Old Gold Chocolate

Ten days! Ten days of good behaviour in a row!

Woohoo!

I’ve been muttering to myself so often during these ten days that people must be wondering if I am a deranged serial killer. But don’t lock up your children and pets, folks! It’s just harmless dialogue between me and my brain so we prevent each other from eating anything stupid.

No official weigh-in this week coz the results would be skewed by my extreme bloatedness. But if I keep this up there could be a positive result next Wednesday. The Mothership arrives this weekend but that shouldn’t be too bad as she’s healthy eater herself, althought she’s bringing me a stash of Aussie chocolates! I will have to lock them up until further notice. I am still in that fragile state where I feel I could be undone by just one mini Cherry Ripe, so methinks I should steer clear for now.

Other news in brief!

Neck News: Responding well to better posture, exercises and a groovy little wheat bag that you heat up in the microwave then slap onto your hurty bits.

Knee News: Seems to be improving *touch wood* and physio says one more week of rest and boring quad exercises *touch wood* then I should get on my bike and pedal *touch wood* in a low gear sans-hills for ten minutes and see how it feels. Since I’ve had this injury over a year he says it’s very important to take things very slowly, so I don’t end up back where I started yet again.

Writing News: Warning! Only read on if you’re interested in the boring and laborious writing process.

ARRRRRRRRRGH! I still have 2.5 months of 2002 to finish by tomorrow night. ARRRGH! Too much World Cup watchin’, I tells ya. And 2002 has proved such a dirty bitch to write about. Six months of the 2002 Dietgirl archives are missing due to a database failure so I have to write so much of it from scratch. You may be gasping, she’s not writing the whole thing from scratch? Well no, of course I’m not. I have tens of thousands of words already written that capture the moments so much more vividly and accurately than my shitty memory could. It’s a great starting point. Some of it is useable as is, but soooo much of it is messy, disjointed, and poorly-written so it is a stinkingly mammoth task to give it structure and continuity. Plus there’s bazillions of gaps and inconsistencies in the story, so there’s bazillions of words to write and re-write.

I decided to stick with a diary format. But not in choppy "10st, 3 gins, 45 cigarettes" Bridget Jones sort of way. Proper prose but keeping the diaryness. I tried to do it all "novel-like" but got so mixed up with my tenses I nearly threw my iBook out the window. I think the diary format is the way to go for a long, rambling weight loss journey because it keeps things immediate and personal and allows for dramatic mood mood changes every five paragraphs, which is how it is when you’re trying to lose blubber. I know there’s a few writerly/edity types out there so if you have any better ideas let me know. But gently, coz I am 34K words (of shite) into this and fairly committed to the format, hehe.

HOLY SHIT I better go and get on with it. Another sub-par entry but I will be back when the Mothership departs on Wednesday. Take care, groovers!

Say No To Bullshit

A couple of years ago I wrote about Bullshit Calories, which are defined as:

1) the calorie-dense foods that you can bullshit yourself into eating excessively by focusing on their flimsy bit of nutritional merit (eg. dark chocolate, nuts)
OR
2) foods with poor nutritional merit that you bullshit yourself into eating excessively because their calorie content is low. (eg. 6-pack of diet chocolate mousse)

I’ve been having too many Bullshit Calories lately.

On Wednesday I finally faced up the scales. I weighed in at 80.51 kilos, which was the same as my last official weigh-in four weeks ago. At first I was happy because it showed my excellent ability to maintain my weight, which is apparently the hardest part of all in this weight loss caper. And furthermore it was particularly good considering I couldn’t exercise with my injuries.

But then I realised that was actually the BULLSHIT perspective. Excuse my language, but really. Yes, I couldn’t exercise, but I did sweet bugger all in terms of reducing my food intake to make up for the lack of movement. In fact, I ate more than usual for much of that month. My weight was actually up halfway through the month, I was just bloody lucky I reigned things in so it didn’t stick.

Here it is, the middle of the year, and I’m still messing about with this blubber. I’m not going to mollycoddle myself anymore. I could have done more if I’d wanted it more. But somehow I’ve been convincing myself I want that hunk of Marks & Spencer Caramel Shortcake, that chocolate, that extra piece of toast… more than I want to get to goal. I keep putting off putting in The Effort until tomorrow. Then tomorrow gets postponed to the next tomorrow.

So starting this Monday I’ve been taking it day by day. Just committing to 24 hours of good decisions at a time. I seemed to screw up if I think further ahead than that. This has worked for five and half days in a row now, hurrah! I’ve said no to muffins, cream-filled profiteroles and Mars Bars, and with every no my resolve gets stronger to keep going and get the job done.

Now back to work. Have a good weekend, everyone!

Medium Rare

Well helloooo, dear comrades. It looks like I’ve developed a once-a-week blogging pattern lately. Consequently this is going to be long. If you want, you could just read a paragraph each day, and pretend I’m a proper, dilligent blogger!

. . .

Oh the joy of lifting heavy objects! These week I’ve started upper body weights again, hurrah! I went a bit lighter, just to be on the safe side. But it felt brilliant to be sweaty and exhausted. And I’d missed the delicious smugness that comes after a good workout.

I’ve been wearing my pedometer too. What a wake-up call that was! I’d been overestimating how much I trot around. I assumed my work walks would easily take me up to the hallowed 10,000 but it’s more like 7000. D’oh! So I’ve been squeezing in some lunchtime and evening walks. I reckon I need more like 20,000 steps if it’s going to make up for the lack of Proper Cardio.

I’m still avoiding the scales, at least official weigh-ins. I hop on most mornings just to suss things out, and it’s been hovering around the same number, give or take a pound, for a few weeks now. My eating was swinging from angelic to diabolical for awhile there, but I’ve reformed now.

. . .

In other news, I bought a bunch of new tops from H&M last week… size Medium! After years of seeing multiple X’s on my labels, I was happy enough to graduate down to a solitary L. But an M! From a Normal Shoppe! That rules.

. . .

So… my injuries. I am sort of resigned to the fact that things may never be 100%. It’s not like you can pop a pill and be cured. Backs and knees and shoulders are tricky buggers. You can never completely rest them. You can stop your high impact sports, but there’s still all those other hours in the day where you still have to sit in chairs or sleep in a bed or walk to the shops. The body never stops working. All I can do is manage these injuries and do my best to work around them and not make things worse.

Knee Report: Cutting out all cardio seemed to help the pain and it’s a little less tender. The sports physio seemed to think this is progress, and wants to give it another week of rest, aside from the knee exercises. He says realistically, the grinding sound won’t go away. It’s just getting the knee to a point where I can exercise without pain. I am beginning to wonder if I’ll ever get to that point.

Shoulder Report: As I mentioned in the last entry, I had an assessment by an NHS Physio (NHS = National Health Service, ie long waiting lists but free). The NHS Physio seemed to think the problem orginates in my neck, not my shoulder. He actually said I had a neck DEFORMITY.

“Dude!” I squeaked, “Isn’t that a rather strong word?”

But the neck is weak, grasshopper. I can’t turn my head to the right half as far I can turn the left. He pointed out how crap my posture was; how I seemed to cock my head to the right when I talked to him. On reflection, this is something I have done for a long time. Like a TV journalist does when they are pretending to be in deeply interested in their interviewees. The Hmmmmm position.

I admit I tend to favour that side, like scrunching the cordless phone on my right shoulder or leaning on that side if I snooze on the train or writing with old fashioned pen and paper. The dude had a scientific name for it that I can’t recall, but basically it was something about some nerve being sort of squished on the right side of my neck, and this explained all the numbness and tingling in my neck, arm and hand. Not to mention the horrible headaches on that side of my noggin’.

He did a lot of tests, and my yelps of pan at various intervals convinced him this was indeed the cause. But why did it get suddenly worse? More hours at the computer, more shithouse posture. He didn’t use the word shithouse, just the word terrible. Which sounded more terrible than shithouse, methinks.

I had my second appointment yesterday and he performed some serious manipulations. I had been working diligently on my posture since the last visit, but he still noted my tendency to tilt my head forward and round my shoulders. What can I say? It’s the legacy of being obese, I’m always trying to take up less space!

So my posture is an ongoing project. I’ve found a weekly yoga class just ten minutes walk from my house! Once my knee is up to the bending, I’ll be cracking on with that. In the meantime I have oodles of neck exercises to do. And when I do my upper body weights, I’ve been watching my posture in the glass reflection of a painting in the living room, for lack of a mirror. It was a shock to see my rounded shoulders and lazy stomach! I haven’t exercised with mirrors since I left my Fancy Gym in February 2005 and it’s evident I’ve been slacking.

But the main mission is to improve my everyday posture. Which means careful use of computers! To balance work computering, blogging and frantic book writing with the need for REST! And sunlight and fresh air! It’s a challenge, I tells ya!

ARRGH the book. I am so behind schedule for this month. I will have to clear the calendar for this weekend and write like the clappers in between madly cleaning the house in readiness for the Mothership Visit on July 2! Woohoo!

Hope you are well and excuse the Dear Diaryness of this entry.

The White Stuff

This post was imported from my short-lived, now-defunct food blog, Cooking With Ginger.


pav.jpg

Yes, for shame, I will need to admit defeat on this food blogging caper for now. At least until I get this stinking Dietgirl book written. No, I’m not one of them high-falutin’ bloggers with bookdeals, this is a personal project I have undertaken purely to see if I can rise to the challenge. But I have been far too easily distracted from it lately. Thanks very much, bloody World Cup.

The thing is, I have cooked so many wonderful healthy dishes that I’m sure the lard busting crowd would be interested in hearing about. As I’ve said before, I’m not short of ideas and I love writing about food. But after wasting the first third of 2006, I came up with a timetabled writing plan in May and I am determined to stick to my deadlines. So this is it for now, unless I suddenly become ridiculously ahead of schedule.

Thank you for all humouring me as I made my ill-advised foray into the foodblogging arena. I made this pavlova today and I could spend hours composing a witty post full of childhood pavlova anecdotes, but instead I will just link to the caption on Flickr which outlines my problems. If you have any handy hints on how to make my meringue taller, I’d love to hear from you!

Grin and Bare

So it’s summertime up here and that means… Bare Arms!

Why are we so obsessed about arms? I get more reader emails asking about the state of my arms than any other body part.

Unveiling my arms to the world has caused me great trauma for over fifteen years. They’ve gone from chubby, to chunky, to two gigantic overstuffed pillows, then down to gigantic with a hint of bicep, to their current state of Really Quite Toned with some irritating flibflab underneath. But no matter what their condition, I’ve still managed to freak out about them.

When I was in Lisbon back in March, I tried on a sleeveless dress in Zara. Perhaps being in a foreign country made me feel reckless. I mean sleeveless! Dress! In Zara? Zara is the domain of the skinny people, and furthermore I don’t do dresses, especially not sleeveless ones. My wedding dress was sleeveless out of sheer desperation.

So I managed to stuff myself into the Zara frock, and called my sister over to inspect. I did a wee twirl and she expressed her approval.

Then I peered more closely in the mirror. "Uh oh. No. I can’t buy this."

"Why not?"

"My arms! Look at my GIGANTOR ARMS!"

"You don’t have giantor arms."

"I can’t wear this in public!"

My sister narrowed her eyes and spoke slowly and clearly. "Shauna. Get over your fucking arms!"

So I bought the frock. She was right, I do need to get over my arms. I’m still trying to work up the nerve (and suitable weather) to ponce it around in public.

Living in Britain has been a joy because for most of the year, you can completely forget you even have arms. Safely disguised beneath shirts and sweaters and coats, no one has to know the true picture, not even yourself. So it was a surprise to me this season to cast off all my layers and discover my arms are in quite good shape. I’ve worked hard on my upper body this year, and I’m really happy with the definition in my shoulders and biceps and whatever that area is called sorta above the bicep. Yes, they are still big arms and there is that sort of "hangy bit" on the underside of my arm, but it’s not loose skin so much as fat that has yet to shift. For someone who used to be over 350lb, I am well pleased.

It’s hard to know how to reply to these Arm Emails. What I think are great arms may look like horrible arms to you. Example: for the first time ever, I’m wearing little cap-sleeved t-shirts out in public. While I’m not in a hurry to flag down taxis or gesticulate wildly, I’m happy to flash that much arm. Yet I swear, and I may well be paranoid, I reckon I’ve caught people looking at them and thinking, Ew, them’s some hefty limbs!

All I can tell ya is, don’t worry about your arms. Just treat them well and lift some heavy objects as soon as you can, and they’ll be alright. I have spent too many summers sweating in long-sleeved tops due to Arm Paranoia, thinking they deserved to be hidden unless they were perfectly toned and willowy. Well, screw that! Sure, I have some flab and stretchmarks but I also have some nice muscles.

Here’s an example of wildly differing opinions of what makes a Nice Arm.

In London last week my sister and I had a session with an image consultant, in an attempt to rectify my wardrobe ineptitude. I’ll write more on this later, but basically a very lovely woman helps you discover what colours and clothes suit your body shape and personality. It was fantastic, but we had to strip down to our bras and undies! I was not expecting this, as illustrated by my tatty bra and size 20 undies that came over my navel – Gareth says they’re so big they should be sent to Dafur to be used as emergency refugee accommodation.

But we had to strip to have our measurements taken, proportions calculated, and just a proper good look at our true body shapes. I momentarily forgot my resolve to Get Over My Arms, flipped into Fat Girl Panic, and raved on about how my weight loss has left me with hideous limbs. The Styles Woman looked at me for a long moment, then replied in her typical warm and kindly manner, "Have you thought of perhaps doing a few exercises for them? That might tone them up."

I gave a strangled half-sob half-cackle and said, "I have been exercising them! For five years! This is as good as it gets!"

A couple of days later I had my long-awaited NHS physiotherapy appointment, finally having my dodgy shoulder and neck assessed. This guy thinks it’s a nerve thing as opposed to a muscular thing, with my dodgy posture being the culprit. I got more exercises to do and it’s feeling a bit better already. Anyway, as I left he told me to keep up the upper body weights. "You have good biceps but you just need a little more work on shoulders to help your posture."

Well of course I ignored his but and just heard the good biceps! How nice of someone to even notice their existence, in spite of the flab beneath!

So in the space of two days my arms had been seen both as Flabby Horror Story and Vaguely Sporty. These episodes just proved to me again that my arm paranoia is ridiculous. Who’s to say what’s a good arm and what ain’t? So I can just chuckle at the Style Woman’s well-meaning suggestion, and instead be rapt that the Physio dude noticed that I actually have been working out, dammit.

How To Let Go

Sometimes I wonder if I am a positive person, or if I am just faking the lifestyle of a positive person. Can you consider yourself a positive person if you have to constantly remind yourself to be positive?

I’ve been hiding from this website because I feel like a fraud. People sometimes write to say I am honest and inspirational and determined and positive, and I feel guilty as I’ve not felt like any of those for a wee while.

Over the past month I tried to dilute how bad this injury crap has made me feel, so not to come across as a self-pitying whiner. But last week it all boiled over and I was not a nice person to live with. I stomped around, mentally composing entries full of anger and frustration and general woe. I stopped short of actually writing them, because after a few hours and perhaps some perspective from the Scottish Companion, I’d simmer down. I’d sniff out the positives like a truffle pig, then go back and edit out all the venom.

Then on Saturday around 3AM, I finally sat down at the keyboard and exploded! In the textual sense. About 800 words of pure rantage.

I knew I was being irrational and I knew other people had terrible diseases and all manner of proper tragedies. I knew that I had lost perspective on a trifling sporting injury. So I ranted to imaginary readers, begging them not to write and tell me to get over it or I would just cry. And as much as I’d appreciated everyone’s medical advice and exercise tips of late, I wasn’t looking for that today. I just needed the world to let me vent. RAH!

I’ll go through the rubble of the entry and give you a quick summary.

First I wrote about how the lack of exercise was making me feel down. I’d been off "full schedule" for over a month. I missed the structure it gave to my days, I missed the sense of purpose, the sweat, the spreadsheets. Most of all I missed the happy chemicals in the brain.

Then came a dozen paragraphs re my frustration at not being able to take advantage of the good weather and ride my brand-new bike.

And how it’s all my fault because I neglected the knee for almost a year.

And how I’ve been consumed by anger at myself for not listening to my body or my head for so long.

How I valued the opinion of others above my own my brain and pain, because I assumed they knew what was best for my body more than I did, since they were skinnier/smaller.

How I therefore started exercising again too soon and caused further damage.

How didn’t take myself or the pain seriously.

Like how I never went back to the physio I saw last June, because in my fat girl paranoia I felt like I was wasting his time. After all I was just a fat chick flirting with exercise, not a legitimate sporty person. How could a big lump like me possibly have a real injury?

Hmm, what else?

How I was frustrated because I’d gained a pound. Only A Pound but that meant yet another month had ended with no progress, making three months with no significant loss.

How these last 6 kilos are proving the most difficult and stressful than any of the other 70-something already gone.

I almost edited out that sentence, as I don’t want to insult people who have far more left to lose. Five years ago I would have killed to be where I am now. But as someone who has filled the shoes of Staggeringly Obese, Obese, Still Pretty Fat and Almost Healthy Weight all for extended periods of time, I can honestly say this stage is somehow the most overwhelming and frustrating of all.

Thankfully for anyone still reading, I ran out of steam after that. I hit Save Draft and headed for bed, not before seething with bitterness until about 4AM.

Saturday morning I got up and forgot about the computer. I ate banana on toast, watched the MotoGP qualifying, kissed the Scottish Companion goodbye, then hopped on a plane for London.

A ridiculous seven hours later (thanks to the joys of public transport delays), I was walking through Hyde Park. Previously I’d only been to London in the winter, so I lapped up the grassy breeze, the trees, the rollerbladers and roses; the kamikaze insects splattered on my sunglasses.

Quite simply, I could feel my body and brain finally begin to chill the fuck out.

There’s something about being in the Big Bad City that always brings perspective. All those people from all over the planet, so busy busy busy getting on with all kinds of lives.

I caught the train back home yesterday, for variety. It was the most blissful four hours I’ve spent in ages. No computer, no phone and a quiet, near-empty carriage. Just me and the sandwiches, grapes, trashy magazines, Gareth’s iPod and a tiny wee bar of Green and Blacks chocolate.

Looking out the window at the English countryside in its green and glorious Englishness, I decided it was time to give the boot to all the crazy anger and anxiety I’ve been dragging round for weeks.

I even sniffed out a few positives from this injury debacle:

1.  It’s a learning experience. I sure as hell won’t ignore my body again.

2.  It makes for a small, albeit tedious sub-plot in the Dietgirl story.

And speaking of which!

3.  The enforced rest has given me more time to write! I met my self-imposed deadline for May of completing the first draft of 2001. I cut it a wee bit fine by finishing at 11.45 PM on May 31, but I did it! Baby steps actually work!

I’ve also dragged out my old pedometer. Walking shall be my main exercise until the knee improves and I will obsessively count my steps, cannily satisfying my need to be obsessive about numbers.

Maybe this is what being a positive person is – the ongoing management of the way you react to life’s little challenges. You can shit your pants for awhile, but then you try to sift through the shit and salvage the good stuff. I mean, surely no one is positive about everything straight away? Don’t you have to mull it over awhile and then decide how you’ll deal with it? Or maybe there are genuine 100% cheery optimists out there, always on duty. If so, I’d like to punch them all in the face.