Monday, 1 February 2016

Sometimes it's hard to be a woman

I am still suffering hormonal bloat (now a fortnight overdue (if not TMI)) and feel much like Violet Beauregard – or Aunt Marge in Harry Potter.  I may yet explode.  In fact, I did over the weekend and yet I am still puffed up.

I had either very violent food poisoning or some vicious stomach bug.  This was initially good on the weight loss side – always the silver lining – but the recovering stage means I really only want toast and marmite which is not so good.  There really isn’t a low-carb equivalent to that kind of comfort, easy-eating food.  I did have scrambled eggs (P makes excellent eggs – and an excellent nurse) but again, on toast.  So I put weight on again – 1.5lbs from post- erm – ejection to today (although still down overall on the week).  And today is a starve day so let’s see what that does.  My stomach is still not happy – which is unfortunate since I have Covent Garden Soup Co Peri Peri chicken soup planned for supper (and trying to tell myself that I will NOT have toast).  I’m in the office but shooting off as soon as I’ve got an urgent outstanding issue sorted to languish on the sofa and feel sorry for myself.

I had a rotten night too – I’ve not had one for a bit, but I went to bed anxious and unhappy and it spiralled down from that point.  No-one talks about the menopause but I think I’m in perimenopause – not something I’m relishing being precocious about, my mum was about 10 years older.  But she didn’t have these symptoms.  I really think the depression, anxiety and sleeplessness I’ve had over the last couple of years is linked to my hormones; not least because the last time I felt this bad was when I was 12-13 years old.  Seems too much of a coincidence.  Apparently these symptoms can last 10 years.  I wanted to cry when I found this out.  Actually I was crying but you know what I mean.  So please, please anyone reading who’s not hit the perimenopause be aware of these symptoms so that you don’t think, like I did, that I was going mad.  It does make it a bit better.  All I knew about was hot flushes – at least I don’t have those – but there are a myriad of unpleasant health problems, including anxiety, depression, insomnia and migraine (all of which I have).  Something to look forward to, eh?  Or you may be like my mother and sail through without really noticing, fingers crossed.

Anyway, enough of this second-bout-of-teenage-angst.  Dieting is going well – post-ejection toast aside.  Last week at WI day on Thursday I lost 2lbs which is pretty stellar for me.  The first couple of Jane Plan days showed a good drop too but I won’t pre-empt the official WI.  Jane Plan? It’s okay.  It’s more breakfast than I’m used to – I had 25g granola and they give me 40g – but lunches are very small (a half cup of soup) and dinners are small too although bearable.  You also get a snack – either a small bar of quite nice dark chocolate or a very sad, small, lonely biscuit. 

Their granola is tasty, the soup (tomato) was fine but pretty tasteless and the two evening meals I had were vegetarian lasagne (really quite nice) and beef in ale casserole with root mash (okay).  I only had the lasagne first as one of the ambient packs had exploded – in the manner of an ambient and faulty breast implant – and I had to eat the contents of the pack with the most fall-out.  Shows though, as I wouldn’t have greeted vegetable lasagne with any enthusiasm whilst beef casserole sounded great – in fact, it was the other way around.


I’m still planning to do 3 x days of Jane Plan, 2 x days of starve days and 2 careful weekend days.  The starve days are to balance the weekend days.  Otherwise I take your point Mrs Spoon that it would b worth giving JP a full go – but eating with husband in the evening at the weekend is really important to us both.  Especially given that dieting is such a long haul slog for me – otherwise it could be years with us basically not eating together!  

Friday, 22 January 2016

Up

When I got on the Scales of Doom to find that my weight had gone up, I managed to get a grip before (admittedly only fractions of a second before) I went into full freak out.  Breathing through the panic, I told myself that there was NO WAY that I could do a starve day and lose precisely zip.  It was SoD messing with my mind.  Yes, it was upsetting; yes, it was annoying as it was official WI for the week and showed me up 1lb – but it wasn’t factually accurate.  Clearly.

I therefore confronted SoD today with grim determination – and the confidence that I could move into the weekend with a more realistic idea of what I’d achieved.  Except my weight had gone up again.  Almost 2lbs. 

Now, I know I had a good day yesterday and I know I’d had a good week (bar those two slabs – and I don’t think they can totally explain this.  Yes the initial rise but not the two subsequent ones).  This defies logic.  Equally, I was aware I felt very bloated – I can’t get my engagement ring off and my stomach feels painfully swollen.  I think my period is now officially overdue.  So again, I’m trying to keep a grip and tell myself that I’m doing the right thing and all I can do is keep calm and carry on (oh, how hackneyed has that phrase become!  But opportune in this instance).  Neither keeping calm nor carrying on is easy at this point.  But I just have to do it.

In other dieting news: I’ve signed up to Jane Plan.  They – by default – sign you up for 3 months and put a financial arrangement in for each month which I think is naughty, but I’ve just cancelled the two subsequent payments.  I’ll decide after a month whether I want to continue or not, thanks very much.  I’m a little worried by ‘ambient’ (remember: not (necessarily) ambivalent) food pouches, but as I have proven over the years, I’ll try pretty much anything in my endless, fruitless drive to ditch the lard.  It looks as if it will be here for me to start – tidily – on Thursday the day I have my WI (and, 9 times out of 10, the day after my second starve day of the week incidentally). 

As far as I can see, it’s a calorie counted diet – the three meals and a snack add up to c1200 calories.  I am not sure whether this includes the fruit and vegetables you’re supposed to add in or not.  There is a nod to low-carb – fruit is restricted to a few berries with breakfast and two other portions and the fruit they recommend is a the lower carb end of the scale (cool-climate fruit instead of hot-climate fruit – at least lychees are going out of season now or I’d miss them).  But there is quite a lot of pasta in the evening meal choices – and it seems to be in the evenings that they advocate cutting the carbs.  Hmmm.

Breakfast is granola or porridge (porridge makes me starving so I’ve gone entirely for granola) with LF yoghurt (0% Total for me) and a few berries. Lunch is soup or some bean/couscous-or-similar based salads which I am highly dubious about, and dinner has quite a wide choice so difficult to summarise.  You also get a mid afternoon snack – I’ve gone mainly for dark chocolate since I’m not a biscuit fan – and are encouraged to have a crudite style mid-morning snack as well as being told to add salad or veg at lunch and dinner.  You can have fruit with lunch too – and I think another piece as a snack – but not after dinner.  I’ll find that hard.

I’ll let you know – interested or not! – what the various pouches are like because, selfishly, this will remind me if I decide to order more.  There are a lot of joyous exclamations on the site that you can lose 12lbs in the first month, but much as I’d like to believe that, I, well... don’t.  Not for me, I mean with my track record.  But if I could lose 2lbs a week, I’d be very well satisfied.  If I lost the average 3lbs pw that make up that 12lbs I’d be deliriously happy!


I’m tinkering with it a bit by doing 3 x JP days, 2 x starve days and then eating with P for the evening meal on Saturday and Sunday (nothing outrageous, just normal food).  Saturday will also include sharing a bottle of wine.  Hopefully those two days will be offset by the starve days.  And by mixing it up I hope not to get stuck in a rut – mental or physical.

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

To B- or not to B-

It’s not going too well.  I’d give me a B-.  To be fair, this is based entirely on an ill-advised consumption of not one but two chocolate chip shortbread ‘slabs’ yesterday.  Not as large as a Starbucks one but my colleague enters everything he eats on some app and it severely said these were ‘slabs’ not biscuits.

Just to plead a little something to be taken into consideration: I did not get my pizza on Friday night.  The exhibition was teeny and we were done much more quickly than I’d thought – and P wasn’t hungry enough.  It’s swings and roundabouts: I was really looking forward to it but it wouldn’t have helped with Operation Drop & Flop  – which is showing me the other meaning of this, namely that my spirits drop as my flab flops about.  Le sob.

So quite WHY it seemed like a good idea to have two ‘slabs’ yesterday (that’s not one, but two) I.  Do.  Not.  Know.  Other than, obviously, idiocy.  It was a stressful day but no more than 7/10, I have no let up in my chronic migraine pain yet, despite the new drugs that make me feel jet lagged and the office heating is broken at the temperature of the surface of the sun which meant I almost passed out.  Nope.  None of these explain it.   They’re just feeble, flimsy excuses.

Today is no2 Starve Day of the week but I’m not sure even that is going to bring me to a satisfactory WI total tomorrow.  I should be so dehydrated and desiccated from the extreme heat in the office that I ought to weigh lighter but I suspect that will not be the case as, as of this morning, I was up 1lb.  Wrong way, lady!

And I let P take a photo of me at the weekend.  Actually, I asked him to as I was wearing a hat that a friend in Canada gave me and I wanted to show him.  I am quite extraordinarily un-photogenic.  And whereas I’ve always looked at myself and said ‘ugly’ to myself, suddenly I’m at the point of adding words like ‘old’ and ‘haggard’.  I have to keep reminding myself that I’ve had three people think I was 8, 10 and 10 years younger than I am recently so it really can’t be that bad.  Not entirely sure how much of this is due to my childish attitude of course.....!


In summary: I’m finding it tough.  I’m finding life tough.  I think it’s just the January blues (so called but mine certainly last up until at least March).  Buckle down, knuckle down and get on with it (can’t promise that this will be without whinging though...)

Friday, 15 January 2016

I am not a number (but certainly not a free woman either!)

I’m not good with numbers.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’m mildly dyscalculate – long strings of numbers (well, anything over 4) are very difficult for me to read and numbers don’t stick in my head easily – it feels as if they literally slide off the surface of my mind.  I’m not good at maths either – or as a result of, who knows.

So working out all the stats around weight is doubly traumatic.  Especially as, for me, everything is so emotionally charged.  I sometimes find it hard to work out how much I’ve lost, even.  But one thing I know: it’s never enough!  I’m trying to keep a weekly tally as well as a daily one as it gives me a better sense of scale and perspective.  I think.  This week I’ve either lost 2lbs or 3lbs.  I say ‘either’ as I did my WI on Thursday which is directly after a starve day – this isn’t a real loss as it does a lurch down and then comes up a bit on a regular day.  That’s why I’m hoping that from hereon in a weekly tally will be a better indicator.  So, it was 3lbs off last week, after a starve day, 2lbs as of this morning.  Either of these results would normally make me very happy – but I blipped (blimped?) up a sudden 2lbs last week and if you discount that as a cruel and unusual anomaly, it would mean I’ve either lost 1lb or nothing.  Which, sadly, would tie in with my usual stellar rate of weight loss.  Ah well, by next week, things should be clearer.

I’m actually considering another diet tweak: has anyone heard of Jane Plan?  Essentially it’s ‘ambient’ food packages, delivered to you, to form a day’s meals, once you include vegetables (and possibly fruit, I’m not sure) and milk/yoghurt to have with granola.  I love the concept of ‘ambient’ food as I always think of it as ‘ambivalent’ food – food pouch: ‘yeah, well you could eat me but I’m not sure it’s the right move’.  I once did Diet Chef and it does sound similar.  I don’t recall great things from the Diet Chef experience (other than discovering that a) trying to store a month’s worth of food is nigh on impossible and b) I do actually like butter beans), which is one reason I dither, but I thought I could incorporate into my own possibly weird diet plan. 

Each day’s Jane Plan menu equates to 1200 calories.  So I could do two starve days, 3 Jane Plan days and my slightly more relaxed weekend dieting days – so I could have some wine on a Saturday and eat the same thing as P.  It appeals for three reasons: 1) I would absolutely know with confidence that on those 3 days I was eating 1200 calories, 2) I’m about to have a very busy time at work and having something to eat three times a day which requires very little effort is appealing and 3) I’m hoping it might help in dropping some weight for Operation Flop and Drop (my sun, sea, sand and stress holiday coming up).  If it were very successful, I’d even consider doing it 5 days a week and skipping starve days – but let’s not get too carried away at this point.  Although I’m still unsure that starve days plus massive workload is going to be realistic in any case.

Seren: you asked what I eat on a starve day.  I think I am a poor role model for this (and, thinking about it, for many things) as I want to think as little about food as possible when I’m that hungry and so go for easy stuff.  There are many sites online and books that show lovely things you can cook, should you be of that persuasion (and I think you are....!).  Gabby recommended someone to me actually so do ask her.  But me?  This is what I have:
·         A cappuccino – a reasonably sized one, not a US style bucket of hot milk in the morning
·         2 x Alpen Light cereal bars usually mid day and mid afternoon.  These are not delicious – just palatable.
·         An apple to be deployed as required
·         One of the ‘skinny’ cartons of fresh soup: I tend to have Glorious Malaysian Tomato  or Covent Garden Piri Piri Chicken with extra Worcester sauce.  Both of these are very nice so I have one on one starve day and the other on the second. 
As I say, very basic and not at all the sort of thing that a foodies like you and your husband might want to emulate.

But the next starve day is Monday and in the meantime I have a plethora of loveliness lined up.  Tonight I am going to the Tintin exhibition – and dragging long-suffering husband along – and then to Franco Manca for one of their very excellent cheese-light, sourdough pizzas (for which I am currently starving myself).  Tomorrow we’re going to the Celts exhibition at the British Museum – after we’ve gone for a nan bread bacon sarnie at Dishooms for breakfast and then a long walk back through the eerily empty City.  That represents my food relaxation for the weekend – well, the entire week – so frugality will be employed for the rest of the weekend and I’m very much looking forward to my weekend.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Carrot stick or metaphorical stick?

Reader: we’re doing it.  Yes, I read all your very empathetic and sensible advice and squirmed a bit and agonised -  and suddenly it was booked.  P doesn’t prevaricate (that particular responsibility was shared out to me) and I’d said I was going to leave the break to him when he first mooted it,  back when I thought it would be a long weekend in, maybe, Dorset.

So my first drop and flop holiday looms menacingly on the horizon.

Except it doesn’t really.  There’s too much work between now and then for that horizon to even feature.  I would stress however (entirely subconscious choice of words) that it’s volume of work rather than other unpleasantness.  Having put up with a toxic work environment for years in my last job, I’ll happily take volume over sniping, back-biting and a blame culture.  Yes, it’s likely to get tense and possibly ill-tempered at times, but it is nothing like what I had to endure there.  I know I’m valued and I know I’ll do a good job – and I know I’ll come out the other side.  If slightly frazzled.

Of course, work stress – especially when experienced en masse – does tend to lead to bad eating.  The treats go up in quantity but not quality and the propensity to just grab some, mindlessly, increases exponentially.  I need to dig deep and find some willpower.  It’s not like crazy amounts of sugar actually help with stress after all.

In fact, with a sun, sand, sea and stress holiday coming hot on the heels of the work intensity, succumbing will actually lead to more stress.  Maybe that is the factor that will deliver that much needed willpower.

I didn’t ever talk to P – despite your good advice – not only because he’d pretty much done the deed by the time I’d posted, but also because I don’t want him to ever have to suffer because of my hang-ups.  He loves a bit of sun and never really gets it – our holidays tend to be yomping round historical sites and/or hiking and whilst he likes that too, he misses out on sunshine (actually we did get some in Syria in 2010 but only whilst marching round sites – now sadly mostly gone of course).  I have asked him if he’s intending to swim in CV and he said probably not – this somehow lessens the feeling that I’m missing out on that and the pressure.  Then again, we’re doing a day’s trip which encompasses good beaches so.....  I shall take a cozzie..... probably.  I doubt it will emerge from my suitcase but I’ll probably take one.  I’ll take an existing one – I’m certainly not getting into that hideous cycle of trying to find, with increasing anxiety, frustration and mounting self-loathing, something which looks half decent.  Hell, I’d settle for fractionally decent.  But I think I’ll have to go with ‘covers me decently’.


Appropriately, today is my first starve day in, oooh, 3 weeks?  Four?  I stopped when I got ill before Christmas and last week it seemed too brutal a transition.  It’s uncomfortable and unpleasant but I’m hoping I will be rewarded on SoD tomorrow and see a decent lump off.  Next starve day is set for Wednesday so I get a ‘normal’ dieting day before knuckling down again.  Perhaps I need to put a pic of a beach or swimming pool on my desk to remind me of why I must stick grimly and religiously to this, despite stomach rumblings.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Sun, sea and stress

Oh January, how I hate you.  Okay, we won’t go there again but let me just say, January is not making much effort to change my mind.

Of all the months when you could really do with perking yourself up with some sneaky chocolate, January is probably up there as the top month – and the one where you really can’t.  Not that it makes much sodding difference, after two days sulkily back on the wagon, I’ve put on 2lbs. 

I’m weighing every day at the moment so I knew I’d not lost anything after the first day – I am a dirty great tanker, I thought to myself, it will take a little while for the losses to register.  But after two days and putting ON 2lbs, I am most seriously displeased.  At pretty much any given time this would be a kicker in the puss (please note: puss means face in this instance.  Lest some of you get graphically if metaphorically carried away.  Um, south...) but when you add in January, denial and a strong need for affirmation, this sucks big time.

I have not yet started the starve days – that joy is before me.  As in next week.  I thought that festive to starve might actually be too much of a shock.  But as it turns out, festive to diet is a shock – an unpleasant one at that.  And the results are even worse. 

And as it happens, there is additional pressure.  Not that it should be pressure at all.  But in the world of the fatty – or this fatty at any rate – things that should cause excitement and pleasure, have all kinds of other stings.  I am going to have a pretty hideously full on month at work next month – from the volume of work rather than anything worse, I hasten to add.  It’s looking like a shocker though.  And so, sweetly, P said we’d go away in early March as something to look forward to and for relaxation.  I was thinking a long weekend, probably somewhere in the West Country.  It turns out his horizons were rather more expansive.  He’s currently on the brink of booking a week in Cape Verde. 

Now, this is not – to be utterly frank – my sort of holiday: I care nothing for sun, but I do like history and/or good hiking and eating out.  This is very much a flopping around in the sun, all-inclusive, never leave the resort sort of holiday.  I have never experienced this type of holiday but I see that it ticks the ‘relax’ box – I could probably drain my kindle dry in that time.  The thing that is causing me unintended stress is the 'sun + fat = sad' formula which I have running through me like a stick of rock.  I will not be going in the pools, the sea and possibly not even in a private Jacuzzi – the very idea causes my anxiety levels to sky rocket.  Yes, I can sit by said sea/pool in a skirt and t-shirt but it will be pretty clear that I’m hiding.  People will, no doubt, be grateful, but I feel like I’ll be calling attention to myself whether I bared or not, and that is abhorrent to me. 

There is no way I can lose sufficient weight to feel better about having lightweight clothing on, let alone swimwear, but it does rather pile on the pressure to lose as much as possible.  And that, whilst good from an incentive perspective, means that sessions with Scales of Doom are likely to be even more highly charged than they already are.  I need to lose 12lbs to get into the next stone bracket (still an unacceptably high and blubbery one) which would at least have the bonus of feeling like a milestone: Reader, I have probably 7 weeks to get there.  And as we know, my losses are so slow as to be invisible to the naked eye – and on top of that, I’m currently moving in the wrong direction.  You’re reading this knowing I’m hyperventilating, right?  Right.


Tuesday, 5 January 2016

New year, old me

Oh January – I really hate you. 

Today is my first day back at work – I chickened out of the first Monday of the new year and it’s as well I did as I had a migraine.  Always fun for a day off.  It was notable that there were not too many new year’s resolutions around cleanliness in my tube carriage this morning.

But of course, one of the reasons I hate January is the whole resolution business.  It feels like having my nose firmly rubbed in my own imperfections.  And that’s a lot of rubbing.  Of course, I know the elephant in the room is, well, me.  And tbh after a period of indulgence, dieting was always going to be back on the, er, menu.  It just seems more loaded this way.  Not in the way of a potato skin, you understand.

Still, I bit the bullet and dragged a skulking Scales of Doom from the dusty dimness of under the bed.  I can’t be sure exactly, but I think I put on 3 ½ lbs.  I can’t remember the last time I weighed and what with being ill for most of December, had stopped with the dieting and daily weighing some time before Christmas (a week or two I think).  Still, that 3 ½ lbs is kind of false, given that I’d put on 3lbs before that – so I guess over the festive period I put on about half a stone – and catapulted myself back out of the 2st loss.  It’s at this point I feel hopeful that it will come off equally as fast – hope which has never actually come to fruition yet.

I was actually more temperate than normal over Christmas.  I didn’t feel that desperation to eat anything I might conceivably want to eat over the next 6 months but not allow myself.  But I drank wine every day and, I think, had pudding every day so it’s none too surprising I guess.  Unsurprising but inevitably disappointing.

And the January plus re-dieting effect was exacerbated today when I put on an old coat which is really too tight.  Nothing calculated to make you feel as miserable as too-tight clothing.  I’m wearing my mac tomorrow, regardless of temperature.  What’s really annoying, coat-wise, is that I have a beautiful (tweed!) coat that P bought me in c2010 which I strongly suspect is still too small.  I daren’t try it on for the misery it will cause me once this is confirmed.  I keep telling myself that once I tip under the next stone bracket I’ll woman up and try it on.  Unfortunately that is now 11.5lbs away, rather than 5lbs away.  It could be summer by then.....  And I’m not even sure I mean summer this year.

How was your Christmas dear Reader?  I used to love Christmas – until quite recently in fact – but over the last few years, much as I’ve tried to hold on to that magical feeling, it’s ebbed away.  This year I pretty much had a panic attack over the whole thing.  It was sparked by a silly row with P (over nothing, obvs) but I realise that the pressure to have a perfect day is just too intense for me – it makes me feel really low.  It was less bad than I’d feared though – we went to my mother’s for the day.  She is the least motherly mother in the world and I had envisaged a day where I did all the work and did not even get to be in my own home, whilst having to prop her up and arbitrate spats between her and P.  But it was all fine and she actually offered and made me a sandwich, a real rarity (the offer of and provision of food, not the actual consumption of sandwiches) – and we were late and she was okay about that and didn’t start going on about the impact of the dogs of us not being there to take them out first thing (she is herself Queen of Late but somehow this gets overlooked).  I am still marvelling over that sandwich.

The fact remains that the combination of all the sadness and anxiety about Christmas, the dieting and weight thing and the (for me) inevitable January blues means I’m struggling a bit with life at the moment.  I suppose it’s lucky that life doesn’t do much in January and I can lick my wounds from my sofa and wait (or is it ‘weight’?!) for better days.