Tuesday, 11 January 2011

New Year, (too much) New Me

Mmm, Christmas.

Goose. Roast potatoes. Cypriot baked cod. Fishcakes. Curry. Enchiladas. Chocolate. Cheese. Red wine. White wine. Beer. Champagne and steak for breakfast. Cake.

The list goes on…

So yeah, I put on half a stone in December. Not really surprising, given that I started eating whatever the hell I liked when we went to Germany on the 10th and then, well, carried on. What is surprising is that I’m really, really struggling to care.

My clothes still fit: this is probably because they were all much too big before and are now merely a bit too big. I still feel good. I think the reason for this is that a disproportionate amount of the gain seems to have gone to my chest. Having shrunk to merely ‘large’ it is now back to ‘WTF?’ So while I’m probably definitely slightly bigger all over, I have retained my proportions.

This calm feels weird. I tried on some jeans in Fat Face (the irony!) over the holiday: the 12 wouldn’t go over my thighs and the 14 wouldn’t do up. Rather than enter a shame spiral of ‘OMYGODI’MSOFATNONONONO!’ I thought “That’s stupid: I’m clearly not a 16!”

I should probably try and lose the half stone. But at the moment I’m really struggling to be bothered. So: the plan of action (these are not New Year Resolutions; I don’t do those):

• Exercise at least 3 times a week. I have started the programme from The New Rules of Lifting for Women, so will probably be focussing on weights twice a week, with a session with C to make up the 3rd.

• Eat less ridiculously. I’ve already reined it in a lot since Christmas, in that I am no longer living on cheese and chocolate with occasional big piles of meat. I realised that I’d been Doin It Rong on about the 4th of January, when I thought “I’m hungry… this feels weird… WTF? I haven’t actually been hungry for about two weeks!” Yeah. Not great. However, I’m probably only down to an average 2,000 calories a day. I should probably be eating more like 1,500-1,800.

• Not miss things, or make social occasions shit and miserable, because I’m worried about my eating. I was totally doing this before Christmas, and looking back it was REALLY STUPID.

This is busy season in my job, and unlike in some earlier years I’d like to come out at the end of March less exhausted, fat and spotty than I started, which means that eating properly and exercising need to be squeezed into my limited leisure time. I’ve filled the freezer with home-cooked food, and scheduled workout sessions several weeks in advance. I’m also working on making getting to bed on time a priority, although that does seem to cause more domestic friction than it should.

All this means I may not have much time for blogging over the coming weeks, but I’ll do my best.

What are your goals for 2011?

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Reverb10 Day 5: Let Go (and some actual discussion of weight loss issues)

"What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?"

I think I just broke up with WeightWatchers.

I’d already documented my issues with the ProPoints plan. To be fair to the new plan, I had been struggling for a few weeks before that, but I’d ascribed it to general malaise and half-assed plan following. When I was once again using my whole ass, as Homer put it, the failure was harder to take.

So, as I said last week, I decided to take my trainer’s advice and eat a bit more. After a week of aiming for 1,500 calories a day I feel more energised. I’m sleepy better. I am noticeably (to other people) less stressed. In short, I feel so much better that I wouldn’t care if I wasn’t losing weight, as long as I didn’t actually gain.

But I’ve also lost about a kilo. In a week. I am certainly not complaining about that.

This feels sustainable. I had got to the point with WeightWatchers where the idea of doing the programme for a second longer than I had to made me despair; as a result every tiny gain or plateau felt like a catastrophe. This feels much more sustainable.

So I didn’t go to my meeting today. It felt odd. But I also didn’t panic about feeling a bit bloated this morning, or try to wear clothes that are as light as possible. And I didn’t spend this afternoon in my usual Tuesday post-meeting rewarding-myself mini-binge, either.

I’ll still go to the odd meeting, even if it’s just the five a year required to sustain my Gold membership. I’ll still stick the little key on my 10% keyring when I finally decide that I’m done, and I’ll certainly collect the little gold stars for maintenance every year. I may turn back to WeightWatchers if I need to lose significant amounts of weight in the future. But right now? Well, WW, I’m afraid it’s not you, it’s me.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Reverb10 day 4: Wonder

"How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?"

Warning: flippancy

The main thing I have been wondering about this year is the things that popular culture and the media tell you are essential for a wedding. Things I have learned recently:
  • A £1,500 dress is 'budget'.
  • If I can't afford a 3-course meal I can 'save' by serving afternoon tea at £42 per head.
  • £1,000 is a perfectly reasonable price for a cake.
I would say 'thanks heavens for wedding blogs', except that they're sometimes just as bad, albeit in different ways:
  • Catering your own wedding while working full-time is easy. If you don't do it, you're a lazy cow who doesn't care about her guests
  • Handcrafted favours/napkins/pashminas/table centrepieces/tables/venues/grooms are EASY to make and EVERYBODY should have them. If you don't, you're RUBBISH.
  • If you spend more than 5p on your wedding, you're basically a worthless human being.

Hmm, what's all this? Could it be yet another opportunity for women to judge each other?


Friday, 3 December 2010

Reverb10 day 3: Moment

"Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail."

I've just been proposed to. I know what the answer is, but the second before I open my mouth seems to stretch into the longest, most love-filled second possible. I feel more alive than I ever have before, and more certain of what I'm about to say than any answer before or since. The second isn't just filled with love, it's filled with rightness.


Thursday, 2 December 2010

Reverb10 Day 2

Today’s prompt is

"Writing. What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing – and can you eliminate it?"

My first thought on reading this prompt was “Well. I am so not the target audience for this game.”

Things I do each day that don’t contribute to my writing:

  1. My real, bill-paying dayjob
  2. Exercise
  3. Cooking
  4. Spending time with the Boy
  5. Sitting on the couch watching TV/knitting/reading (frequently all at once).

Could I eliminate any of these? Some yes, some no.

Do I want to? Er, no.

Let’s start with number 1. I am not one of those people who dreams of giving up their dayjob to write full time. If I gave up my dayjob it would be to do more of numbers 2–5 (special emphasis on the 5), except that I know that I’d be wildly bored after about four weeks. (I had six weeks off once. Too much.) I like crunching numbers. You know where you are with numbers. I get a kick out of writing, but when I do it for a living it loses its gloss. (I know because I’ve done it.)

Numbers 2 and 3 are important for health.

Number 4 is supposed to be non-negotiable because our relationship is the most important thing in my life. I say ‘supposed’ because sadly it can sometimes be the first thing to be squeezed. (I had a similar thing at work recently where the hyper-important project with no fixed deadline kept getting set aside for less important, more urgent tasks.) Our us-time is besieged from all sides as it is without me adding “Wait, I haven’t blogged!” to the reasons why we can’t spend some quality moments together.

Number 5, well, I’m sure some of you are judging my priorities, but all I’m going to say is “Sorry I’m not sorry!”

As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, I am not a compulsive writer. I know I do it well, and occasionally I get the urge, but most of the time I will happily do something else. I know there are those for whom nothing trumps the call of the pen keyboard – I was brought up by one – but that’s not me.

So there you have it: not quite 400 words on ‘What Is More Important To Me Than Blogging (Clue: It’s Most Things)’. Oops… On the other hand, if I didn’t do any of those things I wouldn’t have anything to write about. I’d have to blog about blogging. And I wouldn’t do it anywhere near as well as the Hollaback Girls.

In other, actually diet-and-fitness related, news – I am officially Very Annoyed with WeightWatchers. At my weigh-in on Tuesday I had apparently lost half a pound of the 2.5 I put on the previous week. Meanwhile my Leader is also irritating me. She put a lot of pressure on me to set a high goal weight, saying “You can still lost weight when you get there!” So I did. She now appears to be incapable of remembering that I’m trying to lose weight: every bloody week we have this conversation:

Her: Well done, you’re maintaining your weight!
Me: But I was trying to lose weight!
Her: Oh… why?

GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR. If I were cynical I would say that the high goal weight was less about ‘taking the pressure off’ and more about making her stats look good, and that now I don’t contribute to her total weight loss numbers she isn’t interested, but I’m not… oh no, wait, I am.

Meanwhile, the Boy suggested to me that I try out personal training, so for that last three weeks I’ve been doing just that. My trainer (who we’ll call C because that’s nearly her name) asked me to keep a food diary at the beginning. She had a few insights then (stop using up your spare POINTS!!!!11! on chocolate at bedtime, eat more protein, don’t eat so much bread), and when I had a moan on Tuesday night about not losing weight she came up with the suggestion that I wasn’t eating enough.

Counterintuitive, no?

The theory, she tells me, is that if you eat less than your basic metabolic rate (that’s the calories you’d burn if you didn’t get out of bed) your body will go on strike and refuse to lose weight. So you should always eat at least that much, then manufacture a deficit using exercise. My BMR is about 1,350kcal, according to the whizzy scales in the gym. 29 ProPoints is about 1,140kcal.

Now, I’ve heard about and rejected the ‘starvation mode’ argument before, but C has a degree in sports science and nutrition from a good university. And she used numbers. I’m always more convinced by numbers. And I’m very, very game to try eating an extra 350 kcal a day.

In addition to personal training, I also finally succumbed to the lure of the KiFit (US readers, that’s the UK branding of the BodyBugg). I was pleasantly surprised to find that my daily calorie burn is about 2,200kcal. So, my new plan of attack is to try to eat around 1,500kcal on weekdays and 2,000 at weekends, with a burn of 2,300. This should enable me to lose at least a pound a week.

I’m also aiming to incorporate more strength training into my workouts: as I get thinner I don’t feel like I’m getting more toned, and I don’t want to end up as one of those flabby-skinny women. I’m also starting to have loose skin issues (TMI? Meh) and strength training is reputed to help with that. With that in mind I acquired a copy of The New Rules of Lifting for Women – thoughts/review when I finally manage to finish reading it.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Reverb10: 2010 in one word

I've decided to try to participate in Reverb10, a blogging challenge which provides a prompt every day of December to help you to reflect on your 2010.

Today's prompt is 'One word'.

The one word I'd use to describe my 2010 is probably 'flux'. Lots of things have changed this year. Hell, almost everything has changed. I technically moved in with the Boy (as in I gave up the lease on my flat) on January 3rd. We got engaged. Most of our friends got married. I changed job. I've lost 30lbs.

Most of these changes aren't complete, though. Moving in together and engagement are steps on the way to marriage. And as I've said before, I don't feel like I've reached my happy forever weight yet.

So this time next year, the word I would like to sum up my 2011 is 'completion'. I'd like those changes which are still in progress to be finished and changed. I'd like to be married and at a happy weight, whatever that is.

If Scotland could win the Rugby World Cup too, that'd be nice. Unrealistic, but nice.

Thursday, 25 November 2010


Those of you in the UK may or may not be aware that a couple of weeks ago WeightWatchers launched a completely new plan. This isn’t one of the two-yearly revamps, which generally gave you the same system with a different name; it’s a total shake-up. Points are now calculated in a different way, using protein, carbohydrate, fat and fibre content. You get 29 of these new ‘ProPoints’ per day, plus 49 weekly points which you can use or not as you like. There’s been a lot of stories in the crappier sections of the British press about ‘the diet which lets you have wine and chocolate!’ (Because of course, that’s all women are interested in, isn’t it?)

In two weeks on the new plan (following it closely) I’ve gained 2.5 pounds.


I’m understandably not pleased with this.

While I’m all for updating the plan to match modern scientific thinking, I think it’s in need of serious refinement. When I started it I weighed ten stone and half a pound. I’m on 29 points a day. If I weighed fourteen stone (14 stone 2 (or 198lb) was my starting weight in 2002), I’d be on… 30 points a day.

You see the problem? A point is roughly 40 calories. There is no way that the food intake which allowed the 14-stone me to lose 2lb a week (the maximum that WW recommended) is going to let then 10-stone me lose weight. It’s not just me, either – while I’ve seen some good losses (3, 4, 5, even 6lb) reported in the first week of the plan, they’re coming from larger members. The WW message boards show a disturbing number of small, relatively light women for whom the new system really isn’t working.
This would be almost excusable if the plan were brand new – but it’s not. It’s been operating in Europe for some time now.

I suspect that pretty soon – after Christmas, to coincide with the public launch? – we’ll see the ProPoints allowances changed so that nine-stone members and 14-stone members aren’t eating the same amount. But meanwhile, I feel rather betrayed.

I know there’s a plan revamp coming in the US this week. If it’s ProPoints – and why wouldn’t it be – my advice to members, particularly those under 150lb, is be very, very careful, and don’t assume it’ll work.

Meanwhile I’m giving the plan one more week to come up with the goods. And then? I really don’t know…