26 February 2009

Good days and bad

Although I was out of the office, so away from any normal routine, yesterday was a good one.

I managed a fair amount of walking and was quite active (that's putting it mildly) at odd times during the day. I ate sensibly (a grilled chicken breast with a small serving of roast veg, followed by an orange for lunch) and only conceded two biscuits at coffee break. Even then, I managed to avoid the chocolate ones. The high-point was briefly meeting one of my heroines, the travel writer Christina Dodwell. What a fascinating life she had led and what a positive, inspirational woman she is.

Dinner was pretty good, being a jacket spud with half a tin of soya beans (in some unidentifiable red gloop), some grated carrot and a dollop of low fat Philly cheese. This sensible behaviour was somewhat marred by stopping for a pint of bitter on the way home, but it had been a busy day.

But, unfortunately, the evening brought less than positive news and, as a consequence, sleep was rather disrupted again and today is proving difficult. I'm tired, shaky, close to being weepy at times and have minimal patience again. This is not good - for me or for the poor unfortunates around me.

I haven't gone for chocolate or cake or biscuits (praise be), but did eat two granary sunflower seed rolls at lunchtime, rather than sensibly stopping at one. Both were delicately smeared with a thin(ish) layer of Philly with black pepper and that peppery heat really hit the spot. Not brilliant, but not a total dietary disaster either.

I've also demolished an orange, an apple, a fat-free yoghurt and nibbled five of those Oatibix bites during the day and am aware of a constant, nagging 'want'. Not for anything specific, just for the nebulous 'something nice'. This is definitely a 'cry for comfort' hunger and knowing that has helped restrain me to some extent.

I'm just off for a bit of a walk in the fresh air and will keep trying to be level-headed this evening. What my inner fat lass wants to do is stuff my worries off the face of the earth by eating. But this fat lass isn't going to.

24 February 2009

A healthy snack?

Just as they are, dry from the box, tasty, crunchy and sweetly satisfying, the new box of healthy (er, maybe?) snack treats on my desk contains Oatibix Bitesize Sultana & Apple.

But wait a minute, has the fat lass gone mad? These things are 381 cal per 100g! OK, they're not as bad as Mars bars but that's pretty high for a cereal.

The 550g box suggests that you'll get fifteen 36g servings from it. That must be an 'average breakfast bowlful' I guess. Bless them, someone out there in internet-land saved me a job (thanks 'foreveramber') and decided to see exactly how many of these little Oatibix 'bites' this equated to. She reckons ... are you ready for this ... that a 36g serving is just 17 of the little 'bite' thingies!

Well, by my calculations (picture fingers flying across calculator buttons) that makes each 'bite' 8.1 calories. A 'fair' sized snack amount seems to about five of them, maybe ten if it's a bad hunger day. So the calorific damage for an Oatibix snack attack is between 40 and 80 calories. Quite reasonable to be honest and, at the higher end, not a dissimilar value to your average apple.

But now for the down-side and, oh dear, they have a sweet outer coating. Thus the sugar content is very high at 19.4g per 100g. That's nearly one fifth sugar! Oh pooh. But hold on, this may scrape by as just about 'acceptable' since I'm not eating anything like that amount.

To make up for the sugary fright, they are high in fibre (with 10.1g per 100g) and this means they are, in theory, quite filling. They are fortified with the usual vitamins and minerals, and good old Weetabix have added in a 'prebiotic' for good measure which the company says "help boost friendly bacteria..." yawn!

Being oat-based, I suppose they will at least bring along some of the health benefits that I've mentioned in the past, oats being naturally low in fat, with nicely complex carbs and providing a good source of dietary fibre (with 55% soluble and 45% insoluble fibre, so helping to lower cholesterol and aid digestion). Oats are high in Vitamin B1, have a good balance of essential fatty acids and one of the best amino acid profiles of all grains. Per gram, oats contain a higher concentration of protein, calcium, iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, manganese, thiamin, folacin and Vitamin E than any other (un-fortified) whole grains, such as wheat, barley, corn or rice.

So, is my new snack a healthy one or not? Hmmm, they won't be as good as a bowl of porridge, but that's just not practical at work. The jury is still out, but they make a change from fruit (much as I love it), they taste good, seem to satisfy some snacky desires and, of course, are not as bad as hitting the biscuits or chocolate.

23 February 2009

A milestone reached

Well, as of this morning I'm at my mini-target weight of 70kg! I plan to wear my lovely, fitted black (size 12) skirt next weekend for our posh meal, and have been wearing size 12 jeans for most of this one. Not bad, eh?

If someone had told me I'd be in this position this Monday morning, I'd have expected to be delighted, over the moon, dancing with joy, etc. But I'm not. In fact, I feel rather down at the moment.

I've had a lovely weekend, eaten good healthy food (including a couple of great salads), walked for miles in the sunshine and totally blitzed the flat so it gleams. Lovely hubby and I have been together and we've cuddled and chatted, solved a couple of computer problems and generally enjoyed our own company. He cooked us a gorgeous dinner of baked pollock with coriander and lemon, steamed pak choi and carrots last night - delicious!

But this morning I feel bluesy and don't understand why.

The logical bit of me acknowledges just how far along this journey I've come, with an overall loss of some 30kg from when I began. Yes, I can be 'happy' about that, but in a strangely unemotional sense.

Even the wonderful news that my darling has passed an exam he took recently (and done very well too!) cheers me, but doesn't totally lift the gloom.

What's the matter with me? Apart from me being a miserable cow, that is.

18 February 2009

Soup heaven

Lovely hubby's mushroom soup is delicious. No getting away from it, we have it time after time because it's gorgeous.

But last night, he added a twist which took that wonderful soup to a whole new level. He added three cooked beetroot at the end, just before whizzing to a smooth, delicately pinkish-tinged bowl of yummy goodness.

A little swirl of creme fraiche (dammit, I wish I could put the accents in!) and a hunk of cheese-topped bloomer, warmed in the oven, and we could have been dining at the Ritz.

Thankfully, he knows what I'm like so he made a BIG batch. I've just had some for my lunch (wow, it tasted even better!) and I'll have another bowlful tomorrow.

Picture me with a Cheshire Cat smile and a satisfied tummy. Purrrrrrrrrr!

17 February 2009

Snack attack alert

Oh boy. My dearest friend, Mother Nature, has just hit me with her usual monthly 'present'. And, judging from past experience, I'm now in the iron grip of a day of being H*U*N*G*R*Y again.

I guess this also explains the disturbed sleep over the last couple of nights, waking at one or two a.m. with disgustingly soggy sheets and clammy skin after the night-sweats. Hormone soup. Delightful!

This morning sees the fat lass a) uncomfortable and b) distinctly growly. Keep chocolate away from her today, hide that loose change and don't annoy her!

It wasn't even ten o'clock before I'd already hit my 'snack attack' box of fruit & veg, and demolished physallis, blueberries, tomatoes and grapes. Amazingly, I managed to stop there, leaving the celery, cherries and more grapes for later. I also made a cup of Horlicks Extra Light so ingested something warm for the belly to deal with.

Oh no! I'm approaching the danger zone. I have a lunchtime meeting with sandwiches provided - and you can bet your life they'll all be made with full-fat bloody mayonnaise! And I don't even like the stuff.

So, as I type, I'm trying to evade the temptation by munching celery sticks with Philly light and chewing a handful of grapes to placate the grumbling belly. Damn cherries have gone off! Oh well, let's see how long that'll shut it up for - a while I hope.

.... well, it worked. Munched an apple rather than the sarnies (yes there did look to be an oily, dangerous squidginess from mayo). Then came back to a cup of rather ghastly and gloopy 'spicy' (I don't think so) lentil soup-in-a-cup and a few tiny little blachang (fermented shrimp paste) & chilli rolls. These were just under an inch long, less than the thickness of a pencil, deliciously savoury, crispy and utterly irresistible. Please don't tell me they are deep fried!

This afternoon wanted cake, ate orange, drank tea. Assuming things don't go down hill from here, I'm going to call this a day a success.

16 February 2009


Looking back through the last week or so, even more so when I sat down and read my food diary, it is pretty apparent that I've been allowing myself daily 'treats'.

Not a great idea, huh? If I want to achieve my targets I'm going to have to get some degree of control back.

Sure, I've felt 'hungry' - mostly for stodge, or at least I think I have, but I don't actually recall having only had starvation rations at meal-times which leads to a loudly grumbling tum! I've been eating a decent amount, in fact, rather more than a 'decent' amount. All this made me wonder why I'm doing the 'treats' thing to myself again, and an answer soon popped into view. It's my old nemesis, stress.

OK, sure, yes, work has been very hectic and the rest of this year is probably going to be quite hard, for a variety of reasons. Still, that didn't seem to have been too heavy a load until the week of the big freeze and the knock-on travel difficulties. That seems to have been the tipping point, and appears to have started this trend (so, here's poor excuse no. 1).

Then last weekend brought news regarding lovely hubby's health which kicked off my 'instant worry' habit, cue sleepless nights (poor excuse no. 2). This was closely followed by concerns over my mother's health (and here comes poor excuse no. 3).

Last Tuesday brought flooding (oh pee, belly, bum and other rude words!) and also health/hospital news from my sister (that's handed me poor excuse no. 4). Wednesday was pretty sane, but Thursday? Fretting about lovely hubby's hospital appointment, although, thankfully, we now have a positive outcome. And Friday night, news of my brother-in-law's redundancy (yet again, poor soul) and the flood returns... just as you think it's gone!

So here we go again - the fat lass eats!

Amazingly, the scales haven't reacted badly to my week of indulgences. I haven't lost anything (not surprisingly) but haven't gained either, so am still sitting at 71kg.

So, before things begin to go pear-shaped (or even more pear-shaped than I am already) this looks like the perfect point to say 'enough'. This cannot go on! I need to keep myself 100% aware of what I'm doing to myself and find other ways to handle my worries.

A practical start to doing this would be to 're-discover' some of my tricks from last year: only take the right change with me to buy a cuppa, pack a healthy lunch the night before, keep fruit and low-cal snacks within reach, etc. I've filled my work fruit bowl this morning with lovely oranges and apples so this week should be a little more prepared.

For another thing, I have to work on saying 'no' to the treats that other people bring in. I thought I had that sorted, but I've obviously drifted. I also need to figure out a way to provide some 'treats' for lovely hubby that don't involve naughty food.

I realise too that I need to add in more exercise than I'm currently managing. OK, so I walked from the far side of town on a couple of evenings as the traffic was so bad that it was quicker, but a midday walk** should be back on the cards now the ice has fled (at least, I hope it has), so I shouldn't be using that as an excuse to sit on my ass.

Update: Went out walking for just over an hour this lunchtime. The fat lass wins a prize!

Time to get proactive, not reactive. And to get active, full stop!

10 February 2009

Tempting treats

Ah, temptation, temptation. Mostly resisted, but not quite avoided altogether on this occasion.

This time the siren call came in the shape of the cutest little pineapple cakes from China (maybe something to do with celebrating Chinese New Year?)

And then there were some gorgeous Indian sweetmeats (burfi) from Chennai, as various people returned from visits back home.

How successfully did I avoid temptation? Hmmm, not very well to be honest. In the morning I ate one small Chinese pineapple cake, a beautifully packaged little disc somewhere between the size of a draughts piece and an ice hockey puck. It was OK, very nice pineapple flavour but a bit crumbly on the outside and overly chewy inside. I don't think I'll be tempted to look out for another.

Then last evening, lovely hubby and I shared a delicious cube of cashewnut burfi after dinner and each ate a slice of the diamond-shaped burfi. Much more to my taste. It was extremely hard to force myself to pick up the littlest bit of our shared piece, and even harder not to go back for a return visit to the diamond-shaped ones. Sugary-sweet they may be, but I love cashews and I'm mad about the texture of really good burfi. Put them together...!

OK, I may be fooling myself, but I'm half justifying these two small-ish indulgences as I otherwise kept to a very healthy day, food-wise. Porridge for breakfast and a delicious lunch of carrot batons, celery sticks, cherry tomatoes, assorted fruit and a couple of spoons of Philly Garlic & Herb Light cheese. No yoghurt today and only an odd bit of fruit at break.

Dinner was pretty healthy too. My darling had made a delicious warm salad with potates, beetroot and shallots, and we had this with the breast from yesterday's roast chicken. A feast indeed!

All this would have been even better, had I been able to head off for a walk at lunchtime as I'd planned. Unfortunately the plan failed miserably as I got really cold and it was freezing (and very slippery) outside. Maybe, weather permitting, I'll try again today. This winter business is getting a little tiresome. Roll on spring.

09 February 2009

New Barnet

Doesn't it feel great to have a good old trim 'n tidy. Makes the world seem brighter somehow, especially when a) you like the result, b) people notice, and c) they agree it looks nice.

I do admit that the new style is maybe a wee bit more radical that I'd banked on. It's my usual story - I mentioned, quite casually, that I'd like to have it fairly short, and that was definitely what I got. I'd forgotten I had ears, but sub-zero temperatures have soon reminded me!

Still, my overgrown mop was badly overdue some attention - it should have been cut before Christmas. Think Shaggy from Scooby Doo (without the bristley chin!) and you'll get the picture. I almost find myself singing 'I can see clearly now...' in the morning and it dries within minutes, no messing about with a hairdryer any longer. Phew! A bit like make up, that never was my forte.

Some good news on the avoirdupois front too. Despite a weekend with its fair share of naughties (like those fish and chips on Friday and a Sunday roast), the weekly hop on the scales this morning showed me to be down to 71kg. Yippee! It looks like I'm edging closer to my next mini-target of 70kg. Maybe I'll make it in another couple of weeks?

07 February 2009


Lovely hubby and I slipped up last night. It all began when, having made it to work, I could not get home as cross-country transport was cancelled... again!

Having stooged about in the snow for a while, trying to find out what on earth was going on whilst waiting in vain for a bus, getting colder and more grumpy, I reluctantly called my darling to the rescue. There was no other way to get home save an almost three hour roundabout journey with several local bus transfers. My white knight as ever, hubby drove across to pick me up.

When we finally got back to our home town neither of us felt like cooking. Hubby had been shovelling snow all day and just wanted a hot bath and to relax. The fish and chip shop was open as we passed, so we stopped in for something hot (and unhealthy) to eat. Bad move.

Fats, salt and calories notwithstanding, it was delicious, and we ate every scrap. We even chased it down with a beer. Yes, I know. Not the most sensible behaviour we've exhibited recently.

By the time we'd done this, I felt like I'd swallowed an elephant. And we both suffered serious indigestion for most of the night. Serves us right.

05 February 2009

The white stuff

What's this? This is supposed to be rain! At 3 a.m. it was snowing quite heavily and there was already a white blanket covering the ground and frosting the trees. By 5.30 a.m., when the bleating alarm clock dragged lovely hubby and I out of a cozy duvet, it was still snowing steadily and there was now a good few inches of beautiful, pristine snow on the ground. Hmmm, very glad of the lovely hot porridge today.

What the heck, there's no problem. It's only a few inches, right? The earlier cross-country bus I catch to work (we can see the route from our window) went past, albeit slowly and carefully, so I could still get in to work. That is, until I went out to catch it. The little social gathering of 'bus acquaintances', the police officers, civil engineers, researchers and shop assistants who share playful early morning banter most days made light of this unexpected snowfall, but then our bus didn't come. Oh.

Well, the next bus didn't come either and then, having waited for a third to arrive (to no avail), we rang to discover that our service wasn't now running (I'd seen the only bus to get through today) and that the major road we travel along was partially blocked. We'd forgotten this was the UK, and we don't do bad weather! There would be no bus.

Now 8 a.m. and it's still snowing. In fact, it's got heavier. Trudge back home, now rather chilled, to ring work to tell them the bad news. Thaw hands with a mug of Horlicks Extra Light Malt Chocolate as a treat. It's only 40 calories for a mug, and makes you feel like you've had steaming mug of 'hot chocolate' for surprisingly little damage.

With no chance of getting to work I guess it's time to make the most of the opportunity and head off for an extended walk. Well wrapped up, I headed off for an hour or so, making sure to walk in the deepest snow to get the best possible workout while having fun. Took some lovely photos too.

Luckily (?) I do have some work in my bag which I brought home last night. I can at least check email and get down to that. What's more, I'll be at home in time to cook my lovely hubby a meal for a change. I have a surprise in mind, too. The day isn't wasted then.

03 February 2009

"Hungry, hungry, want to eat"

There must be a parrot in here. I can't see it but the sneaky feathered fiend keeps repeating that phrase, over and over and over.

It's that same old connection again. I'm stressed so I want to eat. I want to eat right this minute... and to eat bad things. It is beginning to make me aware of just how big a part this particular scenario must have played over the years in my becoming the fat lass. Thankfully, I can now recognise the connection and can (usually) take steps to avoid my old automatic responses.

Today is a case in point. I got very (oh yeah!) uptight after a morning meeting with my boss ended when he dumped another load of work onto my already groaning shoulders. All my willpower got called in to get me to avoid the vending machine on the way back to my desk. I ate my apple instead. So far, so good.

Then, once I'd buckled down to the 'urgent' task he'd just given me, I ate some baked bread-sticks (about five of the mini ones at around 5 kcal each) and had a mug of hot hibiscus and ginger herbal tea. OK, so I make the half-time score Fat Lass 1: Vending Machine 0.

I've just finished my lunch - extra-low fat Philly-style cheese with lovely crisp celery sticks, juicy cherry tomatoes, fresh fruit and a low fat yoghurt. Just what I needed. Healthy, delicious and... not at all what I actually 'wanted'. I'm still stressed and still decidedly 'fancy hungry'. But hey, for now at least,the score remains Fat Lass 1: Vending Machine 0.

What was that? "What does 'fancy hungry' mean? Ah, that's a rather dangerous old family term for wanting something nice but not being sure what nice actually is. You could try several things one-by-one, all of them bad, and none of them were actually the right one. This leaves you still feeling 'fancy hungry'. Repeat as necessary! Probably another factor in the generation of a fat lass.

It has been a timely reminder that I must keep my stocks of low(ish) calorie, healthy snacks topped up at work. And I must make sure I bring a healthy packed lunch each and every day. Without these I think I'd have been sunk today. As it is it has been quite a struggle. Still, I'm on the winning team and praying there won't be an own goal before the whistle blows.

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