Think Thin!

I’m getting out the measuring cups, folks. I have officially declared this Watch Your Portions Week. I don’t have a problem eating the right kinds of foods, just a problem with eating too much of them. I am sure my brown rice portion is more suited to a family of four. A family of four gorillas. If gorilla families ate brown rice, that is.

Today I bought a small loaf of rye bread, a chunky doorstop of a thing. If you threw it at somebody’s head it might be fatal. I’ve always wanted to try the stuff, it looks so wholesome in a potential-deadly-weapon sort of way. But I toasted a thin slice and it was actually alright, although a little chewy. It went down nicely with an egg and spinach and grilled tomatoes and mushies. Hubba hubba.

In Scale news: there is no news. But I shall keep on keeping on! The exercise is alright and if I can get a handle on these portion sizes something will happen soon. I am feeling less flabby in the belly region so right now that’s good enough for me.

. . .

Thursday nights are sacred at Chez Dietgirl, well at least the precious minutes between 7.10 and 8 PM. The classic 60s series The Avengers is on BBC Four and we always tune in. It’s kitschy and hilarious and Gareth gets to perve on Diana Rigg as Emma Peel in her shiny leather trousers.

Last week’s episode was intriguingly titled, "How to Succeed… At Murder!" and featured a gang of Killer Secretaries that would bump off their bosses and take over their businesses. They would all meet up at HQ for briefings and fitness classes. You need more than shorthand to be a good killer secretary. There’s ballet and Strangulation 101 too.

Anyway, there was this fantastic sign in the classroom with the Killer Secretaries motto:

Sign

THINK THIN
TO BE SLIM IS TO BE SUCCESSFUL
NUBILITY = PROSPERITY

I thought of all the good folks in Fatblog Land and our constant search for words of motivation, so here are some more grainy screenshots.

Blondie

Blondie Secretary here strangled one guy with her stocking and shot another with a gun-shaped charm on her charm bracelet that was actually a REAL gun! All while thinking THIN!

Emma

Meanwhile our heroine Emma Peel doesn’t seem convinced by the sloganeering. She may be nubile, but working top secret for the British government hasn’t made her particularly prosperous.

Thin4

Here our hero John Steed is surrounded by leotard-wearing weapon-weilding Killer Secretaries. What is the collective noun for a bunch of Killer Secretaries? A tippex of Killer Secretaries? A memo? A staple? A shredder of Killer Secretaries? Anyway, power in slender numbers, gals!

Now even if you harbour no ambition to become a Killer Secretary, I’m sure you’ll agree these are words of wisdom and inspiration that can help you on your own lard-busting journey. A motto for life!

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!

Be Like The Mormons

Can I get a WOOHOO for the power of human endeavour? I had a good weigh-in this morning and I am deliriously happy to see some progress. The six weeks of post-honeymoon slob-out is over, I’m back on track! Sometimes I just look at the statistics and can’t believe the difference in those numbers. It seems so long ago I used sit there on the couch surrounded by chocolate bars trying to summon the energy to walk to the end of the driveway to check the mailbox.

I get emails from people asking how do you do it, what’s your secret? There’s no bloody secret, except just concerted effort over time. Being persistent and determined. It’s like most things in life. Take Mormons or Jehovah’s Witnesses, they go knocking on doors every weekend trying to spread the good word. They must get told to piss off a dozen times a day! But they give up? Nooo. So be like that about your fat. It may tell you to go away, I’m sleeping in, but just keep nagging and annoying it until it finally screams, "Fine! Alright!" and surrenders to your will.

Anyway, on to this week’s statistics.

Wednesday Weigh-In – Week Fourteen

last update: 20 April 2005

age: 27
height: 173cm (5’8")

original start weight: 159.2 kg (351 lb) on 17 Jan 2001
original start bmi: 53.4

fresh start weight: 95.9 kg (211.4 lb) on 12 Jan 2005
fresh start bmi: 32.2

current weight: 87.8 kg (191.4 lb)
current bmi: 29.4

result this week: -1.3 kg (2.2 lb)

loss in 2005: –8.1 kg (17.6 lb)
total loss since 2001: -71.4 kg (156.2 lb)

initial goal weight: 75 kg (165 lb)
distance to goal: 12.8 kg  (26.4 lb)

. . .

There seems to be an air of Let’s Get This Bloody Over And Done With amongst a few of my favourite bloggers. Tree and Ms Ralph are busting for the finish line so they can enter the Weight Watchers Slimmer of the Year contest. And Kimba kicking ass on her new 22 Week Challenge, shooting for her WW goal by her 2 year WW anniversary date.

I’ve been looking at my own calendar and doing some obsessive calculations. We’re looking to fly to Australia for Wedding Part III around 23 September, so my last Wednesday Weigh-In before that shall be 21 September. That’s 22 weeks! So I’ll be on a 22 Week Challenge of sorts too. I’m aiming for 75 kilos which is the very top of my healthy weight range. That means I need to average a 0.6kg loss per week, 0.58181818181 to be precise!

Can it be done? I reckon I can get pretty close, especially if I keep up the good eatin’ and ass shakin’ of the past couple weeks. Onward and downward, comrades.

Wednesday Weigh-In – Week Ten

So I gained half a kilo this week – I’m up to 89.8kg. I am too miserable to be arsed posting the usual list of stats. It’s not as fun when the number goes up!

There were a few days this week that I seemed to forget I was this overweight person who cannot get away with eating chocolate bars. I had not got organised with grocery shopping yet so I didn’t have good snacks for work. Instead I made trips to the vending machine. I had Mars Bars, Twirls and this strangely addictive Kinder Bueno thing.

I was in serious denial on the weekend, in my Saturday entry I said I was feeling “vague and half-hearted” about weight loss. Vague and half-hearted is one way of putting it, but being a mindless sugar pig is another! Saturday afternoon, after joining the gym, I walked to a mini supermarket in search of olives and peppers for our pasta that night. There were no peppers and this tiny jar of olives for 89p. I got all huffy and resentful, the expensive olives being a metaphor for the utter shiteness of the town I now live in. I stomped around the shop looking for something to calm me down, and then I spotted the freezer.

“AH HA!” I thought, “There is the freezer, and in that freezer is ICE CREAM, that substance that I really wanted last week but didn’t get! So now it will be mine!”

I bought one of those Mars Bar icecream bars, just to continue the Mars Bar theme of the week. It was “only” one bar, as opposed to a box, so I got another one of those Kinder Buenos in case I wasn’t satisfied with the Mars Bar.

I was walking back home, halfway up the big hill when I remembered SC was there, and all his mates were over. So I stood there scoffing down this Mars Bar ice cream, lurking behind a tree like some pervert, putting the bar down every time a car went by so people wouldn’t think I was the Greedy Fat Chick. I was so edgy that I didn’t enjoy a single mouthful, then I had to squint into car windows to see if I’d left chocolate evidence on my mouth.

I got home and pretty much lurked in the bedroom all evening after saying hi to everyone. I read my book Running Made Easy while sneaking bites of the Kinder now and then, stashing the wrapper in my handbag.

I was struck by the ridiculousness of my behaviour. What the hell was I doing? Who was this benefiting? Was this how I wanted my married life to be? Clandestine chocolate bars and foil wrappers in my undie drawer for the rest of my days?

I think I am just feeling unnerved by of all the change going on at the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I am over the moon to be married to SC, but the whole moving out to his place and giving up my old routines and favourite haunts has been harder than I expected. I didn’t expect to feel so resentful. I hate having to come up with all new ways of doing things, especially in terms of weight loss – because as you know I had a cracker of a routine happening before the wedding, I had great losses and was making progress with my fitness. Now I am struggling to get the formula right. That said, scoffing down chocolate bars is NOT going to get me back on track. It’s not rebellion eating, it’s just dumb eating.

Sunday became Get My Shit Together Day. I know that only planning brings me success. So I finally ordered the groceries online, we now have a fridge full of healthy stuff. Then I emailled the lovely Mistress Julia about the 5k and she is going to send me a training plan. I decided not to wait around in the meantime – SC and I went out and did Week One Day One of the Couch to 5k programme. It was a bit rough, I found running outdoors with hills and winds so much harder than faffing on the treadmill – but I was glad I did it. SC could have gone a lot faster but he insisted on staying with me. He is so bloody sweet and encouraging, I love him to bits. His encouragement as I bitched and moaned and huffed and puffed made me feel guilty for the secret binge the day before.

Monday night I braved the new gym and went to Body Pump. It was four weeks since my last class but I am proud to say I didn’t need to reduce any of my weights. I was in agony yesterday though, and my triceps are still killing today! And we’re off for another walk/jog tonight. I still feel kinda shaky at the moment, all this new stuff seems to have dented my confidence for some reason. But I just have to keep doing these positive things. Putting down the chocolate bars, putting on the running shoes. I can do it.

Cake is Sexy

My greatest runs of weight loss are always when I write down what I eat.  This year I've gone through phases of dilgently filling in my Slimming Magazine 2004 Diet Diary, then getting cranky with it and giving up.  There's columns for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and calories, but no space for exercise.  Or water consumption.  Or random drivel.

I was ferreting around in the Skinny Daily archives, reading all JuJu's entries in the Journal category, and then it hit me.  I didn't need a structured diary, I needed a big sprawling book of blank pages where I could run wild.  My weight loss caper doesn't fit into neat little boxes.  I don't want to write "1 apple, 4 brazil nuts".  I want to write "1 apple, 4 brazil nuts" then wax lyrical about what time it was when I ate, what mood I was in and what colour socks I had on.  This weight loss thing is such an emotional, complex thing for me, and until now I had been attempting to journal in tiny little Weight Watchers trackers or online calorie counters or the Slimming Diet Diary.  It doesn't suit my style at all. 

It didn't occur to me before that I could take a less regimented approach.  For some reason I thought there was some unwritten Sacred Rule that you had to be all official-like.  But thanks to JuJu I've decided to be more organic.  I went to Paper Tiger and bought myself a large Moleskine journal with graph paper inside.  Moleskines are oh so trendy these days, but I've been using them for years – they're the only notebooks that I've ever actually completely filled and didn't toss away halfway through coz I was bored of them.  Best of all, they always open flat, no matter where you are in the book.  They are just so comfy and easy to write in.

Anyway, I've decided to be unstructured yet structured.  On the first page I wrote "This Week" and wrote a few Mini Missions, concerning running and water intake and wearing my pedometer.  On the next page I wrote the date, then:

EXERCISE:
STEPS:
WATER:

Which is pretty self explanatory.  I can fill that in at the end of the day and get an overall picture in a Bridget Jones "units consumed" sort of way. Then underneath I just wrote down what I ate.  Below that is where it gets crazy, I crap on and on about how I felt and what I craved and when.  So far it is working brilliantly, I am getting back into that beautiful mindset where I think about what I eat instead of this mindless grazing I've been doing for months and months.

Last night I stayed at my Lovely Boy's house.  It is his birthday today and I am cooking him dinner.  Last night I was making the birthday cake in advance while he was in the recording studio with his mates – thus leaving me alone with cake batter, the bastard.  Normally if I creamed butter and sugar together I'd be sticking in my finger to taste, same goes for the block of Green & Blacks 70% Dark Chocolate melting on the stove.  Then I'd no doubt lick the bowl afterwards.  But tonight I kept thinking of my journal and didn't want to spoil the page by having to write "6.30PM – Half a cup of butter, sugar and raw eggs".  I made sure I had the sink full of hot water and washed the bowl right away.

The smell of the finished cake was incredible — Dense Chocolate Loaf a la that saucy minx Nigella Lawson.  I was so aching to pick away at the cracked top but thought of my journal and my sister back home.  My sister is on an incredible roll at the moment, losing weight and exercising religiously.  I am happy for her but intensely jealous.  She knocked on my door at 5.55 AM yesterday to see if I was ready for our run.  I said "NO!" and dived under the covers.  "No worries, I'll go on my own," she says.  This of course spurred me into action and I was dressed in 2 minutes.  So last night I thought of her motivation streak as I stood over the chocolate cake.  I went and got my journal and sat on the couch, writing a new heading "Mantra of the Week – Would Your Sister Be Eating That?"

So this journal is all over the place (just like THIS journal), but it is helping.  I've realised where I have been going wrong.  I do well while I am at home with my sister, but as soon as I am on my own or with The Boy I let things slip.  He got home at 10PM and we ended up having a slice of cake, even though the birthday isn't til today.  But when someone comes home and tells you you're gorgeous and a domestic goddess and is generally happy to see you, it is hard to remember you're trying to drop 20 kilos.  Oh fuck it, cake is sexy. Let's eat cake.

But I wrote that down in my journal today.  Just because I feel truly loved by someone for the first time in my life doesn't mean I have a green light to get lardy.  Hopefully by keeping track of all this sprawling information, I can get back to that place where I was making considered decisions about what I ate.  That's the place where I lost some serious weight. 

I, Robot

Weight loss is easy. "Eat less, move more," says Dr John Smug MD from the University of Smugtown, "That's all there is to it!".

If you're a goddamn robot that is. I wish I was a robot, an automaton, a shiny box of metal with flashing lights and sproingy legs.

But I am not. And this is why it is never easy. Because I have this  brain constantly ticking away, constantly flipping through a rainbow of moods. Just think, if our bodies could be half as active as our brains, we'd be permanently sweaty, achy limbed, and very very skinny. Just flick back through my archives or anyone elses. It's all subject to change. I write reams about my thoughts and ideas on weight loss, and some days I come up with lightning bolt theories and explanations, but the next day I'll wake up in a different mood, circumstances will change or Venus is my 7th house, and I'll come up with a earth-shattering revelation that completely contradicts the last one.

My attitude to my body, my life, my health changes constantly. Here's a few thoughts I've had in the past month or so:

  • If he steals that last piece of chocolate I will hit him
  • I don't need that chocolate, I'm fine with this here apple
  • I am getting serious calf muscles from all that running
  • I am not doing enough running, I'm not making serious effort
  • It's so nice being able to buy a size 18 at a normal shop
  • I hate never finding anything to wear in a normal shop
  • I drank all my water and took the stairs today, that's a great start
  • I am kidding myself thinking water consumption is actual effort towards losing weight
  • I don't want to have sex because my stomach is so revolting flabby
  • My body is such a gloriously curved masterpiece that I think I will go have a wank

So what can you do with all this? How do you find a balance? How does anyone ever succeed? How can you bring some robot action into a creature full of contrast and contradiction?

I overanalysed the above then considered the wide range of lovely ideas/theories in the comments on the last entry. I wrote things on whiteboards, brewed up some blue liquid in a beaker, met with a crack team of dietitians and psychologists and came up with The Ultimate Theory* about my godawful Lard Busting Journey.

The only thing you can do when trying to lose weight, especially if it is a really fucking huge amount over an excruciatingly lengthy slab of time is:

  1. Be patient
  2. Accept that you will be a moody bastard some days, and just ride it out
  3. Try to limit the damage when faced with #2
  4. Choose the healthy option/action for the vast majority of the time

* Theory subject to change

. . .

How about I stop with the analysis and tell you what's been happening?

I got on the scale Tuesday night. I just wanted to see how things were going, I hadn't been on for over a month. Well, it wasn't good. I'm back up to 95 kilos (209lb). My lowest weight was 90.5 (199lb) in mid February. I've been fluctuating at around 91 – 94 kilos all year, but now it's crept up to 95 I can no longer kid myself that I am maintaining. I have gained weight. The scale isn't everything, but my clothes aren't getting any baggier. If I don't put in some serious effort a small gain could lead to some serious blubber.

My sister, on the other hand, had lost two kilos. I was happy for her but so burningly jealous I longed to kick her.

But let's look at the positives. I've gotten into a nice wee routine of doing cardio before my Thursday night Body Pump (weights) class. I say "routine" because it's happened three Thursdays in a row now so it seems more than accidental now, yes? So it's 20 minutes on the treadmill followed by 20 minutes on the elliptical.

The first week you may recall I ran a record 5 minutes on the treadmill, last week I bumped it up to 7.5 minutes. My legs felt like jelly when I hopped off. I quite enjoyed it though. Last night, after 5 minutes warm-up, I ran for ten whole minutes. TEN! I was so euphoric.

So I am just aiming to build on this. I am trying not to think about how freaking slow I am, rather build up my fitness and just go a little further each week. I am never going to win any races, folks – I looked down at the timer at 14 minutes and I'd only just clocked up a mile. The 14 Minute Mile! Mwahahhaa.

I increased some of my weights in the Pump class. I was feeling all very smug with my fitness efforts until the end of the class when everyone was putting their weights away. When I put my Reebok step back on the pile the entire stack collapsed and clattered all over the floor like giant dominoes. Everybody turned and stared.

"YES, THANK YOU! THANK YOU VERY MUCH!", I waved to the crowd and slinked out.

The Routine

I lose weight when I’m in The Routine. I’m in control and I feel good. As soon I deviate from The Routine things tend to go pear-shaped. They say you’re supposed to have variety in your weight-loss regime, and while I mess about with the ingredients, there’s an overall formula that is absolutely essential for me if I want to have any sort of success.

The Routine is a joint effort between my sister and I. For those not in the know, we’re living in the UK on backpacker budgets, working two jobs (6 or 7 days a week) in order to finance our upcoming travels. So we’ve got very limited free time and funds. We’ve found The Routine maximises our spare time and helps us to stay healthy and sane.

1. The Shopping
Everything hinges on the weekly shopping trip. We recently switched to Tuesday evenings – less crowded, more frequent buses, doesn’t waste our weekend. My sister and I catch a bus straight from our respective workplaces and meet up at the supermarket to save more time. She usually gets there first so she starts without me, which I like because I don’t end up putting chocolate bars into the trolley. We plan in advance what meals we’ll eat for the week and just whizz around the aisles collecting only what we need. All this means we’re all done and back home by about 6.30pm.

2.  The Salads
Every weekday we take a honkin’ huge salad to work. It saves buying lunch and guarantees at least one healthy meal per day! We make them the night before and it’s a bustling production line. All the ingredients are in the one spot in the fridge so we just grab everything and get to work. We dump a handful of mixed salad greens into two lunch boxes, add chopped up peppers, cucumbers, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes. That’s pretty much the base of it, we just vary the extras each week – anything from a boiled egg to ham, chicken, avocado, homemade felafels, chickpeas, cold roasted vegies, sunflower seeds or lentils. My sister cleans up while I make us each some dressing – usually olive oil and vinegar, or oil/seeded mustard/ lemon juice and a tiny drop of honey – in two tiny screw-top jars so there’s no spillage and we just shake and pour at work.

Sometimes we make a little couscous salad for the side – just throw some wholemeal couscous in a bowl with a sprinkle of vege stock power, cover with boiling water. Leave for ten minutes or so, fluff up with a fork, let cool then chuck in some sundried tomatoes, fresh chives and a handful of chickpeas. Mmm.

All in all, it only takes about 15 minutes of effort each night. No matter what ends up in the box,  there’s something fresh and delicious to look forward to at lunch. Countless times we’ve had colleagues eyeing off our lunch as they devour a tuna mayo roll and say "Wow, what’s that?". "It’s a SALAD." "Wow, did you make that?"

3. The Dinners
When you are time and budget pressed it’s easy to end up eating crap for dinner. And the last thing you want to do when tired and/or cranky is spend heaps of time in a kitchen when you have 5 other flatmates to contend with. We manage to get away with cooking twice a week. We cook on Tuesday nights after the shopping and make enough to do another two meals. Last night it was chili con carne – as soon as it was ready we dished it out into two plates then into four containers. So that’s us sorted til Friday night. Then we’ll do the same Cook and Divide thing.

My sister and I are inherently lazy and have no problems eating the same meal three nights in a row. It also makes the most economic sense to cook in that way since it’s just the two of us.

4. The Snacks
I take a yogurt to work each day, as well as an apple or two, and/or sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds. I gather up the little snack pile the night before so it’s ready to go. This is another essential part of the plan so I don’t go wandering off to the vending machine for chocolate.

5. The Gym
We are vigilant about phoning the gym to book our classes each week so we can’t use "the class was full" as an excuse. My sister has email reminders set up at her work then she’ll email me, "Have you booked us in yet?" and I will say "Whoops" and furiously dial. If the first four parts of The Routine are in place it is sooo much easier to get to the gym. If our dinner is already cooked for Mondays and Wednesdays, it doesn’t seem like so much of an ordeal to take time out for the gym.

Now before anyone emails me to say my routine is too routine and no wonder I’ve lost hardly any weight lately, blah blah blah, remember this is what works for my life. Without this kind of planning I wind up out of control and in another depressed episode – anyone who’s been reading for awhile will know my pattern.

And of course life gets in the way of The Routine sometimes. There’ll be some social event on a Gym Day or we get home late and don’t make The Salads – and it throws everything out of whack. The Routine often falls victim to fatigue (usually after we’ve done one of our 7 day working weeks), flu and PMS tantrums. I get cranky when the routine is disrupted. My mum arrives next week for a 10 day visit, and I must admit I am already looking ahead to when she leaves so we can get back on track.

Am I sad or what?

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.

From A Galaxy Far, Far Away

Hello out there to anyone who’s still around! Here I am in the good ol’ UK. I’ve actually been here two months now. What an up and down time it’s been! I’ve been completely slack about updating, but I wanted to have my head together a bit before I wrote again.

First things first – I have no email acccess at home therefore no access to my dietgirl email account. I’m really sorry if you think I’ve been a horrible snob, still trying to sort out (ie. afford) net at home.

Losing weight has been challenging here, to say the least. I really underestimated how difficult it would be to adjust to this new life. I guess I never really stopped to consider that I was moving to the other side of the planet, for goodness’ sake, and it would take a good while to get used to things.

I ate like a pig for the first couple of weeks. Well, a pig on a budget, that is. We knew the exchange rate wasn’t in our favour coming from Australia, but food is just so bloody expensive over here! While we ran around trying to find somewhere to live and find work, we ate quite poorly. Life was so overwhelming that diet and exercise was the last thing on my mind.

By about week four, my new suit that I’d bought in Oz before I left was getting more than a little snug. Plus I was getting incredibly down. Temp work is not the greatest thing for your morale, especially when you’re used to a mentally demanding job. I’d gotten into the bad habit of grazing on junk food at work out of sheer boredom, then coming home from work and flopping on the bed and sleeping. Or crying. Crying because I felt like a big fat loser and I’d come such a long and expensive way to feel like a big fat loser.

I tip my hat to anyone in the UK that has lost a shitload of weight. Maybe it’s a particularly an urban thing, but it seems to me it would be a lot easier and cheaper to eat unhealthily. Everywhere you turn here you can buy convenience meals, fresh or frozen, very cheap and decent portions. Or you can buy sandwiches in little plastic cartons that look okay but you have to sift through a litre of mayonnaise to find the meat. Or you can just rock up to the local chippie and buy some lard-covered delicacy.

Fruit and vegies, on the other hand, are comparatively expensive. If there’s any Aussies reading, I would like to say you have NO excuse at all not to lose weight. F&V are so cheap and plentiful back home, we are spoilt for choice. You can get good quality fruit at any supermarket. It’s cheaper to buy a shitload of vegies than it is to buy some ready meal. But here fresh produce is bloody pricey and has to be flown from Kenya or Chile or god knows where.

I’m finding eating well takes a helluva lot more willpower and planning over here. I can see why people would find losing weight a very daunting task. It’s summer now, but on those dreary rainy days it’s so easy to think "screw it" and not exercise or buy something easier to eat. We don’t have a car now so food shopping means a long walk or a trip on the bus and lug it all home in our backpacks. Some days it’s tempting to go to the local shop and buy something easier but invariably less healthy. And I can’t imagine what it will be like when winter kicks in and it gets dark at 4pm! It must be hard to get into gear then.

That said, I am doing well now. Sure it takes more effort, but I must admit I feel a little tinge of smugness when I am cooking some meal from scratch and the flatmates are heating frozen meals or opening tins of soup. Hehe. We haul ass up a hill to the local greengrocer to get a better selection of vegies, we walk a couple of miles in the other direction to get cheaper nuts and rice from a health food shop.

At work the other day I had my little container filled with mixed lettuce, cherry tomatoes, avocado, peppers, cheese, cucumber etc, and sat crunching away.

Colleague: What’s that you’re eating!?
Me: It’s a salad.
Colleague: Oooh. That looks complicated.

I’m earning less than half of what I was in Oz, yet everything is twice as expensive. This may make me sound like a freak, but I am quite enjoying making the pounds stretch as far as we can. I really took for granted how easy and plentiful and cheap food is in Australia, so now I am determined to make the best of things over here. It takes more effort but it’s somehow fun and satisfying. Good lord I am dork.

Anyway, back to the crying. I felt overwhelmed and out of control. I missed cheap mangoes and avocados and my Mum. Instead of feeling excited about this overseas adventure, I was convinced I’d spend the next two years gaining all my weight back and being miserable.

But then I thought of the PAST two years and all that bloody effort I’d put into to losing it, and realised there’s no way I could let it happen. Plus I was here to challenge myself and to have fun, to see and do things I’d never done before. I only have two years so I don’t want to waste my time feeling sorry for myself.

So I joined the gym. Sure it is expensive, but I was spending the equivalent in junk food anyway. I rocked up for my induction and discovered I’d bulked up to 104.5 kg. But four weeks and a bazillion classes later, I’m back down to 101.6 kg. More on the gym later, but I just wanted you all to know I’m back on track baby!

This losing weight thing is taking so much longer than I thought. But life has a habit of getting in the way of a diet ‘schedule’. So I am just going to enjoy myself and not panic and let the lard come off nice and sensibly.

Turkey Is A Dish Best Served Cold

So I am doing pretty well, folks! Week 8 of my New Regime and I am still losing steadily. Rock on!

I’ve found the best tactic right now is to simply go cold turkey on the junk. Before with Weight Watchers, I was always thinking about food. I was so busy counting points and wondering if I could squeeze in something sweet. Or how many points in a McDonalds sundae? Hmm hmm.

But for now, I am really being quite vigilant and just sticking to my three meals a day and no fancy shit. I just have such a problem with self-control. I know one small piece of chocolate is not enough for me. I can’t trust myself to eat one bit then stop.

Does anyone else have this problem?

Anyway it’s working well so far. I am feeling good. And my clothes are fitting again. Some are getting to be too big. AH YES, I love being a loser again.

It’s only a month til my 25th birthday. Anyone remember how 18 months ago I vowed to be a size 14 by now and kiss everyone and dance on tables at my party?

Well I am size 20 and I won’t be kissing anyone. I guess my expectations were too high. Or I didn’t expect to waste the first half of 2002 gaining weight back.

I get very upset sometimes, angry at myself for going off track, for letting life get in the way of my weight loss shennanigans. But what can you do? Just gotta keep going.

So kissing and parties for my 26th then.