum at one point!) were going, in order to allow me to change direction.  I came back down from that one, just starting to feel that the strength of my grip was wearing out, and my calves were just starting to threaten to cramp as I pushed to reach a foothold.

What really amazed me about the session was how strong I felt.  I expected to suck at climbing, thinking that I'd be totally the wrong body-type for it, but, at the level we were working at, it was great.  I actually ended up feeling really athletic.  It probably helped that I'd been to my normal Body Balance class at lunchtime, as I seemed to be a bit more flexible that some of the others on the taster course.  Once I'd been up a few times, I also started to feel much more comfortable with the heights and the ropes, and my own ability.

The girls did well too, but ultimately decided it wasn't for them although it had been fun - they were that bit more nervous of the heights than me, and I could see them struggling a bit with the pshcological aspect of it at times.  For me though, I could feel that if I practiced a bit more, I'd be able to get more comfortable and probably have at least a degree of improvement before I hit the discomfort barrier again.  And did I mention how strong it made me feel??? :o)  So I've booked on to a two session beginners' course, which is the follow up to the taster session we did last night.

Food-wise, I didn't do too badly yesterday.  I seem to be in a bit of a hungry phase at the moment, so I'm probably eating a little more than I should, but tracking it all again.  In a bid to save pennies, we decided not to bother with dinner out last night, which meant I had an hour to get home from work, get changed, shove some food down my throat and leave.  Since I'm still staying at Hannah's, I was a bit hesitent over which veg was ear-marked for which meal, so constructed a speedy bowl of pasta with pesto with a bit of sweetcorn and some chorizo in.  There might have been a Yorkie bar after climbing as well, but I felt that was fairly well earned.

Right, I'm going to sit here and try and work out where else I ache in a slightly improbably place!

Monday, 28 November 2011

Foody Weekend

Ooooh - it's been a weekend of gorgeous food!  Several glorious meals out and some amazing home-cooking later, and I'm surprisingly still at the same weight I was pre-weekend.  I think that has to go down as some kind of success story!

I kicked off Friday with a delicious curry at Myristica in Bristol.  I probably only started eating curry about 18 months to 2 years ago, so I'm still fairly cautious about what I choose, but I decided to venture and have something a little different this time, so tried a halibut tail curry with coconut and tamarind, which was absolutely delicious!  There was quite a lot of booze on Friday night too, but I somehow still managed to make sure I stopped when I was pretty comfortable full and just had a small portion of rice and naan with what I ate of my curry.  I have to confess that I went to bed feeling a little fuzzy-headed though.

Saturday's venison stew when we got back from the beach was a masterpiece.  Tender from being in the slow-cooker and chock-full of winter vegetables, and I was particularly proud of the dumplings I made - light and fluffy and falling apart - perfect Winter food.

The walk yesterday in the Quantocks was glorious.  The beech woods were in full Autumnal colour, with crunchy leaves underfoot, and the moorland up top was all russets and greens and wind-swept with blue skies overhead.  And we saw deer!  A whole herd of red(?) deer sprang out of the brack ahead of us and darted away over the ridge. 

I nearly missed dinner in Bath, as I was still busy drinking tea and chatting in Bridgwater after the walk, and hadn't thought to check how long it would take me to get to Bath from there - I was assuming about 45 minutes, and when I checked on my phone it was more like 1hr 20 - just enough time to throw off muddy trousers, chuck on clean clothes and jump in the car - oooops!  

Dinner was well worth it though.  We caught a deal to eat on the terrace at the Pump Rooms in Bath.  As anyone who's ever had afternoon tea there knows, the kitchens are really rather good, so the opportunity to have dinner there, overlooking the main Roman baths after dark, was really too good to miss.  The food was superb too - a spiced parsnip and butterbean soup served with a warm cheese muffin (and I am so not too posh to dunk, even in good company!), a main of beef and apricot casserole with parsnip mash and parsnip crisps, one of the best dauphinoise potatoes I've ever had, and lovely fresh spring greens and buttered carrots and Brussel sprouts, and finally a warm spiced apple strudel with cinnamon marscapone on the side.  Ooooh, and a glass of prosecco too (although just the one, as I was driving - the girls also sampled a local Chardonnay blend, which they said was very nice indeed).

For me, this was perfect winter food - flavoursome and filling, but with beautiful little touches lifting it above the standard of anything I could cook.  Other choices on the menu included salmon with braised fennel and a mussel sauce, and a game terrine with cherry chutney, and a triple-layered chocolate mousse with marinated cherries.  Everything was seasonal, local and beautifully presented.  Soooooooo good.

I've managed to be a bit more organised today, and actually pulled out my yoga gear and packed it, so I could head to my lunchtime session - my god, I've missed that the last couple of weeks!  After work tonight, I'll be heading to Undercover Rock for a climbing taster session .... ummmmm, should be interesting!  I'm not sure I'll be any good at climbing - the last time I tried it was when we did Via Ferrata in the Alps in 2008, and I realised I had no head for heights.  But that wasn't technical climbing, and this will be.  Ah well - will be interesting to try!  I think we're then heading for a late supper afterwards at a little Lebanese restaurant round the corner from the climbing centre .... I'm not sure I've ever had Lebanese before!

The good think about the next couple of weeks is that both the girls I'm staying with have decided that it's time they got back on their own healthy eating / fitness regimes, which will hopefully make it easier for me too.  Now I've just got to stop eating out so much.

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Writing It and Fighting It

I just realised this morning, looking at the feeds I get sent to my phone everyday (which is most of the ones I read) that of the 64 I have listed, literally only half of those, 32, are still actively posting. Given how many of those were weight-loss or healthy-living blogs, I wonder what happened to the others. There's one that I know is still going very strong, as I follow her via other mediums, but the rest? Well, I wonder.

As much as this journey, much like life itself, seems to be 2 steps forward and 1 step back, I feel like I'm still trying - especially when I write about it. Celebrate my triumphs, record my mistakes for posterity and future learning.

This weekend has been fairly sensible so far. Friday was my relaxed day, ending with a curry and some drinks after work. Yesterday was a sort of chill out day - we were toying with surfing, but had to deploy our back-up plan of a bit of a walk as the wind was so high the surf was completely blown out at Saunton. There was also some very silly frisbee on the beach, which was a bit like Extreme Frisbee with the wind and ended up with us chasing it out of the sand dunes a couple of times. I got home to amazing venison stew out of the slow cooker that the girls had put on in the afternoon, and I made dumplings to finish it off.

I'm heading off for a walk in the Quantocks today and meeting the girls in Bath tonight for dinner on the terrace at the Pump Rooms as a belated celebration of Hannah's birthday.

Happy Sunday!

- Posted from my iPhone

Friday, 25 November 2011

Slotting The Pieces In Place

It seems like every day this week sees things change and my life turned a little bit more on its own head.  Yesterday saw me slot another piece into place with my possible new flat, as Sam (my first new flatmate) and I interviewed three more people and both instantly decided on the same person - the very lovely and bubbly Chrissie.  I met Sam on Monday, when I went to view the flat we want to take, and we really hit it off well - I think it bodes well that we immediately ranked the three girls we saw yesterday into the same order of preference. 

Now we're just waiting on final confirmation that the flat will be available for the end of the year - it's Sam's friends who live there at the moment, and one is in the process of buying a place, so everything hinges on her purchase going through next week.  Fingers crossed that if it all goes through, not only will I have somewhere to live, but I'll have an address to transfer my troublesome BT contract too, thus saving myself a whopping £360 in the process.  Although, let it be known that once this contract is up, I am never going back to BT after this, as I have been mostly appalled at their level of customer service with the exception of the one very kind guy who stuck his neck out for me, and risked getting in trouble, to try and help me out.

I'm also in the process of trying to find my first surfboard to buy, so the Thursday meet of the Surf Club at the pub last night, saw me involved in lots of board debate / discussion as I weigh up the options.  I really wanted to get away this weekend to get some surfing / boarding-trying in, but the surf forecast has defied me (and the amount of stuff from my flat still sat in the car), so that's going to have to wait for a few weeks .... booooooo.

There was other exciting stuff too, which I might tell you about in a couple of weeks, when I see how it turns out :-)

And finally, there was my committment to being healthy yesterday.  I think I did pretty well.  I ate more sensibly than I have recently, and I walked the 3 mile round trip to the pub to get some activity in.  It was nice to set myself a little target and stick to it.  I'm out for dinner tonight with work, so I'm allowing myself a slightly more relaxed day, but then tomorrow I'm aiming for another good day of eating and some activity of some sorts too.  And hopefully Sunday will see me going for a nice long walk.  If I get time, I'd even like to head for a run or some yoga over the weekend, but I'm not sure where that will fit in yet - we'll see.

Hope you all have fantastic weekends xx

Thursday, 24 November 2011

A Step At A Time

There are a huge amount of things going on in my life at the moment, or at least it feels that way.  Some you know about (hi, Housing Crisis, how are you?), some I've kept to myself, at least for the moment, as I don't know where they're going.  Forgive me my mystery moment - I don't have them often, and I reserve the right to be quixotic once in a while!

However, that is not a giant excuse to let things slide on the healthy front.  Yes, my life might be in quite a lot of turmoil, but I can still make better choices.  It's one of the few things that's still within my control.  Last night, I caught myself having a massive case of my eyes being bigger than my stomach at dinner, which lead me to sitting on the couch feeling sooooooo full, and wondering why I hadn't stopped eating.  Very silly.  So today, I'm making the committment here and now, to make it a good day, full of sensible choices.  I might not have much time today for exercising either, but I can do my best to move when I can.  It's here in black and white, and now I must stick to it.

I felt great after running the other night.  I even felt pretty great during most of the run.  And in the scale of scariness that is me having to start my half-marathon training in a couple of weeks, I realised that the run I did on Tuesday is the same as where I'll be starting my first week of training.  Which makes it a whole lot less scary.  So if I just concentrate on where I'm starting my training, and not freaking out about what I'll be attempting weeks down the line, I'll be better off.  I'm paying for the run at the moment though, as my quads feel a bit sore, and completely inexplicably, so do my ribs.  Uh, ribs??  Oh well. 

Actually, just concentrating on the here and now, will work well for most areas of my life-chaos at the moment.  Just deal with what's immediate, focus on what's in front of you.  One (arsehole) utility company at a time.  One step forwards with possible new flatshares at a time.  One day of healthy eating at a time. 

Keep it simple, and tackle each item, one at a time.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Drama Day

My birthday on Monday turned out to be such a day of highs and lows. I said a final good bye to my flat, and ran around like an idiot loading a final van of stuff into my storage room and getting the van back to the depot before work. Then at lunchtime I had to go fetch my car in the pouring rain and drive the keys back up to the agency, before driving round and round in circles in vain for 25 mins, just trying to find a parking space. It turns out that living in the city centre and not having an allocated parking spot sucks.

Then to round off what was turning into a bit of a sucky day, I rang BT in the afternoon to cancel my line (since I don't have anywhere to move it to right now), only to have an extremely unhelpful woman tell me that I can't because they sold me a 2 year contract and it will cost me £360 to cancel!!! I nearly cried. I later spoke to a second guy (I have to admit I hung up on the first woman as I just couldn't deal with her any more), who was trying to help me but explained that there was mechanism on the system for suspending an account when a customer has no address to move it to. In-fricking-believable.

I left work feeling pretty glum, I can tell you. I didn't have any time to dwell on it though, as I had to go straight to see a possible flatshare. Finally the day started to look a bit up, as I really liked the girl I met, and the flat seems nice, as well as being stupidly cheap, and she ended up offering me a spot in the new flatshare she's putting together.

When I finally stumbled home to Hannah's, I was greeted with a cup of tea and a big hug. It's certainly nice being able to unburden yourself at the end of the day - I guess that's something I've missed. And then I got my birthday present - my wonderful friends have bought me a Kindle! That was totally unexpected, but very lovely :-)

We celebrated my birthday with dinner at a lovely local restaurant called Europa, which Is a proper family-run Italian. The food was magnificent - coarse duck pate with Melba toast, tagliatelle with chicken, courgette and a tomato and cream sauce, and a magnificent chocolate dessert to finish - with a candle in it and happy birthday being sung. And a flaming sambuca, on the house, to finish. And lovely wine. And wonderful friends.

With my birthday out the way, I thought it was about time I started tracking my food again, as I realised it must a good week since I last did so. I also finally felt like running again last night. Slow but feeling strong, and maybe 3.5 miles. I've a long way to go before I'm even close to being ready for a half marathon, but it was nice to feel the strength of running again. Slightly sore legs today so I'm glad I didn't go any further. Slow and gentle.

There's some things to sort with house still, before I'll feel confident that it might be sorted, and there's still the matter of the
BT contract from hell to sort, but I'm slowly feeling that maybe I'm sorting things out a bit.

- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Things That Make Me Happy ...

.... listening to Paradise by Coldplay.

Everytime I hear it, I see tropical beaches in my head (a la the incomparable Starfish Bay on Bocas del Toro last summer), and I feel happy and calm.

Sometimes it's the little things.

The Other Side

I've survived.

It's officially my first day of having no fixed abode, which also happens to coincide with today being my 31st birthday.

The carnage of moving is nearly over, with just a few loose ends like handing back the keys and ringing the utilities companies to be accomplished.

The funny thing is that it hasn't hurt as much as I thought it would. I've been occasionally stressed and grumpy by turns, and I nearly cried when I thought I'd locked myself our yesterday (my poor friend Dave didn't know what to do, and was waiting for me to stop banging my head against the door - luckily we managed to get someone to let us back in the main door, and by some fluke I'd stopped my front door from closing all the way when we'd gone out, so he didn't have to see me cry).

I read somewhere over the weekend, that people who exercise regularly are more resilient and able to cope in stressful situations. I've been a bit off my game recently, but maybe it's helped me, all the same.

I'm going for dinner with friends tonight, and tomorrow I have to get back on it.

- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, 17 November 2011

Oh Dear


It's a very subdued version of me writing this evening, as it's all gone a bit pants in the last week.  My housing jinx has struck again, as my beautiful, perfect flatshare, that I was so excited about moving into this week, fell through on Sunday.

Where does that leave me?  Ummmm - a little bit homeless. 

I still have to be out of my current lovely pad on Monday this week, and there has not been time to sort out a replacement flat in time for that. 

The unfortunate thing about this situation, is that it plays on all my personal insecurities.  It pushes all my little buttons, and has left me pretty down.  The flat fell through because the (ass of a) guy who was meant to move out, suddenly decided that he didn't want to move after all.  He decided that on Sunday, which was a whole 10 days after I'd been offered the flat.  But, unfortunately, since I hadn't actually signed anything at the time, I hadn't a leg to stand on.

Ah bollocks.

Before the axe fell, I enjoyed a fabulous, if messy, weekend surfing Newquay.  I'm now the proud owner of a lovely new winter wetsuit and boots, and I'm suddenly thinking that surfing into the winter is looking like a fun thing.  A bit too much booze (read for that: a lot too much booze), not enough sleep, but on the whole I was pretty impressed with my eating, which was a bit more on par for a surfing weekend, than I've previously managed.

I can't say that I've tracked much this week - between the stress and the running around, I've not felt like it (yeah, yeah, not big, not clever).  However, I don't think I'm too far off beam - I'm probably more maintaining at the moment than losing, but that's ok.

In the meantime, I'm working on getting my flat packed up and into storage.  The wonderful Hannah, amongst so many other friends which has amazed me, has stepped up to offer me somewhere to stay for the next couple of weeks.  I've booked a storage room for the next 2 months, to give myself plenty of time, and I'll be camping out at Casa Hannah.

I'm just trying to press down all my irrational feelings of rejection and failure and loss of independence, which are plaguing me - ok, so I got turned down from two other flats, but since I didn't really want either of them (no bike storage for a start, and further away than I wanted), so I shouldn't be too downhearted about not being picked.  And I did nothing to deserve what happened with my lost flat (stupid little internal voice that cunningly whispered to me this morning that maybe my flatmate-to-be had simply found someone better and fobbed me off - why????  Why would I think that??). 

Sooooo - I'm like a little ball of emotions at the moment and trying to cope with it.  Trying not to be too down (even Dom who I work with said I seemed quiet when I was in the office earlier in the week), trying not to be paranoid, or stressed, or anything that isn't helpful to me.  I have a plan, I've set myself some timescales and back-up plans, and I have soooooooo many friends who are rallying round me, if I'll only let them help me.

I'll survive, and it will all sort itself out, because it always do - I always land on my feet - just usually via a rather undignified scramble with a few bumps and bruises along the way.  And then I'll go surfing again and wash all the grumpiness away.

Hope everything's going better for you lot than me. xx

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Eggsactly What I Needed

Oh - the relief of getting home again and being able to eat lovely, simple poached eggs on toast for tea!

Long, long day - I cancelled my date for the evening as I just didn't feel up to being a sociable person - now vegging in front of Strictly It Takes 2. Heaven.

- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

I Don't Want To Eat Out Anymore

I just want to stay home and have some healthy home cooked food.

Despite best intentions, eating on business trips is hard - I had breakfast at quarter to 6 this morning, got taken to a Thai restaurant at lunchtime where the entire lunch menu consisted of variations on Thai curry, and then got taken to a pub tonight by my boss for dinner with not one bloody healthy thing on the dinner menu. Chicken fillet burger with chips was about the healthiest thing on there.

I did stick to no booze, despite repeated suggestions otherwise, but I feel bloated and horrible at the moment, and want some time out at home to loom after myself. And maybe run.

It doesn't get much better tomorrow when I've got a friend over for dinner and we said we'd have takeaway because I'm not back til later, and then this weekend is beach, booze and BBQ.

I hate feeling like I'm just getting bigger again. I want the opportunity to get smaller!

- Posted from my iPhone

Flying Around

It's currently earlier than Stupid o'clock in the morning, and I'm sitting at the airport waiting to fly to Edinburgh for a couple of days for work.

It's been a mighty busy couple of days in which I've been to London for the weekend where I did a lot of catching up with one of my bestest friends in the world, Jo, enjoyed walks in a very autumnal Hyde Park and thoroughly cheesed out at Madame Tussauds (I'd never been before!), before managing to catch a local community display of fireworks back in Bristol on Sunday night.

Yesterday was spent prancing around in amazing full make-up, courtesy of the superb Lisa-Marie, in front of lovely photographer Lilia, creating some images in which I barely recognise myself. My photo session was a part of my birthday present last year from two of my closest friends but it's taken me this long to get round to using it (clue: my next birthday's in 2 weeks!). I had one photo print included as part of my package, but I'm not kidding I loved these photos so much that I closed my eyes and extended my credit card and purchased the digital rights to the whole shoot. I already know which one is being blown up massive and printed on canvas!! I can't wait to share a few of them when I get the files :-)

After the shoot I met new friend Laura for drinks, which turned into late dinner. We met through the funniest connection, as a mutual friend put us in touch when we thought we might both be looking for somewhere new to live at the same time - it turned out that we're both sorted separately on that front, but we chat so incessantly that we've decided that being friends is a good thing. I love new friends!!

Unfortunately, given I had to get up at 4.15 am this morning, and hadn't packed before meeting her, I didn't get home till after 11pm last night. Doh!! We talked too much!!

Food hasn't been perfect, and I know I'm a little bit over, but considering how busy it's been it's definitely not been terrible either. At least I keep thinking about my choices, and if I'm not tracking 100% I'm still doing a fairly good job.

The rest of this week is a bit bonkers, as I get back from Edinburgh tomorrow evening and then I only have Thursday and half of Friday in the office before I'm shooting off to Newquay for the final surf club trip of the year. It's mini surf festival this weekend with bands, BBQ, surfing (brrrrr!) and, I would imagine, a lot of booze. And then next week I have to move house.

Busy, busy times!!

- Posted from my iPhone

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Final Total

At 10am yesterday morning, I listened to my team mates count down from 10 and cheer as we finally finished the 24 hour cycle relay for charity. Tired, sweaty and sore.

If I ever see another spin bike again, it will be too soon!

Final stats:

Individual distance - 136.9km in 8 half hour sessions on the bike.

My team: just shy of 900km in 24 hours on the one bike, plus the use of a second bike for an hour or 2.

Total charity challenge (400 people around the globe relaying over the 24 hours in teams of 6, same as us): over 25,000km!!

We were aiming to cycle 18,000km, which is the land distance round tue globe, but we smashed it at 3am in the morning, so the event co-ordinater reset the challenge as the distance of the equator c. 24,000km and we smashed that too.

My only problem with 24 hour events like this is they totally screw up your eating - faaaaar to much sugar consumed. After a shower and a quick nap yesterday lunchtime, I was craving dirty super-noodles for lunch - I don't know why but that was all I wanted. That was followed by about 8 super-tasty ginger cookies.

I'm down in London for the weekend visiting Jo so we also shared a bottle of bubbly last night, to celebrate her new flat, and a martini to investigate her new local bar.

We're going out and about today to do fun tourist stuff, but I want to get back to eating a normal routine as I feel a bit blah at the moment. No weigh-in this week, as I haven't been near a scale at a sensible time in days.

- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Halfway Point ...

4 sessions completed, 2 hours in the saddle, 73.9km cycled.

Sore quads.

- Posted from my iPhone

Home Sweet Home

I got it!!! I got the lovely flat I went to see on Tuesday night!

I'm not one to believe much in fate, usually, but it was such a perfect set-up for me, that I just felt it was meant to be, so it's a huge relief that it's worked out that way.

The flat is in a great location and in an amazing house. There's off-road parking most of the time (which is practically unheard of in that area), and space for my bikes, and any future surfboards, safely indoors.

And there's lots of little touches that make it feel really homely - it's a garden flat, so it's got its own front door and huge folding doors onto its own little terrace from the kitchen. And the kitchen is made for entertaining - it's spacious with a large farmhouse table in the middle that will easily seat 6-8 people. And, please be jealous, there's a log-burning stove in the corner of the living room and working wooden shutters on all the windows.

But the absolute best? It's at the bottom of my budget I wanted to spend, so it's really going to help me get back on my feet financially. Ooooh - and it's still less than 20 mins walk to work.

Cycling today - I've done my first rotation for the bike challenge: 16.3km in 30 mins - not bad!!

We're on the home straight, folks!!

- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

Busy, Busy.

After a rather solid weekend of eating and moving, I seem to have wobbled a little the last couple of days, but I don't think all is lost this week.  I realised this morning, that I feel the need for a bit of a detox today, so that's positive.

I haven't eaten atrociously the last 2 days, by any means, but I did have dinner out on Monday night, and I was at a conference morning yesterday that culminated in a buffet lunch, and then dinner with friends last night with a few (let's be clear - by a few, I do mean 2, not *ahem* a few), so I know I'm so points over where I shouldn't be.  So today, is all about eating sensibly.  Soup for lunch, followed by maybe a little walk, and something delicious with some meatballs for tea, because they need cooking.  Not with pasta though - I'm thinking something to do with baked sweet potatoes and some lovely tomato-y sauce with veg.  Or maybe couscous.  Whatever - a minor 2 day blip will not derail my recent good eating.

Another reason, I'm not too worried about eating a bit extra this week ...... tomorrow is the 24 hour cycle relay challenge.  I will be spending a minimum of 4 hours hours steady to speedy cycling, and that's going to buy me back quite a lot of mini over-indulgence.  I'm not sure when I'll be weighing in, as I usually step on the scales first thing on a Friday morning before breakfast, and obviously I'll still be in my office after no sleep and most likely breakfast at that point, so it might have to be a Saturday weigh in.  Or no weigh in - it won't matter either way, because my progress is not defined by a single day of the week, but my behaviour in between.

Other than that, I've been grumbling because I woke up Tuesday morning with my back a bit sore - it hasn't been sore for ages, and I wasn't amused!  At.  All.  This is the soreness that is residual from my old back injuries, and very occasionally, it rears its head again.  It's all been good for ages, so I suppose a little timely reminder isn't a bad thing - I need to take care of myself.  Not sure if I tweaked it in Body Balance on Monday, or just slept awkwardly on Monday night (as I remember waking up feeling a bit uncomfortable), but I'm doing what my physio would recommend if she were here:  precisely nothing.  A couple of days of exercise (especially with the biking coming tomorrow) to just let it calm down, and it feels a bit better already.

I also went to see another flat last night, and I don't want to tell you too much about it in case I jinx myself.  I just had a gut reaction to the place:  I WANT!  The flat felt like it could very easily be my new home, and I very much liked the girl who lives there (and prospective new flatmate) - my quick flying viewing turned into an hour long chat over a cup of tea - so I'm fingers, toes, legs and everything in between crossed that I get it.  I should hear tomorrow, and it feels like it's fated to be, but I'm trying very hard not to get too attached to the idea, in case it doesn't happen (yeah - the above is me trying to be unemotional - I'm doomed).

In between all that, I've been organising myself for a trip to Edinburgh next week with work.  Sadly, it's a flying trip - up Tuesday and back Wednesday - but I'm excited as it'll be my first time there.

I think that's all in my world, for the moment.  Catch you later, when I have more news!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Trying to Relax

Well, the worst of work is over for the moment.  The final deadline was on Friday at 5pm, and I made it with 15 mins to spare.  One little deadline to sign off on next week, but mostly it's in wind down now.

So that's one cause of stress out of the way, more or less, just leaving random man stress and the impending uncertainty of not knowing where I'll be living in 3 weeks to get sorted.

I've spent most of this weekend just trying to catch up on sleep and unwind a little bit.  Not so easy when I knew the agent was bringing someone to view the flat yesterday morning at 10.30am - I love this flat so much I didn't want to be here to see someone else falling in love with it, when I'm having to leave.  I decided to go get breakfast in my local coffee shop instead and peruse my new walking guide which I bought on the way.  I spent yesterday afternoon with the girls having a little stroll and eating a bit of cake.

There's been a bit too much cake this weekend, so I enjoyed getting a nice walk today - a happy 2 hours walking a friend's dog with them.  I've not been quite as restrained as my last 2 weekends, but I'm still looking fairly on track with my eating and exercise which is nice.

Back to work tomorrow - hopefully a bit more chilled out than last week.  It's a bit of a busy week, as I've got a celebratory dinner tomorrow night for a friend, then Hannah and I are cooking for our friend Nic who's in town on Tuesday.  Thursday 10am sees me starting my 24 hour cycling challenge (http://www.justgiving.com/Suzanne-Fontaine), and that takes me right through to Friday, when I foresee there being a bit of sleep catch-up!

Hope you all had good weekends! x

Friday, 28 October 2011


Despite the radio silence that is largely happening on here at the moment, there are signs that I'm still slowly plodding in the right direction.  Another lb off this week, despite an impromptu dinner out last night, tells me that I'm probably, mostly, doing something right.

Like last week, this week has been a week when I've had a little of what I fancy, but somehow balanced that with not going bat-shit crazy.  I've moved a bit (a run, some Body Balance and circuits, and a nice walk on the weekend), and all that moderate living seems to have gone to the scales. 

Which is cool, because I don't want massive losses (said-it-before-will-say-it-again school of blogging) - I'm quite happy just plodding in the right direction slowly. 

Aside from the eating / exercising part of my life, work is still much as it was (aaaaaaaaaaaargh-crazy-might-have-a-nervous-breakdown) but the end is now in sight, as the last of the big deadlines is this afternoon.  Then it will start to wind down into the clear-up exercise that comes after every quarter end.  The housing situation is running ahead at full-tilt - which is to say, my landlord has already got viewings today and tomorrow for my (lovely, I-don't-want-to-leave-there) flat (thanks for the notice Miss Estate Agent who rang me at 4.30pm yesterday to tell me they'd be round at lunchtime today - cue mad panic about when exactly I'd have to time to tidy!), and I am currently none-the-wiser about where I'll be living in (less than a) month's time (panic, panic, PANIC!!!!).

So while all that possible-panic-fest is whirling round my head, I shall work on remaining zen and unperturbed in the middle and just keep plodding.

Have a good weekend, folks! x

Wednesday, 26 October 2011


I think I'm actually getting worse and getting on here to write at the moment, instead of better.  Mostly because my life is still a steady whirlwind of craziness, what with work looniness, ongoing flat stuff, some dating and social stuff, and a healthy dose of fund-raising activity for my upcoming charity challenge.

Amazingly though, in the heart of all that lot, the scales are very (very) slowly creeping down.  Halle-frickin'-leujah!

Last week mostly passed by in a series of rather long hours in the office.  I made it to circuits on Friday lunchtime, and worked damn hard, to the extent where one of the girls I was partnered with said afterwards that she was thinking she might have to drag me out the room when I passed out.  I think that might have been a good effort then!

Friday night was quite peaceful, as I had a few quiet drinks after work with some colleagues, and got myself home by 8.30pm, for some pizza and an early night.  Thankfully, I ended up not being needed in the office over the weekend, so I spent Saturday doing some shopping and washing that was much needed, and then hit the cinema in the evening, with another couple of quiet drinks afterwards. 

Sunday was looking like a glorious day, so I twisted my tame Aussie surfer's arm to come for a walk somewhere in the countryside with me.  A nice 5 mile loop and Sunday roast at a country pub was definitely what was called for.  I find it funny, that for two people who dated until recently, Dave and I chat like a couple of gossiping old women - maybe that's why we were doomed! :o)

Unfortunately the weekends general relaxation has been undone again by the working week silliness, and it was 8pm before I left the office.  I went home though, and cooked up a storm.  Six or so portions of healthy food went into my fridge that night!  When I shopped on Saturday (not having done a proper full-on food shop in weeks), I planned two big dishes for the week, that I could then have leftovers from.  So Monday night I cooked up a lamb stew with lots of root veg and a bit of tomato and red wine in the sauce - celeriac, butternut squash and carrot into the mix.  I also attempted braised red cabbage with apple as a side dish - I think I overdid the spice a bit, but it wasn't bad!  After dinner, the rest of the root veg, went into the big saucepan for soup, and I three big portions of winter veg soup to go in the fridge and freezer for later.  I'm proud of myself for staying organised, because the cooking session on Monday night, means I don't have to do much now til the end of the week. 

The other big dish this week, will be an attempt to recreate something Hannah cooked for me - a sort of veggie lasagne with a kick of chilli in, and layered aubergines on top.  I've got carrots, mushrooms, peppers and spring greens to go in the dish - should be tasty!

All of that really helps me to stay on track when everything else is going a bit loopy.  I had lunch with a friend of a friend yesterday who's possibly also looking for a flat, and tonight I've got a flat viewing (unrelated to yesterday).  I need to do a cheer-up dinner for Hannah on Friday, and haven't even started to work out the conflicting plans for this weekend yet!  One thing at a time.

Other than that, I'm heading out for a much-needed run this lunchbreak, and keeping on top of my sponsorship efforts for the cycle challenge (I think I'm up to £120 so far of my £200 pledge, with another £25 or so already promised which is fantastic - now I just need to go and spin / cycle some more to get my legs going!).  I also got home from work one day last week to be greeted with a lovely parcel from Kate (http://teacake-kate.blogspot.com/) who had sent me down gorgeous 3/4 length cycling shorts that hadn't fitted her .... well, they fit me perfectly, so I'm a happy girl - Kate:  I promise faithfully to go get them very muddy somewhere fun soon!  Thank you, thank you, thank you ......

Friday, 21 October 2011

Up A Bit, Down A Bit

As much as I'd like to think that a week of eating relatively sensibly means I'm back on track, I know full well that it doesn't.  All it means is that I had a week of eating relatively sensibly.  Well done me, pat on that back, and all that kind of stuff.

A week of eating sensibly does mean that I've seen a slight drop in the scales this week on my official weigh in today, but that won't stay there if I'm not careful, and there's still a long way to go to even get back where I want to be, never mind break some new frontiers and inhabit new ground.

Le Sigh.  It's always a long way to go.  On the upside, even with my sensible eating, I have had takeaway, and wine, and chocolate this week (in measured quantities), so I can't really complain, I suppose.

And I've just endured a round of Death Circuits that has left me wondering if my quads will ever function properly (i.e. with jelly-like shaking) again.  All in the name of good health.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Tip-toeing Along

Oh dear me, I'm not being very good at blogging at the moment, am I?

Still, I am at least making an effort at eating right, so it's not all terrible.  I've not been feeling much like the ol' exercise, but where I'm not feeling like cardio, I have been to Body Balance and then yoga today.  They might not be hard-core sweat-fests, but I'm sure my core is thanking me for it, because it's pilates and leg-raises all the way, and if my hamstrings aren't a little looser afterwards, then something's gone horribly wrong.

I also realised today I've started cooking properly again.  Just simple stuff, but more from scratch and less from a packet.  Even if, like last night, it's just a slightly scrappy omelette and a piece of toast.  Which was actually a very tasty omelette since it was full of mushrooms and handmade Welsh cheddar with herbs from Snowdonia Cheeses (Green Thunder if you're in the vicinity of Betwys-y-Coed and want some!). 

I figure I need to do some more home-cooking, more veg and fresh fruit and less pre-prepared stuff - a) it's expensive and b) it's not as good.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Still Busy, Busy, Busy

Christ it's hard work round here at the moment!  I've spent most of the weekend dans le office ... oh joy!  When not here I've been mostly sleeping .... oh bliss!

I managed to get to circuits on Friday (pain, pain, lots of pain .... especially when you can't breathe through your nose and your internal temperature guage can't seem to decide which way is up or down), and then went home from work to cook a whole crapload of veggies (that's the technical term, by the way, something to do with the manure they use ;o)), and some chicken thighs for roast dinnery goodness, and enough for tea tonight in the fridge.

I have by some effort of will and a little vigilance managed to have a fairly sensible weekend so far.  After 9 hours in the office yesterday, I had some Thai takeaway last night in front of the tv, and a few sneaky (small) glasses of vino, and a loooooong chat with my friend Jo.  Well earned, I think.

I'm at work again now for a few quiet hours, and then off to meet my friend Clare for afternoon tea and cake.

I'm nearly over my cold, I think, as I can now smell and taste again.  I still need to catch up on a shitload of sleep though, as well as trying to figure out my precarious money situation, and especially how I'm going to manage to move flats next month.  Probably not helping with the contributing to sleepless nights!

Everything usually turns out right in the end though, yeah?

Friday, 14 October 2011


Oh boy.

I'm still alive (I'm sure you'll be relieved to know this).  This week has been ker-razy, and I just didn't seem to find time to put fingers to keyboard.  Or when I thought about it, I just didn't have the energy to think up something witty to say. In fact, I'm still not sure I do.

Usually, time away from a blog means bad things - luckily, I don't have that to report - I'm still plodding along - neither better or worse than I was.  I do feel exhausted though.

We had a wedding in North Wales last weekend which meant a 5 hour trip each way - even leaving work relatively on time, and running home and packing on Friday, it was after 7pm before we left Bristol, and 12.40am before we made it to the hotel.  Saturday was crazy rushed, as the wedding was at noon, so by the time we'd grabbed breakfast down at the main hotel (we were staying in the village at Portmeirion) the time slipped away in a whirl of getting dressed up, and haired and make-upped, and legging it across (read: teetering down the steep cobbles in the pouring rain, in a pair of 4 inch stilettos and a silk dress I was trying to keep sheltered under the umbrella) the village to the ceremony.

From the ceremony we were whisked straight outside for a couple of hasty photos in the rain, and then back down to the hotel for drinks and the wedding breakfast.  After that we messed around taking photos back outside, whilst the bride and groom were having their official photos done, and then there was a quick break to dash back to the rooms for dancing shoes and the presents before the evening commenced with a ceilidgh.  It was a fantastic day, but I was dead on my feet by 11.30pm and in bed before 1am.

This week, as expected, has been an utter misery at work.  Monday was 9am to 8.30pm with no lunch.  Tuesday 9am, to 11.15pm.  The last two days have been a bit better, although still incredibly stressy, but to make me feel better I'm now coming down with a cold.

Weight-wise, although the wedding wasn't great on the food and drink front, I didn't crack the dreaded 13st barrier, but I squeaked by enough to make me start thinking about what I'm putting in my gob.  On the other stress, a million birthday cakes this week and feeling ill counteracts that a bit.  I'm down from the weekend, but a little up on last week.

It's all about the work for the next couple of weeks, so in a way, it's quite good as I don't have anything social planned for the next couple of weeks.  Not even on the weekends.  The only think I have planned this weekend is possible tea and cake on Sunday afternoon.  I'm working tomorrow, and possible a bit on Sunday.  I'm going to try and avoid any weekend blow outs or "treat" meals.  Frankly, I'm craving fruit and veg at the moment, so I need to get off my ass and try and get some.

Other than that, I'm just stressing money and how I'm going to afford to move to a cheaper flat.  I can't afford to stay where I am, but have no money to deal with the cross-over of rent and deposits from one flat to the other.  Damned if you do, and damned if you don't.  I may have to crawl to Dad again.  Well, that's depressing!

Off to (snotty) circuits now.