Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Back from the brink

Before I begin - Lesley, slightly perturbed by your comment on the last but one post (Wheels on Fire) that cycling engaged your "three'penny bit"? I thought that was rhyming slang for bosoms in which case I think you might be doing it wrong...

Well, after my 1333 calorie hazelnut-goo disaster yesterday, I managed not to treat this as an excuse to sink under the weight of every and any calorific food that crossed my path, pacman style, but stuck to my low cal plan at Wagamama. I didn't even succumb to the whisper (wispa?!) in my head encouraging me to have my usual square of dark chocolate with raspberries when I got home. I firmly decided I'd had enough and although it's only 58 calories it would be better not to add that in. I was soon so engrossed in mildly leching after Philip Glennister on Ashes to Ashes that I forgot all about it anyway. To think I resisted seeing Life on Mars for so long!

Today I am back on track. No cycling because of the heavy rain this afternoon but I walked in again in my MBTs. Am on track to come in under 1200 cals today. I have a wrap skirt that I've tied tightly to remind myself of my podge (like I could forget). Tomorrow is set to be a fine day and I will be cycling. I feel I've wrested myself back from the brink of the binge-abyss.

Monday, 27 April 2009

Welcome to the barf zone

I was doing rather well. I was getting more exercise in. I was keeping more or less to my 1200 cal self imposed limit - with a little variation that I could live with on cycling days. I was logging what I was eating on Food Focus and I know I went over on Saturday but it wasn't panic eating, I'd decided that I'd have a nice meal on a Saturday, I didn't go mad and I felt I'd enough calories in the bank to compensate. And my weight was going down - albeit in its usual tortoise fashion.

And then today happened. I can't even put my finger on what the trigger was. I didn't cycle as I was meeting a friend after work and was instantly anxious about not buying in those calories. So I decided to walk in c3 miles in my MBTs as a gesture. I stuck my sunglasses in my bag and headed on to the tube (hellish, squashed, rude people - the usual). When I emerged at London Bridge the season had changed. It was no longer late Spring but Autumn. Or possibly Winter. I shivered in my denim jacket (cycling means that the shoes and jacket you want to wear are always in the wrong place) and hoped for the sake of my painstakingly blow-dried hair (and rollered and straightened) that it wouldn't rain. Then it started raining. A few drops - just enough to turn my hair to a frizzball. I didn't have an umbrella. It got harder. I wrapped my pashmina around my head to try and avert hair disaster. It highlighted that my jacket was a bit too tight. The rain got quite heavy. I abandoned my walk 2 miles in and dashed off for the bus. I got to work to find that one of my long gold dangly earrings (that bf had bought me for Christmas - and chosen himself!) was gone. My boss, newly back from holiday, sympathised and gave me a present of a jar of hazelnut/honey paste. I don't like honey, I don't like Nutella but I opened that jar and ate a third of it. It was too sweet, even for me. I felt sick. And guilty. I rummaged in my bag and found the earring! Against all odds, it had fallen into my bag. Much rejoicing. I did a small jig on the spot. My colleague did that goal-scoring arm gesture that men do (bless him). I had a frugal lunch to make up for the hazelnut gunk. And then I ate the rest of the jar. Yes, 250g of sugar and nuts and honey. The old feelings of helplessness and dispair come crashing back. I don't want to think how many calories that was. Yes, have just broken off from this to bite the bullet and enter it into FF - 1333 cals if it's the same as nutella (which I imagine it is, roughly). Dear god, that's more than I eat IN A DAY.

I'm trying hard not to panic. I cannot allow this dash me off into a spiral of despair that culminates in me eating as much sugar and crap as I can without throwing up for however many days. I'm out at Wagamama tonight (with frizzball hair) and have researched and chosen the least calorific things on the menu. Then tomorrow I've got to get back to my dieting calm.

And that is the difference - sticking with the exercise and the control over calories feels calmer. Going off-piste in such an appalling, un-planned way feels terrifying, out-of-control and a whisker away from disaster. It feels as if I'm not in control any more and anything might happen. I have to battle this feeling - I'm trying to remain calm although I can feel the panic bubbling up. I don't think I'll be cycling tomorrow, looking at the weather. It's a shame, that would help I think.

Weekend update - the friends didn't come and I dissuaded bf from going out for Chinese anyway. We had a nice, indulgent but healthy meal at home. With wine. And pudding (meringue (55cals), cream and raspberries). Then we went for a cycle ride yesterday for 2 hours. Late in the afternoon we went through Canary Wharf and what I assume was the tail end of the Marathon. It was mostly very overweight women limping along. They had a long way to go and you could see every step hurt. I didn't know whether to admire their courage and optimism or despair at what appeared to be a total lack of understanding of the training required for such an undertaking.

I feel sick. Physically and emotionally.

Friday, 24 April 2009

Wheels on fire

I didn't cycle today. I'm actually really tired - it seems to have crept up cumulatively after 4 days of an hour's ride, twice a day. My thighs ache and my shoulders and upper arms. Which I'm quite pleased about as I'm hoping that this means they're getting less blubbery. And I had to overtake someone on a hill (well, a hill-ette) yesterday! Go me!

I had an exemplary cycle home last night, weariness aside. Managed all the scary bits just fine (although at least some of this was due to luck rather than judgement). Sometimes I wish I had an L plate to wear to apologise to Serious Cyclists for not speeding down tiny gaps between vehicles, but I figure that my Anything But Lycra policy is actually much the same thing. Although there are Serious Cyclists that should join me on this - a bloke whizzed past me the other day and his blue lycra shorts were so small for him that the lycra was stretched almost to the point of being entirely see-through. It was not pretty, but at the speed he was riding it was over fast! At the other extreme, I stopped at the lights with a girl yesterday who had on a twin-set, daisy strewn skirt and ballet pumps (no helmet) - I admired her taking the Anything But Lycra policy to its ultimate (highly impractical) conclusion.

And I feel guilty about not cycling today - especially since the weather is lovely today but rain is on the horizon. It's nice to have blow dried hair though rather than my hair being scraped back into a daft little ponytail (I'm growing my hair). But I could have burnt all those cals! I should come in at a tad over 1200 cals today - if I can hold out until dinner (am womanfully trying to ignore the 938 calories ordained by Food Focus)- and have gone a little over 1200 most of the week (I am SO hungry). This ought to mean, when you factor in the calories burnt through exercise, that I have undereaten the amount of calories I need to lose 2lbs a week by c900 calories every day this week (well, Monday to Thursday). Now, I don't think there'll be any exercise tomorrow and we are going to a Chinese restaurant with friends which means far too many calories, but I'm hoping that I've got enough calories 'in the bank' to deal with this. If the friends leave at a reasonable time on Sunday and it's not raining, bf will be happy to go out for a 2 hour cycle ride (he's rediscovered his love of cycling) which will help with building up my calorie savings again! And since I won't be riding in on Monday (going out after work) that would be helpful. The weather isn't looking too great for Tuesday either which is a worry on the old calorie front.

Will leave you with one very real and heartfelt comment (Lesley take note!) - the pelvis is a woefully inadequate shock absorber.

Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Wheely eye-opening

Naively, I thought that by cycling I was joining some fraternal group of bonhomie. This was, in part, fuelled by two incidents - the first when I was limping the Rustball (aka former bike) back and a cyclist stopped and asked if he could help. He was all for whipping out his bike medical kit there and then and performing emergency surgery - I had to explain that the bike was terminal (and thank him). Then last Thursday, on my first commute in, a Serious Cyclist (you know the type, lycra clad, hunnched down over the handlebars) gave me a cheery good morning as he whizzed past. But since then I have realised this is not true. Cyclists get huffy with me not going fast enough or being quick enough away from the lights or confident enough squeezing past bendy buses, juggernauts etc (EEK). One shouted abuse (swore) at me last night when I was overtaking a slower cyclist (!) on a cycle path and was in his lane as he steamed up from nowhere at a conservatively estimated 80mph.

Cycling is quite a lesson in humanity! Black cabs are horrendous - they must get some sort of prize if they make their journeys super-quick when they have are no passengers. Buses are pretty aggressive too (I guess this shouldn't be a surprise given that their favourite pastime seems to be slamming on the brakes suddenly to make all their passengers fall over). White van man is mostly true to type (although not always) revving past to gain an extra 50 yards to the next set of lights. But motorbikes are worst - they travel in the bike lanes (that's BICYCLES people) and get annoyed if you're in their way. Well excuse me, I'm peddling my ass off (hopefully) to get to where I'm going whilst you just sit on yours and YOU'RE IN MY LANE. Phew, got that over with. It's not a zen activity, that's for sure.

I had a particularly bad bike day yesterday (all bike days = bad hair days in Peridot-land, fyi) with a car hurtling through a crossing on a red light and almost taking me out, the cyclist shouting at me, a coach cutting me up on my scariest roundabout and leaving me stranded mid-traffic, a taxi pulling out from the kerb in front of me (he used his indicators after he'd done this!) and a pedestrian who turned when I rang my bell and looked at me, turned away and THEN walked into me as she wandered across the road. I only clipped her arm with my handlebar but it could have been nasty. I was very cautious cycling today and had a better trip - but I've really lost my nerve on the scary roundabout and ended up walking across it. I need to be someone who can dismiss such incidents quickly and move on (literally and figuratively) but if one thing happens it shakes me up and makes me more nervous.

I'm fighting the 'do more exercise, want to eat more' cruel trick our bodies play on us. I really want to keep it at under 1200 cals and Food Focus reckons my cycling burns 1244 cals cycling. Mind you, that's entering it as moderate cycling and the estimate of distance for that suggests otherwise. But actually I find it really hard work so feel moderate is the right option - I refuse to think I do 'Bicycling, light effort'. Yesterday, despite my best efforts I went over at 1400 cals and I was STARVING. I actually left for my cycle home feeling almost shaky with hunger. Made it though. Today I've entered everything in and I'm looking like just under 1100 calories. Strange. I may get a yoghurt to have just before my cycle home.

I had an active weekend in the end which kept me on course calorie-wise (if not 1200 cals on Saturday). Bf and I went for a 2 hour cycle ride on Saturday (beautiful sunshine and an alarmingly strong wind - was worrying about being blown into the canal we went alongside for a bit which always scares me) and we went for a three hour very hilly ramble with a friend on Sunday. She's very focussed on exercise - admirably so - and didn't puff at all going up the hills (a moment's respectful silence) whilst I sounded like Thomas the Tank Engine. But I was probably redder (and rounder) in the face than Thomas. It's a salutory lesson. Not the Thomas bit, the Fit Friend. She's lost alot of weight herself very succesfully and I had to really rein in wanting to talk diets and exercise for fear of boring bf into a coma (I certainly didn't have the energy to carry him back) but she's also Expert Friend (Mrs L has one of these too) so I always want to learn as much from her as I can. I thought I knew alot but jeez...

Claire is right when she comments that 940 cals would be a real struggle. And also right that I would slap her for mentioning Cambridge! Only kidding (I'd have to find you first!). I take her point though - it's managing as best you can in the best way you can. That's why I've decided to stick with the 1200 cals from Diet Chef and hope that by the time I've cycled most days it will all even out - given that I burn about that many just cycling, according to the spoddy maths/diet site Food Focus. I know I'll go over at the weekend but, rain permitting, I should have enough calories in the bank from the week to deal with it - I may even in advertently test that theory that says if you're strict most of the week, a few higher cal days stops your metabolism dropping! And my non-negotiables, as something Mrs L highlights, are a lovely meal with wine (and probably pudding) on a Saturday with bf (not going mad though, a healthy meal (and probably pudding)), a square of dark chocolate with raspberry bits each night (except Saturday) and a shapers/slimfast bar at lunchtime during the week. The latter two are well within my calorie count, not an extra.

Watch this space....

Friday, 17 April 2009

Number stress

I have always hated numbers - I found maths incredibly hard to understand at school and I think I'm a bit numerically dyslexic as I find a string of numbers hard to read, they sort of jump about and transpose themselves. In my entrance exams for secondary school they made a point of telling my parents that I had failed the maths (no surprise to me but it infuriated my father) and it was only that my English exam was so good that they were letting me in. And numbers never seem to work for me - I know Mrs Lard always says 'knowledge is power' or similar (and I believe there's quite a school of thought backing her up on this!) and her comment yesterday said that "numbers are information" but I can't help but think that in this case, ignorance is bliss!

Which is absurd of course - this is adopting an emu-like head in the sand posture (yep, the lack of sunshine is caused my large ass blocking out the sun). But I couldn't cycle today because of the rain (instead seething through yet another Jubilee line disaster) and so I am fretting about how I can possibly manage on my c940 calories today. This is the requirement to lose 2lbs a week apparently. Now, I was 600 under yesterday because of all the cycling but I think that I might need those over the weekend! Not that I'm planning on going mad AT ALL but even on very low calorie options I struggle to keep to the 940 cals (hey, who am I kidding, I go over that - I can't seem to get much lower than 1100 calories no matter how hard I try) and throw in a glass of wine, well... And I've decided that I do want to have an evening meal with bf on a Saturday night. I'm happy that it's a healthy choice but I really hate eating different things at different time - there's a certain inclusivity about sitting down at the table to a nice meal together with wine, candles and music.

I've added up all the calories until dinner time and I had the princely sum of 220 left to spend (and that was with adding in a brisk half hour walk at lunchtime) - see what I mean? And I've added in what I'll eat for dinner and this leaves me 453 calories over. When you know you're going to fail, it makes it more difficult to really stick to it whole-heartedly. I guess my 'overdraft' of calories from today balances out my 600 surplus from yesterday but I think it's unlikely that I'll be able to stick to 940 calories tomorrow (Saturday). On Sunday I have a 3 hour ramble set up which helps a little with the calorie count (not to mention being good wholesome fun!) and we're meeting for brunch in Carluccios first (2 meals squeezed together - should be good, right? Even though it's Out). Of course Carluccios don't provide nutritional info (grrr) so I'll be a bit at the dark about what damage or otherwise I'm causing. Scrambled eggs and mushrooms on 1 slice of (good) toast and a skinny cappuccino - that can't be too much of a disaster, right?

Hopefully, generally, I'll be able to be under by at least 500 cals during the week at least four days by cycling on those days and that will allow me to manage better with cals at the weekend. As I say, numbers come back to bite me so I feel uncertain that this is a foolproof (or, worse, Peridot-proof) plan. I do so want this to work.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Numbers are not our friends

I gathered my courage and cycled in this morning! I was aware I was prevaricating and thought that the longer I actually left it, the harder it would be to do it. So I checked the weather on the TV last night (sunshine and occasional showers) and set off at just gone 7am this morning. It was fine - by which I mean that the experience was okay, it actually rained and has done so on and off ever since with varying degrees of force (did I bring anything waterproof? No, of course not), so much for planning ahead.

I only had 2 instances of aggressive driving - a white van man and a deeply inadequate motorcyclist. I am beginning to suspect that all motorbike commuters are inadequate - which is clearly unfair - but they are SO aggressive it does make you wonder about the size of their.... Or is it just me?!

There's a definite link in my distinctly odd head which means that I eat more virtuously if I exercise. So today has been a better day - so far. I got back on Food Focus (www.foodfocus.co.uk) - which had depressed me before by telling me that to lose 2lbs a week I needed to eat 938 cals a day - and entered my cycling in.today. This has altered all the stats so that I get to eat more and still lose 2lbs a week. In theory. We'll see.

I'm going to try and use FF more regularly (ie daily) to chart progress. Although it is still depressing - apparently if I lose 2lbs a week, every week, it will take me until Bonfire Night to get to my goal (which is not a Scarlett Johansson weight incidentally - or even close). And I somehow doubt that my metobolism will be that obliging! Sadly. Not to mention, the days I don't cycle when I have to somehow stick to my 938 calories without any leeway. Which is likely to be weekends when I am more likely to go over anyway. And holidays. Argh - it's all too mind-boggling.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Defying the laws of gravity

What goes down, in the world of Peridot, must come up - like a small child getting off a see-saw abruptly, slooowly down and whoosh!, back up. And I'm talking here about my weight. Yes, I have bitten the bullet and finally weighed myself. I have somehow managed to put on 11lbs in the last 3 weeks - which defies logic, gravity and (more importantly) all laws of fairness. I lose weight sooooo slowly but it whips back on with alarming and depressing speed.

And my weight really does link with my mood. I was aware that my most generous skirt was cutting in a bit yesterday but it was not until today that I had inescapable truth before me that I actually started feeling really, really miserable. Weight seems a constant war I am fighting with myself - and if you fight yourself you're always losing. Of course that should mean you're always winning too but somehow it never does feel like that. The war is exhausting and stretches on and on into my future in a bleak and hopeless sort of way.

I read last week that the famously "curvy" Scarlett Johansson (sp) has lost weight to look great at 8st something. She's the same height as me (5'4") and the before pic of 9st something did make her look ever so slightly podgy (I thought to my shame) - HOW CAN THIS BE? It had never occurred to me in my wildest dreams that I could ever, should ever aim for an 8st something weight and now getting to "attractive" seems even more unattainable than ever. Mind you, my friend's uncle was an extra in one of her films and says she is minute, despite the papers marvelling continuously at her 'curvines and 'voluptuousness'.

Irrespective of all this, I probably don't need to anguish about whether 8st or 9st would work - or even 10st; I am a long way off this. And I tried on my more generous summer work skirts last night and they didn't fit.

All this led to a panic and self-loathing today that shouted "cookie" at me. How crazy and perverse is that? I actually astound myself. I didn't have the cookie and I've been pretty good today but I'm not on the programme and I'm feeling very afraid - afraid to start, afraid to do anything, quite paralysed with fear. I will be back on the proper programme next week but am trying to keep a grip in the meantime, not looking too far ahead, and wean my way back towards full on committed Diet Chef. Because that's got to work, right? 1200 cals and cycling - that has to take off at least 2lbs a week, right? Please say so.

To even get back to where I was a month ago
- let alone into my skirts,
- let alone back to my lowest weight (currently a depressing 2st 3lbs away),
- let alone back to a healthy BMI,
- let alone to goal
seems insurmontable and beyond exhausting to contemplate.

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Revolution-ary experiences

Yep the clue (or pun) is in the title - I will be blogging more about cycling today!

I did a dummy run on Easter Sunday up to the office with bf, sat on the steps for a while to have a drink and recover and then cycled back. By the time I got home I was acutely aware of what my mother delicately calls the "sitting bones". Now, you'd have thought that anything that involved sitting would be something that was finely honed in me, but sitting on a saddle reveals a whole new world of pain that I'd never imagined. I asked the bf - a lapsed but knowledgeable former cyclist - about this and he says the pain does get better: "I don't know if the area hardens up or something" - eeek! On the one hand, hardened ladybits sound thoroughly undesirable and not a bit un-scary, but on the other, a painful pelvic region is not a pleasant experience either!

We went out again yesterday for what turned into just short of a 3 hour non-stop cycle ride (got a bit lost and went down a canal the wrong way). I took some ibuprofen before I went out for my sore 'sitting bones' and various other tender bits and bf said that the first c10 mins would be painful and then it would go numb. Again, numb ladybits is a double edged sword (or was that just how my saddle felt?!) but it was true right up until almost the end of the ride when I was definitely getting the sensation of pins and needles. And if that sounds anything other than entirely unpleasant and downright odd, you're wrong! And I had bought my saddle on the spot when the cycling man said it was "as close to an armchair you can get on a bike" - a winning sales technique if ever I heard one.

Cycling brings a range of other conundrums I hadn't anticipated - for instance, I have to buy more t-shirts since all my plain cotton ones that I thought would be good are obediently scoop or v-necked, as prescribed for women of bosom, but which therefore flash my sports bra in a very unattractive way. I guess that given that even on my type of bike you are leaning forward slightly, a lower neck could be dangerous/distracting/embarrassing/inappropriate/all of the above. And my cycling sartorial policy - which can be encapsulated as Anything But Lycra - is under attack from a sudden wistfulness for extra padding in the, er, sitting bone area. Who'd ever thought that someone with as much extra padding naturally as me could require yet more of an artificial nature?! Perhaps there's some sort of bizarre cosmetic surgery where they suck fat out of, ooh, my thighs/stomach/ass and redistribute it to .... well, you get the point (2 points actually if you look at a skeleton's pelvic region).

All the cycling, plus a 6.5mile walk, does not seem to have balanced the chocolate etc consumption though, as my waistband is feeling rather tight today. I have to get back on - and stay on - that ole wagon called diet. Happily (or maybe not, depending on your viewpoint) I only have one sitting's worth of chocolate egg to despatch (and no, that's not 3 entire family size eggs but less than one shell and 4 little mini eggs) and then I'm really going to have to knuckle under or I very much fear my summer skirts won't fit.

Hopefully the cycling will have some impact - and one plus is that I have enjoyed cycling in a way I never enjoyed running so it should be easier to keep it going as a lifestyle choice (as I believe they say in magazines). I ran for just over a year, hating every minute so I'm confident that I can keep the cycling going. I think it will take a bit over an hour each way to commute in to begin with but hopefully I can get the time down - I know it will be nicer than commuting (a woman tutted loudly at me this morning just because the oyster card readers rejected my card!) but I do hope it burns calories, fat and generally helps me get into my summer wardrobe and develop limbs of a supermodel. But I'd settle for getting into my summer wardrobe (and by this I mean the clothes, I'm not quite at the stage where I wouldn't fit in a cupboard! Although I'm pretty confident that I could eat my way into that if I weren't careful).

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

A tale of colour co-ordination and seaside fun

I now have my bike. It's the glaringly white one. Which is nice as it matches my legs almost exactly - you won't be able to tell where it ends and I begin. You won't even be able to look properly if the sun is out and glaring off us! I cycled home from the bike shop - it's 2-3miles - I felt fairly confident about this given that until recently I have been running c3 miles, 4 x a week. Within 10 minutes (on the flat) my thighs were screaming! Cycling the c8 miles to work (incorporating 3 short hills) will be interesting....

Bf says that the bike looks like a UN and/or ambulance bike - I think a blue light would be a useful addition. If you could hear it over me puffing and see it next to my beet-red face. Oh yes, I cut quite a dash!

I am battling my sartorial inadequacies though. I can't do much about the white legs and puce face but I bought a sassy reflective sash to deliver me from wearing a day-glo bib. And my outfits are working on the general theme of Anything But Lycra. So I bought some short flippy jersey skirts from American Apparel (online obviously, it's a fearsome shop apparently) to wear over leggings (with t-shirts) - they arrived yesterday and clearly only work if you are:
a) 16 years old AND
b) extremely slim AND
c) long legged
In which case anything looks good so it's not much of a challenge - I remain unimpressed American Apparel. I looked like a large pig who'd been dressed up in a small skirt of parsley garnish, ready for a medieval style feast. My hams - I mean thighs - were alarming and may cause fear and distress on the roads of London (and not just to me).

This weekend we had a long weekend in my friend's place on the Suffolk coast. It's beautiful there and very, very posh (witness 5 year old boy in head to toe mini-Boden jumping up and down outside the ice cream shop shouting "Pis-TARSH-io, pis-TARSH-io, I want pis-TARSH-io". I mean, children have NO RIGHT to have heard of anything but chocolate or vanilla at that age - or strawberry if they're of an arty disposition. I had chocolate fudge brownie and lemon meringue myself but then I'm from East London!...). We managed 3 walks and a trip to Sutton Hoo. And our menu plan consisted of big breakfast, walk, tea and cake, 3 course meal with wine (repeat ad lib to fade). I really don't like cooked breakfasts - they just don't do it for me. Whereas bf's little face fell when they'd run out of kidneys in one place - yeuch. They're okay (cooked breakfasts, NOT kidneys) but not something I actually enjoy. My ideal breakfast would be pancakes or waffles and fresh fruit. And even the cake was a bit disappointing - it's never as good as I can make. We did share cake though and a pudding one night too. A drop in the ocean compared to what I did eat, I suspect. After Easter I will have to catch up with that long distant wagon and cling on with a mighty effort. At least I'm never going to be the sort of person who has chocolate eggs kicking about for weeks afterwards!