24 December 2009

Brassica bliss

It's time to indulge myself at Christmas. "What!?" I can hear you gasp. "Has the fat lass gone crazy?"

Well, no actually. What I plan to indulge is my passion for Brassica oleracea, or one of the cultivars in particular... the good old Brussels Sprout. Not only are they the most festive of all vegetables, but they are delicious (especially now we've had some icy conditions, which always improves their flavour). Even better, they are rich in essential nutrients including vitamin A, vitamin C, folic acid and dietary fibre and contain high levels of a chemical called sinigrin which may help prevent bowel cancer (thanks Wikipedia!).

There is something about the humble Brussel which makes me feel Christmassy just to look at it. That tightly wrapped little bundle of green goodness just waiting quietly on your plate to deliver the crunch and subtle taste of it's own, counteracting any fattiness from the meat and roast potatoes.

So, there they are, my little green friends. They're in my fridge and calling my name. Quietly at the moment, but come tomorrow...

Merry Christmas folks.

22 December 2009

Holding on in there

Never mind the New Year's resolution... I made myself a Christmas promise this year. So, I have been, still am, and will keep on making a really big effort not to let the seasonal eating (or offers of a glass or two of sherry!) overwhelm me and to keep my body moving - walking as much as the snow and ice will allow me to do. So far I seem to be doing reasonably well and went walking (OK, slithering) both yesterday morning and at lunchtime, and again today.

So far, so good and those lovely scales have settled back down under the milestone ten stone mark again. I have to say I am really, really pleased about that. In fact, I'm still dancing on air!

The small loss which puts me back to the right side of 'that mark' has been made a little easier by a cancelled weekend away asthe delightfully pretty, but not particularly helpful snowy weather rather got in the way of our travel plans! But, however disappointing, this meant we ate at home and I could control exactly what ended up on my plate - always a good move. Sadly, it means that the present shopping isn't done with yet and a mild but growing case of Yuletide panic is beginning to emerge.

I am now looking firmly forward to getting the annual festivities out of the way (ungrateful Scrooge-like mare that I am) and planning ahead to 2010 and getting back to salsacise and the gym. This is desperately needed to address some of the problems of the flabby belly and other bits! I really do need to firm things up a bit. Clothed, I look pretty reasonable for a fifty year old ex-fat lass, unclothed I rather remind myself of this...!

And yes, I know my belly won't ever go away completely and be smoothly flat. I won't ever look like those girls in bikini ads. Well, not without the intervention of a gowned man with a scalpel and, being a confirmed coward, I cannot contemplate that! It would be unrealistic of me to think it would as I've always had my share of the family protruding tummy. I remember being told it was 'puppy fat' when I was a teenager and my Dad used to affectionately call my Mum 'Pud' because she always had 'the tummy', however slim and elegant she was (and she was!).

On the positive side, I tried on a lovely deep red courduroy size ten (UK) skirt yesterday and it fitted me. It was cut for someone who did indeed sport a nice flat belly so was a bit too 'clingy' on the belly to wear and feel great (although the waistband wasn't tight), but trying a size ten was still a nice boost to my self esteem. Quite a Christmas present, in fact.

Good luck to all over this festive period. Hope Santa is kind and leaves those extra lbs out of the stocking!

14 December 2009

The power in us all

I've been doing a fair bit of thinking recently, about my long (often uphill) journey through the last couple of years from the original 'fat lass' to where I am right now. That, by the way, is a pound up from last week, so the scales are dead on the ten stone mark again. I'm not sweating this though, as last week was quite heavy on the celebration meals and I expected a little rise. However hard I tried to be as sensible as possible I still ate things I would normally avoid and more than I would eat usually. Still, ten stone is much more comfortable a place than sixteen stone used to be! Anyway, enough of that.

I know I've said something similar in the past, but it's high time I mentioned again how very grateful I have been to read comments from other bloggers which support or comfort me. And it's also been so amazingly helpful to stumble across little bits 'n bobs in other people's posts - people who are trying (and usually succeeding) to lose weight, or those who have been there, done it, got the tee-shirt and now wear a new one a size or two (or more!) smaller.

I'd say that, ninety nine times out of a hundred, these useful snippets don't take the form of 'you must do x, y or z and you'll lose lbs' but are throw-away comments which reveal what the writer happens to be doing and why they find it helpful.

Of course, I haven't tried out every single suggestion I've seen, but I have incorporated quite a few little hints and tips along the way into my plan for a new 'me'. Things like relatively insignificant (but still invaluable) ways to increase the amount exercise I do or healthy substitute foods to try out, to help to kill off the desire to nibble (or worse). Generally, these take the shape of good common sense ideas, but ones I hadn't ever thought of for myself.

The most valuable snippets, in some ways, have included the things which made me realise that my struggles are not unique. Showing me that I wasn't a complete oddball for what I was feeling or experiencing... just pretty normal really. These posts may have related incidents that made me think 'oh yeah, that's right', or things which helped to motivate (or re-motivate) me, or they may just have explained the everyday struggles the writer was going through which mirrored my own.

So I offer a heartfelt 'thank you' to all you unsung heroes out there who have helped me without ever knowing you were doing it, as well as to those of you who have sent me support via the comments. Thank you! And I send the biggest 'thanks' to my darling lovely hubby for putting up with every up and down along the way, and helping me more than he'll ever realise.

But I'd like to highlight one other thing, and it's something I've read many, many times in other people's posts but am only now finally beginning to understand properly and truly believe in. It's worth repeating.

...it is that WE each hold the power to change our lives, to embark upon, and stay on, the journey to reach where (and who) we really want to be. It is in each and every one of us. We are the only people who can truly shape our own lives and we are the ones in control of our destiny, whether that means success or failure. Others can help along the way, either directly or by offering up the sort of snippets I've been talking about, but only we can accept or decline that assistance and take action to make the changes we want to see.

I may be a bit dumb at times, but it took me a looong, long time (and many failed diets) to come to this acceptance. For a long time, a little part of me still wanted to blame someone, anyone, for the physical and emotional mess I had got into and it took quite some time for me to see that the 'someone' was only ever me. I've still not quite figured out why I was so unable/unwilling to take it on board. As I say, it took me a long time.

But I eventually 'got it' and took charge of my life making some decisions that, along with the snippets and help, initiated the changes I had to make to get where I am now. I don't regret it.

I recently read a short passage in 'The Secret Life of Bees' which really brought this acceptance of 'it's down to me' home once again.

A supporting character, August Boatwright, talks to Lily, the central character, about the power she can find in herself (in the book, she relates this to the Mary in Chains figure). August says 'You don't have to put your hand on Mary's heart to get strength and consolation and rescue, and all the other things you need to get through life... you can place it right here on your own heart. Your own heart.'

She goes on to say 'When you're unsure of yourself,... when you start pulling back into doubt, she's the one saying "Get up from there and live like the glorious girl you are." She's the power inside you, understand?'

So why not join me and tap into the power that's there inside yourself and make the changes you want to see in 2010? Who knows, if you do, it could be your best year ever.

09 December 2009

Dancing with delight!

I've just looked back a year, to the short-, medium- and long-term goals I had set for myself at that point. Exactly one year ago today, on 9th December 2008, I wrote:

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

I'm really happy to see that the fat fairy granted my New Year's wish for 2009!

May everyone's desire for 2010 come true (and however much hard work it takes it is 'so' worth it).

Back to normal...

Well, with Monday's dual Christmas extravaganza mealtime specials now over (phew!), it was... daytime good... evening not so good.

After a fairly sensible lunch, I didn't eat terribly badly at night either and didn't drink too much... unlike certain individuals, who were sporting rather sore heads the next day. My starter (smoked mackerel pate and watercress salad) and main course (baked fish & steamed veg) were fine. I left food on my plate for both these courses and managed to avoid a sweet, cream-filled pudding. So far, so good. Unfortunately, the Stilton on that cheese board tripped me up, she grins sheepishly. Thankfully, I didn't spread butter on the oatcakes to compound my sins!

But hey, if you believe in fate, or karma, or whatever, I got my cheese-laden comeuppance pretty fast. Indigestion meant I had a really rotten night with little sleep (there are some nights when I just love Rennies!). Even the following day I felt pretty uncomfortable in and around the vicinity of the belly, if you get my drift. It certainly felt like I overate (bloat, bloat), or ate the wrong stuff, which I guess is about right.

I took it easy on the food the next day and things seem to be back to normal today. The next meal out is Friday (and I've had to say a firm, if regretful, 'no' to lunch that day too!) so I need to stay focused. Think hard about what I'm going to eat at the event (pooh - can't decide beforehand with this one) and also for the rest of the week. Just as important is to keep myself as active as possible.

It isn't PC to say this, but I'm already getting just a wee bit tired of this whole festive season, and hate the feeling of obligation. Feeling 'obliged' to be cheery and sociable and go out to eat. I'd really prefer to be indoors in the warm, savouring a lovely hot bowl of lovely hubby's veggie soup and mutter 'bah, humbug' to myself.

Ah well. Once the season comes to an end I can breathe a sigh of relief and hang up my posh frock for a while.

One big positive. Walking is still going well with around 14,000 steps each day so far this week.

07 December 2009

On the home straight

This humble and well pummelled set of bathroom scales is my new best friend. Bleary eyed, and in a moment of madness at 5.30am a few days ago, I hopped onto them (after 'that' internal conversation about how I really shouldn't) and yipped with delight, then dragged lovely hubby into the bathroom to see what the fuss was about. I must admit, even at that time of the morning, he was pretty pleased too.

Yep, the needle was BELOW that 10 stone mark and... after a weekend of festivities, it still is! OK, it's only a little way below the line but it means I can put hand on heart and honestly say I'm 9 stone something. Picture me dancing and whooping and hanging coloured bunting out of the window.

I cannot even remember the last time my weight was in this category. Lovely hubby has never ever seen me at anything like this weight as I was quite a well-upholstered lass when we first met. I'm not sure he even knew I possessed bones! What I do remember is that it was a long while back, and will have happened in those brief glory days following yet another 'diet'. I also know that it wouldn't have lasted very long before I put the weight back on.

So, while I'm celebrating, and skipping around like a hyperactive kitten, at the back of my mind I'm holding firm to the idea that I still have to lose those remaining pounds and I will have to work hard to do it. That means keeping a firm grip on the food and the exercise, that vital pairing, as always. I still have several substantial 'seasonal meal' hurdles to overcome (including both a Christmas lunch and a Christmas dinner today!) and then the Christmas period itself.

But, the 'finishing line', that point I've shied away from committing myself to in writing, is now in sight. When (and that is indeed a 'when' not an 'if') I get down to my longed-for 60kg (that's around 9 stone 7lbs) I will, in all probability, call a halt to the weight 'loss' part of my journey and focus on the task of staying there. Watch out for me, maintenance, cos here I come.

Assuming I don't completely forget those hard-learned lessons I've been working on for the last two and a half years, and keep to a sensible eating plan to keep the flubber off (which I plan to!), my next goal will be to concentrate on toning this new-found body. Next year will see this fat lass refining the exercise plan, adding in more weights work to make this carcass look as good as fifty years of life and the ravages of years of misuse will allow. Right now I remind myself of a Shar Pei puppy when I undress so I shan't be modelling next season's bikinis!

I've already signed up for another term of salsacise and, although prior to Christmas is not looking likely, January 2010 will definitely see an earnest return to the gym for this fat lass.

Christmas meal no. 1 for today has just gone well. Chose the healthiest thing on the menu, which was a chargrilled vegetable wrap, with loads of peppers and onions but no mayo, dressing or other rubbish. I left 99% of the heap of string-fries which came with it. It was delicious. That, with a glass of fruit juice, was lunch. What's more, no-one batted an eyelid at my un-festive choice. Have walked some 11,500 steps so far today and plan to walk more before the day is done.

04 December 2009

A working week's walking

Well, it has been a pretty hectic week but I didn't realise what the benefits of this were until I sat down with a calculator.

I've tried each day to do a longer walk to work by getting off my bus a few stops early. This is partly for the exercise and partly to clear my head before another busy, problem-filled day. It works out to be about half as long again as my usual walk but, unfortunately, it can't be a permanent arrangement as I can only do it when traffic is light and we get here reasonably early. It's also been a very active week at work. Much more so that is the norm and I haven't been near my desk much at all.

The results of this are:
Monday - 11,056 steps (5.5 miles)
Tuesday - 15,218 steps (7.6 miles)
Wednesday - 16,603 steps (8.3 miles)
Thursday - 18,297 steps (9.1 miles)
Friday - so far, 5795 steps (2.9 miles) and it's not yet 10 o'clock

So, over thirty miles since the week began and it ain't over yet. This is in addition to salsacise and the rowing in the mornings and I must admit I'm delighted with this as it can't help but assist in counteracting any mince pies etc. I happen encounter (although this hasn't happened yet), and may even help me lose a pound or so.

2009 may have had it's difficulties (and quite a few of them) but it is shaping up to end on a good note. Here's to a fabulous 2010!

01 December 2009

A pretty good day

Today is one, but hey, what do I mean by that exactly - what have I eaten, what do I plan to eat, and how much exercise am I taking?

Let's kick off with the exercise, which isn't the best today, but is:

Rowing - today's stint was pretty poor at only six minutes but we lingered in a snuggly warm bed so I was running a little late. It's usually at least ten or fifteen minutes. Back to being motivated tomorrow.

Back & knee exercises from the physio - today was 60 clams with tummy muscles firmly engaged to strengthen my core, but no other exercises (bad girl). Same excuse as above.

Walking - so far today I've clocked up just about 12,000 steps and the afternoon is barely halfway through. I hope to add a good three or maybe four thousand more by the end of the day. That's pretty good so far.

But, there's bad news... I still haven't been to the gym, so the weights work is going nowhere right now!

Food (and drink) has been fine so far. In fact, I could probably do with upping the quantity a little when I reach my eventual traget, but we'll cross that bridge when we get there. So far, today has seen me eat the following:

Breakfast was one small bowl of porridge (made with unsweetened, light soya milk), several cups of black tea (no milk). You are going to think I'm really eccentric... but my morning porridge is eaten from a bowl identical to this one, with a horn spoon topped with a Scottish thistle. For some reason this makes it taste super good!

During the morning I had a mug of tea and ate two small satsumas and a small handful (c.10 or 12) Shredded Wheat minis (with honey & nuts). Looked longingly at the fruit scones but decided that I'd leave it for another day.

Lunch has been sweet potato and leek soup (home-made by lovely hubby) and a Pink Lady apple. The soup was delicious and just what I needed after a very chilly walk.

Oh yes, nearly forgot... this afternoon just wouldn't have been such fun without another lovely mug of tea and two Malaco salty liquorice 'Swedish Fish' which I seem to have become addicted to! That's salt but not sodium, by the way (look it up on the link), and they taste even better than a choccy bar.

So far, I've emptied my 1.5 litre water bottle once and am halfway down bottle number two.

Dinner I'm not sure about yet but, knowing my lovely hubby, it will probably heavily favour the vegetables as we have a fridge full of plant life right now. Whatever we have, it is likely to be finished off with a little bowl of low fat yoghurt and fruit.

Yeah, I know. There are things I could do to improve. But I still think this is a pretty good day.

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