28 December 2011

Weight Gain Nil? Er, not quite.

Oooh, wouldn't it be lovely to report that no weight was gained at all over the Christmas period? Unfortunately, that hasn't quite happened over this year's festive season although we've been 'fairly' sensible so the damage isn't too excessive.

We spent Christmas with my darling Mum, who is in her nineties, and had a wonderful time together. I do wish we lived closer to her as we both love spending time with her, taking care of her and doing what we can to make her comfortable and happy. Ah well, I guess it could be worse - at least we're only a few hours drive away (unless you count the time spent in that 'car park' which is the M25 London Orbital!).

As ever, whilst we were with her, part of our strategy was to find a variety of appealing and high-calorie foods to tempt her. Keeping sufficient weight ON her tiny frame is a major headache! That meant our meals too were not exactly a picture of weight-loss ideals. And, aside from running up and down stairs and generally looking after her and her surroundings, we didn't get a great deal of exercise either.

Still, we both made the best choices we could (most of the time) and watched our portion sizes. That's not to say we didn't nibble the odd treat, especially if it meant we could get Mum to eat a little more too, but we did keep it to a minimum. This means the good news is that both lovely hubby and I came home carrying only a pound or two more flubber (between us) than we set off with. All in all, not a bad way to approach the New Year, methinks.

Speaking of the New Year and resolutions and so forth... we have both come up with the same plan. This is to get our bottoms moving rather more than we have done of late. To heck with waiting for January 1st 2012 though - we've started already! Both of us have been pretty active today, I'm intending to get out and about in the (mild) winter air tomorrow and on New Year's Eve we plan to go for a good long walk together.

Next comes the rower! Now that the recent health issues seem to be taking a back seat (at long last), it's high time we got back to our morning rowing stints. So, we've made each other a firm promise that we'll get back to it. We won't go crazy though, we'll start slowly and gently and work our way back up to our full sparrow-cough a.m. sessions again. We've missed it. Given our history of obesity and slothfulness, how lovely it is the to be able to start a brand new year saying that !

23 December 2011

OK, we're at the very gates of Christmas...

So I just want to say to everyone that it's now down to us. We can either say 'to hell with it', overindulge and regret it in January, or we can do those little things for ourselves and our health which help limit the damage while still enjoying the festivities.

I'm going to try for the latter...

Have a great Christmas and see you in 2012... which I just know is going to be a GOOD year.

13 December 2011

Food, festivities and coping strategies

Ooooh, it's that wondrous time of year again. The eat, drink and be merry brigade are getting into full swing and exhortations to have 'just a small mince pie' are coming along thick and fast. However's a fat lass to cope, eh?

Well, I never was a boy scout (for some fairly self-evident anatomical reasons) but, these days, I do believe in 'being prepared'!

In the bad old days, this joyous season would begin and, well in advance of any actual event, my inner child would excitedly plan what she was going to be able eat, and drink, and treat herself with, and induldge in. She looked forward to all the foodie delights she could imagine (oooh - crisps, little savoury pies, sherry, mixed nuts and a whole tin of Quality Street to nibble - wheeee!). She'd also very carefully avoid even the slightest consideration of potential horrors to come in the New Year, when the scales reported just how enthusiastically she'd embraced the festivities. After all, this was Christmas!

Not any longer! I've finally learned that the 'moment on the lips, lifetime on the hips' statement can and does apply to me too, not just to a nebulous 'someone else'. I also keep reminding myself of just how hard I've had to work to claw my way down to my current weight from my previous unhappy obesity.

So, before the season gets fully under way, a Baldrick-style cunning plan is required, and it has to have several components...

First is that whole 'awareness' thing.

It's oh so important to really 'think' about what is on offer. Whatever it is, what might the benefits of consuming it be? They might be nutritional I guess, but more often they can be social - fitting in with a peer group, e.g. workmates, can be pretty important. But.... don't forget - 'social compliance' can still be achieved, you can just choose your own terms.

Benefits are only one thing though, The other side of the golden foil-wrapped chocolate coin is the downside. So, cultivating a keen awareness of just how many calories there can be in the usual Christmas offerings can really help. An example - that single 'small mince pie' can deliver a whopping 260 calories! (some of these derive from up to 40g of sugars.and nearly 9g of fat)... and that's before we even get to the brandy butter! And as to some of the other common seasonal specialities - be prepared ahead of time. Look 'em up.

Then there's excuses, excuses! With those downsides in mind, I also get my 'oh, no I couldn't' phrases off-pat and well practiced in advance. It's so much easier that way than getting caught on the hop, completely unprepared. The little excuses can vary, from 'oh how lovely, but I've only just eaten' to 'I'd love to join you in a glass, but I'm driving', to... well, I'm sure you can come up with a few more.

So you find that you can't avoid an event based around food? Well, another thing I try to do, when I know about it in advance, is to reduce the temptation to stuff by not arriving at Christmas 'do's hungry. An apple and a glass of water about half an hour before I set off can reap rewards!

Then, once I set eyes upon the tasty treats on offer at the inevitable buffet, I employ another little strategy. I try to pile up my plate with the veggie decorations (e.g. salad leaves) first, to leave less room for the calorific stuff. There's no need to refuse absolutely everything but, for keeping those portions well under control, this is a big, big help.

And if, like this week, it happens to be a sit down multi-course meal, I'll adjust what I eat for the rest of the day (or days either side). A smaller breakfast and minimalist lunch, and a brisk walk wherever possible, will all help a bit.

This one's not the easiest thing for me to do but... socialising a lot and engaging in witty conversation to keep my mouth and brain occupied, and to cut down the available time for indulging myself, is on the cards too. Dance, if there's a chance to do so, fat lass. Enjoy that party in a positive way. This is not a time to sit in the corner and act the wallflower.

Something I've been told but not consciously tried out yet (although this week will see the trial!), is to wear something which is just on the fringes of uncomfortably tight around the middle. That way you should be less inclined to fill your tummy with unnecessary food and drink and less likely to sit down and munch (keeping moving, even if just a little, is a good thing). To this end, I'll be wearing a velvet dress with a closely-fitting boned (not stretchy!) bodice later this week.

So the season will be jolly and I'll still enjoy it. I won't go mad and I will try to help myself  wherever I can. This January (unlike some previous ones) may not see the screams and howls of absolute horror when I step onto the dreaded scale, but if I do still put on a pound or two, so be it. One thing I do know now - I'm quite determined that it won't stay there for long!

06 December 2011

There's no escape...

Oh hiss, spit, pooh, wobbly bottoms and other rude words of choice.

I thought I was managing to evade the dreaded seasonal bugs really well, given that:

  1. lovely hubby was off for a few days with a really grotty bug, and is still up at night coughing like heck
  2. my colleague (who sits next to me) has been off for almost a week (with something snotty, feverish and similar)
  3. any journeys on public transport at the moment sound like a day's outing for the consumptive society, echoing to the jolly sound of coughs, sneezes and nose-blowing
Unfortunately, and despite trying the usual manic hand-washing, scarf over face ploy and trying a 'cold defence' nasal spray (a.k.a. 'a bit of a con'), the damned thing has found me.

Felt OK (well, mostly) up until last night, although there were signs that something was going on - a fetching set of cold sores, mostly. Immune system's fighting the good fight, but not entirely on the winning team, eh?

But... those little men with hammers set up in my head overnight, and then joined forces this morning with the chappies who sandpaper throat linings for a living. The crew responsible for turning a fat lass into a human waterfall turned up late this morning so it's a case of Kleenex 'r us at the moment. Dontcha just love the 'Rudolf' effect of constant tissue use? Ever so Christmassy, it is. Bah! Humbug!

The silver lining (and believe me, I've really had to hunt for this) is that nothing, nope, not even my beloved chipotle chillies, tastes right through the lovely coating on my tongue, so my interest in comestibles is nearing zero. Yeah, yeah, I know all that baloney about 'feeding a cold', and I'm not starving myself, but overindulgence on seasonal treats holds no appeal right now. Ah well, I guess it helps out with maintenance.

Onwards and...

01 December 2011

Aaaah, the dressing up box!

I'm sure you'll know the one I mean. That box at the back of Mum's wardrobe stuffed full of old clothes for 'pretend'. Beautiful colours, luxurious textures and a pair of Mum's old stilettos which, although way, way, way too big for you, made you feel like a princess teetering along in them. Wasn't it a fabulous feeling to try something out of the box and feel great!

Childhood days came to an inevitable end and, especially in my fattest days, I quite lost any sense of delight in trying on clothes. To be frank, no matter what the garment, however luxurious, in my mind at least, my obesity overwhelmed it. I cannot remember looking in the mirror and feeling pretty, or ladylike, or fun, or anything positive at all. No matter if lovely hubby said 'you look nice', I felt inadequate, and usually like a big, unsightly lump.

You know the worst part? I kind of thought that was just a pretty normal thing in life. Yep. I thought it was 'normal' for a woman (me) to try on/buy clothes and feel unattractive. Sure I knew that my weight did me no favours, and tried to hide/mask/disguise it in lots of ways, but I couldn't see past it (yeah, quite literally sometimes!) to the fact that this wasn't the case for everyone. Somehow, a simple pleasure in life was missing and I didn't even see that.

There have been lots of positive reasons for losing the weight I have done, and I've mentioned a fair few in the past. Still, and always, the biggest benefit of all has been to my health, but I'll now add another one....

I have regained a little of that childish delight in the dressing up box. I now find pleasure in trying on clothes once again. Some of them look nice, some truly hideous, but the pleasure in trying on 'something new', even when I have absolutely no intention whatsoever of buying it has returned. That's really, really nice, and it can give me a little boost when things get tough in other ways.

(and yes, I used to dress up my doggie too - he was very patient, bless him)

28 November 2011

Support for...

Hell, how can I say I've got worries! What I need to remember is some of the people I know who are having a REALLY tough life at the moment.

  • A childhood friend from my old church at home, with two young sons, who has been recently diagnosed with a nastily aggressive cancer.
  • A dear friend from work, who's having a lot of problems with a husband I view as emotionally manipulative, cruel and abusive.
  • Blogland friends (Diana and Sara, this is for you), both of whom have had, or are having, a very tough time for personal reasons.
Kind of makes you think, doesn't it...there but for the grace of God...

25 November 2011

Wintery veg delights

Ooooh, I do love my veggies, and in the summer will eat raw veg just about every day, and a lot of cooked veg too. But what about the colder months when a simple salad somehow doesn't seem quite so appealing? It can quickly get expensive when many of the ingredients are out of season and it simply doesn't 'warm the cockles' of you.

I may, quite by accident, have happened upon an answer! Yes, turning the veg into a nice healthy soup is one solution (if you'll pardon the pun), but cooking inevitably reduces the nutritional content a little bit, and eating it with a big hunk of crusty bread just gets oooh sooo tempting sometimes.

So there I was, stumbling about half asleep this morning, getting my cherry tomatoes out of the fridge and cutting up winter veg crudites (carrots, cauliflower, broccoli stalks, celery) to have for lunch with my usual dip of Greek yoghurt and Marmite, without a huge amount of enthusiasm, when I noticed the pot of chipotle chilli paste. Hmmm, now that looks like it'd give me a dose of heat, but maybe not with the yoghurt.

So, a spoonful of leftover houmous (leftover because it was store-bought and terminally b-l-a-n-d!) was mixed with a good healthy dollop of chipotle paste and some chopped coriander for a quick and dirty dip. Wheeee, I can tell you one thing for sure... it IS warming! And it makes my winter veg crudites taste fabulous.

24 November 2011

Back on the right road

You may have gathered I've been fretting and worrying and stressing quite a bit recently. Sleep, or at least a proper night of it, has seemed rather elusive and I have been getting more tired and run down by the day over the last few weeks. At any time I've half exected to be hit by an enthusiastic and opportunistic bug looking for a new home.

Thankfully, that hasn't happened (hooray!) and my 'OMG' period seems to have reached a limit, and is starting to come to an end.I feel so much more 'normal' again and life definitely looks better.

Believe it or not, a somewhat tacky song has been a great help to me. It's been playing over and over in my head for days, but hasn't driven me mad - quite the opposite, in fact. In particular, the following lines have made me stop, reflect and try to put my worries into perspective:

In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don't worry, be happy......


So, this post is by way of a little 'thank you' to Bobby McFerrin.

17 November 2011

You are what you eat...

Ah, those cute little proteins - is there another good reason to stock up?

Seriously, I guess we are pretty much all aware that choosing protein-based food sources can be a helpful thing for weight loss, as long as they are also low in fat that is.

After all, high-protein foods move relatively slowly from your stomach to intestines, so by choosing a sensible amount of protein as part of your meal you'll tend to feel fuller for longer. What's more, protein has a nice steady-as-it-goes effect on blood sugars (as opposed to some carbohydrates, particularly the more processed varieties), helping to avoid rapid rises followed by the 'I'm hungry and I want to nibble' slump. Even better, the body apparently has to use up more energy (thus burn more calories) to digest protein than it does to digest fats or carbohydrates.

But  research recently published in the journal Neuron adds a little something else to this...

It appears that a meal/snack incorporating amino acids (the building blocks of proteins) prods little cells in our bodies called orexin cells into action. Why does this matter? Well, these orexin cells stimulate wakefulness (making us feel less dopey and more alert) and, more importantly from a weight loss perspective, they also instruct the body to burn calories.

To quote the researcher, Dr Denis Burdakov, from the University of Cambridge, "For now, research suggests that if you have a choice between jam on toast, or egg whites on toast, go for the latter! Even though the two may contain the same number of calories, having a bit of protein will tell the body to burn more calories out of those consumed."

For more information see 3pm slump?

OK then, having been given another reason to choose some 'good' proteins to munch on I'd say that reduced fat cottage cheese may make even more of an appearance at lunchtimes than it has up to now.

Now if you'll excuse me, I may just pop off and boil myself a nice egg.

15 November 2011

Stop stressing!

Yep, fat lass, that means you!

I don't know why you are waking in the night at oh-dark-hundred fretting about stuff, but you really need to stop. It's high time to focus on the positive stuff and push the worries off to the side. This would not be a great time to come unglued.

Good news no.1 - lovely hubby is making good progress and does NOT need you fussing about like a mother hen!

Good news no. 2 - your weight is under control. You haven't over-indulged, resorted to chocolate, hit the bottle or anything else destructive up to this point so stop worrying about it.

Good news no.3 - lovely hubby's weight, blood sugar and diet are all under control and he's serious about keeping it that way. Again, stop the overprotective stuff!

Good news no.4 - it's dry and sunny outside, meaning walking in the autumn leaves should be an absolute pleasure. Get out there and enjoy it while you can. We have been granted an unexpected respite from winter so make the most of it.

Good news no.5 - it Brussels sprout season. That means yummy time!

11 November 2011

Goal weight?

Sorry - this is a long one!

Hmmm, I suppose that, one of these days, I'd probably best decide upon one. Don't know about you, but for me this concept has been quite a moving target over the years... the idea of setting and achieving a 'final' goal weight.

When I first started out on this journey to life (not a diet, remember!) the fat lass was one very chubby bunny indeed. No, let's call that particular spade what it is - I was seriously obese. I had lied, even to myself (er, especially to myself?), about how heavy I'd become, and the prospect of any significant or permanent weight loss seemed almost beyond my ability. Hell, at that point I'd have been pretty grateful just to put some kind of halt to the ever progressing gains!

Back then, in 2007, I had made my decision that I needed to 'do something', but was still a bit unsure how to go about it. It was a work in progress, and I expected to have to jigger with what I was doing. I didn't really have a totally clear plan or a defined goal or end-point in mind. I just knew I wanted to not be so fat and I knew I wanted to improve my health.

In those early days, in a lot of ways, I just could not get my head beyond a rather nebulous 'er, let's just see what I can do' mentality, with the ever present worrying rider of '...if I can do anything at all'.

Once I had started to see a bit of progress, and then decided to consult a dietician at my local GP surgery (more to keep me accountable than for practical advice, if I'm honest), this crystalised a wee bit more and expanded slightly to become a plan to lose 10% of my body weight so I would reap some recognisable health benefits.

OK, job started - and we nailed that one. The next logical target was to work towards losing 10% more... and so I did. Thus it went, with my weight moving downwards in 'manageable' bites.

I'd like to say the weight came off steadily over time, but progress was interspersed with odd patches of statis and the occasional backsliding rise when life hit me with an obstacle or two. However, a series of mini-targets were set along the way, which helped a lot. The sort of thing I mean is... to reach a certain BMI, a certain weight, to reach a particular number of pounds lost, to get to a specific waist measurement, to fit into a specific clothes size. All played their part and each mini-goal reached was celebrated.

Thing is though, throughout this, I never really had an unshakable end-point in mind. For a long time I kind of hoped I'd end up being able to wear UK size 14 clothes. That seemed like it would be a nice place to be. After all wasn't the gorgeous Marilyn Monroe a size 14? But what that would be in pounds or kilos? Who knew.

Fitness also became more of a priority. From a dedicated fat lass to whom exercise was a word that, once uttered, meant washing one's mouth out with soap, I moved on to actually 'enjoying' some forms of exercise! But a final goal weight? Nah, couldn't even contemplate pinning a number on that one.

And now the fat lass finds herself here, in today's differently shaped world, but uncertainties still remain. Actually, I think you could probably read this as 'a small amount of panic ensues'!

You see, having set myself some further targets in recent times, notably to do something about my remaining 'unsatisfactory' bits by getting down to less than 58kg... and staying there. I'm happily weighing in at below that mark and have been for a few weeks. In fact, my weight is, currently, pretty stable at just above 56kg.

That begs my first question... so am I done?

Inner panic now speaks up for herself (having never truly expected to be placed in this surprising?... unlikely?...even onerous? position) saying something along the lines of - hey, just hold on a minute, woah there, I can't make that decision yet! Maybe I should be at 55kg, or 54kg, or even something silly like 50kg? Heck, I just don't know. How am I supposed to decide stuff like this when I don't know the rules?

I have voiced the opinion before that what I'm actually on is a LIFETIME's journey which will never be over. Does setting a 'final' goal figure into that? If so, how?

And the big question I started with is still here to be answered - what IS my final goal weight? Do you know, I STILL couldn't tell you!

This weight loss business cannot go on forever, I know, but is that OK? Is it time to stop here and concentrate on holding fast where I am now? Or, should I have (or have had) a definite weight in mind, move to that and then stop? Is not having this 'end point' in mind a healthy way to be?

I can't answer those questions myself so I'll throw them open - what do you think?

As a bit of an aside, and judging by the current picture having shed another chunk of unwanted weight, one thing has become pretty clear to me. That belly flap I dislike so much is here to stay. So, I guess I'll just have to suck it up (and suck it in!) and get over it.

Even if I were to lose another stone (or two, or more!) I'd almost certainly still have the sticky out belly flap I've been worrying about. It is mostly loose skin and that isn't going to magically disappear. Being rid of it just isn't a viable proposition at all and trying to do so, frankly, doesn't seem a sensible plan. I guess it's slightly smaller, so that's quite enough of the moaning and mithering.

04 November 2011

Progress

There's a good reason for my being absent. My darling lovely hubby had another major operation on Tuesday, the second in three months, and things have been rather hectic with trips back and forth to the hospital, some twenty odd miles away.

I'm delighted to say that I now have my darling back home from hospital and, although it has been a rough few days, I'm actually very pleased, not only with this but with 'me' too.

Hey, maybe it wasn't too late to teach this old dog a new trick or two. Given the circumstances, I've been sensible... despite being somewhat(!) stressed. I've eaten reasonably healthily and walked as much as I could for exercise. The result of this is that my weight has stayed stable at just a fraction below 58kg.

As to lovely hubby... well, things are getting better, albeit slowly. Up to this morning I was very worried about him indeed as he seemd so knocked back after the op. This morning, although there's a long way to go until he's over the worst of it, he looks a little better. He is desperately tired and still in some discomfort, but I have my man back. When he speaks, he's making more sense, and I have him eating a little now so he should start to gain strength from good foods.

All in all, I'd say this is progress.

30 October 2011

Life's ups and downs

OK, this is not really what I wanted to write when I returned, but because it cannot all be doom and gloom I'll start with something nice.

Lovely hubby and I went out for a meal yesterday, in lieu of our birthday meal (er, more of that later). I had an onglet steak for the first time (thank you very much for offering it, Hotel du Vin) and it was fabulous. I'm a real carnivore by choice - a steak hound, with my usuals being either rump or rib eye, for both flavour and texture. For me, there's no point having fillet, although I know a lot of people differ.

Well, my medium-rare onglet was amazing. It was a little more on the rare side than medium, if I'm honest, but that suits me just fine. If it could, it would have hopped off my plate and cantered around the room for a while before settling back down for yours truly to enjoy. Beautifully seared on the outside, full of meaty, almost gamey, flavour and with a gorgeous colour and texture, it was a serious treat! It came with some lovely hand cut chips (yes, I did eat some but not all) and a grill butter. The latter amazed me. I've never eaten butters of any kind with my steaks as I've always figured they detract from the meat, but made an exception for this one. It was laced with pink peppercorns, anchovies, juniper berries, parsley and lemon and was incredible, really enhancing the flavour of the steak.

The not so good stuff is what lies behind our original birthday meal not happening quite as planned. There we were, away on holiday in our lovely remote location, but my darling lovely hubby had a problem. After just a day or so, we ended up spending time at the local hospital to find we had to cut our break short and return home. Not going into great detail, but he's had a serious setback after the operation he had in August and needs major surgery pronto.

So, surgery Mk II will happen first thing on Tuesday, with his fantastic surgeon from August back at the helm... thank heavens! Wish her (the surgeon) and him luck.

20 October 2011

A well deserved break

Well, I won't be around for a while.

I'm off for a well deserved, relaxing break with my darling lovely hubby. Yes, we'll eat some nice things, but we won't go mad and we will do as much walking as we can in the lovely fresh (chilly?) air.

It's really nice to be going away having met the target I set for myself. More work will ensue when I get back though!

18 October 2011

Out of breath

Hmmm, Friday was a day to remember in a lot of ways.  Celebrations, appointments, oh... and getting stopped by the police.

Er, no, it wasn't because I'd done anything bad... but because the driver of the taxi I was in was a bit naughty and didn't get away with it. He also left the meter running while he was being booked and I had no time to complain as, by then, I was running mega-late for a hospital appointment - dammit!

The weekend was good - dragged ourselves out of bed on Saturday for a frosty walk in the park while it was still dark, and decided against a greasy spoon bacon sarnie to celebrate!

I also got myself out of breath because I decided to see how far I could push things on the rower. The answer was, quite a way, although maybe not quite as far as I'd hoped. I more than doubled my usual time and pushed it as hard and fast as I could (oooh, I felt that later), just to see what I could do. Unfortunately, after about fifteen minutes of hell for leather rowing, I found my breathing just couldn't keep up. I almost fell off the thing when I finally decided enough was enough.

Time to test my peak flow again (after I'd recovered) and, guess what? It has indeed dropped down towards crappy levels again. OK, one step forwards, one backwards. Keep at the inhaler and see how things go.

No further weight loss to report but I'm OK about that.

13 October 2011

Bleh!

No real reason for it, but today is just a 'bleh' sort of day.

Woke with absolutely no enthusiasm for it, but pushed my backside onto the rower anyway. So far, so good. Didn't want breakfast so brought it into work to eat later. It was just OK... not my usual response to lovely hubby's beautiful porridge.

Went out and walked at lunchtime but it was a miserable experience. It was damp and drizzly and there seemed to be a gazillion people getting in the way. Hey, you lot, have I gone invisible or something? For heaven's sake, I'm wearing a bright red top! Picked at lunch when I got back and left most of it in the fridge for tomorrow.

There've been a series of irritating work problems. Nothing big, just irritating. They haven't done much to improve my 'bleh' mood. I know I can't be Mrs Sunshine every damned day, but this one? Frankly, I'll be happy to see the back of it!

11 October 2011

Improvements

Well, after promising myself that I would,  I did indeed bite the bullet last night and re-measured my peak flow.

I've felt a bit hesitant to do so as I'm still coughing (and shifting some less than pleasant gunk) from the bug and my breathing somehow doesn't feel 'right', even now. I guess the asthma can't be quite back under control just yet. But, I knew I'd have to see where I was at some point, so out came my snazzy little meter and I gave it a go.

Fabulous! I was delighted to find that my PEF has improved quite substantially after just a couple of weeks on the rower and stepping up the walking. It's back up to an average 430 l/min, from that rather frightening 370 l/min. OK, that is still a tad on the lowish side from my previous 'good' levels, but we're getting there.

I'm pretty relieved, to be honest. Given that I've been using two inhalers daily for ages (although the reliever isn't coming out as much now) I was quite worried about my previous readings. I had visions of having to go back to the GP and, probably, onto different, or more, medication. That's something I dread, however unreasonably.

Don't get me wrong - I am very well aware that there are a lot of people whose asthma is on a whole different severity scale to mine (which is pretty mild, really), but it is something I find scary. Can't figure out why.

But... if I can keep up the exercise efforts, and see some more improvements by myself, then that may be a way off yet. Who knows, I may even be able to get to the stage that I won't need to use that preventer... again!

A quick aside - there's another improvement too, and it's one from which I benefit. That is an improvement to my lovely hubby's health and fitness. He's rowing in the mornings too (building up times and rates gently like me) and he's eating sensibly. He has lost a fair amount of weight already, gone down more than a size in trousers... and is looking GOOD!

10 October 2011

Bullseye!

And altogether quicker than expected too.

No sooner do I decide that my fitness, particulary the quest to improve lung function, is a much more pressing target than my weight loss goals at the moment, than my body decides to make it's own decisions and drop another pound or so.

I was hoping, by the end of this week/beginning of next, to get to down to 58kg and was happy to be making progress in that direction. But, this morning I hopped onto the scales to find I'm already there. In fact, I'm just a shade below that mark. Wow!

I am not complaining in the slightest, mind you. Indeed I'm delighted. I can now set my 'line-in-the-sand' right here and get on the road to stage two of my goal. That's to get comfortably below my current weight... and stay there.

As to the fitness, well the rowing went well today and I'm thinking of upping my strokes/time a bit tomorrow. I've been a bit scared to check my peak flow again, so far, but am going to bite the bullet tonight.

07 October 2011

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes...

With apologies to David Bowie!

My oh my, but the world looks rather different from when I started along my weight loss journey. Interestingly, it didn't take too long before some fairly major changes (both mental as well as physical) became apparent.

As an example of how things changed, I wrote something exactly three years ago today (around sixteen months into my journey) which is worth re-reading. If you are interested, you can find it here.

Three years ago, I'd done a lot of soul searching, made a lot of changes and adjustments and made a lot of progress. I had just about made it into a UK size 14 pair of trousers for the first time and I was ecstatic! That size (which seemed an almost unattainable goal when I first started out) was what my 'please, please, please Lord' target had been at the time.

I've changed quite a lot more since then, over the intervening three years. There's been a whole lot more soul searching, a lot more hard work and progress (and a little backsliding too) but I think I can say it's for the better. It is certainly for the smaller as I've just bought a pair of UK size 8 jeans - deep, rich chocolate brown velvet ones. Once again, I find I am jubilant, though this time it's more for the feel of this soft, luxurious garment than the size. Wearing them will make me feel like a duchess.

The poor old fat lass I was when I began my journey did not like herself at all. She was scared about the future and felt oh such a failure. Today's fat lass is a whole lot healthier and so very much happier in her skin.

Sure, today's fat lass still has her worries. One thing that resonates very much is the death this week of an athlete - Graham Dilley, the renowned England test cricketer and bowler who died at the age I will be in just a few short days time. Added to this is the loss of Steve Jobs - a man barely older than me, seemingly with access to all the medical help money could buy. Makes you think - there but for the grace of God...

Yes, there are things I'd still like to change or improve (think belly flap). Yes, I still have my struggles and periods lacking in drive and motivation to make progress.

I started out with the intention that my journey was to be a change for life, not a quick-fix diet. I've said a lot about change over the years, but that is still my intent. One other thing hasn't changed. That is a firmly set and continuing commitment to keep right on going towards a healthy life. My mantra? Never give up, never go back.

Maybe I'll have Joe Pike red arrows tattooed onto my upper arms [lol].

06 October 2011

Wheeeee! I'm going to make it...

...and that's in two senses. Ooooh, the fat lass says, that feels nice.

First of all, the fitness levels. Rowing in the morning is getting better, to the extent that I've increased my time by a third over the last couple of days and I'm now up to 200 strokes. My stroke rate has increased too, although it still isn't quite back to expected levels. I won't say its a walk in the park just yet. It's still a hard slog at the moment, but it is definitely becoming easier. I'll re-check my peak flow at the weekend and see where we are with that. Hopefully I'll see some improvement.

As time goes on, bit by bit, I'll keep increasing my time/strokes until I get back to where I want to be. I'll also start to add back in some abs work in the mornings again. Then (and only then) I'll look at getting back to the gym. Baby step by baby step, fat lass. Don't forget that gently does it is the way to go.

The motivation is there, I just pray to stay healthy so I can continue this way. I'm still fighting the last tendrils of the blasted bug so still coughing and wheezing a bit.

There's also the weight loss. It may not be doing a great deal to resolve my concerns with that belly flap, but as of this morning, with just a tad more than a week to go until my self-imposed deadline, my weight has dropped once again.

It seems to have settled nicely at 58.5kg. That's just a pound away from target and my goal now seems acheiveable. Just a little footnote but, Janey! I can't remember the last time I was that low as a 'true' weight! It must have been decades ago and I probably didn't have grey hair.

I won't celebrate in earnest just yet, but I will say that I'm pretty pleased.

05 October 2011

Hitting the bottle

The British Dietetic Association guidelines state that an average adult should consume 2.5 litres of water per day. Question number one... am I average? Huh? How should I know.

Setting this aside, some people may think that seems like an awful lot of drinking to be done, but it isn't all that bad in practice. Water forms a major part of a lot of things so fruit juices, soups, fizzy drinks (bleh!), tea and fruit & veg, and indeed anything soggy (i.e. with a high water content) can help chip in to this amount.

The BDA add that intake should increase during hot weather (like the last week or so) or during/after physical activity. But, they also caution against drinking "too much" (although, sadly, they seem to omit to quantify this in any way), as this can lead to problems with brain, heart and muscle function if it dilutes the salts needed by our bodies too much.

There's a quick 'n dirty guide to see if you're drinking as much as your body needs. If your wee is a nice pale straw-yellow colour then you are probably drinking enough. If it looks dark yellow, you probably need to drink more.

So how am I doing? Well, the wee test seems to say OK, but I find I need quite a bit more than those 'recommended levels' per day to keep to a nice pale straw colour and feel less than 'OK' if my intake drops.

So what exactly do I drink in an average day?
Breakfast - a large cup of tea (with a small amount of skimmed milk). I just cannot function without it!
Arriving at work - usually a mug of herbal tea (Often drunk after it's gone stone cold! Oh well.)
During morning - a mug of lemon tea
Lunchtime - rarely anything, occasionally a small amount of tapwater
During afternoon - a mug of lemon tea
Throughout the day - one (sometimes two) 1 litre 'water-bottles' of tapwater
Evening - BIG* glass tapwater
Overnight - BIG* glass tapwater
To this can be added fruit, soup and other soggy stuff.

* my BIG glass mug holds about 470ml

Blimey! To see that totted up, and finding it's a good bit more than 3 litres on an average day, I guess I'm definitely getting my fair share of the wet stuff!

Hmmm. why do I get though so much? Well, whenever you cared to ask me, I'm pretty much almost always thirsty! Given that the typical 'I'm thirsty' sensation isn't supposed to be triggered until you're already dehydrated, if I listened to thirst as an indicator I'd be drinking gallons!

To be honest, this fact rather worried me until I talked to my GP about it a while ago. I was tested for 'all-sorts' (yes including diabetes, which was my first worry) and everything came back absolutely fine. Now I just figure that's the way my body operates, and so... the fat lass hits the bottle.

03 October 2011

The long road back...

Well, I got back on the rower yesterday for the first time in ages and, while I was pleased that I'd done it, it was rather a shock. Oh dear.

I knew I'd lost fitness and I am also well aware that I am still trying to shake off the last of this damned bug (antibiotics round two prescribed on Friday), but wow! After a mere five minutes rowing, and not pushing it hard at that, I was gasping, coughing and shaking and feeling very slightly queasy. My usual (OK, my 'expected') stroke rate has dropped dramatically too, so that it took me well over five and a half minutes for 150 strokes. It also took me quite some time to recover. Not good.

This morning's stint was damned hard too. It felt much the same, and I rowed about the same, rate and time-wise. However, I didn't feel quite so breathless at the end although recovery time was still pretty poor, I wasn't so shaky and didn't feel queasy. Progress?

What's shocked me more is measuring my peak expiratory flow (PEF) rate. Again, I haven't done this for a little while and the result has certainly made me sit up and take notice. My asthma apparently isn't as well under control as I'd thought. My average peak flow (from three readings) was only 370 l/min today! That's really poor considering that it is generally around the 450 l/min mark, and that was the case not all that long ago.

Somewhere in the region of 450 to 460 l/min is about the expected 'normal' value on the charts used to calculate expected PEF for a woman of my age and height, so dropping this far down is quite a surprise... and not a pleasant one. It has convinced me that I need to continue using the steroid inhaler as well as the salbutamol for some time yet.

It's also shown me, quite graphically, that I need to build up my time and stroke rate on the rower gently but steadily, and keep at the walking too. Sure the eating needs to be good and healthy but my priority and focus has now shifted away from pure weight loss. Improving my fitness, particularly lung function, is definitely top dog at the moment.

Making this point more than merely a slight concern is a recent report linking the use of HRT (which, of course, is so relevant to me!) to an increased risk of severe asthma attacks

Having been hospitalised by a severe attack in the past, I do not want to go there again.

30 September 2011

Goals and progress

On September 6th I set myself a target. It was, first of all, to get down to 58kg and set my 'no higher' line-in-the-sand there. There are some follow-on goals to get below that and, finally, to stay there, but that's for slightly later on.

So, here we are a little more than halfway through... how are things going?

Well, I'm sort of halfway there, although my weight remains stubbornly at 59kg this morning, having ambled back up to that from my not-eating, sickbed low of 58kg.

I had hoped I could get a bit further along the way, with the scales needle moving downwards this week again, but looks like it isn't to be. In fact, it went up a bit higher for a couple of days when I first finished my antibiotics. My eating has been good this week (healthy and good portion control) and I've worked up to doing some exercise so I guess that's probably my body adapting to whatever changes are going on.

I'm pleased to say that I've managed a fair amount of walking this week, albeit interspersed with breaks to use my inhaler. I'm not feeling quite up to the rower yet but hope that won't be too long. All in all, I feel like I'm making progress though, and I like the thought that I haven't lost the motivation to reach my goal.

One thing does cast a minor pale shadow though...
While I was unwell and at my lightest, I looked in the mirror but could see no real difference in the appearance of that darned belly flap. It seemed just as noticeable to me as ever, suggesting that I'd need to lose a lot more weight to make much difference to it.

Given that weight is lost from everywhere, not just the belly, I'm not sure how I feel about this. It doesn't affect my motivation to attain my stated goal, but what comes after is going to take some more thinking about. Ho hum.

27 September 2011

Get out!

And yes... I mean you!

It's been a beautiful day today. Quite the Indian summer, with a gorgeous blue sky and sunshine, and it's rather unseasonably warm - perfect, in fact.

Why, then, did I have to force my posterior away from my desk to go for a walk at lunchtime? Hmm, don't know, but I'm guessing I still feel a bit under par from the bug and allowed myself to wallow in the 'poor me' zone until sense returned and I realised I'd regret it if I let an opportunity like today's sunshine get by me.

It was lovely in the fresh air (OK, some fresh air and some traffic fumes) and I am really glad I walked. Sure, by the end of my hour I did need my inhaler, but that's why I carry it for heaven's sake!

And I do need the exercise. Having been bug-flattened for a week, I feel quite out of shape and I don't like it at all.

C'mon fat lass. Time to tell yourself you are well and get on with life again. If you get tired, so what. You'll sleep better at night.

26 September 2011

A fairly poorly bunny

Oooh boy, what a decidedly unpleasant week or so it's been. I won't bore you with the gruesome details. Suffice it to say it wasn't 'just a cold' like I'd hoped it was, so off to the GP for the fat lass!

However, just take a moment to consider what a boon to fighting infections antibiotics are. I had both time and opportunity to ponder this fact at leisure last week, and I'm so, so grateful for their discovery. From feeling like death warmed over with 'the bug' to merely feeling slightly 'bleh' now is all down to the assistance of these lovely little wonder drugs.

If I must stop moaning for as moment and look for a positive slant, the good news is that food ('specially anything dry, crispy or scratchy) hasn't been much of an issue. Eating has not seemed all that appealing, not least because whatever I've looked at hasn't tasted of anything much, even chilli! Mind you, I've wanted to drink for England and have managed to do just that! The herbal teas, hot Marmite and hot chocolate (bless those good folks at Options!) have taken a real hammering over the last week, along with my usual buckets of hot water.

I hopped on the scales at some point last week and had dropped down to slightly delirious and astonishing 58kg. Nice to see, but I was all too aware that it wasn't a 'real world' result.

Now that the period when I just didn't want to eat is over, and I have a bit more of an appetite, this morning sees me at a rather more realistic, but still quite welcome 59kg. With about three weeks until mid-October, I reckon I should be able to lose the last kilo to achieve the first stage of my goal. Then, a bit more of an effort and we'll see about getting below that mark.

As to the rest of life... well I can't say I've cared too much over the last week, but oh dear. I  made the bad mistake of looking in the mirror this morning. I look pretty colourful, even if not at my most attractive! A pale, pasty background (OK with you if I call it 'interesting'?), with dark circles under the eyes, dry lips and a reddish, shiny nose with flaky bits where tissues have rubbed it raw. Very fetching, I must say. Sort of matches the way I still feel. Ho hum.

Never mind. As Yazz would have it, "The Only Way Is Up".... apart, that is, from some of my way being downwards!

16 September 2011

Static... but OK with it

Well, the weight isn't moving down any more at the moment, but that isn't a problem. I'll just keep doing what I'm doing and the old body will figure it out at some point.

Eating is going well (it's nice right now as autumn = veggie soups). Exercise, or additional ecercise that is, still not going well (although I've walked quite a lot this week). Feeling pretty positive and better in myself for doing what I need to do.

Onwards, ever downwards!

09 September 2011

A nice direction to be moving in

Almost imperceptibly as yet, but the scales are being kind to me and moving downwards. They currently read just a shade below 60kg and that makes me a very happy bunny indeed. My trousers are feeling and looking looser too.

It actually feels like I'm winning a small victory with myself (or at least a minor skirmish) as this is the time of month when I usually struggle most to stay on track. Even with the help of HRT, in many ways, when the testosterone part kicks in from those tiny tablets I get the munchies. What I usually crave is a nice dose of carbs or better yet, chocolate (though, thankfully, I don't give in to that too often). For whatever reason it just isn't happening at the moment and that's keeping my motivation going. Hallelujah!

I've made a small change to my usual food intake, which might be helping. One of my regular bloggie reads mentioned quite a while ago about adding a small amount of protein to a fruit snack for mid-morning break, and this popped back into mind at the start of last week. So this is what I'm now doing and I think it's helping keep me satisfied for longer.

At the moment, added to my morning apple is a wedge or two of Laughing Cow extra light cheese (at just 22 cals per triangular wedge!). However, I think I'll exchange this for cottage cheese next week as I prefer it and it's a better source of protein for the calories - added to which is the fact that there's something a tiny bit 'unnatural' about the texture of the wedges. Whatever, the protein fix certainly seems to keep those 'is it time for lunch' rumbling tummy noises at bay!

My next improvement is to get my exercise mojo back. Yes, I'm still doing the walking but it isn't really sufficient on it's own. Awkward as it will be, whilst still arranging time around lovely hubby's meds, I really have to make time to fit in some rowing and abs exercises.... even if only a little.

Anyway, there's some progress being made and I'm delighted.

06 September 2011

A line in the sand...

I said I'd been doing a lot of thinking lately. Well, OK, that's done it. I've set myself some new targets and re-drawn my very own 'do not cross' line.

What's prompted this, you may ask. Well, before I explain, I want to reiterate that I'm really pleased to be (and remain) a whole lot slimmer and healthier than I used to be, with all the fringe benefits which come along with this. However, for a while now I've been less than ecstatic with the finer details of the way I look.

Ungrateful? Probably, and I'm a tiny bit ashamed to be looking at 'vanity' issues here, but it is part of who I am and I can't push it to the back of my mind any longer.

Over the last year or so I have sort of roughly 'maintained' my current level of weight loss, albeit whilst not actually intending to. I've been fairly happy, but fooled myself that I was still in weight loss mode. I certainly became much less focused and can see now that I wasn't truly serious about it.

My weight has cycled up and down between 60kg and 62kg or thereabouts for quite a long time. But, even at the lower end of the range and when I'm being far more diligent about the abs exercises than I've been recently, I've still got a noticeable belly. I may have mentioned it once or twice before... it's not too obvious most of the time (in clothes, anyhow) but I can't say I love it.

This is my delightful flappy extra bit where the excess skin flap from being obese for years is left behind. It's the place where much of the remainder of my fat hangs out (and, oh yes, I do mean 'hang'). What's more, when I gain weight, it hits here first.

To be frank, no matter how diligent I do get with the abs work, this flab-filled flap resides on top of whatever muscle I develop. It just ain't going to go away by exercise alone, even if the underlying structure is held in a teensy bit more. The fat lass has been gently deluding herself over this, methinks. It will only actually be diminished by my losing, shedding, shrinking, call it what you will, further amounts of the fat inside it. Don't worry, I'm under no illusions here - I do know that I'll always have the skin flap, unless I resort to surgery. I would just like it to bother me less.

Add to this that I've recently been looking into a number of models for calculating the 'ideal' weight range for a woman of my age, frame and height. Oooh dear - that was a bit of a stopper!

Even though I'm sitting somewhere near the middle of the 'normal' BMI banding, feeling fairly virtuous that this was a pretty darned 'good' place to be, the general consensus from these models (including Devine's and Robinson's) seems to be that I should actually weigh somewhere between 55kg and 58kg. In case the penny hasn't dropped, that is a whole big chunk less than I weigh right now. Kind of knocks the wind out of one's sails. It's certainly made me sit back and think.

Trouble is, I kind of thought I'd already gone far enough. Having lost around six and a half stone since I first started my lifestyle changes (not diet!), I haven't felt that I really want (or 'ought') to lose a significant amount more. But where does this (rather unscientific) decision stem from and why should I have thought this way?

I wonder if, subconsciously, I've been worried in case it makes me look old(er!) and haggard, maybe, or if I'm scared to get obsessive about the numbers on the scale and head towards 'too skinny' territory. I really don't want to end up being bony and emaciated or (worse!) unhealthy. By this, I mean like some (or do I mean many?) female 'celebrities' - women like Mrs Beckham who, slender as she undoubtedly is, looks drawn, permanently ill-nourished and dissatisfied. Sorry, but she and her ilk are no role models for me. I'm certainly not driven to get into the next clothes size down either as I'm fairly content where I am. I like the clothes I wear these days, and it's a very big thing for me to be able to say that. You heard it here - the fat lass likes dresses!

But maybe I could do with losing a bit more? If that weight loss includes at least some of the belly fat and I get my scales to move downwards, say to around the 57kg mark (c.9 stone), as opposed to where I am now, maybe the belly would be significantly less noticeable or perhaps I would just feel more comfortable with it.

OK, deep breath time. Is this realistic? Or, even if it's possible, is it sustainable? Hmmm, do you know, I'm not really sure yet.

Worth a shot though? Yes, I guess it might be.

So it looks as though my old get on the scales 'do something!' line may have been set a bit too high. It's been at 62kg (er, actually 63kg was the absolute screaming horrors mark), but perhaps it's about time it was re-drawn a bit further down.

By adjusting food and portions I'm already starting to see some pounds come off. Increasing the exercise should help too, so I'm going to mentally reset my line to 58kg... and see
a) what I can do about getting there  (I'm currently at 60kg)
b) what I can do about getting my weight a kilo or so below that line
and
c) what I can do about keeping it there

So I now have a clearly measurable target. I want to lose around 3kg from where I am now - that's c.6-7 pounds. Let's set myself a time-scale to work to. Going sure but steady I think that sort of loss 'should' be achieveable over about a six week period and that would take me to mid-October.

Right, roll up those sleeves. It's time for the fat lass to step up to the plate! ... or should that be step 'away' from the plate?

02 September 2011

Gratitude

Having read Diane's post yesterday with the image of the disability scooter, I thought long and hard about where I might be today had I not taken the first step to (permanent) weight loss back in 2007. It was scary.

I'm no longer quite in the first flush of youth! Certain bits of me, notably knees and lower back, no longer function quite as freely as they did when I was a teenager. However, they still work pretty darned well and generally give me only minimal discomfort. What's more, that level of discomfort is directly proportional to the exercise I take. Little exercise = more pain, regular exercise = little to no pain.

These days, I cannot begin to imagine what my life would be like now if I still carried something over 90 extra pounds of weight. Hell, but that disability scooter sounds like a real possibility.

Today's 'me' loves to walk every day, not only for the fresh air and exercise but for the space it gives me to think about things that happen in life. I'd go as far as to say it keeps me sane, sometimes. With the extra weight, I couldn't do much walking, let alone enjoy it.

Today's 'me' loves not being breathless, gasping at the slightest exertion. My asthma, even given a slight (stress related) recurrence recently, is pretty much under control. I'm not sure just how bad it would be by now if I still carried the excess weight, but I do know it would have been a serious issue.

Today's 'me' wouldn't be the person I am now - with the additional weight I'd probably be the pale, depressed, anti-social, embarrassed individual I used to be, lacking in confidence and hiding in dull, baggy clothes, trying to blend into the wallpaper and avoid cameras at all costs! I hated her and she hated me just as much.

I've seen a few women recently (some really quite young, as well as older), carrying excess weight and struggling badly, sometimes using crutches to help them walk. Even lovely hubby has noticed and commented on the increased numbers of people, mostly female, we see who fit this model. There but for the grace of God... that could so easily have been me.

I can hardly express how grateful I am to be where I am today, not where I was a few short years ago. I'm living life and enjoying life and feel like I'm the true 'me' once again. On my journey, I had a lot of support from you good folks out in Blogland along the way and for that I'm grateful too.

Diane asked "Are you ever tempted to give up, and what keeps you going?"
I think this pretty much answers why I will never truly give up, even when I am tempted to do so. I may have my down times and struggles, but I cannot go back, so I'll NEVER give up.

01 September 2011

On track... up to a point

I'm delighted to say that, even with life's odd little stresses, controlling my portion sizes and being sensible about what I choose to eat are both going well. It feels really good to be doing something positive once again, and wonderful to see some progress (even if only a little) from both the scale and through the waistbands in my work clothes.

I'm not counting my chickens though. I am all too aware that this is a sort of honeymoon period as it's still very early days after my fresh start. I'm also mindful that food alone is not a long-term answer to shedding fat and keeping it off. I need to increase my exercise (in range and amount) before I'll feel like I'm properly back on track. Although walking is going well, and is very helpful especially when I've little time to factor in much else, I am aware that I do need to do more. I'm missing the rower!

On the food front, I had a small senior moment in the supermarket and picked up the wrong variety of apple (my usual is Pink Lady, which I love). What a good mistake to make though - I have Royal Gala this week and, far from being disappointed, they are great! Wonderfully tasty, juicy and crunchy - obviously right in season. Hmmm, maybe I need to start being a bit more adventurous and not just stick to what I 'know' I like.

Dinner last night was quite a culinary adventure. We had some leftover boiled new potatoes in the fridge, with some odd bits of veg, which lovely hubby popped in the oven with some herbs and a little oil to roast. This was topped off with some smoked mackerel which has been lurking in the freezer for quite a time. It sounds strange and I don't know what you'd call it, but it looked amazing and tasted even better.


Feeling positive and strong and cheerful today. Long may it continue.

30 August 2011

Another bump in life's road

Wow! I've just realised that this is my 300th post. Can hardly believe I've had that much to say.

Well, we went to see the consultant at the end of last week but didn't come away smiling and dancing for joy. To be honest, the news wasn't all that positive - more a mixture of 'OK, that's reasonable' and 'oh hell, that's rubbish'. Lovely hubby's ordeal isn't over yet and it'll be a while before we can relax. Although they are reducing a little bit, it's still meds 'r' us for a while longer. It wasn't the news we'd hoped for and it did get us both down.

Added to this, over the weekend we ended up making an extra, unplanned (emergency) visit to the hospital when another wee hitch cropped up. Sorted (mostly) now, but not fun. Stress levels went back up through the roof and more than a few tears were shed.

Having said all that, and not expecting too much after what has been a less than fabulous Bank Holiday, jiggering about with what I'm eating and reducing my portion sizes is showing up on the scales and I've lost a few pounds. My trousers don't feel as tight and I can admit to being pretty happy about that.

I've been doing some pretty serious thinking too - more of that in a later post though.

23 August 2011

Ups and downs

That's ups and downs in all sorts of ways!  Emotionally, in health terms, and (of course) in weight!

The last few weeks have been something of a challenge, just as I'd expected they would be. In some ways, they've been even more difficult than I thought possible. Looking after my darling lovely hubby following his operation was desperately hard. Not because of him... no way!... but because I've felt so damned helpless.

I won't go into detail, but he's had a tough time and I'd have happily cut off my arm with a blunt penknife if it would only make things easier for him. Unfortunately, there's been nothing much that I've been able to do, in a practical way, to make life better/more comfortable for him. Just be there, do what I can and then go hide and cry in private.

The worst part is over, thank heavens, although he still has some minor complications to contend with and will be off work for a while longer yet. I am back in the saddle at work but not finding it easy as I feel I 'ought' to still be at home taking care of him. Ooooh, those 'oughts'. Guilt trips 'r' us!

And like all of those guilt-laden times, the emotions (coupled with worry) can get the better of you and start to drive behaviour. Let's just say that exercise, never mind about kicking things up a notch, did not go well at all.

Most of the days I spent at home (and much of the nights) was a whirlwind of the various meds (and isn't timing everything too), cooking, cleaning, little jobs to do, pillow fluffing, companionship and tea & sympathy, so my planned time on the rower dropped right off the priority list. Getting outside for life's essentials was squeezed into as short a time as possible so he wouldn't be left alone, so walking was off the cards too. To be frank, sleepless nights meant I didn't have a whole lot of energy anyway. Still don't, for that matter.

Food intake was OK while he wasn't interested or have an appetite, so I didn't eat much either, but it went a tad haywire once I started trying to tempt him into eating a bit more for the sake of him healing. Yes it was all 'good' food, but guess who disposed of the leftovers!

Well, the weight dropped off me for the first few days, and I saw 59kg again for an all too brief moment, but then it soon went back on again. Now we're over the worst I've evened out at 62kg, not too drastic but not really where I want to be. And like Steve has mentioned at 'Log My Loss', oh boy am I ever out of shape. I look and feel flabby, not trim. Think not so much racehorse as carthorse!

Ah well, back to the drawing board for the fat lass. I've made a start and am bringing chopped veggies with a yoghurt dip for lunches. I'm making an effort to restrain (and re-train) my appetite and giving myself smaller portions of an evening. This seems to be going OK.

I'm walking every day (which helps but isn't truly the answer, I know) and when I get a little more free time, I'll step it up with some additional exercise. If my darling's meds (which I have to administer) are reduced after our next hospital visit (which I really hope will be the case) I'll be back on the rower in the mornings next week.

I'm not giving up. I'll keep on keeping on, and I will get back to having more love per square inch!

29 July 2011

Expectations

Dear me. The end of July already and I haven't written a word here for a month!

Well, I guess this seems to be an appropriate enough time to think about my 'expectations' and what they mean for me in practice, right now, and for the future.

You'll probably have figured out, way before I ever did, that I took my eye off the ball quite a long time ago. I'd lost a lot of the enthusiasm for my journey and my many ups and downs and a considerable number of my posts over the last year show that quite clearly.

I haven't been paying proper wide-awake attention to what or how much I eat - at least, not in the way I was doing when the weight-loss mojo was working it's hardest. I haven't been keeping up the exercise to the level or extent that I should have done either. Talking about getting back to it isn't quite the same as getting on and doing it, eh?

What was that saying about those oh so good intentions and the road to hell again?

Well, I got away with it for a while. Call it residual karma. I guess I've continued to look sort of OK, as in not 'shock, horror' oh my goodness noticeably fatter, and my weight has remained 'relatively' stable... up to a point. Sure, it has wavered up a few kilos, from around 60 kg (9st 6lbs) to maybe 62 kg (9st 11lbs) or more, but it always seemed to drop off fairly quickly when I made a bit more of an effort. I felt OK with that, and that I could handle things quite nicely... up to now.

This time has been different. July started off quite positively and I did manage, if briefly, to drag my carcass back down to the 60kg mark, It was a darned hard process this time though. Much harder than it's been before, over the last twelvemonth or so.

Then a pothole in the road tripped me up. Oh no, not literally. This pothole was a summer cold... which lingered for a wee while then settled in, right at home, as a nice little chest infection. That kicked the asthma into overdrive, and it has been worse over the last few weeks than I've known it for years. Saw the doc and I'm back onto the next level of treatment and none to happy about it. Let's just say it's been getting me down.

All plans for exercise went right out the window and I got very low and mopey with constant coughing, in the day and at night. Sleepless nights led to feeling even more tired and run down, etc., etc.

You know what happened alongside that, don't you. Oooh yes, the fat lass comfort ate. I took great advantage of 'treats' on a short break away and overindulged like a pro! Those few lbs I'd worked to hard shed plopped back on in a heartbeat. Up I went back to 63kg, and I stayed there for most of the month, feeling fat, fed up and a failure.

This all brings me back to my expectations, which have recently proved to be rather dodgy ones. I think this is partly because my expectations had morphed from where they started. I used to 'expect' to have to work very hard and consistently at losing weight. As a very obese and fearsomely unfit woman for far too long a time, I knew it was going to be no joking matter to change my ways and change my body.

But, as I did successfully lose weight and got fitter, and finally found myself as a 'normal' sort of woman, I found those same expectations were now moving towards a less rigid approach, telling me that, once I reached a 'reasonable' weight and an 'OK' level of fitness I could lift my foot off the throttle. After all, keeping it there and concentrating on this weight business seven days a week, three hundred and sixty five days a year, is pretty tiring, isn't it?

Wrong, fat lass! Somewhere along the line you've forgotten the bit about this being a 'lifetime' journey to health, not a quick-fix diet to be forgotten once you reach the magic number on the scale. And, let's face it - rapidly approaching 52, neither time nor the menopause are really on your side any more.

I have another pretty big pothole on my horizon right now, with my lovely hubby being admitted to hospital. The next few weeks are going to be pretty tough and I'm going to find it hard to lose weight and increase my fitness. But, dammit, I'm going to keep those expectations in mind and try.

28 June 2011

Stalled...

...and before I've even really got started too. Ho hum, I guess that's the way it goes sometimes. But, let's be philosophical about it, eh. Don't get mad, fat lass, and don't fall off that wagon!

I'll admit that I am finding it a bit of a challenge to stay positive, when I'm exercising daily, eating moderately, drinking my water and being generally 'good', yet still not really seeing much more than a marginal result on the scales, nor for that matter from the marks on the tape measure.

But, I do know that the hard work will pay off in time - I just need a little patience and perserverance. I should remember that I've been in this position before, and it didn't last forever.

So, to pick out the positives...

At least I'm feeling a fair bit fitter than I was a few weeks ago. The good old H2O and regular stints on the rower are doing that for me even if nowt else. Even better, with a summer of the worst hayfever I've known for years, the asthma hasn't been a problem at all. Certainly something to celebrate. And, smile please, 'cos I've increased my time as planned this week - so far, so good.

The abs work is having an effect on my torso. It's sort of a shame only I really know about it getting stronger, but there you go. The problem is that, having been so obese for so many years, whatever muscle/tone I do posess is still pretty effectively covered up by the remains of the fat in my 'oh, so attractive' apron of loose belly skin.

Hmmm, I don't suppose that this is a bit of me that'll ever go away, unless I resort to full-scale surgery. That's OK though - I just need to shed a few more pounds and minimise it a bit more. It isn't a major problem when I'm dressed and, as I don't intend to start a nude modelling career in the near future [wink], the surgeons can put their scalpels away. Hey, just think, if I did become the next centrefold pin-up, the Shar Pei belly could become the new look for 2011.

Enough of this hilarity! Let's just get on with what I'm already doing and see what happens in the next week. Yes, a noticeable loss'd be nice, but I won't give up even if it doesn't happen.

23 June 2011

Being proactive...

Things finally seem to be settling into a somewhat more comfortable groove (I really, really hope the gods are taking a tea break so they aren't listening right now... otherwise I might regret writing this).

The exercise is going well, to the point where I intend to add another 20% to the daily number of strokes on the rower from Monday. I've increased the number and variety of the abs stuff and I'm doing it fairly comfortably (well, mostly comfortably) and I feel like I could increase it or add some other stuff in... but getting out of bed before I already do (at an eyewatering 5am) every day to do more seems a little too much to ask!

Eating is going well too, and I'm finally beginning to see downward quivers of the needle on the scales.

Onwards, ever downwards!

17 June 2011

A bumpy ride

OK, so after a pretty positive week last week, and a not too off the mark weekend spent with my super (and super-skinny) sister, when I hopped on the scales Monday morning after my exercises I was expecting to see stability at worst or maybe a nice little drop if the weight-loss gods were with me. What I wasn't expecting to see was a gain!

I won't repeat the word which first popped into my head. It wasn't very nice and it certainly wasn't very ladylike. Unfortunately, despite trying to remain cool, calm and collected about it and telling myself it was 'one of those things' (a.k.a. acting like an adult), as the day went on, and various stresses and irritations at work kicked in to clobber me too, I reacted rather poorly to this 'unfair' news and ended up eating more than I should have done. Never mind "keep calm and carry on". This was right into "run in circles, scream and shout"!

Sure it was mostly healthy food on this occasion, but I still did myself no favours by wolfing down too much fruit, all of my carrots (which were intended to last me for two days) and yoghurt with granola through the day in addition to my chicken and watercress wrap for lunch. I also made matters worse by stomping just around the corner to sit down with a book and a coffee rather than kicking myself into a higher gear and going for a good long walk. Ho hum.

Thankfully, the rest of the week has been has been much better, despite being busy and stressful in many ways. The exercises have gone well every morning, with the exception of Thursday when I was so tired I could have slept the day through. On the rower I've increased my speed and time a bit, and I'm doing a wider range of abs work. Apart from mad Monday I've eaten moderately (including some lovely fresh pod peas again). I've been out for wonderful walks in the sunshine at lunchtime on several days.

My weight had risen to a rather horrid 63kg (grrrr!) but it has dropped back to 62.5kg by this morning. At just a shade below ten stone I'm still not at all that happy about it, but there is a lesson for me in this. It is stop, take a deep breath and think - to stay in that proactive mindset and think through what I can do and should be doing in these circumstances...  and then get on and do it. Like a lot of things in life, these things are most definitely sent to try us!

Message to the fat lass: "don't be reactive... be proactive!"

09 June 2011

More than halfway through the week ...so far so good?

Well, having re-committed (yet again) to early morning exercise and sensible eating we are now on day number four. To be honest, days one and two went well, and both food and moving my posterior were pretty much to plan. Actually, it all went so well that I foolishly thought to myself, time to build things up.

Oh dear - hold that thought, fat lass. Don't get ahead of yourself 'cos day three didn't start off well at all. I felt tired and a bit under the weather even before I started. But, I got on the rower even though it felt really like a slog to keep going. Likewise for the abs work. So much for building things up though - I struggled with what I'd breezed through earlier in the week. Still, I did it and was glad I perservered.

Thankfully today was better again, and I feel stronger and more confident that I will be able to increase my time (and speed?) on the rower. I have already begun to increase the abs work (they do need it too!), adding in the first stages of a 'bicycle crunch' exercise which I'm finding quite hard to get to grips with just at the moment. Hmmm, think I may need to watch those videos again.

If all continues to go reasonably well, I think I'll add in some weights work for my arms next week too. They could do with some TLC and I need to look at some new things as I know I'll get stale and bored if I stick with the same routine every day.

Note to self: I also need to start recording what I do again. Can't see progress without it!

I've struggled with getting out to walk at lunchtime this week as things have been somewhat hectic at work, but am still walking in the mornings. This morning's walk was lovely (in the sunshine, which always helps). The dark grey clouds are coming across now though, so if I can get out at lunch it'll be a soggy trog, methinks.

I'm remembering to drink my water too so, if I can only keep it up this time (!), I'll be doing alright. So far today's food has been OK - mostly because it's now fresh garden pea time of year. If there's one thing I'm passionate about it's peas from the pod. Great snacking food.

I know I still need to reduce portion sizes and I'm trying very hard not to get annoyed that there's no downwards movement on the scales yet, but patience and persistence will bring a change - hopefully for the better.

31 May 2011

Still here, still fighting

And still not giving in....

But, no, it hasn't got any easier I'm afraid - I'm still slipping up way too often, bumping my nose against an increasing number on that blasted scale, then fighting back again to see the needle drop a bit, and so on... ad infinitum, it seems.

OK, so some of those old stresses have indeed dropped away (the fat lass says a heartfelt 'thank you'!), but a few new ones have stepped up to the plate to take their place (like my Mum having a fall at the weekend) so I'm still don't feel like I'm geared up and ready for full-on weight loss efforts.

If I'm honest, just keeping my head above water seems hard enough this year. I don't feel at my best but also don't seem to have the time, or energy, of focus to improve things. You know, I distinctly remember HM the Queen mentioning an 'annus horribilis' a wee while back - hmmm, think I know what she meant.

Anyway, just wanted to say a few encouraging words to some of the lovely people who are also struggling (for whatever their own reasons are) and remind them (and me!) to hang in there. Things can only get better. Honestly!

17 May 2011

Keeping things in focus

I haven't really thought about it in this way before, but I think one of my problems over the last six months or so has been the inability to keep sharp focus on several things at one time. My sister refers to this as 'too much going on' and sometimes 'having too many balls in the air' but my geeky science head thinks it's almost as though life has been more like using a microscope.

If you choose to look at an object under a microscope, say a nice little cell (after all, they are enthralling!), you can see, by selecting the correct objective and then adjusting the focus, different parts of the whole, and even go deeper and deeper to get right there to the bit which interests you most. But, you'll soon figure out that using your microscope at high power is rather more of a challenge than using it at lower power, which gives you the bigger picture in your field of view, but you see it in far less detail.

At high magnification, you really have to concentrate to bring that one specific fascinating thing into focus in the first place and then keep that teensy-tiny fine detail in focus. And doing this comes at the expense of all that other interesting stuff in the periphery! It's also all too easy for one tiny nudge to instantly wreck the view you'd carefully worked towards.

Weight loss (or maintenance) and fitness, as I guess we can probably all agree, requires constant mindfulness, concentration, consistency and hard work, so is a bit like using your microscope with high power magnification.

I've mentioned on more than one occasion that there has been (er, still is!) a lot going on in life and it's been this way for a looong while. Family and health concerns have been, and continue to be, a huge worry. Since Christmas, with the onset of those training courses, things got even tougher. There has just been too much in my big picture to get everything in focus at one time.

While my focus should, in an ideal world, have been on looking after 'me', life's priorities were no longer truly mine to assign. There were other things which I was forced to pull into high magnification focus... at the expense of some of the 'peripheral' stuff, however interesting that might be. For much of the time it simply wasn't possible to lower the magnification to cater for that big picture in less detail, so something has to give. I guess it's been my focus on the weight loss and fitness.

I hope that finishing my coursework early (mirabile dictu) will have helped shake off one of those imposed 'fields of view', and that I may now be able to focus more on something of my own choosing. Let's see what happens, eh.

Whatever the case, I'm not giving up!

16 May 2011

Getting my head on straight...

OK, so I've made yet another start, and am back to doing the things I know I need to do. And... it's making a positive difference... mentally, at least, even if I'm not seeing too noticeable a difference physically yet.

So far, so good. That 'not giving up' attitude will pay dividends in the end, despite the numerous false starts and hitches. Now I just need to keep at it and remind myself why I need to do this.

Note to self: you want to see the number on the scale go DOWN and your fitness levels RISE. And... you already know the 'how' of it, don't you. Simple, eh?

I can barely believe I'm saying this, but I actually enjoyed my early doors stint on the rower today. Huh? At 5.15 a.m. on a Monday morning, before hitting the road to work? Heck, the sparrows were barely awake. Amazing!

Yes, I'm still pretty tired in general, but my path seems slightly smoother. It may, of course, have something to do with getting my final training course assignment sent off yesterday. Phew! That's another monkey off my back. The other good news was that the presentation last week brought me some very positive feedback, so I'm feeling that those looong hours of hard work and 'lost' weekends were probably worthwhile.

With luck, that's a major stressor out of my way and maybe, just maybe, I'll be in a better position to handle some of the other ones slightly better.... like lovely hubby's health problems.

The thing I'm now really looking forward to is the next bank holiday weekend. It'll be so good to know that I have three whole days free to go to see my darling Mum. No coursework in sight!

10 May 2011

It got worse

So the fat lass has been out of touch again and, hey, what do you know?

For all my brave words in the last post, they have not been backed up by 'walking the walk'. Yep, you'll already know the result. Oh boy, it has not been a good couple of weeks.

Those worries haven't gone away and I still feel that life is 'on hold' until we get some news about lovely hubby's health. We've been invited to a wedding in Lebanon next month, which we'd both love to go to, but there's no way we can make it with this op hanging over us. This is not a positive or productive way to be, I know, but I just don't seem able to shake it off.

The long weekend for May bank holiday and the Royal wedding was dreadful. OK, so I had a wonderful day out walking with lovely hubby on the Friday (sorry Wills & Kate), but worked on my mountain of coursework for the rest of the weekend which wasn't so much fun. So I nibbled... and ate badly... and hit the alcohol when I finally knocked off in the evenings... and didn't do any more exercise.

This was old classic behaviour at it's worst... stress = comfort + emotional eating. The killer for me was that it was such gorgeous weather outside (apart from the Friday when we were out, of course) and I bitterly resented being stuck indoors working when every fibre of me was telling me I 'should' have been out in the sunshine. So to 'reward' myself for being so utterly deprived... I was bad, bad, bad.

And the needle on the scales crept up a bit. Sooo, on Monday morning I thought "ooops", and tried to pull myself together and behave (a bit) better during the week. The effort was half-hearted to say the least.

Then last weeked was worse still. This time round I worked very long hours on the coursework both Saturday and Sunday. Tears were shed, the fat lass was moody and depressed and my lovely hubby was in pain (the poor thing's put his back out now!). I ate absolute rubbish and way too much of it (don't even ask about the Chinese takeaway!) and, of course, did nothing which even slightly resembled moving my butt.

So, by the time this Monday morning rolled around, I found myself dog-tired, feeling depressed/stressed, worried about my man, thoroughly fed up, and yes, you've guessed it, heavier once again. This time the scales showed me 63.5kg... that's 10 stone!... a weight I'd hoped I'd never see again.

So... knowing I have to stop this right now, I try again.

Over the last few days things have been a lot better. I'll repeat that - a LOT better.

I've ditched the snacky foods and sweet stuff and alcohol, greatly decreased my portions and cut out a lot of the carbs. And, I've reminded myself to avoid salt! I'm drinking my water with a passion and am nibbling on my raw veggies and fruit. I am recording everything I eat, once again.

I have made myself go out walking as much as possible and am using the stairs, not the lift, at work. I'm not yet back on the rower or doing abs work... but I am (I hope) beginning to dig myself out of the dark, dreary pit into which I had descended again.

I know I 'can' do it.

I know I 'need' to do it.

I have 'started' to do it.

I just need to keep at it!

26 April 2011

Celebrate... or be miserable?

In the two weeks or so since I last wrote something, my weight changed for the better, then for the worse, and is now right back at the same 61kg where I started out the month.

The loss bit of the cycle reflected no hard work on my part, but a nasty little bug which saw me curled up in a ball of misery for a few days. Food was the last thing I wanted near me. Sadly... I made up for my abstinence once I felt better and those flubbery lbs soon popped back on again.

Then came Easter and a short break away. We actually did quite a bit of exercise (in the sunshine!) but, oooh, those lovely full-English mega-breakfasts. They tasted amazing (and it was great to have them cooked for us with no washing up in sight), but they had the expected result when I stood on the scale on Sunday morning. Yep, it was back up to 62kg again - ooops!

I'm now going to moan. Only a teensy little moan, but it is a heartfelt one. You see, over the same few days (with those same amazing breakfasts) my lovely hubby didn't put on an ounce. Grrr! Actually, this is something to celebrate as he's doing really well with losing weight and his jeans are now in imminent danger of embarrassing him in public by dropping round his ankles! We really must get him a smaller size.

Ah well. Two sensible days later, of drinking my water (oh yes, I forgot it again!), making healthy choices and eating normal portions and it's back down to the slightly less 'panic-stations' sort of figure of 61kg. However, I do know that I need to get my head on straight and lose a few more of these pesky pounds.

Sooooo, to the plan.

I am going to get these couple of lbs off, by the tried and tested combination of eating less (and healthily) and moving my posterior, and then re-set my new 'panic-stations' figure to 60kg. It was set to 62kg, but I'm just not happy and don't feel 'right' when I hit that mark on the scale.

Then I need to get exercising harder and tone up some of what's there while working on ways to get a few more of the lumpy bits sent on their way by shedding some more weight. C'mon, it's salad time of year and you love it - what are you waiting for, fat lass!

I would really like to get down to 57kg... and stay there. Doesn't sound a lot, huh? But, heck, it's proving a hard ask.

So, do I celebrate? Yes! I'll celebrate the fact that I am not ending this month heavier than I started and that lovely hubby is getting slinkier by the day.

Be miserable? No. Think I'll pass on that one.

08 April 2011

Why?

With a startling record of lack of progress on the weight loss front these days, that's the question I've been asking myself, pretty much daily. Why?

It generally goes something like this:

  • Why do I seem to sabotage myself every step of the way?
  • Why do I get cracking on the exercise then let good intentions and progress slip away?
  • Why do I eat more than I know I should (even if it's 'healthy' stuff)?
  • Why, after all this time, am I finding this so darned hard?
  • Why can't I seem to get focus back on this process and DO it?
...and a whole load of similar 'whys'!

That confounded internal critic (you know, that sneaky little blighter who takes up residence in your head and drops in snidey comments in low moments) usually pipes up with the simple answer - 'because you are rubbish'. My logical mind knows this is entirely accurate but...

Yes, I've got a lot of 'stuff' going on right now, and a whole load of uncertainties (never a comfortable place for this fat lass), but what I just cannot understand is the effect it's having. I can't seem to shake off the worries and get on with things.

However, I have made a firm committment to myself. It's pretty short and sweet.

I WILL NOT give up!

Actually, I can't give up. To do so would be to undo all the progress I've made since my obese days and I cannot face going back to the uncomfortable life I used to lead. I may not be 'progressing' in the way I'd like to, but progress can sometimes mean holding steady and managing to avoid the slide back down the slippery slope. Can't it?

So, in an attempt to stop myself beating myself up too badly, and to muzzle my mouthy internal monster, let's look back and compare now with about year ago.

June 2010
BMI 22.3 = 'Normal'
Weight 59kg
Bust 38"
Waist 27"
Hips 38.5"

April 2011
BMI 23.1 = not as good but still 'Normal'
Weight 61kg
Bust 36"
Waist 27.5"
Hips 39"

OK, it isn't great... and I'm nowhere near as fit as I was back then, but the alternative is a whole lot worse. Don't give up!

28 March 2011

Bleh!

Yep, bleh! Kind of sums it up really. I'm still moving back and forth through my few pounds gain, few pounds loss cycle so I'm no further forward at all. Sound like an old broken record, don't I!

I'm really not taking my lovely hubby's health problems in my stride at all. I'm worrying way too much, not sleeping properly, and don't seem awfully interested in taking care of 'me' properly. I know I'm snappy, however hard I try not to be. Basically, it comes down to being scared. It's affecting all aspects of my life and I'm not a happy camper at all these days.

Had a funny conversation with someone I haven't seen for a long while - she went away on maternity leave a couple of years back but stayed away for lots longer as she had some health problems then soon afterwards fell pregnant again. She was quite surprised at the difference in my appearance and, amazingly, actually talked to me about it (so often, this just doesn't happen).

After chatting and catching up for a while, she asked me to tell her what was the most difficult thing about losing the weight.... so far. Bearing in mind I feel pretty crappy about myself at the moment, I have to admit that I giggled a bit self consciously and said 'myself'.

Afterwards, when I wondered what prompted me to come out with that, without even thinking, I realised I've learned that I'm actually the cause of most of my 'not doing great' times. I've also learned that if I can just muster the strength to keep on fighting... mostly I'll get there. It isn't easy, but nothing worth doing ever is. So this bad period of life WILL pass and things will get better. I just have to be as strong as I can (for me and my beloved man) and we'll get through it.

So what's going well (or at least doing OK) at the moment? Well, I still walk as much as I can (about an hour, maybe an hour and a half every day, and briskly as I can). Great! Give the fat lass a gold star for this.

I'm hanging in there with the training course. Not finding it a walk in the park, but I won't give up and I am putting in a lot of effort. I WILL pass, and to the best of my ability.

Anything else reasonable at the moment? Well, food isn't fantastic (er, hence the weight cycling) but I'm not hitting the binges and not eating rubbish... just still too much of the good stuff. It may not be perfect, but at least I can say that my general eating habits have changed for the better.

So, any other positives to focus on? Of course there must be... just takes a little bit of thinking through.

Yep, there is something else positive to show I haven't descended right back down to the depths of despair, even if it sometimes feels like that. How do I know? I still try to dress nicely. Sounds odd, huh? Well, in my fattest days I didn't give a hoot what I chucked on in the morning - it wasn't going to look nice on me anyway so why bother. Now, I try to dress nicely (OK, clean and tidy, even if not fashionably, anyhow) as much as I'm able. Positive, see?

Other ways I'm still looking after 'me' include good haircuts, every five weeks or so. I don't fight the grey hair (just call it 'distinguished'), but keeping it short and keeping it feminine makes me feel a bit better about myself. I also take care of my teeth now. I know it sounds sort of funny but that makes me feel better too.

I guess the point of this ramble is to say 'hey, I haven't given up'. Whatever is happening in your life now, don't give up either. Things will improve in time... we've just got to get through the hard stuff.

 
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