Saturday, 29 November 2008

Oh, nuts

Whilst taking a break from trying to lose weight, I've been taking notice of weak spots in my overeating defences. I'm eating pretty well as I'll eat once I've reached the weight I should be and have not reverted to the chocolate biscuit habit. I've already mentioned the cheese thing more than once, which is something I'll have to watch, but there is another.


When it was fresh cobnut season and then wet walnut season, there was an excuse. They're around for such a short time. But now there are the new season chestnuts and walnuts, and Al has just got in a new bag of peanuts. I made the mistake of bringing home a mixed bag the other night. The Sage and Ro ate a few, but I ate more. I wouldn't have been tempted to eat anything after dinner if they weren't there, but as it was I chomped steadily through. It didn't add up to much, but it was unnecessary.

A friend proudly told me he kept a bag of nuts and raisins or some dried apricots in his car, so that he wouldn't eat sweets. Yes, better than sweets, but it's only a 40 minute drive home, why does he need anything at all? Better to wait and eat some raw carrots and celery while you're cooking dinner. I didn't say this to him. If he had been eating toffees, then of course the nuts are better. But WE DON'T NEED SNACKS.

When I was growing up, we didn't have snacks very often. Some people did - there was a girl called Sandra who seemed to have an inexhaustible supply of sweets, which she was very generous at sharing. I didn't get many sweets and longed for them (though rarely accepted hers, because I couldn't reciprocate). Even rarer was a packet of crisps. I remember once having a bad dose of flu and my mother making up a trayful of tempting little eats - a few grapes, some crisps, some tiny cheese biscuits, a few Midget Gem biscuits - and I stared at them longingly, unable to eat a mouthful. Once I was on the mend, it didn't occur to her to offer them again and I have regretted missing those treats ever since.

I'm best eating proper meals and in my thin days (8 stone-ish) it was good for me to have a small in-between snack to keep myself going, as I didn't eat much at a meal. For example, dry toast for breakfast, an apple mid-morning, a salad sandwich and a yoghurt for lunch, a couple of biscuits mid-afternoon, some crudités early evening before dinner. But they were balanced in with what I ate. These nuts the other night were extras. There was nothing wrong with them in themselves, although I ate rather too many, and they were delicious. But, being a healthy, if high fat, snack, it's easy to think they're all right. They are not. I mustn't do it again too often.

Sunday, 16 November 2008

Which way?

There are several points where one can come unstuck in the weight-loss stakes, and I've reached one of them. I don't know if I will, however and will have to wait and see.

First, it's going from a wish, an intention, a need to lose weight to starting to do so. Then, after the first enthusiastic rigour, when you've lost several pounds quickly, it's not to give up or at least start to slip into old habits when it gets boring or you crave your favourite indulgences and you feel impatient because the weight loss has slowed, however hard you've tried. If you're doing a lot of exercising, you feel you should be rewarded by weight loss, but it takes a long time to burn off fat by exercise. It does speed up the metabolism and tone you, but actually losing weight with exercise but without dieting takes a long time.

I got through both those stages and now I'm on a plateau. This isn't exactly a dieting plateau, because I'm not trying to lose weight just now - in fact, I said a long time ago that I'm eating the way I need always to eat now, so in that sense I'm not doing anything 'wrong' in any case. But I'm not behaving quite as I have been - partly that's because it's physically more difficult to cycle as much as I did in the summer; but actually it's not as hard as it was this time last year. There are slopes I didn't attempt or got off half-way that now, if I find it tough, I just stand up on the pedals and slog up and wouldn't dream of walking. Partly, I admit, it's laziness. I'm finding it harder than I did a couple of months ago, so I'm less inclined to bother. Last November, I cycled nearly every day, come what may, but now I'm bringing home enough food for two or three days rather than fetching it daily. I can't let this last long, I need to get going - my hip needs the activity as much as anything else.

Of course, if I get going again and lose those final pounds, I'm not in the clear - will I ever be? Last time I lost all the weight (and a bit more) that I'd wanted to, I effortlessly stayed at that weight for several years. I became complacent. You can get away with quite a bit, once in a while. Trouble is, the odd chocolate biscuit or handful of peanuts, whatever your poison is, becomes a habit. And fat and sugar are highly cravable. And if you start to gain weight again, it seems almost impossible to stop.

As I was grating some cheese for a beetroot risotto tonight, I realised it would be the first cheese I'd eaten in at least a week. I've not been in to town on a Thursday, so haven't bought cheese at the stall (and have walked past the tempting deli) for three weeks. So, apart from cheddar for cooking (and for the Sage), I haven't had any in the house. For a week or two, I used it a lot in cooking, but last week it so happened that I didn't. So I've lost the craving - as long as putting it in the risotto doesn't bring it on again. I hope not, I couldn't actually separate out the flavour of cheese from the rest of it.

I've been quite hungry on a couple of days this week. One day, I hopelessly craved sugar. I didn't have any sweets in the house, or I'd have eaten a couple of jelly babies or wine gums. I had chocolate, sesame snaps and biscuits in the house, but instead I ate a couple of teaspoonfuls of the quince jelly I made the other week. I figured it wasn't so bad - fruit juice and sugar only. And one can't eat a whole lot of it.

And I've scoffed huge quantities of raw carrots. A bunch lasts two days - not sure how many that is, 10 or 12, I suppose. That's in addition to those I eat as I prepare them for a meal. I have to do more than we need of all vegetables. Sprouts, leeks, turnip, whatever - I steal bits from the pan before putting them on to cook.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

Mystery solved

I think I know why cycling has been a bit hard the last few weeks. I went to give blood today and my haemoglobin level is too low. Not by much, and I'm only borderline anaemic, but it explains a lot.

So, why?

Well, I think I might always have had a tendency to a low level of iron in my blood. I recognise how I feel, and it's what I sometimes used to feel like when I was thinner. The only times I've actually been diagnosed anaemic, though, were when I was pregnant and then I used to feel awful and iron tablets, given out routinely in those days, were not enough and I used to have to have beastly iron injections and then follow up with double iron rations, if you see what I mean, to keep my iron level up to an acceptable amount - which for me is over 12. At present, it's 11.4. If it were about 10, I'd feel awful, so I don't want to get worse.

I suspect that generally eating a bit more has kept me going over the past few years. Mind you, I have been aware of iron levels, which is one reason I've been eating more red meat than I would have if I'd been trying to lose weight quickly.

However, I've been eating less meat in the last couple of months or so, largely because I've been eating more fish. I still have lots of vegetables, wholemeal bread and a generally good diet, but it's evidently not enough. So it'll be steak for dinner tomorrow and I'll up my consumption of eggs, dark green vegetables and such things. I will also take an iron supplement - Weeza recommends Floradix - until I feel right. I'll know when I am.

I haven't lost any weight recently, but then I haven't been trying to. As long as I don't put any on, I don't mind for a month or two.

Feeling groovy again

Well, I've been for a few runs in the last couple of weeks. I'm still struggling to get out of bed early to do them, and in fact I've only managed that twice; other runs have been on the gym treadmill, which I really dislike so it's the devil or the deep blue sea.

Anyway, the running is going well. I can now run 20 minutes quite comfortably, and tomorrow morning I'll have a crack at doing that on the road. I can usually run better and further on the road, but we shall see.

I am also doing my belt up two notches below the usual... Again. But it's comfortable now, especially so since a session on the gym ball on Tuesday. My weight is slightly lower than it was, but I think this might be down to losing muscle in the six weeks without exercise rather than anything else.

Diet's been great on the whole, not really eating any crap. Sadly though, on Saturday I fly to Vegas for a week. It's in the desert, but in the context of Las Vegas food, desert should mean 'a place without fruit or vegetables'. It is very, very hard to eat nice food there, so I suspect any sushi places I find are going to get hit quite hard. But I am taking my running shoes and all the gear with me, so it won't lapse while I'm gone. We have three days to chill before doing any work too, which could be amusing.

In short, it's all good here. Life's been quite tough the last few months, and continues to be so, but at least I now have the meditative salve of running to help put things into perspective. It really does help me deal with life, and makes me a happier person too. Yay running.