Sunday, 31 July 2011

Ahem – Don’t Take Your Eye Off The Ball

In the interests of being completely honest, I suppose I should confess that whilst the weekend started off pretty well, there was a slight loss of discipline along the way, and I’ve used a few more points than I meant to.  I’ve used my flex points for the week, plus an extra 8.  Since I’ve already activity banked for the week, including some walking and the Friday torture that is circuits, I’m still in credit points for the week, but not as good as last week.

I’m not quite sure where to lay the blame for this slip …. probably mostly at the doorstep of my Dad’s house since he will insist on leaving fully stocked biscuit tins and open bags of sweets lying round the joint, which is enough to test the most hardened of dieting souls.  There went an extra 15 points on Friday night, which would have solved the deficit for the weekend all on their own!

Then there was yesterday, which was spent very pleasantly wandering around Bourton-on-the-Water and Broadway in the Cotswolds.  Unlike Friday, when I had allotted myself 29 points which I stuck to perfectly … until I got to Dad’s, I gave myself an extra 20 from my flex for yesterday since I knew I’d be eating lunch out and that there would probably be tea and cake later.  Again, this was all going swimmingly, until I discovered upon returning to Dad’s that he’d picked up a bag of fresh cookies from his own day out.  One of those got scarfed down, and I was in danger of going back for more, before I realised that actually they weren’t that amazing and I wasn’t even sure why I had my hand in the bag. 

Today has been a bit better, although I still didn’t hit my 29 points challenge.  But there were definitely plus points to today’s eating behaviour.  I went for a wander round the Harbour Festival for a couple of hours when I got back into town this afternoon, and let it be noted, that despite it being dinner time, I didn’t purchase from any of the million food stalls around.  Mostly, I kept looking at them, thinking “oooooooh, that would be nice” and then realising that actually it wasn’t anything that special, and in any case, the prices were extortionate!  I returned home with a small bag of homemade fudge instead, and a gorgeous little ceramic bowl and saucer for olives and their stones.  I may have eaten the fudge instead of tea.  In fact, that would have been fine, but I just got so hungry at 10pm, that it because necessary to grab a little something, so that’s where the challenge went a bit wrong for the day.  However, I’m happier with my choices, and my leaving eating until I was actually hungry.

Back to the proper discipline tomorrow then.

I leave you with me enjoying the glorious sunshine at Broadway Tower:



Friday, 29 July 2011

Friday Feelings

Surprisingly, I'm not nearly as grumpy as you would expect after this morning's weigh in.  You would reasonably expect, at least some, wailing.  Maybe a little tearing of hair and beating of the chest.  But in actual fact, I find myself oddly ... sanguine about it.

The facts are that this morning's weigh in sees me 0.5lbs up on last week.  Yep - after a week of sticking like glue to the Weightwatchers plan, passing up cake and putting caramel waffles in my locker out of sight and mind, exercising when I should be (including a hideous session of hill sprints with running club on Wednesday - sheer torture if there was ever any), I have put weight on.

Go figure.

But I went to the scales suspecting that, this morning.  I felt in myself that I hadn't lost any weight.  And I reminded myself that I can't control the scales.  All I can do is control the way I eat, and the way I move. 

There are a number of reasons that the scales haven't gone anywhere (apart from up and back down) this week.  I suspect the main answer is this:  last week I lost 2 and a little bit lbs, after eating atrociously for a week and a bit or more, culminating in a rather unlovely binge type meal of Chinese, and then about 3 days of eating properly.  Seems to me that there was some water-weight losses going on, since I lost around 5lbs in those 3 days from my high point, and maybe I didn't quite lose what it appeared I did.  In which case, it would be very reasonable for my body to be playing catch up this week and actually losing that weight in terms of fat rather than water.

I shan't let this affect my eating - I'm straight onto another 29 points today.  A clean week.  A fresh week.  I figure I need to keep eating like this for at least 3 full weeks to allow my body a chance to divest itself of some unwanted poundage.  Last week was my first full week.  At the end of the week, I'd used my flex allowance, but not touched on my 45 activity points earned.  I'd like to aim for the same again or better this week.  So for the next couple of weeks, I'm going to keep challenging myself with my eating, and keep the exercise moving as usual.  If I've been honest, as I believe I have been the last 10 days or so, and the scales are still not showing any movement by that point, I'll consider that maybe a new approach is needed, but until then, I'm going to make the biggest and bestest effort I can to stick to the plan.  and I can suceed, I know that.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Kick Ass

I am proud to report that I kicked my 29 point target for today in the arse. Which was a bit of a surprise since it was looking somewhat in jeopardy following lunchtime. Lunch was a very tasty jacket potato with sausage, beans and grated cheese, that tracked at a whopping 19 points - but soup for dinner and a nice box of prepared fresh fruit or dinner saved the day.

Running club, on the other hand, kicked my ass. 45 mins solid of hill repeats in some rather lovely, humid weather. Flippin' heck - I was raining sweat afterwards! But I survived. And impressively, survived the trip to the supermarket on the way home. It seems the longer I stay glued to plan, the (slightly) easier it becomes to ignore the siren call of all the beautiful things in Waitrose that I shouldn't have.

And finally, talking of kick-ass people - I met Jason Gardner, the Olympic athlete (and indeed gold medal winner) today. Complete with his gold medal! My work happen to be one of the biggest sponsors of the London Olympics, and they're holding a "torch tour" at the moment, which is a travelling exhibition about the Olypmpic torches and some of the history of the games, which is coming to each of the major office sites. Today, it was in Bristol, complete with 3 of the actual torches from the Beijing, Vancouver and London games and an Olympic athlete who very kindly stood patiently and let us all have our photos taken with him and the London torch. It was pretty cool. There's a massive amount of hype about the games at work, and lots of competitions being held for tickets to the games and chances to actually carry the torch and Olympic flame, and I have to admit that I've been tuning a lot of it out for the most part, but even I have to admit that today's event was fun and interesting.

Good day all round. Well, apart from the money-shite earlier, but I'm kind of over that now. I'm no worse off than I was this morning, it's just that something that would have helped didn't come through. I'll survive though, because I always do.

- Posted from my iPhone

So Frustrated!!!

Why is it that I can't catch a break with trying to get my debt sorted?  Yeah, sorry, this post has nothing to do with food and healthy eating at all, just venting my frustrations at how hard it is to dig yourself out of the money pit, and how no-one will cut you a break.

Everytime I try and find a way to make my situation better so I can pay back my debt quicker, I take a step forward and end up sliding straight back again.  This time it's because the interest free credit card that work set up for me, has been set up wrong, and is less than no use to me.  It was set up with a £500 credit limit, and was supposed to be increased as soon as it was activated, so I could transfer a balance from one of my existing cards.  But I've just been told by our relationship manager here at work, that cards can't have the limit increased within the first 6 months.  So I have a card with a 12 month interest free period on it, but I can't have the limit increased to anything usable to make a transfer until 6 months into that.  6 months! What fucking use is that?

Additionally, I still don't qualify for a loan.  So I'm still stuck scraping by trying to make the minimum payments and chip away at the balance where I can.  I know it will get better.  I know I could be a hell of a lot worse.  But I'm not making any decent headway at the moment;  I'll be lucky if I pay £2k off my £22k balance this year.   Which at the rate I'm going would mean another 10 years after that to get the balance paid down.

Ok, ok, that's just unrealistically pessimistic.  Because I know that what's making it such a slog at the moment is that I'm losing more than half of my £500+ repayments a month to interest.  That's just sickening.  And yes, as I slowly claw the balances down, that interest portion will become less and less.

But the truth is that I'm scraping by in my day-to-day living to keep afloat right now.  I can't keep up my lifestyle as I'm used to it.  I know that's the problem, that I've been living beyond my means for probably 10 years now, and I don't know how not to.

So what lies ahead for me is this:  either bumping and scraping along on my current budget, with frustratingly slow repayment and an agonising amount of interest being paid, or some serious decisions to make positive changes to my lifestyle.  Changes, that let's face it, I don't really want to have to make.  The biggest of those is to give up my beautiful flat and move somewhere shared and cheaper.  I could save £100's a month doing this, but it's scary.  I love my flat - it's comfortable, and pretty and perfectly located.  And it has private parking and a bike store.  It's completely convenient.  Moving somewhere else will mean sharing my space with a stranger, and fighting for car-parking spaces on the street.  A longer commute to work.  And a less well-appointed surroundings.

Holidays have already been given up, I just can't afford them.  I already sacrificed my car for the cheapest option I could find, and although I admit that has turned out pretty well in terms of economy, I miss having a decent sized engine.  Next to go might be my shiny mobile phone.  My contract is up for renewal next month, and I'm wondering about just sticking with my current iPhone with the cracked screen for the foreseeable future and going SIM only.  That would be another £15 a month saved. 

There's not many other bills I can easily give up - my gym is pretty crucial to my health and weight-loss, and I already have a pretty cheap one.  My contact lenses are non-negotiable.  As is my Weightwatchers subscription.

I would say I don't know where to go from here, but I do and it makes me anxious.  I just have to bump along for the next couple of months making the best I can of it, and then I'll have to bite the bullet and look for somewhere new.  The only other thing that could save me right now (apart from the extremely unlikely possibility of a lottery win) is a promotion and pay-rise, but I don't think there'll be one in time to save me.

It's time to knuckle down, people, and pay the piper.

Dear Scales

Dear Scales,

Stop being a bitch.  I've eaten immaculately all week, and yet you are showing me nearly 2lbs heavier than my weigh in on Friday.  I am not amused.  I know you don't like me looking at you, so I promise that if you give me even a tiny loss on Friday, I will leave you alone for a whole week.  Deal?



Yeah - not happy - focus on what I can control.  Focus on what I can control. 

Grumble grumble.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Mistakes and Lessons Learned

Lesson learned no 1:  always check the points and portion sizes before you tuck in.  I was craving something sweet mid-afternoon, and the caramel waffles from the Starbucks downstairs were hitting the temptation spot.  I checked the points on my tracker: 5, very reasonable.  Went and got my waffles (and a banana, in case I was still hungry), and just as an afterthought checked the portion in the packet against the tracker ...... phew!!  Thank goodness, I did - a WW's portion is only one of the waffles in the pack, not both of them.  I enjoyed one, and with a not-too-Herculean effort of will, put the other one safely wrapped in my locker.  Good.

Mistake no 1:  opening the muesli box whilst waiting for the dishwasher to run so you can cook dinner is no better than opening the cereal box.  Error.  Don't go there.  Point it and move on, but know that it has cost me my little points challenge of 29 for the day.  Grrrrrr.

Lesson learned no 2:  when full, stop eating.  Miraculously, for the second time this week, I've managed to stop myself before the plate was empty.  I guess nibbling on the muesli had already filled me up a bit, but this is still a rarity for me.  I quickly binned the remaining bits to stop me picking later.

Lesson learned no 3: (not a food one, but a lesson in self-discipline none-the-less) if I want to stick to my weekly budget and be able to pay a little tiny bit extra off the credit card next week, it's not going to kill me not to go on my regular Tuesday cinema outing tonight.  The only film that was out that I wanted to see was Horrible Bosses, which will be out for weeks to come yet.  And I realised that part of the reason I wanted to go to the cinema was so I could have my little weekly indulgence of pic'n'mix or Ben & Jerry's.  That's not a good reason to go to the cinema!!!  So I'm going to have a night in a watch a film here.

3 lessons learned, and one mistake that won't kill me but is annoying anyway.  I'll have just missed my 29 points challenge for today, but only by about 2.  Since I haven't used up all of my flex points yet this week, and I've already got 30-odd points of activity tracked, I'm not exactly worried, just slightly irritated. 

But onwards we go!

Some Kinda Alien

has taken me over.  I was in the canteen at lunch trying to decide what to have after my soup and a roll for lunch, and I looked at the crisps, and I looked at the yoghurts (errrrr, work yoghurts are a sodding 4 points each - tasty, but no frickin' way!), and I looked at the chocolate and I ended up with ....

.... an apple.

Seriously, send the men in white coats to come and take me away.

Ooooh, which reminds me (canteen, lunch, soup - keep up with the thought processes, people!), does anyone have a recipe for Lentil and Bacon soup?  Work makes an amazingly tasty one and I want to know how!

To Know Or Not To Know

I pretty much have nothing interesting to report at the moment, so apologies for the boring monotony in the blog recently.  I realise that me setting daily challenges for myself, that I do or don't achieve, doesn't make for the most fascinating of reading (although 6 for 6 on the challenges right now - c'mon people, that's impressive for me!).

So yesterday was another day kicked in, and today is more of the same.  Not really much more to say on that point right now.  I continue to be surprised by how little food it takes to keep me full, satisfied and functioning, especially when I'm starting from really hungry and not slightly hungry.  I keep having to get over my own expectations.

For some reason, I felt like I had cheated yesterday evening.  I don't know why, because I'd tracked everything I've ever tracked since the beginning of Weightwatchers and I was bang on my points, but there was that nagging feeling just the same.  Maybe because I always expect myself to slip sooner or later, and so I'm questioning whether I'd done it without noticing?  The only thing I didn't point that I ate yesterday was the frozen veg I used to fill out my bowl of pasta at dinner, but then I've never pointed frozen veg.  I don't know why Weightwatchers arbitrarily decided that fresh and canned veg and even frozen fruit have zero points, and frozen veg doesn't, but I don't eat it often and I don't eat much, so I decided right from the very start that I would call it zero too.  When it comes down to it and I'm hungry and need something extra, and there's no fresh veg around, I'd rather default to some frozen veg, and call it zero, than make a poor choice for the same points Weightwatchers have prescribed.  My personal choice, I guess.

Other than that, the week is ticking along as usual.  I did my Body Balance class yesterday, and I swear that I am very, very slowly becoming a bit more flexible.  I was ummnig and ahhing over whether to do the early morning spin class this morning or the lunchtime one, and in the process nearly managed to not do one at all!  I woke up at 6am this morning and decided that more sleep was required and I'd be going to the lunchtime class, but then totally forgot that I usually ring up to book it at 6.30am, because it tends to fill up so ridiculously quickly!  I had my bag all packed and ready to go at 8.30am, when I suddenly realised my error, but I guess people must be on holiday at the moment as I got lucky and scored a place anyway - phew!!

On a different matter, I am beginning to think I'm going to have to exile myself from the scales this week - I know I said last week that I have to focus on what I can control, my eating and my exercise, and stop worrying about what I can't - hi Stupid Scales, I'm talking to you - but I'm finding myself very frustrated by the fact that one nice meal on Saturday night is still causing my weight to be up on Friday's weigh in.  Breeeeeeathe.  I know that one meal in a week of conscientious eating shouldn't cause a gain.  And in any case there's nothing I can do about it, but maybe stepping on the scales and being annoyed by it daily isn't the right answer. 

But damnit, I'm surgically attached to those scales.  I only weight once I a day, and I take it on the chin, and if I'm not near them I'm not bothered by missing a couple of days, but I find it so freaking hard not to step on them in the morning if they're just there staring me in the face in the bathroom.  So hard not to know.  I've tried weaning myself away from them before, but I can't resist the temptation when they're there.

Hmmmmm, might have to ponder that one.  I don't know if I work harder knowing what I'm dealing with, or not knowing.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Cycling For Pleasure

I rocked yesterday's 29 point challenge, and I'm getting ready to do the same again today.  I kicked this off last Wednesday last week, and I like that fact that I'm nearly a whole week of totally disciplined eating - a definite achievement in the normally laid back world of Sue.

I had a lovely afternoon yesterday on my bike. I chanced the weather and was rewarded as it stayed pleasantly warm and dry with occasional glimpses of glorious sunshine.  20 (and a bit) miles of unexplored trail, as I decided to go and explore the National Cycle Route over from Bristol to Portishead.  I've never lived anywhere before that has cycle routes anywhere nearby, so it's really refreshing to have so many dedicated routes radiating out from pretty much my doorstep.

Yesterday's bike ride was a little different for me though.  Usually if I'm riding on my own, it's because I want exercise.  I wear my heart-rate monitor, and I push along a little bit, and I'm doing it because I want acticity points in my tracker.  I also have a constant eye on my watch and my speed.  Even when I ride with friends, I'm usually actively monitoring what activity points I can get out of it - probably because I usually use most of my activity points during the week.  But yesterday?  Well, yesterday I rode for the hell of it.  Because I wanted some fresh air, and to explore somewhere new.  I had no pace in mind, so target time, and I happily meandered along on the way out, just enjoying the scenery and stopping to read the info boards along the way. 

I found myself at the marina at Portishead when I arrived, which I previously had no idea even existed!  Normally, I end up at the sea front by the park when I visit the town, probably because that's where the parking is, but it turns out the marina's really rather chic, and had a very nice cafe where I was able to keep an eye on my locked up bike outside and enjoy a rather delicious home-made cupcake and a nice cold drink with friendly service.  Most pleasant!  I also made a point of making sure my cupcake was part of my daily food allowance, rather than my exercise points, so I could hit my points challenge for the day, and I swear, somehow, that made it all the more tasty!

On the way back, I did something I rarely do, and plugged my iPod in while I cycled.  I wouldn't normally because of not being able to hear traffic on the roads, but the route is pretty much all trail and quiet roads, and I found as long as I kept the volume down, and cast a wary eye over my shoulder once in a while, I could stay aware of my surroundings.  I'm not sure if it was the music or just warmed up legs, but the return journey was about 25 mins quicker, and all in all it was an afternoon very happily spent :-)

It seems like that's a change for me - doing an activity purely for the pleasure rather than the exercise - there's probably only surfing or horse-riding that otherwise do that with.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Down Time

This has been my first full weekend off for a good couple of weeks now, so I'm taking the chance to really relax and feel re-invigorated after all the busyness at work.  I've been sleeping in and chilling out, but never fear, I'm still rocking the careful eating.

Friday's challenge was to stick to 39 points for the day.  I'd given myself an extra 10 from my weekly flex, as I was going for drinks with my team after work.  As it turned out, last minute plans changed slightly, and I joined my team for a few drinks, and then went along with my friend Liz from work to help celebrate her birthday at the Bristol Comedy Garden.  So now not only was I drinking, but eating out too.  And I did great with the challenge.  I'd saved a few extra points during the day by being a bit more thoughtful about my eating, and I picked my drinks with care in the evening.  I had a voucher for a free cocktail at the first bar, so enjoyed a delicious Summer Breeze (gin, blackberry liqueur and elderflower cordial - yummy!), and then stuck to soft drinks for a bit, before indulging in a pear cider at the comedy festival.  Dinner was from the Suasage Festival Co who were at the Comedy Garden and was a lovely little box of 2 sausages and mash with onion gravy. 

The show itself was brilliant - the fantastic Stephen K Amos was headlining and he was hysterically funny.  So funny in fact, that between circuits during the day, and laughing too much in the evening, my abs were absolutely killing me yesterday and are still sore today!  A great evening all round.

I literally slept in until lunchtime yesterday, which I think I needed, and just had a relaxed afternoon wandering into town to return a few things at the shops (which is another story where I cleverly bought things last weekend on my credit card pre-pay-day, and then realised that they were completely unnecessary / impractical when I got them home, so I was being a good little girl and taking them back yesterday).  I also found a gorgeous bikini in the sale at Crew Clothing which I was really pleased with, because as anyone knows - swimwear buying is a trauma at the best of times. 

It's pretty but practical - since I'm the kind of girl that is running round when I do hit the beach (surfing, windsurfing, body-boarding, changing in and out of wetsuits, etc), I have to make sure that my bikinis actually stay put once they're on to avoid embarrassing moments.  Especially after the classic moment the first year we went windsurfing in Egypt, when I was talking to my instructor mid-lesson, and suddenly realised that my epic wipe-out 5 mins before had caused my tankini top to come undone at the neck and work its way down, and all that was protecting my modesty was my rash vest!  Errrrr - somewhat embarrassing! 

But I digress, the point was that both of my current "practical" bikinis are are too big on either the top or the bottom, and are showing the signs of repeated wear by fading or the colours running, so this is a timely replacement ahead of next month's surf trips.

Last night, I was meant to be attending a Supper Club being run by friends, and so I had allotted myself 20 extra points for the day.  An unknown 5 course menu, plus drinks, was going to be pretty tough, so I was also careful with my food yesterday, but then Supper Club was sadly cancelled (although is being rescheduled), so I resorted to my back-up plan of a night of Grey's Anatomy and takeaway.  I had a real hankering for a curry, and since I'd already allotted myself extra points, I indulged.  I actually ended up a few points over my points challenge, but partly because I was trying to be extra vigilant with my pointing.  I'm still inside my flex allowance for the week though, so I think one indulgent meal for the week shouldn't have any impact on the rest of what I'm doing.

On a positive note, I did much better this week than I did last week with what ended up being last Saturday's binge.  When I finished there was spare rice still in the carton, and gasp rice and sauce left on the plate.  That's right - I stopped before it was all gone!   HOOOORAAAAAH!  I probably still ate a little more than I truly needed, and in fact, I did stop earlier than that, but ended up picking until all the chicken was gone, but I stopped when I was merely full, rather than absolutely stuffed like last week.  Little tiny steps forward.

Today, I'm back on a 29 point challenge.  And if the weather will deign to stay dry-ish, I'm hoping to get my bike out and go for a little wander this afternoon, over to Portishead and the seaside.  It was meant to be gloriously sunny this afternoon, but what do you know, it's completely clouded over instead, and althought the weather forecast says it's meant to stay dry, it doesn't look that promising!

Friday, 22 July 2011

No Slacking!

I managed a solid 1.8lbs off this week.  That would be good for me on a normal week, but considering where I was mid-week it's a bloody miracle.  Looking at my weight tracker it's the lowest I've been since the beginning of May, so that's really great to see.  But I realise that that position is fragile, and won't stay there unless I keep making good choices.  I can't sit on my laurels, and I can't celebrate the victories of the last couple of days (although please, let's give me a little cheer here - 3 days perfectly on track which just happens to co-incide with 3 days of office cakes - extra victory!).

Forget what has been though and move right along.  Persistence - it's just as important when we're doing well, as when we feel like giving up.  So I have a fresh challenge today, as decided last night.  39 points to stick to today, drinks with work to navigate tonight, breakfast at work already navigated (damn the rest of my team for deciding it was the morning to all have bacon rolls to line the stomachs for drinking tonight - saying no was hard, but I was totally full from my breakfast of porridge and raspberries and really didn't need it). 

So just having a quick lunch now before heading to this Friday's edition of Killer Circuits.

Edit: have just realised, that in fact it wasn't 1.8lbs, it was 2.2lbs - even better!

Challenge Complete

The nicest thing with setting these little mini challenges over the last couple of days doesn't really have anything to do with the scale at all.  Or even how I feel in myself and my clothes.  Those are merely side-effects.  Very pleasant side-effects, I'll grant you, but just a by-product none-the-less. 

The really nice thing about the challenges, is that I'm actually hitting my targets for once.  I'm looking at the thing I can control, and taking the reins.  And I'm even managing to combine it with some of the conscious eating I've been focusing on.  And maybe I'm imagining it, but I seem to have been more aware of when I'm actively full, and don't want to eat at all, these last couple of days.

So whatever the scale brings tomorrow, I'm happy that I've at least got the second part of the week right.  I can't control the scales, can I?  But I can control my food intake and my exercise.

I've hit today's target bang on, again.  I love the feeling of 3 days in a row when I'm hit my targets.  29 points exactly.

I have a slightly different plan for tomorrow and the start of the dreaded weekend: grave yard of so many diets.  Tomorrow night, I'm going out for a few drinks with my team after work, so conscious of the fact that I'll probably want an alcholic beverage or 2, I'm allowing myself an extra 10 points tomorrow - so the challenge is 39 points.  I probably can't drink much more than a couple of drinks without getting tanked at the moment, as I've been laying off the alcohol recently and have consequently become a total lightweight.  10 points would be 5 spirit and mixers, or a couple of cocktails - it should be plenty anyway, since I don't want a heavy night tomorrow.  I'm going to keep on controlling what I can, being vigilant of my eating and focus on the here and now, not what was, and not some unknowable future.

Right now.  Bring.  It.  On.

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Stronger, Faster

Well, that was a good day yesterday.  We had a second day of birthday cakes in the office, and I managed once again to stay sane.  I ate when I was hungry, stopped when I wasn't and hit my 29 points, as promised.

Better still, I think I finally figured out the eating conundrum before running club last night.  Two slices of hot buttered toast beforehand, and then a grilled chicken breast with a portion of leeks and mushrooms sauteed in vegetable stock afterwards.  I didn't feel sick whilst running for a change, even though it was hideous interval training last night with lots of flat-out sprints up and down the line of runners in my group.

In fact, after an unintended break of 3 weeks from running club, and some pretty shitty runs in the meantime, that felt like the best run I've had in weeks.  Knackering but stronger than it's been for a while.

I had a stray 2 points to use up at the end of the day, so I even had the strength to have half a Curly Wurly and put the rest in the fridge.

I would say I felt great this morning, and a loss less bloated than I've felt in a while, but given the topic of yesterday's post - it's irrelevant.  Or rather, yesterday's behaviour is irrelevant.  I've moved on already - new challenge - can you guess what it is?  Yep - 29 points today.  No more.  Simple really :o)

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Forget Yesterday

That's what I realised as I stood on the scales this morning, and smiled in satisfaction.

The danger of "yesterday" is that is can far too easily sway you from your path for today.  We remember the day before, and assume that that has an impact on tomorrow, and it doesn't.  Today has an impact on tomorrow.  Today is what we can change, mold and influence.  Yesterday has been and gone, and we can never alter the past.

Yesterday, had an impact on today, I'll grant you, and it's that small and subtle difference that causes me problems.  If I had a good day yesterday, then I feel good today.  Maybe the scales have dropped, or I feel slimmer.  And the temptation then is think I'm already sucessful and slack off my efforts.  Or maybe, the scales haven't moved, and I start thinking they won't, so I slack off.  And what if yesterday was bad?  Well, it's all ruined isn't it?  There's no point in being good today, and trying.

But that's wrong, all totally and utterly wrong.  Whatever happened this morning at the scales, if I want to see it tomorrow or the day after, then it's today that I must make the effort.  The past is irrelevant, as soon as it has happened - in dieting terms at least, because there's no turning back the clock on what we've eaten and done.

This goes a long way to explain why I'm proving excellent at maintaining my loss within certain boundaries, but not doing very well at the consistent weight loss, over .... oooooh .... the last 18 months.  I have a good day, maybe two, maybe a week.  The scales start to move, and I stop.  I think I've already put the work in I needed to.  Hell, I did it this morning:  I did ok yesterday, and the scales slid down a couple of lbs this morning, and the temptation was to take it easier today.

So, yes, I hit my 29 points yesterday, as promised.  I did it in a slight unorthodox way - but hey, I need to sweat these things a little less.  I had another hard, hard day in the office - at my desk from 7.50am and working clean through to 6.30pm with virtually no break.  I gulped my lunch down whilst mid-conversation with work colleagues trying to unravel a knotty problem, and my only escape from desk all day was to run out to Tescos towards the end of the afternoon to grab a couple of drinks and some orange squash.  15 mins away from my desk.  I survived cakes in the office and stress, which just goes to prove I can when I choose to overcome it.  I ate when I was hungry.  After work, I'd promised I'd run errands for my friend Bec who's getting married in October.  She's trying to source her last pair of bridesmaid shoes and they've gone into the sale in Monsoon, so she's struggling to get the right size, and I'd promised I'd try and get to the shop in Cabot Circus after work to see if they had any.

All of this didn't leave much time for dinner, as I wanted to go to the cinema in Cabot Circus too for my usual Tuesday night cinema club.  When I thought about it, I wasn't really hungry, but I did want my usual little sweet treat at the cinema.  Normally, it would be unheard of for me to not have a proper dinner, but a) I had no food, and b) well, I wasn't hungry!  I ended up just grabbing a small bowl of cereal, and then have a bit of pic'n'mix at the cinema, and it was the right choice because I never did get hungry.  And I got my 29 points bang on.

I don't want to let up on this, so I've challenged myself to 29 points again today, heeding what I've said above - yesterday no longer matters, today is all that counts.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


In the spirit of full disclosure, I would like to admit that my eating has not been spectacular the last couple of days.  I can't tell you quite how bad though, since I haven't actually tracked ... which should be ringing a fair few warning bells for a start.

It's not terrible either, just not great.  Middle-of-the-road-not-going-to-shift-any-lbs eating.  Friday night's binge was followed by some more moderated eating on Saturday, although I couldn't actually tell you what I ate for dinner on Saturday night, as I haven't a clue.  Long hours at work are starting to tell on me a bit, and the days are all blurring together rather now.  I know I made the best of my lunch choices, given work was providing, and shared a Pizza Express pizza for one, a single portion of dough balls and a side salad with one of my colleages.  I think I ate something like pasta for tea, so I don't imagine it was terrible.

Sunday, I managed a precious day off work, and promptly slept til pretty much lunchtime.  I did manage to clamber back on to the conscious eating wagon at that point, and a small bowl of pasta lasted me through an afternoon's shopping, until a strategic coffee and a skinny muffin from Starbucks.  I did try something new and tasty for dinner on Sunday though - pasta with a chorizo, red pepper and chilli sauce - which was delicious, but then went and ruined the whole effect with half a tub of Haagen Dazs.

And the other half disappeared last night.  So you see, I seem to be in a pattern where I eat well most of the day, and then spoil it at the last moment.  I think it's a mix of being tired and stressed from work and silly long hours, and feeling a bit lonely without my usual social life to keep me out of mischief.  In theory, that's a mix that should cause me to eat well because there's nothing to distract me, but I'm letting emotions getting in the way, a bit too much.

So right now - I'm sitting (un)pretty back up at 12st 11lbs and not particularly happy about it. 

The spark of fight hasn't been totally squashed yet though.  Despite not getting home til 9.30pm last night, and not making it to bed til 12.15pm, I hauled ass out of bed at 6am this morning to go to spin class - some activity is better than none.  I'm going to try and backtrack and track as much as I can of my eating the last couple of days, so I know where I am, and I'm going to eat 29 points today, and not more.  No trying on that last one.  I will

And I'm feeling a little better emotionally, after two long phone conversations with 2 very old friends over the last couple of nights, and a little catchup online with my 3rd close friend who's currently in Bolivia, travelling over the Summer.  I've also got a few things to look forward to this weekend:  work drinks on Friday night with my team (who I get on really well with and are always fun, plus understand and have been going through the same stress as me at work), and a Supper Club on Saturday night.  I've wanted to go to one of these for ages, and as it happens a friend of a friend who I know a little, but really like, is starting one with her boyfriend and is trialling it with friends and acquaintances first.  So this Saturday night, me plus 9 or so random people, who I may or may not know, will descend on their house for a surprise 5 course meal of locally sourced, seasonal ingredients, for the non-extortionate cost of £10 a head, with and profits to charity.  And bring-your-own-booze.  Sounds like a winner to me!  I'm also going to see Harry Potter this week if I can.

But best of all - there's light at the end of the tunnel, because I've got two weeks of leave approved for August.  I may sleep all of the first week.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

A Better Day

After yesterday's meltdown, I felt unsurprisingly gross today.  Too much MSG will do that to a girl.  Too much food period, in fact.

So I started this morning with a sour stomach (and sour feelings on my failures and having to go to work, but I digress), and luckily for me, the best thing when I feel like that is a bowl of cereal and milk, and then not a lot else.  Since I've been in work all day (oh yay, for another 8 and a half hours of officey joy), there's not been a lot of eating going on period, although I was starving just before lunch turned up, and a Toffee Crisp was about the best option I could source, so I had it.  Better choices being made today though - lunch was work provided, and given the choice of pizza or Chinese (noooooooo, not again and definitely not so soon), I opted to share a plain La Reine pizza from Pizza Express with one of my colleagues, with a portion of dough balls and a salad to share.  Half an individual pizza and a couple of dough balls was plenty, and I managed to find some fruit during the afternoon so all around, I've done better.

I'm a few points over on my allowance today, but at least feeling like I'm back to thinking stuff through today.  I have a precious day off tomorrow, before we pile into a crazy hectic week on Monday, so I fully imagine tomorrow will be full of lazing.  Actual lazing.  Sleeping in, and not doing anything I don't want to.  I wouldn't mind a little lazy activity of some sort (if that's not a contradiction in terms) but I'm certainly not going to beat myself up if it doesn't happen.  I'll just keep an eye on my eating and try and relax and unwind a bit (apart from on the eating).

In the meantime - I need sleep.

Friday, 15 July 2011

Toooooooooo Much!!!

I don't know what happened today, no idea at all, but my eating has been atrocious.

I don't know whether I finally let the stress get to me at work. Or whether I rebelled after a week of trying to eat consciously. Or if I'm letting some other emotion eat. Like loneliness.

Whatever - I'm currently feeling painfully full. Chinese takeaway, a doughnut, a brownie and a Crunchie - all eaten today.

And I didn't stop eating after I was full. Or when I was very full. Or even when I was painfully full. I stopped when it was all gone.

There will be no more today. And tomorrow is a new day.

I'm annoyed, but I'm far more frustrated. I scraped a bare half lb loss this morning after trying last week and still not being perfect. And today has probably completely undone that.

It's not time to give up though. I'm forgetting how it feels to be half a stone lighter, except that I know it felt better. I felt better.

New day tomorrow. Tomorrow I fight again. We all keep fighting. Tomorrow. Tonight. Right now.

- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Basic Principles


Sometimes it feels like I haven't even learnt the basic lessons of healthy eating and losing weight.  Case in point (realised whilst ummming and aaahing over whether to have the mini Gu cheesecake for dessert at a meagre 4 points):  if you're ummmmming and aaaaahing over whether you should or shouldn't have something, I can tell you the correct answer right now:  put the damn cheesecake (or whatever it is) back.

Yep, stupid basics that I apparently haven't yet grasped.  If you can't decide whether or not to eat or drink something, then the most likely answer is that you shouldn't.  The reason you are being indecisive is that you know you shouldn't but want to anyway.  So go with the "knowing" bit and deal with it.

It's not been a perfect day for food, as I'm a little over my daily allowance, and didn't get to running club for the 3rd week in a row (week 3 excuse: I was still at work when the session finished).  But there have been small victories in there.  I realised early in the day that I wanted to eat my stress in the form of chocolate.  The notion of buying one of the handmade bags of chocolates from down the office (and for charity, I might add) was therefore somewhat irresistable.  A lot of the time I end up eating something because I have a bizarre fear that if I don't sieze the opportunity to have X now, I might not ever have it again.  Usually this is something I can reason my way out of, once I've spotted the trend.  There will always be more fish and chips / cake / boozey nights out, etc, etc.  Handmade chocolates - ok, there might not be as many of those.  I did buy some, but despite the mega stress-y and stupidly long day (hi, leaving the office at 8.30), I am very glad to report that there is still half a bag of chocolates in my locker.  Not a complete wipe out then.

Mostly, and aside from the chocolates, I have stuck to eating when I'm hungry.

Not that it's doing me a fat lot of good right now (pun intended) as the scales aren't going anywhere in particular, but I've said it before (and you can be damn sure I'll say it again, ad nauseum), persistence is key.  As long as I'm being honest with myself and what I'm recording, at some point, there will have to be progress.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Counter-intuitive Eating

Eating in the last 24 hours has been pretty good, there's just a few things I still need to get my head round.  The biggest of those things is this:  it's ok to eat when you're hungry.

Years of upbringing and thought training had bought me to a place where at a mealtime you eat a meal, and snacking in between meals is bad.  Then there was a slight shift to eat a smaller meal at mealtime (hello portion control, nice to meet you) and plan some healthy snacks for morning and afternoon.  A step in the right direction in one way - by keeping my metabolism stoked and energy levels high, I'm far less likely to go crazy and eat what I shouldn't - but there's still a flaw in the plan:  meal planning like that assumes that my body will be want food at the prescribed times, and not in between.

Well, I got news for you:  my body does not always co-operate with that plan.  And so we finally move to plan c, which we've (well, I've) been talking about recently: eating when you're hungry.  And not eating when you're not hungry.

They call it intuitive eating, and I've noticed a few of you calling it that in the comments (whilst praising me - why thank you very much!).  For a lot of us though, and I am definitely including myself in this category, this approach is counter-intuitive eating - it's everything we've been taught not to do, all our lives.  I fight hard with the concept that if it's a meal-time and I'm not hungry then I don't necessarily have to eat.  Yet watch a slim person's habits (and I'm talking a life-time slim person, not a successful dieter), and they'll literally forget to eat.  Or they'll remember, and decide not to bother anyway.  It's a whole different approach.

The other thing that slim person will do, quite naturally, is eat.  WHEN.  THEY'RE.  HUNGRY.  Crucial point.  And you know what they'll not be doing whilst they eat?  Agonising over it.  Feeling guilty.  Questioning their food choice and whether they really needed it, or could have hung on, getting hungrier and hungrier, til their next appoined meal time.  I, on the other hand, have previously been guilty of all of the above.

So it's not intuitive eating for me - it's conscious eating.  Take yesterday for example.  I ate well during the day, went to my yoga class at lunch, and got hungry in the afternoon.  I didn't have any fruit to hand or anyway of getting any, so I had a two finger KitKat from the tuck drawer in the office.  Hardly going to break the bank on points, and in face was within my allowance, but I still felt a little guilty.  Then I worked late, and obviously got hungry again.  I grabbed a pack of Discos from the tuck drawer, because I needed to work and my hunger was distracting me from what I needed to complete before I could go home.  And besides, did I really want to get as hungry as I'd been a couple of times last week, when I was literally going hot and cold and sweating with it?  Not really.  But oh my God - the crisps took me over my allowance!!!  Shock horror!! Dismay!!  Oh just deal with it. 

The crisps kept me going til I got home, and could shove a pizza in the oven and half, with salad for tea.  Yes, crisps weren't the best choice, but under the circumstances of a busy office after hours, they were what was available, and the best thing in the tuck drawer in terms of points.  I just need to stop feeling guilt for being hungry at what my brain considers to me an inconvenient time.  And I need to stop feeling guilt for feeding my body when it's telling me it's physically in need of sustenance.

Good things to yesterday:  after tea, my thoughts automatically turned to dessert options.  As I sat on my heels looking in the fridge, I stopped and actually asked myself whether I was hungry still, and knew immediately that I wasn't.  The thoughts of dessert went away almost straight away - maybe it gets easier the longer you practice it?

Today, conversely, is a non-hungry day.  Having realised this morning that I forgot to pick up some more milk, I had to re-think my usual cereal / porridge options.  Bacon medallions, scrambled egg and mushrooms were piled on my plate, for a surprisingly surprisingly low 7 points, and they literally kept me completely full and satisfied until lunchtime and my lunchtime run was done.  And I'm remembered to restock on fruit today for better snacking this afternoon (if required!).

Things that make me happy today:  I've booked my next surf lesson at lunchtime today.  And two weeks off in August - whoop!

Discoveries from last night:  settling down to watch a film properly (no distractions from the internet, books,  magazines or my phone makes the evening pass much quicker.  And stops me pondering what I could eat.  And getting bored (I wonder if those last two are linked?).

Monday, 11 July 2011

Temporary Distraction

Generally, I've been quite good over the weekend about trying to stick to the conscious eating theme, but I have to admit to getting a bit distracted yesterday.  Partly, because it was just one of those days when you're "hungry" and no matter how much you have, you still want more.  Basically, it's nothing to do with physical hunger at all, just one of those days when you want to eat.  The comfort and taste and action of eating.

The other thing I discovered yesterday, is that planning your meals and conscious eating do not go hand-in-hand.  In fact, they're the very opposite of each other.  I wanted pancakes in the morning, so I had them, but late because I'd had a lie-in.  The plan was then to have soup for lunch and a roast for tea, but I tripped myself up with that plan.  You see, I only finished breakfast at 11.30, so even by 1.30-2 when I needed lunch done and dusted, I wasn't really hungry.  That would have been my mistake:  I should have just abandoned the plan and foregone lunch, but I cooked it and forced it down anyway, when I wasn't really hungry.  I was just sucked in by the idea that it was lunchtime, and I should have something savoury for lunch.  Doh - I'll know better next time.

The problem with derailing at that point, was that then I'd set a precedent for eating when I wasn't hungry, and that pretty much always leads to a "grazing" mentality.  I spent the afternoon out and around town, and stopped for a drink at a coffee-shop in the sun by the harbour, and somehow added flapjack to my drinks order.  I wasn't hugely hungry in the evening, but knowing I'd planned a roast and it would take a while I stuck it in anyway, so then I ended up eating it.  Add to that a couple of the packets of Mini Party Rings and a cup of cocoa (new discovery - cocoa plus powdered Canderel makes ace milky hot chocolate at a fraction of the points of normal Cadburys Drinking Chocolate), and yesterday somehow turned into a day of constant eating.

I did get an hour's walk in the sunshine in, and it wasn't a total loss because I had flex points to spare (which are now all used), but I'm cursing myself for being stupid.  I can see where I went wrong now, so I guess I just need to learn from it.

Right now, I'm taking my poor abused, and still aching from Friday circuits, muscles off to a Body Balance class in the hope that they'll feel a bit looser afterwards.

Sunday, 10 July 2011


I am pleased to say that I'm still progressing well with my conscious eating efforts.  I had to work all day yesterday, which kind of sucked, although I did get a lot done, and I was proud that I managed to keep a lid on my grumpiness at being in the office and not direct it into my eating.

Since I had a bit more time yesterday morning (weekend working is a come-in-when-you-want, leave-when-you-want kind of affair), I mixed up my breakfast and had the poached eggs on toast that I was craving Friday morning.  I'm not the speediest cook in the world, so I decided Friday that it would be better to wait a day than be excessively late into the office - good decision because the eggs tasted great yesterday morning.  2 poached eggs and some sauteed, seasoned mushooms on a slice of granary toast.  Yum.

Technically, I did make lunch and take it to work (well, a ham roll and a yoghurt anyway), but work actually pays for our meals if we're in on a weekend, and the others decided on paninis from the local coffee shop, so I left my lunch in the fridge for tomorrow and joined them.  One very nice tomato and mozzarella panini later, and I was back in the office about to eat and half way to the tuck-shop drawer to go and get a packet of crisps to go with it, when I realised I wouldn't need the crisps: conscious eating decision number one.  One of my colleagues, Liz, and I then did a sneaky dessert buffet (one reason I decided I wouldn't be needing crisps too, the other being that the panini was generously enough sized as it was), as we'd got a piece of chocolate tiffin and a slice of millionaire shortbread from the coffee shop and cut them in half, so we both got a piece of each.  A sinfully delicious couple of mouthfuls (and to be honest, I was probably done after the shortbread and pre-tiffin), but well worth it.

Since I'd got my car at work, I decided it was about time I also did a proper food shop, as it's literally been weeks since I went to the big supermarket, rather than just picking up a couple of days worth of food from the express branches on the way home from work.  I want to keep my food on track this week, and as work is hotting up, I know that whatever I cook needs to be minimum fuss, minimum time as I'm likely to be working long hours and getting home late and tired.

Funny enough, what I was really craving for dinner last night was soup and toast.  No kidding.  I thought about getting a takeaway (yes, I know, a weekend "treat") but it wasn't cutting the mustard.  I wanted soup.  And a bit of icecream.  I've been thinking about the icecream for days actually, but I don't trust myself with full size cartons of the stuff, so being at the big supermarket I was able to get one of the individual pots of Ben & Jerry's.  Oh.  My.  God.  Did it taste good!!!

So - the fridge is stocked for the week.  A mix of summer foods and comfort foods, old favourites and new things to try (the chorizo pasta from this month's Weightwatchers magazine , for one).  And I had the nicest breakfast this morning - pancakes!  If I go to the office today, it will only be for a couple of hours, so I wallowed in a blissful lie-in this morning (which will be my only one for a looooooong time to come), and then started investigating the recipe books for a batter mix.  How is it that every book comes up with a different and more convoluted suggestion????  I wanted a simple eggs-flour-milk recipe, but nooooooooooo, cinnamon here, melted butter there - arrrrghhhhh!!!!  I eventually found what I was looking for in a March copy of the WW's magazine - nice and simple.  Although they wanted me to to add oil directly to the batter and not put anything in the pan - sod that - no oil and I put butter in the pan - much better.  And tastier. 

Since a portion of batter for 4 uses one egg, I couldn't really split the portions down to do a smaller mix, so I did the whole lot, thinking I'd probably eat about half of it anyway (I tend to have arguments with how big WW's portions from recipes are sometimes - 2 pancakes - errrrrrrr, hell no!), and I could just refridgerate the rest for tomorrow.  I also expected it to put a large dent in my points allowance for the day.

I tell you what - those pancakes were amazing.  Even the first one browned and flipped perfectly, and I had a plate of ready chopped banana and blueberries ready and waiting along with some sweetener and lemon juice - delicious!  Why the hell save pancakes for once a year -they're so good??  I had 4 pancakes in the end, but had only used roughly a third of the batter (small ladle).  What surprised me though, was that even using 3 knobs of butter in the pan, the whole breakfast only came to 7 points when I tracked it.  Awesome - delicious, hugely filling and not ridiculously high in points!  Win! 

In the end, I binned the rest of the batter though - practically speaking pancakes are not a fast breakfast to cook / eat, so they wouldn't have happened tomorrow, and if I kept the batter I'd have only ended up eating it later today which would be unneccessary, so I figured a little waste was better than a lot on my waist.

Tonight I'm going to have a proper roast (of sorts), as I think Sunday's need them.  Chicken breast done in the oven, roast potatoes, butternut squash and carrots, some petit pois and gravy.  Heaven.  I feel like I should go and have a walk somewhere first and earn it though :o)  And frankly, my muscles are so sore now from Friday's circuits that moving is the only thing that helps!

Just a final thing to share - I'm a sucker for biscuits, but like the ice-cream - I can't be trusted with whole packets, or they just get eaten.  Amongst my favourites - anything Fox's (Crunch Creams are to die for), gingernuts and Party Rings.  So imagine my delight, when I was in the biscuit aisle at the supermarket yesterday, looking for some WW's cookies and stumbled on Mini Party Rings!!!!!!  6 pre-packaged portions of mini Party Rings biscuits, which work out at a very reasonable 3 points a pack.  Genius.  I am officially happy.  I can be trusted with those.  I realise they're aimed at kids, but I am essentially a kid that never grew up, so I have no problem buying them :o)

Hope you're enjoying your weekends, folks!

Friday, 8 July 2011

V Is For Victory. And Very Painful.

Had a mini breakthrough moment earlier - got home from work sta-haaaaarving - like seriously hot and cold, breaking a sweat, it's-an-effort-to-pick-one-foot-up-and-put-it-in-front-of-the-other starving.  Rather than wait and cook something, I needed to eat right then, so I laid into a half a pepper in the fridge and a tub of hummous.  And then 2 slices of white bloomer bread went in the toaster and the rest of the pot of hummous went into my mouth by the medium of toast.

There followed a slight panick-y moment of "but that was meant to be a snack pre-dinner - now what do I do for dinner, because a) I've used up the rest of my daily points allowance, and b) I'm actually really full????".  In the Head of Sue the mealtime of dinner has not formally passed until something hot and well .... dinnery ... has been consumed.  But why not hummous and toast (and pepper)?  Why can't that be tea?  So it's not a nutritionally balanced meal, but you're contentedly full and don't need anything further.  Time to stop?  Yes.  So I did.

Also this waiting after eating thing ... it's good!  I originally wanted ice-cream, or chocolate, or something sweet (and no doubt terrible for me) to finish up my meal.  I sat.  I thought about it.  I wasn't hungry any more.  And besides it started absolutely bucketing down.  It's almost like the fates (or the Gods of the Scales?) said "nay - you shall not go to the shop yet". 

I finally went to the shop at 9.30pm after deciding I did want a little something.  I looked at the Ben & Jerry's and Haagen Dazs in the fridge.  It wasn't really calling my name in the end.  And confronted with the entire chocolate display, what did I end up with?  A Curlywurly, Weightwatchers magazine and a bucket-load of fruit (yay, Co-Op:  2 punnets of cherries and a box of blueberries for a fiver??  You rule!).

I've broken my Friday night treat cycle, at least for this week!  I've used a few flex points, admittedly, as most of a pot of hummous doesn't come cheap, and I had a low-fat blueberry muffin this afternoon after circuits class as I was still hungry after my lunch, but it's all looking good so far.

On a down note - I've got work tomorrow - sucky, sucky, sucky.

Oh, and FYI - my circuits class is officially ADVANCED.  Oh yes indeed - so said the instructor / evil genius today, just before she proceeded to break us in 45mins.  Yikes - I'm doing an advanced class!  And I would just like to say categorically: no human is designed to do that many variants on squats and presses / squats and lat raises / lunge and pushes / jump lunges / back lunge (is it telling that I just typed lunch there instead?) and tricep press / squats and more overhead presses, and ski sits, all in one go.  Even the instructor apologised for how many there were at the end of the session ..... mostly because a large portion of the attendees were lying sobbing on the floor by then (or at least wanted to be).  Ooooooh - that's going to hurt tomorrow!

But since I'll be at work, I don't suppose it will matter anyway. 


Being Aware

Bear with me, because this is going to sound trite, and I totally feel like some evangelical convert waxing lyrical about how their new religion is the best ever, and they can't understand how they never converted before, but the truth is: I feel great after eating consciously over the last couple of days.  Not just smug but actually, physically different.  Better.

I've been really thinking about what I need and as a result I've felt full all day. I even cut down my pasta portion at dinner because I didnt want to cheat on my day's points.  I also really looked at how much veg I was adding and properly considered it. The result was surprising - prob half of my normal amounts - and I realised my "standard" portions of veg had gone up at some point. Where I used to use half a pepper, a carrot, a couple of mushrooms, and half a courgette, I realised that I'd changed to a whole pepper and courgette, and half a punnet of mushrooms - just far, far too much food.  Of course, cutting back the veg and pasta means I also needed less pesto to make sauce too - saving points the easy way!

It struck me, as I reached into the cupboard for a plate, that I've been seing the signs for a while but not registering them.  Consciously or not, I've been ignoring it, but I realised that I have always been reaching for the big dinner plates recently in order to be able to fit my meal on, and healthy food or not, that's not a good sign.  Last night, I only needed a small plate, and when I stopped to compare my meal it was about 2/3 of my recent portion sizes.  No kidding.  But it was a normal size portion, a portion that would fill me comfortably, and I took my time to eat it and felt good when I was finished.  No pudding required.

I know 2 days on track hardly makes a success story but it does feel great - I'm not over-stuffed as I now realise I have been after a lot of meals recently. I need to remember this. And keep working at it.

Those were my thoughts last night.  I got back from the pub (mostly diet Cokes and 1 vodka and tonic from my activity points), and I had all these thoughts whirling round my head as I lay in bed, so I jotted them down before I forgot.  I had a moment of frustration this morning, when my weekly weigh in put me at 12st 9.4lbs, only a lb down from when I returned from holiday on Sunday, and officially a lb up from my last pre-holiday weigh in, but then I realised why I was so disappointed:  in my head I'm equating the fact that I feel so good with what I'm expecting to see on the scales, and of course, it doesn't work that way.

However, I'm still walking the saintly path today, despite my minor (and irrational) niggle with the scales.  Mid-morning I caught myself thinking I really wanted some more breakfast.  I stopped and examined that thought - I wasn't physically hungry (I kept checking myself over a good 30 mins to be sure), and what I really wanted was the taste and texture of food and the act of eating - it was a feeling I can only describe as a comfort I was craving.  I don't know why - I wasn't particularly bored or stressed or anything else.  So I took that thought, asked myself whether I needed to eat, and knew the answer was "no", and sure enough it faded away after a little while.  Of course it's not easy - whoever said this stuff was, but at least I'm thinking about it.

Next challenge today - trying to break my "treat" mentality that I've got into for weekends.  It goes like this: "it's the start of the weekend and a new tracking week, so I've got flex points to use, therefore I must deserve a treat."  Funny how it never stops at one treat isn't it.  And also - since when was a "treat" a regular weekly occurrence.

*sigh* - there's a long way to go.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Practice What I Preach

Last week I touched on the subject of portion sizes, and specifically, my portions sizes, and the fact that they were getting too big.

Way back at the beginning of 2009 when I started this whole challenge (oh my good God, was it really that long ago now???), I started out with Weightwatchers.  I joined up, girded my loins, and braced myself for the starvation and restriction that was bound to follow.

For the first couple of days it was weird, because I realised how much I'd been eating and how it all added up when you looked at it all together.  Yep, there was much cursing, and thinking and adding up and looking up over the first couple of days, but as started to adjust my thinking what surprised me the most wasn't how much I got to eat, but how little I actually needed to be satisfied.

When I could differentiate between my physical hunger and my emotional cravings, I discovered that I really didn't need that much at all to keep myself full and topped up with energy.  Of course, it helped when I ate good food too - proper well-though meals full of healthy, natural ingredients - but overall, I could eat relatively normally and still lose weight and stay content.

The problem I have now is not quite the same one I started with in 2009, but it's not totally different either.  Before I started WW's I ate too much in both volume and nutritional terms (fat, calories, etc).  After 2+ years on plan, I generally eat more-or-less within the perameters of my daily allowances nutritionally speaking, but I think I'm cheating myeslf on the volume of food I think I need.

It's been a gradual back-slide on this front.  Over the years, the types of food I normally eat has changed - I'm far more focused on healthy veg and lean proteins, and have toned down the accompanying carbs to portion-controlled sizes these days.  Because veg are free, I use these to fill my plate up, guilt-free.  But as discussed before on here, I have a major problem with my eyes being bigger than my stomach.  I pretty much always have had, apart from the period in 2009 when I was losing steadily.

I can eat super-clean, but I'm effectively still feeding myself too much and telling myself it's ok.  I suspect this is a large part of why my weightloss has largely stalled over the last 18 months or so, because I have effectively not addressed the root cause of my problem.  I'm eating too much.  On a physical level, I haven't tutored my body to know how much food it actually needs, so it continues to think it needs more than it does.  This means that when I am eating super-clean I can lose a bit of weight (but not as quickly as I used to back in '09), but the minute I fall off that super-clean-eating wagon it all goes awry, because I still want to eat too much food in volume, but now it's bad stuff.

I've been pondering for a while now, why it is that I used to manage to have a weekend away, eat the wrong things and still scrape a weight loss, and this is the answer:  I watched my portion sizes and got used to eating what I needed, so even when I ate the wrong stuff, I only ate what I needed.  BIG DIFFERNCE.  I also drank less, which is something I've already addressed in recent weeks.

So - time to practice what I preach.  To get this sorted, and improve myself, I need to listen to my hunger.  I wrote about this a couple of days ago, and I've actually been trying to do it too, with some success.  It's going to be a long battle because I'm so schooled to not doing it, but I reckon I can get back to the happy zone, now I've worked out where the problem lies.

Simple rules:

  • Eat when I'm hungry - if I'm not hungry, stop eating.  A tough one to master, but easy to start in small steps.  I might not be at the stage yet where I can stop before my plate is empty, but there are plenty of simple measures for instance - don't eat extra fruit with breakfast if I don't need it.  Don't eat my fruit salad mid-morning if I don't need it yet.
  • Eat when I'm hungry - if it's not a regular mealtime, or a time when I habitually eat, eat anyway.  There's no point beating myself up because I'm eating between meals if I'm actually hungry.  I was hungry when I got to work this morning so I had a bacon roll.  Then I wasn't hungry.  Simple.  So I didn't eat anything else.
  • Eat what I need - not what I think I need.  This is about my lunch and dinner portions.  I'm experimenting this week with slowly reducing them and seeing where the balance lies.  I've reduced my lunchtime sandwich which I have with soup, to a small lunchtime roll instead.  Last night, I decided to split my tea around running club, so I just had a small portion of stuffed pasta when I got home, thinking I could do some veg when I got hungry later.  I didn't get hungry.  I was completely satisfied.
  • Eat a small portion.  Stop.  Wait.  Have more if I need it.  Self-explanatory really - when I'm hungry, especially when I'm really hungry, I eat too much.  I need to take advantage of the knowledge that it takes 20 mins for your mind to register the signals from your stomach that it's full.  It's effectively what happened last night with the pasta.  I didn't feel completely full when I finished it.  But I did later.  Better to do something much smaller than I think I need, and say I can have more later if I need it.
  • Stop filling my entire plate with heaps of veg - yes, veg are lovely, and wonderful and free on WW's, but that's not an excuse to abuse it.
  • Keep treats as treats - a treat should be something I only have once in a while - that's why it's so decadently lovely.  Therefore delaying the gratification will make it taste sweeter. 

That's probably enough to be getting on with.   Any thoughts?  Anything to add?

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Photos From Exmoor

Finally, my laptop and Blogger are on speaking terms again with regards to photos, so I can bore you senseless with some photos from last week [insert evil laugh here].

But truthfully, I love Exmoor so much, and it's so damn pretty, that I feel it's my duty to share some of it's beauty with you rabble.  Just don't, you know, decide to go there and spoil it for me, ok? ;o)

Seriously though - look at the colours - just freaking amazing!!  This is up on Exmoor between Porlock and Lynmouth, looking out over the Severn Estuary:


And a few miles further along, you get to Lynmouth itself and this glorious view (and god yes, that cream tea was delicious!):

porlock july 2011 005


When the weather's that lovely, then it's definitely time to get the bike out and go play (and sit in a tea garden with a well-earned (half) cream tea afterwards - you can tell I was excited about it - I inhaled the first half of the scone before I remembered a photo was in order!):

porlock july 2011 036

A lovely trip to sleepy little Porlock Weir - as you can see it wasn't as warm as all the sun might suggest, hence my being huddled up in my fleece.  We did find the nicest pub for my Dad's birthday lunch though, and I had the best pie I've had in forever - chicken and leek with an amazing golden puff pastry crust and a ton of veg .... soooooooo gooooood [drool]:

porlock july 2011 136          
And this is my dream house - still in Porlock Weir, it's just beautiful.  If I could plonk it somewhere with some decent surf and a bit of wind-surfing I'd be in heaven indeed.:

Dreamy little Bossington this time:


As you can see - the whole area is the perfect anti-dote to real life ...

Rainy Running

I totally don't want to go to running club this evening.

Despite saying that I've got the running bug again, which I have, I don't want to go.  And I feel I should.  Because I've paid for it.

It's rainy, cold and miserable out there, and the last couple of runs have sucked, so I just want to run at my own pace.

Nope - I don't want to go.  Not.  One.  Little.  Bit.

EDIT - I'm also a bloody idiot, because I was still intending to go, despite the bitching, and I've just realised that I was thinking it started at 7.30pm, and it's not it's 7pm, which means I've missed it anyway, since I can't get changed and drive up there in 12 minutes - crap, crap, crap!!!!!

SECOND EDIT - Well, I ran anyway.  I'd eaten a light dinner, damn it, and if I've paid for classes and then missed them, then I should bloody well get my lazy arse out there and run like I'm meant to.  It was slow, really slow, but better than the last couple of runs.  At least I managed to run the whole 5 and bit km straight this time, but in the snail pace time of 37 mins.  Just going to have to keep on it I guess!

Mountain Biking Joy

One of the nicest things about last week's week-o-freedom was that I found another opportunity to take my bike out, and this time to actually take it out somewhere it would be re-aquainted with the concept of mud and tree-roots.

I had a fun afternoon of just me, my trusty Spesh, an OS map of Exmoor and some glorious sunshine. It wasn't the world's longest ride (2 hours, and not that many miles covered due to a lot of stopping to check the map), but it was lots of fun and reminded me why I should do it more.

I don't ride singletrack as much as I'd like to because I'm a lazy arse and don't make the effort to get the bike in the car and drive to a trail-centre, and it's rarer still for me to venture out and try and make up my own countryside routes, because I like someone telling me where I'm meant to be going and taking the decision-making out of the equation. But I know that area of Exmoor fairly well, having spent a lot of childhood summers down there, and not having to drive somewhere from the camp site to do it was just way too much of a good reason not to. I remembered though one of the beauties of off-roading away from a designated trail: not having the fear of holding up other people all the time. For a slow, novice biker like me, that's quite a relief, because I always worry about getting in the way of the wippet thin boys (and girls) on there several-thousand-pounds-worth-of-bike and them either laughing at me or cursing. Not that that has ever happened to me - usually I hear people coming and get out their way, and the people I have bumped into are always super-friendly, but I still have the fear.

Anyhoo - it was lovely - long climbs up lanes and rocky bridle-ways, swoopy fast descents round valleys, technical climbing and lovely undulating single-track discovered in the woods, some testing bits of descents with roots and baby-drop-offs, and a final rock-strewn steep wide descent back to the valley floor before hammering flat-out down the trail by the river to the village with chunks of mud flying everywhere. Then a cream tea to refuel in a tea garden before back to the camp-site. Oh, and possibly, a mis-reading of the map resulting in me ending up on a footpath that got so narrow I had to walk the bike up for a quarter of a mile - ooooops!

I was even took to heart the advice from the bike clinic the week before and spent a satisfying hour and a half in the sunshine cleaning the bike saddle to wheel when I got back - right down to sourcing a spare toothbrush and spending a good 40 mins scrubbing all the accumulated muck out of the chain rings. At least I won't be ashamed of my bike when I wheel it into the workshop for it's service tomorrow!

It gets me thinking though - I'm going to take a bit more time off in August, and I think it's time I planned ahead and made the effort to visit some of the trail centres in South Wales - so many possibilities for fun and all for the price of some petrol.

I also finally invested in some new bike shorts, as my previous ones had got to the point that they were really rather too baggy. I've been umming and aaaahing for ages about what to get, and finally ended with some Endura Singletrack shorts after a trying on session at my local Cycle Surgery – bugger me, but they're great! Heavier duty fabric than my old Altura ones, but still cool and with nifty zipped vents on the thigh. And considering I've not got the slimmest of thighs, they fit beautifully, just skimming over everything. I'm very pleased.

Now just need to find some decent shoes - I've been toying with the idea of jumping on to the cleats bandwagon for ages, and a discussion with one of the guys at my local bike shop has pointed me in the direction of the pedals I want to get, but I need to get shoes for SPD cleats too (since I'm very definitely not using my pristine white and pink and suitably girly cleats I use at the gym for spinning) .... does anyone have any suggestions / recommendations on decent mountain-biking shoes?

- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Give Me Strength

Shopping when you are hungry, really really hungry, is an absolute bitch. 

I had to go to the supermarket today on the way home from work, and I can't tell you how much the fresh baguettes and the cookies were calling to me.  Yelling in fact.  A siren call of instant gratification.

I blocked my ears (with some effort), bought my veg and walked home.  The walk home seemed longer than usual - don't you hate it when you're so hungry you feel like lead and you're going hot and cold?  Total crash.

Anyway, I was good.  I got in and made my dinner without diving into something to snack, although I did have an extra slice of bread and butter afterwards.  I also allowed myself a couple of scoops of icecream at the cinema later too - I look at this way - icecream is my weakness, I love it, and if I allow myself one treat of it a week, at the cinema, I can cope without having it in the house.

Spinning today sucked ass, it was so damn hard.  Gasping for breath and slogging the whole way through, but I've twigged now why my run last night was so bad: my quads are dead today.  It's because we did a new Body Balance release at the class yesterday lunchtime, and the new "standing strength" track is an absolute bee-atch - 6 long minutes of held lunges in the yoga Warrior positions.  It didn't occur to me til today, but my legs are sore, and when I thought back I remembered how my quads were starting to cramp during the track and I had to keep easing back and stretching ... no wonder the run was hard!

I'm continuing to track faithfully and hit my workouts hard this week - despite the occasional set-backs, I'm feeling strong.  Long may it last!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Positive Thinking

It's a funny thing with the healthy kick:  it really does go in cycles.  Just when you fear that you'll never find the motivation to get going again, or stop the backslide, something comes along and gives you a boot up the jacksy that has the galvanising effect of the proverbial firework.

Exhibit A:  I was going through the photos my Dad took last week whilst we were away, and came across the ones of me heading out horse-riding.  It shook me to see that most of them showed a very unflattering lifebelt-sized ring of lard round my middle.  Far more than I thought I had.  And since it was the same in pretty much every photo, we can safely assume it wasn't simply a bad angle.  Annoyingly, I was trying to upload a photo to prove my point, but Blogger and my laptop are having a disagreement about uploading photos to my blog right now, so you'll just have to use your imaginations.

Anyway, my point was, that the photo was just an extra illustration of the fact that I'm not done yet, and that it would be quite nice to get this thing wrapped up at some point.  Yes, I feel a hell of a lot better than I did when I started out, nearly 4 stone ago (I'm up a few lbs at the moment), but I'll know doubt feel a hell of a lot better still if I can get rid of this last 20lbs that are bugging me.

It comes at a good time though, when I'm also open to considering the why's of my non-progress at the moment.  The not-quite-sticking-to-it-strictly days, the creeping portion sizes and being-a-little-too-generous-with-guesstimate-pointing when I don't know something for sure - none of these are doing me any favours.

Then there are the times you read a well-timed blog post that just points out the should-be-blindingly-obvious to you - (exhibit B - from Ms Bitchcakes on the subject of Hunger) - I need to work on my issues of being scared about getting hungry.  I do not live in a situation where I'm ever likely to go hungry for prolonged, painful periods of time so it's a mystery to me why I have this aversion to feeling hunger.  So I'm trying to pay more attention to what I eat for a while .... concentrating on how much I actually need and when, rather than eating from habit, or a misguided sense of self-preservation.

And I'm cracking down on the pointing, as well as the tracking - working things out properly rather than just guessing.  Some days just won't go right, and that's fine, but keep it in perspective.  I got home from work today and had planned on having a little Higgidy feta and roasted red pepper quiche (seriously tasty) with some veg in tomato sauce.  The veg was from one of those individual steamer packs, and although it had a use-by date of yesterday, I assumed it would be ok - first mouthful said otherwise - it had already got that taste when it's just started to ferment in the bag.  No panic though, picked out the fresh pepper I'd added which I knew was fresh, and chucked a small jacket potato in the microwave to do quickly (no other veg in the fridge at the moment).  Yes, it wasn't ideal because it was more points than I was planning on using, but not a cause for alarm.

On the upside, I decided to go for a run this evening once it was cooling down a bit.  I went for a run last week down on Exmoor (yes - I ran on holiday!), and it was nice, but I know I need to be doing a bit more at the moment to make the most of the running summer school.  Only thing is, the last couple of runs I've done have felt super-tough - I'm lacking energy and feeling worn out and lethargic really quickly.  I don't know if it's the heat, or not eating at the right times beforehand, or just that I'd got used to running regularly a couple of times a week pretty much all the first half of this year whilst training for the 10k and duathlon, and now I'm seeing the effects of 6 weeks of not so regular running.

Tonight's run was hard.  Just my usual 5k harbour circuit, but I was absolutely beat.  I was slow.  Very slow.  But the nice thing was, I let myself be slow.  I let myself take walking breathers, acknowledged that, for whatever reason, my fitness is down, and just did what I could without killing myself.  What I find funny is that a terrible run like that can make me want to go running again tomorrow if the weather's clear enough.  I find the running bug goes in waves - I get totally fed up of it, and then from nowhere, I'm all go again.  So strange.  My last 3 runs have been hard, but I want to get out there and (slowly and gently) do more.

I am debating whether I might need to ask to go down a group at the running club, mind you, with my running not being so hot at the moment.  I'd rather be in a group where I'm near the front than lagging behind, and I'm worried that's what's going to happen over the next couple of weeks.  I'll have to see how this week goes first though - no point requesting it before I'm sure.

It's nice to be seeing the positive side of things for a change though - see bad experiences, or things going wrong, for the lessons they are, rather than the setbacks they could be.

Must be all the sunny weather!

Sunday, 3 July 2011

Damage Evaluation

Phew - a quick visit to the scales this morning shows that the post-holiday-let-hair-down damage is a mere 2lbs - which gives me until Friday's official weigh in to make some proper headway.

What I need to get my head down and make some real amends to are my portion sizes and my diligence in tracking.  I'm aware that I've become a little lax on both these fronts, and admitting it is only half the battle is you don't then do something about it!

I made a start yesterday, in that having consumed the entire pack of pate (oh my lord - Waitrose Chicken Forestier pate - divine), I thought I'd be cheating myself if I didn't then work out the actual damage rather than just taking a somewhat-on-the-gentle-side guess at it.  Ok - so it was 18 points.  Plus 4 slices of rather lovely white bloomer bread.  But that was lunch and tea.

That's another battle I still need to work on - that mealtimes doesn't have to equate to a meal.  I had a few bits to get in town yesterday, and it was just after 5 when I got back to the flat.  Since I was hungry I had those two slices of bread with the rest of the pate, but normally I wouldn't count that as a proper meal.  But I was full.  A "normal" person would probably just count that as dinner and move on, but for me there's always a little voice going "but you're going to be hungry later", and a huge internal debate follows.  I take yesterday's as a kind of win though, since I decided to wait and see if I did get hungry before having something else to eat, and ended up just having a piece of toast with some jam at about 10pm instead.

In other victories, I manage to leave town yesterday having just bought the cards I went in for and some replacement bracelets for some I broke.  This is despite spending several hours trying dresses on because I half-convinced myself that I needed something new to wear to the engagement party I'm going to this afternoon.  I don't, and I managed to make it home without splurging any money on dresses (or the crop jeans or shorts that I somehow thought I needed as well) - I guess with the shopping habit, it's a bit like dieting - it's a mini victory everytime you don't do something, whether it's eating the cake or buying the dress.

On that note - time for me to go get changed into something a little neater (I think maybe shorts would be pushing the "casual" dress code for this afternoon a bit far) and get headed up the road to Malvern.

Hope you're all out enjoying the sun! 

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Straight Back On It

Well, this sucks - after a week of eat-what-you-please, I decided that yesterday, being a Friday and the start of a new tracking week for me, would be a good time to start ... well ... tracking again.

Yes - I started tracking before I left holiday for home.

To be honest, I'm probably more grumpy at the actual coming home part though, after a glorious week of rest, relaxation and mini-adventures.

Proper update to follow.

- Posted from my iPhone