Wednesday, 28 November 2007

This is not a bowel blog, but anyone might think it is

It's all getting rather worse. Six days. How can it all be stored for six days? At least I am, as they say, regular.

But I don't get it. The foods I have cut out are not notable for their fibrous content and I'm eating more vegetables, both raw and cooked, than ever.

It never occurred to me that my bowels need cheese.

Sunday, 25 November 2007

This is not a bowel blog.

Really, it's not.

My poor tum tum appears to have reacted badly to something I've eaten, but I don't know what. It's been unsettled for the last couple of days, and I really have no idea why; not a drop of alcohol has passed my lips yet my stomach is behaving as though I've had 10 pints of Gold every night.


This also meant I did not get a run in this morning – which means, common sense tells me, I am not running a marathon next week. I've emailed one of the organisers to see if I can 'downgrade' the race to a half marathon instead, fingers crossed I can.

I'm still eating just two meals a day here, that's all you need with a snackette somewhere in the middle. Funnily enough, though, I don't really feel any lighter...

How to ear

I have just found this, that I wrote to a friend a couple of years ago, who was trying to lose weight. He still is, because he didn't take the advice. He has, since, found a very nice woman, but she rather enjoys food and I don't see them slimming together.

The first thing to remember is never to get too hungry. You will feel tired and depressed and eat sweet and stodgy food voraciously to get your blood sugar level up again and you will not be able to stop.

Are you having enough for breakfast? A serving of porridge from a sachet does not sound a lot, although adding fruit helps. You start the day early and it might be a good idea to have some fruit or a couple of plain biscuits something mid-morning. In fact, try to eat every 3-4 hours, it’ll help to stabilise the production of insulin too and be kinder to your system. But don’t eat standing up or without thinking about it. Sit down and enjoy it, even if it’s just a banana.

Don’t skip lunch. You have a long morning and you need a break and food. If your boss doesn’t take a break himself and assumes no one else will, you will have to talk to him. You have been in this job for a few months now and he should know that you are hard-working, and you do not have to prove your toughness by harming your health. I spent a morning in the high school geography dept a few weeks ago (mm, fun) and they had all double lessons. Half way through they took a 5-minute break and had something to eat. Not disruptive as they didn’t leave the classroom. It was very noticeable that the pupils concentrated to the end of the lesson and behaviour was better than when I’d been in before this practice started.

Have something fairly innocuous to eat when you get home and a hot drink so that you will not get an energy dip before dinner is ready – Bovril makes you feel as if you’re having food. Crudités are good (not with a mayo-based dip though) or a small pack of pretzels or Twiglets. Not a few out of a big pack unless you have an iron will; even if you have, put them in a small bowl and don’t refill it.

As you live alone you have no one else to provide food for regularly so there is no excuse for buying foods you shouldn’t eat. It’s an old tale but true, don’t shop when hungry; sometimes you have to get something on your way home, but just buy for the meal and don’t stock up. Never buy pastry or cakes, anything that combines fat and flour in fairly equal quantities is out of bounds and if it has sugar too it’s beyond justifying. Avoid chocolate or cheese although a small amount of one or the other (must be v. good quality, don’t waste naughtiness on rubbish) can be cheering enough to make it worth an occasional treat. If you buy any ready-prepared food read the label, with particular regard to the fat and salt content. This goes for cook-in sauces too. The flavour is not from good ingredients such as you or I would use, but from fat, salt, sugar or other flavour enhancers. Be especially wary of cheap food, cheap is not the same as good value. Do not buy ready-dressed salads. Do you see the amount of mayo on a potato salad or coleslaw? Use spices in cooking rather than buying sauces. Cardamon, coriander seed – the Indian spices in particular really seem to bring out flavour.

Salads – try them without oil in the dressing. Fresh lime or lemon juice and/or balsamic vinegar bring out the flavour. Potato salad can be a bit solemn without mayo but beans and chickpeas are fine and so is rice and couscous. A chilli and fresh herbs makes a lot of difference to flavour and of course you can add all sorts of things (nuts and seeds are nutritious but contain a lot of oil so eat them but not in huge quantities)

Do you put too much on your plate? Or can’t resist a second helping? Take the right amount, cover the rest and leave for another day. If there’s a bit over that won’t keep put it straight in the bin before you have time to regret it. Eating food you don’t need is just as wasteful as binning it.
Two courses are good as you take longer to eat and feel more cherished. If the crudités are served with a nice tomato and chilli salsa, that feels like part of the meal. Homemade soup is satisfying and keeps for several days or can be frozen in bags. A salad as a separate course is good too or some griddled vegetables. Half an avocado is nice with lime juice on it instead of French dressing. But keep the other half for tomorrow as it’s fairly high in oil. If you end with fruit, cut it up, squeeze a lemon or orange on it, maybe add yoghurt or low-fat crème frâiche and it becomes part of the meal in a way that just eating an apple in the hand doesn’t. Start to like plain yoghurt. A little honey or muscovado sugar can be added.

When you need a treat buy something delicious and heartening. Steak or venison, for example, or a partridge is a treat and you get to eat the whole bird. When you make a casserole make enough for several meals and freeze it in portions for when you haven’t shopped or don’t feel like cooking.

When you are dieting you become obsessed with food, so think about its deliciousness rather than being deprived and always eat lovely flavoursome meals that have been carefully prepared or healthy snacks that make you feel good about yourself. And then, having lost the weight, you will have a good eating pattern so you won’t put it on again.

I know you know all this but I suspect you need taking in hand by a bossy woman – who will also bring you a meal once in a while. And if you don’t have time to shop, I do it all the time, for food anyway, so let me know if I can get you anything.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

The chocolate cake diet

I went round to a friend's house the other evening. There were bowls of chocolate biscuits on the table - Twixes and Kit Kats and the like - and crisps. This friend is a large lady and I can rather see why, now. At the end of the evening she produced slices of gorgeous-looking home-made chocolate cake. I didn't take a piece, and someone asked why, so I briefly explained.

"I haven't lost any weight" said another friend, tucking appreciatively into her slice. "The nurse has given me a food diary to keep now. I can't keep it up though, writing down everything I eat, so I'm just putting in everything I shouldn't eat but do."

"For tonight, I'll put in a chocolate biscuit and a slice of chocolate cake." "Don't forget the crisps," someone else reminded her. "Oh yes, and a handful of crisps."

This lass is about ten years older than I am and has a heart problem. She must weigh three or more stones more than I do. Why on earth is she taking the piss? At least I'm trying.

The London trip went surprisingly well, foodwise. Knowing I was going out for dinner, I skipped lunch. I also walked for miles and was very gratified to be quite comfortable. Very flat, London.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Full of beans

Ooh, things got worse the next day. I only had time for a mean excuse for a slice of toast for breakfast - no really, it was a tiny loaf, thin sliced, toasted to total dryness and so eaten. By 11.30, I had a headache, but I didn't arrive home until 1.30, so in the meantime chewed sugarless gum in the hope of tricking my brain. I opened a can of mixed beans, added a chilli, a small red onion, a tomato, a couple of cooked beetroot, a stick of celery, a chunk of cucumber - all chopped - the juice of a lime and a dash of balsamic vinegar. I spooned half of it into a bowl and started to eat. Three mouthfuls later, nose and eyes streaming, I added a couple of spoons of yoghurt, and ate the rest.

At 4.30, I finished the rest. A whole can of beans had an effect even on my digestive system the next day. I didn't, of course, go as far as entailing a visit to the bog.

I never thought that this would turn into a bowel blog.

I cycled in the dark today, all the way home from the high school. I felt brave and foolhardy. It demonstrates that I have lived too sheltered a life.

Monday, 19 November 2007

I understand now,

why many Americans are so fucking fat.

The portion sizes here are absolutely huge, and I was brought up thinking that one should demolish all food in front of oneself.

So I do. But in the US, I am struggling, and I'm damn glad I'm struggling. I'm going to have to change how I think and start leaving whole chunks of food, because this is too damn much. I'm only eating twice a day, because that's all I need with these ridiculous portions. If I stay here much longer, I'll be the size of a bungalow. A very, very wide one, with a cellar.

Here's a thought. If a bungalow has an attic conversion, is it still a bungalow?

Off to digest food.

At least it isn't raining

I got up stupidly early because I couldn't sleep. The main downside to this was that I had breakfast early and was hungry again by 10.30. So I've had a second breakfast.

Al passed me on the dam as I pedalled dutifully in at 8ish o'clock. He said afterwards (have you ever noticed that afterwards is all typed with the left hand?) that he hadn't liked to give a cheerily saluting toot on the horn in case I fell off. Quite wise. I only spent an hour there as I had an appointment back here at 10. I think I'd better bike back again, to work off that second breakfast. Bugger.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

It seemed smaller in my mind.

Or maybe there's just less room up there.

Breakfast/lunch was rather more enormous than I thought it would be. I was really, really hungry when I got down to the caff, so I ordered what I had fantasised about while stretching; t-bone steak, a double order of hash browns, and four poached eggs. And toast.

I realise now my folly.

Luckily, only three eggs turned up, or I don't think I would have managed it all. It's going to take a while to digest all this, but the lesson is learned…

I think I'll have a reasonably light dinner, sushi or something like that. I certainly won't be needing any food before, say, tomorrow evening now.

Mmmmm, food.

I know my next meal. I'll be eating it in about 30 minutes, all being well.

12oz T-bone steak with four poached eggs and hash browns (as I'm in the US, they're a lot better and not quite so lardy...).

I'm hungry. But I just ran 80 minutes in 20-degree heat, so I think a large-ish meal is in order. My metabolism should stay on high-burn for another hour or so, and as long as I eat in that time my body remains happy. And it's lots of protein and lots of carbs, both of which I really need right now.

Even so, still a bit on the lardy side.

My stomach is thankfully firming up again due to running. It plays a major part of the firmness of the abdominals, which psychologically can leave me either feeling fine or feeling really lardy, though the difference to the untrained eye would probably be minimal.

Running is going well, but I'm already thinking of what I want to work on when I get home. Not done any weights for ages, so want to start doing that again, as well as swimming, cycling and tennis. As long as I get to see my glorious girlfriend in that time as well, it should work out fine. I'm lucky in that she loves sports too, and her daughter is just about old enough to be left on her own for an hour or so, as long as we don't take the piss. She might even want to come with us on a few sporty excursions, which would do her good and give us all some quality time.

Diet will also change when I get home, thank goodness. Hope the other half doesn't mind me cooking a lot – steamed veg, loads of fish and rice… Bliss. Living with no cooker has not been good for my diet at all.

Ramburbling again.

And Z, TMI? I was not aware it was possible to have too much information. Congratulations on your Stealth Poo, or Ninja Movement. You choose.

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Hungry no more

Well, that was interesting. During the afternoon, I made a cup of bouillon (god, what fun) and had some toast (and then stole raw vegetables that I'd prepared for dinner, as usual) and it seems to have made a difference, in that I pickily left some of my dinner as I used to. So I'd just been going too long without food.

I do rather wish I knew if anything was happening. One skirt is swivelling all around me - the waist was always a bit big but now the hips are too - but the one I'm wearing now seems quite hugging as usual. I only weighed myself a couple of days ago, so too early to tell if there's a difference - besides, I always have my contact lenses out so can barely see the dial on the scales. I wish that one could buy a pair of magnifying glasses as one can reading glasses, for a few pounds. I'm not going to spend optician's prices for them.

Ooh, nearly a disaster today. Unlike the great Badger, I and the loo are virtual strangers, however fibrous my diet. I was on the phone this morning to a highly chatty person, and the moment finally struck and I was most uncomfortable. After ten minutes, and thank the Lord I was on the internet phone and not the other one (thick walls in our house, there are blank spots), I had to visit the lavatory, still in conversation with her, and be very, very quiet about it. I'm sure she was blissfully unaware. I suppose I should have gone and weighed myself after that, it was several days' worth. Aplologies, BD, for tmi (for, even though this blog has now gone public, no one else knows about it - as far as I know).


I've felt quite encouraged in the past few days because I've actually been quite looking forward to my daily visits to the town on my bike. At the same time, it was slightly depressing as this just does not fit the mental self-image that I've had for the last thirty-five years and I'm not sure that it's the direction I want to go in re-evaluation.

There's another down-side, which is that I was very hungry yesterday. I don't usually get very hungry - I can take or leave food on the whole and the three meals and nothing else regime I'd adopted hasn't been difficult to follow. I had noticed that I was more likely to clear my plate at dinner, but that was fine. However, yesterday, I was hungry by 4.30, with three more hours to wait before dinner. In the intervening time, I ate quite a lot of raw carrot, some raw turnip and a slice of bread. Much as I enjoy raw vegetables, this was not at all cheering. I will have to think of something to fill the gap between 1 o'clock and the evening meal. I was still hungry after dinner and ate two clementines.

On the other hand, I cheerily cycled all over town this morning, to the extent that I went back to do things I'd forgotten. I shouldn't have tried to fit everything into one pannier, though.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Aim low

Matters have improved somewhat, though only in my perception of myself. I clambered on my own bathroom scales the other day and discovered that, according to them (should that be it?) I weigh 10 stone 6 lbs. This is several pounds less than the total that horrified me at the doctor's and shows I haven't actually put on anything much in the last few years (I lost my nerve long ago and stopped weighing myself at all).

Like Badgerdaddy, I want to lost a couple of stone. 30 lbs, to be exact, because the last time I was comfortable with my weight, I was 8 stone 4 lbs.

Having bought a smart, if old-fashioned, new bike, I am trying to use it most days. Badger's point about being consistent is a good one - if you do something regularly it will become part of your routine and not an annoying add-on. Of course, it may depend somewhat on the weather that this winter throws at us. I don't mind rain, but I doubt if I'll want to cycle in snow or frost.

I went out to lunch today - I am the sort of person who belongs to a luncheon club, sadly - and I expected to break the diet rather badly. However, there was a rolled fillet of plaice in a sauce followed by fruit salad. I left most of the sauce and didn't have cream with the fruit, so can eat the steak that the Sage has bought for tonight with a snowy conscience.

I didn't even know...

...I had ribs until I saw the bit in the bible about Adam and all that.

But apparently, they are there, hiding, waiting for their moment to pounce and show to the world that, rather than my current one-pack, I have some abdominal muscles.

Right now I weigh somewhere in the region of 16stone, 7lbs. That's a guess. Last time I weighed myself, I was 16-4, and I think I've put some on since thanks to lack of exercise and not having a cooker.

The cooker thing is a real problem when you want to eat well, believe me.

So as I write this I am feeling rather flabby, thinking how much I would have enjoyed going for a run this very morning, but instead I am working in a hotel room in Las Vegas. In less than three weeks, I am running my first-ever marathon.

Training had been going beautifully until a foot problem, a deadline and back pain came to my rescue, and now I'm not entirely sure how I'm going to cope with the unique stresses of endurance running. My longest training run has been just over 12 miles, and I have to top that if I am to go into a 26.2 mile race with any confidence. I can do that though, after all I have two and a bit weeks where I can run every day if I want to, starting tomorrow.

Unlike Z, I think alcohol is off the menu for me, so with regular training – which is something I absolutely love, I just let life get in the way a bit – my weight should be wonderfully manageable. I've looked at different ways of running, training plans and all that, but I aim to go back to how I ran when I started. Every other day, without fail, and just run as far as I feel like doing, and a longer one or two every week in there. No discipline to it apart from that of actually getting out there and enjoying it.

Soon though, I am moving house, and I will have access to a cooker, which I am very happy about indeed.

I'm rambling and burbling, which combined would either make, erm, burbling or, erm, rambling.

Let's go with ramburbling instead. It sounds quite exciting, like ram-raiding (not in the Welsh sense) but with burble.

I'm only 5' 6" tall, and am very, very heavy – around 230lbs, US Fact Fans. But I am also very, very fit, and love exercise. And I'm very, very dense, and pretty muscular. I'm also just a bit lardy, and would be very happy with being about two stones (28lbs, US Fact Fans) lighter. This would help with all the sports I enjoy, not to mention making nice clothes more approachable. I one broke a River Island top – in the shop – just by trying the fucker on.

Less of that would be ideal.

Post-marathon, I aim to use the gym more often (as I enjoy it, and it's excellent stress relief as I have a reasonably demanding job, and I'm currently not using my membership at all), and also to swim a couple of times a week. Tennis at least once a fortnight, along with all that running and I think I'll buy myself a bike in the not-too-distant future as well… Combine all that with no drinking of note (it seriously upsets my stomach and leaves me bloated and lethargic to say the least), and I should see my xylophone-like ribs in no time. Well, I think I should be either two stone lighter by about April, or at least be much leaner and be carrying more muscle. Either is fine.

As long as I'm happy with it, and not a boring bastard. And then I can think about more marathons for later next year…

PS: Sounds to me like Z's doing everything right. Her new bike will make the difference, mark my words...

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

I eat...regularly, but not as often

So, the eventual aim is to be 8 stone something, for which I need to lose a couple of stone. I aim to get there within two years, which should be achievable.

I don't do specific diets - I don't follow other people's rules too well. My guidelines are simple - low fat, low sugar, don't eat between meals and let everything I eat be delicious and nourishing. The main adjustments to my regular diet are the lessening of fat - I did use butter and olive oil in cooking and ate modest amounts of cheese, chocolate, biscuits... What I hadn't appreciated was that I graze. The first night, as I was cooking dinner, I found myself eyeing the pack of pine nuts lying on the counter and I would certainly have eaten a few, usually.

On the other hand, I don't eat because I am cold or tired or miserable or stressed. I don't crave foods and there is nothing that I feel I couldn't give up. I like all vegetables and am eating more of them than ever.

Come to that, I'm eating more at meals. For breakfast, I have my usual boring dry toast. That is my default breakfast. I have, however, added a bowl of plain yoghurt - if I'm not having cheese or any other dairy product, I think I need some extra calcium. For lunch, I started by having home-made soup and more dry toast, with yoghurt to follow. Within a few days, I was heartily tired of soup, delicious though it was. Lunch is proving something of a problem, as I often had cheese or eggs. I still eat eggs, but not too often. Sometimes I have a sandwich, with a slice of meat and lots of salad, or if it's cold I might have a baked potato and salad. Today, I had half a tin of chickpeas with a chopped chilli, some cucumber, fennel, celery and pepper, dressed with the juice of half a lime and a splash of balsamic vinegar and topped with more of that sodding yoghurt.

If I'm hungry before dinner, I eat raw vegetables. This is having no effect at all on my digestive system, I'm relieved to say. I am not a little ball of flatulence, but that is, no doubt, because I am a Laydee.

For dinner, I eat whatever I'd usually eat, but I'm very sparing with the amount of fat I use in cooking. And if there's roast potatoes or something, I'd have one small one. I've diminished the amount I drink, but not vastly - a glass of wine on its own is slightly disappointing, but half a glass more makes all the difference.

Tea and coffee are always drunk without milk anyway. Yes, I realise how boring I am.

I've not seen my ribs for some years

The thing is, there was not a lot wrong with my diet in the first place. People who suggest eating a little less of whatever I already eat haven't watched me eat. A square of chocolate makes me quite happy. However juicy the steak, if I've eaten enough, I leave the rest. I rarely butter toast or a baked potato, and eat corn on the cob unadorned by anything but seasalt.

Nevertheless, I've gained three pounds a year or so for enough years to have a bit of a problem. Not a huge one - I can still see my feet and, come to that, bend and touch my toes, but the surplus has all got to come off.

My doctor has stressed that I should not lose weight quickly. Losing weight slowly is quite a hard thing to contemplate, as it's very unrewarding. I don't find it hard to be disciplined (look, of course I mean self-disciplined, no S&M around these parts thank you), but it's hard to lose weight at all, without the disappointment of not noticing any difference at all for several weeks.

On the other hand, I haven't cut out alcohol. This is good. And I have something in reserve to lose if the weight doesn't come off.