Are We There Yet?

All I want is to get to the finish line.

Whenever I use that phrase I get reminded that there’s no such thing as a finish line, that healthy eating is for life, that maintenance is the real bitch, etc etc etc. While I am aware of this, I just want to be done with the losing part. It’s been six weeks short of six years, and I’ve bloody had enough.

People often ask me why I’m shooting specifically for 75kg. According to every calculator and online tool I’ve ever used, this is the very top of the healthy weight range for a 173cm (5’8") large-framed chick. After all these years of lard-busting I will be more than happy to simply reach the upper limit of that range. That will be enough. I just want to be able to say I got there; that I saw it through to the end. I’ve watched the sidebar statistics ping down and down and up and down throughout this lard-busting journey, and now I’m just hanging out for the one fine day where I can make it say, To go: ZERO kilos.

And after that, I will not give a shit about the number! I don’t want maintenance to be about Scale Anxiety. I could go on a new mission to get somewhere more in the middle of my healthy weight range, but I refuse to expend any more energy on numbers. I am just so bloody tired after nigh on six years of ceremonious weekly weigh-ins, arrrgh! Once I hit 75kg I am going to make my goals entirely about fitness, and if they result in the the scale going down that will be a happy accident. Who knows, it could go up if I gain some muscle! Either way I will let it settle where it wants to and let the fit of my jeans be the measure of what shape I’m in.

I just want my goals to be completely removed from the scales. It will be about building muscle and getting stronger and leaner and healthier. I want to learn to ride my bike without wobbles and take up yoga and get to a point where I can swim laps for half an hour. I just want to get on with it, continuing my healthy lifestyle. I want to take it further and push harder each and every year just because I want to; because that’s how I live my life… not because I’m trying to lose weight.

But right now I have some more pounds to lose. I am chugging along with the Going For Gold challenge. I’m eating well and doing as much exercise as my wonky body currently allows, all while keeping an eye on the scale because DAMMIT, I do want that numerical satisfaction of reaching a set goal. Throughout my life I’ve started so many projects and never quite finished them as I am fundamentally lazy as hell. But since this has been the most time-consuming, life-altering project I’ve ever undertaken, I want this to be one I actually complete.

I only wish this determination could have come a little earlier in the year. There’s only six weeks left in the GFG Challenge and the big fat festive season is plonked right in the middle of it. Where was this hunger and focus during the long days of summer!? I was too busy watching the bloody World Cup instead. Oh well. I dunno, you’re either in that Zone where you really want to succeed or you’re not. And only now do I feel genuinely in the right head space to galumph my way to the finish line.

. . .

Something wacky was up with Bloglines this week. I use that site to read all your blogs and for some reason it wasn’t telling me who’d updated. I got a whole weeks worth of entries last night from the likes of Kathryn, Amanda Jane and Emily. I thought you were all GONE FOREVER! You think I would have just manually checked the sites the old fashioned way, but nooo. I’m not very bright.

. . .

I’ve always regretted not taking measurements throughout all this fat fighting caper. I would love to know what my waist measurement was in 2001! At the time I didn’t bother because the scale number was scary enough, let alone getting out the tape measure. And did I even have a waist? Not that the tape would have fitted round me. Nothing bloody fitted then; not towels, bathrobes nor seat belts.

But since so many of you guys have sung the praises of measurements I finally did it a few weeks ago. Awkwardly. It is so hard to be accurate! I had to choose landmark freckles. Anyway, I measured again on Sunday night and found there was another half-inch off my waist, taking it down to 33 inches. Everyone keeps banging on about waist measurements and the risk of heart disease, like the UK government and that Doctor Oz bloke on Oprah. So if I can shrink another inch-and-a-bit and get below 32 inches then I will be deemed Of Healthy Waist and perhaps I will get a certificate from Oprah or the Prime Minister. Cool!

Recipe Corner: Pumpkin and Tomato Soup

Happy Thanksgiving to all those who partook yesterday!

I hope you dined well, whether you turkeyed or tofuturkeyed or something else altogether. I don't know much about Thanksgiving except for the general themes of eating too much and being thankful. Sounds like the perfect holiday to me.

In the spirit of the event, here is a wee list of lard-busting things I am thankful for:

Internet Shopping – As much as I love wandering down the aisles of supermarkets admiring the goods, I hate the people. I hate when they meet their friends in the dairy aisle and park their trolleys nose to nose and chatter away oblivious to me trying to squeeze past. I hate the crowded car parks and the checkout queues and jumping up and down at the fish counter trying to get some service. I hate how miserable everyone looks.

So this is why I order groceries online and have them delivered for no more than the cost of trekking to the megamart on the bus. I plan a week's meals in advance, click click for ten minutes, then sit back while some other poor bastard has to scour the aisles with my shopping list then cart it to my door. And they don't "accidentally" chuck in cakes or bars of chocolate. It's a lard-buster's dream!

Dumbells Under The Bed – Again, I hate people. Bah, humbug. And I hate venturing out in the cold and dark, so I like to work out at home this time of year and not have to interact with the world.

Soup – Everything you need in a bowl. Easy to cook, easy to clean up. Endless leftovers. Equally healthy as, but far less fiddly than, a summer salad.

External Validation – The other day I had two separate people ask me if I'd lost weight. Amazing! This hasn't happened to me in so long. The first was a lovely woman who'd been away for six months and the other was someone I see in passing most days. They both used the word "load". As in, "Have you lost a load of weight?".

Dietgirl wept.

Actually, I just said, "Well, maybe a wee bit". Because I haven't lost anything, really. But I've been doing well for a few weeks now and had been annoyed with the scales as you well know, so to hear some nice words from impartial observers was a real boost to the ol' motivation. The number on the scale can faff around all it wants, but at the end of the day I just want to look like I take up less space, darnit.

Other things I'm thankful for: Good friends and internet people, emails from siblings, emerging biceps and Thursday night repeats of The Avengers on BBC4.

. . .

I've been meaning to apologise for my horribly slow email replies. But then I wondered if apologising would make me sound like a raging egomaniac, as though I can't get through the front door of our flat because there's just soooo many emails that they've all burst out of the computer and flooded the hallway. But then I figure if I don't say anything then it looks like I am a unresponsive snob. Hmm, dilemma!

So let me reassure you I have neither delusions of megastardom nor am I too important to answer my emails, I've just been a bit busy. Anyway I'm now down to 18 emails in my ReplyTo folder, and the oldest one is from late September so that's much better. Woohoo!

. . .

Recipe Corner

Well it's not much of a corner, more the arse end of the page. But there's no time for pedantry, we have to make the world's most delicious soup. Allez allez!

Seriously, it's the best soup I've had in yonks. It comes from Good Food magazine and was described as "rustic and robust". I thought that a rather poncy and optimistic description but it was really sublime! Hearty, rich, smooth and sweet. And strangely creamy despite absence of actual creamy ingredients. Hubba hubba.

Notes:

  • In the mag the soup was served with some fancy cheese croutons but I skipped those as I am trying to shrink, dammit.
  • The recipe said to roast the vegies with the herbs left on their stalks, and remove the leaves afterward. I thought that sounded far too fiddly so I just did that before it went into the oven.
  • I chopped the tomatoes in half before roasting, which was a bad move as the juices ran everywhere and the veggies were more steamed than roasted. Next time I'll leave them whole.
  • The recipe calls for pumpkin but I used butternut squash as that's all there bloody ever seems to be in the shops, except for Halloween. Then felt guilty as hell when I discovered my butternut had been flown in from NEW ZEALAND!?!

I don't have the recipe on me right now so I will blurt from memory and apologise in advance for any glaring inaccuracies! (Update – Have now checked recipe, should all be functional now!)

PUMPKIN AND TOMATO SOUP
Serves: 4
Source: BBC Good Food

650 – 900g (1.5 – 2lb) chunk of winter pumpkin or squash, peeled and cut into cubes
450g (1lb) ripe tomatoes
one red onion, peeled and cut into 8 wedges
6 whole cloves of garlic, unpeeled
a few sprigs of each fresh rosemary and thyme (I used about 6 of each)
3 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
1.2 litres (2 pints) vegetable or chicken stock

  1. Preheat oven to 220'C (430'F).
  2. Pull the leaves off the herb stalks and chop finely.
  3. Put all of the ingredients, except for the stock, into a roasting tin. Turn in your hands so everything is coated in oil. Roast, uncovered, for 35-40 minutes, turning occasionally, until it all looks… roasty.
  4. Remove veg from oven. Squeeze garlic cloves out of their skins.
  5. Scrape the veggies into a blender and liquidise with the stock, in two batches if necessary. (I just put the lot in a big pot then blasted to smithereens with my trusty hand-held pulveriser thingy)
  6. Pour into a large pot and heat a little if needed.
  7. Check seasoning then EAT. Ooh yeah.
  8. Actually, put it some bowls first, THEN eat. If you insist on being civilised.

Per serve: 212 calories, 12g fat

Bon weekend, you groovers!

Juicy Juicy Green Grass

On Tuesday afternoon I trekked through the rain to the physio's office. I sat in the waiting room and read a surprisingly current issue of an interiors magazine. I'd been absorbed in all the festive things you can do with pine cones for about twenty minutes when one of the therapists came out and asked if I had an appointment.

"Yes, I'm here to see Mr P at 5.30."

"Mr P is out of the country until Thursday."

"Thursday?"

"Yes…"

"Oh… so he is!"

I'd looked at my diary Tuesday morning, right where it said in big letters PHYSIO 5.30PM in the Thursday space, but closed the diary as I thought, "Righto, physio today."

So I thanked her politely and confirmed my Thursday appointment. Then I stomped towards home in the rain, kicking at leaves, just bloody annoyed at myself. That infuriating, sputtering, pointless outrage when something small but annoying has happened and it's entirely your own fault. Rah rah rah.

And then a thought popped into my head. "Do you know what would make you feel better right now? Chocolate. Go to the shop and buy some CHOCOLATE."

All of a sudden all I could think was chocolatechocolatechocolate. Specifically, a Marks & Spencer Turkish Delight bar. I could feel the little serrations at the edge of the wrapper, the sigh of the paper as you peel it back. And I could feel the chocolate crack as I bit in, my teeth sinking into the pillowy innards; the chocolaty rosy scent in my nostrils.

Whoa. I was shocked by the automatic logic of my brain. Feel cranky = Need Chocolate. The thought just popped up instantly, vivid and urgent; almost a physical reaction. The rational part of me knew I had been successfully counting calories all week and had no intention of blowing it with a choccie bar, but I was surprised that on some level there still lurks this part of me that associates any sort of unpleasant emotion with shoving down something sweet.

Is there any way to stop that kind of reaction? I don't think so. I think it's what you do next that counts. I went home and we made this Spinach Cannelloni as planned. And it tasted alright, except for the spinach part. It was frozen spinach, which I've used a million times for Spinach and Feta pie, but that night it was just a big tangled, tasteless mess.

I wanted to see if Gareth would dare agree with me. "What did you think of that?"

"It was alright. It was… very green."

"Ah ha! I knew it."

"It was kind of chewy. Which would be okay… if I was a cow!" he cackled.

His stomach was growling wildly as we drifted off to sleep later.

"What the hell is going on in there?"

"It's all that grass digesting in my multiple bovine stomachs. I think it's up the fourth one now."

. . .

So, I am staying the hell off the scales for now. Things are going sooo swimmingly this week! I am happily sticking to my plans and eating beautifully so why mess that up by getting on the scale? I just don't want to deal with it for awhile. The numbers have been screwing with my head far too much lately. I know I am doing well and I am happy to gauge my progress by the fit of my trousers for the next wee while. I will get on the first Monday in December and report back to you then. Hurrah!

Downsizing

I'm amazed at the subtle difference of focusing on what I can do instad of what I can't. Before I would have looked at a 20-minute stretch DVD or 60 leg raises as a cop-out but now I see it's what my body needs right now. So I am just getting on with it instead of fighting against it and being cranky for not being able to do something more Hardcore.

It also amazes me how long I have to beat myself up against a brick wall before I come to these realisations. I seem to be particularly dense when it comes to my body. Just say I was learning to speak English, I would be perfectly content with learning how to say "goodbye" and "hello" and wouldn't smash things up because I couldn't read the complete works of bloody Shakespeare. Yet I have spent the past year or so being frustrated as hell and refusing to accept that you need to walk (or limp) before you can run. Thankfully for you, long suffering reader, I have finally made my peace with that.

. . .

Sam Breach is the author of scrummy food blog Becks and Posh and also happens to be on Weight Watchers to shed a few stray pounds. She posted an entry listing what she ate over the past week. It's a beautiful example of how you can eat the foods you love and still lose weight. There's mushroom and parmesan pizza, croissants, wine, sorbet, sausage – but all in small, controlled portions. Sam eats such delicious and wholesome food but in a very mindful way. And she lost 1.5lb this week, proving that you don't need to give up foods you love or cut out carbs or only eat green things or live off fat-free sugar-free taste-free overprocessed diet shite. Hurrah!

. . .

Another one for my Can Do list – Pay More Attention To What You Put In Your Gob. I'm halfway through my GFG Challenge and I'm right where I started! My waist and boobs have shrunk in a minor way but that's about it. Why has this happened? I haven't adjusted my eating enough to compensate for the lack of exercise. I eat healthy food but tooooooo much of it.

So these past few days I've been scrutinising my intake to see where I can improve.  I like Sam's aforementioned Quality In Small Quantity approach. If you look at her brekkie last week, she'd have a dab of avocado on one slice of toast, whereas I had half an avocado on two pieces of toast. Or even a whole avo if I was feeling particularly gluttonous.

I don't think I need to do anything dramatic, just a few tweaks and pay more attention to my portions. I'm also tracking my food online with both Weight Loss Resources and Nutracheck, using a free trial of each. Still trying to suss out which site I like best. Tracking on paper isn't working for me right now; I had just been writing stuff like, "porridge" or "soup" without really quantifying anything. It's been a nice slap in the chops to really see what I'm putting away.

With less calories available, it's been interesting deciding where I'm willing to spend them. There are some foods I just won't compromise on. Like plain natural yogurt – it's full fat Yeo Valley or nothing. I'd rather eat it less often than gag my way through a daily pot of mealy low-fat stuff (aside from Total Greek Yogurt, of course). And I refuse to eat canned tuna in brine or springwater; it looks and tastes like cat food. Fair enough if it's disguised in a pasta sauce, but if I am having it naked on toast (the tuna, not me) it has to be in olive oil. It has more calories, so I just eat a smaller amount.

That is my overall theme, eating less. Today I had a baby can of tuna on toast, and at first felt kind of lost and cheated to see just one slice of bread on my plate. Don't slices of bread always come in pairs? No, you big pork, they do not!

And what do you know, one slice filled me up. Sometimes I think I still see myself as a sturdy 350lb who needs to fuel her flabby furnace with lots of food. I have to remind myself I am no longer that size, therefore I need less. Part me resents the hell out of that and feels entitled to an extra Weetabix in the morning or a sly bucket of fried chicken. But noooo! Must eat less!

Heal Your Knee And Your Ass Will Follow

Greetings! I have emerged from beneath my rock after a small break. I get so much sanity and solace from having a blog but every now and then I feel a little smothered by it. Instead of writing about things I needed to just focus on doing things instead.

I have the attention span of a gnat today so I will steal Lainey's Bite Sized Chunks format!

Cutting Edge Technology
Here is my current favourite piece of exercise equipment:

Canada

Yes it's Canada's National Parks by R. D. Lawrence. I put the book on the floor then stand on top of it and perform endless sets of step-down thingies for my knee. Kind of like a one-legged squat for the weak and hopeless.

Priorities, Man
Last week it dawned on me that my Fat-Fighting priorities were all out of whack. They were:

  1. Lose more blubber
  2. Increase fitness
  3. Heal my knee

I was wondering why this didn't seem to be happening but then realised that logically they can't really happen in that order.

First of all, I acknowledge that eating right is the best thing I can do to get to my goal, but the key factor in maximising my motivation to do so is exercise. It makes me feel good, strong and purposeful. Ever since I've been unable to do much exercise my motivation has never been as strong. So until I properly tackle Item No 3, I won't be able to do No 2 which will further assist with No 1.

Does that make sense? I have been fretting about No 1 and trying to speed that up by doing as much of No 2 as I can, but often pushing too hard (eg. ill-advised knee push-ups, swimming lessons, etc etc) which makes No 3 even worse. It's hard when your head says GO but the body says NO. I need to learn to listen to the body.

So I turned the list upside down and have been dedicated to Healing The Knee. Thanks to Wilma's helpful email I made up a wee Knee Program. I am doing my physio exercises like a mofo, icing the knee when it gets tender and generally being extra careful. It's not quite what I had in mind when I started my Going For Gold challenge, but I don't see how I am ever going to move forward until I stop this endless cycle of Hurt Knee > Feel Miserable > Exercise Too Hard > Hurt Knee Again > Feel Miserable-r. I've been doing this for almost 18 months, pushing too hard too soon and setting my fitness and flab-fighting goals backwards, so for now the Knee Comes First.

Do's and Don'ts
Along with reassessing priorities I've also decided to stop focusing on what I can't do. Cannae run, Spin, row, jump, swim, squat, kneel. Moan moan moan! The negativity makes things even worse. But what about what I can do? Walk. Stretch carefully. Do upper body weights. Pay closer attention to what I eat since I am not moving as much. I have to accept this situation and work with it, not against it. I have been making things even harder than they need to be.

Pilates
I started Pilates at work again this week! We stopped the class over the summer and I really missed it. Pilates is one of those things that make you wonder, is this doing a bloody thing for me? But when I stopped for a few months I noticed my posture getting lazy and my stomach getting sloppy. So it's good to be back again. Next week I will have to modify some moves, coz the plank irritated my knee, but I think I can do it on my toes again. I like the idea of having Abs of Steel, even if they are hidden under 27 levels of lard!

Winter Fayre
I made the last Spinach Pie of the season this week. Filo pastry and greenery just seems too airy fairy when it's dark outside! I'd also gone off yogurt and muesli for brekkie, far too summery. But this week I was mad for hot stewed apples with yogurt and a couple of big spoons of raw oats and sunflower seeds on top. A pinch of cinnamon and you could almost kid yourself you were eating apple crumble for brekkie. Almost.

I've gone soup daft, too. The latest favourite is very lazy and based on a WW Zero Point recipe. You just chop up a couple of onions, zucchinis and carrots and throw them in a pot with a can of tomatoes (I prefer passata) and the equivalent amount of vegie stock and some mixed herbs. I like it because you don't need to fart around sauteing things. It's easy to clean the pot! Anyway, you just simmer til soft, chucking in a can of butter beans towards the end for some protein. Then blast it smooth or eat it chunky. It's also nice to chuck in an old Parmesan rind while it's simmering away, makes it taste faintly cheesy. As long as you remember to remove it before you blend!

Enough rambling for today, I'm off to make the paella for dinner. Hope you are all going great guns out there in fatblog land!

Lazy Bones

Why hello lovelies! How art thou all today?

Praise your deity-of-choice for Erin’s latest post! It has made me feel so much more sane for feeling insane about this fat busting stuff lately. It’s not that I am doing badly, it’s sometimes you just get bloody sick of thinking about fat and plotting how to banish your fat and talking and writing about your fat. Sometimes it’s boring. There, I said it.

. . .

I’ve had a flurry of correspondence lately in which people have questioned my mental health, so I thought I’d best clear that up! I need a disclaimer on this site that blog entries are just brief snapshots of time, capturing a fleeting thought or mood. They’re not the entire sum of a person. Most times when I write a cranky entry I’ll switch off the computer and forget all about it, then go frolick through the nearest meadow. But sometimes people take things quite literally and send me alarmed emails, so let me reassure that I am not depressed; I’m altogether mentally balanced and happy 🙂

Also, on Monday when I mentioned I was back in Scotland and it was dark outside, I was just pointing out the contrast as only hours earlier I was getting sunburn in Spain. I probably shouldn’t have used the words "post-holiday blues", but everyone gets those, don’t they? A few days of nothing but sightseeing and sitting on your arse under a blue sky, then returning to the hohum of work and an unclean bathroom always brings on a brief case of the blahs.

I also better clarify the first paragraph of this entry where I used the word "insane". I mean a gentle, non-descript kind of insanity, not Call The Authorities crazy.

. . .

Today I turn 29. Holy crap!

SHAUNA: My twenties have been entirely about my fat! How rubbish is that!? I spent the first half busily working my way to morbid obesity, and the second half trying to come back down again!

GARETH: Well it’s not all been about the fat. You’ve done some other stuff too.

S: Like what?

G: Like moving overseas. And meeting me!

S: Hmmm. I spose so.

Mwahahaha 🙂

For the final year of my twenties I resolve to make better use of my time and be less lazy. Like not only shaving my right leg because that’s the only one the physiotherapist is going to be looking at, as I did yesterday morning. That’s shockingly lazy, and most unsettling for poor Gareth.