Mile High Blog

That last entry sure was depressing, eh? But here I am, writing this late at night way up high in the sky, just to reassure everyone (and myself) that it’s not all doom and gloom.

I’ve met some inspiring successful maintainers through this site and they’ve often told me that it sucks… but it does get easier over time. And even though I would have to be the slowest learner of all — I’m like those insects that hurl themselves into light bulbs over and over again and taking forever to realise ouch that hurts, perhaps I shouldn’t keep doing that — even a chump like me is finding it easier as time goes on.

Example of progress:

2000 – ATE: 2 litre tub of ice cream. REACTION: Complete catastrophic meltdown and at least 7 day banishment to the Self Loathing Pit.

2006 – ATE: Mars Bar.  REACTION: Oh well, eat less tomorrow.

(Of course this doesn’t happen all the time, there are occasional hysterics. Like last week I purchased and swiftly demolished a pack of salt and vinegar Hula Hoops while waiting for the train, then sat looking at the empty packet wondering how/why that happened and despaired over what long-time readers of this site must think. Is she thick? Will she ever learn?)

What I love about having a Fat Blog is how you can start writing an entry feeling distraught about some Fat Issue and by the time you’ve spent an hour thrashing the keyboard, your thoughts have cleared and you realise the situation is not as terrible as you thought. Like when I watched that episode of Real Story last week, I was soaking up the anxiety and gloom of all those women they interviewed like a grotty old kitchen sponge. But when I finally finished writing about it on here, I realised I am not those women. I am really not doing as badly as I think. It’s getting better all the time. You really have to focus on the positive steps you’ve taken and give yourself some credit. I am NOT as obsessed with food as I used to be. It’s really been tamed into just… unbridled enthusiasm!

And we’re all doing okay. All us kids in internet land. We are learning off each other all the time…

Corn alert! Corniness ahead!

Corn

Tonight at Heathrow when I was all bored and lonely since my stinking flight was delayed, I paid £1 for ten tiny minutes of internet time just to check the comments. I got all sentimental thinking about us geeks and how I’ve watched us shrink yet freaking grow! This is not about exercise tips, recipes and well-meaning advice, it’s watching each other kick ass and fall over and get up to kick ass again, with everyone cheering and commiserating each other. There’s just such a great vibe with this blogging thing sometimes. I know I never would have come so far without all the folks out there to engage with. Onward and downward, comrades!

Corn

End of corn.

You have to understand it’s been an emotional day, kiddies; full of planes and airports and goodbyes. I went to London to see The Mothership before she headed back to Australia, and I got to hang out with her and my sister. We had afternoon tea at a posh hotel for her belated 50th birthday present and feasted on cucumber sandwiches and fiddly French pastries. And it only occurred to me now, up here in the plane hours later,  how absorbed I’d been in the moment, so chuffed to have the old gang together again for the first time since April 2004. I’d guzzled five cups of tea and 2.5 scones piled with obscene amounts of jam and clotted cream, and not once did I panic about the calories. I just thought, COOL, here I am in the swanky hotel with my two best ladies and this is mighty fun.

I felt this calmness all weekend. I ate some great food but was completely sane and sensible about it. For once I came away from London stuffed with happy memories of the friends and family I saw, instead of stuffed with remorse for my overindulgence.

So now I am scribbling all this on the back of my boarding pass (online check-in rules!) at 11PM. The captain says we’re 75 miles from Edinburgh and it’s mighty turbulent. But I just wanted to get this down and I vow to transcribe it later without editing it to death and tell you all it can get better, even if you’re a bit thick like me. I ain’t afraid of a scone no more.

It Never Ends

This week’s episode of Real Story was about Slimmer Winners. They surveyed 70 women who’d won slimming competitions in various magazines and newspapers. You know — Success Stories, Slimmer of the Year, etc etc. If you hurry along to the BBC website you can watch the whole thing again right now.

It was the most bloody depressing thing I’ve watched in a long time.

Nicked from the website:

"An investigation into the weight loss habits of 70 slimmers showed that less than half had kept their weight off, with the remainder being overweight, obese or severely obese.

Moreover, eight out of the 70 demonstrated indications of bulimia and 10 showed signs of Binge Eating Disorder.

Fifty-one of them either binged or used compensatory behaviour in the past month, such as taking water tablets/laxatives and hard exercise.

Nearly three quarters of the champion slimmers had binged at least once – with some binging up to eight times – in the past month. "

I don’t want to dwell on the statistics, because there is only so much you can extract from a sample size of 70. And they really squeezed the absolute maximum stats from that 70. What had me close to tears was the people they interviewed.

  • A woman who’d gained back three stone (18kg/42lb) and was hypervigilant about weighing her food. They showed her weighing half a banana and she confessed sometimes she might chop off another tiny slice if she was feeling indulgent. She then said she even weighs SLICED BREAD, "Because even in a standard medium-slice loaf, some are thicker than others".
  • A woman who was Slimming World’s Yorkshire Slimmer of the Year who’d take some sort of water tablets the morning of her weigh-in to make her pee like mad, then she’d have to guzzle water as soon as she hopped of the scales so she could hydrate. She was also bullimic. She regained her weight then finally had gastric by-pass surgery last year.
  • An older woman who was a finalist in their 2004 Slimmer of the Year contest, who had gained back three stone and said she felt deeply ashamed and embarrassed.

It was the last lady that particularly made me want to bawl. I remember reading about her in Slimming, one the last issues I bought before I vowed never to buy it again, and thinking how radiant she looked. And now two years later here she was on telly all teary and fragile. She just so sad, ashamed and resigned that I wanted to smash through the screen and cuddle her.

I also felt this odd sense of despair, that she could be in her sixties and still be tortured by all this diet crap. I didn’t want to get to her age and still feel like that.

That’s when it hit me. It never ends.

Remember that episode of The Simpsons when Moe gets a facelift and becomes handsome and gets a role on the soap opera called It Never Ends? Well this food issue crap is like our very own drawn-out melodrama… It. Never. Bloody. Ends!

Real Story had all these quotes from the slimmers – they constantly thought about food, they’d just replaced obsessive calorie counting with obsessive exercise, they felt like their lives were ruled by food, they were scared of food, that the urge to binge was overwhelming. Sometimes we read these cheesy Success Stories and think they must have hit the jackpot then lived happily ever after in the size 8 pants, but in reality many just end up smaller with the same issues.

I got quite anxious watching the show, wondering if I was in the same boat. It’s not so much about the fear of regaining all the weight – I have maintained a large loss for a few years now. I am confident that while I will go off the rails now and then, I will not let it get out of hand. This is not me being cocky by any means, I just know I will never be a size 26 again.

It’s more about the emotional shit. That even if you get to a goal weight, it is still a struggle every day. That you constantly have to be vigilant about what you eat and wrestle the urge to binge. That you just think about food all the bloody time.

Like last weekend, we went to the Wickerman Festival. As soon as we pitched our tent I dragged Gareth into the main grounds… not to check out the different music tents but to check out the different FOOD VANS!

And my sister and I email each other about three times a day… a good 50% of those emails concern what we’re eating for lunch, what’s for dinner, what we ate yesterday and what we wish we didn’t eat yesterday and what we vow not to eat tomorrow.

Food, food, food.

It’s just a crappy, sinking feeling to realise that you will never be free of all this.

I got upset watching that show because I recognised those feelings of despair and desperation, but I do feel like I am in a better place than many of those women. They didn’t seem to be in touch with why they behaved that way. It also seemed they felt they had little power or control over their plight. I don’t feel that way anymore. I think with all this navel-gazing we do en blog, you start to learn about yourself and your mistakes.

I am quietly resigned to the fact that these fundamental eating issues will never go away, but I won’t let them dominate my life any more. As much as I hate to paraphrase Dr Phil, I don’t think it can be cured… just managed.

And I will never weigh a slice of bread.

Let Them Eat Crispbread

I'm glad folks enjoyed the MSN article. And just so you know, I didn't come up with that Queen of Diet Blogging title! I would never dare to refer to myself in such lofty terms.

Obey

. . .

As predicted, last week's mega loss (4.5lb) did not stick. Once my appetite returned things levelled out again. I was 2lb up this week which means 2.5lb down over two weeks which is more indicative of my efforts. I'm happy with that, woo!

. . .

SALAD! It's what makes you skinny. Unless it's an unhealthy salad. Did you know there is a salad in Britain called Savoury Cheese, which basically means grated cheddar mixed with mayonnaise. They really stretch the definition here. You can get it on a bread roll or perhaps plopped atop a baked potato.

But back to the skinny salads. This week I am obsessed with this Carrot Salad that I got from a Weight Watchers cookbook. Say what you will about the twin dubyas, but in my opinion they consistently come up with the most innovative diet-friendly recipes. I couldn't be bothered fetching the cookbook, but here's a brief rundown.

JAPANEASY CARROT SALAD

Serves 4

  • Grate 4-5 big fat carrots
  • Chop up a wee bunch of coriander (cilantro if you're American).
  • Throw it all into a bowl with
    • 2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds
    • 1 tablespoon of pumpkin seeds
    • 1 teaspoon of sesame oil
    • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon of honey.
  • Mix it all up and eat. Serves 4!

I was out of pumpkin seeds so used extra sunflowers. I also added the juice of one lime to zing it up a little. It tastes so refreshing and vaguely Japanesey! We had it with tuna steaks and steamed new potatoes.

Why is this not on my cooking blog? Because that's on hiatus while I write that stinking book. Which is on hiatus for ten minutes while I write this entry 🙂

Logistics Department

There was a girl waiting on the train platform this afternoon, approaching the same size I was at my largest. She looked nervous as the train pulled in, shuffling from foot to foot. I wondered what was wrong. Sometimes I look nervous when a train pull in too, because I’m always trying to judge where exactly the carriage doors will be when it stops. I have good Door Karma lately; the doors have landed right in front of my nose so I can get right on board and have a good chance of actually finding a seat. It’s a beautiful thing!

I had good Door Karma again today, and was about to get on when I saw the girl again looking even more flustered. This may sound stupid, but I suddenly recognised that agitated expression. It all came flooding back to me. I stepped back and let her get on first.

She didn’t venture into the carriage proper, where most of the seats are; but instead hung round in the end bit. I dunno how to describe it, but there’s an open sort of area with a bike rack and a toilet and just one seat that folds down from the wall. She swooped on that solo seat quick smart. It’s hot and noisy as hell there, but everyone packed into the main bit of the carriage and fought over the seats, leaving her in the end by herself.

Please don’t think I am being patronising or pitying, it was just a moment of recognition and empathy. I’d almost let myself forget how when you’re very overweight, every day is a series of logistical operations. How to maneuver my bulk through various challenges. Getting down a narrow aisle of a shop without knocking over merchandise. Getting to work early enough to get a park close to the building, and early enough to get the lift instead of walking one flight of stairs without anyone seeing me. Making plans with friends then fretting as to whether I should put anti-chafing powder on my thighs in case they want to walk anywhere. Finding a solo seat on a train so I don’t have to squeeze past anyone. I had to plan ahead and think quickly.

The Dietgirl Logistics Department has been retired for quite sometime; I don’t have to worry about non-retracting seat belts or breaking chairs in restaurants anymore. But today I remembered how exhausting it is, physically and mentally, just getting around. All the dread and fatigue and panic came rushing back, and I moronically kept patting the empty space on my seat, making sure I really did fit on it.

. . .

Thanks everyone for your most excellent comfy shoe suggestions in the last entry! There may be hope for this gigantic clumsy-hoofed beast after all.

While I’m on it, apologies for the lack of speed in my email and comment replies lately. It’s summer in Scotland and we have been trying to pack lots of Stuff into our spare time, so I’ve not been online as much. There’s such a teeny tiny Window of Opportunity for doing stuff before the dreaded cold and dark comes back again so you really have to go for it!

. . .

Hello to the folks coming over from the MSN Health article on Diet Blogs! If you’re starting out and feeling baffled, try the About page or the 5 Year Anniversary recaps.

I met with the journalist last week and she was so much fun to talk to. Normally I am terrified of journalists, which is a hangover from the days of my journalism degree when I was scared of journalists, journalism teachers, anything to do with journalism at all, really. Newspapers, editors, spiral notebooks, pencils; you name it. But this girl was lovely and I came away from the wee chat feeling very happy and thankful about this whole blogging palaver. Woohoo!

Right Time and the Right Place

I felt like a fraud when you all congratulated me on resisting the Mars Bar Ice Cream last week. The only reason I resisted it was because it wasn’t what I really wanted.

What I really wanted was a Marks & Spencer Vanilla Chunky Giant. Which is like a Magnum – chocolate coated vanilla ice cream – except not as sweet and cloying. But M&S was closed by the time I puffed up from the train station, so I couldn’t get one. Had I dared to shove past the security guard and barge to the freezer section before they locked the doors, I would definitely have bought one. The Mars Bar, with its extreme sweetness and flimsy chocolate, didn’t seem an adequate substitute at the time. So I’m not really a beacon of strength for turning it down; just a fussy, spiteful git.

It really helps to cultivate a certain fussiness with certain foods. To be choosy with lofty standards. I remember when the right time for food was ANY TIME and the right food was ANY FOOD. Now I like it to be the right food, at the best time of day or week, consumed in the perfect locale with the planets in correct alignment…

The best example is chocolate. Green and Blacks is now my preferred brand. I try not to eat it between Sunday and Tuesday, because that’s too close to Wednesday Weigh In, thus I wouldn’t really be able to relax and enjoy it. So Wednesday night is good. Or I like to eat it on a Friday night, when I know the working week is behind me and there’s nothing else I should be thinking about and I can sleep in the next day and wake up at my leisure and think fondly, How about that great chocolate I ate last night. And I like eating it on the couch when Gareth is beside me; he’s usually reading or on the laptop and there’s music on and everything’s peaceful. That’s why I get cranky if I get a chocolate from the vending machine at work, or eat M&Ms in the dark at the movies, or a few stray squares when I know there’s a phone call to be made or some menial task to do. It has to be mindful consumption. If you’re only meant to eat a tiny wee portion of chocolate, well then you have to pay attention to the moment! If you eat chocolate in the dark, how do you even know if you really ate it? Did it really happen?!

One of my favourite times and places is the train on a Thursday evening, when I’ve been in town looking at the shops or getting a haircut. I get one of those tiny bars and a magazine then tell myself I can’t start eating until after the first stop. Then after that I break off a little bit more after each stop and the 35 grams are finished just as I get to my station. Sweeeeeet.

Looking at my spreadsheet, I’ve eaten a lot less chocolate this year since I started making it a real treat. Methinks I need to treat toast with the same reverence!

. . .

Last week was much better. I ate reasonably and the scale was down a few pounds today. I’m not going to record anything officially because it just a bit too dramatic of a loss. I have been all feverish with a cold, eating less and just drinking tonnes of water so everything is out of whack. I can just tell that the big dive in numbers isn’t a proper loss, so I am going to kick on this week and see what happens.

I had a great exercise week too! A big cheer to Marla for suggesting wall push-ups while my knees are dodgy. They were surprising gruelling! Perhaps more so than the knee ones.

I managed a slow, easy bike ride on Saturday, with no knee pain! I have lost so much fitness though. I tried to convince myself that two months of next-to-no cardio had NOT entirely replaced my muscles with gelatinous bulk, but now I’m more than a little bit disillusioned. I was sweating and pedalling my pudgy legs out during that bike ride, surely I was flying! But then Gareth passed me with his legs rotating as slow as molasses and said, "Isn’t it nice to be outside? This is so relaxing…" Hehe.

All was going great on Planet Knee until Monday when I wore some slip-on sandals that really seemed to hammer my knees walking on the pavement to the station. I am going to have to stick to boring, sensible shoes as every time I wear something remotely dainty my knee ends up all tender and sore again. I spoke to the physio about it and have got some different kinds of exercises to do now, which hopefully will help my strength levels. It’s such a slow, tedious process and I’ll bore you no further with the details. Rest assured I am doing all the things I need to be doing.

Well I am feeling more snotty than entertaining or insightful today so I will just slink off to bed… til next time, comrades!

Blur

My lard-busting efforts are like an old manual focus lens on a crummy SLR camera. This could possibly be the crappiest analogy I’ve ever come up with.

I remember this ancient Pentax I used in my photojournalism class at uni. I would peer through the viewfinder and wrap my chubby mitt around that lens, twisting the dial til it got in focus. But it never seemed to stay there for long. The slightest false move, the smallest tremble, and everything went blurry again.

So that’s how it’s been lately. Focusing. Losing focus very easily. Feeling fuzzy and blurred. Refocusing. Over and over again.

The couple of weeks have been completely out of focus. I am one of these people who does not thrive on chaos. I like routine. I like planning my exercise for the week, ordering the groceries, laying my clothes out every night for the next day, getting to bed by a certain time. As soon as anything unusual is thrown into the mix (Mothership visit, weekend camping trip) I don’t cope well.

And that’s in spite of all my forward planning for these events. I plotted healthy meals for Mum’s visit and packed healthy foods for the camping trip, but none of that counts if you eat the healthy food and then eat a whole pile of crap ON TOP OF IT. Mum ended up staying an extra night, so instead of cooking something healthy I suggested we get a takeaway curry, aka a steaming bowl of grease. Then while in the Highlands on the weekend, I easily persuaded myself into an ice cream cone, a large serve of greasy chips and a handful of shortbread.

It’s like as soon as I venture outside of my home/work routine into the Real World, all my planning and logic fades into the background and I give myself licence to chow. As though calories don’t count if they’re eaten in the non-everyday Super Happy Fun Zone.

The eating is always so mindless, I don’t feel guilt or remorse and I never stop to think, Is this something I really need to eat? It wasn’t until I got on the scales yesterday and realised I was up 2.5 lb (1.1kg) that I remembered all that crap I ate.

. . .

Yesterday I felt so bloody fat and cranky and ugly. My face was all puffy and itchy, my legs were a mess of red blotchy bites; I had a severe reaction to the midges (small, annoying Scottish insects) that attacked us on the weekend.

So I was in a small, shitty supermarket for the sole purpose of buying one red onion to put in our homemade bean burgers. Why is it when you feel fat and ugly you want to eat crap that will make you feel even more fat and ugly? I selected my onion then prowled the aisles, all reckless and defiant, wondering what rubbish I could cram into my gob. I wanted to grab anything and everything. But this particular supermarket is tiny and poorly stocked, I could only huff at the lack of decent ice cream; the paltry selection of chocolate and crisps. Sure I wanted a binge but I wanted a binge of decent QUALITY. Long gone are the days when I’d be happy with Home Brand ice cream and cooking chocolate.

In the end I just lined up in the queue with my stupid red onion. I put it on the conveyor belt and waited for the old lady ahead of me to painstakingly count out small change to pay for her beef mince, solitary apple and pint of milk. So I paced back and forth to the ice cream freezer at the front of the store, eyeing the Magnums and Soleros and Mars Bar Ice Creams. On my third trip I thought, FUCK IT, I’m going to have a Mars Bar Ice Cream!

But then I remembered a moment from last year, when I’d just moved in with Gareth and was feeling confused and overwhelmed by the whole cohabiting/marriage thing. I’d sneaked off to the shop for a Mars Bar Ice Cream while his friends were visiting. I stood at the bottom of the hill scoffing it down then looking for somewhere to stash the wrapper. I remember it didn’t taste anything special.

So I just went home with my red onion.

I said hello to Gareth then went straight to the kitchen and stuck two fat pieces of grainy bread into the toaster. I slathered them with an obscene amount of peanut butter then gnashed it all down with two huge glasses of milk. I ended up giving Gareth half a slice, but I ate enough to feel satisfied. All those peanuts and grains jabbing my gums and sticking in my teeth, it was all rather violent and messy.

I dunno what comes over me sometimes. You’d think after 5.5 years of fat fighting I’d have learned not to confuse eating and emotions, but it never ever stops. To Gareth it just looked like I was eating a piece of toast, but for me it was a compulsion that I couldn’t ignore. I won’t kid myself there’s a cure. But as I’ve said before, if I can’t eliminate these episodes altogether, at least these days the damage is less calorific, and I can put a stop to it a helluva lot quicker.

I’m going to have a quiet weekend. Clean up and cook and write and exercise and settle down again. Think about what I want and what needs doing.

Refocus, refocus.

Honorably Discharged

Well that was a slightly longer break than expected! The Mothership ended up staying an extra day, then last night I was too busy moping around watching Wimbledon to do much bloggin’.

It was great to see Mum again. It had only been eight months since I was in Australia, and she never feels that far away with the phone and emails, but it’s always nice to get face time. It’s also kind of weird, seeing a body attached to all that voice and text. She did her usual disconcerting thing of just STARING at times, as if she couldn’t quite believe we were in the same room.

She also insisted that I was much slimmer than October, and her fella chimed in too and said I must have lost a stack more weight.

"Not really," I replied. "Maybe five more kilos if I’m lucky".

It’s probably closer to eight or nine kilos, but the visible difference is most likely due to how bloated I was the last time they saw me, when I’d been eating my way around Australia for three weeks straight.

But still. It was lovely of them to say so. Even though it reminded me that my loss since then averages out to like, one kilo per month. Good lord, it’s taking eons!

. . .

I’m pretty happy with my eating while Mum was here, a few too many chocolate biscuits but och well. I have reserved three fun size Cherry Ripes from the bag she’d brought over, which I will only allow myself to ration out once I’m in the 70s! And (un)fortunately she couldn’t find any small bars of Cadbury’s Triple Decker (milk/white/mint) so I haven’t had to try and stay away from that.

I’m back on track now, so woohoo!

. . .

Dudes! I made my book writin’ deadline this month. 2002 is done! Well, the very shitey first draft of it, anyway. So it’s onto 2003 for July. Baby steps…

. . .

I’ve been discharged by the Neck Physio. I’m a little sad because he’s a nice bloke and I enjoyed the painful manipulations on a perverse level! Yesterday he did some bizarre maneuvers on my back to banish a mighty muscle spasm and it was excruciating! But it’s all feeling so much better now. He says my posture has improved and I am no longer bobbing around like an emu. So now it’s up to me to keep managing things. Rest, exercises, stretches, heat, etc etc.

Meanwhile the knee WAS feeling so much better, until I stupidly did my Cathe Gym Style Chest & Triceps DVD last week. You start off with a drop set of push-ups, a set of 16 then a short break, then 14, 12, 10, 8… etc etc, until you’re down to one excruciating 4-count push up. 72 in total.

I could only do the first two on my toes before flopping to the floor like a theatrical footballer, so I did the rest on my knees. Didn’t even occur to me until I’d finished the set that perhaps that wasn’t the best idea. The Knee Physio had told me right at the start to avoid kneeling but with the other 457 things I have to remember to do or not to do with all my stupid various hurty body bits, I FORGOT. Then walking round the cobbled, hilly streets of Edinburgh’s old town on Tuesday didn’t seem to help either. ARRRGH. So I’ve been resting and icing to calm it all down again. Methinks I will do the pushups by rolling out on my Swiss ball, or skip them altogether for a wee while.

. . .

Trousers! Pants! Slacks, if you’re an old fuddy duddy! Whatever you call them, they’re those things you put on your legs so the world doesn’t have to see what you look like in your undies. I sent Mum a last-minute text asking could she look for some pants for me in Oz since the ones I bought in October are getting too big. Why pay £20 ($50 AU) at H&M in Scotland if she can pay $20 (£8) at Katies or Sussan or similar in Oz?

The Mothership came up with the goods. Three pairs, each on sale for $15. They are far too tight to be worn in public but with a few more kilos off I’ll be in business…. SIZE TWELVE, baby! (US 10) When was the last time I could get into a size 12? When I bloody was twelve!

Bon weekend, lovelies.