Learning to Binge

Have you ever looked back and tried to pinpoint where it all went wrong? Where you crossed the line from chubby to morbidly obese? Sure, there’s lots of contributing factors as to why one ends up so lardy, but I can zoom in on the precise moment that sparked my Michellin-man future.

The day it all went to shit was about my second week of university. I remember the day with startling clarity. A girl I knew from high school needed a place to live for a few weeks and I had a spare room. So in she came with the most enourmous pile of groceries I’d ever seen. At that point I was around 100 kilos, quite overweight indeed, but I’d been having healthy stir-fries for dinner and had already lost a few kilos.

"We must celebrate tonight!" my new roomie declared. "Let’s watch Felicity and have a pig-out!"

"Right on," said I. So off we went to the supermarket.

My definition of a pigout at that time was buying a small packet of chips or maybe a Mars Bar. This is why I had managed to stay "managably fat". As we wandered up and down the aisles, I wondered if I’d go for the chips or chocolate tonight. Meanwhile, the roomie was deciding between two different packets of chocolate biscuits.

Oh right, I thought, biscuits it is. I headed for the checkout.

But then she went down the frozen aisles to examine the ice cream. "Would you look at this?" she plucked out a tub of Conisseur Cookie Cream Commotion. "Ice cream, cookies, it’s an oral commotion!"

I frowned as she added it to the basket. "Is that for tonight too?"

"Of course! Now we gotta balance that with something savoury."

She selected a giant bag of corn chips, then purposefully strode to the dairy section and got a tub of French Onion Dip. A family block of Cadbury’s chocolate was the finishing touch.

I was so stunned I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t believe she was buying all these things all at once, with the intention of opening all those packages and tucking in that very night. It had never occurred to me that this could be done. I had only just moved out of home, and where such treats were purchased singularly then strictly rationed. I wanted to ask her, can we really do this? You mean it’s possible to eat five different kinds of junk at once? Won’t we get in trouble?

We got home and parked ourselves in front of the telly. I felt strangely excited as we ripped open the chips and biscuits and shoved two spoons into the icecream. I loved the sound of foil and paper as I snapped the chocolate bar in half.

I had never eaten icecream from the tub before. Finally there was noone here to tell me to slow down with the dip or to have one biscuit only or to allocate me one row of chocolate then put the bar back in the pantry. I relished the explosion and texture of cramming a handful of chips, then followed it up with the creamy grittiness of the icecream, the salty sweet of a Tim Tam biscuit. Forget taking drugs or graffiting my name across the school playground, this was rebellion, baby! We ate and ate until the flavours blurred and we couldn’t move. I felt high.

Soon the roomie got a place on campus and she moved out and moved on. But I didn’t. That night was a turning point and from then on I began my descent (ascent?!) into obesity.

I was obsessed with eating. Initially it started with the occassional binge like I’d had with the roomie, then my days became one continual pigout. When I arrived at university I was shy and full of loathing for my already lardy body, so I guess I created this little world for myself where it was just me and the food, and I got some kind of happiness out of it. Eating became an activity, I would ponder what I would eat next and how I’d get it. As soon as my roomie left for the weekend to see her folks, I drive the three blocks to the supermarket and stock up. Something savoury – usual chips and dip, or a loaf of white bread and a jar of the Kraft cream cheese spread I’d loved as a child but Mum only allowed us to have as a treat at my grandmother’s house. Well screw you, Mum, I was going to toast that loaf and plow my way through the whole jar.

That had to be counterbalanced by sweetness. I had a penchant for Cadbury’s Black Forest, (family size, of course)  Nestle Milky Bar and choc-coated honeycomb. I’d buy a jar of Nutella and finish it in one sitting. Then there was the ice cream. I really went to town with that Cookie Cream Commotion, so many times I’d eat the whole litre at once then wonder why I felt so ill afterwards.

Sometimes I’d do the fast food binge. There was a McDonalds, KFC and Red Rooster on the same block. I’d have a craving for a Red Rooster Hawaiian pack – 1/4 of a BBQ chicken, chips, a pineapple and a banana fritter. I’d go through the drive thru for that, ignoring the way my belly was closing in on the steering wheel. Next I’d think, I’d love some coleslaw with that, so I’d go to KFC coz the coleslaw was better there.  And maybe get some more chips too coz the KFC chips were the best. I’d throw a newspaper over the Red Rooster so the pimply kid on drive-thru wouldn’t think I was a pig. Then I’d often make a last stop at McDonalds for a chocolate shake or a sundae. Or both. You gotta have dessert.

I would go home then eat it all, quickly and urgently, barely tasting a thing. It was more about the texture of the food, the stringiness of the chicken, the warmth I’d feel as this horrible greasy shit filled up my insides, the crunch of the chips, the salt on my fingers, the way the ice cream seemed to slide down my throat then make everything feel all cool inside my rib cage. It sounds bizarre but the whole shopping and eating thing made me feel purposeful, it was an event. I didn’t have much of a life to speak of.

I didn’t stop this behaviour for five years. From 1996 – 2001, I gained over 50 kilos – 110 pounds.

I don’t even know why I am writing about this. Maybe just to remind myself of how things used to be, when I get angry at myself for still being the tubbiest git in my gym, or for eating one Tunnock’s Tea Cake. Sometimes you need a little perspective.

Morning Glory

So now I am heading into Week 3 of my Post-Xmas Rebirth, or February Fat Blast-o-rama, or whatever you want to call it. I have to give everything a name. Wasn’t it that candybar-flogging guru Dr Phil who said, “You have to name it to claim it”? But I am all out of catchy names at the moment. Took me a whole day to decide to call my new plant ‘Duncan’.

Things are trundling along nicely. Week 1’s Mini Missions are starting to become habits, particularly the water guzzling/pee examination. My Week 2 MM’s were:

1. Write two journal entries
2. Go to two Body Jam classes
3. Reduce bread intake
4. Eat porridge for breakfast

1. Write two journal entries
*counts on fingers* Woohoo! Really enjoying writing again. And really enjoying the reading too. It was such a wee tiny clutch of diet blogs a few years back, but now the community is so huuuuge it requires a custom-made mumu and goes to the supermarket on a golf cart.

2. Go to two Body Jam classes
After the first class on Monday, I admit that I was close to giving up on the Jam. I was shite in 2001 so why would 2004 be any different? “I’m never going to be a dancer!”, I sobbed into my tutu. Wednesday night rolled round just as my ovaries started screaming, I sat at the kitchen bench and declared to my sister that I hated Body Jam and I wasn’t going EVER coz, “I stink at it and I have a sore leg”. She reminded me how much we sucked at Body Combat at first, and how weak we were when we took up Pump.

I grumbled all the way to the gym, but the class ended up being phenomenal. It was the last class of the day and it ended up going for 75 minutes. We had my favourite instructor, Kiwi Vanessa. She took the time to explain the steps and often had her back to the class so we could see her fancy footwork better.

I learned so much in those 75 minutes! You won’t be seeing me shaking my ass at the MTV Awards any time soon, but I’m slowly catching on. I looked atrocious trying to do those moves but I just blocked that out of my mind and had fun. The hiphop tracks are particularly fun, it’s all about making your body all loose and fluid. And I love the Latin tracks, they’re so sexy and finally there’s a use for my ample hips. Cha-cha-cha! Best of all, my cramps disappeared along with my bitchass mood.

3. Reduce bread intake.
This is more about the toast. I am not anti-bread, if it’s nice and grainy; but once the bastard is toasted I get out of control. And when I eat it for breakfast I am always hungry an hour later. I managed to cut right back this week, only 5 pieces of bread for the week, and it was reasonably grainy bread too.

4. Eat porridge for breakfast.
My sister swears by porridge (oatmeal to you Yanks) for breakfast, she chops up an apple and throws that in and says it fills her up til the mid morning snack. I have tried this on and off but have never been able to stick with it. I find the effort of making it too much, even though it’s only three minutes in the microwave. And it takes me so bloody long to choke it down. It just doesn’t make my tastebuds dance. This Mini Mission was a fizzer – I only had one porridge breakfast all week.

Breakfast is a problem for me. I mean, I have no problem eating it, I just have problems filling up in the morning. I eat around 7.30am, I am already hungry again by 9. Today I had natural yogurt, some museli, a sprinkle of sunflower and pumpkin seeds, plus an apple – I managed to make it to 10am before I had to have my almonds and a banana. Am I just a glutton or am I not eating the right thing for brekkie? I know there’s not a lot of protein there, but you have to remember I am on the backpackers budget here, and it’s kinda pricey to have eggs or something meaty.

Anyway, I am fresh out of ideas. If you have any, I will gladly lap them up!

So I just got home from Body Jam and I’m sitting here in my stinky Enell sports bra, I better de-corset and get into the shower. Til next time!

To Stir With Love

Valentine’s Day can be such a crock of commerical shite, but this time I had someone special so I wanted make sure he felt special. And I wanted it to be perfect. I had it planned down to the last detail. After all your lovely suggestions (thanks for the comments and emails!), I decided on a Spinach and Ricotta Lasagne with Pine Nuts that I found on the Delia Smith website. For dessert, strawberries marinated in balsamic vinegar served with vanilla marscapone, a tried and true Jamie Oliver recipe.

I live in a share house that has no dining room or living area, so I had to improvise. The world’s most romantic dinner would be served in my dinky little bedroom. I would push the bed aside and the computer desk would be transformed into a dining table. I found some fairy lights in a store cupboard that I would put up for romantic lighting, along with a battallion of candles. Then I prepared a precise schedule so nothing would left to chance:

WEDNESDAY – Go to my friends house and borrow some chairs so we don’t have to sit on arse-numbing bar stools.

THURSDAY – Clean my room to perfection. Soak in the bath for weekly exfoliation and deforestation of legs.

FRIDAY – Purchase of ingredients for meal.

SATURDAY

7AM – Arise to marinate the strawberries before trudging off to work at 8AM.

3PM – Race home to prepare lasagne, green salad and marscapone cream. Set up bedroom with lights, wine, etc. Make myself look ravishing before heading off to…

6.30PM – Meet The Boy at the cinema to see Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Enlist sister to put lasagne in oven so it will be ready when we return as if by magic!

8.30PM – Arrive home in romantic mood following romantic film. Light candles and crank up fairy lights while The Boy is in the bathroom. Zip downstairs to plate up, then back to boudoir to sit down with quality meal and wine. Then dessert. Then sweet sweet lovin’.

Ah, things never go to plan…

WEDNESDAY – So wiped out by my 75-minute Body Jam class that I forget all about chairs and fall asleep in stinky gym clothes.

THURSDAY – Still so sore and tired from Body Jam, cleaning is postponed til Friday night. Fall asleep at 8.30pm. The Boy calls at 10pm and asks would it be okay if he stayed over Friday night as he’ll be at uni late. As he lives 20 miles away and any extra time together is a bonus, instantly say "Sure!" instead of, "Nooo! You’ll ruin my schedule!". Leap out of bed for a late night leg shaving session.

FRIDAY – Tantrum as Tesco supermaket fails to have mozzarella or nutmeg, plus wants to charge £2.50 for a tiny bag of spinach, meaning I need to find time for a trip to a different supermarket. But there’s no time – the Boy arrives on doorstep with a beautiful indoor plant for me. Boy scores points for listening to my recent rant about the ridiculousness of spending £20 on a bunch of flowers that will die in two days AND my rant about wishing my room had some greenery.

SATURDAY

7.15AM – Wake up in a panic, try not disturb Boy as I clang around in the kitchen hacking up strawberries. Major tantrum as new bottle of balsamic will NOT fucking OPEN! Run to sisters room and ruin her sleep-in and beg her to help me open it. Finally resort to drilling hole in lid. Say thanks to my cranky sister. Kiss sleeping Boy goodbye who enquires groggily, "Did you drop something downstairs?". Tell him he is dreaming, run to catch bus to work.

7.35AM – Miss bus to work.

3.30PM – Leave work late. Frantic shopping trip to secure cheese and nutmeg. Remember that I am out of ‘defrizz’ stuff for my hair so fight through crowds at Boots, become tense and cranky.

4.00PM – Call The Boy to ask what time will he be getting back to my place from uni? He says 5.30PM. I say "That’s cool!". Hang up and say "FUCK! FUUUUUUUUUCK!!!!".

4.05PM – Discover that Delia Smith’s ‘All In One’ method for making sauces really really SUCKS. Whisk and whisk so hard and so long that my wrist is sorer than that of a 15 year old boy with a stack of Playboy. Curse Delia as I add more flour.

4.45PM – Curse Delia’s name again as she instructs me to wash spinach leaves THREE times then pat them dry. Who the hell has the time or inclination to pat spinach leaves dry!?!?

4.50PM – Decide to skip leaf-washing. Get the shits with plucking stalks off spinach leaves. Throw rest of spinach in pot without removing stalks, rationalising that a bit of extra fibre never hurt anyone.

4.55PM – Note that cooked spinach tastes slightly dirty. Decide dirt = more fibre.

5.00PM – While waiting for spinach to cool, scrape out vanilla pod and stir into marscapone. Feel guilty for making dessert with out-of-season fruit that was probably imported from Chile and packed into plastic boxes by peasants who get paid 3 dollars per month. Transfer guilt by eating tablespoon of marscapone.

5.05PM – Contemplate fashioning a Delia Smith voodoo doll out of balled-up shopping bags after she demands I wring out the spinach to remove excess water. Insufficient time to wait for spinach to cool, so must throw wads of steaming spinach from one hand to the other, groping occassionally, swearing frequently.

5.10PM – Lightly toasted pinenuts turn into chargrilled pinenuts after being distracted by second marscapone taste-test.

5.20PM – Hasty assembly of lasagne. Realise there is not enough filling to make three layers as dictated by Delia. Fill in gaps with more cheese.

5.25PM – Frantic washing of dishes; stashing of wine, glasses and corkscrew in underwear drawer; howling at realisation no time left to wash hair, cursing wasted time in Boots buying hair product, quick shower, scribbling of note for sister, NO TIME 4 SALAD PLS MAKE IF U TIME? IF NOT NO WORRIES THX.

5.35PM – Boy arrives, I am be-towelled and red-faced. Boy: "How was your day?" Me: "Oh fine, pretty quiet."

5.45PM – Test fairy lights while Boy is in the shower. Fairy lights do not work. Cue 15th tantrum of the day. Kick lights under bed just as he wanders back in.

6.15PM – Walk to cinema. Tiffany’s is fabulous as always. Make sniggering jokes about all the couples in the cinema before realising that we are actually one of them now. We have crossed over.

8.45PM – Arrive home to delicious smell of lasagne. Sister has cooked it to perfection and made the salad too. Realise that I forgot to clear desk for eating on. Explain to Boy the bungled plan for Romantic Boudoir, apologise for lack of seating and mood lighting. Produce bottle of wine etc from undie drawer. Boy gives the sweetest smile and says "You’re a star". Order him to open the wine and light the candles while I get the food.

9PM – We sit cross-legged on the bed, balancing plates in our laps, squinting at our food and smiling at each other in the candlelight. I do not worry about the fat content of my food, he compliments my cooking then spills tomato on his shirt. I laugh at him and guzzle my wine.

10PM – Boy is suitably impressed by delicious dessert as I scoff my 15th tablespoon of marscapone for the day. Then more wine, more kisses and cuddles, then talking until the candles are just a red puddle on the plate. And that’s the most romantic day of my life, right there.

Calories consumed: 23,567 at least.
Calories burned: quite a few.

If You Choose To Accept It

As a Scorpio, I’m astrologically inclined to take an all-or-nothing approach to life. I’m either wildly passionate about something or completely half-assed.  This extremism always gets me into trouble, especially when it comes to losing weight.  If you go hell-for-leather at 110%, you’re soon likely to crash because you can’t maintain the pace, then wind up reacquainting yourself with a litre of ice cream and a spoon.

My new strategy is the Mini Mission.  I’m setting four MM’s each week.  This appeals to my competitive streak — I get a rush from focusing on something and madly persuing it.  But these tasks are very small, subtle changes to my lifestyle, which means they’re not so wildly different that my body will keel over from shock, especially after a couple of months of inactivity.  They’re more like ‘behaviour adjustments’.

Making the MM’s small also means I won’t get overwhelmed by the big picture, that is, the 20-ish kilos I still have to lose.  I can just bury myself in these little tasks, addressing all my eating and exercise issues chunk by chunk at the micro level. Hopefully I’ll slowly build up some confidence and a sense of achievement.  My theory is if I can achieve these wee MM’s, they will start to become everyday habits.  Then I just add more MM’s the next week, and the cumulative effect should be a healthier, fitter me.

Everyone else has been setting various forms of MM’s forever, but the concept is new to me.  I’ve never been so specific before, nor have I had MM’s small enough to achieve in a week.  I’ve always had vague goals like "bust my ass at the gym so I can get into those pants by 10th April", or unrealistic, scale-focused goals like "lose 0.5kg a week so I weigh xx kilos by yy date."  Now that I have given this thing a name, and I’ve written them down on paper in anal-retentive fashion, I feel all fired up to achieve them.

Last week’s Mini Missions were:

1.  Keep a food and exercise diary
2.  Do not use lifts
3.  Eat breakfast
4.  Drink 2 litres of water per day

And here’s how I went…

1.  Keep a food and exercise diary
I had my little Personal Diet Planner 2004 from the January issue of Slimming magazine rotting away in the drawer. It has a week to a page with columns for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and calories/fat.  I scrapped the cals/fat column and changed that to Exercise. I religiously wrote in every little thing, including the Tunnock’s Tea Cake on Wednesday night (won’t do that again – hydrogenated vegetable oil ahoy!) and the blobs of cheese nicked while cooking. It really started to sink in how much extra food I was putting away, and by the end of the week I was much more vigilant.

2.  Do not use lifts
I thought three flights of stairs at work were not much, but I’m up and down those puppies at least a half dozen times a day. I’d been using the lift (elevator) for a couple of months, so last week was a helluva shock to the quads. Now I’m using flimsy premises to prowl round the office more often, just to get in a few extra steps. I could shred those two pieces of paper at the shredder beside my desk, but it’s more beneficial (and time wasting) to walk to the shredder on the ground floor!

3.  Eat breakfast
I’d gotten into a habit of waking too late to have brekkie at home, meaning I’d end up going to the staff canteen for a bacon roll, Kit Kat or wedge of chocolate cake. Nasty! I managed good breakfasts all last week, mostly porridge and fruit, or a banana and a handful of nuts on the bus if running late.

4.  Drink 2 litres of water per day
I was inspired by The Boy and the bottle of water that seems to be superglued to his hand.  I’m drinking a small glass of water before every meal as well as getting through a few half-litre bottles at work. 

I think I’ve been getting a little too obsessed though.  I read somewhere that you know you’ve drunk enough water if your urine is a "pale straw colour with no discernable smell".  So it’s been a sad case of pee, wipe, jump up, spin round and peer down the bowl to examine my handiwork.  Then wishing I had a piece of straw handy to do a colour comparison.  I have not, however, gone so far to get down on my knees and sniff at the bowl.

Still Unready For This Jelly

Long term readers may recall in December 2001 I attempted a gym class called Body Jam. The class is described as "the world’s greatest dance-party workout – a new generation fitness class that unlocks everyone’s rhythmic and dancing instincts." Hmmm.

Last time I did this class it was pushing 40’C and the air conditioning was broken. I was also more than 20 kilos heavier. I thought my lungs were going to burst out of my chest and salsa their way out the window.

So has anything changed over two years later? I didn’t feel like I would die this time round. It is still a gruelling cardio session but I am fit enough to keep up the pace. HOWEVER – I still possess two left feet. The class moved so freaking fast that I was just thinking about how to get my legs to move for the first bit when everyone else was hiphopping their way through the chorus. Fark!

But unlike last time, I refuse to give up. Sure, I suck ass, but it was fun. I will just keep hiding up the back being a spazz. I will spend the hour looking at my feet and shuffling awkwardly while my hands stay slack and useless by my side.

. . .

You’ll be pleased to know I’ve come back to Planet Sanity after having my big spazz-out on Thursday. I honestly feel I was going into some sort of withdrawls that day, sparking my evil mood and ultra-crazy writing. Going from scoffing a chocolate bar (at least) per day as well as oodles of baked potatoes and cakes; to cutting that right out is bound to be a wee shock to the system. I remembered the same thing happened to me in 2002 when I finally got on track after a few months of binging. All I did was weep for two days straight and had to go to bed at 7pm to stop myself from eating an entire loaf of bread.

I don’t believe in terms like ‘carb addict’ but I do know the effect that simple carbs can have on me. When I am feeling down, one bar of chocolate is not enough. As soon as I have one, something strange happens to my brain. I cannot simply stop and move on and forget about what I just ate. I immediately want another, and soon I am thinking of great piles of buttery toast and bagels. I have the urge to cram handfuls of potato chips into my mouth, not because I want to eat them but I just crave that crunch and texture and greasy mess. I daydream of diving head first into a giant chocolate cake, or soaking in a bathtub of melted chocolate.

My sister buys a small bar of Green & Blacks 70% Organic Dark chocolate and that’s her sweet treat for the week, she’s satisfied with that. I think that’s a great idea, but for me I know I need to go cold turkey for awhile. Once I am feeling more balanced I’ll be able to have the chocolate and savour it, then stop. I’ve been at this point so many freakin’ times before, so it’s just a matter of getting back into my exercise/good eating routine.

. . .

Saturday is Valentine’s Day and it’s the first V-Day for me where there’s someone who I’m absolutely bananas for! We’re going to a screening of Breakfast at Tiffanys, I still can’t believe I’ve met a heterosexual guy who loves Audrey Hepburn films as much as I do! The cinema’s right near my house so I am going to cook dinner for him.

Holy crap! I’m so nervous. Everytime I’ve cooked for him so far I got so nervous I screwed it up. Like I made brownies and put the greaseproof paper in the bottom of the baking tin the wrong way up, so the paper stuck to the brownies! Can anyone help me out there? I need ideas for a romantic, hard-to-ruin reasonably healthy vegetarian meal! Am I being too specific?!

Two Entries in Two Days? Gasp!

I have this whole complex about this site and feeling uncomfortable when I rave on about myself too much, fearing I will sound like I am up my own arse, thus don’t update regularly. Is that not bloody ridiculous? After all this is a journal, and it is called The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl, and I am Dietgirl, so logic follows that it should be about me and my adventures.

Well, derr.

Looking back through the archives, and I know I’ve said this before, my greatest periods of success have been when I wrote regularly. As Julie often says, writing is an invaluable tool for weight loss. And yesterday I was moaning that I couldn’t get my brain back into the weight loss gear. So I’m going to set another mini goal – to write at least three times a week on this site. I will stop worrying about the quality of the writing or whether I sound like a wanker, instead I’ll just spew it out. Hopefully by writing more often I’ll wind up putting more thought into what I eat and how I move my arse. Please check back regularly, and if you don’t see me updating feel free to kick my arse.

. . .

So now I am publically declaring my intent to go to the gym tonight and do the Body Pump class, even though McShouty takes the Friday night class and I can’t stand her. If I am feeling energetic (ie. if she isn’t being too annoying) I might even stay for the Body Combat class afterwards. But for some reason I struggle to do cardio after weights. I can do cardio first, weights second with no worries. But after I’ve been lifting I just want to shuffle home and be done with it. We’ll see how it goes.

Update: I went home after Pump. McShouty was McShitting me. I could put up with it while I had weights to play with, but Combat class would have been something else. I wasn’t in the mood for her “hoo ha hoo” or “come and get me”. Instead I took a brisk extended walk home.

. . .

You know that old saying, “mind over matter”? I really stopped minding my matter over these past couple of months. The mind is such a powerful thing, it can convince you that your ever-expanding matter doesn’t matter. Like recently when I noticed my jeans were very smug around my stomach. My mind said to me, “Looks like they’ve shrunk in the wash!”.

Never mind that they hadn’t been washed in weeks.

Up and Down and Back Again

You’d think after three years that this ‘healthy lifestyle’ would be an intrinsic part of my life; a natural habit that I don’t have to think about. But it is never that way. For me it is a continuous struggle. It scares me how easily I fall off the wagon, how easily I can stop thinking about what I eat, how easily I lose my focus.

Why have I fallen off again? It started as festive overindulgence. Or being too daydreamy and loved up to bother with the gym. Or working 6 or 7 day weeks thus not making time to plan healthy meals.

There’s also complacency. When you’ve lost a shitload of weight, the equivalent of an average woman, it’s so easy to think you’re on top of things, that the weight will surely keep coming off. But there’s still another twenty kilos to go. I just stopped putting in the effort. I stopped thinking of my weight as an issue. When there’s suddenly this someone who likes you for who you are, you start to think you’re not so bad and put the thought of those last twenty kilos to the back of your mind.

Now here’s where it gets strange. While I’ve never felt so happy and cared for, there’s another part of me that has felt dark and miserable. There’s been this anger quietly simmering, frustration at having to work two jobs to earn so little, crankiness from being so tired all the time. Then there’s my first British winter. When it gets dark at 4 o’clock, all I’ve wanted to do was crawl into bed and hide when I get home, rather than bounce off to the gym.

The problem is, it’s taken me so long to see this unhappiness and return to bad habits. As ridiculous as it sounds, I’ve been so busy and/or tired to notice how I’d stopped taking the stairs at work, how household tasks like laundry and cleaning were too overwhelming to tackle, how I kept stopping at the corner store on my way home to get a Mars bar.

Finally on Sunday it came to a head. I actually had the day off for once, and when I was in the blackest mood. Have you ever just woken up and loathed yourself? Just felt like your whole being was nothing more than a huge puddle of flesh and a tiny paranoid brain? The Boy was there and trying to talk to me but all I could do was scrunch over one side of the bed and hope he wouldn’t notice me. All day long I proceeded to make stupid little irrational comments. Like making breakfast, there were only two pieces of bread, I insisted he eat them. He asked why, I pointed to my body and just shrugged, "Well, come on!".

He shook his head, totally bewildered, "Why do you say things like that about yourself?"

And of course I just started bawling because I didn’t know why I was saying all this hateful stuff about myself. I couldn’t even blame it on That Time of the Month. I hadn’t thought such negative thoughts for years, let alone actually say them aloud.

I guess it just hit me that morning that I didn’t feel in control of my life. I thought of how I’d had to run around my room before The Boy arrived, ferreting out all the chocolate wrappers. My jeans weren’t tight because they’d shrunk in the wash. For the past two months I’ve just been living in this bizarre combination of bliss, stress and fatigue. Only now I was realising my good habits had come unstuck.

Monday night I dragged myself back to the gym after a 3 week absence. But not before I scoffed a ‘final’ King Size Mars Bar and a 150g packet of sweet chilli crisps. First I got on the scales and found I’ve gained 3 kilos (6.6lb) since 6 December. Not as bad as I thought, but as soon as my Body Pump class started I knew I had lost a lot of muscle. I was so weak and shaky I almost gave up.

But the more I squatted and lifted, the more I felt the positive vibes creep in. I have gotten off track before in this journey. I know how to get back on again.

I decided to set some tiny goals this week, achievable so I don’t get overwhelmed. Don’t take the lift at work. Drink more water. Walk a longer route to the bus stop.

So far those little goals have been fine. But the food thing is proving tough. I cannot stop thinking about food. All day at work today I was daydreaming of muffins. First banana, then chocolate chip, then chocolate chocolate chip. I could taste them so clearly. I could feel the crumbs stuck in my teeth, the bits that cling to the roof of your mouth. It was almost painful.

Why the bloody hell am I so obsessed with food? How did I get away from that place where I wasn’t continually thinking of my next meal? I’ve also lost that voice in my head that forces me to think before I eat. Now I just see food and grab it, I don’t stop to think. This afternoon I ate three M&S Chocolate Mini-Bites before it occurred to me, "Maybe I don’t need to eat these."

To gain 3 kilos might not seem much when i’ve still lost 65 kilos overall, but it’s not so much about the number but what that represents. It represents a loss of focus and control, a step backwards, a kick in the guts for the ol’ self esteem. I need to find a way forward again.