Tuesday, 29 June 2010

A Ride in the Rain

Distance: 10.12 miles
Time taken: 1 hr 11 mins
Cals burned: 436

When I said my last bike ride was mainly off road, I was wrong. It was mainly on road, but the on road bit goes by so fast in comparison with the other, that you hardly notice it.

Last night's bike ride however, was about 50% off road, and I was utterly knackered by it. When I stopped to take the above photo, I had just belted it like the clappers through a field of bullocks, then through a field of sheep (scared the bulls might be following) and up this little hill in the foreground - although I will admit to getting off and pushing the bike at this point!

We went a different route last night, along the side of the river Ouse, following it round to the village of Moor Monkton. Sometimes there was barely a path through long, overgrown grass and nettles. Other times, there was just a narrow ridge in the ground which it was hard to keep the wheels in. It started raining heavily half way through, which made me regret my inappropriate attire - a long, cotton summer dress. It was soon saturated and clinging to me. More than once, it occurred to me how nice it would be to take it off, and continue in my bra and knickers, but for the sake of decency I remained clothed. We only passed one solitary dog walker along the way, but he was fortunately spared the disturbing sight of a semi-naked fat woman on a bike in the middle of nowhere.

When we finally got on to tarmac, I hitched up my wet skirt, put my gears up a notch or two, and started to go as fast as I could for the hell of it. It felt fantastic, and as we hurtled along, I realised that although I was on a level with my husband, he was pedalling like mad to keep up, whereas I was just gliding along. Did I have some sort of superior athletic ability, finally beginning to emerge? "Why are you having to pedal twice as fast as me?" I asked. His reply brought me back down to earth: "I keep on a low gear when I'm out with you, so I can get a decent work out." LOL!

Last night's ride was harder than last week's. I initially decided to go off road because as a non-driver (and a wuss) I hate traffic, and I especially hate being pinned to the side of the road with cars going past. For some reason I can't fathom, I do actually like off road cycling, but since York has a lot of really great cycle paths, as well as being near a Sustrans route or two, I think I'll check try for something a bit less bumpy next time.

Goals - and other stuff

Last week's exercise goal was 3 x walks and a bike ride, and I achieved 1 recorded walk and a bike ride. I didn't get my other walks in, in the usual way, as I've been dashing around a bit and the dog walks have been squeezed in as and when, in various locations. On Saturday night I was just going to fit a walk in around my usual circuit, when my mother announced that she was coming with me! So although we did the walk, it was at a very slow pace.

I'm not setting any goals for this week. I just intend to keep active, do a bike ride or two, and keep to the food plan.

The weekend was tough food wise. My father-in-law has been staying with us, and insisted on cooking. Normally I'd have been thrilled as he makes traditional Punjabi Indian food and he does it well. The way he cooks is a bit like an art form, but one very important ingredient in that style of cooking is ghee or oil, and lots of it. This doesn't make for greasy food, like some Indian takeaways can be - but actually results in quite delicate dishes which are easy on the palate. At a certain point in the cooking process, the oil separates from the rest of the food, and is beautifully flavoured with spices. There's nothing better than some of that oil on basmati rice, or soaked up with a chapatti. I will add however, that many of the older people in my husband's family have cholesterol related problems :-(

The food he made was delicious. I did allow myself to eat some, but I did stress about it a bit, and probably compensated for the masses of calories in each bite, by not having enough to satisfy me. As a result, when he'd gone on Sunday night, I made myself another dinner. It was a much more balanced dinner, but a dinner nonetheless. Once I'd eaten it, my blood sugar still felt at rock bottom, so I had a slice of the chocolate cake he'd brought, and a couple of the mini-chocolate bars my brother in law had brought.

Apart from that, my father-in-law's stay went well, although it was also very sad. I mentioned before that he was an alcoholic, and has been for years. As a sportsman who once played in four lots of Olympic games, I can only think it must be mega fitness that allowed him to survive as long as he has, although now that fitness is gone, totally. As my husband put it, "He's done a bit of a George Best on us, hasn't he?" He managed to keep off whiskey while he stayed with us, surviving on beer, but had the DTs so bad most of the time that he could hardly hold anything in his hands, and needed our help in the kitchen for chopping and opening things. We were also shocked to find out that he can barely walk as far as the end of the street and back, and sometimes has trouble keeping his balance. Last time I stayed with my in-laws, he was still going out jogging.

So it's been a strange old week. My resolve to keep myself in control of making my own life choices is definitely stronger for it - and so is my determination to live life to the full. Time flies - let's keep on flying alongside.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Whirling mind on the morning walk!

Time taken: 55 mins
Distance covered: 2.45 miles
Steps: 4869
Cals burned: 269

My mind was flitting about like crazy on this morning's walk. I'm in that horrible place where I feel I have too much to do and not enough time to do it. There are essential preparations for Thailand that need to be sorted now, and my father-in-law is coming to stay this weekend, arriving tonight. He's a difficult man, and an alcoholic - a pretty dire one at that. I haven't seen him since 2003. What's more, I haven't written anything yet this week - again. Maybe I should write about my father-in-law! The house is in a mess - I spent all day yesterday on it, but there's another day's work left. And I need to change the beds. Aaaargh!

So anyway, my mind was flitting about, and although the walk was invigorating, it wasn't relaxing. I managed to focus on planning some of this blog post for a few minutes, but I've forgotten what it was now - I don't think it was this!

What do you think about or focus on when you're walking / cycling / getting your exercise in?

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Weigh Day #4

That's another 3lbs gone this week. And my BMI is shrinking too.

A difference I've noticed this week is when I'm on the bus. My bum actually fits in just one seat, instead of taking up an inch or two of the next one as well, and I don't have to worry about rubbing arms with the person next to me because I can manage to keep my arms to myself - within the confines of my own allocated seat! Just a little thing, but it makes me feel a lot better.

The weight loss is happening more quickly than I thought it would. I feel like I'm eating plenty though, and the rate I'm exercising feels sustainable too. I originally set myself 6 months to lose the first stone and a half (as a goal on the Wii fit), but it's going to happen before that. I have to say that now 13st is in sight, I'm eager to get there.

The First Bike Ride

Distance: 9.2 miles
Time taken: 1hr 5 mins
Cals burned: 418

It has been done. The first bike ride. Yesterday evening, my hubby took me over part of one of his usual routes, and consequently I went much further for a first ride than I would have done if I'd been on my own.

Respect to all bike riders, it was really hard. Most of the ride was off road, and although as I've said before, the vale of York is flat, I have found out that there are different types of flat, not all of them particularly easy to ride on. There's stony flat, bumpy flat, flat with unexpected holes in (owch!), flat covered in cow pats, and even flat that has all of the above. Not to mention flat with a herd of bullocks charging over it.

I was knackered by the end, and very hot and sweaty, but I don't think I've enjoyed myself quite so much for a while. It was a real eye opener too, as we were mostly riding on public bridleways over farmland. I saw places I never knew existed before!

One track was very overgrown, and so bumpy that it made everything judder like crazy. You can get beauty treatments where your fat is blasted with an electric current to get rid of cellulite etc. Riding over that track had the same effect, I'm sure - and it was free!

The last leg was back on a proper tarmac road and it felt like bliss being back on a smooth surface. All things considered though, I think I could get to like offroad cycling. Loads of fun - and a good penance to pay after that angus burger!

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Christie and the Angus Burger

Yesterday afternoon, I realised I was craving red meat.

The only other time that's happened to me, was when I was pregnant (no, I'm not!). It was 1998, I'd been vegetarian for about 4 years, yet all I wanted was steak. With blood in the middle. Yesterday afternoon - same thing. I was on my way to pick up my youngest son from school. I knew my husband was cooking rainbow trout for dinner but reasoned that if I picked up a pack of steak from the Co-Op, I might be able to hang on till tomorrow and have it then. I'd cook it, fat free in a non-stick pan, only a minute on each side so that it'd be (as my ex-mother-in-law who is French used to say) "still cold in the middle." My mouth was watering at the thought.

The journey to pick up my son involves a double bus ride, both there and back. When I got off the first bus at York Station, I could only think about red meat. I tried to distract myself, and thought I'd take a few photos, but there was no memory card in my camera - damn! So I stood there, looking at the entrance to the station, knowing that there were 20 minutes to wait before my next bus arrived, and thinking about meat. There was nowhere I was going to be able to go and get a rare steak within the next 20 minutes anyway, so I might as well forget it. But then I thought of Burger King in the station. They do Angus Burgers, which are rather nicer than ordinary ones. Nice and meaty. Red meaty.

Imagine a ridiculously speeded up film, like the way the vampires move in Twilight. That was me flitting across the road, into the station, round the corner, and before you could even blink, standing in front of the Burger King Cashier.

"An Angus burger please."
"Do you want a drink with that?"
"Yes please. A diet Coke."
"If you want a drink with it, it's cheaper if you order the full meal with fries."
Excruciating five seconds while I consider.
"Could I pay for the full meal, but not have the fries?"
"Of course."

So there I am, a minute or two later, in York City Station, holding a fizzy drink and a Burger King carton. It's half past two. Not lunch time, not dinner time. This is my afternoon snack. Looking around the station, no-one else is eating, apart from three Japanese tourists, who I immediately excuse as clearly having a late lunch. I try to excuse myself. Yes, I know I've had lunch already but ... this isn't a junk food binge! My body obviously wants red meat. I'm listening to my body! I'm in tune with my body! Isn't that great? Well kind of yes and no. It would have been good to have waited till tea time, and not to have gone for burger.

I looked for a bench to sit down, and studiously avoided the space next to a slim, well dressed older lady, who looked happy, alert, and who wasn't eating. I eventually slunk into an empty bench near the stall of a flower seller who was busy watching the world cup on a portable telly.

I opened the Angus Burger. The item I pulled out was a masterpiece of comfort food design technology. The burger buns are like two huge soft sponges. If you could shrink yourself and lie down on top of it, it'd be like sleeping on a warm, fluffy cloud. The burger itself is very meaty, not fatty, and on top of it is tomato and lettuce, coated almost completely in lashings of thick, creamy mayonnaise. Summoning up most of my remaining will power, I pulled out most of the salad. I didnt have enough to just eat the meat and discard the bread bun.

Biting in to the Angus Burger, to my disappointment, did not quell the red meat craving. It wasn't quite right. Not quite what I wanted. It was however, stifling my worries with every mouthful. I tried to eat slowly like I've been doing over the past weeks, but it was hard. This sort of food lends itself somehow to being crammed in. My world was having the edge taken off it, and suddenly I was in bouncy mattress land, getting a real hit from starting to feel a bit too full, and from getting full fast.

Walking out of York Station, I felt good. I'd like to tell you I felt sick, or felt suddenly repulsed, but I didn't. I think my red meat craving was eventually satisfied by the burger, and for the rest of the day I ate normally as though that blip didn't actually happen.

Comfort food and comfort eating is a weird thing. I wonder if anyone totally understands it, and why we "go wrong" in that way? I certainly don't know the answer to those questions, but be assured, I am watching what I eat, in more ways than one. The more we understand why we do what we do, and are aware what's going on, the more we can fight it, I guess.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Goals for this week

Exercise goals
This week I'm just going to concentrate on the exercise.
3x walks of around 2 miles each.

A first bike ride.

The food is sorting itself out, as I'm finding my tastes are changing. So there's no food goal. Towards the end of last week there was no point planning anything as I'd find I was craving specific things (red meat at the moment, yesterday I wanted to drink milk!!) so I've been changing the day's food accordingly. It's weird, but interesting. I never used to really care what the dinner was as long as there was lots of it and I could pig out. Now I'm fancying stuff that's very plain - but very specific.

Writing goals
The writing is still a total pain in the arse and I didn't manage to finish off. So last week's writing goals are carried over to become this week's goals.

Weekly goals feedback

Exercise Goal
This was to do three dog walks around my usual route of just over 1.5 miles. As I changed to a new route the second time, I managed to cover even more in terms of distance, so I exceeded the goal on this one! A huge improvement on last week, where I didn't manage any.

Monday 14th June
Distance:1.76 miles
Steps: 3487
Cals burned: 199
Time taken: 45 mins
Didn't feel remotely like going out, but as soon as I stepped into the fresh air with the dog, I felt fab. Instant mood change. Just over half way through I got a bit bored though. Not tired, just bored. I find the village leg of the walk tiresome, whereas I like the countryside bit.

Wednesday 16th June
Distance: 2.703 miles
Steps: 5353
Cals burned: 306
Time taken: 1hr 5 mins
Lovely sunny day -glad to be out. Decided to vary my route as I got bored on the last walk, and took a left turn down a lane I hadn't explored before - very pretty, and I spent lots of time taking pics, especially of poppies in the fields. It lead eventually to a major road, so I doubled back for my return home. Longer walk than usual - no foot arch pain, no tiredness, yay!

Friday 18 June
Distance: 2.75 miles
Steps: 5461
Cals burned: 302 (less than last time as I've just input my new weight in the pedometer)
Time taken: 1hr
Grey chilly day, felt I didn't have time to walk as there's lots on my mind, but I went anyway. Stopped to talk to another dog walker for 10 mins and then belted along to make up time. Planned in my head what to do when I got back, and dictated some thoughts for a project idea I'm mulling over into the voice recorder on my phone. My calves ached in a good way on the way back! Saw a yellow wagtail, Britain's yellowest bird. Thought someone's canary had escaped at first!

Food Goal

My food goal was to be more organised with my food planning and to have at least one new recipe in my folder by the end of the week.

Blog friends, I tried. I managed the first bit OK, but the new recipes I tried out weren't that good. I thought the above bulgar wheat salad was going to be a keeper, but I hated the pomegranate seeds in it (I like them - but not mixed with bulgar wheat) and would rather have my salady bits served separately with a dressing on. Fussy girl, aren't I? So that goal will have to be carried over till next week, not for want of trying though.

Self Esteem Goal
This was to have a haircut, and I did it! I could so easily not have done, as they could only fit me in at an awkward time and normally I'd have left it. But I did it. That's the first time I've had a proper haircut in about a year, and it feels good. Soz no piccy yet, and you're not getting one off my webcam now as I'm still in my nightie (LOL) but you can see it a bit in the post below, where I'm having my head massage!

Writing Goals
Still struggling like crazy. Nearly done it, but not quite. Hope to have some positive feedback before the end of the day on that one.

All in all, I'm pleased with myself, especially for the exercise, which went better than expected. The writing's an ongoing battle.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Father's Day - York Cycle Show

My husband is a keen cyclist. As the York Cyle Show was on today, on the Knavesmire, you can guess what his Father's Day treat was!

I personally don't much rate tyres as a pressie, but apparently these were irresistible!

And there were some pretty good bargains to be had in the way of cycling gear too!

There was a really great atmosphere at the Knavesmire. What struck me was how friendly everyone was, and how people of all ages are interested in cycling. Most were men, but there were a good proportion of women too, and not necessarily very sporty types either.

This looks like a very civilised idea. I could put my hubby at the front and get sit and take pics of the scenery we pass from the back ;-)

Or how about this? Electric bikes! If you get fed up of pedalling up hill, just turn on the power and up you zoom. I wonder if you get electrocuted when it rains ...

The bike show was great fun. There was even a stall where you could make yourself a smoothie by hopping on a bike and pedalling to power the liquidiser! I opted for something altogether more restful though and had a ten minute head and shoulder massage.

I do actually have a secret yen though to do a bit more on my bike than my usual tootling around to the local shops, or to take the dog out. I used to love riding my bike as a kid - hey, I could even do wheelies once! Might try and investigate some of the local cyle paths sometime soon, I think!

Friday, 18 June 2010

Temptation beckons

I'm not a cakes and biscuits girl, or one of those women who would kill for chocolate when she's feeling down. My own weight loss nemesis is Chinese food. In fact I love all types of oriental food. The above picture of sweet and sour chicken is making my mouth water. Gloopy, sugary sauce but with a sharp tang to it too, crispy deep fried batter, and piles and piles of rice with the sauce soaked in. If someone put a plateful in front of me RIGHT NOW, I would pig out on it, despite the fact that it's 8.30 in the morning. I know how to eat this kind of food till the rest of the world slowly fades away. Take me to Happy Orange City. This stuff is my vice, a love of my life.

My eldest son, who's 22, is in Thailand teaching English. He went out there in February. He frequently posts on his Facebook page, photos of meals he's had. I've just been looking back through some of them, and found that my comments underneath them are all things like I want that in my face! Now! or OMG, I want to eat your dinner, and other variations along the same theme. Who can blame me? There are Thai green curries in coconuty sauces, with that thick creaminess that slows down your world to a manageable pace. And there are cartons stuffed full of Pad Thai - fried noodles with meat, prawns, and sprinkled liberally with crushed peanuts. I could probably take two, at 600 cals each, and that would only be lunch.

I have stayed clean away from Chinese takeaways and the like, for the past few weeks now. One day however, on a Tuesday, while my daughter went to her dance class, I treated myself to sushi, which I love (I get my rice fix, and the deliciously punishing flavours of pickled ginger and wasabi) but I wouldn't want to overeat it. It came in a bento box with a generous portion of fresh salad, and nothing was fried. I made sure of that when I ordered. I was pleased with myself that day, and at the end of the week I'd lost weight. Sushi is good, and I can eat it in moderation.

And now guess what? A dream I've had for quite some time has just come true. Last week my husband said:
Him: "You know what? If you want to take the kids away this summer, I think we could just about afford it."
Me: "Yes, I was thinking a week in Whitby again. They love it there, and -"
Him: "No, not the week in Whitby. I was thinking more Thailand, to see Al."
Me: "WHAT?"
Him: "If we can get together the money for the tickets, once you're there the cost of living will be quite cheap. I think we can do it."

Blog friends, we did do it. This August will see me in Bangkok, surrounded by the food of my naughtiest dreams. There is healthy stuff to eat there too, of course, but it's still a bit like sending an alcoholic on holiday to a distillery with all kinds of different whiskies on offer, a water tap in the corner, and telling him "You'd better just drink that."

As much as I am over the moon about going to Thailand, I am worried. I will tell you now that I am determined to continue with this weight loss and lifestyle, because I feel better than I have done in years, like I'm finding myself again. But this will really really test me, and put me right in the middle of loads of the food that I'm most likely to stuff my face with. But that type of food is always going to be part of life, so what better way to learn to cope with it, than go leap right in there?

And so the countdown to Thailand begins. I make it about 39 days ...

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Being active burns calories

It's not rocket science, is it? We all know that being active burns calories. So why was I so surprised to find out that yesterday, having been shopping in both Leeds and York city centres, I covered a total distance of 4.32 miles, took 8564 steps and burned 490 cals. That's not even including the walk I did with the dog in the morning. 490 calories! That's enough to have another dinner! However, I shall be good, and take the weight loss instead of the dinner!

The piccy is Leeds bus station. I have never driven, and have consequently always been quite active in the past. In fact the walking around I did yesterday wasn't a lot compared to how I used to be once, always scurrying round all over the place, taking buses and trains here and there, belting it along to the station if I was late. Could I be on the road to recapturing that? Hope so!

A load of tripe

So following on from my post yesterday where I mentioned I was going to procure a particular foodstuff as part of my research for the short story I'm writing, I am now pleased to announce that I have some! Tripe!

Actually I'm not that pleased. The stuff stinks. It's currently boiling in the kitchen and our entire house smells like someone's mucking out the cowshed. There are are apparently three different kinds of tripe, one of which is considered to be unfit for human consumption in the UK these days, although it is eaten in other parts of Europe, namely Italy. I think I must've got that kind. I will add that the dog is going wild with excitement, and has been ever since the tripe entered the house. When it's cooked, frankly, she can have it. There might be only 95kcal per 100g, but I'd rather eat nothing - and there are even less calories in that :-D

So has this been successful for my research purposes at least? Well, considering that I mainly wanted to find out whether tripe has a particular smell ... then yes. I think I need to know all I want to know about the smell of tripe now! Bleuch!!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Weigh Day (& Mysterious Expedition Day)

Another 2lbs gone this week! I'll be glad when that word "obese" has gone off the Wii fit's summary too. Although when it's gone, it'll be swapped for "overweight" which isn't good either - although it is quite a bit better than obese, which sounds like an insult, rather than a medical assessment of my weight. Not that I should be knocking it. It's one of the things that motivated me to get going.

I'm off out on a jaunt today, to do some research for that short story draft I've aimed to finish by the end of the week. It involves a food stuff that I haven't seen close up for years, and have certainly never tried. I was offered it once, but deemed it too gross to taste, which is unusual for me. I normally have a policy of "don't say you don't like it till you've tried it" but here I had to make an exception. Whether or not I'm going to eat any, I couldn't tell you yet. I'll have a look and a sniff, then make my mind up. I guess I should perhaps find out how many calories are in it too ... !!

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

This is actually working

Something weird is happening. I'm starting to feel like life is really worth living again and that there's hope for a positive future. I haven't felt like this for so long.

I'm achieving more with my days too. I'm not sure how that's happening, but I'm somehow just managing to get more done. Or maybe it's the same amount and I'm just viewing it differently. I didn't feel like my house was a tip when I went to bed last night but was satisfied with what I'd done and looking forward to the next day.

I've felt like this for a while now. I didn't mention it before because I've fully expected to crash any time. But it's lasting. It's meant a lot to me to be out of size 20; a great big psychological boost. I feel lighter when I walk now too, and there really is a spring in my step.

I think the structure I'm putting in place in my life - with the eating plan, the exercise goals etc, is reassuring and acts like a steady base from which other things can also be achieved. Without knowing it, I've needed this structure for a long time.

It'll be four weeks soon since I started this blog, and began watching what I was eating. Four weeks is the maximum time I've ever dieted in the past. Before, it's always been a 1000 cal a day diet (too little) with a loss of about a stone and half in the four weeks. Things are going to be different this time. And I don't mind that I have to stick with these rules for a good long time, or even for ever. Things are going good with these rules. I like.

Monday, 14 June 2010

Week 4 - Goals

Exercise goal
The exercise thing went crap last week. I was back doing lazy dog walking again - tootling along on my bike while she ran alongside. It started with my foot arch pain. And then continued long after the pain had gone. The pain is lots better, and I am equipped with stuff to cope. I now have two different types of foot arch support plus a roller type thingy to massage the underside of my feet with (and which the dog thinks is her toy, so I have to make sure I don't leave it lying around). So no more excuses. I'm not going to do the brisk walk every day though, as it was overfacing me. My exercise goal for this week is three brisk walks with the dog around my usual route of just over 1.5 miles.

Food goal
I'm going to be more organised with food planning this week. Last week was a bit haphazard, and I didn't totally stick to the plan, having a second evening meal on one day (albeit a half sized one) with my husband who ate later than us. Then I ate up the leftover quiche for supper :-( Anyway, this week I'm going to plan my food, and also start to build up a collection of recipes based on the Heart Foundation's eatwell plate, which will do both for me and the family. My food goal for this week is to have at least one tried and tested "eatwell" family recipe in my recipe folder, for future reference.

Self-esteem goal
In the past two years, I have only been to the hair dresser's once. A haircut costs me around £37 and I can never justify spending this much money on myself, especially when it's going to need doing again in another 6 or 7 weeks. Consequently, my hair got ridiculously long recently, apart from my fringe, which I trim myself.

My long haired look.

Haircut by husband April 2010 - needs neatening up a bit perhaps!

Then a month or two ago in exasperation when I was doing the housework with it falling in front of my face all the time, and making me too hot around the neck, I asked my husband to chop it off! So he did. He yanked it all back and snipped it clean off with the kitchen scissors. What made us laugh was that it didn't look bad. It looked much better, in fact, than it had done for ages. But seriously, I do deserve a proper haircut don't I? This week my self-esteem goal is to get my bloody hair cut properly.

Writing goals
1. To have a first draft written (however crappy) of a 1000 wd story of a competition I want to enter.
2. To have looked through my Work In Progress and be set to make a plan of action for completing it.

Weigh in day is Wednesday. I shall report back on the other goals on Sunday.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

This is a creative thing!

Since writing my last post, I feel really cheered. Even though at the time it felt like a bit of a negative rant, it was a relief to get how I felt about my writing off my chest. Just publicly declaring it was a help, and the comments I got were even better. I feel much more positive now about the writing, and feel sure things are going to click in to place sooner or later.

And now I'm back concentrating on the weight loss. It's true that it's taking up most of my creative energy at the moment, because a change of lifestyle like this is a creative thing. You have to come up with new ways of eating, ways of keeping active that you're going to like and be able to do regularly, ways of keep motivated - and you do all of this, the way you look at life changes, as does the way you look at yourself. It's a really big thing, in fact. Bigger than I'd thought. And therein lies a big difference between a diet and a losing weight forever. This is not a surface change. It goes deep.

I re-read the Heart Foundation's booklet on weight loss today, just to check I'm on the right track. I was really thinking about portion sizes, worried that I might not be remember everything correctly. I tend to err on the size of caution, and don't want to eat too little (I'm always still hungry when I finish a meal, even when I've just over-eaten, so I really do need the guidelines at the moment). On re-reading, I found that there's something else I'd forgotten too. Namely to concentrate on the lifestyle changes, not the weight loss. Well, I hadn't forgotten exactly, but I think first time around, I didn't quite understand what that meant, and I have fallen into the trap as seeing the weekly weigh in with a good result as the thing I'm working towards.

The BHF suggests setting goals not related to weight loss, and to reward yourself for achieving them. Rewards should be non-food-based. Use them for reaching "behaviour" goals rather than weight goals. For example, your goal could be to stick to your eating plan each day for a week or to keep up with your planned physical activity for a month. Your reward could be to buy a new book or to go and seee a film. Eek, I haven't been doing that. Funnily enough, in a book I'm dipping into at the moment, The Self Esteem Bible by Gael Lindenfield, she also advocated the use of rewards, saying that confident people never think twice about rewarding themselves, and will do it as a matter of course. Regarding physical excercise, she suggests you give yourself a treat EVERY TIME you complete your excercise at first, until the habit sticks. She says Your aim is to programme your brain to associate exercise with pleasure instead of pain. (It's a bit like dog training! Scooby snax, anyone? Oh, sorry, that's food based.)

I think what I need to do next is get filling that sheet in, about my goals and aims for this week, and have it starting on Monday. My weigh in day is Wednesday, but that'a inconsequential with the goals - my goal for that is always the same, 1-2lbs weekly, and it's not rewarded, just kept an eye on. OK ... thinking cap on ... behaviours ... told you this was a creative thing!

Friday, 11 June 2010

I'm not writing :-(

So I'm not writing anything. Over the weeks since I started this eating plan, I have done precisely bugger all towards my work in progress (WIP). And it's not just these past weeks either - I never do it! I want to be a writer and I don't write.

I could start to make my usual excuses, like "We've had visitors this past couple of days," and "It was my daughter's birthday this week," which would be true, but I also know that they are unrelated to this sad outcome.

The thing is - and herein lies the cause of my current discontent - I was sure, that my eating and my lack of writing anything when I so badly want to be a published writer are related issues, and I admit I was kind of hoping that if I got on top of the eating, the writing thing would just naturally start to happen. It hasn't.

When I don't write, I don't let myself do anything else extra either, because "I really should be writing so I can't possibly take the time to do xyz." So I languish in disorganised chaos at home, just doing routine chores, cooking food, surfing the net, not even blogging much, and feeling like life is on top of me. I hate this. I have wasted so much time like this, and I don't understand why it happens.

I was in town with my daughter on Tuesday, taking her to her dance class, and she started to ask me about my writing. She often does. She knows how badly I want to make it happen. I love my Tuesdays in town with my daughter. I meet her from school, and we walk in together down Micklegate, and first browse the shops, before going for a bite to eat. Dance isn't till 6pm, so we make an outing of it, every week. My daughter had her 13th birthday this week, and already seems more grown up. "What you need to do, Mum," she said "Is treat your writing like a job. Just make sure you're sitting down at the computer at 9am, and then write for the day, or for however long you want to." Wise words indeed. She makes it sound so simple. Why can't I do it? Why does it never happen like that?

My husband goes for the goal setting approach, talking about targets of amounts of words written by certain dates. That's all very sensible and workmanly, and I love the idea - but I don't do it.

Something is wrong. Have I got some weird underachievement disorder? Maybe I don't want it badly enough? Maybe I'm just lazy - a fat slob, a layabout. Shouldn't I get up of my fat arse and get a "proper" job instead? Or at least make a damn good job of being a housewife with a pristine house and immaculate garden, if I'm not going to go out to work? Not only is that NOT my natural inclination, but you see, I should be writing, so I can't possibly do it.

I have wanted this for years. Literally, years. I'm not writing anything erudite, that makes me have to keep stopping and pondering the meaning of life - quite the contrary, my current WIP is aimed at the category historical romantic fiction market. I love those type of stories. They're fun, and I love imagining the settings and creating the characters. Why can't I bloody get on with it?

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Weigh Day #2

I'm a happy girl again today. 3lbs lost this week, which is very respectable, and brings me to the 13s! I now weigh in at 13st 12. That's a total of 12lbs lost altogether and what's more ... I can now fit into a size 18 top, instead of size 20 which is where I've been at for at least the past couple of years. On the down side, this means a couple of tops I got recently from Evans are now too big. Hang on, why is that a down side? It's not like remaining a size 20 would be worth it to get my wear out of them! The top in the photo above is a £15 one from Bon Marche, which I grabbed yesterday while my husband was having a hair cut.

I haven't been tracking my measurements up to now, but have just taken some (urgh!), for the first time in God knows how long, so that I can keep my eye on them.

This is all very cheering on the weight front. But other bits of my life remain in a bit of a mess. Of which more later.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Breaking patterns

Today's lunch

Today's dinner

Lightbulb moment! Today I've learned that breaking some of my old habitual patterns is going to be a key to losing weight forever. It seems very obvious now I say it, but when I realised today just how much I eat when I cook, I knew that not doing so in future would be one lifestyle change I need to make, and make it forever.

I say not doing so, but I might allow myself a healthy nibble, providing one thing doesn't lead to another (lol ;-). You see my dinner tonight with that cauliflower and pea curry as a side to the chicken tikka? While I was preparing it, I wanted to eat the discarded cauliflower stalks like crazy. I could actually feel the saliva welling up in my mouth as the knife was chopping. So I thought, what the hell, it's only cauliflower! I made myself wait till I'd finished chopping, then I got the stalks, put a dollop of low fat hummous on a plate with them, and called it an offical snack. That was slightly less scary than the mad eating I've been doing, and it was enought to put me on. Phew!

PS, Yeah, I know I'm weird for eating cauliflower stalks, but I guess I'm lucky they can float my boat!

I can't cook without eating

As a Household Operations Manager one of my main daily tasks is to feed the family. It's up to me to choose the food, manage the shopping budget, get the stuff bought in and use my imagination to serve up something at mealtimes that they will all approve of.

By my own confession, I am pretty crap at my job in general, but not at this part of it. At the making dinners bit, I am actually quite good, and more than that, I enjoy it. I have always taken quite a while to cook, and think nothing of incarcerating myself in the kitchen for an hour, sometimes two hours, to make the evening meal. Not gourmet food, lol (I wish!) just stuff from scratch that takes a long time. It is very often Indian food (because my husband is Indian and also because I like it) with a masala to cook first (onions to be fried slowly in lots of oil till they caramelise, with garlic, ginger, chilli and spices).

My cooking time is a pretty special part of the day for me. It's the part where I feel I am earning my keep, and however trashed the house looks, however much I might have wasted my day, when I make the dinner, I'm doing good. The food also soothes me. Soothes my husband too. Sitting down to a nice meal, served nicely at the table, restores order and balance.

But the ritual for me begins with the preparation, and during that time, do you know what I do? I eat.

I cannot possibly, I tell myself, cannot possibly cook food when I am hungry. So it begins with a snack. Possibly some left overs reheated if there are any, or a sandwich made with something yummy. Then as I am preparing the food, I eat, too. I chop carrots, I eat them. I chop broccoli, I eat the stems raw. When the food's in the pan and cooking, I'll taste it - and that's OK cause even Gordon Ramsey says you have to do that, and then I'll taste a bit more, and a bit more ...

I forgot to mention that in the evenings, I also like to cook with a glass of wine. Not added to the food (hell, what a waste that would be!) but a nice glass of white wine, chilled, straight from the fridge. If I'm in the kitchen for a long haul, then I can get through two or three glasses, and because I don't want to drink on an empty stomach, I'll keep on eating. By this time I'll be raiding bags of cashew nuts, or nicking slices of Leerdamer cheese meant for the kids' school pack ups. If we have crisps in, I'll be having a pack. There are those days when only a beer will do while I'm cooking, so a can of Stella will be on the go ...

(I mentioned before that I manage the shopping budget, didn't I? Sometimes, it doesn't seem to last out the month ... I wonder why?!!)

When we finally sit down at the table, I have my dinner. Then I have seconds. Very often, I easily have the equivalent of two dinners - and that's not counting everything I eat before I start. Reading through all of this, I am wondering why I am not even fatter than I am.

I have used the present tense, to describe all of the above, but as you will know, for the past two and a bit weeks, that isn't the way I've been doing things. Carried along by beginner's zeal, I even forgot about it. Until this lunch time, that is, when I was making up the plates for everyone's lunch. I was so uncomfortably hungry. I looked at the four empty plates, I'd set out and thought: I cannot possibly make up these plates until I have eaten something.

Then I thought, actually perhaps I can. I filled up a glass with sugar free squash and fizzy water and had a few sips. Then I began to chop up salad. I didn't even let myself nibble on that. I boiled eggs, opened tuna, spooned out humous, buttered bread. It was an effort to stop that hand moving to my mouth, every time it had food in it. Every so often I took a sip of squash instead.

When I sat down at the table with the rest of the family, I had not eaten pre-lunch. I feel a bit weird now, a bit unsettled and like I want to go and eat some more. But instead, I'm going to get on with my day.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Foot arch pain

Today I did my walk the opposite way round by starting off going through the village before hitting the country lanes. Normally I start with the lanes and come back through the village.

The reason I did it this way round was to call in at the chemists to get a foot arch support for my right foot. The arch cramps like crazy when I've been walking a bit, with shooting, tingling pains going right along it. The more I walk when it does that, the more intense the pain gets, till I have to stop and let it subside a while.

I've had this problem a couple of years to be honest, and get around it by only walking quite slowly. On the occasions I have to belt it somewhere in a hurry, I'm always in trouble. And on my walks now, I'm in trouble, because I want to keep up a brisk pace.

I think it might be getting a winsy bit better with the exercise, but I googled in last night and found out about foot arch supports. Unfortunately, my local chemist didn't stock them, so later on today I shall go on an expedition for one further afield.

Today's Walk
Time taken: 50 mins
Distance: 1.68 miles
Steps: 3337
Cals burned:191

Thursday, 3 June 2010

More dog walking stories ...

Yesterday's walk didn't happen as planned.

I knew there would probably be some sort of reaction on the part of my digestive system to this new way of eating. I didn't count for it happening when I'd just set out on a walk though. Fortunately I hadn't gone very far when the stomach cramps set in, and after apologising to the dog, I legged it back home with her in tow. I'd only managed to do a tiny bit of my usual circuit, but my sprint back to the house with butt cheeks clenched together was quite a feat of aerobic exercise combined with pilates - so I won't beat myself up about it. Without going into too much detail, most of my afternoon was spent in the bathroom and my youngest son had to walk the dog!

Today, things went much better.

Time taken: 40 mins
Distance: 1.95 miles
Cals burned: 220
Doggy: Happy, and knackered afterwards cos of the heat.

No stomach cramps this time. In fact I felt an immense sense of wellbeing as I set off today. It was a balmy summer's day, and I could feel different air currents as I was walking along - some cool, some hot. The coconuty smell of my sun cream made me feel like I was on holiday. I was thinking to myself how different the scenery looks along this road from a few months ago, when the fields were empty and full of weeds. The sky was white, no leaves were on the trees. That's all changed now though, and there will be more changes before the year is out!

I love pictures of roads leading in to the distance. The one above is my own daily journey. For the moment, I'm going the same way every day. That road can lead anywhere I want it to, though.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

A nice filling dinner tonight!

I have definitely eaten well tonight. I made a sausage, bean and lentil casserole from the British Heart Foundation's "Heart Healthy" recipe book, which I bought at their local charity shop this weekend. They aren't diet recipes as such, just healthy eating recipes, but they are calorie counted - this one was 247 cal per portion. I served it with brown rice - mega healthy or what!! It also felt like I was getting a proper dinner, as the lentils and beans in it make it feel substantially bulky.

A hit with the whole family (although I did add some extra sausages for my hubby - didn't think he'd reckon much to an allowance of just one after his day at work!).

I've lost weight

In the two weeks since I have started this blog I have lost ... wait for it ...


Now let me tell you that I know this is not a good weight loss for 2 weeks. I'm supposed to be losing at a rate of 1-2lbs per week. However, I can't help feeling just a tinsy winsy bit proud that I have managed to achieve a loss already! I have been thinking long and hard about whether or not I should be happy about this 9lb loss ... and do you know what?

I'm going to be happy!

I'm also going to use the result as a starting point to go and get some advice about the best weight loss programme to fit me, check I haven't cut down too much too soon, and start looking for answers to questions I have about dieting vs healthy eating for life.

PS. BMI is 31.57!

Diet vs Eating Sensibly for Weight Loss - is there actually a difference?

Before I even get weighed, which I am due to do later on today, I can tell I have lost weight.

You'd think I'd be over the moon, but I'm not. I'm worried. I feel exactly like I feel when I am "on a diet." A bit hungry all the time, can't really settle to anything much, and most of all, worried that what I am doing is wrong. I wanted to lose 1lb a week, so when I weigh myself I should have lost 2lbs. I know it's going to be more than that. I'm scared of diets because diets don't work. You put it all back on afterwards, with more besides. And if you lose too much too soon, it's water - or worse, your body switches into "starvation mode" and burns muscle instead of fat. How do I know that's not happening to me?

I am of course "on a diet." Even if the British Heart Foundation's plan I recently downloaded does try not to focus on weight loss and calorie counting, and emphasises eating the right things in the right proportions, the fact is that it is still a 1500 calorie a day diet. And I'm not sure where I go when it's finished - can I suddenly eat more again?

What I think I'm going to do, at some point over the next couple of days (which are going to be busy ones for me) is get some good advice about what I should be doing - possibly from the practice nurse at my doctor's, or I might get in touch with the British Heart Foundation to ask some of my questions!

On a positive note, I am feeling a lot more energetic and my aches and pains ... have gone! So I know I must be doing something right!

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

My dog walking pledge

This is Leia, my 10 month old labradoodle (poodle/lab cross) looking very happy. So she should be. I have just promised myself that I will walk my dog every single morning. Not a stroll, or a free wheel on my bike while she runs around off lead, like I used to, but I will actually walk briskly for 30 mins or more with her on lead.

I'm lucky enough to live on the edge of a village just outside York, with some very pretty countryside around, so it shouldn't be too onerous ... unless of course it's raining. But the dog doesn't care about that, she still needs her walk.

I have a pedometer that I once sent for off Amazon, and recently took the time to sit down and figure out how it works. So this is what I have done for the past two days:

Time: 43 mins
Distance: 3.05 km
Steps: 4072

Time: 45 mins
Distance: 2.086 miles (figured how to change it to miles instead of km!)
Steps: 4131
Cals burned: 245 (WOW!)