Saturday, 12 December 2009

Does my hip look big in this?

I'm slightly concerned that I may have put on a few pounds, but I don't quite want to find out enough to actually weigh myself. Clothes still fit, but the trousers that were fine back in the summer are just a shade snugger, as I found when I wore them on holiday for the first time in a couple of months. I think they are anyway.

I'd been too busy before I went away to cycle every day, and hills are really difficult at present. I need to cycle most days to keep up muscle tone as I'm a puny old thing, left to myself. Additionally, and increasingly, I've not a lot of strength in my right leg to use for the extra effort needed on a hill. Twice this week I had to get off and walk. This means that there's not all that much incentive to cycle, and so it goes on. I'm quite strict with myself though and do make the effort most times.

The diet has certainly stalled. I've continued with the change in my eating habits, in that I don't eat biscuits or other snacks normally, but I've relaxed to an extent. Today, for example, I've eaten a biscuit, and ice cream (at the theatre) and some cheese. And taken no exercise to work any of it off. Tonight, I've made a Bolognaise-ish sauce, which I'll have with spaghetti or a baked potato. And a couple of glasses of wine. Not wicked, but not dieting either.

I'm wondering if I'll have the fortitude to use the time I'm in hospital to kick-start the diet again. I have no problems with opting for the most low-fat and virtuous thing on the menu and there will be no possibility of eating anything between meals, except fruit I suppose. When I get home, my family will look after me for a while. I'll have to hope they don't lead me astray.

I wonder if my new hip will weigh more or less than my old one?

Monday, 9 November 2009

Apple pie. And ice cream. Bad Z, bad.

I'm quite silly. I made an apple pie last night. Fortunately, the Sage ate three quarters of it. And I only topped the apples with pastry, I didn't bottom (?) it too. But, as I said before, I do have an unaccustomed desire for puddings. Also, I'm hungrier than usual. Mostly, I'm eating fruit (in moderate amounts), raw vegetables and the odd slice of dry bread or toast, but I've also eaten two packets of crisps in the past week and I find it hard to care.

I'll be terribly fed up if I start putting on weight again and have to struggle all over again to take it off.

I've been meaning to say, I found in a long-unopened drawer a skirt I bought years ago in M&S. I would have been in my late thirties when I bought it, I should think. It's a size 10 and the measurements stated are waist 24 inches, hips 34 inches. Blimey. And it used to fit me. I haven't even tried to put it on now, it would be too embarrassing not to be able to get one leg in. There was also a pair of trousers, also M&S, and they, also a 10, said 25/36. They are still very old but, obviously, newer than the skirt. Now, measuring about 27/37, I'm a size 10 again. When I was a teenager, I didn't know anyone, however skinny, who was less than a 10. Now, if I weighed the 7 stone 10 lbs that I couldn't help being when Al was a baby (I was a 10 then) I'd probably be a 6. Oh well. I suppose it sounds good to be a smaller size, even if it isn't quite realistic.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Hmmm and hmmmm again.

Well, I'm back hovering around 100kg again, but I really don't mind. I've been running again, and I'm very pleased about that. Not least because on Saturday, I managed to combine it with other things I wanted to do, where in the past I might have just run and left it at that.

Saturday morning, I went for a run around 7:15, and saw a beautiful sunrise. My iPod playlist is just perfect for running, and I've been pruning it for some time now (nearly five years) to get the perfect blend of long, slow songs and upbeat, uplifting... And some plain odd stuff. The standouts this week were Bruce Springsteen's Girls In Their Summer clothes, peaking right at the top of a hill I decided to run up quickly. The dolphins surged right at the top with the song, and I couldn't help but grin. And Pearl Jam's new album backspacer, which is a very, very nice running companion as it's their most upbeat in years and has a bit of a punk spike to it in places.

Anyway, after my 30-minute run, I got home, stretched, changed then took the dog for a 90-minute walk, then got home, changed again and went down to the gym to do some upper-body weights. I tried doing bicep curls with a 20kg weight (44lbs, Fat Fans) and failed, and I like to think it's because I'd already done some sets with 14 and 16kg weights, and done dips and pull-ups. Yes, that must be the reason.

In short, I feel very good. Dog walking gets me out absolutely every day, and adding running to it is making me very happy. Next week, we shall try adding swimming last thing in the evening to that mix, and we'll see where I end up. Probably heavy as ever, but considerably more solid.

Saturday, 31 October 2009

Z is still here

This blog still exists, even if it's hardly ever updated.

Things go on much the same. I weighed myself yesterday on the bathroom scales - I put in my contact lens once I'm downstairs, so I have only the vaguest idea of what it reads, but I reckon I've lost a pound or two or three - certainly not gained, which is splendid news because I haven't actually been dieting.

I made various vows for the autumn a while ago, which I can't quite remember now (yeah, I'll reread sooner or later) but I know it included keeping up with the aquacise. Well, scrub that. I actually can't, it's not laziness. The exercises included a lot of balancing on one leg and then the other, and I can't balance on my right leg for long because the hip cracks and gives way, which isn't as bad as it sounds. And when you lean back into the long thin foam thingy, I can't do that because it hurts to stand up again. And it's too energetic overall. So pah to that.

I found my cycling limit back in September, when I went nearly 20 miles in an afternoon, and that was a shade too much. 15 would have been okay - I was okay of course; that is, I made it back, but my leg hurt for a few days after.

As to what I eat, still carrying on being sensible. As I said, I'm not really dieting, but the effort not to put weight on won't stop ever. Portion size is one major issue, and I suspect it is for a lot of people who think they eat the same as thinner friends. If you are eating with friends, or if the food is really tasty then you are tempted to clear your plate, even if three-quarters of what's on it is actually enough.

The other difficulty is the onset of colder weather. I've made sticky toffee pudding twice this month. Yes, everyone adores it - and actually, the pudding is not that bad, being simply cake with a whole lot of dates in, not too wicked at all. But the sauce, oh, that sauce. Butter, sugar and cream. All heated up with walnut and poured over. Just too delicious for words and a pound on the hips in every mouthful. I confess, I want proper puddings. Regularly. I've been craving stodgy sweetness for a week now and all the low fat plain yoghurt in the world ain't making it go away. I am telling myself I can justify it because my husband would be so thrilled and I'd only need eat a tiny bit - I lie. I will be a fool if I give in.

Anyway, I haven't made any such thing tonight. Though I have wanted food at odd hours. However, I've eaten several sticks of celery, two satsumas and a banana instead of biscuits and cake - not that there's any cake in the house. Instead of toast and jam, perhaps.

Monday, 31 August 2009

Much lighter, actually.

Which is nice.

Weighed myself at my mum's again this morning, sans coat and boots, and the scales said I was about 15 stone 5lbs, which is a lot less than I thought I was. In fact, I'm a bit blown away by that. 97.27 kilos. Haven't been this light for a while – not since training for my first half marathon, in fact. [Side note, by the end of that half marathon I was 14 stone 10lbs (about 206lbs, US Fat Fans), though a lot of that was fluid loss. That's the lightest I've been in years, and it's only 8lbs away from where I am now.]

I'm very, very happy this morning; and all this while still drinking beer. Hurrah!

Did you hear me at the back? I said HURRAH!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Lighter, again.

Yes, I am. My new new approach has worked, mwaaaahahahaaaaaaaa!

I got swine flu late in July, the day before I was due to go on holiday, as recorded here. Been walking the dog on a long walk every morning, and a medium one in the evening, and I have visibly lost weight. Not loads, but I'm certainly under 100 kilos again. I weighed myself this morning at my mum's while wearing a big waterproof coat, hiking boots and soggy jeans (the soggy bit is all-important…), and her scales said I was about 16 stone 4lbs, or 104 kilos. I'm pretty sure you can take off the four kilos in clothing… Can't you? Anyway, it certainly puts me under 16 stone, which makes me very happy indeed. Especially as, with work and time constraints, I've not been swimming for absolutely ages. Will hopefully start again on Thursday or Friday this week.

It's a gentle weight loss, but it's satisfying, and all the walking is changing my body shape a little, but not losing any strength, which is perfect. I couldn't lose my outrageously muscular legs – they are my beloved's favourite part of me (well, in the top five), so they have to stay.

When I get down to the gym this week, I'll use their scales and find out the good news more accurately.

I'm burbling. Offski.

Wednesday, 5 August 2009

A new approach

Well, I'm still a porkster. And as well as the running was going, when I ran over six miles, the grind started in my knee again, which was a bit upsetting.

So I changed the plan. I haven't run for a while, and I'm looking into a different style of running as an experiment. It's very, very different, and may or may not solve the knee trouble. But that's in the future.

Right now, I'm walking 6-10 miles every day, thanks to our beautiful new dog Milly. We go for a long walk in the morning, while everyone else sleeps, then we go for another longish walk in the evening. Some days, she gets another walk in the middle of the day too, but not usually by me.

So I'm putting the miles in, in a non-stressful way. And I've started swimming again, which is tough and I'm enjoying. The plan is to walk the dog early, work, make dinner, walk the hound again, then swim lengths late evening. It's a very relaxed way for me to take exercise, and it's working for me.

I'm tiring easily at the moment, and I doubt I could handle a workout or a game of tennis – I had flu last week, and with the number of cases of swine flu in the town, I'd be amazed if it wasn't the porcine variety. It sucked, and it's left me a little weak and easily tired, but I'm getting there. And it came at the shittest time – the day before I was due to go on holiday with WonderWife and crazy stepdaughter, in fact. So they got a week away, and I managed to join them for just a couple of days at the end of it.

Enough of my burble. I'm also easing back into work with the whole tiring easily thing, and should really have a go at getting something done today...

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Z perseveres

It has struck me, in the past couple of weeks, that I'm finally getting a bit fitter. By the way I cycle, mainly. My bike only has 3 gears, which is quite complicated enough. But now I go up most hills in 2nd gear because 1st doesn't give enough resistance and I feel stronger generally. Still don't want to think about the bulging calf muscles, though at least I suppose muscles are better than fat.

Anyway, it's taken long enough. But it shows perseverance, don't you think?

Monday, 13 July 2009


Well, this might be the mid-point of life for me, if I'm lucky. Or the first third. Who knows? But 35 feels quite grown up in a way no birthday previously has before. And with it, the desire to change sweeps back through me, reminding me that it's very easy to get fatter and fatter.

I must start relying on my wonderful wife more – she doesn't need me to cook every meal for her, and I can sit and eat my own food with her and my lovely stepdaughter. Or I can go to the gym, then come back and eat and spend time with them.

Swimming is a recent discovery for me, and a great early-morning exercise. Combining that with a good diet, loads of veg, and evening exercise will be good for me. Because, let's face it, since I started contributing to this I've lost a total of about 6 kilos, which I then put back on in about ten days.

I duscussed this with WonderWife recently, and said to her that she must have noticed how quickly weight falls from me, and how quickly it can go back on. The 6 kilos came off and went back on in a total of about three weeks. It went back on because of beer, mainly.

Beer, as Alistair MacLean once said, is the key*. I know all this, yet I get nowhere. How I wish I had more time.

*I believe this was also made into a movie in the early 1970s.

Monday, 6 July 2009


Much the same eaten today as yesterday so far - we can't be bothered with the details can we? I mean, how many pots of plain yoghurt and slices of dry bread can one read or write about.

Feeling that I'm a little neater around the waist, I measured it, but there's not any difference from the last time, when I weighed several pounds more. Just to see, I measured the rest of me - 35 1/2, 27, 37 1/2. The same as at the end of last year, but I have lost weight, so that means that the bits between must have gone down a bit. Such as the muffin-top area. Which, above all, is what I'd love to lose. Indeed, I'd say that I wouldn't mind at all if my bust/waist/hip measurements remain exactly the same, if I had thinner thighs, arms and midriff.

Certainly, I'd say that the cycling helps the bum and thighs. I don't want to think about the possible Girton calves I'm gaining.

I read back some way to find out my measurements last time I used a tape measure - I must say, Badge and I have talked some sound good sense on occasion. I should read our own archives more often, for inspiration.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Z diets

So, here we go again. So far today, I've had

Breakfast - 1 slice dry multi-grain bread, 1 small pot (150g) plain yoghurt and 4 strawberries
Lunch - 1 slice dry multi-grain bread, a helping of cottage cheese - about 100 calories-worth - a tomato and a chunk of cucumber. When they're cooked, I'll dissect a couple of globe artichokes, which I'll have with a squeeze of lemon juice rather than butter or vinaigrette.

Later in the day, the family have invited us to go crabbing with them. No doubt we'll have ice-creams - the Mr Whippy sort in a cone, which I suspect are fairly low fat and high sugar.

This evening, I'll have a salad, then a pork chop with various vegetables from the garden, more strawberries and a couple of glasses of wine.

To drink otherwise, I'll have water and milkless tea.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Z starts again

One of the good things about this time of the year is that it's too hot to cook much, so I'm eating very simply - a lot of raw vegetables and salad and a great deal of fruit. I'm even remembering to drink a lot of water. That is, a lot by my standards. I think this is helping to ensure that the heat has no effect on me at all, except to make me cheerful. Well, I'm always cheerful of course *cough*.

So, assuming I haven't put anything on in the last two or three weeks, I've just about met the original target; that is, the doctor suggested I lose a couple of stone. But since my hip is getting slightly worse and there doesn't seem to be much I can do about it, the only way I can place less strain on it is to weigh less.

So, now I seem to have talked myself back into dieting again. I always used to feel most comfortable at about 8 stone 4 lbs (116 pounds, about 53 kilos) - I'm not sure if that's quite realistic for me, but how will I know if I don't try?

Monday, 15 June 2009

Z gets back on the scales

...and is pleasantly surprised. I haven't weighed myself for ages because it hasn't been convenient - with my Victorian scales in the porch, one can't do the early morning weigh-in in the nuddy which, let's face it, is the only one that counts. And, as either I'm going to spend the morning wall-building or I'm in a hurry, I either wear jeans (heavy) or don't have time. Anyway, today I did, so I put on a summer skirt and a teeshirt and came down to weigh myself before going to wash my hair and dress in wall-building clothes.

9 stone and just under half a pound. Yes, I'm surprised too. That's 27 pounds I've lost since the start of this. You might think, and you'd not be wrong, that this is not a vast weight loss in 19 1/2 months, but as I've said before, it's not the speed of the loss that matters to me so much as its continuation and its permanence. The really good thing is that I've not been really dieting, just eating carefully, and in a way I really can sustain, and yet I must have been losing about a pound a month, which is absolutely fine. I've been feeling that I'm a pretty normal weight ever since I got to 9 1/2 stone, which is why I've been fairly relaxed - it's been frustrating that I'm so relaxed but, and I think this is the reason so many diets fail, you can't pretend about it. If someone says "I really should lose weight" then they aren't going to, however porky they are.

I've been too busy to get on the bike as often as I'd like - if I've got only 20 minutes to do the shopping there's no point in spending 15 of them cycling, but I have been very active, mostly in the garden. I'm sure it's the activity that's tipped the balance.

Now I've lost weight, I've got really flabby thighs. Hm.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Z muses

I went to a wedding yesterday and received compliments on my appearance and weight loss (this is so double-edged, as it so evidently means "gosh, now you aren't nearly so fat as you used to be!). And today, a friend whom I see regularly asked me if I'd lost more weight because it looked as if I had.

So maybe I'm doing something right after all.

Still haven't actually weighed myself though - that is, I occasionally pop on the bathroom scales, but I rarely have my contact lens in when I'm in the bathroom and they are old scales with a wobbly needle, so although I can see that I'm still the right side of 9 1/2 stone, I can't tell by how much.

Anyway, the more I think about it, the more sure I am that a lot of us who want and need to lose weight and eat healthily and take exercise simply eat more than we realise we do, because we've been doing it for so long that we don't notice. I've been observing people and, on the whole, the slender ones stop eating when they've had enough and the fat ones clear the plate. The fat ones pour cream onto a gateau which already contains whipped cream. Having been on holiday with a group of people recently, I couldn't help but notice that if they had cereal, they put more in the bowl than a standard portion. And the little individual jars of jam were scraped clean - a thin person used the amount needed for the roll. So, if you asked each of them to keep a food diary, even when they wrote down the same thing, one of them would have eaten much more than the other, and been quite unaware of it.

The thing is, I think I've got to understand what not to do if I want not to put weight back on. It's all right when you're dieting - you just avoid what you're supposed not to eat. But it's so easy for the quantity to creep up. And it is all right to have the occasional tasty extra - but again, 'occasional' can easily become several times a week.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Not given up yet

I'm still alive, and I'd post if I had something to say. My weight still stays pretty well the same, and I still know that I'm eating to not put weight on rather than to lose it. It's a bit desperate in that respect - I sort of think that I'm going to have to resort to eating hardly anything for a couple of days to lose a couple of pounds and then revert to normal for a few weeks, and do that every month. But I know that crash-dieting is silly and pointless - it's just to kick-start, I suppose.

At this time of year, at any rate, it's easy to eat loads of fruit and veg and not bother about much else. Except, you know how it is. I was given a box of Bendicks Bittermints the other day. Now, how can a girl resist that? I don't even want to. I don't care. A year ago I would, but that was a size ago. I have no ambition to be less than a 10 - indeed, I don't know if it's possible without being really thin. I would like a smaller waist and smaller thighs, to be sure, but the hips are fine.

But I mustn't relax. I'm not dieting for how I look, but to stave off a new hip as long as possible. If only there were a more immediate cause and effect. One needs a reward. But virtue is its own reward, isn't it?

Friday, 15 May 2009

No, I'm not.

Weighing myself today, that is. Went out for a meal last night (Thai) and it was really very nice, but as soon as I stood up at the end of the meal, I knew an evening on the toilet wasn't far away. Something irritated my stomach hugely - probably eating prawns, as I've been staying well away from seafood lately. Mainly because it's a 'Go Directly to Toilet' card in the game of Monopoly that is my life.

Do not pass go, do not collect £200.


And for all my grand plans for this morning (mapped a five-mile route out in my head yesterday that I was going to try on a run), I'm not doing anything. I slept horribly, and am still very, very bloated as I type this. I must stick to very plain foods, it seems. Which is fine, as I'm very happy eating an unadorned baked spud with chicken breast. But it does limit eating out. Night before last, we went to the cinema and the ladies wanted to eat at Nando's, so we did. One look at the menu and I was having two helpings of plain corn on the cob, and a side of garlic bread (which I ate a mere three quarters of). Everything was in a spicy sauce, and I do mean everything. It was proclaimed with pride on the menu that everything is in some kind of shitting sauce.

Maybe not an actual shitting sauce. Don't take that too literally.

Anyway, lessons are being learned. I really wanted to run this morning, but in a good way, and not to the bathroom. Grrrrrr.

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

No beer, so good.

Well, it's a bit like 'so far, so good' isn't it?

Seriously though, enjoying the 'no beer' so far. It's actually 'no alcohol', but that might take a kicking when I leave for Macau at the end of the month. That said, the hotel has three outdoor pools which I might well make use of, plus a big gym by the look of it. But apparently the humidity will be 100 per cent, so I'll only be using running shoes indoor, which is a shame.

Feeling great, having to stop myself over-exercising, got plenty of energy, and I feel like I look pretty okay, too.

So far, so good. I'll weigh myself on Friday and see what it says.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

New motivation

I went for a really lovely run this morning. Did four miles for the first time in ages. My knees feel fantastic, my muscles feel... Very, very good.

At the end of the third mile, or thereabouts, I passed the 'gentleman' that shagged my girlfriend when I was 21. He was supposed to be a friend of mine, and it disappointed me greatly. I decided to leave town, this being a small place and everything, and went on a pretty great adventure.

I came back here a few years ago, and he was the first person I bumped in to. Turns out after I left, he even took the job I vacated, the imagination-free fucker.

So anyway, he recently became a father of a ginger creation, I forget what gender. Good for him, I congratulated him when I saw him in the street. I meant it, too. He's always wanted kids.

But when I passed him at the end of mile 3 this morning, he was pushing a pushchair, and had one of his girlfriend's other two children with him. And he was looking straight ahead, chuckling.

How passive-aggressive can you be? I have no doubt that this was for my benefit, despite me being on the other side of the street. He and the older child had not communicated at all, it's a long straight bit of road, and there was really no reason for a chuckle other than the fat fucker wheezing along on the other side.

So me being me, and not being passive-aggressive so much as I am plainly direct and unafraid of fuckwits, I shouted 'Morning!' very loudly, he replied, and I called out as I passed: "Chuckle up, buttercup!"

Not my most creative retort, but it felt great at the time. And it hardened my resolve to do the two marathons I have on the calendar; I even went to the gym this afternoon, despite the four-miler, to do more work on my legs and keep them strong so I can stay fit and keep going and going and going…

I often think I should thank him for driving me away from this town, but then I catch myself and remember what a turd he is. He is nothing and no-one – but he is a very, very convenient piece of motivation.

PS: I also ran faster than ever in plodding-training this morning – I usually do around 11-minute miles, as it's about keeping going rather than speed, but today did 10-minute miles, without even noticing. Bodes well.

Saturday, 9 May 2009

A funny old game.

Some weeks, I don't get much exercise, and those weeks are not much fun. But most Friday afternoons, I sack work off early and head down to my old school to play indoor football with some of the teachers. This is surprisingly demanding, and generally great fun. The more people available to play, surprisingly, the harder it is – but the fun grows exponentially.

Yesterday though, I was keeping goal for a few minutes and took a very hard shot right in the plums. That was no fun at all.

I digress. The football is often a shot in the arm for further exercise. For example, after an hour's play last night, which was really tiring, I got up at 7 this morning and went for a run. I ran over 3 miles for the first time this year and honestly, could have run five or six. It all felt right, knees felt mostly great, form was good, the weather was perfect for it, everything came together. I added some on o the end of my usual-ish route, an extra half-mile I'd never run before, and cruised through it.

Runs like that are what keep you coming back for more. In fact, I aim to be out there again in the morning. My new resolution, you see, is to give up beer. Oh, I've said it before, but it seems to be one of the main irritants to my stomach. I could drink Guinness for a while, or other stouts, but even that's causing me grief now. So the beer is gone, and right on the full moon too. We'll see how that works out, but I suspect that with more running, it will work out rather well.

I'm in a 10k race in a couple of months, in London, on my 35th birthday, and I would dearly love to beat my personal best at that distance, which is a piffling 56:29 for 6.2 miles. I think I can do it, and from there, the next race might just be a full marathon in the autumn.

I'm rabbiting, I'm sorry. It's been an exciting and very full week, but not in dietary terms, so I'll keep the exciting things to myself for now. My diet seems to be settling down a bit; I'm working out what to cook so I can eat with the ladies, and still enjoy exercise, or not. Working out which days are best to rest, which to push myself. I've been running faster, on occasion, to see if I can, and doing it consciously and in a measured way. I think, honestly, I'm a better runner now, more considered and more aware thanks to injuries and niggles. That might or might not translate into me becoming a racing snake by autumn; we'll see. One of my other resolutions though, is to invest in a sports massage occasionally, and a physio whenever it's required.

Mid-summer, my wonderful wife will have a new workshop outside of town, and I plan to cycle up there for lunch with her every day, all being well, for a bit more exercise. And what a wonderful motivation, too. Just a couple of miles there and a couple back, ideal for lunchtime.

I'm babbling a bit here. I'm still a bit high from my run.

Two obstacles are looming in beer terms – a trip to Macau at the end of this month, and one to Germany early July. Hmmmmmmmm.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Z eats chocolate

It was a matter of good manners. I went to a meeting in London with a friend. And what a twit I am, I saw the ticket was 8 o'clock and arrived at the station in good time, not remembering until I was actually on the platform that the 8 o'clock from Norwich gets to Diss at 8 sodding 17.

Anyoldhoo, I had a salmon and cucumber sandwich and a packet of crisps and a bottle of water from M&S for lunch (indeed, the crisps were not strictly necessary, what's your point?) - oh, I've reinstated the half cupful of milk with the morning porridge, it makes all the difference between okay and horrible - and then on the train home A produced a bar of Wholenut Chocolate. "Half each" she said cheerily. It was 3 quite big squares. Okay, another day without losing fucking weight, what's your problem?

Huh. Sorry. Not you, it's me. In the evening, I went too long without food and then I drank wine and I'm still irritable.

Today, 1/2 cup porridge, 1/2 cup milk, water. M&S salmon & cucumber sandwich, pack of salt and pepper crisps. 1/2 small bar chocolate. 1 mint sweet. 1 pear, 2 sausages. Asparagus. 2 slices toast. Small of dish of leftover Bolognese sauce. Better part of half a bottle of red wine. 1 banana.

Can't be arsed to work out calories. Don't give a fuck. I'm in one of my moods. Of course, if you were here, I'd be charming. You'd never know.

Oh, BTW, a charming chap got up and gave me his seat on the Tube. Jesus, I'm fucking old. Oh dear. I thanked him and took it,of course. How kind. How humiliating. But really, how kind.

I think I need cheering up.

Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Z bites the low-fat bullet, and finds low-salt and low-sugar inside

Yes, well, I'll reiterate that I find it much easier to diet when I do it thoroughly. I can quite understand those people, whose pictures one sees in the popular press, who take dieting too far and become frankly too thin. We can all think of celebs who have done that. It's simpler to eat no fat or no carbohydrate or all vegetables or whatever the diet du jour is, than to eat just a little. And if you have a fat-free diet, you don't miss fat. The more you have, the more you want and it's ever so hard to judge just the right amount, in the shorter term at any rate.

Today, I've not eaten what I've wanted. For breakfast, I had an austere dish of porridge made with water, flavoured with a pinch of salt and some cardamon seeds. Lunch was late as I'd been at a meeting in Norwich, at which I accepted two cups of black coffee and refused the biscuits. For 18 months, I've effortlessly ignored biscuits. But today, the plate of chocolate biscuits beside me (how could my hostess, who is 8 inches taller than me and weighs 2 pounds more, have put them by me?) called to me in siren-sweet tones. I didn't have one. For lunch, I had lettuce, celery, two Ryvitas and two oatcakes. Then I had a bowl of plain yoghurt and some prunes. It didn't satisfy, frankly. When giving the family cakes and biscuits for tea, I ate an apple. I'd brought Squiffany and Pugsley some fruit jelly sweets from Italy and I did accept one. This evening, I found it hard, again, to not eat something tasty and fatty, such as cheese. I had another Ryvita, some raw carrot, more lettuce and cucumber.

Tonight, I'm cooking roast chicken, roast potatoes, carrots and spring cabbage. This will, at least, feel like real food. I think it will take me several days to adjust to a weight-loss diet.

In fact, an apple contains as many calories as a biscuit or two. But that isn't the point. If I have a chocolate biscuit or a small slice of cake, that will reinforce the sugar-and-fat craving that keeps us overweight. Both are addictive - not in a medical sense, like cigarettes or heroin, but in a colloquial rather than a clinical sense, in that they make you crave the next fix. If you eat a packet of crisps every day, you 'need' the salt (another culprit) and fat in those crisps. Frankly, tasty as Ryvita is, you ain't going to crave it. Cheap chocolate, containing enough cacao to raise the spirits and a whole lot of sugar, is almost impossible to eat a little of.

Pah. I'm stronger than chocolate. And I'll be back on the bike tomorrow.

Monday, 4 May 2009

Z aims for thinness

Oh, by the way, fortunately May does not consider wine to be fattening. This is just as well.

Today, I have eaten porridge made with water and a pinch of salt. This was solemn in the extreme, but an indication of my determination. In future, I shall split a couple of cardamon pods into it. For elevenses, a licorice stick. For lunch, a ham sandwich. If I'd made it, I'd not have added butter but the Sage made it, so it was lightly buttered. Two slices of buttered bread, one slice of ham. In the afternoon, three sesame Ryvitas. 34 calories each. For dinner, a modest piece of beef steak, asparagus, sautéed courgettes, asparagus, new potatoes. Half a bottle of wine.

There is a box of chocolates, given by a friend, on the table. I sigh. I don't eat one. I may eat another Ryvita later.

May could hardly believe how little I eat to lose weight. I told her the truth, however. Honestly, darlings, it's a bugger. If you're fortunate enough, now, to eat packets of crisps, brownies, Danish pastries, you have stuff to give up. I don't. I have to cut out normal food. Except that I'm not going to resort to egg white omelettes, I feel like I live in California and actually care about this sort of nonsense.

Z ate good food

Well, I don't think I've come home from Italy any lighter. I wasn't too outrageously off-diet, but I certainly ate more than I can get away with. I bought a new skirt and pair of trousers just before I left and I have a feeling they were both slightly snugger by the end of the week. Both size 10, but now that sizes are so much bigger than they used to be, I have to be mindful that, were I to be the weight I was when I was 40, I'd be an 8 if not 6.

I had a long chat, when both of us had quaffed quite a lot of wine, with a friend who is very slender. She is also athletic; at the age of 79 she still plays golf and tennis and walks a lot too. She is very much in favour of not letting yourself go as you get older (let alone when you are young) and she agrees with me that I've a way to go yet. My daughter thinks I've lost enough - I know what's in her mind; my mother became very thin and was, by choice, slightly underweight for years. Sadly, in her last years her thinness was not by choice. I know that Weeza is concerned that I might take dieting to an extreme. I don't think this is likely at all myself, and I also don't think she appreciates quite how small my frame is. Since 10 stone is normal for her and she's only a couple of inches taller than I am, she thinks that 9 1/2 stone is about right for me, but it isn't.

Accordingly, my resolve is stiffened. I'm going to diet properly again, having been quite casual for the past 6 months. I cycled a lot, nearly 25 miles, in the week before I went away, and have walked a lot in the past week, but I had a chest infection for a couple of weeks before that and hardly cycled at all, so things slipped somewhat there.

My friend is concerned about her granddaughter, aged 21, who she says is 3 stone overweight. She has complained of aching joints, and May pointed out that she could be storing up trouble for the future. I asked in what ways she overeats, and why. May thinks that it's lack of confidence, particularly in regard to men - she almost wants to make herself unattractive (I know that big women can be very attractive, but in this case she dresses to camouflage and uses her size as an excuse not to have a boyfriend), she snacks frequently and she eats a lot at mealtimes too. Simply, what she thinks of as a portion is twice what May does. On the other hand, and I tried to hint at this tactfully, if you're lacking in confidence then being told you're fat and it doesn't suit you, by however well-meaning a person, can make you feel worse rather than giving you encouragement. May's firm "you've lost a lot of weight, you look years younger and much better - now lose the rest" is, I know, absolutely true and I respond well to hard facts, but a young and unsure woman may not.

Anyway, no time to do the weigh and measure biz now, but the diet is back on, properly. I said, a while ago, that I wanted to be below 9 stone by November. I'm changing that. The target is my birthday in September. Then I'll look to the next half stone. That probably will be enough.

In Italy, nearly all the women were slender. I don't think I'd overeat for long if I lived there, it'd be too shaming.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

Sensitivity in the New Man

I was paid a compliment by a woman who I know to be absolutely straight-talking yesterday. Not that she was straight talking just yesterday (which she was), she is a straight-talker, and I saw her yesterday.

You know what I mean. I'm lucky Dave doesn't come here with sentences like those.

Anyway, she said when she saw me that I was looking slimmer. I forget her actual words, but it was certainly a compliment; it's been almost a year since I saw this woman last, so any weight loss might seem more pronounced to her. I'm surprised she remembered what I look like, actually.

But I didn't take the compliment well. I don't get a lot of compliments, and if I do they're usually about my eyes, which let's face it are a genetic accident. I responded by saying: "No, I haven't lost any weight. I left some on the train, I have to pick it up from lost property on the way home."

Good response, I thought, but looking back, why on earth could I not just accept the compliment?

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Z is stuck

Spirit is still willing, but so is the will to eat. I know I'm slipping a bit, gently - it's not doing any harm so far but my weight is still about the same - on the bathroom scales the needle hovers a little below the 9 1/2 stone mark, whether by a pound or two or three varies, but there always seems to be some reason not to start that final stern diet.

I have bought trousers and a skirt today for which I can't afford to put on any weight. I suppose that could be considered a start. Could it? One thing is that I've had a bad cold with a chesty cough and so I haven't been out on my bike much at all. I'm better now, so am back on the bike. Today, I was in Norwich so didn't think I'd have to go into town afterwards, but then I had to go out after all, at about 8 o'clock this evening. It was only between 4 and 5 miles altogether, but maybe worked off a bit of that spaghetti Carbonara I misguidedly cooked for dinner tonight. It's noticeable, by the way, that however much I make of that dish it all gets eaten. Tomorrow, I have too much shopping to do to fit in the bike panniers so I'll go by car, but I've a meeting in the evening 3 miles away, so that'll do for the daily exercise.

Next week I'll be in Italy, but I know I'll do a lot of walking there. I daresay the diet will go awry - when in a hotel I eat plain bread, fruit and yoghurt with black coffee for breakfast as a concession to dieting, but afterwards I'm not going to bore my companions with extreme care. Besides, I like the food too much.

Saturday, 4 April 2009

In a groove

It's been a while, because nothing has changed. I haven't been weighing myself because I am pretty sure I'm just the same. In one way this means that I've settled into a new weight 22 lbs less than it used to be, but since I actually wanted to lose 30 lbs or so, it does indicate that I'll have to kick-start it sooner or later. Not this week, i've just bought some cheese and pâté from the market. That's the thing - if I want to actually lose weight rather than simply not put it on, I can't afford any indulgences at all, and when you're overweight and say you're cutting down it's all right to refuse fattening stuff, but when you're not particularly overweight it sounds picky and borderline obsessive.

The good thing is that the warmer weather is making cycling easier. And my hip is hurting loads less. Well, I say hip, but actually it's my knee that troubles me more, but I know it's the strain put on it by walking awkwardly, plus referred pain. I'm managing not to limp at present, most of the time, thanks to the extra 9 mm lift in my shoe and less pain.

I can't nag you enough - if you're now in your 30s and you get joint pains, do lose the weight now. 20 years isn't long, even if it seems it now, and I'm shocked at losing a third of an inch from my leg because of arthritis damage over the last couple of years. I wasn't that fat - that wasn't the cause of the problem which seems to be heredity plus bad luck, but if you're overweight and quite energetic, that's a hell of a lot of strain on your joints. All I can hope to do now is slow down damage: what's done can't be put back.

Of course, in 20 years techniques will be better for repairing problems, but it's still our job to take care of ourselves and I don't think we can rely on that. After all, will the NHS pay for it by then? Will we afford health insurance? Do you actually want major operations? - a replacement is never as good as the original was. I know how I put the weight on, over quite a few years, and it didn't take much extra.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Dietary madness

In the last month and a bit, I have, for the first time in my life, been on a diet. First, it was a wheat- and yeast-free diet, for a week. My stomach was no longer so bloated after food. This was compounded by the advice of a herbalist, who suggested a selection of foods I was reacting badly to, and had been for years.

So out of the blue, I became a true salad dodger. I can no longer eat spinach, rocket, watercress, lamb's lettuce... All the delicious, iron-rich leaves. No bananas, either. Or tomatoes, which is rather difficult.

I've cut right down on pasta (and all wheat), cut bread out, and on and off for the last three weeks, have also removed sugar from my diet, which includes beer.

I have so much more energy now, it's crazy. I get up in the morning having slept brilliantly, sometimes go for a run, work all day, graze on oatcakes, houmous, carrots, and the occasional pork pie (that's my wheat fix - a small pork pie every other day from the local butchers which uses only the best lips and arseholes in their ingredients. Actually, they really do use good ingredients, butchered locally, and will happily tell you what's in everything. They're great.). Breakfast is free from starch and is usually some variety of tinned fruit. It's a convenience thing. Often it's peaches, prunes, maybe strawberries or pineapple. Only the tinned fruit that's in juice, with no added sugar.

At the end of the day, I cook dinner for my wonderful wife and stepdaughter, then I go to the gym, and do my food when I get back. More often than not recently, it's been a baked potato (with a little salt on, no butter), and roasted veg (generally calabrese and parsnip) with a skinless chicken breast cooked in foil with a tiny bit of olive oil on it.

The end result? I weigh less than 100 kilos and while my waist is not quite down a jeans size, I am close enough to get away with wearing jeans that are a size smaller. It's a tiny amount that needs to go, and could easily be achieved, I think, with a proper core strength workout. Last night's workout involved some toning of the stomach muscles, with a full one minute plank for the first time in my life*! Oh, and some side planks for the oblique muscles too, which will help.

My weight, according to the gym last night, is 99.6 kilos. I am very, very pleased with that – almost as pleased as I am to have been on three runs since Saturday (short runs, but runs neverthless - longest was three miles, and it was bliss), and three gym workouts too.

The only thing bothering me about being sugar-free is the lack of beer, so I might go 'low sugar' when this week is out, and just reincorporate beer into the diet a little bit on weekends...

In short, it's all good, dawg.

*Actually, I count seconds with saying the number in full, then 'mississippi' - this means my seconds are more like 1.2 seconds long (especially when you get past 12), so that's more like a 1:20 plank, which is awesome!

Monday, 9 March 2009

What? But Z wants everything.

Plain porridge for breakfast, Ryvita and Marmite, plain yoghurt and fruit juice for lunch and a banana and more Ryvita this afternoon. Salmon with carrots, courgettes and pasta tonight. Wine, of course. That's it. Those chocolate biscuits do not know the woman they have taken on. I don't even want them any more. They have lost their tasty thrall.

I didn't have time to go to the swimming pool today so Weeza went instead. I think that works just as well, don't you? I didn't, as I'd meant, cycle in to town as it was blowing half a gale and I didn't care for it at all. So no exercise. And none tomorrow because I'll be at an all-day sedentary thing. Still, can't have everything.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

Still resisting

I'd say that the habit that had put on the pounds was biscuits, but it was also the easiest to break. One often accepts a biscuit with a cuppa out of habit more than hunger, and it's only too easy to take a second. But once I'd decided not to, I realised I didn't need them at all and I've hardly had a sweet biscuit in the last 15 months. But again today, I found it hard to resist. There's no excuse this time, I just fancied a chocolate digestive. Both this morning and this afternoon.

No, I didn't have one. It wasn't because I was hungry, just that I fancied it. I ate some Ryvita this afternoon instead, and I daresay the calorific content wasn't that different. It's not the point though. I think that all I want is one chocolate biscuit. But actually, the chocolate biscuit wants me. It wants to be stronger than I am. It's not.

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Z resists the primrose path to biscuit dalliance

It's all gone to pot as, having had an attack of sciatica, I'm distinctly unwilling to take any exercise at all. Today I was going to cycle in to town as it felt a lot better, until I got a migraine, whereupon I didn't want to exert myself. The blurred eyesight recurred while I was shopping so I had to wait until that passed for a while before I came home.

I have the feeling I've probably put on a couple of pounds, so in my ostrich-like fashion I'm not going to weigh myself this week. What a fool. Still, hey. There was one small achievement. I opened a packet of particularly delicious chocolate biscuits for the family, put them on a plate and handed them round. I really wanted one. After a migraine I crave sweet carbohydrates. I didn't have one however, and only ate a rice cake. One biscuit would do little harm, but it would still be stupid as I'd want another one tomorrow.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Z has feeble arms

I've taken a load of exercise in the last couple of days - loads for me, that is. I've cycled or walked about 15 miles as well as a 3/4 of an hour aquacise session. This took my determination to the limit - I have to say that it's the sort of thing that bores me rigid. I'm deeply disinclined to do things with people, and I found it unenjoyably hard. In fact, there were quite a lot of the more bouncy things that I couldn't do because I don't have the balance with my right leg and having to twist to right myself really jars my hip. I was obliged to explain to the concerned leader that I'm fine, I just have a dodgy leg and I'd do what I could. This is all right as an exercise in humility but it wasn't much fun.

As long as I interpreted the exercises to suit myself, I think it was all right as a work-out. There are a couple of things - I need something on my feet to stop me slipping, and it will also enable me to wear a lift in my right shoe, which should give me better balance.

The other thing was that I discovered how feeble my arms are. Shockingly so. You know the long tubular foam thingy - can't think what it's called - we tied a knot, put it around a leg to increase resistance in the water and waved the leg around. I couldn't push it deep enough into the water to get my leg into it. I can't lift my leg awfully high anyway, but I could barely get the whole tube submerged. I used to have really strong arms, but that was a long time ago.

Anyway, I cycled to and from the pool and later cycled to the high school again. I made it nearly up that hill - I think I could have but I was pretty knackered by then so I walked about 5 or 10 yards just for the breather. I cycled up the drive to the car park, straight past the bike sheds and up the slope to the meeting centre doors, chaining it to the guard rail at the top. I explained to the Head that I'm too lazy to walk 50 yards from the bike shed. This is absolutely true, but you see how I manipulate people's view of me 'she says she's lazy but she arrives all hot and steamy on her bike when she could just drive here - she is being humorous and is not lazy at all, alors' - but actually I am. I'll carry a ludicrous amount of stuff to save myself two trips and in any situation I'll automatically work out the most efficient way to move, to save myself any effort at all. This is evidently the reason I've become so miserably unfit. I'd rather just sit and watch you all frolic around happily being energetic.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

Feeling great, feeling shite, feeling good

Yes, that's my diary for the last week since being on the herbalist-imposed 'diet'. I felt great. No bread, I think, was the key. No bloating at all, felt good, had plenty of energy, and weirdly I didn't want to eat lots of carbs like I normally do.

Most odd.

I ate fruit for breakfast most mornings, if not fruit (usually tinned, I must confess, as I discovered tinned lychees are a small fraction of their price in a shell. Go figure) then eggs and sometimes a bit of bacon. Snacked on carrots, and sometimes oatcakes. Ate a normal-ish lunch, which may have been egg-related if I didn't have eggs at brekkie, or may have been jacket-potato related, or fishatarian. Evening meal, which generally came post-gym, was jacket potato with nowt on, plus chicken breast and roast parsnip, broccoli and carrots.

But then the diet thing ended, and I was allowed yeast and wheat and all that crap again. We went out for a meal yesterday to a local pub with my mother in law, and I had a vegetable jambalaya for lunch. Interestingly, they listed the ingredients in the menu, except one – and when it arrived it was fucking covered in celery. Bastards.

Salad is part of what's bee disagreeing with me, so I just ate a couple of bits of raw pepper off that, and ate one small slice of garlic bread, and ate my celery-picked-out jambalaya. Then the child only ate half of her lasagne, so I finished that, too. Then I had dessert, which was some ridiculous toffee thing with a small scoop of ice cream.

I felt shite afterward. Huge, bloated, and shite – and it wasn't a quantity thing, despite what it might read like! The jambalaya was a small portion, and half a child's lasagne... well, not a lot. More than most people might eat, but less than I might. And really, it didn't sit well. Felt totally lethargic afterward too.

So I'm still mostly sticking to what the herbalist advised as regards bread and a few other foods - and beer, hopefully, as she's suggested soemthing to help me handle the full moon. Feel fine today after a big-ish cardio workout last night, and fruit for breakfast this morning. I feel better again. Not bloated, just fine. Will work out again tonight, I think I'm on the cusp of 100 kilos... Weighed myself late last night before I left the gym and I weighed, after a day of food and lots of liquid, 102.3kilos. I'm not unhappy with that.

I'm unhappy that I didn't get to spend any time with my lovely wife though. She was tired and went to bed shortly after I got home, which is fair enough as it was around our usual bedtime. But I had to cool down, have a bath, and relax a bit ready for sleepage, so I stayed up for a while.

I digress. Not seeing Lovely Wife is what I struggle with in terms of exercise. Yes, we do some exercise together, but I do love just chilling with her, playing cards or talking rubbish. Have to find some way to make it all work together that doesn't involve getting out of bed at 5am.

Things I would like to achieve before October:
1: Lose weight on a large scale, but sensibly. I'd like to be lighter, but that's why I'm here. I think the herbalist was a significant step toward this. I don't think it would be outrageous to think I could be a couple of stone lighter by, say, mid-July. Especially if I can perform the next step of the plan – I've spent two months making my legs super-strong and injury-proof; next step is road running in the morning, and gym work in the evening. Split it up so I get more time with the family and more benefit from the exercise. I think it's a winner. So from 102 kilos, I'd like to get down to 90 kilos, a loss of around 2 stone, or 28lbs. Another part of this is continuing to play a bit of football, playing more tennis, and I plan to start circuit training in the next couple of weeks to see how I like it. Body feels great, the training has really worked – just need to up things a little bit now and see where it goes.

2: Run a race. Could be a 10k, more likely a half marathon. On top of that, I'd like to beat my PBs, which wouldn't be that hard – 56:29 for a 10k and 2:08 for a half marathon. A sub-2 hour half would make my year, and a sub-50 10k would be outrageous. But just beating my PBs would do for now.

3: Buy some clothes that fit. t-shirts fit fine, but Lovely Wife keeps pointing out that my jeans look ridiculous. I've gone for very loose fitting jeans for years, partly because my thigh muscles are enormous and it's actually not that easy getting jeans that fit them comfortably. Perhaps buying big jeans helped my mind and waist relax into filling the rest of the space too...

Monday, 23 February 2009

Z Contemplates her Navel

I'm doing a bit of encouraging self-evaluation. It's not so much for now as for me to look back on in months to come. So if you'll bear with me I'll itemise a few changes over the last 16 months.

End of October 2007 - Weight then - nearly 70 kilos, nearly 11 stone. Weight now - well, it'd help if I'd weighed myself before starting this, but I can't be bothered now so I'll go by the last time I did - nearly 60 kilos, 9 stone 6 lbs.

Cycling - started in November 07, I'm still doing it. I still don't enjoy it, but I've kept going and while I'm not a lot fitter I'm better at it. I was no end pleased to get up two hills this morning that I wouldn't have done in the cold weather.

Swimming - I started gently by taking the children to the pool. Then that tailed off and I haven't been for months. Bad. However, that is being dealt with and I'm going to an aquacise session tomorrow. Weeza is planning to go swimming in a time-share hired in a private pool, if I go too I can do exercises then.

Walking - no worse. I avoid walking much, though I'm all right on flat ground. Now I've been told one leg has become shorter than the other, I should be able to correct that with an insole and I hope that will make walking easier and the limp less pronounced (it isn't always heavy but it is always there) which will get me doing more steady but not strenuous walking. Badgerdaddy kindly sorted out walking poles for me (I think it'll be a long time before I am sufficiently unself-aware for me to use them both) and that will help too.

Help - yes, I've asked for help. This is not like me. It's the final remnant of early shyness perhaps, that I don't like to bother people, that I'm worried what they'll think if I make a fuss, that I'll look silly. It's also a remnant of not being girly. Oh you know, think Famous Five. George might have been an irritating little tit swaggering around pretending to be a boy but at least she wasn't wimpish like Anne, always proudly polishing her saucepans and looking in admiration at the clever strong boys. I looked sweet and girly but I wasn't once you knew me, and I associated asking for help because you couldn't manage or because it was hurty with being girly. Sigh. Yes, I know. Anyway, I'm not either shy or with inapproprate ideas of what being capable means any more. I've asked for advice and I'm taking it, which is equally useful.

This morning, I went into a room in search of a tee shirt among stuff dumped on a bed and caught sight of my bare middle in a mirror on the way. You know when you catch yourself unawares and discover what you really look like for an instant? - well, I found that my middle doesn't look at all fat but it looks very flabby. Also, my outer thighs are fine but inner thighs are distinctly wobbly. I'll aim to build up to doing something about more specific exercises with that in mind, but for now I'm more likely to do them for health rather than cosmetic reasons.

So, targets for this year - and I am not beating myself up about this, I'm not going to be at all unrealistic and it'll all be achievable without changing much about my life.

1 Starting tomorrow, get in the swimming pool. If I can't do it for fun, which I can't, overcome my resistance to 'joining in' and exercise with a class. Success criterion(oh go on, let me be a complete twat here) - I'm still doing it at least twice a month by the end of the year.

2. Buy new shoes as necessary, get used to wearing insoles. Get walking shoes, do more walking, use the pole Success criterion - once I've corrected my leg length, limp less when my hip isn't actually hurting.

3. Lose the rest of the weight Success criterion - weigh less than 9 stone by the end of October. This is so achievable. If I really pushed myself I could do it in a couple of months, but I am not being overambitious, that's when I risk failing and discouraging myself.

4. Carry on cycling. Success criterion I think I've already said it.

Right, if I can do all that, won't I be pleased? And I've got 8 months.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Z isn't a stranger to the chocolate bar

It has to be admitted. I don't lose weight by being sensible but not thinking about it. A more-or-less diet has become my way of life, but that just keeps me stable. If I want to take more off I have to work at it.

At least, now the weather is warming up (and I think having my bike tyres pumped up has helped) I'm finding cycling easier. And I'm going to walk a bit more too, in a gentle ambling sort of way. I'm doing these simple little exercises the physiotherapist gave me too, though they will not lose me any weight for sure. I think the point of them is to promote the release of more synovial fluid to lubricate the joints a bit more. But for me, the exercise I take is to tone me and raise my metabolic level, not to build muscle as such. It isn't enough to burn fat either. So it's back to diet.

I'm becoming casual, I can see it. I seem to have decided that if I am pretty strict for a few days I can lose a pound and then relax for the next few weeks. It's a bit dieting for the lazy. Hm. Yes. That seems to sum it up.

Monday, 16 February 2009

I went to see a herbalist...

A real one, not a drug dealer. I went to her on Trophy Wife's advice, as some things seemed to be giving me an upset stomach, and I wondered if she might be able to help me with some skin problems.

So anyway, according to her tests, I need to stop eating, which should increase my weight loss considerably.

Actually, what her tests showed were some things I strongly suspected - that my body has a problem with iron-rich leaves, and tomatoes, for example. After our chat, I'm off wheat and anything with yeast in for a week, and then we see how it goes.

On the plus side, I feel pretty good. On the bad side, she also advised no starch for breakfast, and as toast with Marmite is already out, that also rules out cereal. I've had six eggs the last couple of days, so I'm trying to ease off those a bit... What does that leave? Crisps?

Other meals are fine. Though I've been advised off quinoa too. Pasta, apparently, is fine though. Durum wheat is not part of the problem, I am told, as long as I have it in moderation.

It also means, interestingly, that I will make Stepdaughter and TW's dinner, and make my own separately. This is a good thing, as I can eat a bit later, for example, after going to the gym in the evening. They are both used to eating pretty early, which I've struggled with a bit, so this could work quite well, and mean I get some exercise in. I don't like exercising after food, y'see, so this is ideal; exercise after work, until, say, 7pm, then return, wash, and eat. Job done.

I weighed myself yesterday as I'm curious as to what this will do by the end of my seven days, particularly without bread. I weighed 102.5 kilos yesterday, and I must admit, I feel pretty damn good.

Oooh, I could have raw carrots for breakfast, maybe.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Z does up a Zip

You remember those boy's jeans I mentioned here and here? I put 'em on again today and, though I've only lost a pound or two since October (oh dear, I'll have to do something about that soon) I could do up the zip with not much trouble at all. I mean, no lying on the floor or anything like that. So progress again.

Unfortunately, all that displaced flesh sort of bulged up over the waistband. Still, shall we not think about that and focus on the positive?

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

whales aren't always weighed, even at the station

Well, I phoned this morning (because I am resolute), and was a bit disconcerted to be offered an appointment at 3 post meridiem et hodie (3 o'clock this afternoon, darlings). I was already dressed in quite light clothes, but changed in the afternoon to less revealing knickers, just in case, and removed my cardi, for ounces count when you are likely to be weighed. I cycled in to the surgery, for it was bright and sunny, albeit cold. Ice still lingered where the sun hadn't shone (no need to check your arses, darlings, I don't mean there).

Anyway - and this is advice for anyone who ever needs to go to the doctor and knows what effect they wish to have - I gave the impression I wanted to. I like and respect my doctor, let's start with that. I also know him and have done for many years, as my children were at school with his, the better part of 30 years ago. He is a fine diagnostician and a fine doctor. He is straightforward and kind, but his bedside manner is a bit limited. He mostly respects you, if you are intelligent, if you take responsibility for yourself, though he is quick to support those who can't help themselves. He switches off a bit if he thinks you are being a wuss. That's fair enough, actually I'd love to be a wuss but none of my family supports that either (actually, my mum did but i didn't like being mummied so I spurned fussing, which is a bit of a bummer now, really) so I have to act strong and independent so that, when I flag, I get the encouragement I secretly crave all the time.

Anyoldhoo, this is the chap who suggested that I called in every few months to tell him how I was getting along, then was puzzled when i did. So it's been a year now. So I was sensible and practical. I explained that I'd been fine; markedly better in fact, during the summer but much worse once the weather turned cold and wet (it was wet most of the summer, it's the combination that counts) and that I didn't expect anything to be done about that, it was simply an observation (didn't actually say that conclusion, shrugs etc say a lot). However, my knee hurts a lot more and limits me somewhat. He asked if it's the same knee as the hip, and suggested it's referred pain. I agreed that I think that too, but that my concern is that my (sometimes heavy) limp might damage the knee or the other hip. I wondered if I might get advice somewhere about what I could do to prevent that.

Darlings, I said the right thing. He said he thought that was a splendid idea and that I can self-refer to the local cottage hospital's physiotherapist. He also said that when I might be referred to a consultant with a view to a new hip is my call. I explained that it's a bit difficult, not knowing whether I'm 2, 5 or 10+ years away from an operation. I explained that he wasn't helping in that respect. I respected his inability to help. Or was that inclination? Doesn't matter. I didn't use either word. "I quite see that I asked you an unfair question, but you haven't actually helped..." was pretty well what I said. He said that if I can wait until post-60, that will be good. But it was meant (I appreciate, as usual it was unspoken) to hint not advise.

He said that he thought my suggestion (physiotherapy) was a good one and we left each other happy. "You look very well" he said at the end, his glance (for I am adept at reading glances) meaning 'you've lost weight and are better for it". I assured him that I'm in excellent health. He didn't suggest weighing me. It wasn't mentioned. We're both very polite, very English and slightly to the upper end of middle class. What is unsaid doesn't need to be said, because we both know what we meant.

That is, he'll do what I ask, but I have to ask and I'll only do so when I have to because my quality of life is impaired to an extent that is not acceptable to me. Neither before nor stupidly beyond. In other words, mutual respect.

Fuck. And other sweary words. On the other hand, I wasn't weighed. which has to be good, yes?

Oh, and he asked me to move my leg about a bit to check my knee. That is, to raise it in a goose-steppingly sort of way, and then to try to kick my own bum. He said my knee is flexible. Which isn't unexpected, I'd have been disconcerted to have been told I've knee problems. Nonetheless, as a result of such exertions, it's been hurting all evening. Will you respect me less if I say 'fuck' again?

He also recommended a stick. Not a walking stick, but one of those poles, you know. Oh dear lord. What a tit I will look. I so motherfuckingly despair. In an awfully British and sensible and slightly upper-middle-class way, of course, as you know.


Sunday, 1 February 2009

Z plans to procrastinate

i've been quiet, after a brief January flourish, because not much has happened on the dieting front. I cycled into school three days out of five and didn't enjoy a moment of it, mostly because I'm so damn slow. One day, I was overtaken on a slight uphill incline by a lady who I know to be at least 80 years of age. I can't help it and I can't go faster, any more than I can walk faster than I do, or can not limp nearly all the time. I am building myself up to go and talk to the doctor again.

Not that I know quite what I'm going to say. I don't know how much it 'should' hurt or how much I 'should' limp at the stage I am, which I don't know either. I should find out, I suppose, and I guess that's what I'll enquire about. He said, when I first went to him, that it's my call. He'll refer me to a consultant when I ask him to. But being referred doesn't necessarily mean that I think I'm getting near the time I should have a new hip. I find it hard to believe that, though I recognise I could be refusing to accept it. But it doesn't hurt *that* much and last summer it was fine most of the time.

The thing is, I'm okay about the hip. What concerns me is that limping is putting a strain on my knee and my spine and my other leg and that this will bring nearer the time when any or all of them will give me trouble.

There's another reason I'm disinclined to go to the doctor, which is that he will want to weigh me. He nearly had to force me on the scales last time and then I nearly cried, which really rather upset him (which was quite sweet of him). And oh lord, isn't that humiliating - both the being weighed and the crying.

Anyway, I'm going to make the appointment. But probably not tomorrow. I think I can pretend to be much too busy for a while yet.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Mmmmmm, exercise. Again.

I feel bloody brilliant. Been to the gym three times this week, and had an hour of pretty intense five-a-side football. I've been shaving up to 500 calories a day off with each workout, and lordy knows how much with the football. I've been eating smaller portions, too, and feel much better for it. Well, mostly I've been eating smaller portions.

After football last night, for example, I had a big-ish piece of coley (which had been coated in flour and nothing else, then cooked on a griddle pan with the tiniest amount of oil used), a few tomatoes, and some garlic bread, just a few slices. I snacked later, with a small slice of goat's cheese, and some sultanas, and that's about it. Oh, and about 10 Pringles.

It's going good – but next week, I'm away with work from Monday to Thursday, and at least two of those nights will involve alcohol. But my legs feel absolutely incredible, the running is going nicely (on the treadmill at least!) so I should get a few miles in while I'm away.

In short, the plan is going smoothly.

Friday, 23 January 2009

No idea

I've eaten without thinking about it. I had a Christmas dinner, which was a carvery involving beef and pork, and bread and butter pudding, and I'm chomping my way slowly, with Ro's assistance, through a bar of Green & Black's ginger chocolate, and I ate duck liver pate (excuse me not being arsed to put in accents) and cheese for lunch - just let's take it that the good work of last week is undone, but that doesn't mean I'm off diet as I'll make up for it and I'm happy to lose a pound a month. You can only do so much and I've done it. We've been invited out for dinner tomorrow night and I'll happily eat everything, in quite small helpings, that's put in front of me.

I ran out of time and so didn't cycle into school this morning, and was so glad of that when I came out at lunchtime and found the temperature was several degrees lower, the wind had got up and it was raining. A woman can only do so much. This whole exercise malarkey is getting right on my tits at the best. I think it will have to be accepted that I do it from duty and not from love and so it's only worth appealing to my sense of guilt.

Anyway, tonight I'm getting slightly pissed because it's Friday. Tomorrow, it'll be Saturday. Did I mention we're invited out for dinner? Cheers, darlings. No drunkenness because I'm busy on Sunday, but some merriment and absolutely no sodding diet.

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Food diary 9 - where are the veggies?

All fallen apart again. Oh dear. Lucky I lost a month's weight in the first week and so have nothing more to prove for a while.

Breakfast - porridge. Yes, one day I'll get fed up and move back to dry toast and plain yoghurt.

Lunch - I went out to lunch and I was the hostess, although I didn't pay (Yay, earth absolutely does not have anything to show more fair) - a tart containing sweet potato, *another vegetable*, Binham Blue cheese. The pastry was a round of puff pastry. On it was some rocket with a light dressing. To follow, chocolate cheesecake adorned with a cape gooseberry, otherwise known as physallis, which quite possibly isn't spelt like that. I didn't eat the last third of the cheesecake, but it was my duty to order, otherwise the others would have felt obliged not to have pudding either. A glass of red wine. I had to. I'd remarked on its antigermacious qualities.

Dinner - kedgeree and peas. It was quite, but not very low fat. Two glasses of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.

Oh, and I shared a ricecake with the dog.

Monday, 19 January 2009

Food diary 8


Leftover kedgeree, which there wasn't much of. Plain yoghurt.

Several ricecakes and two (small loaf) slices of toast and Marmite, no butter

A cookie (I went out at 6 for a meeting and didn't get home until 10)

Leftover cauliflower cheese and roasted sweet potato/garlic/shallots

2 glasses wine

2 squares Green & Black chocolate

Oh dear, what poor nutrition. Can't be bothered to do the calories, which probably aren't huge, but not how I'd choose to eat too often. Shall we count the chocolate and wine as fruit 'n' veg to make it look better?

Z is pleased

Indeed, I am. I've weighed myself and I'm 9 stone 6 pounds. The loss of a pound in a week is a lot for me, especially as I know perfectly well I'd put on a pound or two before Christmas which I had to get off before I weighed myself because I'm too wimpish and tender to be disappointed.

I have to confess that both times I've weighed myself only in underwear (though so I had when I was 9 1/2 stone back in October) which isn't a good idea because when I finally return to the doctor for a ceremonial weigh-in, obviously I'll be dressed then. But now I'm wearing jeans and a sweater, so obviously they'd add several pounds and I frankly wanted encouragement and reward.

It's interesting though that last week was the first time I'd actually written down all that I ate, and it seems to have paid off in weight loss. It is boring though, both to write down and for you few visitors to read. But then dieting isn't exactly the most interesting thing you can do with your life and at least this seems to be helping.

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Food diary 7

I'm finding writing down what I eat as tedious as you are reading it, so I don't think I'll do it much longer. It has been useful though, and is showing me that I'm eating less between meals than I was a year ago. Sure, I'd trained myself to eat ricecakes and veggies, but I still snacked on a lot of them. On the other hand, I'm more relaxed about eating something extra if I want to because I think I can trust myself not to want to do it too often and start getting into bad habits.

I had a big Sunday lunch today but I won't want much this evening. I'm thinking oatcakes, fruit and yoghurt, maybe a bit of leftover chicken.

Anyway, today I started with porridge - bet you didn't see that one coming. For lunch, a slice of roast chicken, a chipolata, half a rasher of bacon, two quarters of roast potato, two pieces of roast parsnip, sprouts, peas. I don't thicken gravy and it's just meat juices, vegetable cooking water, sherry and a stock cube. A glass and a quarter of champagne. An ice-cream cone with a small scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream. I wonder why I hyphenated that the first time and not the second.

Now I'm going to cut up a carrot or two and eat it with a glass of red wine. Later, the oatcakes etc.

I can't be bothered to work out calories which are boring anyway - it's a useful exercise to check I'm not eating more than I think I am though. What does sometimes surprise me is how you can whack up calories with a small addition to what you normally eat, like a single brownie or muffin, or a cappuccino if you normally drink black coffee, or a sauce on your meat.

I watched that programme about the American boy of 19 who weighed nearly 60 stone. Didn't end up with the feeling he'd get to the 14 stone target, or if he got near it that he'd stick there. Poor lad. What a life.

I have to say, I'm trying hard and I'll be disappointed if, when I weigh myself next, I haven't gone below 9 1/2 stone. I know I'm not taking much exercise though and I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that. I think I'll just have to plug away at the cycling, even if it's only a few miles a week and hope to get more time and enthusiasm in the spring. It's no good saying I'll try the gym at present as I haven't got much spare time and I will simply use that as an excuse not to go. There's no point in saying I won't if I'm determined enough, because I'm not, at present. I'd rather eat less.

I'm convinced. Convinced, I say!

By Z's persuasive argument about the whole food thing. About not eating shitloads. Or rather, about eating shitloads and not being surprised when weight doesn't fall off...

So, the plan is to make a few basic changes. I have quite a high-fibre diet, so that won't change; I will make small changes at first, and see how it feels. I usually start the day with four slices of wholemeal bread plus Marmite, and of course come kind of spready lard; I think the spready lard can go. In fact, I may switch to a particularly lovely muesli kind of cereal they stock at my local health food shop, instead. It doesn't have any nuts in, so is pretty damned healthy as these things go. No sugar, all organic ingredients, and it's bloody lovely. And if I'm hungry mid-morning, I need to make sure there are plenty of carrots in the house, as I do love raw veg, as does Z.

Other meals, I need to eat more slowly, and more thoroughly. Be very regular in the timing of meals, too – if I eat breakfast late, then making all my meals late makes sense to me, rather than eating fewer times and probably over-eating each time.

Combine this with a three-mile run every morning except one and four or five gym visits a week, and we'll see progress. The only problem is, will work get in the way yet again? My publisher has enlisted more help for me, with two new contributors to one of the magazines, which is a huge, huge help. So hopefully I won't work myself into the ground, and will have time to do the exercise I enjoy so much.

Think about it – no lardy toast in the morning could see a reasonable drop in calorieness. Combine that with a 400-calorie-killing run in the morning and another 400-800 calories in the evening… Yes, it will mean I actually eat more for fuel, but I will be burning a lot more too.

I think it will work, and give me a bit of inspiration to continue.

That said, I'm off with work for two weeks soon. Five days in London, one in Stansted, then three days in Munich, one in Maidstone, and four in Exeter. That long away from home, eating in restaurants etc... The only way through all that will be to take a lot of running gear, and to actually use it. Hell of an inspiration – for example, there are few things I enjoy more than running in foreign countries. And Munich's lovely. Running in London can also be great fun, as long as you do it very early or very late, and pick your streets with a bit of care; and Exeter has a really lovely canal path for running on, which is perfection itself. And by then, I'll be stronger and fitter too, so by the time I hit Exeter I may have five miles plus in me.

I do annoy myself sometimes. It's clear to me how much I love exercise, but I get to do it so little! Take yesterday for example – the ladies in my life were out of the house, and despite a bit of a hangover, I wanted to go to the gym. But instead, I looked around, saw that washing needed hanging, more washing doing, a load of washing-up too, plus I had to shop for dinner that night… Well, I didn't work out at all. But I did get to do some second-hand book shopping, so it wasn't all bad.

I'm rambling, and talking total bollocks; but thanks for the inspiration, Z. x

Saturday, 17 January 2009

Biking weather

It is a lot milder today, with a strong west wind. It rained earlier on but when it stopped everything dried up quickly. I reluctantly dressed up with coat and scarf to cycle in to town and found that it was easier than it has been the last few weeks and I could cycle up the hill to the post office. My knee hurt afterwards, and on the way home my other leg was doing all the active pedalling, but it still proves that it's cold weather that causes a lot of the problem.

Cycling home was a real effort though. I did have full panniers, with lots of vegetables, steak, a chicken and sausages, several tins and other food, and the wind was in my face, but the labour I made of it was quite absurd. At one time I almost stopped and had to stand up in the saddle to put all my weight on the pedals or else I'd have had to get off and walk.

Roll on spring. It should be much better then.

Food diary 6

I've just discovered a calorie counter to put on my google home page. It is a bit rough and ready, but then so am I. Ho ho. Joke. Anyway, it works out how many you have in each food, assuming they have it on the page - took me a while to discover that wine comes under dinner whilst cider comes under beverages. It suggests that I had about 1200 calories yesterday from an allowance of about 1450 - it gives the allowance for weight maintenance so I put in the weight I want to be, not what I am. It looks about the right amount anyway, I know I can't eat anything like the 2.000 calories a day charts always blithely offer women and not put on weight, but if I were 6 inches taller I'd need that and more, I daresay.

So, today so far - the usual bowl of porridge. And as I said, I reckon that to be 130 calories because of the small amount of milk I have, although the chart says 157. I'll go with the latter and eat it in a couple of ricecakes later, because that will simplify matters.

I didn't have lunch until nearly 3 o'clock (having had the ricecakes) and so stir-fried various vegetables with some chicken that needed using up and Chinese noodles. I shared it with Ro who felt rather lucky, having just come downstairs in search of food, to find me about to cook that late. 237 calories (that is, Chinese Chow Mein noodles seems to approximate) according to the chart.

I'm a little disappointed to find this google calorie counter didn't retain what I put in it so I had to start the day again. So I've added what I'm planning to have for dinner, that is, sirloin steak, baked potato (yes, baking is my default way of cooking potato as I think boiled is dull and anything else is more trouble, also I have an Aga so it means washing, pricking, shoving in and forgetting for an hour and nothing could be easier), kale and tomato with 2 glasses of wine. Actually, I suspect that my idea of a glass of wine is a bit larger than theirs, so maybe I should be scrupulous and add another glass to the counter.

Probably, I'll also have some fruit and maybe some more ricecakes and raw vegetables. I've added all those and a couple of squares of Green & Black's chocolate. Yes, I'm indulging no end today. Or so I intend. This all comes to 1413 out of 1453 calories but frankly I know that if I eat like this every day I'll put weight on, not lose it.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Food diary 5

Today was not at all interesting, as far as food is concerned, except that I've worked out that my porridge breakfast contains about 130 calories which is a lot less than I'd thought. It feels more sustaining.

Breakfast -Porridge

Lunch - baked potato (ate skin and all) with cheese

during afternoon - 4 or 5 mini-Cheddars

early evening - 1 rice cake, 3 raw carrots, 1 glass of wine

Dinner - 1 goat cheeses and red onion tartlet, curly kale, calabrese, small baked potato (plain). Another glass of wine.

I'll eat fruit later. Probably a pear and a satsuma.

Oh, and despite the relatively high fat food, I've eaten very little so it's an even day.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Food diary 4

I finally got around to weighing myself today. I have some splendid old scales with weights which are very accurate and since the weights and sliding bar are at face level I can read them, which is more than I can do with bathroom scales (yes, I could buy new ones but Victorian is usually better made). Anyway, I am still nine and a half stone - or rather, I'm that again, because I strongly suspect I put weight on and took it off again. So, since I didn't diet for about two and a half months and did rather let go over Christmas, this is not discouraging.

So, today's food -some of which hasn't been eaten yet so I may have to add more later

Breakfast - porridge as usual

Lunch - I went out for lunch, so ate more than usual. Lasagne, 2 tomatoes stuffed with rice, baby corn, peas. Small slice of lemon torte (served with a blob of whipped cream which i didn't eat). 1 chocolate mint.

5.45pm - I large raw carrot, 1 stick of celery, 1 glass of red wine.

Dinner, when I get around to cooking it - A mixture of vegetables, probably turnip, cauliflower, carrot and courgettes, with a cheese sauce. I won't eat much of the sauce. While I'm cooking I'll eat more raw carrots and possibly a turnip. I love raw vegetables. I'll drink another glass of wine.

Possibly a gaining weight day. Evens at best.

Later, I ate an apple and a satsuma.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Food diary 3

It all fell apart.....

I went to London and had to go almost straight out to a meeting when I got back. So I hadn't eaten much all day and I ate crisps (provided by me for everyone) at the meeting. I had dinner when I got back. Not many veggies today either. Oh well.

Breakfast - porridge

Lunch - cheese sandwich made with delicious crusty white bread lightly buttered. 2 cherry (I wrote cheery!) tomatoes, 2 slices of cucumber, small spoonful of coleslaw. Half a pint of fine Adnams' bitter.

Tea - a corn cake (which is like a thin rice cake only it's squashed popcorn. One has 16 calories)

At the meeting - some crisps. I'll look up the size of the packet if I can be arsed and estimate I ate 1/10th of it. 2 cheese biscuits (Cheddars)

Dinner - salmon, chips, broccoli. 2 glasses of wine.

Hm. This is as much an alcohol as a food diary, isn't it? There is little chance that I'll cut down. I did for a while at the start of this diet, but one glass of wine is like foreplay without the sex. Nice, but frustrating.

Anyhoo, this goes down as a day when I don't lose weight. However, it follows two days when I should have. I don't think I overindulged enough to put weight on. So, so far we've got minus, minus, level for the week.

*cough* There wasn't much wine left in the bottle. Now there isn't any. Fortunately, wine counts as fruit, doesn't it?. So it's a good thing really.
*cough cough* I just ate a white chocolate Ferrero Rocher (a mixed box came as a Christmas present) as all the others had been eaten. It wasn't worth it. It was overly sweet, not good chocolate and peculiarly dusted with desiccated (note I can spell desiccated) coconut. I think the others will be put in the bin.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Food diary 2

Breakfast - porridge

Lunch - 3 bantam eggs (= 2 hen's eggs) scrambled with a smidgen of butter. 1 thick slice wholemeal toast. 1 apple

Dinner - Kedgeree, made with onion, celery, a little calabrese (to use it up) rice, spices, smoked fish, Greek yoghurt, a little butter. Peas. Cabbage. 2 1/2 glasses wine.

Blimey, I'm bored already at just writing down this meagre amount of food. And I'm not cheating. How come I'm doing well if I lose 2 lbs in a month? I reckon I should lose that every sodding day.

I suppose the overeating day will happen any moment.

I'm going to eat an orange. Add to the above, please.

Food diary 1

I know that the amount I've been eating has been creeping up. So I'm going to record what I eat for a couple of weeks. It might just get too boring to put down here, but here is where i'll start.

I won't put down every glass of water or cup of tea. I don't usually drink anything (other than alcoholic drinks) but water, milkless tea or milkless coffee and none of those have calories.

I measured the oats I have in porridge and it was a bare ounce - 25 grams, let's say, which I cook with half a cup of milk, half a cup of water and a pinch of salt. According to a porridge oats packet I browsed, a portion is 45g and 340ml milk. I couldn't actually drink that much milk, never mind have it sloshed around porridge. Anyway, I suppose recording isn't enough, so I should sometime work out calories.

I noted what I ate yesterday, so here it is. Day 1 is Monday 12th January

Breakfast - porridge

Mid-morning - 1 small plain biscuit

Lunch - 1 bowl of home-made minestrone soup. 1 slice of wholemeal toast (bread and toast are normally eaten dry)

Afternoon - 4 thick rice cakes

Dinner - 2 sea bass fillets. Cabbage, baked potato (nothing added), roast sweet potato, garlic, shallots in olive oil. 2 glasses rose wine.

Day 2 follows, though may be updated if I eat more later.

Monday, 12 January 2009


Like Badgerdaddy's friend, you can lose a vast amount of weight quickly, but only if you are really overeating and go to a very strict diet and were pretty damn fat to start with. I couldn't do that. Over a period of three months, I was able to lose a pound a week in my thirties, and that was pretty good going for me. I don't think I could have lost much more, maybe an extra pound a month - but I only wanted to lost just under a stone from 9 stone, so there wasn't much scope. If I'd weighed twice as much, I might have lost it twice as fast or better if I'd lived on chips and Coke to start with.

But the thing is, it isn't necessary to be demoralised if you don't shed weight like that. And it isn't necessary for all of us - for no one unless there is a serious health problem. And, just as seeming to eat no more than a friend, but putting on weight when he/she is thin is an irrelevant comparison, dieting stringently yet losing weight at half the rate of someone else is too. This isn't a competition. And breaking the rules isn't putting one over anyone. You can eat whatever you like. It's your choice, Choose it if you want. Just don't say you can't help it because it isn't true.

I've got plenty of friends who 'couldn't' give up smoking. When they developed cancer or a heart problem, they gave up smoking (my stepfather was one of those). I knew I was overweight. When I was told my arthritic hip would hurt less if I lost weight, I did just that (well, I did, I haven't recently). My friend Jo, after having her first baby, was ill for a year. Eventually, coeliac disease was diagnosed, triggered by pregnancy. She really misses bread, biscuits and beer and gluten free substitutes for the first two don't quite cut it. But she doesn't touch them. She knows how crap she will feel and that it will damage her health. Likewise, diabetics adjust. If we give in to a craving, we choose to eat or drink or smoke or do something which we know is not good but which we choose not to resist.

I'm iffy about the idea of dieting clubs although I know they have spectacular results for some people. It's the tyranny of the weekly weigh-in that puts me off - well, as well as me being deeply solitary and unfriendly with no team spirit. But weight fluctuates. Especially among women or those with quirky bowels who save it up a bit (sorry) or pretty well anyone else. I just couldn't deal with the thing of gaining weight as often as I lost it. I know, that's me and the feel-good factor matters more to me than to some.

So, I've pontificated enough, and I wonder how to get started again with weight loss. Actually, I think I've put on a few pounds and lost them again, but I won't have lost any weight until I'm below 9 1/2 stone. I haven't weighed myself properly as I've been so busy (this isn't the pathetic excuse it sounds) but I'm not much bigger as my size 10 skirt is still roomy. Remember how short I am and my small frame, I'm by no means slim.

Saturday, 3 January 2009

It doesn't have to be fair

Going back to the question of losing weight by exercise (because Badgerdaddy is sure to pull me up over it) yes, it's possible if you do enough. I know a bloke who cycled across America, coast to coast from Virginia to California, in 3 months and, after the first week, realised he had to double the amount of food he was eating to keep pace with the work he did. But he had been training and preparing for this trip and was used to going to the gym and cycling about 30 miles a day, and he hadn't lost weight on that - he wasn't trying to, he was lean and fit already. So if you're going down the hard exercise route, do that for its own sake. I'm sure you'll lose weight, but it'll take longer if you haven't changed the way you eat.

Many of us have dieted before and either lost weight and put it on again or not lost much at all. So I think you need to work out what you are eating wrong and why. We often say that we don't really eat that much and we've got friends who eat a lot more and don't put on weight, but that's got nothing to do with it. If we're overweight it's because we eat and drink more and move around less than we need to. It doesn't help to compare ourselves with others, unless it's to see what they are doing right, maybe unconsciously, and therefore why they are thinner than we are.

Once you know what you're doing wrong, you must address the reason. Then, you need to work out how to get around that. I find that I must always have something to snack on, but if it is pretty uninteresting and low fat then I won't be tempted to pig out on it, and it doesn't really matter if I do. If you have a strong craving for a food, then it's best to go without. Sweet and fatty foods cause cravings. If you have a really low fat diet for a week and then eat some chips, the fat will coat the roof of your mouth and you'll wonder why you never noticed it before.

But there are various reasons we overeat and it's not enough to simply decide not to do it again. For example, if you've been brought up to clear your plate, it can be really hard not to. If you're sociable, then as you chat, you eat and you don't notice how much you are eating. If you are unhappy or lonely, food is a comfort. it's a great comfort. Don't underestimate that. If we don't care much about food then we'll just shovel it in, but if we're a gourmet then we cook elaborately. We may not be aware of hidden fat, such as in dressed salads or sauces. Then there's those of us who eat carefully all week, go out on a Friday night and eat several packs of crisps and nuts with our gallon of beer, finishing with cheese-laden pizza on the way home.

So, identify what makes you overeat and what you can do about it. Just as importantly, work out what you can't help or what triggers you might be able to avoid. Be honest with yourself, but don't do it with an attitude of self-hate. That is part of the problem. We don't like our bodies when we're fat. Eating sensibly is not a punishment. It's a choice. And, sorry to point it out, but it's for life. If you diet, lose weight and then stop dieting and taking exercise, odds are that you'll regain all you lost and more, in a dismayingly short time. No, it's not fair.

Friday, 2 January 2009

Z Declares that she is Right (which may lead to unpopularity)

Okay, I'm going to stick my neck out and give advice. And you might not want to hear it, in which case read no further, or you might disagree, in which case tell me and I'll back down, argue or acknowledge different ways of looking at the same thing, or read it and think that maybe I've got a point, whether you intend to be *inspired* by it or not.

If you're saying 'I really should lose some weight', you're not going to.
If you're saying 'I must go on a diet' you probably won't.
If you're saying 'I'm dieting from now onwards, and no, I won't have pudding, thanks', you might.
If the doctor says 'You need to lose weight' you will genuinely try to.
If you quietly decide that enough is enough, you're doing it from now on and you don't care how long it takes or how hard it is, then you probably will give it your best shot.

So, let's say that you have definitely decided to get fitter, lose weight or both. The decision isn't worth a small, hard, shit. Nor is joining a gym or buying a bike. You've got to use it. Consistently. Quite possibly, forever.

I have done it both ways (that is, dieting with and without extra deliberate exercise), so I know that you can lose weight without taking any more exercise, and as you do so, you will move about faster, so that will help. But exercise tones you up and you will, immensely gratifyingly, look thinner than you actually are, so taking some exercise is a Pretty Good Thing, and it helps with the dieting.

Before you go all out with a heavy-duty exercise programme, consider what you want more: - to lose weight or to become fit and/or muscular. Because the latter doesn't necessarily mean the former. A friend of mine, told she had to lose weight before having an operation, exercised like mad but didn't eat differently, and she hardly lost anything. They operated anyway and she feels better, but she's still fat. She now thinks it's impossible to lose weight. Exercise tones and fittens, but doesn't make you lose weight.

Exercise does raise your metabolism, so you're more likely to lose weight if you diet as well. So, if you want to lose weight, exercise enough to raise metabolism and no more. Muscle-building makes you weigh more. And if you're not dieting too, you'll use the increased muscle as an excuse (which may well be true) for not losing weight.

So, you decide to go to the gym/go running/walk to work/cycle/swim. You are full of determination and enthusiasm. You work hard and lose several pounds in the first weekend/week/month. You multiply that by 52/12 and say that's what you'll lose by this time next year.

I'm not saying this is impossible, but it's very unlikely. Lower your expectations. Bear in mind that there will be weeks, maybe whole months, where you will be too busy or on holiday or going to parties and you will not lose any weight at all, and you may gain a couple of pounds. Even if you diet steadily, crash dieting for a year is unhealthy and leads to diminishing returns. Sure, we've all read about the people who've lost half their body-weight in a year, but they are unusual (and I'd like to see them in 5 or 10 years and see if they've kept the weight off, because I think many of them will be bigger than when they started). Most of us aren't unusual. Most of us eat a reasonable diet, with a few bad habits, and there just isn't enough to cut out to be able to lose that much without risking ill-health. Keeping up strength is important, especially when you're over 40, or have small children, or hope to have children, or have a demanding job, or don't want to risk osteoporosis when you're older, or don't want to catch every infection going. This means me and you and every other bugger.

Losing weight slowly and steadily is best and we all know that, but it's boring and a real pain to have to keep buying new clothes in a smaller size (unless you like buying lots of cheap clothes) but nevertheless, it's the most reliable way of losing weight and keeping it off. If you go on a crash diet, you may well lose weight quickly but the odds are you haven't devised a sustainable and better eating pattern and it'll all go on again as soon as you stop dieting.

10% - 15% of your body weight in a year is a really good and impressive weight loss. If you now weigh 100kg (random amount because the maths is easy), wouldn't you love to weigh 90? Or 85? So why do you think you have to lose 1 kg every week for a year? It's not on, is it? You will not lose half your body-weight. Relax. Losing 1 or 2 kg a month is superb. Even half that is good news. Especially if you've actually arrested weight gain. If you've been gaining a steady 3 kg a year for the last few years, gaining nothing is an advance. Particularly if you're fitter and healthier because you are taking some exercise and noticing what you eat.

Ach, this is too long and I've been opinionated long enough. I'll be back with the rest. And I'll still be annoyingly right.