Monday, 31 December 2012

2012

What a year! It's gone so quickly, that it barely seems 2 months ago that I was watching The Lord Mayor's fireworks on the London Eye in our fair capital city.

Initially, I wasn't that impressed with this year, but as I look back I realise what an amazing year it's been. This time last year I:

- was seeing someone I thought I was keen on, and didn't yet know that it had barely 2 months left to run, but that I'd almost immediately meet someone I liked far more which would lead to a 6 month emotional roller coaster.

- didn't own my surfboard and hadn't yet experienced the glory that is the sundowner surf after work in the summer.

- hadn't run my first half-marathon or slogged through the hip-deep bog of my first trail / obstacle race.

- was homeless, crashing on my friend's sofa, and didn't know my wonderful housemates who are now such amazing friends.

- had no idea I'd be going on a solo trip to Africa for a month (which is now less than 2 months away - squeeeeee!).

- hadn't started to seriously entertain the idea that I actually might be able to go and live and work abroad for awhile and make one of my great dreams happen.

- didnt have my loan and was still frantically fitting my debt - since then I've made great progress.


I also had lovely trips to Majorca, the Loire Valley and Paris and 2 fab weekends in Brussels. All in all, a great year.

2013 is looking amazing - I'm looking forward to all manner of adventures. Happy New Year and I'll be back with my goals and resolutions tomorrow!!

Friday, 28 December 2012

Step 2: Make A Plan And Stick To It

Does anyone else suffer from what I'm dubbing the "Winter Frenzy"?

It's that nagging need to fully indulge in whatever's going on, way beyond the level of sanity or sense.

Around this time of year, there's the pressure to have the perfect Christmas (the perfect presents, decorations, family day of celebrations). There's the constant smorgasbord of food and drink on offer and people trying to stuff it down your throat in the nicest way possible. And there's the sale frenzy that now seems to start before we've even got to Christmas.

Whichever way you turn there's pressure to conform, fit in, out-do your friends and neighbours. Have the best Christmas, the best presents; it's like a competition and .... I hate that aspect of it.

This Christmas, as with so many before, I can feel it settling around me like a cloak of dis-satisfaction - the feeling that I'm missing out somehow - but this Christmas I've identified it, and hopefully I can therefore stop it.

It starts with the family aspect of Christmas for me: I've always wanted a big, boisterous, glamorous family Christmas like I imagine my friends have, but the reality is that I have a very small family and that isn't going to happen. My Christmas' are my dad and my 98 year old grandma - one gets insanely stressed by everything and the other is very frail, partially sighted and nearly profoundly deaf. We cook lunch super early and take it to my grandma's small house about 50 miles from home. It's a low-key affair, and what I realise year after year is I should be grateful for these years when I still have them both. Whatever happens in the future, I won't wish away these precious years with them both because they are what is left of my family. Maybe I'll have those boisterous family Christmas's in my future (and maybe I won't - we can't plan for how life works out), but I'll treasure the family days while I can .... especially when I realise that I might be away next year and this may not happen again. Family is good - appreciate it.

Then there's the food: my plan is simple - take control of what I can, and enjoy the rest. Christmas is a time to enjoy some food that you don't have the rest of the year. It's a time to catch up with friends and family and talk and laugh and ... yes ... eat. But it doesn't have to be every meal and all day. I've tried to listen to my body as to when I'm full and then stop. And when I'm home, or have a choice, I try and stick to Slimming World friendly meals. I take it a meal at a time. On Christmas Day I had a good breakfast because I knew the rest of the meals were out of my hands. Strangely enough though, I wouldn't say I was terrible the rest of the day.

Boxing Day I indulged in a tradition - the pub walk. A lovely stroll over the hills (and splashing through muddy puddles like a child), followed by mulled wine, sausage baps and lots of chat in the pub. Then the walk back, and an evening of Christmas films in pyjamas, cold cuts dinner of leftovers, and a few Christmas chocolates and more wine with friends. Two glorious days of family and friends, and so yesterday I reined it in a bit. I dropped in on some more friends, had tea and cake, but kept my meals sensible and on plan. Now I've got 3 glorious days of relaxing with no particular plans and intend to eat well, and maybe swim and walk.

Not shop. Which brings me to the last in my unholy trinity of Christmas pressures: The Sales. Long-term readers know of my struggles with money, which is mostly driven by my struggles with shopping. I am a (reforming) shopaholic. Labels, image, STUFF - I love it, but I'm trying to steer my life away from that path. These days I want less stuff, not more - I'd like to de-clutter my life, streamline it, and make more time and space for doing instead of having. But, my god, show me a winter sale and it so hard not to think of all that I could have.

Case in point: I'm obsessing over Hunter welly boots at the moment. Why? Because my friends have them (well, some of them do) and I hate feeling left out. Doesn't matter that I have perfectly nice stripy Joules wellies and that I don't use wellies often, I want some Hunters.

Except it does matter - because I don't need them at all. I broke it down, that want, and it comes back to my driving need to have the same lifestyle as my friends. Sheer material competitiveness. Deeper than that, it's that they are all getting married, buying houses and having successful lives and right now I'm not. And somehow I've mixed up their belongings with their lives, and confused the two. The Hunters are just the current manifestation of that. This kind of competition is what got me in my financial mess in the first place. And it's ridiculous because it's not the life I'm choosing for me at this point. I might not be able to choose the relationship part (it will or it won't happen), but I'm choosing my adventures and my direction, and Hunters don't need to be a part of it right now. My down jacket is, that I got in the sale just last week, because it gets very cold in the Namibian desert, where I'll be in March. And some ski-wear might be in the spring, because I may be stocking up on decent gear to see me through a season next winter (more on that excitement in the new year), but for now I'm choosing to stay away from the sales, and all the lifestyle ideals they're trying to sell me, because they're not my life right here and right now.

I'm going to spend the next couple of days being in the moment, existing in my life, and not trying to live someone else's. Treating myself well, and reflecting on this year and what's yet to come next year. I hope you're enjoying this time and not letting the pressures get to you either!

Monday, 24 December 2012

Step 1: Take Control

I've finally arrived home at Casa Starfish for Christmas after a lovely weekend in London. This weekend we've been big kids at London Aquarium, made ourselves feel dizzy on fairground rides, and laughed on fun houses, and drunk mulled beverages on carousels at Winter Wonderland, watched the Strictly Come Dancing finals in our pyjamas, eaten dessert for dinner and just generally lived and loved the festive season. It was a good weekend with an excellent friend.

One challenge for me over the Christmas period is to maintain some control over my food whilst enjoying this special time spent with family and friends. I'm realistic that I probably won't lose any weight over the next 2 weeks, but I'd like to emerge in 2013 at a similar weight to now and ready to make some progress. And the biggest aspect of that challenge is control.

One of the things that made the last couple of weeks quite successful for me has been being at home (my Bristol flat that is) and having the time to cook from scratch and stock the fridge and cupboards to my own specifications. For the next 10 days I'm going to be based at my Dad's house and facing his (very over-stocked cupboards). My dad has a terrible sweet tooth - must be where I get it from - and is a notorious feeder. Feeding is how he does hospitality. On the plus side he's keen to manage his own weight (although he goes about it the worst way), and is therefore open to me taking over the kitchen. Which is just what I've done.

I've worked out that my best shot at being good this Christmas is to do the cooking for the meals we share. And saying no to Dad every time he offers me chocolates. Or dessert. Or one of the *three* Christmas cakes he decided we need.

Cooking the shared meals will allow me to steer us towards fresh food rather than processed and load up the plates with veg. We eat breakfasts and dinner separately which allows me to do what I want .... I'm concentrating on keeping all my meals completely made up of Slimming World free foods, which allows me to keep my Syns for nice snacks and booze. Right now I'm enjoying a coffee and a piece of carrot cake and I'll have some champagne tonight but everything else today has been good. I'm balancing my intake.

I've also bought my swimsuit home, along with wellies and a waterproof / warm jacket, so I can hit the local pool or the hills for walks for some fresh air and time out.

Other than that, I'm all ready for Christmas. I have a final present to wrap, and a lunch to cook tomorrow, and after that it's all fun and no responsibility. Just lots of friends and laughter.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and enjoy the time with loved ones, leaving you ready and refreshed for the new year.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Week 1 Results

I wasn't sure how it would go, my first week on Slimming World, so it was with a little trepidation that I went to my first weigh in last night. The result? 1.5lb lost.

I felt like I ate an awful lot this week, and that I wasn't particularly strict (weekends away will tend to do that), so I'm very pleased with that loss. However, I do know that my weight quite often fluctuates within a couple of lbs, so I'm not going to be convinced that this works for me until I see a couple of losses in a row and a definite move away from my current weight.

To be totally fair to Slimming World, I had the same feelings when I started Weightwatchers on the old program - I felt like losing weight couldn't be that easy and it must be a fluke, and it wasn't until about the 3rd week that I started to accept that it could work. Having followed a healthy eating plan for nearly 4 years, I also knew not to expect the big losses that some people see in their first couple of weeks because I wasn't coming to this from a period of particularly bad eating. So with that in mind, I'm going to make a real effort to stick with the plan right over Christmas and into the first weeks of the new year to give it a real chance.

Good things: I've been doing a bit more cooking and even tried a new recipe yesterday for a creamy bean soup, and I've just generally been eating more fresh and whole foods.

Bad things: eating out and on the go is more tricky, since Slimming World penalises processed foods so much, so I'm going to have for rethink that.

Generally, I'm pleased with this first week and feel it was a solid start, and I'm ready to face the challenges of Christmas and see if I can't lose a little bit more before my next weigh in in 2 weeks time.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Eeeeep!

Sorry, that funny noise you heard was the little scared noise I made thinking about having my first weigh in at Slimming World tonight. In front of other people. Being accountable to actual real people who might look at me all disappointed-like if I haven't lost anything. Or worse, have put it on on.



I'm not sure I feel like I've lost anything at all, but I guess we'll have to see.

Spending a delightful weekend in Brussels hasn't overly convinced me that I'll have lost anything either. I did keep my slightly-cautious-head on, but it's tricky sticking to a healthy eating plan when you're wholly in someone else's hands from Friday evening until Sunday afternoon. There were some pastries from the Belgian patisserie by my friends (hi amazing Tarte aux Pommes that made me want to cry a little), there were some pain au chocolat fro breakfast, and a Bratwurst in fresh baguette from the Christmas market, and an amazing open beef carpaccio sandwich and frites (that we shared) - I'm still drooling a little about how the carpaccio just melted apart under my fork - it was seriously delicious. And there was a Christmas buffet o Saturday night accompanied by mulled wine and champagne (and a truly awesome Christmas jumper because you have to get in the spirit of these things!).

Somehow though, none of that really seems to conducive to weight loss when you look back, although it was all partaken in moderation and with minimal snackage. My strategy was just to eat sparingly of the nice stuff, and to keep my head right up until I landed in Brussels and to resume as soon as I took off, which I did do. Other than that, I've been pretty good this week, although I've probably hovered at the top end of the range of Syns they recommend.

I guess the jury will be in later.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

The Lazies

I am suffering a severe case of The Lazies at the moment. Movement just seems altogether like too much effort. It's been coming on for a while - I can see the lethargy started to set in way back in October, when work got too busy and then I knew the gym was closing sometime soon (my old gym that is), and even joining a shiny new gym couldn't get me out of that funk.

Now, here I lie at home on my bed, on a day off, and even though the surf report is 4* today (out of a possible 5), I cannot find the energy or the motivation to get off my bed and get out there. I feel like my muscles are slowly melting away through lack of use. In fact, I suspect that happened several weeks ago.

I think it's just part of the overall malaise that's been hanging over me recently of just being generally under the weather. The general illness that wouldn't come properly or go, the borderline exhaustion and just focusing on getting through the weeks until I had a break and could just STOP. And, of course, the chaos that is building up for Christmas at the same time as trying to run everything down at work in order to take near enough a month off.

Still, this laziness thing is self-perpetuating, and I know that the more I allow it to continue the worse I will feel. So I'm allowing myself this week to wallow like a lazy oaf and do as little as I feel like, relaxing, catching up on my sleep and eating well, and next week I'd like to see a bit more activity. The pool should have re-opened at my gym by then, so I can enjoy some swimming, yoga, Pilates and spinning whilst I have time.

Of course, I think the other reason I didn't fancy spending 4 hours driving to and from Devon today is I know that I have to get up early and drive my ass to London tomorrow morning (I have to be at Heathrow by 11.30 and need to drop my car at my friend's place in Chiswick first so I can save some pennies and park for free). Normally, I'd just go right ahead and surf anyway, but that tired part of me whispers that I still have a lot of packing and organising to do, and I won't feel like doing it tonight after a full day out and about in the fresh air. And also that December equals broke-ness with all the parties and present-buying and can I really afford an extra tank of petrol for fun. Damn that tired voice!!

But I have promised myself this: if there's any surf to be had, I'll make sure to get some next week (god bless early pay day in December!), and I will go to the gym and do SOMETHING today, even if it's just a Pilates or spin class.

Eating-wise I'm struggling a bit with the concept of how much food I'm eating on Slimming World. It's so ingrained in to my head that in order to lose weight you must not eat very big portions, that I'm convinced I'm going to start seeing a gain sometime soon. In actual fact, since I started last Thursday (technically, although with a few hiccups and a TERRIBLE weekend), I've lost 1.5lbs since this time last week. That puts me very close to that 12st 3lb barrier that I've been trying to bust through for so very, very long. I'm not going to do anything different to what I've been doing so far, just continue being vigilant of my eating on this new plan as it's sufficiently different to Weightwatchers that I really have to think about things, track honestly, and try and figure out how to get safely through a completely unknown weekend unscathed.

Because this weekend .... I'm off to Brussels and Bruges for some Christmas market action!!!!! Woohooooo!!! I'm going back out to see my friend Caroline, hence the flying tomorrow, and I'm so excited. I was in Brussels around Christmas 2 years ago, and it was glorious, although I killed half my weekend with the most mahoosive hangover and didn't get to really see the Christmas markets as a result (I'm not even kidding, Caroline had to put me in a taxi and take me home at lunchtime and put me back to bed with a bucket as I was feeling so sick ... absolutely ridiculous), so I'm looking forward to doing it right this time!!!

Eating wise, it's lots of jacket potatoes, pasta and fruit at the moment. While I'm off work, my diet this week is looking a bit like this:

Breakfast: banana (I've been getting up quite late)

Snack: Alpen Light cereal bar

Lunch: jacket potato with beans and some reduced fat grated cheese, followed by a big bowl of raspberries and apple with a low fat yoghurt

Dinner: pasta with bacon (no rind), mushrooms, onion, garlic, baby leeks and some Philadelphia Extra Light.

Yesterday, I used my remaining Syns to have a small slice of lemon loaf cake at my local coffee shop with a Diet Coke whilst writing my Christmas cards (I got a bit cabin fever-y and needed to get out the house and see people), and a few chocolates from my Secret Santa stash. I'm probably not being a strict with myself as I could be at the moment, but I'm trying to strike a balance of Christmas mellow-ness with new-plan-determination. And the sooner those bloody chocolates are gone the better!!!

The plan of attack for this weekend is to try and take control where I can. Although I'll be on the move tomorrow I'll be travelling solo so at least I can make my own choices on what I eat, so ill maybe try and grab a big bowl of fruit before leaving tomorrow and take cereal bars for snacks. Lunch will be at the airport, but it's Heathrow Terminal 5 so I'm guessing that there should be plenty of choice. Once in Brussels I'm in Caroline's hands, so I'll just have to make the best choices I can, and then I'm flying back late Sunday night - again, I can make my own choices when travelling. There will be lots of walking, and there's talk of some swimming on Sunday - let's do this thing!!!

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Slimming World

Well, this is all very new to me! And different. Very, very different.

As I mentioned yesterday, I finally decided that I needed to do something major about my weightloss and its very stalled state of affairs. Weightwatchers hasn't been working for, well really, for a quite a long time now. And so, via the medium of my flatmate Krissy, I've stumbled into the arms of Slimming World.

I have to admit that I've been wondering about it for a while now, but the concept of no portion limits on all your core foods scares the hell out of me. I'm a greedy guts - Weightwatchers taught me that when I started measuring out pasta, rice and cereal portions with them - and I seriously worried that I'd end up putting weight on instead of losing. However recently, I've been making more of an effort to stop eating when full, and leaving stuff on my plate has occurred occasionally, and I started to wonder whether just maybe I could make this work for me.

Slimming World, for anyone not familiar with it, basically gives you a huge list of healthy items that you can, and should, eat as much as you want of: lean meat and fish, fruit, vegetables, pulses, pasta and rice, etc, and some key store cupboard ingredients for flavouring it all. In addition, they have what they call healthy options that you should have at least a little of each day - these cover your key calcium / dairy and fibre intakes. Everything else you could possibly eat has a sin value attached to it, and everybody is allowed 5 - 15 of those a day - your treats. It's very simple, and although you obviously still have to track your food every day, it's a step away from the Weightwatchers approach of pointing absolutely everything except fruit and veg.

For me, it feels like both a step towards encompassing a lot more whole foods back into my diet, and a step away from monitoring every little thing I eat and learning to trust myself a little more again.

I've been doing it informally, using Krissy's books, since last Thursday, and last night I stepped up to the plate and formally joined for myself.

Interesting fact for you: despite grumbling about my current weight, it's actually the lowest weight I've ever started a slimming program with!! I've done Weightwatchers twice, and had a brief foray into the world of Rosemary Conley whilst at university, and I actually see this statistic as a huge success. Whichever way you look at it, I lost 4 stone since 2009 and managed to keep just over 3 of it off for 4 years, and that's not too shabby. What I'd like to do now, is tidy up the loose ends of my weightloss and find a way of eating that will work for my life, to keep me happy and full-powered through my adventures (of which I plan on having many!).

So, here's the rest of the statistics. My official starting weight is 13st 7lbs (which is obviously a bit different to my usual morning, and distinctly less clothed, weigh in). I also weighted myself last week before I started and the difference between that and this morning was at least 1.5lbs, despite having a very heavy weekend in the middle, so that's somewhat encouraging. For my own records, I will probably continue to have my own Friday weigh ins, as I have done over the last 2 years, but it will probably be the official Slimming World Tuesday evening ones that I will (hopefully) celebrate on here.

Right now, I just want to lose for my first week, so I know that it's working, but my first proper goal is to get back under that sodding 13st barrier that I've been mincing around with for so long!!!

And that plan itself? How am I finding that? One word actually: filling. Very much surprisingly so. I've had to rethink my go-to foods, as many of them have changed. Whilst I've got the time off I'm playing around with what my new go-to foods will be, but I'm loving having jacket potatoes back on the list as they're one of my favourite comfort foods.

It's going to be very strange going to weekly meetings, and I do find it adds a certain need to lose to the proceedings, as I discovered last night that they go over everyone's weekly results in a circle and discuss them individually. There was no judgement or criticism for people who'd gained, but still, I'd rather not do that too often!!

Wish me luck with my first week!!

Monday, 10 December 2012

Greetings From Off-Duty

Hello!!!!

After a frantic couple of weeks (or, let's face it, months), I am finally done with work for the year. I am now on holiday for a whole, gorgeous, lovely, self-indulgent 3 weeks.

Heaven.

I'm not convinced it's actually sunk in yet that I don't have to get up early and go to my office until the new year. I'm treating these weeks as time for me. Time to reset. Relax. Reflect on this year. Gather my thoughts for next year and what I want. Look after myself - lots of sleep, good food, letting go of all the stress.

That said, I have quite a lot planned for the next couple of weeks, with weekends in Brussels and London to come, and a fair few evenings of Christmas drinks and meet-ups. I've already survived my back-to-back work and surf club Christmas parties on Friday (lots of fun and highly alcoholic), and a mahooooooosive Christmas lunch with my Malvern friends yesterday.

One thing I absolutely need to work on while I have time off is my weight and my eating. Christmas is always a potential minefield for the weight-conscious person, and I really, really don't want to make the wrong choices and start the new year with regrets.

I might not have written huge amounts on here recently regarding my weight-loss efforts, but its still a case of neither forwards nor back. A couple of weeks ago I got below 13st 3lbs and then promptly went slightly back up again, but on the whole, I'm still at the bottom end of the 13st bracket.

I need to focus. I've made no secret of the fact that I've been struggling with Weightwatchers for a while now. Very occasionally I can string together a little glimpse of good and lose a bit, but on the whole it's just not really working with my lifestyle these days. It hasn't really fitted for me since they changed the plan almost 2 years now, and I've been hanging on in there hoping that either I'd change or the plan would. Clearly I haven't, and this week Weightwatchers released the latest version of their plan .... and I realised that it hadn't changed enough for me either.

Earlier in the year I tried MyFitnessPal for a short while, before quickly realising that I was making poor choices and putting weight on instead of taking it off. The problem was that, presented with just a calorie limit to work with in my food tracking, I don't make nutritionally sound choices. I eat too much processed food, especially when I'm busy. I also over-use any activity allowances that I earn - because I'm usually quite active I tend to earn quite a few extra calories or activity points .... and then I eat them, which is probably over-kill.

With Weightwatchers, I also struggle with the Flex Allowance they give you. Left to my own devices I tend to over-eat on the weekend and tone it down during the week. The Flex Allowance encouraged that behaviour in me. The tracker is set up to give you 29 points a day and an additional 49 points on top - with my tracking week starting on a Friday, I would always end up using all 49 within the first couple of days and then not-far-off-starving myself all week to catch up.

I've been looking around for an alternative plan that might guide my eating into a more even pattern. Something that will encourage me to eat more whole foods and get more balance. Less binge, more satisfaction. Exercising because the activity feels good, not because I need some extra points.

I'm not ready to go off plan and try on my own - I've proven to myself over and over again that I still don't have that discipline (or common sense!). I wasn't quite sure which way to turn, and so I'm taking a bit of inspiration from my flatmate. Krissy has been following Slimming World for about 2 months, and has done very well, losing a stone. I wasn't convinced this was the plan for me, as Slimming World focuses on a long list of completely free foods, and then everything else is assigned a Syn value (minor niggle - couldn't they have spelt sin the proper way?), of which you have about 15 a day to play with. The catch is that there is no portion control on the "free" foods which include potatoes, pasta and all the meat. The other catch is that exercise doesn't get counted at all. I was scared that my greedy guts instincts would cause me to eat far too much and I'd never lose any weight.

Sometimes you have to take risks.

I've researched on the internet, and the verdict of others is that Slimming World works better than the current Weightwatchers plan, so I've decided to try it...

I've been on the plan since Thursday (borrowing Krissy's literature so far as I haven't joined myself just yet), and it's very different. I've felt very full after meals, and haven't always cleared my plate (very unusual for me). Sugar's out, and bacon and eggs is in. Processed foods gone, and pasta and jacket potatoes have taken over. I'll update tomorrow with a proper post on how it's going, as this is getting rather long, but suffice it to say I'm still here, still fighting. And thoroughly in the Christmas spirit!!

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Under The Weather

I feel like I've been waiting to get properly ill for .... like forever now!

Instead I've been just miserably on the verge of being ill instead. Random mornings of sore throats, aching necks, earache, pressure headaches and miscellaneous chills, shivers and general meh.

If I'm going to be ill I'd just like to get it over with now please .... this halfway house SUCKS.

Still in just 7 (relatively) short working days I shall be done with the office for the year and can sit back to enjoy a gloriously selfish 3 and a bit weeks of me-time. I'm hoping that lots of sleep and relaxation, along with finally having time to cook properly and look after myself will have a positive effect on my current state of health and enjoyment in life!

In other news, I went to the gym last night to have a new gym program designed for me. It's approximately an age and a half since I last spent time in the gym proper, as I've moved to a constant reliance on gym classes instead, and the program I've been set is a bit of a shock to say the least. I did say to the Nick-the-muscle-bound-gym-man that I hadn't been in the gym regularly for at least a month now and so wasn't feeling at peak fitness, but he's come up with e devil's own routine to kill me anyway. In between a 2.5km steady state run "to be completed as quickly as possible" (so not quickly then) and HIIT rowing intervals he left with an assortment of weights exercises designed to kill me, sorry, strengthen my core and activate the deep muscles. I'm hurting this morning after just trying the exercises last night to set my starting weights, never mind actually doing the whole program end to end..

Oh well, if it all goes quiet on here, could you please send an ambulance crew to recover my unconscious body from the gym floor? Cheers.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Weekly Weigh-In

Well, the news from Friday's weigh in was surprisingly good - mostly I suspect because I was off work sick on Thursday and didn't eat too much which always helps - but it was 2.75lbs off taking me back to 13st 2lbs. That's the lightest I've been in a very long time .... pretty much since the beginning of the year, so it was a cheering result.

Of course, then life resumed as usual and I had dinner out on Friday night, takeaway on Saturday night and a weekend of my dad attempting to feed me up, as he usually does on my visits home, to contend with. Perhaps not the best follow-up to such a good result, but if I can stabilise my eating this week hopefully I won't lose too much ground.

Overall the weekend was totally laid back and relaxing and exactly what I needed. I can't up with friends, spent a bit of time with dad, and even managed to get in some Africa planning with my friend Ben. He used to live in Cape Town and practically planned a total itinerary for the couple of free days I've got there. Always so useful to get an insider's view on the best things to do with your precious time.

Champagne sunset boat tour, Table Mountain, dinner at Karibu at the Waterfront, the Old Biscuit Mill food market and Chapmans Peak tour .... I'm so excited to go there already!!!

Allow me to be excited about one other thing too ..... I only have 8 and a bit working days left this year ..... yeeeeehaaaaaa! Lots of exciting plans for Xmas this year ... details to come soon :-)

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Health Shake-Up

Hey peeps - long time, no writing.

Aren’t I just the worst blogger at the moment?  Real life seems to keep getting in the way, which is good, but means my poor little blog gets a little neglected.

Lots going on at the moment, other than Africa obviously, although sadly I write to you this evening from my sick bed.  Boooooooo.  Not something that happens to often thankfully, because I’m not at all good at being sicky, but I’m taking a little time to feel sorry for myself this week.  Slightly sad really, as it was 32nd birthday yesterday, and I in fact spent a large part of it in bed, after leaving work early.

Anyhoo, as the title suggests, things in my fitness routine are getting a big shake-up this month.  It was inevitable really, as my gym told suddenly told us that they are closing at the end of the month.  It’s been a possibility that’s been hovering on the horizon for a couple of months, but nothing was said for ages, and then suddenly it was all happening. 

Time to start shopping for a new gym. 

I’ve been at my old gym since I moved to Bristol two years ago, and it’s been pretty damn convenient as it’s right next to my office and I can therefore work out on my lunch break.  On the downside though, that’s ended up meaning that I only work out on my lunch break, so short classes only, and if it’s not convenient at lunch then it doesn’t get done.  And since I moved from my old flat to my new house, weekend workouts weren’t really an option as it was now a half an hour walk down the hill rather than the 10 min stroll on the flat it used to be …. let’s face it, I’m not in town much on the weekend, but if I am them going to the gym has to be convenient to make it an option.

When I started looking, I had specific criteria the new gym had to meet – it needed a good class schedule (which put my work gym out of the equation), it needed to be convenient to get to otherwise I’d never use (which cut it down to two gyms on my way to work), and it had to be affordable.

The two options left are polar opposites (and literally opposite each other as it happens) – one cheap and cheerful, one a proper full-on health-club.  You can guess which one I went to look round …. I’ll give you a clue – despite recent budgeting manoeuvres it wasn’t the cheap one.  In my defence, it turned out there were little or no classes at the cheap one.

I was sorta sold the moment I walked in my new gym …. sorry club.  It’s so damn pretty in there.  Their class timetable is to die for; mostly because they’ve got three class studios.  Yes three!!  And a 20 metre pool with steam room, sauna and relaxation area.  And onsite physios.  And a nutritionist, physiologists and sports masseur which are all cheaper for members.

Be still my beating heart!!

The absolute best bit though, was that having fallen thoroughly in love, I was waiting with bated breath to hear the price for a membership, praying it wasn’t out of my price-range.  Full-price membership was just about in my price range ….. buuuuuuuuut ….. my employer is there biggest corporate sponsor locally, and I get a whopping discount.  It’s only £20 a month more than my cheapy Fitness First membership.  Done!!!

On Saturday, I went and got my ass kicked at an hour-long spin class that certainly revved my heart-rate right up – according to my heart monitor I worked harder than I do on most runs (and then I went and booked Africa – kick-ass day!).  On Tuesday I had my first health MOT.

Ummmmmm – not quite the results I expected.  Nuffield run a Health MOT programme for all members;  it’s a 12 point test you (can) take every 3 months, you get a score out of 100, and if you maintain or improve your score you get all sorts of goodies as a rewards.  Actual, real goodies too – free membership for a month, free personal training type goodies.

So I sort of thought I’d get an average to good score.  After all, I’ve lost weight, run a half-marathon and a Royal Marines designed trail race this year, and I consider myself pretty fit and active.

My score was 56.  Which apparently puts me in the bottom 20% of people.  Only just above the bottom 10%.  Yep, really.

I was pretty shocked.  A definite wake-up call.  Sure, I’m healthier than I used to be, but I guess I’m not anywhere near where I thought I was.  as I’ve put some weight back on, I’m squeaking back into Obese on the BMI scale again (although as Nick the gym-bunny who was testing me pointed out, so would he.  But then he’s muscle-bound with an approximate body fat of 0.5% and I’m not).  My hip to waist ratio is too high (indicator of unhealthy abdominal fat).  More worryingly (and annoyingly, as every other time I’ve had it tested it wasn’t), my blood pressure was higher than normal, although still just about healthy (aforemention muscly gym-bunny raising my blood pressure?  Too much stress at work recently?), my sleep quality was only average, my cholesterol was apparently raised (what the fuck??  Damn – that did not make my happy), although my blood sugars were fine.

It makes me want to sort myself out.  I knew I wanted to get back to my comfy weight (at least a stone off), but now I’m thinking I need to pay more attention to what goes in my gob and my sleep / relaxation routines for other reasons.

Ok, so being positive – this gives me lots of room for improvement (and free stuff from the gym!).  It gives me renewed motivation to look after myself (I went out and did a 2nd spin class in 3 days straight afterwards – after being out of the gym for most of the month, I find I’ve missed it), and having a whole new range of classes and new instructors to used to makes things a bit more fun.  My new gym has tons of circuits and spin to get stuck into, but also a butt-load (technical term for you there) of yoga, Pilates and Body Balance on offer – yay!!!  Including a full-on 90 yoga class – woohoo!!  There’s also dance classes (hello Body Jam) and although the pool is currently being refurbished it’ll be open again in a couple of weeks, and you can even get swimming coaching!

Time to try and get my ass in gear and moving a little more.  Or even just stretching and relaxing, and let’s see if I can’t improve that 56 a little.

Monday, 19 November 2012

African Awesomeness!!!

Hola!!

Oh my goodness - where do the days and weeks go?

Life has been such a whirlwind recently, that I barely know what month I'm in, never mind which week.

Finally though, I have some exciting news to impart. Something I've been dying to be able to say for ages now: Africa. Is. Booked.

Oh yes - the amazing, awesome, fantastical caper that is a month (and a little bit) long jaunt to Africa in February 2013 is all booked.

Excuse me a minute ....

Sqeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!

I've been waiting aaaaaages for the Kenya bit to get confirmed, as that's being booked directly by the charity, and last week on Thursday it finally was. Of course, I've been researching possible tours etc for months now, but without confirmation of the group's return flights I couldn't do anything for sure, as I didn't know when we'd be returning to the airport.

Flight confirmations came on Thursday and by Saturday lunchtime I'd wrapped up all the arrangements for the remaining three weeks.

31 days, 7 flights, 5 countries, 1 charity project, 3 weeks of overland touring in a big truck and more unforgettable adventures and sights than I can shake a giant stick at.

On 21 February I'm flying to Kenya with the Maasai Heritage Preservation Foundation, helping to build a new classroom at a school in Magadi and working with the kids for a week, as well as soaking up the amazingness of the area and seeing what the charity does. After that I fly to Cape Town for a few days of solo relaxing and exploring, then I'll be working my way up to Livingston in Zambia, via the western Cape, Namibia and Botswana.

It's going to be freaking awesome!

I'm so excited to see all the beautiful landscapes and rich history and culture in these incredibly diverse areas I'm visiting. I'm going from cosmopolitan cities to deep arid desert, from coast to huge wetlands, and from Table Mountain to Victoria Falls.

So yes, I'm very excited. I've also now got a further list of things-to-do a mile long - it seems booking the trip was the easy bit, as I now have visa applications, medical forms, insurance and kit lists to sort. Oh, and a list of optional activities which never seems to end, and which I have to make some kind of sense of so that I can attempt to prioritise and work out what I can afford.

Stay tuned for what will likely be an annoying number of posts concerning the Awesome Africa Adventure as it unfolds!


- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Commitment

I'll be honest - right now, I'm annoying and disappointing myself with my lack of commitment to my health. I'm letting stressful situations, a hectic lifestyle and changing routines become an excuse.

I don't have to though. I can choose to make them irrelevant. And I do.

Tomorrow I want to sit here at this time and reflect on a job well done.





Apologies for the lack of posts recently - lots going on (most of it boring but definitely some cool things of interest too) and I promise to get on here and update soon on stuff other than my constant whinging!!

- Posted from my iPhone

Friday, 9 November 2012

Giving Up





It all seems a bit circular at the moment. Last week I lost. This week I gained. Giving up will not help either way.

It's a new day, a new week, and a new opportunity to get it right.

It was a busy week, filled with altogether too much drinking, some most excellent surfing, a few too many food treats. Work is still crazy. I'm tired.

This weekend will be unwinding with my girls Jo and Lissa at Li's house and trying to find normal again.

Keep on keeping on, my lovelies.

- Posted from my iPhone

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Handling Stress

I have to admit, that for the last week I've been walking a knife-edge.

Work recently has been stressful (what, really? I didn't mention that? I'm sorry - bare with the whining - it should all be over some time soon. I hope), and it's finally started to bubble over into affecting my eating and sleep. And exercise. Basically everything else in my life.

I'm used to stress at work, we usually have a couple of very high intensity weeks every couple of months, and I'm well versed in hauling myself through it. We prepare and organise first, there's a sustained effort for around 2-3 weeks and we emerge from the other side and take some time off. I'm an accountant by profession, for a large and company, and it comes with the territory.

These days I know my responses to stress and I can usually spot them early on and deal with them, and anyway, like anything that's routine, you know where the end is and you focus on it, and pull through to til you get there. I normally wind my social life down during the busy periods, soak up the weekend working and make sure I get plenty of sleep, and I try and make sure that I still get some exercise even when the shit is hitting the fan all around me.

Usually. However, usually the stress doesn't go on this long. Things are different this session, and we're currently at week 6 of super-high stress, high pressure working and still counting.

And I'm finally starting to crack a bit under the strain.

My eating this week has been a bit off. Not anything you can identify as a single episode of BAD but little bits of silly decisions here and there. The last couple of weeks my gym attendance has slowly slid down too, as I gave up fighting to carve out the time to go .... after all, an hour lost at lunch is an hour I have to work later in the evening. My sleep patterns have been noticeably disrupted this week - I go to bed at normal times, but he tiniest things wake me up and my brain is churning unable to go back to sleep.

The only high spot is that our big boss has now put his foot down on what we're being asked to do, and flat-out said we won't be working weekends for the moment as we're all exhausted. Yay for weekends (even if a tiny part of me is whining that it just means I'll be working longer hours next week to catch up ....).

I've realised that until this is all done, which looks like it could still be another month or so, I'm going to have knock my efforts to look after myself up a notch, otherwise I could crawl out the other side not recognising myself.

Food: my highest temptation when faced with stress and crotchety tiredness is to eat "nice things". By which I mean bad things. I had a dinner out and brunch last weekend that I planned for. Then I had dinner out two more times, which I didn't. And the chocolate drawer keeps calling to me at work. I freely admit I struggled this week, and I need to check that.

Tonight I have another meal out, at a Michelin started restaurant, no less. I didn't know this until 10pm yesterday evening due to not knowing I had this weekend off until yesterday lunchtime. As I didn't know this I had a takeaway last night as my treat for the weekend. I badly need a plan to minimise damage this weekend and I think it goes like this: fruit for breakfast, light lunch (although I'm meeting friends and need to be careful with my choices) and then stay off the booze tonight. I've already made my menu choices and I'm assuming that being a posh restaurant the portions won't be massive but wine at big dinners like this is a killer. And also very expensive. So I'm going to use the fact I "need" to drive home as an excuse to stay clear of the alcohol. I also need to cook up the batch of bolognaise I've got ingredients for so I've got healthy meals to come home to after busy days at work.

Exercise: finding time has been difficult and I've got lazy as I've got more fed up. Last weekend I managed an epic surf though which cheered me up no end. Spectacular conditions, a glorious autumn sunny afternoon and a huge dose of fresh air were exactly what I needed to revitalise myself. As a result I then made it back to Balance on Monday. And then spin on Thursday. And finally circuits yesterday. Much better.

Sleep: the final pillar that keeps me going. The problem with working late is that you get home late and have little time to unwind. TV and Internet time eat into your evening and you end up going to bed wired. Since I mostly gave up caffeine I noticed an improvement, but last week my sleep was pretty awful. That leaves you absolutely hanging during the day and susceptible to the siren calls of chocolate, caffeine, eating out, wine and laziness. Not a good combo. I need to focus more this week on winding down before bedtime and making my bed an inviting place to be. Less tv and Internet, more relax and let it go.

Surprisingly, after all my struggle (and eating out) this week, I actually only put on a 0.25lb - still sitting pretty at 13st 3.25lb. Did I not say that cracking through that 3lv barrier was a bitch?

Ah well - onwards!!

- Posted from my iPhone

Friday, 19 October 2012

Oooh Hello!

Or rather Goodbye!

Yes - I managed to lose another lb this week - back to 13st 3lbs and edging closer to being back in the 12's.

A small part of me was a tiny bit grumpy that it wasn't more. I've been fighting to get under 13st 3lbs for a long time and it's been a bit of a "nemesis" weight for me - much as 12st 3lbs was when I was at my lowest .... what is it with these "3"s???

And I was good this week, so damn good, so yes a tiny part of me was a bit disappointed it wasn't even a quarter of a lb more, but I figured out long ago that weight loss isn't so much a science as a mystical process in which you must just have faith. And consistency.

Talking of which, I've started plotting out the route to this week's consistency and success. I have a birthday night out tomorrow which will involve dinner at a Mexican restaurant, no doubt with cocktails, and then some dancing with more drinks. I know the restaurant well, and the menu is online so I'll cruise on over to their website tonight or tomorrow and peruse for sensible choices. I'm also planning on limiting my usual "Friday relaxation" to a minimum to reserve my flex points for tomorrow.

I'm not sure yet if I'm working this weekend but I'm hoping to at least have Sunday off. Last I looked the surf forecast was fabulous, so I'm treating my poor indoor-weary self to a day out in the fresh air and the waves ... probably the nicest gift I can give myself right now. Apart from maybe a week of sleep!


- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Weekend cool with some statement boots

Haha - unfortunately for you guys, I've just figured out how the amazing Polyvore works (and I'm newly addicted to Pinterest as well), which means I can now share some my passion for fashion with you.  Not that I can afford any of this, but I can sure as hell give myself a lot of ideas!!!!  

This is a variant of (or very loosely based around) what I wore out and about on Sunday .... be still my beating heart, how I want these boots!!!!!  My grey boots are lovely, but not nearly as lovely as these!

Weekend cool with some statement boots

It's All Going Wrong

I have had such a bad day (and yes, it's still only 2pm), but despite all things, I feel like I'm holding together admirably.

It started yesterday when work went bonkers and Body Balance didn't happen. Then work was still crazy so (despite getting to work an hour early) after-work Zumba didn't happen either. Drinks with Simon were also a casualty as both of us were so bogged down with work, so I finally left work after 7 with no food in the fridge and no plans.

Surprisingly, despite going to the supermarket hungry, tired and fed-up I came home with stir-fry and no bad stuff. Boo-ya!!!!

Today has been utterly pants - drinks last night got rescheduled to lunch today, and when Simon rang to confirm this morning I was in such a tizz I cancelled in super-stressy fashion. Then the soup I wanted had all run out ... frankly I was about ready to throw all my toys out the pram and give up, but I had planned on having lunch and dinner out today (cinema after work which is also seeming laughable at this moment in time), so I've stuck to my original plan of fruit and yoghurt for breakfast and now soup and a roll for lunch.

I've allowed myself a bar of chocolate (god bless Caramac - lovingly enjoyed) and I'm determined to finish the day on plan.

Everything else might be out of my control but this I can do.

Won't stop me complaining about how shit it all is though.


- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, 14 October 2012

On Track

Why thank you very much ... this weekend, I present to you A Weekend On Track. 

That rarest of all things for me, it was a weekend where I ate sensibly, made a few good choices, and have for once finished with some flex points still to use.

Feels good!

Other than that, it was another 8 hour day in the office yesterday (Saturday).  Hmph.  Today, I managed to limit my office time to just an hour, and then enjoy a bit of downtime doing one of my favourite things: hanging out in my local coffee shop and chilling / reading / people-watching, whilst enjoying one of my favourite treats there which is poached eggs on a bagel with field mushrooms. 

I'll no doubt pay for my day off when next week kicks off, as we're now right in the thick of the grot, and I'm not really enjoying it.  Indeed, I may have been a little over-optimistic in agreeing to go to Zumba with my flatmate after work tomorrow at 5.30, and then arranging to meet Simon for drinks later.  Over-optimistic on two counts in fact - 1) thinking I'll have time to hit the gym twice tomorrow, since it's my day for Body Balance at lunch, and 2) thinking I'm ready to see Simon again so soon in a non-dating capacity.

Ah well - car crash telly at it's best - that's what I bring you guys!

Happy start-of-the-week, and this is what I'll be repeating to myself over and over tomorrow night:


Friday, 12 October 2012

Yay!!!

Squeeeeeeee! 1.25lbs lost this week!!

I might not have been perfect, but a little moderation seems to go some way towards a loss.

Must. Not. Screw. Up. This. Week.


- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Stress-Head

Stress, stress, stress seems to be all life is made up of right now. I'm working non-stop and just clocked another 8pm finish today - in fact I've only had one day off in the last very-nearly-3 weeks.

I'm tired and cranky and, as you can imagine, that's not the best frame of mind to try and do healthy living in. Surprisingly though, while I'm nowhere close to perfect, I'm not all doom and gloom. Sure, my eating's not quite as restrained as I'd like, and I'm not making it to all my usual gym sessions, but there are some bright spots: I'm still pretty much entirely diet coke and caffeine free (I had one can yesterday, my first in a week and a half and honestly, it tasted weird), and I'm fitting in exercise where I can - a run on Sat, Body Balance on Mon and my daily walks to work.

I would absolutely love a small loss tomorrow, but that might fall under the category of "you'll be lucky" so I won't hold my breath. I managed to cool a big batch of beef stew last night which is a life-saver as I now have portions stashed in the fridge and freezer, just waiting for a quick blast in the microwave.

This weekend is a another double-work one so nothing much on the cards to contend with in terms of eating. We've got our new flatmate coming over for dinner tomorrow night (she moves in in December) but I'm cooking risotto so that's not too terrible .... and that's all my plans this weekend. Apart from watching Strictly Come Dancing obviously because it's the only weekend telly worth watching!!

I'm sure I'll have something more interesting to report soon. Xx


- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Life List

Sometimes I start a post and for some reason I don't finish it.  Often, I look back later and the post is no longer relevant so either it's deleted or just left in my drafts ... a snapshot of what I was thinking at that point in time which I've now moved on from.  Occasionally, I look back and find a post and wonder why the hell I never posted it though.

This is one of those posts.  My Life List.  Something that is driving a lot of my adventures at the moment.  I started this last year sometime, and I'm proud to say I've already crossed a few of my goals off the list, with others due to be achieved next year.  How awesome is that?  And so, I present to you, fresh from 2011 but updated along the way, my Life List:

I think so much about the future, and 9 times out of 10, I worry.  I think about worse case scenarios and the fear of possibly being alone.  But what if .... instead of stressing about everything that could go wrong or disappoint, well, what if I thought about the best possible outcomes, and the things that could be?  Things I want and can aim for.  What about all the things I want to do or achieve?

I've had the wrong priorities for so long.  I've been reading a lot recently on positivity, and I stumbled on the utterly fantastic Mighty Girl, and one look at this site had me grinning.  Her view of life is inspirational.  The Mighty Life List is a work of art.  And what if I were to finally figure out what I want for me?

I've spoken of this before; it was one of the reasons I uprooted my life and moved to Bristol.  I thought that I needed to work out what I wanted - me - not my friends, not my family, not social expectations, but little ol' me.

So what the hell do I want?

I have in my bedroom a goals board that's about 2 years old now.  It's the product of my first stumbling into life-planning.  On it are my 5 main areas of focus in my life, and a few specific goals with each one.  Work, family, travel, money and my health (remind me by the way .... I seriously need to update that!).  The over-riding things I want to aim for in life.  Practical goals.

What this list here does though is pick up on all those wonderful life experiences that make our lives richer.  Driven from the emotions I want to feel in my life.  Individual items that I want to be able to say I've done when I'm old.  I want to be able to look back on a life that was full and rich and satisfying.

Excitement, wonder, awe, peace, serenity, accomplishment and pride.  Satisfaction at a job well done.  Beauty, joy, happiness long lasting.  Understanding and enlightenment. So, so much to fit in my life.  Order, balance and harmony. Peace again. 

Those are what I want my life to be full of.

With today's massive blanket of social media, there's a new phenomenon of what some call "FOMO" ... aka Feelings Of Missing Out.  I am / was very familiar with these.  I used to be far too externally focused for my happiness - my closest friends told me so, my councellor confirmed it (and thus confirmed the undoubted wisdom of my friends too!).  I would see what other people are up to and feel I should have it too.  I would forget, or choose to ignore, that what we see on Facebook, Twitter, or anything else, are the highlights of their life - the bits they want us to see.  It doesn't matter - I would immediately feel inadequate.

So ignoring that - here's what I want to achieve.  Some easy, some not so much.


100 things to shoot for (list not quite finished, as I always think of more to do!):

1) Clear the debts.  All of them. 2) Own a house by the sea.  3) Stand on top of Sydney Harbour Bridge. 4) Ski a black run competently.  5) Learn to jump my bike.  6) Make a piece of furniture for my house from scratch.  7) Swim in the Indian Ocean. 8) Learn another language - properly this time.  9) Visit the V & A.  10) Visit the Natural History Museum.  11) Get my picture taken in Times Square.  12)  Surf at least once standing up properly.  13)  Paint with my Dad.  14)  Be a mother.  15) Sew some cushions for my house.  16) Live in a penthouse with a proper roof terrace.  17)  Cook something on a camp-fire.  18)  Climb the Three Peaks.  19)  Have a picnic in an orchard.  20)  Windsurf / surf in Haiwaii.  21)  Horseride with my relatives in Canada.  22)  Bike in Whistler, Canada.  23) Camp on an uninhabited island.  24) Go on safari and see the Big Five.  25)  Walk on a beach at sunset, holding hands with someone I care about.  26)  Declare my love for someone.  27)  Receive flowers by delivery.  28)  Do yoga on the beach.  29)  Go off-roading in the desert.  30)  See the pyramids.  31)  See the Northern Lights.  32)  Get to my goal weight.  33)  Start my own company.  34)  Buy and sell some stocks / shares.  35)  Go on a retreat.  36)  Learn to make a souffle. 37)  Dance at carnival in Rio.  38)  Climb Macchu Piccu.  39)  Run a half-marathon.   40)  Live abroad for at least 3 months.  41)  Jump out a plane (with parachute attached of course).  42)  Scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef.  43)  Read the top 100 books of all time.  44)  Take a cake-decorating course.  45)  Stay in a 5 star hotel.  Or better.  46)  Go on a sailing holiday.  47)  Own a diamond or two.  48)  Take a gondola ride in Venice.    49)  Dog sled in the Arctic Circle.  50)  Ride a camel.  51)  Drive across the States.  52)  See the fall in New England / Vermont.  53)  Learn to make my own bread.  54)  Pick my own fruit!  55)  Get dressed up and drink champagne at a polo match.  56)  Volunteer my time to charity.  57)  Own a proper SLR and learn to take beautiful pictures.  58)  Have afternoon tea at The Ritz.  59)  Try kitesurfing. 60) Fly a plane or helicopter.  61) Walk on the Great Wall of China.  62) Go to Glastonbury.  63) Fly first class.

I Can't Quite Believe It!

I can't quite believe it but somehow, in the year I'm planning so many adventures, I've managed to add another great one to the list.  In the luckiest of manouvres, I've managed to get Glastonbury tickets for next year ... and about 2 mins before they all sold out!!

So on top of Africa, and hopefully a winter of mountains, I can now add my inaugural trip to the infamous Glasto to next year's itinerary.  Wooohooooo!!!!!

That has muchly cheered me up .... as 6 and a half hours in the office yesterday definitely didn't.  Work is still grinding forward at full pelt with epic volumes of work, and glitchy systems just adding to the fun and games. 

On the weight front, I had a lb and a bit off this week, which isn't too shabby in view of work and stress taking over normal life.  That leaves me still floating around the lower half of the 13st bracket - I'm still a lb or 2 higher than my recent low I fought back to, but I'm feeling really focused to keep going and make some headway. 

In recent weeks, I've found myself asking "what would Perfect Sue do?" when I'm trying to make a decision about something.  I think it came from article I read about improving your eating behaviours and your relationship with food, and it asked "would you still eat that chocolate bar if you had your perfect body?".  An interesting concept.  I've extended it - when I'm not sure whether to do something or not, I ponder "what would Perfect Sue do?" - Perfect Sue being the "me" I'd like to be.  More than just the body / weight I'd like, Perfect Sue has all the LIFE I want.  She has adventures, manages her money, is fit and healthy, and happy.

Perfect Sue would probably explain why I got up and went for a 4 mile run yesterday morning before breakfast.  I missed circuits on Friday due to an unusually early start (and a slightly fuzzy head from the night before) making me too disorganised / late to be able to sort my gym kit in the morning and book my class.  So, when I woke up early yesterday, feeling quite bouncy, it occurred to me I could just make it up by going for a run on a lovely Autumn morning.  Not having run much recently, I only intended to go for a short run / jog round the block for 20 - 30 mins, but got a bit carried away and went off round the Downs instead, for 4 miles in 48 mins.  Not terribly quick, but fairly satisfying.  Although my feet have blisters to prove how little I've been running recently.

Maybe if I emulate Perfect Sue enough, one day I'll BE her? Or at least closer to her and happier for it! :-)

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Caffeine Free!

This post is bought to you courtesy of NO Diet Coke what-so-ever.  Which is a bit of surprise for someone like me who has a solid 2 x 500ml bottles a day habit. 

As of Monday, I have had absolutely none of it at all.  This was courtesy of a realisation on Saturday, as I sat in the office and sulked all on my own, that I had nothing but Diet Coke all day.  And that recently, I could think of very little else that I'd drunk, apart from alcohol or the odd glass of squash.  I've never been someone who's particularly against Diet Coke, or other fizzy drinks, but even I was a little disgusted to realise how much I'd been drinking. 

Once I started thinking about it, I started to worry if I was actually addicted to the stuff ... you always here addicts say "well, I could give up if I wanted to, but I don't want to", and I wondered if that was me.  Suddenly, it was a very easy decision to make to break my habit. 

An even more persuasive argument reared it's head, when I realised that my 2-a-day habit sets me back about £10 a week, just for while I'm at work.  That's over £500 a year!  That's the same as my 6 DAY BREAK TO MAJORCA IN JUNE.  ALL INCLUSIVE!!!!  Ummm - that's a little ridiculous.

So, on Monday, I cut myself off.  I'm back to drinking squash or water at my desk and at home, and so far, I haven't actually missed it at all.  Which just goes to prove how you can do anything when you're in the right frame of mind, because the last time I tried, I missed it hideously and didn't last 2 days!

Other than that, work (and life) are a war-torn work-zone.  I worked 8 hours on Sat, and this week has been pretty chaotic, pointing to me spending a vast chunk of my weekend in the office too.  Still - I've made it to the gym, and my eating's pretty sound, so I'm hoping for a small loss tomorrow to get me back on track.  Although I might need to be careful how many cocktails I have tonight in order for that to happen!

And in the background, planning and dreaming of exciting life-changing adventures continues.

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Well Deserved

I reaped what I sewed at my weigh in this week. A couple of lbs back on and looking at my food tracker I can easily see why. I was way over my points and all the travelling has left me tired without actually having done much that was physical.

I could very well decide to beat myself up about this, but there are positives to this week too. Most of the damage was done on the weekend - on Monday I didn't think I'd gone that crazy, and I certainly didn't give in to every impulse over the weekend but neither did I track as I went, and that is very dangerous for me. When I did sit and track it all, I discovered I was already 30 points over for the week.

Positive point number 1: I tracked everything honestly this week. I knew I was way over and recorded it anyway.

As the week progressed, that deficit got a bit bigger. It wasn't the easiest of weeks; I was still travelling for work, and staying in hotels, and honestly, it's been very up and down on an emotional level.

Positive point number 2: I didn't eat all my feelings. I felt down, and it was uncomfortable, but I dealt with it. I'm not that good at wallowing anyway, so instead I made plans for exciting things in the future, and as a result I surfed high on those feelings too. The lows were crappy but the ups were awesome.

I remember thinking at some point this week that life never used to be so dramatic, and now I realise that I must have been squashing all of this before. On balance though, without the lows you can't have the big highs and so I think I can live with it.

As I've rolled into the end of this week, my eating has evened out and I made it back to the gym for a spin class and circuits. I've even made it through a Friday night without going crazy with my whole "it's the weekend so it must be time to treat myself" mentality.

I've been reading a few snippets this week about making peace with your food / lifestyle / self, and it has got me thinking a little bit. By the end of this week I'd also noticed that when I'm doing long trips I have a tendency to over-cater, because I get scared I'll get hungry and then not have access to food. It's also high-lighted my struggle with eating at random times and not keeping to a standard mealtime, but I think the more I come to understand my fears / behaviours, the more I might be able to deal with them. I'm debating doing a bit more reading into the over-eating thing, but I'm not even sure I have time at the moment.

In summary, it's been another week of discovery amongst other things. I've been running round like a loon, and work is super-stressy (hi - currently sat in the office on a Saturday afternoon and we're not even supposed to have started the busy bit yet!), and there's been a lot of other stuff going on, but I think maybe I understand a tiny bit more about what makes me tick.

In other news, Simon and I are still talking after last week's revelations and I'm apparently seeing him next week .... eeeep, not entirely sure my head is quite in the right place for that yet, but I'm getting there.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, I got a rather lovely surprise this week when someone I work with suddenly asked me if he could ask me something personal. Always curious, I said of course, and he asked if I was single! Since he's in a relationship I knew it was something else, but apparently he was asking on behalf of someone else who works with us and wanted to know. He wouldn't tell me who just yet, but how nice to know you have an admirer! I'm not sure I even need to know who, as I've decided to stay away from dating for a while, but it was a lovely well-timed confidence boost just the same!

But the biggest thing of all is that I've been doing some serious thinking about my future. I've been wondering for a while what my next move is, and I've had it in the back of my mind that once the latest project at work is bedded in next year, it will probably be time for me to move on again, but I hadn't got much further than that in deciding what's next. I like Bristol too much to want to make a permanent move away at the moment ... I think it might be time to explore the options for working abroad though, and I've been starting to look into how I might be able to do a ski season which is something I've always wanted to do.

It would tick off several things on my bucket list (living abroad for 4 months or more, learning a language to a competent level, and leaning to ski a black run confidently) and I can't really think of any reason not to do it. I get excited just thinking about it!!

It would have to be 2013, since I'm already going to Africa in February, and have other goals and commitments planned next year, and I want to do this right, but watch this space for big changes and adventures afoot!

- Posted from my iPhone

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Un Weekend En Belgique

Oh my god, did I need this weekend away! It's been fabulous - the perfect antidote to the real life to which I must now return.

On Friday night we had seriously delicious food at the incomparable Le Brassin, which was just round the corner from my friend's flat - it looks like a tiny, homely neighbourhood brasserie from the outside, but is a hidden gem of amazing Belgian cuisine, with slightly surly waitstaff and aromas to die for as you walk in. I sampled the Carbonade with Stoemp - basically a bowl full of beef and beer stew where the meat flakes apart under your fork and the gravy is rich and iridescent under the lights, and a dish of mashed potato plus extras, redolent of Colcannon and a great foil for the richness of the stew. All washed down with a nice rioja. Dessert was shared (not too much room left by then) and was Moelleux de Chocolat, or simply "The Softness" as my friend have nicknamed it, which is something akin to a chocolate lava cake - a shell of the softest chocolate sponge with a melting fondue in the middle - served with a chilled Creme de Vanille on the side. Yum-my!!!!

Lots of chit-chat and laughing over dinner and catching up with my host's friends Suzie and James, who I met on my last visit and are adorable. If you're ever looking for this place, it's tucked on a backstreet about 2 doors down from the house where Audrey Hepburn was born in the Port de Namur region of Brussels. I definitely recommend it!

On Saturday we caught the train down to Spa, in the Ardennes, to visit its namesake, which is tucked in the woods on the hill overlooking the town. Now reached by a modern funicular railway, the spa is a haven of modern relaxation and we whiled away the hours floating in the outdoor pool, and rotating round the sauna, steam rooms and sun-beds under infra-red lights. Pure, unadulterated bliss.

In the evening we hit a birthday party at Potemkin, a too-cool-for-school bar in the Porte des Halles area - a fun night with lovely people, chatting to those I've already met and making the acquaintance of lots of new and interesting folks.

Since we didn't get in til about half 2 this morning, we've had a leisurely day of Sunday breakfast (croissants all the way!) and then a wander around town, including a visit to Wittamer. Forget Godiva, if you want chocolate and confectionary delights, my friends swears this is by far and away the pinnacle of sugary excellence. In my bestest French I ordered some praline hearts and my first ever box of macaroons to take home to to sample. I'm excited about the macaroons as I've always wanted to try the real thing!!

Speaking of eating, this weekend hasn't actually been too terrible. We've not eaten an indecent amount, and we've not drunk ridiculously. Whilst I will have used a big chunk of my flex points I don't feel like it's been a free-for-all binge by any means.

Can't wait to come back for the next installment in December - I've been promised Xmas markets and Antwerp or Bruges next time!!

Time to head home for a (very) short while.

- Posted from my iPhone

Friday, 21 September 2012

Time Out

Well, by the grace of some benevolent higher power, I've had a small reprieve to brighten my otherwise dismal week. Despite not being wholly on the ball with my eating, and exercise having taken a backseat to running round like a loon, I've somehow finished the week several lbs lighter and therefore back down at 12st 3.75lbs - back nearly to my recent lightest.

Of course, I've also finished the week one relationship lighter, several kilos of stress heavier and a few hundred miles more tired than I started it.

Luckily for me, right now I'm leaving this week in the dust and am, even now, on a train speeding towards London and then Brussels for a very well timed, and much needed, time-out on the real world.

Normal service will hopefully resume next week when I have my head screwed on a bit straighter, my heart shored up against further bruising (although to give credit - in this case it was unintentional and we're hoping to remain good friends), and focus reapplied to looking after myself a bit better.

Bon voyage, mes amies.


- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Over

Well, just for once it looks like I wasn't being paranoid - Simon and I are over.

Which now I think about it means we're actually sort of over for the second time. He doesn't have the right feelings for me but loves seeing me as a friend.

I think maybe I already knew that but couldn't bring myself to admit as much, but after 6 months of on and off dating I'm sorry to see it end. I'd like to think we'll see each other as friends but l think I need to get my head in the right place first.

Always depressing getting dumped even if you were the one that precipitated the conversation in the first place.

Single. Again.


- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Before And After

Just a bit of fun - this is what happens when I get back from a hard day's surfing and need to be ready to go out on the town an hour later!  Not too shabby if I say so!

Before:


After:

Up And Down

I'm not entirely sure whether the title refers to what's going on with my bathroom scales currently, my efforts at healthy living, my moods or life as a whole!

Everything feels super busy at the moment - life is hectic and lived at fast-forward speed - which doesn't leave much time for feeling relaxed or making good choices.

Some of the busyness is good stuff - an amazing surf at Woolacombe on Saturday, an epic night out for a 30th birthday watching Craig Charles (he of Red Dwarf fame) doing his funk soul dj thing until the not-so-early hours of the morning. The rest of it is work, currently accelerating to break-neck speed .... and this is only the run-up to main event ... it's cranking up for October to be truly awful at work, but the less said about that the better. In the meantime, I'm running round the country prepping (London yesterday and Leeds next week), and trying not to panic. And I'm going to Brussels this weekend, since I'm obviously not travelling enough already.

Eating, and regular exercise, is therefore a bit hit and miss. Thursday through Saturday I did spinning, circuits and then surfing, and then on Sunday I declared myself broken.

On sunday night, I was so tired I couldn't face cooking and had a cold picnic dinner of bread, French cheese, saucisson and sun-dried tomatoes. Followed by most of a pack of Fox's chocolate cookies. Intelligent. And slightly sickening. Yesterday I was travelling and in meetings all day, and although I made an effort, it was somewhat inevitable that the long day would leave me somewhat over my daily points.

Oh - and for good measure we're doing around a dozen viewings for a new housemate this week ... noooooo - not enough time!

And finally, the icing on the cake, I have to figure out what's happening with Simon, and my hormonal self (did I mention that added bonus) can only imagine bad outcomes.

Did I say "up and down"? I think I meant "overwhelmed".

Head down and keep slugging!!


- Posted from my iPhone

Monday, 10 September 2012

The Banzai Charge

Aka - The Hardest Thing I Might Ever Have Had To Do.




Well, D-Day was yesterday - or rather Race Day. There was no escaping it at 6.15 am yesterday morning - it had arrived. My alarm went off and I had to haul my lazy carcass out of bed.

About the only preparation I had done for this race was laying my kit out the night before and packing a bag with clean clothes and wet wipes for afterwards. In all other respects, I was so unprepared.

But you know what we thought - the race is two 4 mile laps. 4 miles is really not that far. Chuck in a bit of mud and some hills, and really how bad can it be? I mean really?

We were totally delusional.

It. Was. Tough.

We thought we could run the flats and the downs, scramble through the obstacles and run and walk the ups. We could walk 8 miles in 2.5 hours if needed, we reasoned (2.5 hours being the slowest finish time recorded on the course the previous year).

HA!!!!

For a start, there were no flats. Not really. The only flattish sections were either up, down or violently across a steep transverse gradient so you were trying desperately not to roll your ankles in the grass and go flying. There were no trails - it was all on grass. Or ploughed field. Or bracken cover. Or of course, the endless mud.

And the hills? Not "hills" like the Malvern Hills I'm used to running round - all rolling ups and downs. These were short, sharp, vicious little sods. If you weren't going down them on your arse, you were picking your way down at snail pace trying not to trip or fall. Or not get your feet caught in the bracken. Or crawling up them on all fours, or with hands on knee's trying to breathe.




And then there were the obstacles. One 30ish m section of bog took us 20 mins to get across. Or through. Because we were literally thigh-high in thick, viscous, sucking mud.

I think I sprained my shoulder on the 20m slip slide when I went down it so fast I bounced clean off it onto the mud and kept sliding, jarring my arm hard in the process.

It took 10 mins and 3 attempts to get up the bank out of the river crossing, because twice I managed to crawl high-enough on the slick bank to grab the rope, only to lose my footing and slide back. In the end, I crawled up through the nettles so I could at least keep my footing.

At the end of the 1st circuit we were broken. Exhausted and shaking and still with the spectre of the final run of obstacles to the finish, whether or not we did the second circuit. We decided one circuit was enough. After all, there was still a barb wire crawl, a scramble net to get under, 5 1/2 ft vertical wall to go over, a tunnel, and electrified web and a final 7ft A frame wall to conquer.




We did it. Just. One 4 mile lap took us an hour and a half.

We collected our medals and our time prints and collapsed on the ground.

This time the Banzai Charge partially defeated us. We weren't prepared. We hadn't counted on the Royal Marines designed course being more than twice as hard as a normal run of the same distance. We managed one lap, but not full 8 mile course.




But it was fricking awesome and well be back for round two!!!!

(p.s. I'm glad to say that although the marshall was there to keep an eye on us and help if needed at the final wall, I did it all on my own - a small victory!)

- Posted from my iPhone

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Pre-Race Nerves

The first week back at work after a holiday always sucks ass, right? This week was no different, if at least mercilessly quick.

Work is busy right now (and only going to get significantly busier over the next 2 months), and I'm also having a mini-meltdown that the Banzai Charge is tomorrow!!! How?? How has this happened???? This time tomorrow I'm going to be slogging my guts out running an 8 mile obstacle course I am woefully under-prepared for. The only tactic left is to laugh, have fun, and accept we'll likely be last by a very large margin. But as Hannah said, we will get round, even if we have to walk it.

ohgodohgodohgodohgodohgod.

So aside from all that, how's the week gone? It's been busy! A last minute dinner out on Tuesday was lovely, but put yet another spanner in the plans for a week of clean eating. Between that, the weekend and probably the holiday finally catching up with me, my weigh in this week sees me a lb up. I can live with that.

Body Balance happened on Monday (with aches on Tuesday), running happening on Tuesday (with aches on Wednesday), and by Wednesday the weather was glorious, the surf was beginner-perfection and 2 full days back in the office had killed me, so I ditched work early and buggered off to the coast.

It was a well thought out decision as it was one of the most perfect surf sessions I've had. I've never done a full sundown session before, and now I know why others do. When the conditions are perfection and the sun's sliding low in the sky in a wondrous display of yellow, orange and pink, why the hell would you want to get out before it's too dark to see what you're doing?????? After last Thursday's frustration at Saunton, Wednesday was the perfect antidote and doubly good, reminding me of everything I've come to love about surfing. It was crazy busy in there (bobbing figures in black wetsuits packed tight as far as the eye could see) but everyone was so friendly and happy to be sharing the fun.

Needless to say, on Thursday I ached like an absolute bitch!!!! With that in mind, and Sunday looming large, I've taken the last couple of days to rest my body and banish the aches. I didn't run on Thursday like I'd planned, thinking that feeling fresh was probably more useful than one last run in the scale of things.

In fact, it's annoying to realise how many things I can't do when I'm resting up. I can't surf, can't go to circuits, can't risk a good sweaty mountain bike ride. Roll on next week and getting back to normal!!! Hopefully once I've survived tomorrow without humiliation or injury and got some fun stories and a new medal for the wall!!

In general though, I'm fairly content with things. I'm finding my rhythm again after holiday, and am anxious to resume the steady progress I was making before France. Steady is good.

Socially, it's all looking quite peaceful for the next couple of week's which helps - partly because I'm supremely broke after hols!!! All good for the healthy quest though!!

- Posted from my iPhone

Monday, 3 September 2012

Quick Quick!!!

Bad Things: there was a lot of takeaway on Saturday night. And wine. And more wine on Friday night.

Good Things: Friday and Saturday night were epic and I ate pretty damn well the rest of the day.

Bad Thing: spent waaaaay too much money on new autumn clothes on Friday

Good Thing: have beautiful new clothes I genuinely love and am excited to wear, and feeling suitably seasonally transitionally autumnal.

Bad Thing: have realised that denial does not help and I really am supposed to be doing all 8 hilly, muddy, obstacle-strewn miles of the Kamikaze Challenge this coming Sunday, for which I'm woefully underprepared.

Good Thing: ummmmm - it'll be over soon? Or I'll be dead.

Oh dear.

After the weekend's socially driven blow-out I can report two days of good solid eating. So I suppose that's a good thing too.


- Posted from my iPhone

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Dubious Miracles

Well, miracle of miracles, the scales are actually back where they were before holiday already .... and forgive me, but I'm still suspicious that they're going to jump up and bite me in the butt shortly.

Yesterday's eating was ... well, mostly ... back on plan. The meals were fine, the fridge is restocked with veg, fruit, meat and fish, but they're might have been a slight slip-up with a few too many Thorntons mini caramel shortbreads. Tricksy little buggers - a mere mouthful but 3 WW points each and my flatmate left some lying around. Ho hum - they're gone now.

I need to do something a bit more productive today - the sun is (sort of) shining and it seems a shame to stay inside being bored!

- Posted from my iPhone

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Ummm .... What??? HOW???

I'm a little confused. As far as I know, I am still the same person that can look at a takeaway and instantly put on 4lbs, that I was before my holiday.

And yet, I've just stood on the scales, closed my eyes and held my breath to see what the excruciating damage was after 10 days of inhaling bread, pâté, cheese and wine .... and I had a little trouble processing it.

For according to the scales (the shiny new scales that should be nice and reliable), the damage is less than 2lbs. 1.75lbs if we're being holy accurate.

Where did the rest of it go?? I don't quite understand. It's really most peculiar!! I definitely felt like it would be a lot more than that!

However, I am in no way trying to provoke the Gods of the Scale, if they choose to favour me in such a way, so I am straight back to the good ol' straight and narrow today.

I don't have any food in the house right now, so when I get up (I may have gone back to my lovely warm bed since I have the rest of the week off), some form of healthy breakfast and a restocking of the cupboards and fridge will be in order, and then ... I don't really know as I don't have any firm plans for the next couple of days. Probably my favourite coffee shop and a book as it's currently tipping down out there .... ahhhh the lovely British weather!!

Welcome home, huh?

- Posted from my iPhone

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Bump

Back home - back to reality. How very, very depressing.

After a glorious holiday, real life resumes. I dare say the scales will have nothing good to say tomorrow ... if they could possibly be lurking within the territory of the 13's that would be good enough for me, although I don't put a gain big enough to take me over 14st out of the equation totally. Whatever they say, tomorrow is all back to work on the eating and exercise front. I was making progress before holiday and I intend to pick up where I left off and keep going.


- Posted from my iPhone

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Bonjour!!

Bonjour from gay Paris!!

We've had a glorious week in the sunny Loire valley which has mostly featured wine, cheese, bread, pâté and a few fairytale chateaux! Not entirely health conscious but utterly, indulgently lovely none the less.

We've just arrived in Paris now for a couple of days ... having been before I'm pretty much content to wander and soak up the atmosphere rather than indulge in any serious culture-vulturing.

I'll no doubt arrive home about 10 lbs heavier than I left, but I guess that's what holidays are (sometimes) for :-)


- Posted from my iPhone

Friday, 17 August 2012

5th Week In A Row!

I lost another 1/2 lb!!! Might not sound much to you, but to me it marks an historic moment in which I've actually managed to lose consistently 5 weeks in a row. And whilst the last 2 weeks' losses haven't been huge they did follow 2 weeks in which I lost over 5lbs, so all in all it's very healthy.

I'm not entirely convinced I deserved a loss after a somewhat dirty Mexican tapas lunch yesterday with the boy, although looking at the balance of my eating during the week I guess I have been pretty much where I needed to be in terms of staying on track. I'm lacking exercise this week, having chosen to rest my back, but overall very happy.

This coming week is a whole different story, and I think I might be very lucky to see a record 6th loss next time I weigh in .... as I'm off to France for 10 days with friends!! We're leaving tonight for an early ferry, and heading to a massive farmhouse in the Loire for a week. Then a few of us are pit-stopping in Paris on the way home for an extra couple of nights.

There's going to be a lot of food and wine, and I've never been great at exercising willpower in group situations, so I see this as extremely challenging. I think my basic plan is eat what I want, but keep an eye on how much. It's a detailed plan obviously!!

We have no Internet where we're going so online tracking is not an option (and I'll be a little quiet on here) ... so we'll see how it goes - either way I'm looking forwards to a lovely holiday!

- Posted from my iPhone