31 December 2012

That was the year, that was!

So, here we find ourselves.

Today is New Year's Eve... the very last gasp of 2012, and tomorrow brings a brand new year with lots of new opportunities.

Seems like a good time to look back, and forward too.

So, over the course of 2012, what's gone well?

My absolute number one is that I have a happy and healthy (and slimline!) darling lovely hubby once again - a gift without price that I'm so very grateful for.

Next to that is that I KNOW that life is good. Alright, maybe not always, but mostly, and that is another valuable gift to recognise and hold dear.

Weight-wise, I'm at staying nicely put at about the lowest weight I've been for years, with no Christmas gain (glory be!), and that makes this fat lass a very happy girl indeed. I couldn't put hand on heart and say my 'foodie worries' are over forever (constant vigilance is key, my dears!), but every 'good' day is a bonus and I try for as many good ones as possible.

It's also been great to see some of my blogging friends overcoming a variety of problems and getting back in the groove. You lovely chappies, and you know who you are, mean a lot to me... even though we've never met and probably won't get chance to.

... and maybe not gone quite so well?

Hmm, I'm worrying more and more about my Mum, who has been through a rough patch recently. I'm all too aware that every day I still have her with me is precious now, as her age (she's in her nineties) and general state of health is not in her favour.

Fitness. Ah well, it's been OK-ish (and, I guess, it is better than it's been for years) but, just like some of my old school reports, if I'm honest I think I'd give 2012 a 'could try harder'. Part of this is limits on time, but some of it is just down to lazy-itis(!), and the blasted knee has been grumbling too over recent weeks. Particularly over this holiday, so I need to give it some serious attention before it gets any worse. My much-loved rowing machine, Connie, will help with that.

Hey, that isn't a long list, is it? I rather like that!

And looking forward to 2013 - what and where next?

Well, I will carry on with maintaining my weight right where I want it to be. Do you know, I still get a thrill to think I can actually say this. After so many years of obesity and unhappiness, it is such a joy to feel I have 'me' back and in the driving seat again.

I'm planning to make some strides on the fitness front in 2013 - in fact, I have a couple of videos to watch that might give me some tips and help motivate me. Muscle tone. That's what I'd like to concentrate on this coming year.

Unless someone somewhere knows differently (and I really hope this isn't the case), I can look forward to this year without too many worries about health... for myself and for my family. That's a nice feeling to start a new year.

And, oh yes, I'm going to be a great aunt in 2013! I'm still reeling from this new revelation as it makes me feel prehistoric, but it is indeed a wonderful thing to look forward to.

All in all, as we move from the old year to the new, I'm feeling pretty positive. Hope you are too, and I wish everyone a wonderful 2013.

19 December 2012

That funny feeling

OK, so the jeans pic isn't me. The ones you see are the same brand as mine, probably a pretty similar size too, but mine are a nice 'denim jeans' blue, not black. Oh, and no way would I wear tan moccasins with black jeans. Aaaargh, the horror!

Now I've got that off my chest I'll confess that although I'm feeling a little 'funny' right now, I think I'm probably secretly pleased for the most part. However I'm also cringeing a little. And the cause of this apparent duality is...?

Comments and compliments. Oooh er, missus, but there've been a few in the last week or so, and it's all because 'stuff' has been happening at work where I knew I'll be running around, shifting things and getting generally grubby (make that filthy dirty!). So I've come in to work wearing jeans - a most unusual event.

Now I may be 53 years young, but I'm an old-school sort of gal. My jeans (now I can wear such wondrous things again) are usually kept just for 'me' time and are, er... closely fitting, for want of a better way to put it. That is, they show my shape pretty clearly. Quite unlike my customary nice 'respectable' work trousers which, being 'comfortable' as well as smart, leave everything to the imagination thank you very much!

So, running around in uncommon attire in the workplace just recently has generated a few comments. For the main, these have been positive, although one person did hint a bit and sort of ask in a roundabout way if I might be 'unwell' as I'd "got so thin" recently - although I haven't actually changed much in ages and the way I've been rushing about recently is surely testament to my fitness, no?

But the truly cringe-making remark stemmed from a chap who told me I looked like "a young girl" which was nice of him I guess, but who then proceeded to shoot himself in the foot and tell me that he "liked little girls". Sorry folks but that, even if said in jest, gave me the heebie-jeebies. Shudder!

Even setting that rather dodgy, er, 'compliment' aside, I'm finding it quite an uncomfortable thing to have the people I work with passing judgement (even positive judgement) on my appearance. OK, I'm used to being judged on my ability to do my job, but my looks? That's a horse of quite another colour! Hmmm, doesn't make me feel even slightly relaxed. In fact, it stresses me out quite a lot.

Is this just a confidence thing though, or could it maybe be a throwback to the days when I'd do anything to hide my obesity from comment?  Those dark old 'don't look at me' days when I hid in drab, baggy clothes may be gone, but are sure as heck not, methinks, forgotten. So which is it? Not sure if I know to be honest.

How do other people feel when remarks about personal appearance come your way? Does what is said make a difference, and does it matter who says it? Do you revel in compliments, or do you (like me) feel quite unsettled?

18 December 2012

Being yourself...

...and being true to yourself.

I'll warn you now, this is going to be a bit of a loooong ramble. There is a point (the clue is in the title), but it may take a fair time to get to it.

Before I start though, there's a song playing over and over in my head (and has been for days), and it pretty much sums up how I'm feeling at the moment. In my mind this track is all about keeping on and at it, even when things seem like they've got tough.

It's Tom Petty's 'I Won't Back Down', and there's one phrase which just leaps out at me:

Well I know what's right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I'll stand my ground and I won't back down

Thanks Tom, I've needed this.

OK, back to the ramble... I was speaking quite recently to a someone (of about my own age), who I've known for a lot of years, about weight loss. As almost always happens, she wanted to know what 'my secret' was. Can you hear me groaning yet?

The usual questions came up, as in 'how' had I lost the weight, and 'what' had I done to make a difference. The final question (asked in an almost accusatory fashion) was 'why' was I able, this time, after years on the lose-regain diet roller-coaster ride (some of which she'd seen happen) to maintain a healthy weight and not just heap wodges of weight straight back on like has happened in the past. I started trying to explain... but we didn't get terribly far.

That was, by the way, because she didn't actually want an actual 'discussion', nor real 'answers', nor any 'advice' or 'tips' to lose weight. Unfortunately it was one of those 'where's the magic bullet' chats which quickly morphed into a diatribe about why making long-term changes was 'impossible' and 'couldn't possibly' work for her (my eyes roll and I sigh at this point). Just the sort of conversation I'm afraid I find quite difficult to handle. I growled, hissed and spat inwardly, but kept my patience... and that's quite a feat for the fat lass!

You see, what I actually 'did' to lose the weight was put in time and effort, and that meant first accepting that it would involve me in some pretty hard graft. That is, to take on board the fact that change wouldn't 'just happen'. I'd realised, at long last, that I'd need to think about 'why' what I'd done before didn't work, formulate a plan of 'how' to get going this time, then tweak, review and tweak again the 'what' I was doing, both with food and activity, over a period of time. In fact, it took several years, but that didn't matter. After all, I didn't get to be obese overnight, did I?

And only by doing that have I been able to drop down from my OMG! June 2007 levels, where I was hurting and miserable and in imminent danger of developing some unpleasant medical issues, to where I am today. This was NOT a 'diet', as I've said many times before, it was a radical and permanent change in lifestyle.

That's right, it wasn't a 'quick fix' but sustained hard work. It was also very much an individually tailored approach. Listening to what had helped other people often had some value, but experimenting and figuring out exactly which elements worked for 'me' - sticking with the bits which were useful and ditching the stuff which didn't help (or outright hindered) was the key.

It was a 'work in progress' right the way through, from the very start of the weight loss phase to the day I was happy to say 'OK, that'll do for me'. What's more, it still, quite frankly, is... even now I'm maintaining... a work in progress

You see, whatever lessons I've learned to date (and I feel I've picked up a lot along the way), I'm no expert. I still don't and indeed can't 'know' everything there is to know. I don't get everything 'right' all of the time and, because of this, I'm still acquiring new insights as I go. A largely empirical approach to collecting data, using myself as the guinea-pig (a.k.a. the 'suck it and see' method), is still one I lean upon, and I guess I always will.

But, having pondered this and similar conversations for a while, and having read a lot about other people's experiences, I've come to another conclusion too.

And that is that I've been pretty fortunate in finding things that worked out well 'for me'. I am all too aware that I'd have struggled much more had there been specific metabolic issues or medical issues contributing to my obesity.

In my case (sad as this may be), it was merely a mixture of a lack of control (guess you could call it greed), some serious emotional eating and a very negative attitude to moving my ass, which got me up to my highest weight. And it didn't plop on overnight - no siree, it took time for that to happen.

Another major element of my personal downfall was a lack of understanding that this was purely an internal problem. Where my increasing weight was concerned, I was doing this to myself and it took far too long (and too many failed 'diets') for me to realise that the 'cure' lay within 'me'.

These days, as you'll have seen from recent posts, I follow a low-carb, pretty much 'primal', type of lifestyle, and it works really well for me for in maintaining my weight loss. I enjoy it, I feel satisfied (and even guilty for this at times) and feel it is a long-term, sustainable plan without involving too much of an effort... mostly.

This self-same plan probably would have been a great way to help me lose the weight, had I known more about it (or maybe not been so darned cynical!) from the outset. However, low-carb isn't necessarily a choice I'd have actively considered had it not been for wishing to find a method to control lovely hubby's diabetes without drugs.

You see, the bulk (and I use that term advisedly folks!) of my weight was lost, slowly and steadily, by following a plan I was already well aware of and had tried many times before - a restricted calorie, healthy foods and generally very low-fat approach with a dose of exercise thrown in for good measure.

That was my plan, that's what I did, and that worked 'for me'. I guess that, in this, I am probably one of the lucky ones - although I wouldn't have agreed with that when I hit my inevitable obstacles along the way!

But, chaps, we are all different people, with different bodies, and what works for me may not work for you - and vice versa.

One of the reasons the whole 'diet' (oooh, how I hate that word!) thing worked for me this time around was partly my good fortune (since I don't appear to be either insulin resistant or particularly carbohydrate intolerant) and that sufficient 'time' and, of course, a fair sprinkling of 'effort' was what I gave it. Hence Tom Petty's track, as 'backing down' wasn't an option for me this time.

And that self-same 'time' and 'effort' is what I'm still prepared to give it so that I never, ever go back to obesity and all the problems and angst which came with it. The weight loss, and all it's benefits, quite literally IS worth a lifetime to me.

And so the point (if you've stuck around this long!) of this blether is...
...that losing weight is YOUR journey to make.

So be yourself. Yes sure, you can read loads about other people's experiences, but they will be, at best, some 'rough guidelines' only for you to choose to follow... or not. The choices YOU make are what will ultimately lead to your success (...or failure, to be blunt). But the changes you want to see won't and can't happen in the blink of an eye - be prepared to give it time too.

The journey is all about learning about YOU. Part of that will involve figuring out how to actually 'hear' and then 'listen to' the things YOUR own body is trying to tell you. Not always easy to do but, like most things in life, practise makes... well, if not 'perfect' then at least 'possible'.

Another part is learning 'how' to make the changes (step by step) that your body suggests. Again, not easy. But it is so worth it - as L'Oréal are always telling us!

What I hope will happen is that you'll find a way (your way) to take your body from the dark, 'heavy' place you no longer wish to inhabit to a lighter, brighter, happier one. But this will be YOUR way and don't let anyone ever tell you that it's the wrong way. If it works for you... well, 'nuff said!

This chap has it pretty well 'nail on the head'...
Be yourself - not your idea of what you think somebody else's idea of yourself should be” Henry David Thoreau

Heck, Tom Petty and Thoreau in one post! Who's feeling philosophical today then, eh?

04 December 2012

Am I sad?

Er, literally, that is.

What I mean is, could my recent downward shift in mindset be as simple as a mild dose of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

I've never been convinced but I looked up the UK website and they suggest that common SAD symptoms include:

- Lethargy, lacking in energy, unable to carry out a normal routine [yep, that's me]
- Sleep problems, finding it hard to stay awake during the day, but having disturbed nights [Lordy, but that is right on]
- Loss of libido, not interested in physical contact [hmm, sort of, but I'm not shying away from cuddles]
- Anxiety, inability to cope [yeah, I'm even more of a worrywort than usual... if that's possible]
- Social problems, irritability, not wanting to see people [irritable - check, not wanting to see 'some' people, dead right!]
- Depression, feelings of gloom and despondency for no apparent reason [indeed]
- Craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods, leading to weight gain [OK, I can tick every box this last one - at the moment I'm craving M E A T and lots of it]

Well, if it is this SADs thingie, my plan to get my sorry ass outside around midday every day for a dose of fresh air should help me... as much as a grey, damp, windy and f-f-f-freezy cold walk can help, anyhow.

Onwards, and the plan is UPWARDS, ever. This darned black dog just ain't going to bite me!

03 December 2012

Riding for a fall...?

Hmmm, I'm very much hoping this won't be the case, but my periodic nemesis (my dark 'black dog' mood) has taken a firm hold on me at the moment and I'm guessing it wouldn't take too much for me to find myself in danger of saying 'oh stuff it' (or similar) and start comfort eating. I'm on my guard for this, but it feels like a shaky position to be in at the moment.

I'm at a bit of a loss here as I can't quite see why this has happened and why my mindset has turned around like this. If I think about it logically, it seems like I've had pretty decent a run of positives and good news lately, so to find myself derailed is something I don't quite 'get'.

I'm feeling put upon and tired and have not been sleeping properly, with bad dreams or intrusive thoughts to disturb me. Right now, it doesn't seem worth the effort to 'do' anything much, and things seem a bit pointless and meaningless.It may be down to the tiredness but it also feels like I'm probably fighting a rearguard action against a bit of a bug - nothing major, and it isn't developing into anything, but I can't quite seem to shake it off.

However, none of this should be enough to make me feel so utterly down. Silly I know, but I'm tearful and touchy and wallowing in the 'poor me' zone. Silly indeed, but... that's where I am right now.

I'm trying to force myself to use my usual 'fixes' of fresh air, music, etc., but this only seems to bring a temporary lift, then I'm back to 'down' again. If I'm honest, I'm not looking forward to Christmas at all.
For once, with a sense of resignation, I'll say, onwards, ever...

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