30 December 2008

Still here, still coughing

Well, Christmas wasn't too bad after all.

It wasn't quite a 'chestnuts roasting on an open fire' affair though. More of a 'shivering under a blanket on the sofa' experience really. Poor hubby had to cope with a less than ideal Christmas Day enduring my sniffy, coughy, grumpy alter ego, and he did so wonderfully. Thankfully, he seems to be immune to whatever this bug has been!

He made a very special breakfast for us on Christmas morning, and a very healthy one too. It was 'paximadi' (double-baked rye bread from Crete) with hot goat milk (semi-skimmed, of course). Delicious and warming and very, very filling.

And to carry on a Cretan theme we had roast leg of lamb for Christmas dinner, with the most scrumptious sprouts and red cabbage. Roast potatoes and parsnips and a bottle of good red wine completed the menu and it was sheer heaven!

Exercise took a back seat for most of the time, but we did venture out on Boxing Day to the races. Only for a short time though as, even bundled up in numerous layers of clothing, it was perishingly cold with a bitter easterly wind. We didn't stay for all the races but seeing those proud, beautifully turned-out horses eager to get going and set off around the track was fabulous. A real pick-me-up, which is more than I can say for the 'speciality sausage in a bun' we had to eat there.

Foodwise, things haven't been too horrific. Yes, we've eaten a few things we shouldn't have (and drunk more alcohol than we would normally consider!) but it hasn't been too bad. The scales reported 73.5kg yesterday which I'm pretty happy to accept.

One good thing to come out of this whole weight-loss journey is that I'm now absolutely convinced that full-cream milk in porridge is just not to be contemplated - it makes lovely oatmeal claggy and yucky. Looks like my fellow Celts over the border to the north had it right all along!

New Year's Eve is still to come but we don't plan anything more exotic than a quiet evening and a nice meaty oxtail casserole so it shouldn't present us with too many obstacles.

By the time this week is over, we should have started 2009 on a reasonable footing and in a good state to get back to a decent healthy lifestyle. After all, I'm still looking forward to my 'more love per square inch'!

22 December 2008

Pooh and bah, humbug!

Just at the moment, thoughts of Christmas cheer can go away. Don't care, not interested and the fat lass don't want to play.

That buggy little beggar that I thought I'd shaken off at the end of November (or one of its close relatives) has come back to haunt me. I still don't have much of a voice (a quick peep at the lining of my throat explains why) and am coughing like an elderly diesel truck. I pretty closely resemble Rudolph in the proboscis department, I'm miserable as sin and really do not feel any semblance of goodwill to all men (or women) at this festive time of year! This has been going on since Thursday and I'm now pretty fed up.

What I do seem to want to do, is drink and, you guessed it, eat. Not that I can taste all that much (other than bloody Strepsils) but carbohydrates are of more value to me than gold, frankinsense or myrrh at the moment! And to drink? Well, thankfully herbal teas are my saviour these days, especially at 2a.m.

I'm still 'trying' to be moderate and sensible and to make as many 'good' choices as possible wherever I can, but let's just say that bread and stodge is more of a draw than the finest fruit or the most elaborate salad in the world would be right now. Not quite sure why but carbs are what I seem to want or need. If I can have intense flavours too, like garlic or chilli, so much the better.

Actually, the breakfasts (my beloved porridge) and evening meals are pretty good at the moment. It's the bits in between that are not so hot and I've slipped up a few times recently... like mince pies at break! It seems that the likelihood of that happening increases in direct proportion to the type of day I'm having at work. And guess what? Today is a Monday in every sense of the word!

Oh no, this is slipping back towards emotional eating again and really has to be brought under tighter control.

I definitely feel I need a break now. Just a few days of pampering with lovely hubby at home and then getting together with family should do the trick, I hope. Roll on Christmas Eve.

I'm not looking for an excuse and don't plan to pig-out too badly over the Christmas period but I don't think I'll be able to keep to a strict routine in the next couple of weeks. I really feel unequal to the struggle. At the moment, my weight is pretty static, back at 73kg this morning and seems to have been hovering somewhere between 72.5kg and 73.5kg over the last few weeks. Hmmm, I can live with that, as long as it doesn't rise too far over that.

I do, however, really feel the need to commit to a fresh start again in 2009. Having bought a size 12 skirt, I want to be able to wear it. Let's hit the New Year running (or rowing, if possible) in January and get that scale needle moving down, down, down!

15 December 2008

Lovely weekend

But seriously bad on the eating front!

No way am I going to detail any of the bad things we ate - it'd just be far too embarrassing. Let's just leave it that the sensible, healthy eating plans went right out of the window. We ate far too much, and it was all the 'naughty but nice' stuff.

Yes, I'm doubtless going to pay for it with a substantial increase in avoirdupois but, hell, we really had a great time and a brilliant weekend.

Back to the fruit and water :-(

12 December 2008

Support the Family of Colour Sergeant Dura

Not normally something I would post about but an absolutely astonishing matter came to my attention this morning.

A member of the British Armed Forces, killed in Afghanistan, is not news these days. But the treatment of his family at home in the UK, at the hands of the Home Office, beggars belief!

Read the full details here:
"It is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both": The Family of Colour Sergeant Dura

Use this link to write to your MP or something. Anything, but don't let this injustice go unheard.

09 December 2008

Down we go

Well, it was off to see the dietician last night. And I'm delighted to say that since I saw her last at the tail end of August I have indeed managed to shed another hunk of the 'orrible flab. About 7 or 8kg of it, in fact. Whooppee, that's two of us pretty happy then.

That slight vagueness about the amount I've lost is because, using the scales she has at the clinic, she thinks I weigh a little bit less than I thought I did. Quite a pleasant Christmas present to be fair, but I think I'll play safe and 'believe' the scales I have at home. I do use those regularly, after all. Either way, I'm below eleven and a half stone and staying the right side of it for the first time in years. A definite cause for celebration, eh?

So I thought I'd push the boundaries a bit and have bought a second-hand pair of size twelve jeans as my next clothes target. I can just about (but only just) squidge all the fatty bits into them at the moment. And, rather amazingly, I can get them done up without resorting to lying on my back, breathing in until I go blue and hauling on the zip with pliers. Mind you, bending, sitting down, or even breathing normally, is completely out of the question. Wear them in public? Er, no. Not quite yet, me dearie.

An aside, but to think I used to keep on wearing jeans and stuff even when they got so tight I had to do that suck, wriggle and pliers routine, during those crazy years of the diet and gain cycle. Whatever must I have looked like? Makes me cringe!

That leads me to another aside. Why do we so easily dupe ourselves about what we actually look like? And how does that work? I suppose I mean how come we don't 'see' what we 'really' look like in the same way that we 'see' the other people around us. I've spent a lot of years fooling myself that I'm 'hmmm, sort of alright' when I've actually been grossly overweight (scratch that - I really mean 'obese'!) and now find myself struggling with looking a lot more streamlined but still 'seeing myself' as (or feeling like) the Goodyear blimp!

Another little bit of good news in this season of good cheer. I was out at a committee meeting last night. For a start, it felt quite strange to be one of the slimmer people at the meeting. I'm definitely not used to that. Then, there were two plates of mince pies, mini chocolate logs, Christmas cake and other goodies in front of me... and I resisted. Actually, all I wanted was my cup of tea and then, when I got home, a satsuma was what drew me.

True, hubby and I did eat two chocolates each before we went to bed. But it was just two, and they were Belgian Leonidas chocolates (yum!). Not too long ago two choccies would have been just the start!

So, on to goals.

The next one is to get down to 70kg (a nice round 11 stone) and I think that should be achievable quite soon. OK, it may get hit by the festive frolics, but I will get there.

And, for once I'm actually looking forward to the New Year. Why? In 2009 I'll be closer to moving below that 11 stone range. Won't I be delighted when I can say to myself that I'm ten stone something!

Then, the medium-term goal is a BMI of 25. No longer 'overweight'. That'll be when I hit 10 stone 5 lbs (oh pooh - not the 10 st 7lbs the dietician told me!). Anyway, when I get there and am 'normal' you'll probably hear the 'yippee' from the other side of the globe.

And the long-term goal? Well, we'll see, but if I could stretch to below 10 stone, that'd be amazing.

04 December 2008

The fat lass take on 'the good, the bad and the ugly'

Good stuff?
Onto the scales today and I'm down to 73kg - going in the right direction again. Yippee!

Ate my delicious porridge for breakfast, as ever made with 40:60 skimmed milk and water, then two juicy satsumas at break this morning. A fantastic (and very filling!) lunch of two small fresh multi-grain rolls with honey-roast ham (no fatty edges for me any more) and a handful of rocket. Nope, there wasn't any spread either. Then a low-fat blueberry yoghurt (the Muller one at 94 Kcal per pot).

More good = attitude. There is a box of mince pies and a box of chocolates sitting on my desk at the moment and I haven't even been tempted to take a peek.

Bad(ish) stuff?
Well, I did eat one Ferrero Rocher chocolate today - no, I didn't open that box on my desk. This was one of two left for me as a 'thank you'. The other one is still on my desk for a Friday treat.

And, as a bit of crunchy indulgence with my lunch, a bag of Ryvita sweet chilli snacks. Not too bad though as they taste quite intensely of chilli and are only 101 Kcal per bag. High in fibre too.

Ugly stuff?
Ah yes, the journey in this morning. Shivered and got soaked for 45 minutes in freezing rain at the bus stop, then a bus with no heating finally came. At least I got some exercise hopping up and down on the spot to try to keep warm. Then (just as you think it's safe...) we got stuck in heavy traffic! All in all I got to work a bit more than an hour late. It took a good part of the morning to defrost my feet too. Needless to say, the enjoyable walk didn't happen this morning, but I may give it a try tonight on my way home.

And, whilst one area of attitude is good, there is an ugly side too. I am, er, 'very unhappy' with a colleague. That's a polite euphemism for I'd cheerfully tear his throat out with my bare teeth! It feels like I'm being accused of something, and I'm less than impressed. Under other circumstances in the past I'd have headed straight for the chocolate to reduce the stress, but this time it isn't going to be that way. I am in the right here and I'm not going to let him get away with this. All together now "grrrrr"!

03 December 2008

Getting there again?

I wrote something earlier this week but didn't post it. I'm now glad that I didn't as, when I read it back, it was so draggingly negative. I'm happier to report that today's post is going to take a more positive outlook.

Last week I was mithering about my weight and whether I'd manage to get any more off in the run up to Christmas. I even said "staying where I am is looking less likely". Well, it looks as though I got that bit right. But what the heck - it could be a helluva lot worse.

When I got on the scales on Monday I'd gone up to 73.5kg again and was none too happy. It felt especially hard as I'll be seeing the dietician next week and was hoping for a miracle. But come on! It is only a one kilo gain and I don't think it'll be too long before I can shift it again.

When I think sensibly about things, and ditch that instant emotional response of "it just ain't fair", I know last week was far from an ideal week. We ate out three times and whilst I tried to be good, you are never quite as good as you'd like to be. And, I struggled with a cold/virus thingy, which just didn't seem willing to go away. That meant I had zero enthusiasm for life in general, was dog-tired and obviously run down, achy, with a sore throat and a face full of cold sores. Oh, what a boost to one's self-esteem that is!

As a result of feeling crappy, I missed Chi Kung again too. But, most days I just about managed the physio exercises although anything else was pretty much off the cards. So, not too huge a surprise that I didn't lose anything then, eh? Or even stay the same.

This morning feels a lot more on track. It's a lovely crisp frosty winter morning here, and I actually went for a long-ish walk on the way into work to enjoy the beauty. Whilst I'm now pretty tired, I really enjoyed it.

I think I may have turned a corner and have a bit more motivation back. I can lose that extra kilo, and I should be able to lose a little more before we hit Christmas. No, it won't be my pie-in-the-sky target but that doesn't matter. What does is that I'm back to thinking positively and 'know' that I'll keep going on my journey to 'more love per square inch'.

30 November 2008

Recipe for Success!

If only...

26 November 2008

Blue meanies

Oh Lordy! So much for my grandiose thoughts of shedding the remaining lbs by Christmas. I should have known that I was tempting fate.

Just a little while after I posted on Monday things started getting a wee bit out of control again. In fact, this week isn't going very well at all, so far.

I had a headache for most of the day on Monday, but didn't think too much of as I was pretty tired after the weekend, and the start of the week was nothing if not hectic! But, I ended up going home at the end of Monday with a muzzy and aching head, achy most other places, a bit of a sore throat and eyeballs feeling like they'd been lightly sandpapered. Not altogether a happy bunny.

Because I felt grotty, I missed my Chi Kung class - and then, of course, felt dreadfully guilty about not going. Pooh!

Hubby had made us some lovely onion squash soup, which was great (I may post his recipe sometime), but I still felt pretty sorry for myself, so ended up going to bed quite early with paracetamol and a hot drink. It wasn't milky hot chocolate, although if we'd had any in the house, it would have been. Still not sleeping properly - despite this lurgy/virus/whatever, or maybe because of it?

Tuesday was much the same, with me surviving another busy, hassle-filled day on willpower and paracetamol (and the odd tissue). I did have a session with the Physio in the afternoon though, and that was quite positive.

The down-side was that I'd taken a birthday cake in for a friend and, er, didn't just have the ladylike little slice that I'd planned. Oh no, it was a decent old chunk of deliciously gooey pear and Belgian chocolate cake that passed my lips. And, once I got home and had eaten the bacon and bean stew for dinner (not awful, but not overly healthy), I still felt 'orrid so lovely hubby put me to bed with a very generous glass of whisky mac!

Not a fantastic night and today dawned feeling, oooh let's guess, aching and dismal. And, mother nature has decided that this is a perfectly reasonable time to land me with her monthly revenge for my being born female, bless her! So that's why chocolate has seemed soooo terribly enticing for the last few days. Stopped at a coffee shop on the way in for paracetamol and a hot drink. Success. Avoided the sweet stuff by the skin of my teeth.

Until, that is, break time, when a scone tripped me up. I did scrape off the spread but... Today, my nice healthy fruit box (apple, pear, banana and clementines) just couldn't compete. My patience and temper have got even shorter through the morning (is that possible, the fat lass wonders?) so I hid at the bottom of the fire escape and munched my lunch in relative peace. OK, it was cold and uncomfortable, but it saved me snarling at anyone.

There is a little relief in sight for this afternoon - one of my meetings has been postponed, thank heavens! I'll try to eat a sensible, healthy dinner tonight (because of my lousy planning we are eating out tonight too) but if I lose an ounce this week I'll be amazed. Even staying where I am is looking less likely. Right, off for another cuppa and a paracetamol.

24 November 2008

Good progress - or over-optimism?

After the slightly negative feel to my last post, I think it's time to be positive and make a solid plan for the remaining weeks of 2008.

I got on the scales this morning and am 72.5kg today - a wee bit down from last week, which is good.

At the start of this month I set myself a mental target of getting to 70kg (a nice round 11 stone) by the end of January 2009 and I actually told lovely hubby that was my aim. Oooh, the fat lass is getting brave!

It may be a little over-optimistic to even be considering this, but I might be able to bring my date forward.

It's now two weeks, and counting, until I next see the dietician. I'm rather hoping that things will keep on a steady downward trend between now and then, and that I may make it to 71kg (that's 11 stone 3 lbs) by then. It's pushing it a bit, especially as we have a meal out with friends on Thursday, then another the following Sunday, but it might be possible if I really take things carefully for the rest of this week, and the next.

If I can do it (and I know it's quite a big 'if'), then maybe, just maybe, I could get the final kilo off in the two weeks leading up to Christmas?

I'm not going to go crazy over this, as it is a notoriously difficult time of year, and I won't beat myself up if it doesn't happen. But I will try, and live in hope. It would certainly be a lovely present to myself. God knows, with the various and multiplying worries life is landing on me right now, I need one at the moment.

21 November 2008

Heading for the danger zone!

Gosh, I'm tired... and the danger zone is where we are moving towards. I'll really, really, really have to be on my guard in the next few weeks. A holding position at the current 73kg would be great, but I'd really prefer to keep making progress and lose a few more pounds. Not entirely sure what my chances of that are, but...

And the tiredness? Well, let's just say I am glad it's Friday today. It has been quite a week, with a fair scattering of stressful events at work. And today? Just don't ask! Even though we have a hectic weekend in store (e.g. the loooong drive there and back to Wales to see my Mum), I know it will be a nice one. I just wish so much that we lived closer and could see her more often.

As I mentioned, approaching this weekend I'm dog tired (could be something to do with worries and not sleeping, methinks!) and lovely hubby seems pretty tired too. We would both really appreciate some quiet time soon to recharge the depleted batteries. Huh? Who am I kidding!

Next weekend is the only time up to Christmas that we don't already have something planned - and a lot of the plans are food-related too. Here we are - we are supposed to be the ones with a 'stay-at-home' mentality and not what you'd normally describe as social butterflies. How'd this happen?

Oh well, next weekend will have to be the time we do the seasonal stuff, namely buying and writing cards, actually buying the presents we've been thinking about and planning exactly how we will be 'doing Christmas' this year. Oh yeah, and the usual weekend tasks we are postponing from this weekend away. Doesn't sound too quiet, now I come to think about it.

A tip to 'me' for this jolly time of year. I must remember to make time for as much exercise as possible, despite the fact that curling up on the sofa with hubby and a good book sounds like heaven right now. A few regular, bracing walks would do both of us a lot of good.

And, at this time of year, we are heading into shark-infested festive waters, food-wise. Mince pies with or without brandy butter, stollen (oooh, how I love stollen!), Christmas buffets and nibbles, a neighbourly glass of sherry or two, thoughtful presents of chocolate and that 'heck, it's Christmas - let's celebrate' feeling are all waiting to trip me up. Plan ahead carefully, fat lass, and don't let the season get the better of you!

Still, let's take it one weekend at a time. At least this one will be a good one, and from the weather forecast we may even see a little more snow. It'd be great to see it, but we probably won't get time for a lovely walk in it, even if it does happen.

And then, once we get home, even more tired than today, Monday morning's alarm will go off in my right ear all too soon!

19 November 2008

What a fantastic start to my day

My lovely hubby just made my morning. As I was about to leave for work, he said I looked 'shapely'. Then he revised it to 'sexy shapely'!

All I could think was wow! I was a bit stunned as I can't actually remember anyone ever calling me shapely before. And sexy? Huh? To my shame, I didn't accept my darling's compliment gracefully, but made a joke about having been shapely before - just a rather odd shape.

You see, to me it's kind of funny as in my eyes I'm still a lump, even though I 'know' (logically) that I've got to have changed shape a lot as I've now lost around four and a half stone. But, I still have a lot of excess belly fat (which I hate and which gravity helps to accentuate) overlying the muscle that is gradually developing and, when I look in the mirror (have to admit, I try not to do this too much!), the places where some of the old flab resided e.g. torso/thighs/upper arms/etc. are now looking rather wrinkly and saggy baggy. Sophie Dahl I definitely ain't.

But how wonderful it is that the most important person in my world a) thinks I'm shapely, and b) tells me. I know I'll never be a conventional 'beautifully shaped' woman. I don't have the height, bone structure, youth or toning - and I am still rather larger than I ought to be. But it is another step to seeing 'me' as something to be proud of, inside and out.

Thank you my darling.

18 November 2008

Craving busters

Hmmm, I'm not sure if this is a good idea long-term, but I'll share it anyway and let you know if I change my mind.

Even given my porridge breakfasts, which I love but which don't keep me full all morning, I've struggled recently with a 'fake hunger' or odd cravings mid- to late-morning and found it quite hard to keep myself on track. I'm not at all happy about this as it threatens to derail the progress I've made or, at best, slow down the progress I'm making at the moment. So I've given it some thought, and identified a couple of things that may help me to kick those dreaded 'I want something nice, and I want it right now' cravings right where they hurt.

For me, something which is definitely strongly flavoured and usually not too sweet is where my cravings want to take me. So, apart from those 'want chocolate' days (which are generally time of month related and for which I haven't found a good substitute... yet!) something savoury and/or salty is often what I would naturally gravitate towards. This puts the dreaded crisps and savoury snacks (especially the stronger flavoured ones, like garlic or chilli) and salted nuts firmly in the frame - and they're not a good choice. Why? Well, what do they generally have, other than strong flavours and salt? Loads of fats, so loads of calories (often well in excess of 500kcal per 100g), and once you start off with 'just one' from a packet, the rest seem to evaporate!

So what should I choose that will satisfy the cravings, that I can eat only a little of at one time, that isn't excessively high in calories (although if can only eat a little and be satisfied, this is up for negotiation) and is readily available so that I can keep a little stock at work?

My two (proposed) craving busters are:

Single salt liquorice (either Belgian or Dutch ones are good)
Like these Belgian ones

These weigh in at about 300kcal per 100g, and 100g gives you in the region of 32 or 33 of the little lozenge-shaped beauties, so around 9kcal per lozenge. The best ones are the harder type - the softer ones disappear far too fast. With the harder ones I cannot generally eat more than two in one session!

Dark chocolate covered coffee beans
Like the ones from Caffe Nero (sorry chaps, can't find a way to include the accent!)

These weigh in at about 469kcal per 100g so don't sound quite such a good idea, but they are sold in little 25g boxes, with around 18 or 19 beans inside. This makes them about 6.5kcal per bean, and I can usually stop myself after three or four.

OK, these aren't really savoury, but they aren't sweet either. Given the bit of a chocolate coating, these may also combat the 'want chocolate' cravings - watch this space.

Add to this, my old favourites of herbal teas, fruit and Ryvita, and you never know, I might just be on to something. Maybe it's time to go shopping?

This fits in with a number of my original 'rules of engagement', which were to:

  • think before I eat - make active choices, not just follow old habits
  • eat much more slowly and take time to enjoy the food in front of me
  • eat only what I'm actually enjoying (not liking it = leave it)
  • reduce the portions I dish up (get a smaller plate)
  • choose with common sense - swap high fat foods with healthier options (same goes for sugars)
  • cut down on the salt I'm eating (by a lot!)
  • cut down the alcohol I drink each week (and increase my water intake)
  • drink fruit teas more often
  • increase the amount of fruit and veg I eat - I like the stuff for heaven's sake!
  • pick some really nice fruit for those little snacks, not crisps or biscuits

17 November 2008

Food budgetting

I've been reading recent posts from both Lynn at Escape from Obesity about her monthly calorie budget and Diana at Scale Junkie about her weekly zigzag eating and the more I think about it, this is pretty much what I have been doing for some time. And you know what? It works.

Proof? After the holiday weight gain and one or two 'dodgy' days since, I've pulled myself back to being sensible, and made up a bit for the various excesses. I'm now down to 73.5kg and that feels good.

Unlike Lynn and Diana (both of whom I admire enormously) I didn't sit down and make a carefully reasoned decision to follow this approach, it simply seems a logical thing to do, so that's what I've somehow slotted into doing. That probably says a lot about the two ladies that they both think so much more carefully about this whole process than I do, but I guess I'm too grey-haired to change about me that too.

The general idea is this - if you eat 'so much' on Monday and think that was too much, then cut down on Tuesday. If you know that on Saturday it'll be hard to keep the food intake to a reasonable level, then take it easy for a couple of days beforehand. OK, I know that's not exactly the approach Diana is taking, but it's pretty close. Overall, in a week or a month (or whatever timescale you use) you'll consume on average the number of calories that is right for your sustained weight loss. It's that phrase 'on average' that's the key. Easy, huh? Do the sums.

It certainly makes a whole lot more sense to my mind than the slavish insistence that 'I can eat only X calories today' approach, with all the attendant dangers of beating yourself up desperately when you find you've ingested some 30, or 50, or even 500 calories more in a given day than you are 'allowed' to do. Let's face it, we are almost always better at handing ourselves brickbats than bouquets!

A bit of flexibility, and recognising that we are all capable of making healthy, adult decisions? Yep, that works for me. We are all intelligent people, just people with accumulated flab that we are working to shift. We do not need to follow a horribly prescriptive regime to reach our goals - after all, we are the ones who make the daily choices and we are the people in control of our own waistlines. This concept probably won't make the best-seller diet books list, but what the hell - I don't read them anyway.

As I've said before, the blog posts from the two ladies are great and I really admire them both, for their honesty about the trials and tribulations they face (and which we all share from time to time) and for keeping on keeping on. So, a final thought to share - pooh on those people who tell Lynn that her way isn't a good one (stupid? I don't think so!), and a message to them both - good on ya, gals!

12 November 2008

Dodgy days - Part 2

So much for my plans and positive words yesterday. Still, as my Dad used to say when I was a nipper, "worse things happen at sea". Don't ask me why.

Today I've felt like I'm starving - permanently. That is, I've felt hungry enough to devour an elephant, nibble by elegant nibble, except with the way I've been feeling I'd probably have gobbled not nibbled! A bowl of porridge didn't stand an earthly of keeping me feeling full today I'm afraid. I ended up eating my apple early (er, actually very early - by just after 9 o'clock) and then munched a low-fat seedy bar thingy with a cuppa at 10 ish. Oh no - still hungry.

Maybe I needed to drink another cup of herbal tea or something warming, just to keep my grumbling tum to a minimum decibel level? Tried that. Didn't work.

I think it has had a lot to do with feeling generally tired, down and bluesy, and a bit under the weather today - almost like I'm starting a cold, but not quite. I guess this isn't helped much by my having had one of those 'difficult' days at work. Not that this is anything like a good honest excuse for what I did though.

I ate my lunch - that crispy, flavoursome tuna salad (with no dressing) that I mentioned yesterday and followed it with a low-fat yoghurt. Yeah, great, lovely, fine, healthy and all that - but I was still ravenous. Couldn't even contemplate a soup-in-a-cup after the last time so what could I eat now? Hmmm, the canteen was closed. No more fruit about, no low-fat seedy bars left, nothing like Ryvita to be had, not even any dried fruit in my drawer. But I wanted something, and I wanted it NOW.

This is a serious learning point for me - I must keep my emergency 'snack attack' supplies in place. That means my work fruit bowl properly topped up with apples and oranges - even when I know I'll be out for a few days, and dried berries in my drawer. A box of Ryvita is always a good plan too. But I let it all run down to nothing and, today, found myself in deep doo-doo.

So, how did I solve my 'need to eat' problem? I did the bad thing, of course, and went to the vending machine with a £1 coin. The intent was to pick up a bag of Quavers. Not a great choice, I know, but lower in calories than most of the rest of the stuff on sale. But I didn't get Quavers as the darned machine didn't have any! Just not my day, is it?

I carefully selected a bag of Frazzles instead. OK, that's still not too bad at 112 kcal, I guess, not as low-cal as Quavers but far less high in fats and calories than the other crisps on offer. Loads of salt, of course, but hey - I'll drink plenty of water.

If only I had stopped right there. You see, I also got change back from my £1. There it was, in my hand, just the right amount for a chocolate bar. You know what's coming don't you?

Yep, you guessed it. Mea culpa, the fat lass confesses, I also ate the chocolate bar (a Cadbury's Twirl, weighing in at 230 kcal) and do you know what? I enjoyed every last tinsey teeny tiny morsel. It hit that 'hunger' spot dead centre.

For once, I'm not going to feel too bad about it either and I won't beat myself up over my 'sins'. It has shut up that hunger completely and I'm actually in a far better frame of mind than I was early today. The overall damage isn't that awful and I will just make sure I'm especially careful for the next couple of days. Biscuit avoidance tactics coming right up!

11 November 2008

Good days... phew!

On Monday, when the scales told me I was back up to 75kg I decided to get myself motivated and try very hard this week. I want to see that needle moving in the right direction before I see the dietician in around three weeks time. So far, not too bad.

So, Monday's breakfast was porridge (made with 60:40 water and skimmed milk), then it was fruit and a small portion of muesli during the day (semi-skimmed milk as I couldn't get skimmed, but not too much). Finally, a little bowl of spaghetti and tomato sauce for dinner. Said 'no' to a glass of wine. Did my walking, my Chi Kung class for an hour (even though the walk there was horrid in the wind and rain) and all my physio exercises, like a good fat lass.

Today so far has been porridge again for breakfast - I really do love it. I have a few bits of fruit and a tuna salad (no dressing) for lunch and I'm on a promise of one of hubby's soups tonight [mental note - must buy some bread!]. The physio stuff went OK this morning, I've walked a bit already and will do some more later. The needle on the scale had twitched slightly downwards to just under the 75 line when I stood on them this morning. Not awfully scientific, I know, but it's made me feel better.

Tomorrow is all planned out with more porridge and another tuna salad. So far, so good, eh?

Thursday is when I have to begin to be really careful as it's another training day (one of two), and I'm out for a Thai meal in the evening. Wish me luck with those biscuits!

10 November 2008

Dodgy days... Part 1

Training courses. Killers aren't they? There you are, locked up for a couple of days with a group of people you've never met, in a small, windowless room with a plate of biscuits on the table in front of you just begging to be saved from going soft. So, being the kind-hearted person you are, you help out by eating one or two. Well, actually, you eat four on Thursday and then another four on Friday! OK, so you didn't touch any of the chocolate-covered ones - but you did munch the crunch cremes. Er, no, wake up! That is NOT being virtuous.

Then there's the lovely lunches that the trainers thoughtfully provide for you. You start off with great intentions - just one little sandwich, or maybe two depending on the filling, and you are going to fill up by grazing on the inevitable salad garnish, with an apple or a banana for dessert. You are going to have absolutely NONE of those deep-fried tidbits, no way, no how.

Until you see them, that is. They look and smell delicious, and you are, of course, hungry now, after all that sitting on your bottom, hard work and concentration. So maybe just one? But you are chatting and you don't move away from the table - so one becomes two, then three, then... oh dear! And that sweet chilli dip goes so very well with them. Seems like you've blown it now anyway so, what the hell, a mini cream-filled choux pastry chocolate eclair won't hurt you much more. No point having an apple at this stage, eh?

Then comes Friday night and you've worked really hard this week. There's a busy weekend ahead so you deserve a little R & R, don't you? A take-away curry, with naan bread of course, seems reasonable. So does that beer you buy to go with it.

And Saturday arrives. As predicted, a whizzy, whizzy morning so breakfast was a quickly grabbed piece of fruit and some bread. No time for lunch at all. Cooking all afternoon and cleaning the house up for your overnight dinner guests. By now you are very, very hungry (tummy growls LOUDLY) so plans to be abstemious go right out of the window after one glass of bubbly. Instead, you indulge yourself with all the goodies you cooked 'just for them'. You eat some of the cheeses you bought in lieu of a 'naughty' pudding too, and drink copious quantities of wine! You fall into bed far too late, tired, a bit inebriated and stuffed to the gills!

Sunday starts well, but then it turns into 'what shall we do with the leftovers' day. You can guess the rest.

Monday morning dawns and, surprise, surprise - the weight you'd put on during your holiday is back. Just as the scales had started on their downward journey once again, you blew it!

And the bad news? This week is a busy one, bringing a meal out on Thursday, and then there's another two days training still to come. It's not looking good.

05 November 2008

Attack of the Munchies

OK, what's going on? I'm not sure whether it's because today has been dreary, gloomy and drizzly, and it's now quite dark, or if I'm just having an off-day, but I've developed an afternoon case of the monster raving looney munchies!

So far today I've eaten my lovely, and supposedly long-term filling (huh?!?), porridge for breakfast and a nice crispy apple with some dried berries at break [...giving myself a stern warning to avoid the chocolate, my girl!]. Then a bowl of my lovely hubby's bean & veg soup (given extra pep with a shot of hot Louisiana chilli sauce) and some fresh strawberries, blueberries and grapes for lunch. Up to then, not too bad.

I did have a wee taste (just the size of little fingernail... honest) of cinder toffee earlier, as it's Bonfire Night, and found that I am not all that keen on it any more. I'm now nibbling fresh physallis with a cuppa (usually quite a satisfying treat).

But, I just came really, really close to buying cake - a big slice of buttercream-topped lemon cake to be accurate. Huh? It isn't one of my favourite ones, even if it did smell nice. I *know* that I actually don't like buttercream very much at all, and *always* regret eating the oversweet, sickly, gooey stuff, so why did I even consider it?

As I write, I'm still filled with a silly urge to buy 'something bad' and stuff my face. And, mentioning Bonfire Night a moment ago, now thoughts of a big plate of bangers, fried onions and buttery mash keep creeping into my head.

I'm at a loss to understand why. It can't be carb cravings - porridge and beans should have satisfied those through the day. Shouldn't be wanting a strong flavour - both soup and physallis hit that spot. So why on earth do I want eat so badly, if needs be to tear the leg off the nearest table and munch, munch, munch?

Right now I'm managing to resist, but it's a big struggle.

More super soups?

Aaaahhh, yes. A steamy bowlful of warming soup with a hunk of crusty bread! As you'll have gathered, this is a subject very close to my heart - and pretty good for it too... well, mostly.

This time, though, the potentially delicious bowls of delight don't stem from the mixing spoon of my lovely hubby. I found these beauties by happy accident whilst looking for veggie winter warmer recipes. Just by chance I stumbled across a whole section of 'super soup' recipes on dear old Delia's website. Serendipity, or what?

Some of them (like the Roasted Tomato Soup with Purée of Basil and Olive Croutons and the Polish Beetroot Soup) sounded just wonderful and made me want to try them out right now. Check out the deliciously deep ruby colour of the beetroot soup - wow!

I really do struggle with the idea of sticking slavishly to a recipe though - I may just have to suggest to my darling that we use these as a starting point for an evening of soupy experiments. Happy stirring!

04 November 2008

One of hubby's super soups

My lovely hubby made a great soup in our slow cooker for dinner last night. I've just had another portion for lunch and it tasted even better the second day. So good, in fact, that I thought I'd share it.

The recipe is purposely left a bit vague - soups always seem to taste best if you play it by ear, adding in what you actually like, and don't stick rigidly to a recipe. Actually, that seems to be my mantra for cooking in general. Best not apply that logic to meringues though.

Hubby's Mixed Bean & Vegetable Soup (makes about four servings)

About 250g of dried mixed beans (this mix included, pinto, black, green & red lentils, pearl barley and several others)
2 large carrots, chopped into half-moon rounds
1 stick celery, roughly chopped
1 onion, roughly chopped
Half a small savoy cabbage, roughly chopped
A little olive oil
About a litre and a half of stock (whatever type you have)
A healthy dollop of tomato puree
Small handful of storecupboard dried herbs (again, whatever you have)
A spoonful or so of black pepper to taste (or paprika or chilli if you prefer)
A ham bone, or chopped meat (spicy sausage is nice) can be added if you want to

Soak beans overnight, then discard soaking water. Add fresh water, bring back to the boil and boil fairly briskly for ten minutes, then discard water again.

While beans are boiling, gently sweat the vegetables in the olive oil, until some of them are lightly browned. Place beans and vegetables in the slow cooker whilst still hot, and sprinkle with your herbs.

Make up stock with boiling water and add the tomato puree. Add this to the slow cooker, whilst still piping hot. Add the meat now if you are going to use it

Cook (on low setting if your cooker has one) for 8 hours. Taste for seasoning and add black pepper or paprika until it tastes the way you like it. Remove ham bone before serving, if used, and serve with hunks of crusty granary bread.

I hope yours turns out to be as delicious as lovely hubby's one. Enjoy it!

Good news... and a bit of bad?

Well, we had a wonderful, wonderful break, with a resident woodpecker in the tree outside our window. Crazy weather, with a bit of everything. It even snowed for us! What a lovely treat to wander through woodland that looked like a scene from a fairytale, complete with gorgeous views, red kites flying overhead, roaring waterfalls and beautiful icicles. Magical!

We quite surprised ourselves as we didn't go mad, even given the multiple celebrations. We mostly ate pretty sensibly (with lots of whole grain things and vegetables), but I expected the scales to have gone up a lot more than they have done as we definitely didn't count the calories in any way. What with one thing and another (er, including several Accident & Emergency visits) we didn't even do that much walking. But even though we 'treated' ourselves to a few naughty things like a couple of bottles of wine, the odd pudding and deliciously lovely full-fat cheese for a change, I've only put on a couple of pounds in total. I'm still happy at 75kg.

And the bad news? All the lovely relaxing time we spent seems to have gone right out of the window, all in the space of one morning - yesterday, to be precise. And why? Stress!

I've come back to a very hectic couple of weeks at work and have already been hit by a variety of problems I hadn't anticipated, as well as the ones I guessed I'd come back to. My boss wants to meet me 'urgently' and hasn't mentioned either when or why. It's going to take me an age to catch up with the massive pile of email and post. I'm off to the physio tomorrow, and then I'm away on a training course from Thursday. The timing could not be worse to be honest. We even have a busy weekend coming up - with a dinner party as part of that. "Oooh", you must be thinking, "the poor fat lass"!

All this is going to make it very hard to get back on track though - especially with readjusting my attitude. I need to get back into a decent morning exercise routine and good healthy food choices. It didn't help that I didn't have much time yesterday morning as I had to leave a bit early - so what did I do? I chucked some cereals in for my lunchbox - hmmm, not very appealing! OK, I ate my apple at break (well, an hour or so later) and bought myself a banana to eat with my lunch, but what I very nearly did was to say 'pooh' to it all and go for a baguette and a choccy bar. Oooh, that was close!

Oh yeah, a tip to the wise - packets of generic soup-in-a-cup look like a reasonably low calorie, warming choice for lunch or a break, don't they? Not so. They are really chemically and crap. Don't even consider buying them! I had something red and glutinous that purported to be spicy lentil soup yesterday. I don't know what was in it, could not have identified it had I been blindfolded, and am not sure I want to know as it might have been anything. It tasted truly disgusting!

Today has started in an odd way - I was inadvertently party to murder most 'fowl' this morning. Sort of a re-run of 'Who killed Cock Robin?'.

There was a little bundle of feathers in my path as I walked to catch my bus - a robin. He was obviously hurt/dazed. The poor little thing fluttered onto the middle of the road as I walked towards him and I couldn't leave him to get run over so moved closer to him to gently persuade him to move further across the road and onto the relative safety of the pavement.

I'd only just turned away to leave him to recover when a sparrowhawk pounced on him! End of robin, with only a small squeak to mark his passing. Just a couple of feet away from me, it was. I can only assume that's why the poor wee thing was a bit dazed to start with. At least it was a quick end.

22 October 2008

Excited yet?

You bet I am! It's now only hours to go until we go away for our break and I can hardly contain myself. And what's even better, wait for it, wait for it... I did it! I reached my target weight of 74kg. Whoopee, and the fat lass dances for joy!

That's me down to 11 stone 9 lbs - a definite 'wow' - and it has given me a great big boost. It also provided the incentive to say a firm (if a little regretful) 'no' to the delicious looking chocolate-toffee cookies the rep brought in this morning. And boy, how I wanted one! Still, my apple tasted lovely instead, and did me a lot more good.

I'm feeling a whole lot more human today - phew, and thanks to the vitamin C maybe. Enjoyed my breakfast tea and porridge and then went for a longer walk on my way in to work. It was lovely as we had a sharp frost and the mist rising from the river drifted over sparkling stalks of grass as the early sunlight caught them. Even the knee is behaving pretty well, and the swelling is down quite a bit.

I'm having my hair cut this afternoon and will feel all tidy and prettified to go away... wearing my lovely size 14 needle-cord trousers. Again, whoopee, the fat lass dances for joy! All in all, it's a very nice Wednesday.

21 October 2008

Wellness and otherwise

Today is a teensy bit of a struggle. That cold/virus thingy that everyone around me seems either to have or have had seems to have sneaked up on me! The vitamin C didn't fend it off then. I don't really feel awful, just not great. Thumping head, slight sore throat, cold sore the size of Ailsa Craig on my top lip, could sleep for a week and that 'generally under the weather' feeling - you know the sort of thing. Just in time for our holiday too!

The knee and back are none to cheery today either - they both conspired to give me a very restless night. I phoned for the X-ray results yesterday - "great", I thought, "I can ring now and find out what's going on". Oh no. They aren't back from the hospital yet. Pooh! Keep on taking the tablets. Of course, not that I'm grumpy....

The coldy thing means that tea tastes horrible (even herbals teas just don't seem right) and, worse, I want to E*A*T - all the time. I have the appetite of horse. Not an average sized horse either, something more like a Percheron or a Clydesdale! So far I'm managing to fob it off with healthy stuff (two apples this morning!), but let's see what the rest of the day brings.

Funnily enough, what I'm craving is something hot and tasty and, above all, wet (so it doesn't annoy the throat). Aha! Lovely hubby made a super soup last night. Fabulously healthy vegetable broth with big chunky bits of carrot, leek, potato, cabbage and onion. It was so good and warmed me through. He's a smart chap alright and knows me all too well. The remains will form the basis of a chicken casserole for tonight too.

I'm trying to clear my desk of as much as possible before we go away. Amazing what I've decided to hoard, and quite amazing that I haven't actually overlooked anything vital in the heap. I've almost got a clear surface and by tomorrow.... may just do it. I picked up a couple of 'little jobs' from the boss this morning though - he's forgotten I'm away, I think. They will have to be put on hold apart from initial emails for info. Oh well, at least I won't be bored when I get back!

A gentle walk at lunch helped a lot - amazing what a bit of fresh air and sunshine does for a negative mood. No less achy etc. than before but definitely more positive.

20 October 2008

Get your oats

Breakfast today was good old-fashioned porridge. Made with a mixture of skimmed milk and water, without adding salt, or sugar, or golden syrup, or cream, or butter (oh yes, I used to do that!) or anything else, my oats were warming and delicious. I think it may become my breakfast most days from here on.

So why am I making a song and dance out of a perfectly normal breakfast?

Well, porridge oats are 100% natural (no sneaky additives here, chaps) and are naturally low in calories (that's music to the ears of a fat lass). And they are rich in soluble fibre, which has been shown to lower blood cholesterol - this gets better and better.

What's more, because the carbohydrates in oats are absorbed by the body slowly (they have a nice low score on the glycemic index), they should keep me feeling full for longer after breakfast. This'll help me sustain my energy levels and maintain good concentration (tee hee). It'll also help stop me hunting for a mid-morning biccy on bad days - not that I've been doing that recently, but you never know.

And it's certainly a good idea to 'get my oats' each day as they contain essential fatty acids and are a great source of some very useful vitamins. These include vitamin E (an antioxidant which protects bodies from free radical attack, which can cause cancer), and vitamins B1 and B2. The B vitamins are interesting ones - they are thought to assist in the production of serotonin, which is linked with good mental health (helping battle depression or SAD) - just what's needed as the days shorten.

Oh yes, the final bonus - because of the fibre they also help reduce constipation! Right now, thanks to the painkillers, that's almost reason enough to live on porridge.

For porridge oats (made with just water), assuming an average portion size of cooked oats would be about 350g (12.4 oz), that is a mere 193 cals (55 cals per 100g). Add a few more cals for the skimmed milk (34 cals per 100ml) and that'll probably push it to 300 cals maybe?

And the skimmed milk is pretty good stuff too. In 100ml of skimmed milk there is 3.37g protein, but only 0.97g of fat. A little carbohydrate, but only 4.99g, and some (well, 5.20g) sugar, enough but not too much. A nice 119mg helping of calcium and 150mg of potassium can't hurt. Good and low in sodium at only 44mg too. Add in a sprinkling of selenium (3.3 ug) and a tad of iron (0.03mg) and zinc (0.42mg). Not a bad package.

So, a bowl of porridge in the morning is good and healthy and can help with weight-loss - a good thing if ever I heard one. And, who knows, if we make it with a little soya milk (at only 35 cals per 100ml) it might be be even healthier.

17 October 2008

Blue Meanies

Today has begun with a bit of a slump. Well, sort of. It started nicely enough, with the usual morning exercises and breakfast, then an early journey to work (by car for once), then my morning walk.

I had noticed that my knee was quite swollen and the exercises were harder today (and hurt more!) but didn't take too much notice as a bit of pain and stiffness in the morning is no surprise. Most days the knee and back are not awfully co-operative first thing but ease as I get moving. But this morning, now I've got to work, the knee is telling me it is not at all happy and the back is beginning to join in the fun.

Why? Well I think it could be because I wore high heels last night! Not for long, and I did very little walking, but it was apparently a B*A*D idea. So, it's back to the painkillers... just as I was congratulating myself on things improving and having gone two days without any.

The pain is making me very tetchy this morning and my patience has gone right out the window. To be honest, I just want to curl up and cry. It's just as well it's Friday.

15 October 2008

Poverty - perspective from a fat lass

Am I living in poverty? No, categorically not!

So why is it important to me, as it is to so many others, if it doesn't affect me directly? Why try to raise awareness and do something about it?

Well, for a brief phase of my life during one winter many years ago, I found myself having a little brush with poverty, well, a form of poverty. I had no money at that stage (truly no money - not just very little) for food, for heating, or even to feed the electricity meter and precious little food stocks. It was not a pleasant time. But, and this is a big but, I had a roof over my head and clean running water.

I've never forgotten this period and hate to think I would ever repeat it. But I'm one of the lucky people - for me it was temporary and, relatively speaking, pretty mild. For others, all over the world, poverty is what they encounter every single day of their lives. Very often for them there is no way out. This isn't truly 'life' in all its fullness, but 'existence'. So, my experience of 'poverty' might seem like riches to some people and their families - and very often, like for me, it happens to them through no fault of their own.

So what can one person do do make a difference? Well, simple things like taking time to really think about poverty and what your help might mean to those living in poverty, talking to your friends and family to express your concern and plan how you can help.

Look at groups like Traidcraft, and choose their products. Small purchases like these can provide a lifeline for some impoverished individuals. Other charitable organisations like WaterAid can make a huge difference to the lives of others. There are lots of similar charities, some with a local remit and some global - just Google and see who you find.

And then there are micro-financing organisations like Kiva which, with your help, provides groups and individuals with the means to begin to lift themselves out of poverty by giving loans. This isn't a 'donation' or 'charity' in the old sense - it gives a hand up, not a hand-out. And why is this important? Because it allows people in need of assistance to retain a sense of pride - they are working to help themselves escape the poverty trap.

Whatever you do, however modest, it won't be too little to make a difference. Every tiny bit will help if enough people get involved. So, go on - do something today.

Today is Blog Action Day!

Today, October 15th, bloggers everywhere will publish posts that discuss poverty in some way. By all posting on the same day we aim to change the conversation that day, to raise awareness, start a global discussion and add momentum to an important cause.

Kiva’s mission is to connect people through lending for the sake of alleviating poverty.

Kiva is the world’s first person-to-person micro-lending website, empowering individuals to lend directly to unique entrepreneurs in the developing world.

The people you see on Kiva’s site are real individuals in need of funding - not marketing material. When you browse entrepreneurs’ profiles on the site, choose someone to lend to, and then make a loan, you are helping a real person make great strides towards economic independence and improve life for themselves, their family, and their community. Throughout the course of the loan (usually 6-12 months), you can receive email journal updates and track repayments. Then, when you get your loan money back, you can re-lend to someone else in need.

So, instead of giving your money to a regular charity and hope it does some good, lend it to someone and see it do some good. And then lend it again and really do some good!

14 October 2008

Measuring progress

Now seems like a good time to remind myself just how far I've come, but even more to keep me on track for where I eventually want to be. I'm all too aware that there's a huge potential for me to slack off, as I am so much slimmer, fitter and happier than when I began my own version of 'the incredible shrinking woman'.

But, that said, I'm still a fat lass and I need to concentrate on the last part of my journey towards 'more love per square inch'.

So, here goes:

Starting BMI was 38
Current BMI is 28
Goal is between 20 and 25, say around 23
Conclusion:- doing well, but still some way to go

Starting size 24 UK
Current size probably 14 UK (some clothes still size 16)
Goal is a size 10/12 ...comfortably!
Conclusion:- well on the way

Starting weight c.100kg (around 15 stone 10 lbs)
Current weight c.75kg (around 11 stone 11 lbs)
Goal is between 60kg and 64kg, preferably towards the lower end, say around 9 stone 8 lbs
Conclusion:- also doing pretty well, but still quite a way to go

In pretty picture terms, that's:

Then, looking over the change in shape by comparing those vital statistics between when I started and now...

45in/114.3cm at starting point, currently 39.5in/100.3cm so, lost 5.5in/14cm
(a very nice 12.25% difference, not too much disappeared from the pointy bits!)

40in/101.6cm at starting point, currently 31in/78.7cm so, lost 9in/22.9cm
(that's a whopping 22.54% difference - now that feels good)

55in/139.7cm at starting point, currently 45in/114.3cm so, lost 10in/25.4cm
(again, a very pleasing 18.18% difference - but still quite a flibbety flabbety belly to get rid of)

Upper arm:
14.5in/36.8cm at starting point, currently 12.25in/31.1cm so, lost 2.25in/5.7cm
(a 15.49% difference = slightly smaller chicken wings)

28in/71.1cm at starting point, currently 23.5in/59.7cm so, lost 4.5in/11.4cm
(a 16.03% difference - and they're definitely firmer)

Conclusion:- getting there... slowly!

13 October 2008

A reminder - Bakewell Tart

Remember - it looks absolutely irresistibly lovely, and the pastry looks divine, but you actually don't enjoy it as much as you think you will. It also gives you indigestion.

Just DON'T do it.

You'll gather from this post that it tripped me up this afternoon. I'm now regretting it... a lot. And for more than one reason.

The sugars, fats and calories are bad enough, but I now have a decidedly uncomfortable belly - just in time for my Chi Kung class.

As George Santayana would say “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”!

What makes a healthy day?

Sorry, but this is going to be a long one. I'm looking over my behavioural patterns for a whole week to pick out the good and bad (and maybe ugly too!), concentrating on recognising 'healthy' behaviours. Sort of a 'how am I doing?' check.

Monday was quite a 'good' day. Not a great day, but not too bad, all told. Although I didn't feel great first thing and it was a particularly(!) stressful day at work, it didn't get me craving naughty stuff or skipping too much on the healthy stuff. Quite a success in a lot of ways but with a small caveat, a bit like those old school reports, "could do better".

Exercise included some abs/lower body exercises first thing, walking for just over two hours (no, no, not all at once - work gets in the way!), an hour of Chi Kung, which was wonderful, and (it should go without saying) the exercises the physio has given me. What I didn't do was get on the rower in the morning. OK, I've struggled a bit recently with knee and back pain, but really need to get back to it sooner rather than later.

Food was pretty healthy, breakfast of tea (with skimmed milk) and a banana on toast (no, I didn't use any spread - I don't actually like it much anymore). A lovely apple with my cuppa for a snatched break, mid-morning - tea got cold but there you go. Lunch was lots of crispy raw veggies: broccoli stalks (don't ever waste 'em!), carrots, mangetout peas, red pepper and celery, with a little pot of cottage cheese (suitably doctored with coriander and chilli), and a small handful of summer berries. It didn't get eaten all at once, sitting sensibly and enjoying each mouthful I'm afraid, so it fails the 'healthy' test here. That's beacause lunch was interrupted by meetings and crisis management. Oh well, at least I didn't head for the vending machines.

A couple of glasses of water through the day to go with that lot. So far, so good. Hmmm, dinner could have been better... but could have been a lot worse. We were away from home after my Chi Kung class and the only place open to get something to eat was a kebab shop. So, choose wisely girl. In the end I went for the chicken shish, WITHOUT the fries please, (flame grilled chicken and nothing fried = bliss), in a pitta bread with loads of salad and two big glasses of delicious Turkish tea. Would have been perfect if not for a) the splodge of garlic mayo I spotted under the salad (it's remarkably hard to scrape it all off shredded lettuce!) and I hate mayo at the best of times, b) quite a lot of salt, and c) the rice. Nothing wrong with a little heap of rice... except that I ate it as well as the pitta bread. Should have gone for one or the other, but not both. Gave a long, lingering look at the sugary, oozing baklava and walked away feeling virtuous.

And the ugly? Well, it had been a very stressful day and a glass of rum seemed like a great idea... at the time. Indigestion and waking at 3 a.m. with a raging thirst probably meant that it wasn't! Either that or there was more salt in that chicken than I thought.

Then there's Tuesday, which didn't pan out well. Healthy, in all senses? Nah, don't think so.

I woke feeling desperately sluggish - no inclination for exercise nor for breakfast. What I wanted was to pull the covers over my head, roll over and sleep... probably for a week, or two. A cup of tea revived me a bit but I skipped the exercise (aside from the physio stuff and a half hour walk). By the time I got close to work I hurt quite a bit and 'thought' I was hungry so stopped off for painkillers, tea and... er, a chocolate chunk cookie! What happened to the sensible choices? Well, I'm waiting, what did? Halfway through the cookie it seemed unbearably sweet, so did I throw it away? No. I wrapped it up and took it away with me. Ugly? Too right! What on earth was I thinking?

I actually had a break and stopped properly in the morning. Mostly because I was so dog-tired and really needed to gather my thoughts before attempting to clear the backlog of Monday's email. Did I have my lovely apple with my cuppa? No, of course not. I ate the rest of that blasted cookie. It wasn't even terribly nice for heaven's sake - just sweet, sweet and more sweet! More ugly!

I was supposed to go walking at lunchtime - it was going to be my treat to go to the botanic gardens and enjoy the autumn colours while it isn't actually raining. Well, I walked, but not surrounded by the beauties of nature. An hour trogging through town, in and out of outdoors-type shops looking for a new pair of walking boots as mine fell apart after 15 years of good service. Didn't find anything though. The up side? It was exercise. The down side? It wasn't much fun.

I ate my healthy lunch of berries, yoghurt and muesli, and very nice is was too. Not exactly relaxed, as I sort of worked and ate, worked and ate - not the healthiest way to do it. And then the cravings came calling again... I had bought a lovely loaf of granary bread while I was out. Trouble is, I could smell it, and it called my name. It whispered for a while, but then it started shouting. Wondering if it made it home intact? Actually, yes it did, and was perfect with hubby's lovely soup (cauliflower and fennel - delicious).

Wednesday started well for food but not for exercise. A good breakfast of banana on toast and tea again, but I now have two different and time consuming sets of exercises from two different physios for two different 'problems'. A little co-ordination would be nice, but... The sets take quite a bit of time, so it looks like the rower might be on the back burner for a while. Then the morning walk was interrupted by a need for painkillers - like right now!

Break came and went with tea and an apple, a snack of four dried figs (to counteract the, er, side-effects from the painkillers - nuff said!), and lunch is a box of assorted fruit - pineapple, melon, red grapes, apple and a few orange segments. This time... the botanic gardens for an hour of walking - heaven! It did wonders for both pain and mood.

A bit ugly when I couldn't resist a couple of (OK, five) spicy tortilla chips mid-afternoon, ugly but not a hanging offence! Another short walk in the evening and a healthy (but probably a bit too big) dinner of mushroom omelette with roasted tomatoes and sweet potato chunks. Yoghurt for pud - didn't really need it, but yum!

Thursday started OK, with the swathe of exercises then a tea and small slice of toast with a teaspoon of honey (again, no spread). Did the longer, prettier walk this morning as the sun was shining. Apple and figs at break with tea. Lunch was ham & rocket wrap, tomatoes and a yoghurt. No walk at lunch - stoopid, a missed opportunity really, but I just didn't. Still that small caveat then, "could do better".

Mother Nature began taking her monthly revenge on me for being female, and had all her usual knives out. At this stage I would usually kill for chocolate, but for some reason that didn't happen this time (phew!). Just in case the cravings came, I now have emergency rations in my desk, in the form of Caffe Nero dark chocolate covered coffee beans. They taste incredibly strong and rich so one or two should suffice if I do get the urge. Even if I ate the entire 25g box it wouldn't be a huge problem.

What might a problem is my daily dose of figs. I looked up how many calories there are per average dried fig, just out of curiosity, and nearly fell off my chair - they can be from around 30kcal to nearly 50kcal per fig! I've eaten six today so think I need to find another solution, and fast, otherwise they are going to add lbs to me before they address the problem I'm asking them to.

Pulses! That's another way of upping the much needed fibre. Added a tin of haricot beans to dinner - deliciously spicy lamb mince. Great, a plus point. The bad bit? Ate way too much bread along with it. Wonder if devouring the carbs is to do with dear old Mother Nature?

Friday brought an unhealthy mental attitude - very hard to shake it off. Not a brilliant night (woke in pain a few times) and then, in the morning, another carbs crisis. Breakfast was tea... and bread - not good at all. Didn't feel great about the exercises either. They take such a chunk of time and I just can't face getting up any earlier that 5am to do more/longer. Just have to grit teeth and bear it. Hard though - I'm still struggling and still no X-ray appointment on the horizon!

Mid-morning brought more cause for depression as hubby came back from the hospital having just been diagnosed with yet another medical problem. Poor lamb has more than his fair share already. We will not let it get us down though - we'll both fight the bloody thing.

Blue skies and the botanic gardens, then Ryvita and Philly cheese with a big glass of water for lunch, in that order, made for an improvement in the day. Knee and back behaved... mostly, so that's a bonus. Another bonus - lovely hubby came to meet me from work and we had a nice walk. More mince & beans for dinner and the day ended on a more positive note than it began.

Saturday was a very good day. See post from 11th about new jeans! Lots of walking, good food choices, beautiful sunshine and spirits high. Finally found a pair of walking boots too. Paid less ( a lot less) than I'd thought I'd have to, they've got full leather uppers, but most of all... they're comfortable! So, we are all set for our break in less than two weeks time.

Sunday brought the usual chores (how can two people generate that much ironing?) but still the exercises and food choices went to plan. A treat of a date and walnut wholemeal scone mid-afternoon (no, no butter), but not a problem as I took things easy on food for the rest of the day.

So, my 'how am I doing?' check over this last week is looking reasonably good. My weight hasn't dropped, but I'm still undergoing the 'bung-'em-up' side-effects from the painkillers. It is still possible that I'll make 74kg before we go away but, even if I don't, I'm sitting happily at 75kg and that was the main aim. Yes, I could still do better and need to sharpen my act a little if I want to keep losing, but I'm seemingly more back in control and will be pretty happy if I can hang in there.

11 October 2008

Happy, happy, happy!

Partly because the sun is shining today and the sky is blue. Partly, well actually quite a lot, because the knee and back are finally beginning to ease up a bit, and the rest because I've just been out to buy a new pair of jeans.

It dawned on me that the reason I've been getting fed up with my existing pair (a size 18) is that appeared to have got longer - I'm forever hitching the waist up. Took me a while to cotton on to the fact that that meant they were probably too big for me, so were actually falling down! Yes, I know that sounds silly, but it's still a novelty when this happens, even though it is what I've been working towards.

So, off to get another pair, and to my astonishment the size 16 ones were easy to get on. Too easy in fact and they were too big at the waist. I sighed to myself and thought - here we go again, I probably fall into the gap between sizes again and I won't get any. Just on the off-chance I tried the size 14... and they fitted!

Flushed with success, I tried a pair of needle-cord trousers in a size 14. They fitted too. So, I now have two new pairs of trousers to wear, at the size which was my original planned target, way back when I started this whole weight loss business.

Am I happy? You bet! Am I going to stop here? Not on your life. But for today, at least, this little piggy is jumping for joy!

07 October 2008


A tale of numerous diets... and why they didn't work.

This one has been quite a long time in the writing. I've been doing quite a bit of thinking over the last few months, about all those times in my past when I lost weight before, and one or two things have become clearer to me. My various diets, over the years, always worked to an extent, and I'd look better, sometimes even good... for a while. Then the lbs would gradually pile back on, invariably leaving me fatter than when I started on diet X or Y or Z. Not an uncommon pattern I know. But I'd never really applied that model to me.

I guess I've actually struggled with my weight for pretty much all my adult life. Funny, but I've never really thought about it this way before. I wasn't a skinny child (not like my sister) but I wasn't fat either, just OK. I was never into competitive sport (too much of a loner, just me and my dog) but did a huge amount of walking and cycling, and I guess playing, so Mum's good healthy food, plus almost daily peanut butter sarnies with butter (by the bucketful) and big glasses of whole milk, and the chocolate as often as I could get hold of it, didn't have a chance to accumulate as flab.

Once though, when I was a teenager, I do remember a boyfriend mentioning that I'd look lovely when I shed the 'puppy fat' around my tummy. He didn't stay my boyfriend for long after that! Still, it must have made me think, as sometime around that stage I turned veggie (much to my Mum's horror!) temporarily, discovered yoghurt and calories, and morphed into a still pretty active, slinky, if sulky, and apparently normal sort of a lass. All was slender, sweetness and light until I reached my twenties.

In fact, I think reaching twenty four was the start of my fatter life. There'd been a series of difficulties in my life leading up to this age (some of them pretty darned serious) and I guess that's when I really turned to food as comfort - a prop to help me deal with the stuff going on in my head. I also became less active now I was all grown up (or so I thought). I slowly started buying larger sized clothes, often having first stuffed myself into the my usual size until it became blatantly obvious that I could no longer do that. Bust zips? Yep!

I can still clearly remember starting my first diet when I was in my twenties, having realised that I was getting podgy - working with someone with a gorgeous figure (think Marylin Monroe) opened my eyes. It was called the Big Bowlful diet and what a crock of s*** that was. I hated it! The idea was that you made a large bowl of whatever the day's recipe was and ate only from the bowl during the day. Yes, that's right - breakfast, lunch, dinner and any snacks, just from that damned bowl! One recipe I still half recall, and it put me off cottage cheese for years. It consisted of, ooh you guessed it, cottage cheese, plus shredded white cabbage and probably other enticing stuff I don't wish to bring to mind. For breakfast? Yummy! Well, I persevered and did lose the podge on the blasted diet, but of course when I went back to eating normally, the weight piled back on.

I tried a variety of other quick fix diets too, over the years. Just to list some of them, they included the F Plan diet, the 1000 calorie a day diet, the Grapefruit diet, and worst of all the Cambridge diet. With all of them I lost weight. Success right? Hmmm, for a while I'd be happy and feel I had this cracked. But every time, and I mean EVERY time, I'd put weight on afterwards and end up heavier that before I'd begun to diet. There's a theme here, by the way - even though it's taken me years to see it. In every case, when I went back to eating 'normally', the weight piled back on. You see, I really did think a quick fix diet was a fix for life. Poor sap, eh?

Kind of an aside, but the absolute worst of the diets, and I cannot damn this system more strongly (sorry if it pees you off but my opinion is just as valid as yours), was the Cambridge diet. Yes, I lost a lot of weight, and quickly too. Yes, at the time I thought this was wonderful and would have evangelised about this 'miracle' plan - appallingly hard as it was to follow. But, substituting their 'formula' meals and bars, however nutrient packed, for proper food (e.g. vegetables, fruit, lean meat, etc.) to follow their 'very low calorie diet' plan (think starvation!) was a path to disaster as far as I'm concerned. As for exercising - pah! I was always too damned tired even to think straight. Teaching you healthy eating habits for life, eh - in a pigs eye!

After a while, and numerous cycles of diet/stop/get fatter/do it again, I just plumb gave up trying to lose the weight. I had convinced myself that I wasn't meant to be thin, that there was obviously something awry with my patently slow metabolism - maybe a gland or hormone problem if only the quacks would believe me. I even told people that! Frankly though, I just plain quit and just let myself get fatter and fatter. I also got unhappier and unhappier.

My self esteem was pretty much lacking by now, and my confidence fell away year by year. I won't say much about personal relationships, other than to say they were pretty destructive. Mostly, looking back, I guess I concentrated on destroying myself, in part quite unconsciously using food to punish myself for all sorts of sins whether real or imagined. The funny part is that I thought what I was eating was my 'treat', to make me feel good.

It has taken a lot for me to admit to me that I am the person responsible for my obesity and that the only person who could truly help me combat it was me. Blaming other people, or circumstances, or just 'stuff' is so much easier than really looking at yourself. To get even as far as I have done to date, I've had to be brutally honest with myself and address why I've behaved the way I have. Comfort eating has been a big issue, however you look at it (and try to deny it). And my version of what 'normal' eating entailed was so far off beam I can scarcely believe it - and you know what, I didn't see it.

A 'diet' isn't the answer - it never was. But I hope that changing my life is. It's a long slow process, with many opportunities for getting it wrong. I've also had to commit to getting off my fat ass and keep myself moving again. It's not over yet, and I think it never will be - I will ALWAYS have to be mindful and not let myself fall back on the old, negative behaviours.

And now? Well, I'm a long way from when I started this journey back in June 2007. Around 25kg down (or 55lbs in old money), that's about a quarter of my body weight, but still with a way to go. Changed shape? Definitely, and a good deal fitter and healthier too.

Am I still fat? Yes, I am, but my habits have changed for the better and I'm getting less so. I'm no longer 'very obese' on the charts, or even just 'obese', merely 'overweight'... but I'm still a fat lass.

Can I keep it up? Yes, I think I can, and even when I do fall off the wagon (it happens!) I won't quit because I now recognise that I just have to kick my fat ass, get my attitude back on track, and start again.

Can I reach the final dream target I've had in my mind for a long time but still haven't admitted out loud? Yes, I think I can. Maybe I can even tell you what it is sometime.

But more importantly, can I keep the healthier attitudes this last sixteen months have been teaching me and keep the weight off, for good? This time, at last, I think I can say yes to that too.

You see, I like myself more now than I've done in a lot of years. No, it isn't just because there's physically less of me, but because I can finally see there is a person inside me who, if she were outside my flesh, I might actually get along with and respect. That is such a major change in me, but I couldn't have done it without some understanding of why it happened, how I got where I was, and how to go on from here to where I'd like to be.

Maybe the best way is to quote from Aaron Neville's song, 'To Make Me Who I Am'
Once my life was wretched
But why should I regret it
Cos, it took me who I was, and where I’ve been
To make me who I am

I am so very lucky to have my supportive, loving hubby - I cannot express how much he means to me. He has helped me more than he can ever know, not only in this ongoing journey but in all aspects of life. The fact that I can post like this, or better yet, tell you that I've lost lbs again and reached a mini target ahead of time is in no small part because of his support. He doesn't nag, has never moaned even when I was at my fattest, and always gives me unconditional love. He is the reason that I've begun to see that 'me' is of some worth in the world and this gives me a firm footing to fight the many years of bitterly destructive habits.

06 October 2008

Downs... and ups

Today has brought two major downs.

The first is that my head has been invaded by a group of tiny men with small hammers. They are all busily engaged in singing the 'Dig, dig, dig' song from Snow White! They kindly brought some friends along too. That bunch are sandpapering my throat. If I had to describe how I feel today, I'd probably leave it as 'bleh!'.

The second down is rather better, so it's also an up. It's down as in down to 75kg. Yep, that's the mini target I was aiming to reach in two weeks time. I noticed on Saturday but decided against believing my scales after the recent trauma. But, they says the same thing today so I'm convinced... and just a little delighted. Guess I'll have to revise my target and say 74kg in two weeks time - that would be 11 stone 9 lbs. My goodness, I haven't been anywhere near this sort of weight for at least fifteen years!

02 October 2008

What a fantastic thing this is!

Yippee! I'm celebrating something which seems to be working to defeat my craving for 'something nice'. What's more, its Wikipedia entry suggests that it could also be good for me. No, no, don't look just yet.

I really struggled with my Black Dog mood yesterday, and today didn't kick off too well either, leaving me desperate for the dreaded 'something nice', very probably a.k.a. chocolate and lots of it. Thankfully, I've been rushed off my feet enough to miss out on an opportunity to indulge... so far.

Then I thought long and hard about abandoning my healthy lunch and going for something naughty. Thank goodness I didn't.

I doctored my cottage cheese this morning to give it some kick. Half awake, I added some tomato puree and a healthy dollop of.... pul biber.

This Turkish condiment did it for me. I absolutely l*o*v*e*d my lunch, and wiped up every teeny tiny smidgen of cottage cheese with my veggie sticks. And... I felt really happy afterwards because I could have been given my absolute favourite when it comes to chocolate...
...and cheerfully said 'no thanks'!

01 October 2008

A bit of a puzzler

Alright, let's get this out in the open. I did it again this morning... purely in the interests of a proper scientific approach of course, I got back on the scales.

Today, they read just a shade under 76kg, shading towards the 75.5kg mark. Ho hum, the fat lass ponders - don't think I've suddenly dropped any flab overnight. I certainly haven't noticed any blobs lying around on the floor. Perhaps I peed more than usual? Hell, I don't know.

Domestic scales - must look up just how variable the things are and maybe stop believing them to be accurate in any way, shape or form. Three different readings over three days. Doesn't sound awfully accurate to me anymore.

Why does all this stuff matter? Well, it's because I'm having a 'fat' day. You know, one of those days where you just can't see or truly believe that you are any less of a balloon than when you started this whole weight-loss journey. You feel like a semi-mobile lump of blubber, jammed into your clothes looking awful (like a sack of pooh tied at the middle), and with your confidence levels firmly stuffed into your boots. Yep, that's me today.

I have no clear idea why this is happening. It wasn't a great start to the morning (including a rotten journey in) and things at work are a bit fraught too - don't even mention email! Even the daily exercises didn't lift my spirits this morning and I took little pleasure from my walk. The sky is blue outside, but so I am here inside. I'm probably a bit tired and it may be coming up to 'that time'. I suppose that may contribute to my feeling a bit tearful and generally crappy.

I'm craving 'something nice', but have no idea what that means so can't think what to do to turn it off. I really do not fancy my usual break-time apple and the cottage cheese and veggies I brought for lunch just don't look appealing any more. My brain isn't working at full speed today and I'm not thinking clearly at all.


I've eaten my lunch (it wasn't bad, just not what I was craving), and the work worries have calmed a little. I'm still feeling a bit down but not as bad as earlier. I think a hug from lovely hubby should put me right this evening. I still want 'something nice' - just don't let me anywhere near chocolate!

And, I've found a way to convince myself that things really have changed. This was me summer 2006. Even I can see that I do look a bit different now.

30 September 2008

A great evening... and a good day today?

Really enjoyed my Chi Kung class last night. Once again, all the day's cares just drifted away and I came away really content. Can't exactly say I bounced out of there, but at least I hobbled happily. And what's more, my lovely hubby met me when I got off the bus too - heaven!

We got home to one of hubby's super soups. This one was Pea, Sweet Potato and Leek (with a few scraps of leftover ham shredded into the mix). Delicious, filling and warming, with a hunk of bread. Just the ticket for an autumn evening.

Confession time. I cheated this morning and got on the scales again - I just couldn't help myself. I may be proved wrong, but yesterday's tale of woe 'may' possibly have been an unpleasant blip as they are back to reading 76kg again today. Whether I'm right or not, this makes me feel happier and more motivated. I still haven't lost any weight, but at least I may not have gone up. Please, pretty please?

I know, I know - I shouldn't take too much notice of scale readings but it's very hard to stay in that 'objective' zone, and keep the motivation going, when I'm faced with a rise. How about you guys?

However, I'm not intending to rest on my laurels. Yesterday was a wake up call and I'm still going to get to grips with all those points I thought seriously about and listed. Why? Because I want to drop to my target within the next three weeks, and then keep right on going down. That dress deserves to be worn!

As a start, I've been walking at lunchtime - to hell with the weather! Walked for about an hour and it was lovely, although the knee doesn't like me too much right now. The leaves turning red and yellow made me smile. It kind of means I've missed out on the whole eating lunch bit, so I'm nibbling a little bit of dried fruit to keep me going, with an orange to come later. Going to have to plan this better and bring something easily nibbled when I get back - I used to have chopped veggies and cottage cheese, so they had better return to my lunch box.

29 September 2008

Not so happy Monday

Oh pooh, blast and dammit. Got on the scales this morning and the weight has gone UP to 76.5kg - so I've damned well put weight on. Not a great start to my week, so I'm not happy bunny!

Yeah, I know - it is my own fault. Can't put the blame on anyone else, can I? When I stop and think, it probably has much to do with last week being one of less exercise than I'd ideally have liked to do - the knee and back are being a pain... literally! Roll on seeing the GP. But that isn't the whole story, is it girl? I know I got very fed up as well, so don't suppose the food choices I made were all that sensible either, especially at the start of the week.

OK, it's only about a one pound change but it's in the wrong direction and I'm a bit disappointed that I didn't at least stay stable at 76kg. I guess I shouldn't expect miracles but my aim to be 75kg by the time we go away for our break seems to be slipping away from me. My motivation is not great right now.

After that as a starting point the blue meanies have really hit me today. It was dark when I left for work this morning - not fully dark, but enough to make me feel depressed. It was also cold, well chillier than it has been, and my journey in was a long, hassle-filled one so I got to work cold, late, aching and less than cheery. It'll be dark when I get home after Chi Kung tonight too. It isn't even October yet and the weather forecast for the rest of this week looks dreadful - this doesn't feel good at all.

I'm really going to need to think long and hard about how I'm going to keep my fat ass on track in the colder, darker days ahead. I do not want to stay at this weight forever but I'm worried that if it changes at all, it will not be a change for the better.

Get serious girl! A good talking to is needed here - apart from the exercise, which is a bit of a challenge right now, what I'm doing wrong at the moment includes:

  • Not thinking carefully before I eat something - do I really want/need it? Am I actually hungry?
  • Not eating slowly and taking time to taste and enjoy every bite of the food in front of me
  • Eating things because they are there, or having 'just a little treat'... too darned often.
  • Eating too much in one go - I need to reduce the portions I dish up... again
  • Having a glass of wine or beer in the week, and more than just once - I did cut down on alcohol but...
  • Not eating enough fruit and veg - the bread & meat intake has increased again! Time to rediscover cottage cheese?
If I'm being honest, even the exercise can be increased - just a bit creatively. I need to start walking at lunchtime again, even if I do limp. If I plan for success I might just achieve it.

And, when someone tells me I'm looking good (which has happened a couple of times in the last week or so), I must remember just what they are comparing my appearance with! I was fat, actually very FAT, so whilst I look better now than before, it's still NOT what I'd class as 'good'. Still measuring in at a wobbly size 16 I'm kidding myself if I think I'm skinny now - I'm still very firmly overweight - a fat lass, in fact.

Want proof? Just look in the mirror and see that belly. While it may be cute on this...

...it's not cute on me!

If I want that to change it means putting in the hard graft - starting NOW!

On a lighter note, hubby saw me stuffed into 'that dress' yesterday. As I mentioned, it is extremely (oh boy!) tight, but he says it will be stunning once I've lost some more weight. So, more love per square inch, eh? I've just got to get myself there!

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