Friday, 31 July 2015

Cosmic Laughs

I feel a lot like the Universe has been having a giant cosmic laugh at my expense.

No really.

I landed a job this morning, and in the greatest of all ironies, it's back in my old team at the bank.  The very same team I left twice to go and do winter seasons.  And it's on a contracting basis, which I'd just about given up on.  Oh - and it's the same preferred rate I was going for in London, but in Bristol which is, y'know, cheaper, and the bank gave it to me without blinking when I named my price.  Oh (one more time) and they approved my Vietnam trip leave without hesitation, because even though it's over month end, it just so happens that that month end isn't happening for one reason or another this reporting cycle.

Yeah.  I'm struggling to get my head round it too.

For extra cosmic belly laughs, the Universe had my text announcing the job to a friend answered by a phone call a bare 5 minutes later saying that, yes, she was still looking for a flatmate and would be delighted to move in with me.  Same budget and area I'm looking, flexible moving date, and since we lived together a couple of years ago, I know she's someone I can cohabit with, not kill and have fun with.

In the space of about an hour this morning, I'd gone from a tentative chat with a manager in my old team, to an agreed contract, a start date and a new flatmate.

It seems Fate just wanted me to wait 3 months for it all.

It's been a crazy morning, as I also had calls from my agents in London wanting to set up an interview for an interesting looking job on Monday, and a new agent who had received my CV from a  friend and wanted to talk seriously big money jobs.  I had to make my decisions about the job quickly and decisively, but as I realised when I told my existing Bristol agent about accepting the job and he asked if I was sure I was making the right decision given everything else on the table at the moment, I am sure.

I think this is the right thing for now - it feels right.  It gives me time to recoup my security blanket of money that has dwindled over the last couple of months, whilst not needing to worry about my trip in November.  It means I can start my next round of job-hunting during my last weeks in this role and from a position of financial stability, rather than the faintly desperate position I now find myself in.  It's with a team I know I get on with, working for people I've worked alongside for the last 4 years - I know their foibles, strengths and weaknesses, and they know mine.

So life's taken another twist and I'm going with it, seeing where it takes me.

In the meantime, I have two weeks before I start back.  For the last 3 months, I've not dared to stray far from my phone or home, in case I'm needed for interviews, etc.  The next 2 weeks are finally free time.  Everything is set now and I can breathe a sigh of relief and step away if I want to.  I'm thinking I might check the weather and the surf report and wander off down to Devon or Cornwall for a few days - just take off and step away from the subtle tensions I've felt for the last few months.  Take some books and uncouple from tech for a while.

Weigh in this week - 0.5lb off.  Not a lot, but I'm happy with that.  It's been a busy week with meetings and interviews, so lots of time in the car driving, and I still don't have a regular exercise routine, so I'm happy with this sort of maintenance I've been going through.  I'm still lower than when I started back after my winter season, and as I said before I have no deadline - I just want to find a healthy relationship with food.

Happy weekend, y'all  - I'm off to sit in the sun and marvel at how life changes in 24 hours.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Weigh In - Week 11

In all honesty, this week's weigh in had me up 0.5lb.  Not what I'd hope to see, but I understand why. I weighed in on Saturday morning this week, a day late, as I was unexpectedly delayed in London on Thursday night.  Friday was not a good day for me.

I had a interview on Thursday that I was hopeful would bare fruit for a new job starting tomorrow.  When I hadn't heard anything by Friday lunchtime I wasn't feeling so optimistic and I couldn't get hold of my agent either.  And the rain, it was pouring down, so my drive home was completely ballsed up by bad traffic and ended up taking 5 hours by the time I'd factored in a lunch stop.

I was feeling pretty miserable and craving dirty, dirty fried chicken, so I picked a small meal and actually ditched half the chips as they weren't what I was actually obsessing over.  But yeah, fried chicken - nice and salty.  And then when I finally got home and managed to get hold of my agents, I talked to an entirely tactless and unsympathetic person who told me in the no uncertain terms that yeah, I was quite right in my suspicion that I hadn't got the job, but hey, they hadn't employed any of the candidates.  Like that was meant to make me feel better about the rejection, eh?  I had a good little sniffle about it when I got off the phone, before going in search of some dinner.  Later than usual, and maybe a few points over for the day.  Not much, but a little bit.

So where I could have expected a nice little loss, based on the rest of the week, I ended up being a bit up on Saturday morning.  If I look back on the week though, whilst it might not have been the weigh in I was hoping for, I still had a great week. There was a lot of socialising going on, and I can be proud of how I managed it, even if there was a little bit of emotional eating in there at the very end.

As far as the job hunt goes, I wallowed in my rejection for about 36 hours (can't deny it was 2pm yesterday before I finally emerged downstairs showered and fully dressed) and today I've done some more job applications.  Turns out I'm not particularly good at wallowing for too long.  Mind you, I do need a job pretty urgently now, as my savings have reached alarmingly low levels.  Fingers crossed that something comes up soon!

Thursday, 23 July 2015


There will be a delay on weigh in this week as I'm in London for an extra day, which means I'll have to suck it up and treat tomorrow like an extra day for this week (stay strict) rather than the first day of the new week (more relaxed) - oh well - that can only have a positive impact on next week really!

I've been pretty saintly this week what with all the socialising and somehow managed to stay on track and within my points ... until this afternoon when I've been waiting for a call back following a phone interview earlier. When the call didn't materialise I got a bit angsty and had some Haagen Dazs to console myself. Unsurprisingly it didn't really offer much consolation, just vague feelings of guilt over wasted icecream. I'm hoping for a small loss anyway this week though - even 0.5lb would do.

Oh well - at least the outdoor cinema last night was fun. We went to see the Grand Budapest Hotel at Kew Gardens last night, courtesy of Luna Cinema, and it was a gorgeous evening out. We arrived fairly soon after the gates opened, luckily, so secured a pretty good (and spacious) plot for ourselves. We went fully equipped with rugs, cushions, picnics and drinks and lazed around quite happily waiting for the sun to set so the film could start. I even purchased a brilliant inflatable backrest that will be awesome for future trips to the beach / picnics / garden lounging activities as it has it's own little groundsheet to stop it sliding away from you and keep your posterior from getting damp and grubby.

Here we are enjoying the film as the sun goes down:

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Pre-pay Picnic

You know how I can tell that I'm on the ball with my eating at the moment?

I got a text earlier today reminding me that I'm going to an outdoor cinema tomorrow evening (we're seeing The Grand Budapest Hotel at Kew Gardens - yay, I get to tick another thing off my 35 before 35 list!), and letting me know that one of my friends would pick up the picnic and that we should bring a bottle of wine each.  In all honesty, I'd completely forgotten / hadn't realised that this was happening tomorrow, and as the chat of picnics continued, I was thinking "crap, this is going to be bad and throw me off my points".  I've already negotiated a day at a festival followed by takeaway, and a christening and garden party this weekend, which has done for my weekly points, so I did what any self-respecting dieter would do - I sucked it up, apologised for being awkward, and said to sort themselves out and I'd deal with my own picnic and booze.

I've been to the supermarket and wandered around looking for healthy options (side note: why do I always end up in the supermarket when I'm staaaaaaarving???), and I've even gone so far as to point them up and put it in my tracker for tomorrow already, so I know what points I've got left to play with for the rest of the day.  I've pre-paid it, if you will.


Whilst this might seem a little over-organised to some (and trust me, I'd usually be one of the those), doing this means I can take my picnic tomorrow and get stuck in knowing I don't need to worry about whether I'm sabotaging myself.  I've tons of food to take, and as long as I don't get sidetracked by the girls' food, which I'm pretty sure is going to be baaaaad, then I'm home free.

And thanks to my wise choices and a bit of pre-planning I've got a great picnic - sandwiches, humous and crudités, sweet chilli chicken skewers, edamame beans, strawberries, a big cookie and 3 lots of pre-mixed Pimms (with diet lemonade) in cans.  Plenty to keep me going through a film.

I'm feeling pretty impressed with myself to be honest!

On the job front:  still no news.  The people who were rumbling about offering me a job in London are being awkward and want me to go permanent which isn't on my agenda, and the Bristol people still haven't responded.  Meh.

Monday, 20 July 2015


Apologies for the absence from blogging, which was rather unintended, if not unexpected given my track record for these things!

Usually when a blogger goes AWOL it's bad news, and I suppose for a while it was.  Week 11 of my recent weigh ins and I am ashamed to say I gained.  Yet again.  It was a crazy busy week, socially, and my head still wasn't in the game.  I was in Bristol on the Friday night to catch up with friends, and several shared bottles of prosecco and wine, pitchers of Pimms and daiquiris, and an Indian restaurant later, I'd put a dent in both my resolve and my weekly points.

That Saturday was a bit hungover, but after a full English, Hannah and I made it up the hill in Bristol to a branch of STA Travel, and emerged 40 mins later with our flights to Vietnam booked for November.  Which is so exciting, that it definitely merited a milkshake (although shared) to celebrate - after all the legendary Rocotillos (a Bristol Institution worthy of Capital Letters) was just the other side of the road .... so it would have been rude not to!

Then on that Monday, I went to Wimbledon with my friend Lou.  Since we're both too inept to have got into the ticket ballot last summer, we did it the old fashioned way and got in via The Queue (another Institution and an event in its own right, really).  I'd never been to Wimbledon before, and we were lucky that we scored a day that had both beautiful clear weather and a brilliant line-up of games - whilst we only had Grounds Tickets (no specific entry to the big matches on the premier courts) we did get to the watch the Williams sisters duking it out and Andy Murray's quarter final match from prime spots on Henman Hill, and we got into some of the smaller courts to watch some frankly thrilling doubles matches and the juniors knocking the spots of each other.  All of that accompanied by a very English picnic, that couldn't possibly have not had scones, a bottle of bubbly and some very large Pimms later on.  In other words not another good day for Weight Watchers.

The rest of that week was spent scurrying round for interviews and other bits and bobs, so you can see why I ended with a gain 1.75lbs.  And yeah, I was feeling too guilty to write about it.

But it was a kick up the arse to finally figure out what I'm doing.  As is the fact that Vietnam is now booked (it's a whole separate issue as to whether it was wise to book it considering I'm still jobless), and I'd like to be in a better place by then.  No numbers, no targets, just motivation to get moving.

I decided that the only way to do it, was to start eating much more basic food.  In other words:  start cooking again.  Whilst I do have full access to Dad's kitchen, I don't enjoy cooking in it, because it's massively cluttered to the point where there's very little counter space.  Plus most of my own utensils are still in storage, i.e. buried somewhere in massive Ikea bags in the spare room.  But really that's all excuses, so on Friday last week, I started eating properly again.  Lots of veg, grilled meat, and starting to make multiple batches of things like bolognese so I've got easy leftovers to reheat.

The funny thing is that that approach left me with so many spare points last week, that I had enough to have Chinese takeaway on Sunday night, go to the coffee shop twice during the week, survive a BBQ on Saturday afternoon, cook duck and enjoy some Ben and Jerry's ice-cream a couple of times.  Go figure.

Week 12's weight in result was far more palatable - 4lbs off.  Back to 13st 11.5lbs.  And I'm still going strong, having been to the Bristol Harbourside Festival on Saturday and a big garden party for a Christening yesterday, and still inside my points.

Unfortunately, weights not the only thing feeling lost this week;  I am too.  This whole work situation is making my head spin.  Last week, after talking to Hannah and my dad, I decided to widen my job search to Bristol as well as London.  I felt a bit like quitting but a sensible thing to do.  But the more I've thought about it, the more I feel like I actually want to be going back to Bristol rather than to London.  So many of my friends are there, and I like the pace of life.  My job search in London seems to have been shifted by my agents, so that rather than being put forward for jobs in central London, they're all out of London.  That's fine for the few jobs (that I didn't get) which were potentially close enough to cycle to from the flat but, as my flatmate pointed out, if I'm driving out to Surrey everyday for a job, I'm not really going to have much of a life in London - I won't be able to meet up with people after work like I would if I was working centrally, it's going to be difficult to fit in things like going to the gym - basically my life will be work and come home.  The more I think about it, the more Bristol seems more sensible, although I'd feel horribly guilty letting down my friend and flatmate after months of me talking about moving in, but I'm suddenly not sure that London is the right move after all.  It seemed such an exciting and easy idea whilst I was in the snowy Alps, now ... not so much.

Which of course means that I think I might be about to get offered the job in Surrey.  My agent emailed me at 8.30am this morning asking me to call him.  I can't think why else he'd be asking me to contact him so early on a Monday morning, unless he has job offer news.  I waited an hour, because I was too chicken to call him, my thoughts too ... swirly ... to know what I'm thinking.  Typically, I now can't get hold of him, so I'll have to wait a bit longer to speak to him.

I feel lost. I don't know what the right decision is.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Healthy Banana Pancakes

In the midst of all the unhealthy eating that's been happening recently, I've actually been trying out some new recipes for healthy dishes too. And this one is definitely my favourite so far!

Breakfasts are the one meal I really struggle with when I'm trying to eat healthily and lose some weight. I know that breakfast should be a really solid start to the day but often lack of time (or let's face it, energy) to be doing complicated cooking or prepping in the morning means I'm just eating cereal. Or worse. I'm still trying to figure out the ultimate answer to work mornings breakfast, but this recipe is certainly awesome for the weekend.

These are American style pancakes but minus any wheat or dairy; in fact they only need two fresh ingredients and one store cupboard basic and you're ready to go. And for people on Weightwatchers the whole stack is only 4 points (plus whatever you might add in the way of oil or butter to fry them - we have super saucepans that don't need any at all) and then you just add the toppings of your choice. Granted they don't taste exactly like traditional pancakes but the very subtle flavour of bananas tasted good to my naive palate.

I had mine with a bit of leftover stewed rhubarb and nectarine, a few grapes, a drizzle of maple syrup and a scattering of chia seeds. Not the prettiest but damn tasty. One batch was four fairly large pancakes.

For one batch - serves one person:

2 eggs
1 banana
Pinch of baking powder (optional but makes them fluffier)
Toppings of your choice

1) Peel the banana, and roughly mash in a bowl with a fork. Make sure it's pretty smooth although some small chunks won't matter.
2) Break in the eggs and add the baking powder and mix together thoroughly until combined and even consistency throughout (the original recipe points out that some people prefer to just lob it all in the food processor, especially if doing multiple batches, but by hand certainly works fine for a single batch).
3) Heat your non-stick pan and (if needed) add butter or oil (coconut oil is suggested). Add a ladle full of mixture to the centre of the pan and allow to spread and cook - it might take a minute a side max on a hot pan. Lift and check the underside and when starting to brown flip or turn - I flipped and they held together fine although there was a little splatter from the uncooked mixture on the top as it turned - this was in the pan though and I just tidied it back into the main pancake. Allow the second side to start to brown and slide out onto a plate to serve.
4) Keep repeating step 3 for the remaining mixture.

I was really surprised with just how tasty and fluffy this incredibly simple recipe was ... as was my Dad who was stealing bits! They probably wouldn't work for savoury toppings, e.g. bacon, but they sure work with sweet toppings!

Hope you enjoy!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, 3 July 2015

Weigh In - Week 10

It's with some guilt that I have to own up to another gain this week. I suspected it was coming, as I mentioned in my last post that I've not been on the ball, but there it is.

2.25lbs on.

Back to 13st 13.75. I suspect that a lot of it is water bloat from eating too much processed food and the heat, and some will also be due to me weighing in significantly earlier this morning than I usually do (I was up about 4 hours earlier as I had an appointment early in Bristol this morning), but a gain is still what I deserved; I earnt it fair and square.

Hopefully, this will be the kick up the arse I need to get myself back on track. Hopefully. I'm feeling a bit grumpy with myself for wandering off track from my slow but steady process, although it can always be worse and at least I'm not back where I started.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Weigh In - Week 9

Hmmmm - I say I shall be better at posting weigh in posts and then ... yeah, about the same as before.  Ooops.

So it turns out, that after my rather good loss the week before, I did my usual trick and got a bit complacent last week (and really, well, this week too - I've yet to snap out of it which is annoying), and thus I had a gain last week.

1lb on.

Nothing terrible, but a reminder that perhaps it pays to be a bit more restrained.  Unfortunately, as mentioned that's a reminder that my brain has yet to take on board, and I'm still being a bit too lax at the moment, so I don't expect a fabulous result this week either.  I start each new day afresh, but call it too much socialising, the hot weather or job-related angst, I'm not doing anything amazing on the healthy eating front at the moment.

Still, it's not all bad news:  I seem to be on my way to kicking my Diet Coke habit, which is a huge thing for me.  Whilst I was working at the bank, I routinely got through two 500ml bottles of Diet Coke a day.  I drank it when I was socialising.  I drank it when I was boozing.  I basically drank it a lot.  And right now?  I don't think I've had one in the last couple of weeks.

It's hard breaking the habit, as there are plenty of situations when I would routinely have a Diet Coke as my first choice of beverage, but I've been having either sparkling water or sometimes a different fizzy drink ... basically anything but the caffeine and sweetener together.  Getting there slowly!

On the social front, it was a really fun weekend.  Jo got tickets for the Formula E race at Battersea Park on Saturday, so we went along and enjoyed all that was on offer; watching the qualification and the race, having a picnic in the park and enjoying our contraband alcohol in the sun (it hadn't said anywhere in advance that we couldn't bring booze in and we weren't about to just throw away our gins and Pimm's so snuck them in).  It was a really lovely day in a beautiful setting - I'm always blown away by London's parks!

Then on Sunday it was the dreaded 5k race.  What would have been a regular training run back in the day, was looming as a major challenge for me, as we rocked up for the Colour Rush Obstacle Race at Kempton Park racecourse on Sunday morning.  We were very lucky, as being in an early wave meant we got the best weather and a quiet course plus very little queuing during check in, etc.

I haven't done a race for so long, and I literally haven't run since a couple of short runs last summer, so I was pretty much woefully unprepared for this, but Jo and I had agreed we would stick together and just take it easy.  We were joking that we were just going to walk the whole thing, but set off running, and apart from needing to take regular walking breaks, ran the majority of it.  Since the course is broken up by 10 obstacles plus several colour tents we were never going to get a super-speedy time anyway, because we had to pause to get on each obstacle in a small queue.  I think we were probably close to  an hour by the time we'd navigated anything - I didn't time it and I really don't care, it was just nice to be out doing something active ... and pick up another piece of race bling obviously!

Now I just need to get my head back in the game eating-wise, and try not to melt in this current little heat wave.  My car's inappropriately decided that now's a good time for the air-con to break whilst I've been shuttling backwards and forwards to London for job interviews, so I've spent two days this week just dissolving into a small pool of sweat on the M4.  Delightful.  Right now I'm basking in the cool heaven that is my new big fan for my room and hoping for a decent night's sleep!