Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Go Figure

I am not good at numbers – I took my GCSE twice to get my C grade and maths never made sense to me.  I actually failed my maths entrance exam for secondary school and it was only because my English and VR were so good that I was offered a place.  There was no concept of dyscalculia then – but I find I can’t look at a list of numbers greater than three digits or they all dance about on the page and the order of them can become twisted.

Numbers have become even more my enemy since they are bound up in my weight and thus my self esteem. 

The weekend before last, P was away with a friend and so I pulled everything out of my cupboards and wardrobe to sort.  I know that the ‘I have nothing to wear’ bleat is a common one (especially in bulging wardrobe) – but I really don’t.  The bedroom turned into a battlefield as I was quickly knee-deep in clothes.  It took me seven hours on the Saturday and three on Sunday so sort through everything.  Reader, I have FIVE sizes worth of clothes.  They range from my current size (at the largest end of the spectrum, sob) to those that just about fit or were a little small at my lowest, post LL, days.  And that’s not even taking into account the massive disparity within a single size.  Most of the clothes are from ebay but even so, they must represent a scary sum of money. 

I sorted all my clothes into (tagged) size and bagged them up with the largest two sizes hung and then the smallest the furthest away.  I chucked a lot out (it seems I went through a period where I was mad for appliqué and beads – no longer, shudder) – I had three big bin sacks of stuff to chuck and the world’s largest holdall stuffed to the gunnels with stuff I won’t wear (even taking account the sizing) that was so heavy I couldn’t lift it properly (and I’m pretty strong).  My wardrobe still doesn’t shut properly but it should be more coherent.  I badly want to be getting smaller and chucking as I go, streamlining both myself and my wardrobe in the process.  There are some nice things in the bagged sizes which I'd like to be able to wear, too.


And now we come to the other ‘numbers are the enemy’ aspect of my post: we’ve booked another holiday.  Well, I say we have, we’ve actually booked the hotel (as it can be cancelled) whilst we wait for my boss to come back from holiday to sign the leave off.  I’m 99.9% sure it will be fine but I don’t want to tempt fate with booking flights.  You remember how I shun beachy holidays because of the whole swimwear issue?  Yes, you guessed it, it’s beachy.  Northern Cyprus to be exact (dusting down my 70 words of Turkish even now).  There will be some trailing around archaeological sites (the photos of which from Jordan my boss said were “samey”!) because I love a pile of old stones – and I will go insane sitting around doing nothing for a fortnight.  That would be the case even if I had the sort of figure that meant I could wear a white crochet bikini (not that I’d want to – especially as a lingerie salesperson once told me that to get skin-toned underwear I had to look at white, rather than nudes or blushes.  She had a point).  

So here we are again, back in that loop where my number-befuddled brain has no problem in coming up with a number I want to see on the scales.  It’s 15 weeks exactly today; I want to say I can lose two stone (I’d settle for a stone and a half).  Even if it’s starting from the elevated post-Jordan place I am on the Scales of Doom now.  I want to believe it and I will certainly crack on with it with determination – and then I think about dinner with P tomorrow with all-you-can-drink champagne, my birthday, his birthday – and I fear how badly this could go wrong.  It’s that age-old teeter along the no-mans land brink of diets and life which I find hard.  And my progress for the last year or so has been 0.5-1lb a month.  Yes, a month.  It doesn’t bear thinking about.  But I don't want it to wreck my pleasure in anticipating the holiday - or from fully enjoying it once there.  I have a plan - not necessarily a winning plan - but a plan.  More of which later (any ideas you'd like to contribute to The Plan will be most welcome.  As long as they don't involve running - because did that and I hated it and it didn't work).

Friday, 2 June 2017

The holiday in numbers

So....

Holiday – 12 days
Miles walked -  54
Rough hewn steps/rocks climbed – 1,600 in two hits, plus ad hoc ‘normal’ stairs of course, in temperatures ranging from low to upper 30s°C
Lunches skipped - 8
Puddings eaten – 1 (a bit of one, at that)
Days when food was, erm, going straight through me – 3
Weight change - +7lbs

That was the quant, now for the qual.

It was a good holiday.  I like to do a lot on holiday and it certainly ticked that box!  We never got more than a couple of hours off during the day and Petra alone nearly broke me physically but I don’t regret a bit of it.  Our first day there we walked 11 miles, including a scramble up a mixture of steps and rocky surfaces to the tune of 950 (I didn’t count but this is what they say).  By the time we got back to the hotel we were absolutely exhausted.  It was 36° too.  We drank a LOT of water – and it was probably too much for either of us (including P who has always demonstrated some kind of mountain goat genes), but you couldn’t really not do that climb.  The next day we did a 750 ‘step’ climb.  I thought it would be easier because I knew I could do it from the longer climb the previous day.  It was not.  My preparation of walking up escalators was laughably inadequate – although I still find that tough, damnit.  Petra was the highlight (and I’d like to go back) but a close second would be Jerash – a Roman site.  My boss said my photos were “samey”, but this is a small desert country and I am sure they reflected my love of old stones and camels.  It made me pretty happy, anyway.  After a lot of last minute traumas with reordering various size of top for the tankini (great service by Poinsettia in Glasgow – I’d recommend them), wrestling myself into them, and finally having to pick up the last one 20 mins after we should have left for the airport, I did wear it and I did go in the Dead Sea, Lana and Lesley.  It was bizarre and a little painful but I’m glad I did it.  Getting out was surprisingly difficult!  I also went in the Red Sea briefly – before remembering (having jumped off a boat) that my right arm wasn’t working properly and having to haul myself back up the ladder.  Still, I did it.  P was immensely reassuring about my swimsuit angst – and had to do the bra fastening of the tankini up as I couldn’t twist my right arm behind me.

So on to the elephant in the room....


I genuinely thought I would be coming home roughly the same weight as I went out there.  It was a great holiday but it was very full on and it was tiring.  I even thought that what with the exercise (and the digestive problems) I might come home slightly lighter.  I suppose this was stupid, given that exercise has never made any difference to my weight.  But to have put that much weight on was... well, more than disappointing really, more exhausting.  I feel like I’m constantly trying to wade through mud up to my neck and not getting anywhere – but I daren’t stop in case I sink.  I’m so, SO tired of it, but I know I can’t stop.  We are hoping to go away for a week in late September or early October so I need to get my dieting energy back.  I know I’m idiotic to do it, but I can’t help but allow the ‘oh, maybe I could lose a couple of stone by then’ to intrude, despite the years and years of bitter experience telling me I won’t do anything of the kind.  Based on the last couple of years, I lose about 0.5 - 1lb a month. I don't even need to qualify that with expletives, do I.

Friday, 28 April 2017

Going swimmingly..

And so it goes on.  I’m down a pound on last week – and was down half a pound then on the previous week.  Lest this sound like any kind of progress, from the start of my ‘lose a stone before the holiday’ push, I have put on half a pound.  We are flying two weeks yesterday. It’s not looking promising!

This weekend we’re staying with friends in the middle of nowhere.  They are good cooks and I know it’s going to be hard to be as rigid as I could really do with.  I just need to be frugal where I can be.  It's one of those instances where I wish I could just enjoy it, but instead I feel anxious about too much food and wine.

I’ve got to the point where I lie awake at night, worrying about what I’ll wear on holiday (mostly so far cropped jeans and linen/cotton tops – but I don’t have enough for 11 days...).  I can’t even make myself think about swimwear – and no, I’ve still not plucked up the courage to so much as open the packaging for the tankini (albeit that it’s a long top – so it should look like a swimsuit but allow for easier loo trips and hopefully a doubly reinforced layer to hold the flab in.  A bit) let alone try it on.  I’m so torn: one the one side, I’d like to get in the sea – especially the Dead Sea, but on the other, well, the thought of being seen.  Or even feeling like I’m seen.  Yes, even by P. 


Yesterday I saw my specialist.  I wasn’t terribly prepared as they’d rescheduled the appointment so many times, I just assumed it would be moved at the last moment.  It’s always lovely to see him because he’s so wonderfully eccentric, but I’ve rather given up on it leading to any solution.  He wants me to try another type of drug – if my GP will prescribe, which is always something of a lottery.  Then he says we’ve reached the surgery point.  It underlined how much of a failure I am that I just can’t do this to the point where he’s advising something that drastic.  All I can do before I see him again (and who knows when that will be) is grit my teeth and give it my best shot and see where I am then.  Whether I’ve achieved anything by that point, with or without the new drugs.  I also need to do some research on the implications of the op.  Like Hermione, if in doubt, I go to the (virtual) library.

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Uncomfortable in my own skin

It’s a 'down day', admittedly, but that’s how I feel.

If you’ve read this blog for any time, you’ll know that I am painfully (and I use that word deliberately) self-conscious about my weight/size.  But now I have additional uglyfying things to pull me down too.  There’s a reason all this has hit me at once and I’ll come to that in a bit.

I was pretty lucky with my skin as an adolescent: only a very few, occasional spots.  But I’m making up for it now.  I’ve had psoriasis for about 15 years – mainly on my scalp.  Psoriasis is when skin grows too quickly, forming silvery or red raised scaly patches – that’s not a scientific explanation but my best approximation of it.  That means that, on my head, you don’t see it but you do see what can look like enormous lumps of dandruff.  I also got it behind and in my ears.  Of course I’ve been self conscious about that, but have told myself bracingly that it’s not so bad.  Then I started to get patches on my legs.  This mostly happened in the winter when I was wearing opaques nearly every day and when I had bare legs in the summer, it would clear up pretty quickly.  Until it didn’t.  Now I have multiple patches on my legs, mostly angry red.  My husband thought I’d been badly bitten at first, but I have some very large patches.  I’ve seen the dermatologist and had various creams prescribed but they don’t get rid of it totally, just sort of fade the patches and new ones form frequently.  It will soon (hopefully) be bare leg weather but I don’t want to bare this.  I’m trying to find longer skirts to wear to work, but clothes are tricky for me at the best of times. 

Then at a foundation trial at a beauty counter, the assistant asked what I do about the ‘redness’ on my face.  Reader, I hadn’t really noticed it much, but I had a close look at my skin and there is was.  Because of the way I feel about myself, I have become adept at applying make-up or drying my hair without actually looking at myself (because I find that distressing).  I mentioned it to the dermatologist and she said it looked like rosacea and gave me (another) cream.  It doesn’t seem to have helped and the condition seems to be worsening.  If I have a drink, particularly, I flush up massively.  I’d told myself that although I could feel it, it probably didn’t show.  Until I was at a work drinks last night and it was commented on.  I went to the loo and I was glowing like some sort of neon sign.

Now, I don’t have it particularly badly – I knew someone once whose cheeks looked like they’d been grated and I know you can get pustules with it, whereas I just get a few spots.  But the cumulative effect of my weight, my skin (legs and head (and arms to a lesser extent)), and my scarlet face just feels too much to bear (or bare).  Like psoriasis, rosacea isn’t ‘curable’.  And it deteriorates with time so it’s only going to get worse.  I’ve got my first thread vein on my face – the first of many more to come.  It’s a particularly bitter realisation, as once I got past the teenage years of wanting to be tanned like everyone else, I’ve never minded being pale (I am very pale!) and have quite liked my skin.  There are so few things I like about myself that I feel pretty rubbish that this has been taken away.  In fact, I can’t think of anything else I do like about myself.  I like the colour of my hair but nothing else about it, for example, and that’s the only other thing and it’s with rather a lot of qualifiers. 

In an attempt to focus on silver linings, I had thought I would find aging easier than most.  Because I haven’t been attractive (except for a very brief time which spanned ages 16-19), I didn’t think I would feel aging as acutely as someone who has been pretty or beautiful.  I hadn’t calculated that I too would deteriorate – just from a much lower starting point.

I guess it’s the same as the strategy I have for my weight: damage limitation is probably the best I’m going to manage.  And just because I don’t achieve much, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t try or that I should give up entirely.  All this is making me increasingly introverted though: I really don’t want to go out with anyone other than my husband or my closest friends.  A work social occasion is very difficult for me, increasingly so, I dread them and feel terrible about myself at the end of them.  There is nothing so lonely as feeling alone and the misfit in a group.  I suppose that the latest one has taught me something: don’t drink any alcohol, no matter how tempting.


In not entirely unrelated news, I am at my halfway point in my ‘stone off in 2 months’ campaign.  Admittedly tomorrow is WI day so I’m predicting a maximum of 2lbs off.  Quite a long way off the 7lbs I’d hoped for.  You’d think I’d be used to this, but I’m not.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

The clothes line (or razor wire)

I had a random day off this week.  It was a starve day – no coincidence as I find it much easier to do this when I’m home.  Not just because there aren’t any sweets but the day is shorter (because I get up late) and I can absorb myself in other things.

This week I – in a fit of Spring-like optimism in a panic over clothing now that the weather seems to have changed (please everyone take a moment to touch wood here), dragged out my summer clothes.  Now, at this point in the year (and again in the Autumn) I have the same thoughts going around my head: 1) what on earth did I wear last year? and 2) oh look, lots of clothes that are too small for me (sometimes combined with putting stuff away vowing that they won’t fit me next year).  Last year in an uncharacteristic fit of decisiveness, I chucked one and possibly two work skirts away as they were getting too tatty.  This has magnified my dilemmas on what to wear by possibly 2000%.  I then tried on a selection of things that I’d bought from ebay for the holiday-to-Iran-that’s-turned-into-the-holiday-to-Jordan. 

Is there any worse feeling than trying stuff on (stuff that you own) and finding it’s too small?  A lot of it was frumpy and I’ve resolutely bagged it up to go to the charity shop.  But it doesn’t make me feel any better and it does leave me with a clothing problem.  The only long linen skirt (of four) that I tried and it kind of fitted was so frumpy that, in meeting my natural propensity for frumpiness, it was magnified into some frump supernova that could have destroyed the world.  I had to ditch it.  For the good of mankind and my fast dwindling sense of self-esteem.

It was a starve day, as I said.  I had a positively exemplary starve day, fuelled by misery and fear – and I lost ½ lb.  Last week I put on 1lb.  This is going badly.  Not that I’m about to give up, definitely not.  But in not-altogether-unrelated news, I could not bear to try on the tankini I bought.  I thought that might finish me off.  It’s not the sort of tankini where you get a peek of skin between the top and bottom part – most seem to be like this which shows utter ignorance about what women want, in my opinion, if you’re going to have a roll of chub, that’s where it will be and surely no-one wants to highlight that.  I bought it as I thought the double layer of top over bottom part might hold me in more.  And allow me to use the loo.  Most bra-sized swimsuits are hideously difficult to get in or out of.  And that’s just the chirpily above the surface bit of that particularly nightmarish iceberg.  It sits in the corner of my bedroom, haunting me.  Not sure when I’m going to be brave enough – and certainly not whilst Scales of Doom are taunting me with my own inadequacy.  

Monday, 27 March 2017

Lard be scone

I had a plan.  An ambitious plan, sure, but an achievable one.  Or so I thought.  My aim was to lose a stone before our holiday in May.  I had two months (8 weeks, to be exact)  to do that.  Now I have seven weeks.  The first week went okay.  I’m doing my bit – but SoD is not pulling his weight.  I’m sure the Scales of Doom are male – surely any female inanimate object would be more empathetic?

To put this in context, I’m freaked out by this morning’s WI.  And, other than Easter, this was likely to be the most challenging weekend so I need to try not to panic (or, fatalistically, give up) just yet.  We cushioned our filial duties this weekend by gin, wine and tapas on Friday and a bottle of fizz last night.  Last night’s bottle (no supper) was, frankly, medicinal.  But I still had alcohol three times – normally I would only allow myself to have it once.  And we had three meals out.  Still, that doesn’t explain the reason that little git said I’d put on 5.5lbs since Friday morning.

Today is a starve day so I’m hoping that extraordinary gain will be tempered by a larger loss than usual (6lbs would be a start). I’m certainly hungry enough to merit some pay back.  And I’m still shooting for that stone.  To be honest, even a stone won’t help me feel less self-conscious on holiday – and the thought of the beach makes my heart rate speed up and my shoulders tense up.  It won’t get my into my nice summer skirts.  But on the basis that every little helps, I’m hoping that it will make for a slightly less anxious holiday.  At least I’ll have done my best.  Like my wedding, I know, hand on heart that I really, really tried; the fact that I was still fat and didn’t look great, was not because I didn’t put the effort in, and whilst that makes me sad, it doesn’t make me angry with myself.

Apart from the odd evening meeting up with friends, the only hurdle to manage in the next seven weeks are some friends from the US coming over and being in London the Easter weekend.  In an attempt to cram as many quintessentially British food experiences in, P has drawn up a schedule which includes lunch at a rather lovely pub in Kent (I’ll be driving so at least no booze for me), a cream tea at our place and a roast dinner (beef).  I need to practice both Yorkshire puddings and scones – both of which I’ve had problems with in the past.  My Yorkshires determinedly solder themselves to the pan and my scones are rather biscuity.  The latter is particularly weird as I make (though I do say so myself) rather spectacular cheese and sweetcorn scones.  Maybe it’s the rolling and cutting that causes them to refuse to rise.  Anyone got any advice or idiotproof recipes?


Anyway, all this food chat is making my stomach growl ferociously and I’d better stop before people think there’s a rabid dog on the loose.  Actually, I’m slathering a bit too.....

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Previously on munter to minx....

I’m not sure I’m back yet.  I left because I thought I was being irritatingly moany and morose and that you, dear Reader, deserved more.  By deserving less of me.  Well, I deserve less of me too – more of which, later.

I am tip-toeing back and dipping that toe into the water.  Has anything changed?  No.  I’m still at roughly my pre Lighterlife weight.  I am still doing two starve days a week, mostly with success that never quite translates into anything encouraging on my old pal, Scales of Doom.  Nothing lasting at any rate.

I’m also back to low-carbing – essentially because I have now pretty much exhausted all the diets so am on a second (or third or fourth or...) pass around.  And because I felt best on it.  And that has worked in that my blood sugar levels are pretty damn exceptional.  But I cannot rejoice in this until it also means a steady downward trajectory on SoD.

Not least because we’re going on holiday in May.  We were going to Iran which, pleasingly, would have required me to be covered from wrist to ankle.  And whilst that had a set of problems, they were generally ones that could be answered with a bit of patient ebaying.  But, you know, Trump, and a couple of other things that made us pull out.  We had paid a deposit though and rather than lose it all, we transferred it to another holiday (there was a £60 fee because OF COURSE there was but at least we didn’t lose the lot).  So, we’re going to Jordan.  It’s as part of an organised group because that’s what this holiday company offers (and Americans, Canadians and Brits have to go to Iran as part of an organised tour) and so the itinerary is set for us.  It’s 11 days and it includes not one but TWO beachy bits: the Red Sea and the Dead Sea.  Reader: nothing makes me so clammy and terrified as swimwear.  So much so that when we went to Cape Verde last year, I deliberately didn’t take a swimsuit so that I didn’t ruin the holiday for myself in anxiety.  Yes, I would have loved to have gone in the sea but given the choice, it was no choice at all.

I will use the excuse that Jordan is not as westernised as all that – I’ve read that most women there would swim with a t-shirt on at least, sometimes shorts too.  But we’re staying in Western hotel chains so that’s somewhat flimsy.  I suspect there will be swimsuits and bikinis everywhere.  I only have to think this and I quite literally feel panic.  Panic anyway and then when SoD smugly refuses to shift down.  I had horrible food poisoning and that caused a leap downwards – I was flickering just above the next bracket down – and then it leapt back up.

I have nine weeks before we go.  If I could lose a stone I’d still be obscenely fat but it’s a stone better than where I am now. I ought to be able to say that I can set my mind to losing 2lbs a week and then I’d be at the lower point of the next stone down.  Admittedly at a pound a week, I am unlikely to notice any difference.  I know this numbers game is utterly self-flagellation, but I can’t not do it.


And I have two really nice skirts that I bought last summer (work skirts) that were just a smidgeon too tight.  I never wore them.  And I was a bit slimmer then.  HA!  I was not any gradation of slim –I was less fat than now.  I’d really like to wear them this year.  Every year I put off buying things – or even dry cleaning a couple of work skirts as ‘by next year they’ll be too big’.  I’ve thought this for years.  I’ve been wrong for years.  But I can’t quite bring myself to replace them or clean them.  There’s a winter jacket (duvet coat) in the sales that I like but I don’t want to be this size next winter.  I bought a mac at least three or four years ago that I thought I’d wear for a bit and then flog on ebay.  I’m still wearing it and it is looking sad and droopy (like its reluctant owner).  One of my best friends and my husband would tell me to accept that this is the way I am.  But I can’t.  I just can’t.