Green Machine

Well, it’s the end of an era. The Hot Roll Man cometh no more. He says he’s not getting enough business from our company, so he will no longer swing by around 9.20AM with limp white rolls filled with greasy bacon and egg or sausage or black pudding (ew). He shall no longer deliver the Scones of Temptation. I don’t know how many lots of 50p I’ve squandered on his giant sultana scones, sometimes with strawberry jam, sometimes just butter.

This can only be a good thing, really. It was pure torture, hearing the receptionist announce his arrival over the intercom, then sitting there twitching as my colleagues trooped off for their breakfast, arguing with myself as to whether I’d join them. For awhile there I was forming such a Scone Habit that I made sure I left all my cash and cards at home so I wouldn’t have the means to buy one. But that’s the end of that, the scones will have to live on in my memory. Ooh all that butter and fruity goodness, I can just taste it right now as I write. Non-complex carbohydrated heaven.

. . .

Remember that World’s Healthiest Foods site told me I need to eat more greens? Well I finally got round to doing something about that. First of all, what the hell constitutes a green? According to this article, we’re talking arugula (rocket), beet greens, bok choy, collard greens, dandelion greens, kale, lamb’s quarters, mustard greens, spinach, swiss chard, and watercress.

I do my shopping online at Tesco and their range of greens was a little sparse. I ended up buying a bag of what was simply called, GREENS. No doubt picked by third-world slaves and doused in chemicals and shipped to Britain at great expense, but I was desperate. When the shopping arrived last night I just sorta gawked at the bag, looking for an ingredient list to tell me what this chopped up stuff was. Kale? Chard? But it just says, GREENS. Is this some British word that I don’t know of? Like how you say aubergine for eggplant, and courgette for zucchini? Are greens an actual vegetable?

Now I am trying to figure out what to do with the little bastards for dinner tonight. If anyone has any recipe ideas please let me know!

. . .

Once again I am having to rethink how to best approach the remaining 10-15 kilos I need to lose and/or the quest to comfortably fit into a size 14, whatever happens first. Like I’ve said before, weekly weigh-ins work really well when you have a lot of lard to lose, as they are a great indicator of progress particularly when it might not show in measurements for awhile. But now they just seem to mess with my head. Over the past two months the scale has gone up three kilos then down again. I’m back now at 85.6 kg.

How I react to the scale each week depends on my mood. A gain could either mean, "Well screw this, I’m getting some chocolate!" or, "Whoa, lardy! Better cut back on the grease". A loss can mean, "Huzzah, keep up the good work" or "Let us celebrate with buttered toast and jam". While the Wednesday Weigh-In was instrumental in getting me focused for Operation Wedding Dress earlier this year, these days it just encourages stupid behaviour. Like last night the Scottish Companion suggested we have a few oven chips (fries) with our vegie burgers and salad, and I freaked out thinking, "Oooh, all those chips sitting in my gut the night before the weigh-in? Can’t we have them tomorrow night instead?".

That is bloody ridiculous! The chips fitted in just fine to my daily allowance of fat/cals etc, yet I didn’t want it Weighing Me Down for this morning’s scale hop. It shouldn’t matter if you eat chips on the day of your weigh in or five minutes after it, you still ate the damn chips. It is much more sane to look at the chips and decide if you want them to be part of the OVERALL picture. Is it okay to eat them in the grand scheme of things? How does it compare to other stuff you’ve eaten lately? Have you made enough crappy choices already or is it something you feel okay with? What will it mean for your overall progress? Etc etc etc. That is a better base for making decisions, not that tiny wedge of time that you’re on the scale.

That said, I know if I don’t check in with the scale I tend to wander off track and become less conscious about what I eat. I need to keep an eye on the overall direction of the number. Yet when I hop on weekly I turn it into an elaborate ritual, making sure I go to the loo first, strip off my clothes and place the scale on the EXACT same tile in the kitchen, and then either over/under react to the number it gives me.

What to do then? I’m trying to strike a balance between wanting to blast off the last 10 kilos but wanting to take a long-term, non-obsessive approach to the way I eat and exercise. I want to lose lard but I’m really tired and bored of elaborate strategies, challenges, deadlines and number crunching. I want things to feel more relaxed, like a transition towards maintenance.

The most important thing for me, as always, is to keep tracking my food. That way the daily statistics (calories, fat/carbs/protien, fruit and veg intake) will tell me if I’m being healthy or not, as opposed to relying on the scale for feedback. I also need to stay consistent with the exercise, to keep my self-esteem bubbling along and so I feel healthier. I have been very consistent with exercise for the past two months and I am just buzzing from it! Like I said before, the scale has been all over the shop in that time, yet I have noticed significant changes in my fitness level and body shape.

So I guess it’s the Alert But Not Alarmed approach. Stay aware of what I am eating and how I’m moving my arse while keeping a cursory eye on the scale, but not be a freak about it.

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Out and About

Well apologies for the radio silence around here folks. I've been busy curled up in a ball in a dark corner, rocking back and forth and speaking in tongues. It's been an interesting week, to say the least.

Basically, Dietgirl has been OUTED to all and sundry. I admit that I am a doofus when it comes to all things mathematical, arithmetical and statistical, so perhaps that's why I'd convinced myself that even though the Sunday Mail sells millions of copies, none of the 80 or so people in my building would be among its readers. I mean, surely they'd go for something a wee bit more highbrow?

But noooo. I tiptoed into the office at 7.30AM on Monday morning and was ambushed by a colleague in the foyer.

"Hello!" I said.

"Well HELLOOOO!" she grinned, "And how are YOUUUU?"

Uh-oh.

"I opened the paper and I thought, that looks like SHAUNA. And it was! Oh my god! I got the shock of my life!"

"Oh!"

And so this went on all week. There were a lot of smiles and heads shaking in disbelief, there were jokes and funny looks and hush-hush conversations. Some people even bought the clipping in to pass round their department. It was weird, weird, weird.

But everyone has been lovely. Surprised, but lovely and supportive and kind! But I was still so embarrassed, because even after losing a chunk of weight I am still bigger than 90% of the people I work with. I wanted to get a t-shirt that says I'M NOT DONE YET. If anyone so much glanced at me I wondered if they were trying to picture me twice as wide. I've only lost about 10 kilos in the time I've worked there; they haven't seen any dramatic change. So to see my former GIANT BLOB BOD floating across their Sunday paper would have been a bit of a shock.

I was mildly irritated by one person who cornered me and said, "I heard about your article. It's amazing. But I just can't picture you being so… so… you know… big! I mean, 25 stone!" Her face wrinkled up with mild distaste as if she'd said, "I mean, two vaginas!" or "Sleeping with horses!".

Sometimes I think I should have been an alcoholic, it seems a more socially acceptable character kink. Obesity just isn't glamourous and it seems to make some people uncomfortable.

There was another terrifying moment when one of the guys on my team came up to me on Tuesday and said, "Soooo… I've got a big fat beer gut, eh?"

"What?"

"I read your site last night."

"Oh?"

"I was reading October 2004 and you were describing someone very familiar!"

Shit shit shit! I'd written about him! What had I said? Was it bad? Then I remembered I'd written about how he'd lost an absolute stack of weight and was showing everyone how loose his trousers had become. And I was flamingly jealous of his success as I couldn't bust an ounce at the time.

So it was okay! I'd written nice stuff about him! EXCEPT for that bit where I said he used to have a big fat gut and an assortment of chins! Holy crap. I can't tell you how surreal it was to hear your words back in your face from a real person, after secretly typing away for years and years thinking only the imaginary cyber peoples were reading. And can you imagine how he must have felt to discover someone was talking about his baggy trousers on the internet?

So the week was like every blogger's nightmare come true. At first I felt guilty, embarrassed, extremely silly… oh, you name it.

The Scottish Companion has been copping it too, since our wedding photo was screaming down half the page, stopped only by a small article on Marilyn Monroe's lesbian affair. He got a text from a friend on Monday morning, "Mate, when you get married people usually put a photo in the local rag, not the bloody Sunday Mail!"

Then all his work colleagues have been giving him shit, and a client even called to say, "Nice to see you've found yourself a little wife on the internet."

Arrrgh! The article really does imply that we met online. Not That There's Anything Wrong With That! I jumped down poor Beckie's throat when she commented how nice it is that so many people find lurve online these days. I am so sorry Beckie! I overreacted because the comment sent me into a panic, thinking all my colleagues would think that I was some sort of desperate Mail Order Bride putting my fat ass up for sale on the net. But of course, people hook up all the time online without being of the Mail Order persuasion. I've had some choice liaisons with internet folks in my time, thank you very much; so I'm all for it. Love is love whether you found it in the pub or on the 'puter.

I know some of you have been mortified on my behalf to be suddenly thrust into the spotlight, particularly when I have so ferociously (hysterically) guarded my anonymity for the past 4.5 years. I've been careful to keep my fat writing from my non-fat writing; to use pseudonyms and not write anything that could weed me out in a Google search. It seems ridiculous now that just a few months ago I finally worked up the nerve to tell my own bloody husband about the site. Now it's all out there baby, and I have lost the last place I could hide and let loose and truly be myself.

I spent a couple of days mourning that. Dietgirl has been an outlet and a refuge during this whole lard busting journey. I never stopped to think about how the article might change things, and now it felt strange and scary not have that private space.

Yet I was determined to look at this experience in a positive light. For one, it's nice publicity for Erin's book in the UK. And if anyone I know bothered to check out this site, they probably got bored real quick then got back to their lives.

Plus it's a real hoot to be able to say you were tabloid news.

Most of all I've learned that it's time to stop hiding.  Back when I was twice as big, I felt like half the person I wanted to be. I felt like I had to hide myself away from the world and make as little fuss as possible. Since I took up so much physical space, it was like I wanted to make my personality as small and muted as possible. So the virtual space was where I could stretch out and have fun.

I no longer need a secret place to be my real self. Because I am finally being my real self all the time now, out there in the big bad world. I am sick of leading this stupid virtual double-life, it has been bloody exhausting. This isn't to say I'm ditching this site, I'm just ditching the bullshit. I'm sick of worrying about what people think when they're probably not thinking anything at all.

So… let's just get on with it.

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Black and White and Read All Over

There are a number of ways you can be awoken on a Sunday morning. With a nice cup of tea. Or a bacon roll. Or a vigorous shag. OR seeing your big mug inside the biggest tabloid newspaper in Scotland.

So there's me and my long-suffering husband on page 22 of today's Sunday Mail with the headline NET LOSS. I'd wondered if they'd go for the whole Fat Chick Loses Half Her Body Then Finds Love! angle, and they did. The article turned out nice, I met with the journalist last week and she was lovely and easy to talk to. It felt so weird to be blathering about my lard-busting adventures out loud, instead of sending text into the faceless coccoon of the internet. I was trying to drink a cup of tea and be articulate during the interview when I really wanted to spew from nerves. So thank you, Julia Hunt, for being so nice to a hapless amateur!

I have been running around our flat all morning in a grand panic, wondering if anyone at work reads the Sunday Mail. I am hoping they're more Herald or Observer people, so I don't get anyone coming up to me in the kitchen and saying, "Whoa! You were pretty lardy, eh?". Also one small inaccuracy in the article that will baffle anyone who knows me is that it says I'm a graphic designer, when I am actually just the secretary what types the letters and makes the tea. I told the journalist I'd done a graphic design course after my degree, then worked as web editor, so this where the confusion must have arose. So if anyone from work is reading, YES I am still your faithful admin monkey. I'm not designing brochures and business cards on the side or anything like that.

One thing I do do on the side is write, and as the article mentions I contributed to a book called Tales from the Scale. So if you came here via the article and want to read more, you can buy it Amazon right noo!

Meanwhile, my good ol husband is crying with laughter at the Before photo in the article. Now before you send him hate mail, he is not laughing at me per se, just the bizarre way they chopped me out from the background of the original shot, then wrapped the text around my bulbous disembodied form. I just sort of hovering there on the page, Jabba the Hut style. They chopped the birthday cake out of the picture too, leaving only the flaming sparklers on top, so it looks like my guts have exploded.

It's mortifying to see yourself floating there in a national newspaper, yet the more I stare at it the funnier it becomes. But I'm still going to punch him if he doesn't stop cackling soon.

The Blob!

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Nutrition Nerds Unite!

Ooh I just had a great brekkie. It was my usual combination of oats (uncooked), pumpkin and sunflower seeds, Yeo Valley yogurt and chopped banana, except this time I chucked some blueberries in as well, since the little blue bastards were actually on sale this week instead of costing approximately £1 per berry! I stirred all this stuff until it became one chunky, vomitous clump then chomped away quite happily with the occassional blueberry pleasantly exploding with superhealthy antioxidant goodness. Sweeeeeeeeeeet.

That blueberry link was from the World's Healthiest Foods site, which aside from Krista's Weights page is probably the best site I've ever found for lard-busting advice and ideas. While I may eaten whole jars of Nutella with a spoon in the past, these days I am a nutrition nerd and love learning about vitamins and essential fatty acids and so-called superfoods. This site is an invaluable tool if you want to learn more about the benefits of eating healthy whole, REAL foods instead of your crazy-processed LF FF NF Cheezy Stikz or Diet Lite Choco-Crunch or Reduced Carb Pasta or whatnot.

The site has an exhaustive A – Z list of the World's Healthiest Foods, with detailed nutritional info per serving. Not just about calories, but vitamins and minerals. For example take kale, the under-appreciated leafy green. It's got vitamin A, vitamin C, fibre, calcium, potassium, iron, folate and magnesium… and bazillions of other healthy shit. Ooh, geekgasm! There are also recipes, menu plans and best of all the Food Advisor quiz, where you can answer a few questions about what you eat and it tells you where your diet may be lacking (eg. possible vitamin deficiencies) and what percentage of foods you are eating from the WHF list.

I took the test again today and this week I am eating 88% WHF, no doubt boosted by all the goddamn birdseed I eat. This is good, but it also suggested  I need to eat more foods containing Vitamin B12, D and E. So I just click on the little link and it tells me a bunch of suitable foods. Easy peasy. Improving my diet  looks as simple as adding an egg and perhaps a serve of meat. Plus I ain't eating enough greens. If you have five minutes to take the test, it's really worth it. Be brutally honest in your answers because it really helps you to see areas you could improve on.

I am sorry if the above has bored your pants off, but if you're a fellow nutrition nerd you may just get a nice warm feeling in your naughty areas by spending some quality time on that site.

. . .

One year ago I wrote about buying my first pair of running shoes. You can relive the grand melodrama here, but basically it took me three attempts and a few tears before I actually got inside the store. Why? Because I was bloody intimidated by the idea of running, thinking I didn't belong and my lardy arse would be laughed out of the shop. The saleslady was actually very helpful and patient, but I was so flustered that I ended up grabbing a random pair coz I was freaking out and not wanting her to watch me run up and down the shop again. Big mistake.

It wasn't until April this year that I actually started training properly. Initially things were okay but always felt some discomfort with the shoes. I chalked it up to them not being worn in yet, but after about six weeks my right knee was causing serious pain. When I finally sat down and tried to figure out the cause, I realised that my shoes really did not fit me properly. They were just totally bloody wrong for my feet. The toes on my right foot would shove up against the front of the shoe when I ran. My feet oozed over the sides of the shoe as they weren't wide enough. In fact, the sides of the shoe were starting to split.

But I didn't have the time or funds for a new pair of shoes, so after couple weeks of no running and copious leg exercises, I did the 5k race in the shitty shoes. Weeks of EVIL eeeeeevil knee pain followed. I couldn't run at all, I had to drop all my weights for squats and lunges. Stairs were a nightmare. So I ended up going to the physio, and after six weeks of exercises and RPM, my knee finally felt okay again. So last Friday I finally went back to the running store!

What a difference from a year ago. This time I charged right into the shop and felt comfortable, like I had every right to be there. Gone was the nausea and trembling fear, huzzah! I spoke to the same chick as last time and explained I'd bought these shoes from her but I'd done so far too quickly and didn't get the right ones, because I'd been an absolute beginner and quite scared by the idea of buying running shoes. She gave me a puzzled look, as if I'd told her I was scared of kittens or chocolate bars. Who'd be afraid of that?

But anyway. I showed her my old shoes and she agreed that while they were the right style (some motion control) they were totally wrong fit for my feet. They were way too small and narrow. So she started dragging out a bazillion boxes of shoes. She said it would be a lot of trial and error as I belonged to "quite a specific niche" of the shoe market. My feet are very wide, I overpronate and my right foot is bigger than the left. I tried over a bloody dozen pairs. The more popular breeds were too narrow or didn't feel like they were giving me any support. I tried some mens shoes but they felt too heavy. Arrgh. Too narrow! Too soft! Too heavy! It was like Goldilocks and the Three Bazillion Shoes.

The same thing happened last year, and I'd sat there surrounded by shoe boxes trying not to hyperventilate. But this time I was calm and patient. I'd lace up each different pair then run up and down the shop without having to be asked, letting her watch my ass blobbing along. I was so focused on finding The Right Pair that I did not give a shit what my thighs looked like, nor did I freak out at all the skinny chicks cluttering up my path as they shopped for tiny running shorts. I just ran around them! I was not going to waste my time or money with crappy shoes.

I ended up with Brooks Addiction 6, whatever that means. All I know is my big fat foot finally feels nestled and nutured. I've done two runs this week and walked round in them heaps and they fit like a dream. No blisters, no toenail grating. When I put these on I am amazed at what a dimwit I'd been to put up with the old pair. I still feel the odd twinge in the knee, so for now I am just taking it easy, running on grass and avoiding hills for the moment. I'll see how it goes.

The point of all this is just to show you what damage you can do by Thinking Like A Fat Chick. A year ago I thought I didn't bloody deserve decent shoes. I was wasting the saleslady's time. People Like Me did not belong in running stores. So I grabbed a random pair just to get out of there.

What bullshit! Just because you're not bloody Beethoven doesn't mean you're not allowed to buy a piano. Just because you're not Michael Schumacher doesn't mean you shouldn't drive a car. THEREFORE, just because you're not Paula Radcliffe doesn't mean you don't deserve shoes that don't fit. My misguided fatty fat fat self-beliefs ended up contributing to a really shitty injury and expensive physio. I am not saying my knee problems were entirely caused by ill-fitting shoes – my pain really kicked in after I accidentally ran 20 minutes too long coz I didn't read Julia's instructions properly – but they were certainly a major problem.

I often get emails from people asking how to get into running, so here is what I have learned in my very limited experience. We all know I am still an absolute beginner with guidance from the lovely Mistress Julia. However, please take it from someone who has hobbled round for a month, if you seriously want to make running part of your exercise regime, PLEASE take the time and expense to go to a proper running store and get some proper shoes. Your smelly old cross trainers will not do. Get someone to watch you trot around to see if your feet do anything wacky. This is particularly good advice if you're heavy and have not run at all before. Running is a total shock to a body that's used to just sittin' round or the occasional swish on the elliptical machine. Running is high impact stuff. If you're a total beginner, ease into it with a simple plan like Couch To 5k and stick to it precisely. Allow your fitness to build steadily – don't skip ahead or add sessions or run further until it says to. So many people start C25K then burn out after three or four weeks coz they thought they could do more but wound up injured. Be patient and give your body time to adjust. I learned the hard way (crap shoes, accidentally increasing distance) and really wish I'd listened to my body more. So be kind to your bodies, groovers.

Arrgh! I promised never to be preachy on here. Yikes! Anyway, now I will climb off the pulpit and wish you all a tops weekend!

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