Sunday, 28 December 2014

Goal by next Christmas

Recently in my life I've been thinking a lot about the past. It's, almost certainly, something to do with the time of year. It's around Christmas and New Year that people, or me at least, start to reminisce and  sentimentality is rife. For me this came about in the way of a flash back to me 4 Christmases ago. I'd started to really gain the weight back, after I lost 75lbs last time, and I'd just started a Christmas job- incidentally working for the same company I've come to make a home with this time around. Now, if you'll allow me to paint you a picture, I was squatting down to tidy up thousands of iPad cases after a (charming) teenage girl had apparently had an argument with them all and her victims lay at my feet, and the feet of more than a couple of would be customers. As I was replacing the bright pink belkin click in case I suddenly remembered myself in a not so different position trying not to cry from the agony in my feet as I put pack after pack of christmas cards back on the shelf. After trying to crouch down to do it in a more professional way I gave up and ended up sat on my behind much to the chagrin of some of my colleagues.

I started thinking about how much my life has changed from losing weight. I'm hella strong, I can be on my feet for 8+ hours with barely an ache and I felt no sense of sarcasm today whilst buying my new running watch in preparation for marathon training starting in earnest on Monday. I say without  a hint of sarcasm because in the past whenever I bought exercise gear I always did so with an enormous sense of irony. Lols, the fat girl is buying running shoes. Go home, you're drunk.

And so this got me really thinking. In January this year I wrote a blog about new years resolutions and how I don't make them. I have actually changed my tune but that's coming in a separate blog post in the next week or so. In that post I said that realistically 2014 was never going to be the last year that I was overweight. However, it is very possible that 2015 WILL be the last year I'm overweight. And I have never, ever, been close enough to be able to say that. Of course there is still a lot to do, 85lbs in just over a year is not something to be sniffed at but even if I'm not all the way there being that close can only be a good thing. I worked out last night that the last 11 weeks are the most consistent I have EVER been at losing weight. The most I'd managed before was 5 weeks loss at a time.

So as I come into the new year I'm not anxious about the fact that ultimately little will have changed by the time another year has gone by. This year's the year that everything changes. I honestly truly believe that, but I'm thankful for the last year and a half for even making it possible. I think now about the 11th of September 2014 when I nearly gave up, the day I made myself go to my weight watchers meeting to stop the downward spiral that was taking over. As I go into 2015 I think of all of the optimism and all of the opportunities that will present themselves to me as I continue to change my life. And maybe this time next year I'll be thinking about the things I couldn't do now that I'll be able to do then.

LilySlim Weight loss tickers

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Taking stock of 25%

As a retail professional...ahem, I know the value of 25% off. For example, if you came into my department and saw ONE DAY ONLY, Macs 25% OFF you would probably lose your shit because suddenly a Mac is almost the price of a 'normal' computer...almost. So, you can perhaps imagine how I felt last night as I was checking over my weight loss spreadsheet and noticed, quite to my surprise, that I had lost 25% of my original body weight. That's a quarter of a person gone. More than that, you can (again) imagine my surprise when I realised I had hit said milestone nearly a month ago. That's right, major goal post hit and I never even noticed.

So I figured, now that I have resolved some rather unfortunate computer issues (ironic, I now work in computers no?), that now was the time to really take stock and have a little blogging session whilst I procrastinate over reading about criminal and civil culpability. So here goes:

The last 9 weeks have had me on a high weight loss wise. I'm averaging about a pound and a half a week which is more than okay by me. They recommend a 1-2lb weekly weight loss for healthy, consistent and maintainable weight loss so being slap bang in the middle of that is pretty good. More than that, I had convinced myself that the slowing of my weight loss had just been an inevitable part of the weight loss machine. People start to slow down the more they lose so it was fine that I wasn't even averaging half a pound a week in the (literally) 12 months between September 2013 and September 2014. Something interesting I realised after doing some quick maths the other day (dangerous, I know). In the last 12 weeks I have lost 22.5 lbs. In another 3.5 lbs I will have lost more now than I did in that entire year long period between Sept 2013 and Sept 2014. That has to count for something.

I haven't had a gain in 10 weeks which is doing wonders for my positivity and there is a very real possibility that I will hit 90 lbs lost by Christmas. There's only 2.5 lbs to go and with every pound I move away from that dreaded 75, the more confident I get that I'm not going to get stuck again. As of last night's weight watchers meeting I'm less than a stone away from 100 lbs which is quite frankly unbelievable. I think, somewhere inside, I never thought I'd see triple digits and yet I can practically touch it it's so close now.
Simon Pegg and I, we understand each other.
So let's talk a bit about my current mental/emotional state shall we? I've spent a lot of this journey banging on about how important it is to be in the right head space but I haven't, in all honesty, been practicing what I preach. I've been a bit mean to myself at times really and I have spent so much time in the not so distant past criticising myself for rubbish losses rather than celebrating the fact that my weight is dropping, that is a huge ask for my body and yet every time I push it instead of just crapping out and giving up it tries to stand up to the challenges I have given it.

Yesterday, when I was with Jemma between double whips of the battle ropes I saw the light. I started this journey knowing that there were things I wanted to do when I was at a better weight. Theoretically, by the time I run the Milton Keynes Marathon in May I will no longer weigh too much to get on a horse. I will never again have to worry about the seat belt coming off on a roller coaster again...thank you for that experience theme park that shall remain nameless, I'll be able to take helicopter flying lessons. By this time next year I will, hopefully, be within touching distance of my goal weight and I will never again have to worry about the things I'm limited in doing because of my weight. And that, ultimately is why I'm doing this. I have already reclaimed control of my fears, I feel unstoppable and for the first time, probably ever, I feel like I can see the end of the tunnel. And I couldn't be more pleased.

Sunday, 16 November 2014

I paint my own reality

The other night I had a bad dream. I wouldn't call it a nightmare, I didn't wake up in cold sweats or screaming or crying or anything like that. I just remember waking up thinking, oh- that was annoying/upsetting. This dream was a weight watchers meeting. My usual leader Sue was there but it wasn't the normal meeting place and I didn't recognise anyone else in the meeting. Very strange as my weight watchers meeting is like a mother's meeting where there is always a hubbub of people comparing weeks, swapping recipes or complaining about the looming Christmastide. I got on the scale and to my horror had gained 12 lbs in a week. Despite my leader affectionately smiling at me and saying we'll get back next week I came out with every excuse in the book. I said it was the wrong 'time of the month', that I had tweaked my gluteus minimus (not even the big one, the teeny one directly in the middle of my right butt cheek) and couldn't do exercise, that I'd been too busy at work to track.

In reality though, the last three weeks I have consistently hit my 'lowest weight ever' and am showing no signs of stopping. Tracking at work has been fine, I take between 15 and 20 thousand steps a day just stomping to and from the stock room at John Lewis, I still go to the gym every week- not as much as before but the fact that I haven't just given up all together with work and study is a good thing- and my positive mental attitude just keeps getting better and better. In fact, I can't help but look at the positives right now. It's coming up to my most favourite time of the year, I got 97% in my first law assignment, I've lost 81.5 lbs and I'm loving my job. So what gives? Why would I be having bad dreams?

Definitely the cause.
I'm not exactly full of answers for that but thinking about it as I sat down to write this blog post, and I'm not sure why I focused on the bad dream other than I wanted to update people in how everything is going, I can't help but think that my subconscious was having an 'alright, feel good now but remember there are MILES to go before you sleep' moment. Which is true. I do still have 101.5 lbs to go until I hit the goal I've chosen for myself. But instead of giving into my subconscious fears- that I haven't been aware of since getting back on track 6 weeks ago- I'm going to try to focus on the good.

Instead of thinking 'I've STILL got over a hundred pounds to lose' I'm going to focus on the fact that in 2 lbs I will be past the 100 mark. Never again will I have a triple digit number to lose and that feels pretty damn good. In 2.5 lbs I will have lost 6 stone. That's like 2/3 or 3/4 of some of my friends' body weight and definitely more than most of my friends' children weigh. I won't have just lost the proverbial baby weight, I'll have lost your average preteen. I'm going to think that with every pound I lose I'm pushing back the clock to a point earlier in my life. So much so that as of right now I can't remember how old I was when I last weighed 17 stone 13.5. But I can guarantee you, I was no older than 16.

I've spent so much time thinking about how much time I've lost by being overweight, things I couldn't do, things I was too afraid to do and with every loss I can feel a little bit of fear and a little bit of resistance to new things melting away with the fat. Ultimately this has reminded me that there will always be things that will try to drag you down, including yourself.  Sometimes I am my own worst enemy and I know that. It's what you do with that information that matters. And I for one am not going to let the little voice in the back of my head that thinks I'm going to fail beat out the little voice in the darkness that says try again tomorrow.

"I don't paint dreams or nightmares, I paint my own reality."
― Frida Kahlo

Friday, 31 October 2014

Fat in Love. Age rating 18.

Dear all.

In today's blog post I am FINALLY going to cover a topic that my friend Rachael mentioned to me oh, about a year ago. However, it's going to be discussed in two parts. First just a discussion about 'fat sex'- not the logistics- and then I'm going to talk about the search for love as a plus sized woman. So hold on to your hats kids, who knows where this is going to go! In fact, the more I've written the more convinced I've become that this carries an age rating 18. You have been warned.

The conversation that ultimately planted the seed of fat fetish, feeders, BBW (big beautiful women), and just fat sex came about from a Channel 4 documentary on 'My Big Fat Fetish'. The show follows the trend, particularly on the internet, for fat based pornography, images of bigger women eating or being fed and the impact on their health and personal relationships. If you have a spare 50 minutes, it's a fascinating insight and I would certainly recommend watching it. After a cursory glance at one prominent erotic literature website I can tell you that there are over 800 stories when I simply keyworded 'fat fetish', when I got even more specific this goes into the thousands. The titles also got increasingly disturbing so proceed with caution should you go on a journey of discovery like myself...ahem. A leading fetish site (I've been all over the internet so you don't have to- unless you want to, in which case 'right on'), again after a cursory keyword search, brings up a total of 1008 fat related fetishes. So basically, what I've learnt is that the umbrella term 'fat fetish' is big BIG business. I've also learnt that women (in particular) will go to extreme lengths to please their customers, including sitting on individuals for a fee and having feeding tubes shoved down their throats in a desperate effort to fit in to the next size bracket. Whilst many of the individuals portrayed on Channel 4 are more than happy with their bodies, the effects can be devastating. One of the guys who got sat on in the documentary complains of breathing issues and the woman he paid to do so is house bound and needs to be cared for entirely by her son. I'm a big believer in different strokes for different folks so I would never EVER dream about telling any of these 'artistes' that they shouldn't be doing what they're doing. These are just my observations from researching this topic.

Charming. Thanks for that Urban Dictionary.
The one thing that I kept thinking was, why is fat pornography different to 'normal person' pornography? The equal rights activist in me is screaming that fat porn stars should be capable of taking part in more of the 'normal' stuff (what IS normal anyway?) rather than having to go to more and more humiliating, degrading activities because that is currently the primary medium in which they can be seen. Again, if people want to be fed whilst sitting on customers then I will defend your rights to the end of the earth, I would just like it to be possible for women (and men, though much less frequently) to not only be pigeon holed into this very particular kind of market that often actively discourages women from changing their lifestyles for the better if they want to- like I said, BIG MONEY!

But going back to the whole 'normal' thing, a second Channel 4 series explains that fat sex, much like sex between disabled people, the elderly and even gay sex is abnormal. Now, I thought that we would be progressive enough to accept, even encourage the above between consenting adults but when watching the show a couple of years ago I couldn't help but take the message that if you're in one of those groups that your sex life deserved a separate show from the people having the 'normal' sex.

So now, let me tell you about the search for love as an overweight person. This is all my own opinion and conjecture and I speak for no one else. I have been told by people I know, people who love me, that the only thing wrong with me is my weight, that if I lost some weight I'd have the boys banging the door down (not a euphemism, mind out of gutter please) and that when I get to my goal weight I will be a quote 'stone cold fox'- I think that's good?!? A question I'm asked frequently is 'when are you going to start dating again?' and the truthful answer, the answer that probably demonstrates key self esteem issues, is that I don't think I'd want anyone who wants me where I am now. I have, in the past, given up on my own dreams (including weight loss) as a result of ex boyfriends which I refuse to let happen again, my body is (hopefully) changing consistently so what someone's attracted to now will hopefully not be that way within a number of weeks and, in part, because of the way that fat love/sex is portrayed in the media I question people's motives for demonstrating interest in me. In addition, the kinds of guys I'm interested in can only be said to be currently 'out of my league'. Exhibit A:
He's just so beautiful.
Personally, I have never been attracted to a plus sized guy-that may be wrong of me but it's in the biology and there's naught any of us can do about who we're attracted to, or not as the case may be. That being said, even when I do get a demonstration of some interest I refuse to believe that this could ever be genuine and brush it off as someone messing with my head. And here's the rub. Will that ever go away? Will I EVER, even at my goal weight, marathon runner fit, think that someone could be genuinely interested or will I continue to turn down drinks, roll my eyes or just leave the room to avoid the situation even if it is the scorchingly beautiful brooding man currently staring at me from my computer screen. If it does, I'm definitely going to need more cats...

Thursday, 23 October 2014

When in doubt, count it out.

First, let me start by congratulating myself. After months of only managing to get to a lowest weight of 18 stone 5lbs I have finally broken through my weight loss plateau. I have now lost 77.5 lbs, that's 5 stone 7.5 lbs or 11 silver sevens gone. I want to quickly talk about how I have done this because plateaus, I feel, are the single biggest cause of giving up at weight loss. It makes sense doesn't it? You work effectively for weeks, months even, and then suddenly- zilch, nada, not an ounce. Try as you may, nothing happens. You get dragged into a 'diet', you start taking questionable weight loss tablets and when that doesn't help, bad habits start to sneak back in to your day to day life.
Pretty big plateau that.
So, after one too many nights of complaining to my parents and crying about how exhausting it is to have been losing weight for a year and a half but to not have moved in that last half, I did what I perhaps should have done all those months ago. I took to the internet, that font of knowledge, and typed in 'weight loss plateau'. And without fail, every single page asked 'are you eating enough?' Simple answer, as I said in my last post, was no. No I wasn't. Or when I was, I was eating too much. Basically, despite the fact that some very clever people designed the weight watchers ProPoints system with a precise daily allowance, I was ignoring that advice because, I knew better.

I've now been back to basics, actually eating my daily allowance- like I did in the beginning-for three weeks and after an initial week of stabilizing where I gained half a pound, I have lost 4lbs. Last week I was back at the lowest I'd ever been, this week I am now two pounds lighter. So this is the lowest weight I have been in, conservative estimate, 10 years? I now feel so much more in control and, for the first time ever, I can actually see the weight coming off as it happens. I'm stronger, and fitter, than I've ever been (I'm running the Milton Keynes Marathon in May), I finally fit into the dress options I bought for my brother's wedding in July and today as I was sorting my way through clothes that were too big, the first new look dress I bought all those months ago had to go because it just doesn't fit any more. I think, until I beat the plateau monster, I was reticent to get rid of my over sized clothes because I didn't really believe I wouldn't need them again. As a general update, I will be taking 4 more rubbish bags to the charity shop tomorrow and other than clothes for work, my closet is almost empty...I get to go shopping. YES!
An empty closet is a sad closet.
But perhaps, the best thing that has come out of the whole plateau thing is that I now know I CAN come out of it. That my body hasn't just decided, nope, sorry I'm going to stay at 18.5 forever and ever- you'll just have to get used to this weight as your baseline. So I'm definitely not done yet. Better than that, I now have the facility to help others. Before hand I could share my experiences and make people feel like they were not alone. That we're all in this together and that with the right positive mental attitude, we can achieve anything. Now, I can sit in a weight watchers meeting and not just share 'this week I lost X', 'this week I really struggled' or similar; I can tell the new members from experience that to lose weight, as counterproductive as it might seem, you need to eat and I was lucky to have one lady tell me that until last week she was at the end of her tether and then I said plainly, eat your points.
Go Wildcats!
The system works, it can just be difficult to trust in it. But you CAN trust in your comrades and colleagues because you have shared in their experiences. So, as long as I remember my old mantra 'when in doubt, count it out' -useful for everything from knitting to weight loss and beyond- I should manage to maintain this consistent weight loss. Let's do it to it!

Monday, 6 October 2014

OCD: Obsessive Compulsive Dieting

I have always thought, despite my size, that I haven't had that disordered an approach to food. I'm good at losing weight because, I believed, I didn't obsess over it. I have never been a picky eater (maybe that was the problem?), there are few things on this earth I won't try but I don't spend every minute of every day thinking about food and I do believe that people should be able to have a bit of what they fancy- regardless of beliefs of an afterlife, this is the ONE time we have to get this life right. So yes, I will be having the occasional bit of cheese with a biscuit. With all that said, I realised in the last few days that I have indeed been guilty of disordered eating.

I broke one of my cardinal rules. Whatever you do, do not weigh yourself between weigh ins. And when I say I broke my rule, I mean REALLY broke it. There were times in the last few weeks that I would weigh up to 18 times a day. I'd weigh in the morning, I'd see what I weighed in different items of clothing, pre-shower, post-shower. Before workouts, after workouts. Post pee, post...well, you know. Morning, noon and night I was on the bloody scale. And I began to hate myself for it. If I didn't weigh less than the night before I would scold myself and go obsessive compulsive dieter on myself. 'Right, you will only eat X amount tomorrow to make up for what you've done!' 'You won't eat on weight watchers days and you will become borderline dehydrated just so you can squeeze out at least one pound'- which when you think about it is not representative of how much you weigh at all. And then worse, after weigh in, ravenous I would run to the drive-thru McDonald's around the corner desperate for my big mac and mozzarella dippers. Bad start to what would, almost certainly, be a bad week.

Step away from the scale!
I've been trying the last few weeks to start fresh. I finally managed to banish the scales from my daily routine. But I won't lie, staying the same last week after managing to lose 9 lbs in two weeks was very annoying. So I looked back over my food diaries from the time I started to plateau- after all, I may have shifted some but I am still stuck in my plateau phase. This exercise showed me one, very obvious, thing. I am, and have always been, obsessed with my points. Those who are on weight watchers will know that we are given 49 weekly points. Spread them, save them or splurge them, they are there to make your life flexible. And my secret is I HATE using them. I feel like a failure when I use them, despite the fact that they are there for a very real, very valid reason. A reason that I constantly tell other people wanting to lose weight. This isn't about restricting what you can eat, this is about changing lifestyle. The weeks that I do use my weekly points, I found, were the weeks that I actually lost more successfully. Perhaps because I loosen my death grip on points. But in the last six months a pattern arises. Either, I use none of my weekly points and my average daily intake is actually a couple of points below my daily allowance OR I completely blow the bank and eat out of control way over my daily and weekly points. Obviously, not very healthy.

Now, I've been doing some reading about plateaus and everyone, everywhere says the same thing. Relax. Not every day, but now and then, And when I think about this it actually makes a good deal of sense. Our bodies are amazing things and will do all they can to use the least amount of energy possible. Cheeky beggar. Team that with your body's metabolic rate slowing down from weight loss and a plateau is bound to happen. It's like exercise. If you repeat the same activity at the same level of exertion week in week out, eventually it has less of a result. So to beat my plateau I have come up with a plan. It's still regimented (because I like regimented things) but I'm hoping it will give my body the kick it needs to progress further.

Stage 1a) For three out of every four weeks I will eat up to my points. This means actually up to, I'm not pissing about here- I want to do this properly and that means getting my mind into the space where I realise I've been set a certain number of points for a reason. The points will go down, enjoy the time that you still have a few more to play with for crying out loud.
Stage 1b) One of these three weeks will be what is called on weight watchers a 'Filling and Healthy' week. I need to get these good foods that nourish and fuel your body re-integrated into my daily life and I feel that this is an excellent way of doing so.
Stage 2) For one week of every four I will make a concerted effort to eat my weekly points. Now that's not saying I'm going to force food down my gullet just to do so but I will relax a bit and enjoy everything in moderation- including moderation.

To cheat or not to cheat..?What the hell are double dough pizzas?
This exact plan of attack may indeed need some work. Jemma (my awesome PT who everyone should hire, but shouldn't cus she's mine...) suggested having a day or two a week of eating a bit more rather than one week a month so I will certainly be trying both methods to see what works best for me.

Regardless of which works best, I know for certain that this re-invigoration of planning and preparation will at least get me fully back into the positive head space I have always needed to lose weight successfully.

Until then, I haven't watched Run, Fatboy, Run in forever. So I think I'm gunna go do that.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.

Three weeks ago my brother and I went to the opening ceremony of the inaugural Invictus Games. For those of you who are not in the know, this is a sporting event where injured and ill servicemen and women from all over the world compete in a format very similar to the Paralympic Games. Those of you that know me will know that I have an enormous soft spot for our armed forces and as such I jumped at the chance to buy tickets to go and be apart of these games. What I hadn't anticipated is just how inspired I would feel.

Those of you who were regular readers of this blog, I apologise for not writing in over four months. I also apologise to any one who I have inspired for seemingly giving up after a first year undergraduate called me fat whilst we were on excavation together. If this made anyone feel alone or frustrated or worried that I fell unceremoniously off the bandwagon, I'm here to tell you that I didn't. But I very, VERY nearly did. The final weeks of university were hard. I took every opportunity to spend time with people that I could and as such I struggled to lose any weight. Over the months that followed I had a wedding to go to, birthday parties to attend and more than one barbecue to contend with. Every time I fell down I'd pull myself back up by the bootstraps and recommit but unfortunately this only really happened for a week and then I'd fall right back down again. Finding out that I hadn't got onto the postgrad program I wanted, severe tendonitis and plantar fasciitis resulted in my having to pull out of the Great North Run and then the death of my beloved (albeit ancient) cat caused me to slip further and further into the hole I was digging for myself.

Every day I would put more shit into my mouth and every day I felt physically unwell. My skin was sallow and greying, the rest I had been prescribed for my ankle left me weaker than I'd been in months and restless to the point of distraction and I have never wanted to track less than in those few weeks. I thought about giving up every. Single. Day. And then I went to the Invictus Games. And I saw individuals who had had limbs blown off, been shot through both hemispheres of the brain and had even been put in a body bag before the weakest, tiniest signs of life were noticed. These, truly extraordinary, individuals were competing at the highest level of athleticism and the fact that they stood their before us, proudly displaying their injuries and turning their disabilities into capabilities shocked me to my core. Here I am, in the prime of life and I'm giving up because it's 'too hard'.

Don't get me wrong, losing weight is incredibly hard. At this point in my life losing weight, or rather maintaining the commitment to lose weight, is the hardest thing I have ever EVER done. And yet, I know that this mission CAN be accomplished. The GB team captain David Henson, a double amputee and the gold medal winner of the 200m sprint, said in the BBC documentary prior to the opening ceremony that real legs are great things. And here I was bitching and moaning about a sore ankle. I resolved that I would return home and make a change because if these titans could return from such tremendous adversity and be winning gold medals and setting new records then I could certainly bounce back from all that I was struggling with at the time.

The time since then has been difficult, I cried in the kitchen to my mum because I was so frustrated to have been where I was months ago and no amount of motivational speeches gave me the confidence back that I had at the beginning of the journey, and yet I plodded on. I'm 9 lbs back on track but I know that it is still early days. However, as painful as it may feel and as frustrating as it certainly can be, the only failure will come when I turn off my scales forever and stop caring all together.

What I do know is this:

'I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul'  Invictus William Ernest Henley

And it is MY fate to succeed. This fight is not yet over.

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Hello. I'm fat.

I'm going to talk about something that I've mentioned before but that came back down on me like a tonne of bricks today. It can, of course, only be random people choosing to make your day rubbish by commenting upon your weight. It's obviously happened to me before but I had gone a good long time since it has happened. Or at least since I've noticed it.

The story...allow me to set the scene if you will.

Every year my university runs a training excavation as a part of my degree. This is two weeks out of the year where my only job is to dig- to find stuff. Because I've been struggling with the idea of letting go, I volunteered myself to conduct a project on site during one of my off weeks. I just wanted a little more time with my friends. We've had our moments of being grumpy buggers on site- especially today when the heavens opened and there was thunder and lightening (all very frightening)- but in general this week has done what I would have hoped. I have gotten an extra week with the people I love. So, flash forward to about 4:45 this afternoon when some arse wipe of a first year decided to burst my happy little bubble with one, little comment.
*gestures to my car as I'm packing away* 'I feel sorry for her car'
He should- I have a lead foot that I like to use. It's genetic, I got that from my mum.

But anyway. I wasn't all that fussed with his comment. My friends, however, were most certainly NOT okay with his comment. When I told my friend Lucy she could only stare at me gaping mouthed because she couldn't believe that someone would say anything about my weight. Would I have enjoyed watching him get a punch on the nose- absolutely...I'm only human.

It doesn't matter. I kept saying to myself. This dude, let's call him Matty, is SO inconsequential to my life that it doesn't matter what he says. Not even slightly. You've lost 75 lbs- you have accomplished so much. And then it hit me in the car. I've lost 75 lbs and I'm still not good enough. When will I EVER be good enough. Now, I own that this 'will you ever be good enough' bullshit is not just about Monsieur douche's comment. I had already been in a position of feeling like my vulnerable 15 year old self since Friday but Sir shithead (I got annoyed- can you tell?) just proved to the insecure part of my psyche that it was right to feel that way. Great.

And so, I did something bad. Something I have not done since I was 16. I binged and then I stuffed my fingers down my throat and purged the hell out of my dinner. I did. The strong one. The confident one. I allowed myself to be squashed down by a fresher with pubes for a beard. I'm not saying this to get attention or to put people in a bad mood, I'm doing it to remind everyone that we all experience moments of weakness and that that is okay. I started thinking about this blog post when I was in the car and it was meant to be something entirely different. It was meant to be a declaration of my power, my ability and my achievements. And I am so sorry that it isn't that. I really wish I could hold my head in pride and proclaim to the world that I would not be beaten by insecurities about my weight. But what I CAN be proud about is this. I am not alone. I am not the only person in the world who feels the way that I feel right now. Even the most beautiful women (and men!) I know struggle with insecurities about their bodies. But we will not be beaten. I am NOT fat, I HAVE fat. I am not losing weight for Signor buttmunch, I am losing it for myself. And to quote Conchita, 'we are unstoppable'. 

Saturday, 17 May 2014

Change doesn't come naturally.

This blog post is going to be a tale of two halves.

First, let's get down to the numbers shall we? As I write this post I am now seventy five pounds lighter. This time last year I had only been on the plan for just over a month and even then I knew that reaching seventy five was going to be an incredibly significant goal. I started planning what I would do to mark the loss. Should I buy clothes? Get a tattoo? Get a dramatic hair cut to highlight my newly svelte (ish) physique? But despite the vigour I had at that point a year ago (I managed to lose my first stone in just over a month) I had not fully anticipated just how difficult the task ahead of me would be. When I stood on the scales this last week I knew it had to happen or else I would go bat shit cray. I was two pounds away and knew that losing only a pound would potentially be more irritating than a gain. To add to it all, my best friend Sarah came to visit this past week and I knew that if I got to 75 lbs that a super awesome spa day treat was awaiting me. So I did my ritual of stripping to just barely legal levels of dress and waited for the numbers to settle. 2 lbs. Hell yeah. I left the meeting and texted Sarah a picture of my record card with the total 75 highlighted and then beamed at passers by on my way home.
The aforementioned picture- Don't know why it's blue...
Things moved pretty darn quickly after this point. The spa day in Bath was planned for the next day, that tattoo that I mentioned up above was booked in, design handed over and deposit paid by 3pm on the day of my weigh in and I was inked the next evening. Pictures to follow, it's very difficult taking a picture of your right wrist when you are the least ambidextrous person on the planet.

I could not be happier with my weight loss and I have once again re-focused my mind to the next goals to keep me going. I am 8 lbs away from having lost a quarter of my initial body weight and a further pound to my next stone. I feel lucky at the moment that between now and 100 I have a fair number of smaller steps to make it all more manageable. So...onwards!

The second part of this post is about change in general. My body, my attitude and just about everything else has changed or is changing. I am in the final weeks of my university career and I had a farewell party last night before people start disappearing off to start the next stage of their lives. And here's something I haven't told anyone. I am fucking terrified. And I don't get scared. I'm not so much scared of not knowing where my life's going- during one of my crying moments last night I was told straight out 'where's the strong Florence who's going to be Prime Minister?', so I know what my general plan is. I am just so very aware, as a result of the journey that I've gone on this past year and a bit that I don't want to regret. I will make sure that I don't regret this journey because I am not going to give up like I did before. But I want so badly to make a promise to myself right now that I'll love a little harder, take more risks, have more fun so that I can fully utilise the opportunities change can give you. I keep being told that this isn't the end. And that's true, it's not THE end but it's an end. But just like I have had to adjust my goals from this point on weight loss wise, I must similarly adjust my mind to ensure that I DON'T let this be THE end because that I would very much regret.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

The Perils of Alcohol

This week, has been one of celebration. Final pieces of university work fully submitted, size 18 dresses, birthdays and dinners and drinkies. Oh my! And I full on celebrated. I even (and this only happens about once a year) got full out drunk. Worse, I got full out drunk and had a kebab... Now, I don't food shame, but my god did I feel unwell the next day. I went out four days in a row, ate out several other times during the week and drank, a lot (at least for me). I worked it out today and I drank an estimated 72 points this week. That is 23 points over my weekly allowance which I hadn't accounted for because I couldn't bear to work it out. And I'm going to tell you a little secret. I lost FOUR POUNDS.

That's right, you hear me. I lost weight. I couldn't believe it as I stood on the scale tonight. I said to my leader that I knew I'd been good since Sunday to try and redress the balance of the previous nights but that a loss, any loss- let alone a loss of four pounds- was impossible. Her scales must be wrong. So I hopped off and tried the other scale. Nope, definitely lost 4 lbs. At this point I yelped and jumped around a bit and promised her that this was not going to be an excuse to be complacent. I've been bitten before- I am not going to allow myself to slip as a result of a good week when, let's be honest, I REALLY didn't deserve it.
May not have fully deserved it- but here are my jars anyway. First time they could actually be added to in weeks.
But it's probably a good time that I discuss my approach to alcohol anyway. Since I started Weight Watchers I have all but given up alcoholic beverages. I didn't drink very much before hand so this wasn't exactly hard, but I had the approach of 'I'd rather chew my calories'. And this, I think, is fair. I mean, look at that. SEVENTY TWO points just on alcohol! And it happens so easily. I was saying to my housemate Andy today that it's no wonder first year University students gain the 'freshers 15', it's just so easy to underestimate how much of an impact alcohol can have on your daily caloric intake- Something I had forgotten until this week.

In the short term, I've been really lucky. Or all of my good work from the last few weeks has finally caught up with me- I won't lie, I was a bit pissed off that I only lost one pound last week because I had been regimented to a whole other level. But I cannot let this give me false hope. I'm going home this weekend, I WILL be having my Chinese take away with my mum for Eurovision but I'm also going to try and squeeze in some training time with Jemma (who's going to shout at me because I've been so lazy this last week- though I DID run up Park Street...that counts for something. Unless you don't live in Bristol, in which case that means nothing but here's a video that kind of sums up just how enormous this hill is) and will use this weekend as an opportunity to kick start the rest of the week with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and home cooking. So I'm hoping (really really hoping) that I'll finally get across that bloody 75 lb mark that has been such an important milestone in the back (front) of my head for the entire 400 days that I've been doing this.

Until then.

Monday, 5 May 2014

Success comes in many sizes.

Dear all,

I have finished university. Well, not finished as such but dissertation is in, final pieces of work are done and I have two weeks of excavation work with my friends. So I'm considering it done. And I won't lie, that has been very weird. The process leading to this moment has also been EXTREMELY stressful and, as such, here is a late offering.

First, let's talk numbers. I am back averaging two pounds off per week (yay!) though I highly doubt that will happen this week because I have let my hair down and had a lot of fun in celebration of all of the hard work coming to an end. However, I'm not going to dwell on that because I have another success to discuss.
This is an open apology to Next about the quality/quantity of their plus size stuff. I was pleasantly surprised.
Yes friends. That is a next top in a size 18. Whilst this is hardly a golden ticket that enables me to buy stuff anywhere- I still can't exactly walk in pick anything off a shelf and buy it- this was a moment of success for me that literally had me crying in the changing room. Now, I won't lie, it's quite possible that the overall feeling of nostalgia and sentimentality over the last few weeks of my university career got to me (borderline breakdown on the M5 may or may not have happened) but regardless, size 18 is an enormous deal to me. 

I don't exactly remember the last time I could walk into a normal shop (read: not plus sized specific) and buy an item of clothing that was not held in their plus sized section. But one moment in particular comes to my memory but we have to go back a LONG time. As in, 14 years. 

I was with my friend Annabelle in Tunbridge Wells (I think) and I needed something to wear to our end of school party (this was in year six...which should just about sum up how long my weight has been an issue) and had already started to hate shopping. Nothing was in my size, I needed to go to a 'special' shop and hope that they had something that would fit my petite (read: 4 foot 9 size 14) frame. This was a nightmare, because I'm sure you can see that a 10 year old should not be wearing size 14. At this point I was not overly concerned with my weight for any health reasons. I just wanted to look nice. I had crushes on boys who would not (still don't...grumble grumble) fancy the fat girl and I wanted to prove them wrong. Anyhoo, back to Tunbridge Wells. I tried on a pair of jeans, I think in New Look- can't remember exact details, except that they were acid wash jeans and I thought I was such a boss. They were size 12 and when they did up (and I could sit down!) I cried in the changing room (apparently this is a theme for my life). I realised then that being 'normal' (at least where size was concerned) was important to me because I could already see how marginalised I was becoming. 

Anyway, I rocked those jeans at the end of year party. But Jack Brewer* still paid no attention to me. . . I won a CD for my dancing though, so swings and roundabouts. 

I'm not telling you this because I had some kind of dramatic flashback the other day in the changing room. It's just something I realised/remembered as I was typing. Hope you enjoyed that little story!

So yes, back to success. That was a success for me. But unlike my 10 year old self I'm not going to take that feeling and go and buy myself some milkybar choos (Oh My GOD did I love those) and complain about boys after spending hours imagining what my name would sound like if we got married. . .Instead, this is a mark to myself to keep going. Another size down and I CAN buy clothes from just about anyone. I'll probably cry in the changing room again. I'm sure you can't wait for that!

I'm still doing my daily selfies so remember to #followtheselfie if you're on twitter. And finally, to the people I've been running into the last few days from my time at university. It means SO much that you've been following my progress. I hope I can continue to make you proud. 

*Names have been changed to protect anonymity...Not that he'd read it.

Friday, 11 April 2014

What a difference a week makes...168 little hours

As I mentioned last week, the past few weeks have been the hardest in the plan so far. I mean, seriously. Not only was I lacking in motivation, I wasn't even trying to pretend that I wasn't eating sh*t. I suppose that's a good thing though? I was very obvious about it so perhaps I don't fall into the realm of a secret eater...Small victories.
Anyhoo, I spent the last week getting myself whole heartedly back into the plan. This involved more than one trip to the supermarket where I had to stop myself from buying any muffins. Or cake. Or pretzels. Basically, baked goods. I told myself that I needed to get back to only eating the filling and healthy stuff (Weight Watchers new simple start ) before I could trust myself to only have a set amount of any baked goods. The only exception was two Pepperidge Farm chocolate pecan chunk cookies and I still don't fully comprehend how I stopped myself from eating the entire packet- other than they belonged to my mum and she would have been less than happy had her treat foods disappeared without her even having had one. 

And it worked. This week I lost 4 lbs. I'm still not quite back to where I was before I slipped (have another 5 to go) but it proved to myself that I can still do it, my body has NOT just stopped losing weight, I'd just stopped caring and that couldn't be allowed to go on even one day more. Hope you enjoyed that musical interlude! So as I go into my second week back on track, I feel confident that I'm doing the right things and am back in the swing of things. I'd love to blame stress (and no one would blame a final year university student with deadlines looming etc.) but I know that this just happens. It's so easy, when you aren't even half way yet, to be frustrated. The end is not yet in sight for this so it's not always so easy to focus on the small goals that happen down the road. 

In other news, I was back in the gym today with Jemma- have I said I love her, because I do...*Public apology, sorry I was so pants at the deadlifts today. Also, sorry that I wiggled my hips to make the pull-ups easier. I will not do that again* and there was pain. MY BUM is aching. This is what I need to remember, it's not just that I'm going to have a bit of muscle ache tomorrow, the disaster that is my coccyx does not respond well to being lazy only to have to exert itself and then I pay for it. 
And finally, I've completed my first week of daily selfies. I've nearly forgotten to do it on 5 of the 7 days but they've been done. Only 358 left to go...

me first week on Make A Gif
make animated gifs like this at MakeAGif

Monday, 7 April 2014

Coping with outside forces OR 'The dinner party means my 'Diet' is over'

Months ago I started a series of 'myth busters'. Apparently- and I don't know when- I abandoned that. Since I'm making an effort to get back into the swing of things blogging wise, I thought that I'd go back to that as a starting point. Since I was out for a lovely meal today I figured that this topic would be the best one for me to do now so, without further ado, here we go!

The dinner party means my 'Diet' is over
If you'll allow me, I want everyone reading this to take a second and think about any time they've been on a diet. Now, given the statistics that 37% of UK women and 18% of UK men are Dieting most of the time (not including people who have been on a Diet at SOMETIME- which I couldn't find) I think it's fair to think that people will either know from direct experience or from just existing around other people in this Dietcentric world of ours. Does this sound familiar. 'Diet starts on Monday'?
Many people who go on a Diet will build themselves up over a week promising themselves that their Diet starts on Monday, only to fail on Tuesday and then repeat. Cycles of Monday start ups that are doomed to fail when people then have some kind of outside force in the week, causing them to break their diet and need to start all over again. The only difference is, unlike people who are changing their lifestyle, this starting again does not happen at the next meal or the next day but the next Monday. Hmm.

Despite the fact that I've been losing weight now for over a year, I still get the 'where do YOU want to eat, what will work for your Diet?'. Whilst I appreciate the concern and the consideration of my dining companions I know that this comes from a preconception that either I am, or should be, only eating a lettuce leaf. I won't lie to you, today was hard. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I'd been struggling recently and I am finding it harder (as I get myself back on track this week) to fend off my cravings. I should stress, however, that it is not this meal that would have caused me to go off track and need to start all over again. On the contrary, I didn't have alcoholic beverages, I only had a small amount of the nibbles that were brought out (those who know me personally will appreciate this- I left behind an olive...that NEVER HAPPENS), I ate slowly and mindfully and despite the little voice in the back of my head screaming 'Get the tarte tatin! Get it. Get it! GET IT!' I didn't have dessert. No, the 'dinner party' in question was the takeaways I was feeding myself with over the last week before I came home. I hardly tracked, if at all, on those days and was trapped in a cycle of 'no breakfast, store bought sandwich for lunch and then ALL THE FOOD for dinner'.
Or you know, don't...whatever.
Not only is that not cost effective, I felt physically awful. Until I rallied, got my shit together and tracked- then my body was all about calling out for the pizza and chow mein...

But I digress. I've said this before, I'll say it again and I'm not alone in saying this. I am wholly in control of what I put into my body. The diet, both big D and little d, is only over when I say it is and I am just not okay with giving up over a pack of Papa John's jalapeno poppers.

Friday, 4 April 2014

A whole year later

Hello readers. I'm sure I've lost a lot of my viewership considering how remiss I've been at writing this. I'm crap- don't you worry, I know! But, it's been a year. A YEAR, so I couldn't go a day further without getting on my laptop and writing something- anything- to sum up this last year. And hopefully break down the whole 'oh I haven't written in a while, no one cares' thing.

A few stats:
74 lbs lost (that's 5 stone 4 lbs; 34 kilos to translate)
5 dress sizes
41 inches across my body
11.5 points down on my Body Mass Index
5 trips to charity shops with old clothes
50 Weight Watchers meetings
10 silver sevens
One 10% key chain
One half marathon
Two races for life

It hasn't been easy, and I still have miles to go before I sleep, but simply writing those stats down has reminded me how much I have achieved in the last year. I won't lie to you- in the last few weeks I've slipped; lots of work, deadlines, running in my university union elections (I didn't win- oh well) has all made planning difficult. I'm going home tomorrow for the Easter holiday (which, if you're a finalist at university, is NOT actually a holiday) and am filled with renewed vigour. I live in the knowledge that Jemma will be there to beat me up if I don't come to the gym, I'll be getting in all the foods I need to help me succeed and I'll be reunited with my Weight Watchers family (something I always look forward to; it's amazing seeing people who started with you and how far they've come).

To keep myself on track, and to actually document the change my body is going through, I've decided that I'm going to challenge myself to a daily selfie. Every day of the next year I am going to take a picture of my face and then put it into a timelapse video to see the change. I'll also post the images daily to twitter which (I hope) will encourage me to keep doing it, even when I really don't want to. In honesty, I've come closer to giving up in the last three weeks than I have in the entirety of the last year. I can't let that happen. I wan't to continue to have stats like ^ that so that this time next year I'm thinking of how much I've accomplished, not wishing I hadn't kept going. I hope to hit 100 lbs lost in the by October (which if I pull my finger out is more than achievable) and I'm checking the Virgin London Marathon page daily so that I am in there the moment the ballot opens for next year. I think my obsession with marathons comes from the weight loss. It sums it up beautifully. It's not about being the fastest; whether you run it, walk it or end up crawling over the finish line, it is the finish and the journey that gets you there that is important.

And finally, a comparison. The last picture of me pre- weight loss and my first of this year's selfies.

Me in March 2013 and today 04/04/2014

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

New year, new who?

Happy New Year!
I started this new year full of vigour and renewed motivation for my cause but the last months of 2013 were some of the hardest I've ever experienced weight loss and motivation-wise. I got into an absolutely disastrous head space and was certain that the return of the dreaded plateau was upon me. I thought it was like last time, that's it-it's not working anymore, it's only a matter of time until I give up again.
In order for me to be really accurate, this is the last 12 week's weight loss:

23/10/13 19 stone 12.5
31/10/13 19 stone 12.5
07/11/13 19 stone 13
14/11/13 19 stone 9
21/11/13 19 stone 9
27/11/13 19 stone 12
05/12/13 19 stone 13.5
12/12/13 19 stone 9
18/12/13 19 stone 11.5 
26/12/13 19 stone 9 <---day after Christmas...
02/01/14 19 stone 11 <---Christmas caught up with me
08/01/14 19 stone 8

Are you exhausted yet? I was. Since the end of October I have gained and lost and gained and lost and stayed the same and lost and gained and repeat ad nauseam. Had I been doing all the right things in those weeks I would have been so frustrated but I can honestly say I wasn't. I wasn't tracking as reliably and I found myself snacking on more and more of the unhealthy stuff, though to be fair that's kind of par for the course for the festive period. What's worst is that my activity was practically non existent. When I did exercise the old pain was back that put me off doing it again. 

And so, perhaps unsurprisingly, people have asked about my new years resolutions. And in all honesty, I didn't make any. I don't see new years, as an arbitrary date, as the beginning of a new chapter in my life. That chapter was already being written. I did however find this Google trends map of weight loss searches very entertaining: Bikini season and New year. Every. Single. Year.

But I digress. There was no exciting 'new year, new me' facebook status. When I think about it practically, about a stone every two months, 2014 will NOT be the last year that I am within the overweight category so thinking about weight loss as something that starts on January first, and usually ends by Valentine's day, is not going to be all that helpful for me. I started myself back on the wagon before new year, just the delayed reaction after Christmas meant that I still went up despite logging hours in the gym and tracking religiously. (Frustration level, out of this world) I signed up for the Great North Run in September and beginning training for that has reminded me that I'm not just doing this for the weight loss I see in the next weeks or months. I'm doing this for the body I want in my 30s, 40s, 50s. I want it to be strong and healthy and I am investing in that now, just sometimes you need shorter term goals to keep the motivation at a high level. I can't say that this is the last time I forget the real reason I'm doing this, it's not just about being able to fit into regular sizes, it's about building habits and a lifestyle that will sustain me well into the future.

What I have found is that with the start of the new year I found turning down my temptations easier than I had in months. When I went to the first weight watchers meeting of the year on the 8th and had finally come to my lowest weight ever on this particular program I felt that I had finally, well and truly, beaten that cycle. I was out and I'm sure as hell going to stay out. I don't know whether the new year gave me some of the buzz you have in the first few weeks back or if I really did just need last year to end but I feel confident that the current vigour will last long enough to get me well and truly back into the swing of things, including the writing of this blog. Sorry it's so late Piers...I will try to get it out more regularly from now on.