27 December 2016

Stuff Christmas...

...and with all our energy we did just that!

The 24th saw us up bright and early (OK, cloudy and early-ish) and off to the gym to get ourselves warmed up for the season's fun and festivities.

We worked pretty hard and thoroughly enjoyed it, then went for a large, satisfying cuppa at our lovely, welcoming local greasy spoon cafe to wish them a Happy Christmas before going home to bacon and eggs for breakfast which set us up nicely for the day.

The afternoon was relatively relaxed and quiet as we had made plans for the evening. These plans were a little unusual for us, as they included meeting up with a bunch of strangers and concentrating single-mindedly upon food. Yep, you read that quite right. We planned to devote our festiveness (is that a word?) to all things edible. When I said 'stuff Christmas', had we gone Christmas crackers?

Well no, not exactly.

What we actually did was meet up at a church hall with a group of willing volunteers from all walks of life and started peeling and chopping megatons of carrots, also rather significant quantities of parsnips, butternut squash and swede to roast. Together we prepared a gazillion Brussels sprouts, made humongous quantities of piggies in blankets and stuffing balls, boiled up a gigantic cauldron of creamed sprout, leek and potato soup, and cut up two lovely bits of prime beef and veg for massive pots of beef stew to slow cook overnight. We generally got ready for Christmas Day, when dinner was to be cooked and served to up to a hundred and fifty people at two venues.

When I say dinner, I'm not just talking turkey. This was to be a serious dinner - there was the soup (with croutons and crispy bacon lardons too) and an array of lovely appetisers, both veggie and carnivore friendly, and then the full nine yards of roast turkey dinner with all the trimmings.

There would be roast gammon or the beef stew (and Yorkshire puds) for those who didn't want the traditional roast bird, fresh salmon or bass for those who didn't eat meat, and a variety of veggie options too. And that's before we even get as far as puddings. Not only was there to be the obligatory Christmas pud and mince pies, but loads of other delights, including lovely fresh fruit to dip into a chocolate fountain!

While we chopped and stirred and seasoned on Christmas Eve, outside the kitchen the church hall was being transformed into a Christmas wonderland, with a tree, tinsel, crackers, pretty lights and beautifully decorated place settings. Similar decorative arrangements were going on at the other venue, but since there isn't as big and well equipped a kitchen at that one we were preparing the food for both sites. Busy, busy, busy, and we got home around ten o'clock with interestingly orange hands from all those carrots!

Then, before we knew it, we were right back to the kitchen around nine thirty on Christmas morning. From then on we cooked, and carved, and served, and cleaned up and thoroughly enjoyed being a small part of this very special event. It was full on and we didn't sit down for a moment, but didn't even think about it until it was all over and we finally left to go home just after seven in the evening. It was great and the other volunteers were wonderful people. Every one of them worked as hard as possible to make the day as happy and successful as it could be... and a success it was!

This was all done, in the true spirit of giving, for everyone - people of different ages and faiths, for single parent families, for couples, for single men and women, for the homeless, for the elderly - for anyone who would otherwise have been alone, lonely, or needy at Christmas. What's more, this plethora of goodies was provided free of charge by an amazingly caring and generous woman, Mo Fayose. You can read more about her HERE.

Yep, we 'stuffed' our Christmas with joy, and friendship, and hard work and had fun doing whatever needed doing. In part, our gift was a sense of satisfaction in a job well done. Other gifts came from seeing the faces of the people who came to the dinner, and from those who popped their heads into the kitchen to thank us sweaty volunteers for sharing Christmas with them.

If I'm honest, I find Christmas a wee bit difficult these days - not least because I miss my darling Mum a lot. But this year I know she would have been so proud of the pair of us. That in itself was the greatest gift of all, and something that made this fat lass very, very happy.

21 December 2016

Fat Lass 1 : Social 0

Well, I'm delighted to report that the cunning plan worked from start to finish and I really enjoyed my night out. The company was great so being sociable and moving around to chat to people was easy, the venue was really good too (at least the second one was - the trendy cocktail bar where we met beforehand was dire!), and the food was just fabulous.

I'd chosen an Antipasto Misto of cured meats and cheeses for a starter, which was really tasty with more than plenty to enjoy, although I didn't bother with the bread or the red onion jam. I then had Tagliata di Manzo - an absolutely delicious rib-eye steak, served nicely rare as requested, sliced and drizzled with rosemary-infused olive oil and served with a luscious pile of buttered Savoy cabbage and those 'house potatoes' (which I cheerfully ignored). It could not have been better. Even the live music was good - very João Gilberto-esque.

Leaving those odd-looking cocktails for others to enjoy (I read through the menu and everything was sugar syrup loaded) was a no-brainer. They were pretty expensive too so I was happy to pass for more than one reason. Two glasses of white wine spritzer (albeit large ones) with my meal and plenty of water meant I had no fear of a hangover this morning, although I daresay a few of my ex-colleagues won't have had that luxury to wake up with! While the desserts looked very good (as did all the food) I wasn't remotely tempted.

Walked there, and walked home too, so a wee bit of exercise as well. Blessings counted. Onwards, ever... and off to the gym in the morning.

18 December 2016

The Christmas social...

...is coming to a venue near me on Tuesday evening. So am I prepared for this fun and festive foodie feast? You betcha!

I used to dread occasions like this and through the 'diet' years found it really hard to be moderate and sensible and to eat and drink responsibly. But, over the years I've sorted out a few strategies to help me. Hey, that grey hair has some use, huh?

One of these strategies is NOT to starve myself beforehand and go to the venue hungry - in the past I've tried that, saving myself for the evening, and I've decided it wasn't a good plan. It was actually a very bad move for me, as everything looks so tempting and tasty and seems like a good idea. Saying 'yes' in these circumstances is apparently a lot simpler than declining!

So, how to manage the food aspect? Well, Tuesday is one of my Oxfam volunteering days and I always take a pot of stuff with me for my late IF 'breakfast' meal.

This week will be no different, and my little box will contain chopped up bits of raw cauliflower stalk (from tonight's dinner), some small chunks of nice salty cheddar cheese and some lovely Turkish olives sprinkled with Palestinian zataar. I may add a cherry tomato or two if I feel like pushing the boat out. I usually also take a small pot of mixed nuts. That, being my usual fare, will keep me satisfied through the day so I won't go out for the evening hungry.

I try to remember to clean my teeth just before walking out of the door - residual minty toothpaste taste makes the first food/drink taste bleh, so slows down the start of things. Though I don't do it now, in the past I've found eating an apple about ten minutes before walking into the venue works too, and apples are a nice 'clean' food so there's no need to clean your teeth to get rid of odd bits that lodge between your gnashers after an apple!

The other food related tip is to look at (er, closely scrutinise!) the menu ahead of time. I go out having already chosen exactly what I am going to eat before setting foot into the joint. On that subject, two courses are quite enough - no need to go for three as I'd never do it any other time of year so why do it at Christmas. I also tell the organiser what I've chosen before I get there (helps them out in the melee), and carry a piece of paper to remind myself of my selections. This means a definite decision has been made - no room for shilly shallying, no indecision, no capitulating to anyone else's urging, no making impulsive choices. Just sensible choices that fit with the way I choose to eat.

If the set menu, and it's usually a set menu at Christmas, means my selection automatically comes with something I'd rather not eat (some form of potatoes, for example) there are a few options. Firstly, you could ask the kitchen to leave them off. The downside is that a lot of venues struggle with this at hectic times of year though - their aim is to serve as many (often not 100% sober) folk as possible in short order and they may not appreciate or be able to fulfill 'special requests'. No problem, when the dish arrives just push the offending articles to the side of the plate and leave them there. Not always easy though as they often look pretty yummy, so consider offering them to someone who doesn't eat kookily like me. In my experience there's usually a hungry man at hand who is all too happy to take them off my hands to pad out their meagre restaurant 'festive' portions. I often find the Brussels sprout haters are more than happy to swap my roasties for their little green horrors too.

Then there's the alcohol side of the equation. I'm not a great drinker usually, but it's easy to get carried away in company, especially when everyone else seems dead set on draining the bar dry and wants me to be 'sociable' and join in!

So, for one thing I always drink a large glass of water before leaving the house. OK, it means I'll doubtless need the loo on arrival, but it also means I'm not thirsty and can make a glass of white wine spritzer last a looong time. Note the spritzer bit - looks like you have a good large glass of a recognisable drink (which seems to be expected), but you can get away with a small serving of wine and lots of sparkling water or soda water. Then, when we sit down I always ask for a big jug of tap water to be brought to the table (and replenished regularly) and intersperse one glass of wine with several glasses of water. My bladder helps take care of the quantity imbibed!

The dessert course can be a bit of a trial (especially if, like me, you've just chosen a starter and main). But a coffee, black if you must, makes a perfectly acceptable substitute and there is rarely a problem sipping that while everyone else tucks into their sweet and sticky desserts.

A few other tips...

One is to wear something very close fitting (and definitely non-elasticated) at the waist. Amazing how conscious that makes you of the amount you consume.

Another is to be sociable - hey, this is Christmas after all! This means talking to people, getting up and moving around to speak to everyone, dancing (if necessary) and generally doing anything to minimise time and access to the food and drink.

Oh, and if your Christmas social happens to be a buffet... load your plate with salad (or the platter decorations) before anything else goes onto it. This usually tastes pretty good and leaves minimal room to load up with the stuff your own dietary preference views as 'naughty'.

Right, enough blether. Merry Christmas, chin, chin and onwards ever...

04 December 2016

Always the bridesmaid, dammit...

Oh pooh, bah and humbug! After the multiple stresses of the previous week, there appeared to be a positive start to this one. Unfortunately it has actually proven to be a challenging week. 

This week had a pretty upbeat beginning, going to the gym for a brilliant session on Monday, then day brought me down to earth with a bump. On my way back home I had a phone call with the result from the interview I attended a week on Thursday. Not positive news, as you'll have guessed. 

Yet another flaming job I didn't get, and I'm still surprisingly upset about this one. It seemed ideal, and my experience and qualifications fit their job description like a glove... apparently. I felt confident answering the interview questions and comfortable having met the people there. It was a small team and I felt that I could fit in and really give it my best. From the feedback it seems I came across well on the day, and had all the skills they were looking for, but... [insert appropriate swear words here]

Tuesday was alright, I suppose, even though I felt rather down for much of it. Not too big a shock there then. The volunteering at Oxfam cheered me up a little but not really enough to drag my sorry butt completely out of the doldrums. My poor lovely hubby was probably better off with me being out of the house for the day if I'm honest. Even the Christmas lights switch-on, pretty as it was, didn't lift my spirits.

And then came Wednesday - hey, it's another day. Let's see what this one had in store, apart from the breast screening appointment that is. Always a fun experience. Morning dawned, clear and cold, with sunlight catching the frost to sparkle on the grass outside my window. Maybe it was going to be a good one. 

But no, an email popped into the inbox to let me know I'd 'not been selected' to interview for another of the jobs I've applied for. You could perhaps say this one wasn't quite such a big deal as it was only a relatively short contract, but I am quite dejected by my repeated failure to land a decent post. 

What the F is wrong with me? Am I (as a friend suggested) overqualified? Is it my age? Could it be something in my CV? (hence the doctored cartoon)

Thursday went in similar vein - a slightly crappy session at the gym with no great motivation and seemingly less strength than on Monday. Probably in part down to lack of sleep, as that seems to be quite a problem at the moment, what between bad dreams, nebulous worries and negative two a.m. thoughts.

Friday was a bit better, with a trip out to get Christmas presents (mostly sorted now) and a carol concert in the evening. Still wasn't (and am not still) on top form though. 

Yesterday we had an appointment to discuss setting up power of attorney (we're getting to be old farts now), then finished the Christmas shopping. Today we went to the gym again. I'd like to say it was a fantastic session and everything went swimmingly, but it was just OK. 

I've been close to tears for no discernible reason for several days now. Not good, huh. All the ominous signs and portents are in place - it appears that this way lies that horrid downward spiral and the return of the bloody Black Dog. I have one foot on that slope, but I do not want to head there. So I need to take some time and sit quietly to remind myself of those blessings my darling Mum used to ask me to count.

Sorry for the doom and gloom. Be back once I've hauled my ass into a better place. Onwards... I guess.

27 November 2016

Like a kid in a sweet shop...

Well, whoever'd have thought it. The gym we've started going to has opened up a whole new world of entertainment, and, a little surprisingly, it isn't based on cardio stuff we've done before, although we usually warm up and down using a rower or cross-trainer (my 'spotty dog' walker of old).

No, the focus this time is firmly on weight training (also called resistance training) and, boy, is it great fun. Each time we've visited the gym, which has been every couple of days recently, we've discovered 'new' bits of kit we've never seen before.

It really is like being let loose in a sweet shop. Should I give this one a try, or maybe that one, but then... oooh, look at this thingy over here - what does that do? Decisions, decisions.

Sometimes it's blindingly obvious what the 'thing' is for and not too taxing to figure out how to use it (some come with useful diagrams too), but sometimes it's rather more like a journey into the unknown. We've, thankfully, had a fair amount of guidance from other gym users.

Now this diversity of delights is a great thing in one respect, but a complete pain in the bum (no, not a literal one) in another. It has been all too easy to get utterly carried away 'trying' things. Each time we go we're staying longer, and longer, and... you get the picture. See, what we haven't done yet is settle on a sensible, sustainable circuit which gives us most bang for our buck.

What I mean by that is that we decided beforehand that we want to work (albeit relatively gently to begin with) the whole of our bodies. That is, use a variety of different machines to target all our muscle groups in a single session. But - and here's the important bit - without overdoing things and without that session taking several hours (that definitely wouldn't be sustainable if I do ever get a full time job).

I know, it's early days, and we are probably doing the right thing by exploring our options. We have already settled on a few machines we definitely want to continue using. Mostly we agree, though there are a few that lovely hubby is happy using but that I detest, and vice versa. We will figure it out at some point, and then we'll have a template to work with and can think about what 'progress' might look like.

So it's onwards, and hopefully upwards too.

Now pardon me if this is TMI, but there have been a few giggles along the way. The gym has a vibration trainer (a power plate I think it's called). I may have mentioned in the past that I have a prolapsed bladder - I still do physio exercises to keep it under control (mostly). This prolapse (a.k.a. my 'wee problem') occasionally causes me to leak a little. Think coughing, laughing, tripping up... I had expected that using some of the bits of apparatus might trigger the odd leak, given the exertion. Actually, I've been really pleased that this hasn't been an issue. Until, that is, I stood on the vibrating doodah and hit the 'go' button. Ooops! Instant reaction = game over for the day. Hmmm, don't think this one will become part of the routine - so glad I carry a spare pair of knickers!

16 November 2016

The Ups and the Downs


I'm not going to mention weight this time, since it appears to be neither of these things and I'm still right where I was as far as the scales are concerned. I suppose that can be viewed either way, as a good thing or a not so good thing, but the jury is still considering this.

Here I'm more about life's ups and downs, so feel free to move along and come back some time when I blether about weight-related stuff instead.

So, let's focus on those lovely 'ups' for a little while.

One bit of good news was seeing the supermoon on Monday. We went out quite early in the evening and walked for a while to find a good spot, then sat on a bench to await moonrise. Well, I say we saw it, but for us it wasn't exactly like the wonderful photos we've seen since. It was more a fleeting glimpse here and there between thick banks of cloud. But it was still amazing and I'm really pleased we made the effort.

Another positive is that we've been to the gym a few more times now and we are really enjoying it. We feel a bit more confident about which bits out of the plethora of kit we want to use (er, and how to use it!) and the people there really do seem so welcoming and helpful it makes you want to go back.

Oh, and the instrument of torture I called the cow (that abs track thingy) has a competitor. This one (similar to the one pictured) was apparently designed by Torquemada and can reduce this fat lass to a quivering, whimpering mass of frustration before you can say abdominals. Hard, you ask? Yep, but the beggar will NOT get the better of me!

I'm still volunteering, and am still really enjoying it too. Again, some super people, so there are definitely some blessings to be counted.

Ah, but as with all see-saws there are a few 'downs' too.

Next week will see a trip away. Sadly though, this isn't for nice reasons as we're travelling to a funeral. I'm dreading it if I'm honest, as this will be the first one I've attended since we lost my darling Mum, but no way can we not go.

I hate to say this but I'm struggling with the return of that bloody black dog, and pretty much on a daily basis I'm getting:
a) angry
b) downhearted
c) teary
Or all of the above. This happens at the drop of a hat just at the moment, and I seem unable to shake it off. The damned beast seems to have sneaked up behind me when I wasn't looking, settled itself on the sofa and made itself right at home.

I'm very aware that some of the causes are explained pretty easily (sadness at recent news and worries about the future with the apparently unending and fruitless job hunt), but I wonder if moving to a lower dosage HRT may be contributing towards these reactions and I guess a little of it relates to the time of year as well.

My darling lovely hubby is being especially caring at the moment, which is a great help. It does relieve things somewhat and I appreciate this more than he'll ever know. Strangely though, neither his TLC nor going to the gym is the solution to breaking this blues cycle. They are great, but offer only very temporary relief. I am trying to stay positive, but...

I don't have a lot more to say right now, so until the next time, it's onwards, as ever...

09 November 2016

Liberty! Equality! Fraternity!

Well, we've been to our try out session at the gym today and it was great.

Don't get me wrong, we are both woefully unfit and it's going to be a hard slog just to get somewhere near back to our former gym shape, let alone improve. It has been a fair while, after all... and I've a feeling that odd parts of our bodies will reflect this tomorrow, for all we took things steadily.

And while the gym is a shade down at heel - it definitely isn't quite what you'd describe as state-of-the-art (one of the rowers is more arthritic than I ever hope to be!) it is a surprisingly welcoming place. Although a bit unnerving to first walk in to (with some V-E-R-Y serious bodybuilders, of both genders), there are also enough less fit folk about to make you feel a tad less the self conscious newbie.

We spoke to a few people there, and every single one told us how friendly it was, how much help they'd been given by other members, and how much they liked it. One lady (who helped show me what to do with the abs track thingy - an instrument of torture quite new to me, and one I've already nicknamed the cow!) was lovely, and we chatted about gyms and health benefits in the changing rooms afterwards. She is in amazing shape, and told me one of her motivators is reducing the effects of depression - she says the gym is better than any pill!

Another chap, Brian, a man-mountain of muscle, was equally lovely and very encouraging - even after we'd been gobsmacked (and somewhat disheartened) having seen the weights he was working with, apparently without extreme effort.

So, as Arnie might say... "We'll be back!" It sure is onwards, ever...

And finally, a note of sadness. Not going to say a lot. I mentioned needing to count my blessings a few posts ago. More than ever at the moment that's true, for one of my friends who I've known for over thirty years is no longer with us. That wicked bitch cancer upped her game in short order and, sadly, has triumphed.

02 November 2016

Holiday, and an update

Well, we had the most magical week away in a cosy cottage in the depths of Shropshire to celebrate the birthdays and anniversary. We walked a fair bit more than we'd anticipated, mostly because the weather was so kind to us we couldn't bear to stay indoors. There were fabulous, if somewhat hilly, walks in the beautiful colours of woodlands in autumn, right on our doorstep. Talk about blessings!We ate well too, but not all that much differently to the way we do at home as we took the slow cooker with us (good plan). There was an exception to this. Twice (naughty, naughty!) we walked down into the local village and had coffee and gorgeous home-made scones, nicely warmed, with lashings of butter. Delicious!  Nope, you are quite right - although not particularly sweet they were not even slightly low carb. Ah well, at a push they were at least relatively small scones, and partially offset by the steep(!) walk back up the hill to our temporary home.

Now we're home, I'm back to the Oxfam volunteering (and still loving it) and am looking out for 'suitable' paid jobs to apply for. There are a few things on the horizon that may offer potential, so cross your fingers, eh.

My weight, when I summoned the courage to step on the scales back at home, has gone back up to 56kg from my 55kg, but I'm not too worried about that.

Other news...

We plan to go to a gym next week for a try out session. It's ever so slightly scary as it isn't like anywhere we've been before - it's a serious bodybuilders and boxing gym, but they seem very friendly and welcoming and the fees aren't astronomical. Having talked to my sister about osteoporosis (which she has and my lovely Mum had) I can't help thinking a bit of weights work to build muscle mass and strengthen bone would benefit me - especially if I plan to come off HRT at some point in the not too distant future.

We bought ourselves a present while we were away, and enjoyed the fruits of its labour this evening. It's a cast iron mincer, and tonight's dinner was Shepherd(ish) Pie, made with our very own minced ox heart. Very tasty it was too, with a topping of creamy cauli mash. Lovely hubby says he had a fair old workout cranking the handle to mince the heart, too. Time to order a couple more ox hearts, methinks.

That's about all for now. Until the next time, it's onwards, ever...

13 October 2016

Roller coaster ride

I am counting my blessings. Why? Well, I need to remind myself how fortunate I am - every single day.

As life tends to do, the last week or so has thrown up a variety of things, both good and bad.

Before things get difficult to write, let me kick off with the good side. I've started voluntering at a local Oxfam charity shop, done four shifts to date and it's been a lot of fun. I'm learning new things (always a bonus for me), meeting some super people, and being utterly amazed, in a good way and in a WTF way, at some of the things discovered in the donation bags. Seriously folks, there are some things that really, really shouldn't be donated.

Another good thing is that my weight seems to be creeping, ever so slowly, downwards and the scales reported 55kg once again this morning. I'm not counting my chickens as it could just as easily skip back up again, but I'm quietly hopeful.

The not so good stuff is a lot harder to write about as just thinking about it makes me tearful and angry. On a minor note I'm still looking for paid work, but my ongoing angst over that pales into insignificance given the news I've been hearing of late.

It seems like for some reason (time of life related, perhaps) that this is shaping up to be a particularly bad season, a crappy year. Several of my dearly loved friends have recently been given seriously bad news and are now finding they have heavy loads to bear.

In the main, these loads have taken the form of that bitch cancer. I won't, for their sake, go into any detail but my friends are having a truly horrible time, either themselves or with their immediate families - husbands, parents, siblings. For some, the bitch hid itself and didn't show its face so that it has been detected way too late - for them the outlook is grim indeed.

It makes me feel pretty helpless as I'm so far away from them I can't even give them a hug. I can be, and am, there on the phone, or by text or email, if and when they need to talk (and have the energy), and I'm grateful to be able to do that at least. But on a practical level I can't do zip and that's hard. I can't just pop around with a home cooked meal to take a burden off them, or do a bit of shopping, or... All I can really do is let them know they are in my thoughts and 'prayers' and be there if they need to unload.

I came across a quote from Chief Dan George which I feel is pretty appropriate just at the moment, so I've shared it below.

May the stars carry your sadness away,
May the flowers fill your heart with beauty,
May hope forever wipe away your tears.
And above all, may silence make you strong.

Finally, I mentioned a long while back that I'd someday post a picture of the tattoo I had done after I lost my darling Mum. Well, seems like the time, so here it is.

Onwards, as ever... but with underlying sadness.

03 October 2016


Hmmm, feels like I'm pushing that damn car, and it's an uphill slope.

I am going to try not to moan.

OK, I tried that, it didn't damn well work, so stuff it - here goes the fat lass with a whole heap of complaining. Navigate away if you like - nothing particularly cheery about this.

Firstly, this miraculous IF plan doesn't seem quite so stupendous to me right now. I'm not saying it doesn't work and it isn't that it is in any way hard to do. Indeed, neither of us feel any problem with restricting our 'eating' hours to those between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m, to 'fast' for the remaining hours. Furthermore I don't think we've been over-compensating and eating more as a result, although that isn't terribly easy to quantify.

But, (oh you just knew there'd be a 'but' didn't you) we started it with high hopes that IF would help the needle on the scales move. Now, if I'm being 100% truthful I guess this has happened. Unfortunately not in the direction I'd hoped for.

I wanted to get down another kilo to 54kg but that isn't what's happened - in fact I appear to have put ON a kilo. I am back at 56kg, and that's where my body seems to want to stay. You can imagine the less than polite words that are sliding through my mind, so for now I'll just say Grrr!

Next up is the job hunt. Well, I'm still hunting as the interview I had last week didn't bear positive fruit. I was pretty disappointed, not least because I messed up a couple of things with the aptitude tests. Nervousness mainly - I know I'm capable of better.

I have a call tomorrow to get some more constructive feedback and I really hope this will help if another similar position comes up, but...

On a marginally more positive (and hopeful) note though, I popped into our local Oxfam book shop today and have officially applied for a volunteering 'job'. Cross fingers that I'll hear more later this week. They would train me and I'd hopefully pick up a few more transferrable skills for my CV. Hey, so what if I wouldn't get paid for it - at least I'd be doing something constructive, getting out of the house with some sort of routine, meeting people and doing some good in the process.

Looking about, I don't need to think too hard to realise that there is another blessing to count too. This is that my lovely hubby had his diabetic review this morning and all of his blood results (HbA1c, triglycerides, cholesterol, kidney and liver function) are good, great, and super. Even if the IF isn't assisting in this, it certainly isn't hampering either.

OK, I think the moaning and mithering is over - there is something cheery to report after all. Onwards, ever...

21 September 2016


Blessings indeed!

Jay heaven. Not only did we have not one, but two, of these beautiful birds outside our window this morning but there have been dramatic developments with lovely hubby's head overnight. 

He got up in the middle of the night to find that some of the hard, scaly crust on his forehead had begun to come away, leaving behind what looks like nice healthy (albeit rather pink) skin.

We're seeing the GP tomorrow for a check and I hope she'll be as pleased as we are.

19 September 2016

Drama in the Shires

Well, this morning has been 'interesting' to say the least. We set off early today to see our GP to check the progress of lovely hubby's treatment. I'm really rather glad that we did.

We didn't quite get the response we'd anticipated. We've been pretty laid back about the state of his head, and had expected a calm 'yeah, that's all going to plan' type of reaction. What actually happened was that, when hubby took his hat off to reveal his scabby, crusty forehead, our GP looked horrified, asked us for a detailed recap (no pun intended) of what had happened and when, and then said she wanted a dermatologist to see him a.s.a.p. Oh!

She called in another GP (who had seen hubby at the start of the treatment) to have a look, who seemed equally horrified. They both felt this was a much more widespread and 'severe' [my word, as I can't remember hers] reaction than was expected. They were concerned about the likelihood of infection, and also a possible allergic reaction.

She said she'd ring the hospital immediately to speak to a consultant, and asked us to be on hand to pick up a letter to take to the hospital for an appointment - pronto. Alright, no problem, so we retired to a coffee shop and awaited her call.

When it came, no dermatology appointments would be possible for a few days, but she was sufficiently worried that her instructions were for us to go straight back to her so that she could photograph hubby's head and send pictures to the consultant for a remote assessment.

OK, back we went and, on arrival, bypassed the receptionists' desk (a first, if ever there was one - here in the UK the doctor's receptionist is a gatekeeper par excellence!) to tap on her door as instructed. Moments later we were in to see her again.

After a few technical difficulties - it proved impossible to get her phone to attach and send said pictures - we gave up and used my phone to send the photos instead. Then we sat in the waiting room until the consultant could respond, and did what you'd expect - waited. Not for long though. Amazingly, after only twenty minutes or so she called us back in to talk to us and tell us what the consultant had reported.

It appears that hubby has had some sort of allergic reaction to the medication we'd been using (this is now clearly marked on his medical records!), and it was this which had caused the rather dramatic appearance that we'd thought was 'normal'.

Normal, eh? I'm so glad we stopped the medication when we did!

Somewhat reassured, it was now possible to come up with a game plan. She has sent us away with a prescription for an antihistamine for hubby to take for the next month, and a large tub of a 'highly occlusive emollient' ointment, which is basically a thick, oily 'goo' to be applied up to five times a day for the next two weeks at least.

Oh yeah, also with strict instructions to see her on Thursday for a visual check, and to get in touch with her (which she really stressed) if anything changes. She also advised against him having the 'flu jab for a while. It appears his system has quite enough to cope with, without adding that to the mix!

I cannot express how grateful I feel. We are so lucky to have such a fantastic GP surgery, and such on the ball and caring doctors. Lovely hubby could not have had better treatment if we'd paid a King's ransom for private treatment. This is a very clear case of following my lovely Mum's advice to 'count my blessings'!

Addendum - if you are not of a squeamish disposition and would like to see pictures of hubby's 'progress' then the 'Inspirations' link at the right has a link to 'Gwilym' where he's been posting regular photos of his poor head.

18 September 2016

Keeping going

Yippee, that grotty buggy thingy seems to be finally running it's course, thank goodness, and although not yet back to 100% I'm pleased to report that I do feel a bit more human.

As yet I still don't have all that much of an appetite (slight sore throat, a bit of a cough, and nothing tasting quite right sees to that) and I seem to become sated pretty quickly, without having eaten a whole lot of food. However, I can feel my interest in food increasing and my desire to eat returning, bit by bit, each day.

That's a good thing in one sense, but let's not break out the champagne just yet, eh. Looked at from another perspective it really ought to sound a teensy bit of a warning. Now this here life isn't all about weight, but - as a reminder to the fat lass.

Where I'd reached mid August: 59kg [9 stone 4 lbs]
Where I am currently: 55kg [8 stone 9 lbs]
Where I want to be: 54kg [8 stone 7 lbs]
...or perhaps just a little less

I still have some of that flubber to shift to get back to my former 'happy' weight, and stay there. So, as I do get back to feeling fine and dandy and being rather more active than my still-buggy body can handle right now, I'll need to make a conscious effort to be 'sensible' about what I eat. That is, I need a plan, a strategy if you like, to not go gung-ho crazy once my appetite is back.

Unpleasant as it's been, this bug's provided a welcome period of grace and enabled (er, more forced) me to get my weight down, from my 'aaaargh shock, horror' moment of a few weeks back and get closer to those old long-term comfortable levels.

What I was doing pre-bug was patently the cause of my steadily gaining weight, so I need to be honest with myself about my behaviours and set myself some clear limits, i.e. cutting out that sneaky 'comfort' eating (I know it really doesn't help with the worries) and restricting how much I consume.

So lovely hubby (who had also gained some weight and wasn't overjoyed about it) and I have put on our thinking caps, done some reading and decided that, in addition to being much more vigilant about our portion sizes (bye bye piled plates - let's see a bit of that rim!) and carb intake, we'll also give intermittent fasting (IF) a try. There seems to be some evidence that it might give us a little more help with shifting those last stubborn pounds, and keeping the beggars off, so why not!

There appear to be a variety of ways to 'do' this intermittent fasting business, but only one of them feels workable for us, particularly given the constraints of hubby's Type 2 diabetes, however well 'under control' it might be. That is to set ourselves a 'fasting period' and an 'eating period' every day, rather than consider skipping whole 24 hour periods of food to fast for a day or couple of days each week. While I'm sure the latter works for some folk, it doesn't sound attractive to us.

So, we've chosen a daily 16–hour fast followed by an 8–hour eating period. The exact timing may shift over time, especially if I start full time work again, but right now it suits us.

We're a few days in and so far, so good. We decided to skip our customary early morning breakfasts (I can almost hear the sharp intake of breath), exchanging them for 'brunch'. In practice, this means we eat nothing until after 11 a.m. We'll still have our main meal in the evening usually around 18.00 (6 p.m.) or a tad later, then we make sure we do not eat anything after 19.00 (7 p.m.). If we want to eat between these times then we could have a little snack, but so far we haven't felt the urge to do so.

Neither of us are feeling 'deprived' in any way, nor hungry in the morning (as long as regular cuppas are forthcoming!). Lovely hubby is monitoring his blood glucose every day and, happily, is seeing no signs of IF causing any problem in that respect. In addition to this we are both keeping track of our weight and will test our urine weekly to check that we remain in dietary ketosis. Every little tool helps!

Speaking of things helping - a slight side-track, but on a related note - starting IF seems to have simplified our day a bit too. We're not juggling fitting in preparing/eating our usual three meals a day with the time-consuming palaver which goes in to looking after poor hubby's skin. While we're confident that things are going to plan with his treatment, it is pretty hard on him. Anything we can do to lower daily stresses in other directions has to be a good thing.

The proposed finish line where my weight is concerned (and hubby's, for that matter) isn't too far off. If IF can help us reach it, and stay there, then all power to it. We'll keep you posted.

So for now, dear fat lass, you know what you have to do. You just have to keep going. Onwards, ever... and all that jazz.

14 September 2016

Progress - and its price!

Well, I suppose the good news is that the downward trend is happening again and the scales registered just under 57kg (a shade less than 9 stone) today. I'd dearly love to take credit for this wondrous progress, but...

...well, I'd just be lying if I did.

OK maybe, just maybe, a little of the loss could be down to me (the fat lass hopes, crossing fingers that she hasn't completely lost the plot), but the vast majority surely comes courtesy of the nasty bug which we both picked up a few days ago.

This comes along with a sore throat and other, less mentionable, unpleasantries where the digestive system is concerned. Guess what - it has rather stomped on our appetites. Neither of us is hungry and nothing tastes good right now anyhow - not even tea.

Added to this is a distinctly unseasonal heatwave, making the nights, if not the days, pretty darned uncomfortable. Getting out and about and enjoying the late summer sunshine is not on the agenda at all at the moment.

I really, really feel for my poor lovely hubby. He really does not need this bloody bug because he was already dealing with a range of less than fun occurrences from this soi-disant 'chemo' treatment. He's suffering considerably more now, with sorness, itching, and not sleeping well being daily problems. His poor, crusty skin is a mess. Oh yeah, and even more of these tricky little keratoses seem to pop up every day - what fun! While we know things are 'supposed to' happen this way it doesn't make it any easier for him.

Looking on the bright side from my own perspective though, counting my blessings and doing my best to think positively, I guess it is at least helping me get from 'here' to 'there' where the scales are concerned. Not the way I'd choose, perhaps, but I guess it's still progress.

Another ray of light on the horizon is that I have an interview coming up in a couple of weeks. Not counting my bantams just yet, but I'll keep you posted.

Ho hum - onwards, ever...

05 September 2016

Slow progress is still progress

Well, it appears that the scant couple of pounds water weight seems to be the extent of my losing at the moment as I'm still sitting at 58kg. Insert suitable rude words here. I have kept a close eye on what I'm eating and cut back on the unnecessary stuff, but...

The stroppy kid part of me kicks and screams and throws a tantrum. The grown-up bit reassures the brat that it's early days and things will happen and my weight will come off as long as I keep to the script. Rinse and repeat.

Lovely hubby's treatment is still going well (although he is a bit less comfortable as the days go by) and the GP is happy, so it's 'keep taking the tablets', as it were, for the foreseeable future.

I have bitten the bullet on the job front and put in an application for a part-time job (crossing fingers but not all that confident), and I'm looking around to see what else is out there. Still have no concrete idea what I'd like to do but there has to be something.

That damnable Black Dog is slinking around in the background, not threatening yet, just making his presence apparent, so I've put a link to Bobby McFerrin's 'Don't Worry, Be Happy' video on my desktop to help circumvent the beggar. If Robin Williams doesn't lift the mood I don't know what will.

Just a little reminder to the fat lass to make haste slowly. You may feel like the tortoise rather than the hare, but that is not a problem. What matters is that you keep on making sensible decisions and don't let worries and life's hitches derail you.

Onwards, ever...

31 August 2016

Baby steps

So, how are things on the worry front? Well, they've not gone away but they're somewhat improved.

Having made a plan and started to put it into practice I'm pleased to report that there's already been small amount of progress on the podge dispersal. Those formerly scary scales tell me I'm down a little bit from the new heights I'd reached, to 9 stone 2 lbs (or 58kg in new money). OK, so some of that may be water weight but I'll still take it.

Slightly disturbing was to look back through my old weight loss records to find that the last time I'd been at the weight I mentioned in my last post was August 2011 - well before the LCHF way of life. Oops! However, keep at it fat lass and you'll get to where you'd like to be - sitting cheerily at 8 stone 6lbs or maybe 8 stone 7lbs (54kg ish) once again. It may not happen fast, but you will get there. You've made it to where you feel happy before so you know it's do-able. See, there's life in this old dog yet!

Oh, and another thing - this might be TMI but we've checked our wee for the first time in ages this evening and by some miracle we still appear to be in ketosis. Amazing, eh?

Another big positive to keep in mind is today's good news from my sister, and phew! doesn't come close to how I feel about this. She's back home after a super time spent together and her CT scan results have come back clear - no sign of any cancerous lesions causing her problem. Added to the x-ray and camera down the throat showing nothing untoward my DEFCON worry status has officially dropped a level, from 3 to 4. They still have no idea why the bleeding happened but she's on watch and wait for a while now. Phew! blessings indeed.

Things for lovely hubby seem to be progressing pretty well too and we see the GP for a check up later this week. It's not exactly a walk in the park for him, but he is coping with the spreading redness (inflammation) and discomfort (more itching than soreness) from the treatment better than we'd expected. Hats 'r still us. We haven't resorted to the brown paper bag over his head as he threatened before we started!

The only real fly in my ointment right now is the job side of things. Today's officially the last day of my contract, so as of tomorrow I'm back to the ranks of the unemployed. Problem number one is that I really don't know what I'd actually like to do anymore (did I ever though?) although I'm pretty clear on what I don't want. Number two is that I'm doing my usual trick of looking at job specs, having a little panic to myself, and focusing on what I lack, rather than what I can offer.

The knock-on is a significant hesitation (er, fear, to be honest) to actually put applications in for consideration. Obviously that's not helpful - until I do so I won't be offered zip, not even an interview! I really have to find a way to get around this - perhaps volunteering for a charity may be a way forward here. It would get me 'doing' something, hopefully raise my self esteem, and might even highlight other avenues to consider.

Right, I'll finish for now with some of the lyrics from Fleetwood Mac's 'Don't Stop':

If you wake up and don't want to smile
If it takes just a little while
Open your eyes and look at the day
You'll see things in a different way

Don't stop thinking about tomorrow
Don't stop, it'll soon be here
It'll be here, better than before,
Yesterday's gone, yesterday's gone

So here's to tomorrow. Onwards, my friends.

20 August 2016


...and the part of that word which spells 'UP' is spot on.

Sorry ladies, but I think what I'm trying to say is 'oh s**!'. The fat lass is back, and I'm sorry to say that I've fallen flat on my face and royally screwed up.

I am currently weighing in at 9 stone 4 lbs, nearly a stone heavier than my happy weight and, oh boy, does it show. My clothes are not comfortable (and some don't fit at all), and my dodgy knee is objecting to the extra load so 'happy' is a term I appear to have mislaid. In fact I'm pretty disgusted with my behaviour.

Ooh, while I remember, thank you if you're one of the lovely people who have commented on my previous posts. For some reason I don't seem to be able to reply nor leave comments back for anyone these days, but I really do appreciate your kind, supportive words.

So than, aside from the obvious singing 'la-la-la-la' with my fingers in my ears as the pounds piled on, oh and eating too damned much, what's the cause of this problem/faux pas/cock-up?

Well, you probably wouldn't be too surprised to hear that a big part of it falls squarely at the door of 'worry' - my constant nemesis.

My darling lovely hubby has had a few health hiccups to deal with over the last few months and has just started treatment for the latest one. I was pretty OK with it immediately after he'd seen the consultant, who seemed fairly blasé and unconcerned, but rather less so when I read the leaflet for the medication he's been prescribed. He's been diagnosed as having actinic keratoses, the symptoms of which are popping up like weeds at the moment, and the fluorouracil cream he's been given is classed as chemotherapy as it's function is to 'destroy cancerous and pre-cancerous cells'. Oh! That has given me pause for thought.

You see, I'd wrongly assumed that this was a pretty straightforward issue - just identify the problem, treat and forget - but it seems that I may have been just a shade over-optimistic in this. Perhaps getting such a rapid appointment with the consultant (within two weeks of speaking to our GP) should have given me a clue.

OK, it isn't a life-threatening matter but isn't quite the harmless inconvenience I'd first thought, and the treatment itself isn't a bundle of fun. My poor darling! At least the various hats he's wearing to shield him from the summer sun (when we see it) make him look marvelously distinguished.

Then there's my super sister. I'm waiting to hear how she got on having been sent for a CT scan after coughing up blood (again) a wee while ago. Shades of my lovely Mum all over again. She is being decidedly calm and stoic about the whole thing, but me... well let's just say I'm twitchy and fretting.

I am also worrying about work - or rather being out of it again. Yes, before you say it, I am very well aware that it was my choice to quit. Indeed, I still think this was the right decision to have taken as the job I had really wasn't doing me any favours, but I'm 'employed' in name only until the end of August and beginning to fret about getting another job again.

I've started looking at jobs websites again (intending to scale up the hunt properly after my sister has visited this coming week) but am not getting particularly warm feelings at the moment. This could be me 'borrowing troubles' perhaps, but that does seem to be my No. 1 skill.

I feel quite ashamed to feel this way. There are so many people in the world with much bigger things to worry about that I have (those poor people in Louisiana dealing with the flooding for a start), but I just can't find the 'off' switch for my fretting. Road-map or user guide anyone?

What I do have is a tentative plan to deal with the weight gain, if not the worries. What has worked for me to lose excess flab in the past is documenting everything I eat, and recording my weight and measurements on a regular basis. So, here goes - and the first step has been telling you good people about it.

Onwards and, this time, downwards please...

26 June 2016

Life's obstacle course

Right, going to swear. Pee, po, belly, bum and drawers! Did that make me feel better? Er, no.

Well, I gave it a damn good go, but I'm sorry to say things just haven't worked out. I handed in my notice this week. A hard, hard decision, but I think it was the right one for me.

Maybe I've let that 'gotta be perfect' side get the better of me but I just cannot make of the job at the school what I'd like it to be. Despite some lovely people, circumstances have made me realise that there have been/are too many obstacles to overcome. It's so hard to see concrete progress in sorting things out, no matter how hard I try. I've put in a lot of extra hours and a lot of effort but I just can't carry on any longer so I'll finish this school term then it's curtains for me. I'm very sad, there have been many tears, sleepless nights and difficult conversations.

Lovely husband has been fantastically supportive, but he's also been very much on my mind for the last few months too, as he has some ongoing health problems (nothing life threatening, thank heavens but hard to cope with) which aren't helping with stress levels.

I'm pretty exhausted right now and looking after me has taken a back step [shock, horror]. My weight is just about hanging in there but is right bang up against the upper end of my 'acceptable' range. I seriously need to get a grip on it as I really don't want it to get any higher. I'm trying to eat healthily, just probably eating a bit too much. Comfort eating probably as it's easier to handle at weekends when I'm not at work.

So, changes once again, and it's back to the drawing board for this fat lass. Oh well, onwards...

22 March 2016

Tempus fugit

Goodness, here we are in 2016 and Easter is already upon us. I've been away a lot longer than I'd thought... So, hello again to anyone out there who might remember this MIA fat lass.

Yes, I'm still here, still moderately healthy, still 'fighting' those daily demons to prevent a reversion to my former fat lass days, still following the low carb, high fat and moderate protein regime (it's not a diet, dammit!) and loving it, and I'm extremely glad to say that, insh'allah, I'm still on the winning side.

My clothes still fit me, the scales needle lies somewhere in the ballpark I'd call my ideal range and, although I am not doing much 'formal' exercise, I'm moving a lot (on my feet most of the day, lifting, carrying and walking a lot!) so I'm still fairly fit for a woman rapidly approaching 56.

A lot has happened since my last diatribe. Having been invited to more interviews than I care to remember, then being pipped at the post at every turn, I finally gave up on writing yet more pointless and unsuccessful applications for the sort of job I 'thought I ought to'. I'll admit to hitting a really low patch - that damned Black Dog sank his teeth into my hide and the beggar shook me like a rag doll for a while.

Instead I applied for something a bit less glamorous, something I'd done off and on for decades (since I left school as a callow young thing with damn all to show for it) and didn't really expect to go back to. OK, so it doesn't really make use of all those hard-won qualifications I worked so hard for later, but what the hell - they are just letters after my name. There are other things which are pretty important in life.

I have returned to my secondary education roots and, yep, I'm working at a local school as a science technician. This has meant setting aside those pipedreams of a nicely inflated salary to help build a bit more pension cushion, but on the plus side also means a great deal of fulfillment.

It's a fairly rural school, at the edge of the city, so I see trees and hear birds every day, and start early enough to greet the odd bunny in the mornings. The travelling is OK, on local bus which runs to time. How extraordinary! Oh, and I'll also get most of the school holidays.

Both the teaching and suport staff seem a decent bunch, and the kids have been a real eye-opener - and in a good way. I'm called 'miss' once again every day, I have doors held open for me, I hear 'please' and 'thank you' regularly. Not bad, eh?

All credit to a strong and dedicated management team for promoting a great ethos and holding good behaviour and discipline dear to their hearts. Biased I may be, but it doesn't harm that the Head and his Deputy are from my neck of the woods in South Wales. OK, I confess we do have a sprinkling of little blighters (hey, I've remembered how to bellow at times like this), but they are definitely in the minority.

Sounds great, doesn't it? I had a bit of rough start mind you. One week into a very hands-on, practical job I developed cellulitis which meant I couldn't use my right hand for around a week as it hurt like the devil and swelled like a bitch. Not ideal! I can't express how grateful I am for the existence of antiobiotics (and a very efficient medical service) in dealing with a rather painful and very inconvenient episode. Still, another storm weathered and it made for an interesting and fast-track 'new job' learning curve.

My intention is to write something here now and again, if for no other reason to keep my mojo going when it comes to maintaining the weight loss. It's also good to look back and see how far this journey has brought me, especially when I have the Black Dog days. So, hope to see you around. As always, onwards ever...

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