Can’t Cook – Won’t Cook

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It was a toss-up today in terms of blog posts, dallying between Can’t Cook-Won’t Cook and Food Porn. Needless to say, I was leaning towards Food Porn until I received a text from a fellow slimming enthusiast, politely requesting a recipe for Slimming World curry. I figured this was a sign! I’ve lost count of the number of times people have asked me for recipes, usually after the ‘how did you lose the weight’ conversation, and I have to say, I’m pretty lax at giving them over! Not because I don’t want to spread the wealth by the way, but more because I fear that people won’t like them! Everyone has their own particular style of cooking, mine being a slightly schizophrenic one. I doubt I ever make a dish the same way twice. I don’t measure unless I really have to, and portion size is usually dictated by the amount of core ingredients I have bought (i.e. the portion sizes are usually huge). So to sit down and actually write a recipe is pretty difficult. At the beginning of people asking for tips etc, depending on the person, I did spend some time writing out suggestions and meal ideas. One such example sticks out. A very good friend of mine asked me to write out a week’s worth of menus for them, as they were finding it difficult to understand the plan. Now, as much I love this person to bits, she is not a cook. She has no heed in it whatsoever, and when she does try, she is poor at best (by her own admission). She is one of these people who thinks they won’t understand Slimming World, and therefore doesn’t.

So I got a little notebook and wrote out seven days worth of meal plans, allowed for syns based on the treats I knew she liked, and included all the recipes needed to fulfill the daily menus. Simple stuff like soups and stews, nothing too taxing. I also wrote the plan ‘rules’ out in extremely layman’s terms, essentially making it foolproof! Alas, after a week of following it (where she lost five pounds), that’s where it ended. I was livid. I had spent time and care thinking up and writing out the stuff, and she couldn’t be bothered to stick to it – even though she knew it worked. Too busy, too tired, too lazy. Very annoying. This poisoned me against wasting time giving detailed recipes to people I know either won’t like it, or can’t be arsed to make it, so I tend to ignore requests for meal inspiration. Especially requests made via Facebook! GOOGLE IT YOU LAZY HOOR! You’re already online ffs! There are more forums than I can count where their contributors seem to spend their entire lives online sharing recipes, tips, stories about their weightloss journey, picture of their old selves vs their new selves……it’s all a tad self indulgent at times for me, and they mostly turn into platforms for bitchiness and one-up-manship; so I usually don’t contribute, but you can read over the threads and pick up wee things that you’d maybe never thought of, or even stuff you had forgotten about. So use these resources! Don’t waste time asking douches like me!

In conclusion, today’s request came in at 08.39 this morning – I haven’t compiled anything resembling a curry recipe as yet, so I shall do so now. My blog post today is dedicated to @fionap1985, here is your curry recipe. If you can’t be arsed making this after me writing it out, then you’re a tool. I apologise in advance for the lack of traditional recipe structure.

SLIMMING WORLD CURRY – INDIAN STYLE (because it’s my favourite and it’s easy)

You will need:
Fresh chicken fillets (or thighs, but prepare to spend hours trimming fat and ick off these)
A large sweet potato
A large courgette – cut in half lengthways, then chopped up into semi-circles
A large red onion – cut into ignorant chunks
A small white onion

Six/eight fresh tomatoes (or a tin of chopped tomatoes – whatever)
Six decent sized cloves of fresh garlic, chopped as finely as you can
A piece of fresh ginger roughly the size of your thumb
A red chilli and a green chilli
A chicken stock cube and a vegetable stock cube (Knorr Stock Pots also good)

A variety of spices to include:
Garam Masala
Cumin
Tumeric
Cinnamon
Ground Coriander
**Ground Cloves** (This is your secret weapon to creating a semi-authentic Indian curry. Do not omit this)
Star Anise – this is a wee spidery looking, hard, star-shaped thingy that smells of aniseed

To finish:
Fresh coriander (This is essential. Your curry will be a mere spicy stew without this. It tastes nothing like ground coriander, so don’t even think you can get away with just using it. Fresh stuff is about 90p for a bunch. Go get)

METHOD

I am writing this assuming the reader has no vast cooking experience. For those of you who do, feel free to bask in how superior you are to these plebs, but always remember – nobody likes a smartypants. Continuing on:
First off. Have a sharp, clean knife and a clear, clean working area. Use a heavy chopping board, or put a tea towel underneath flimsier ones to stop it scooting over the worktop. Always remember, keep tasting as you go; and when it comes to flavours – you can always add, but you can NEVER take away. Be cautious with all herbs, spices and seasonings (especially salt) until you become familiar with the dish and how you like it. This rule applies neatly to chillis!

Right!!

Put a saucepan of water on to boil. Throw in a vegetable stock cube and one of the star anise.
Wash, then chop the sweet potato into respectable cubes. Throw this into the aniseedy stock that is currently boiling in the saucepan. This will take around 20 minutes to cook – it will not be dry and fluffy like regular potatoes, so don’t panic.

Whilst all that is going on, finely chop the white onion and throw into a heavy bottomed saucepan with the garlic. Use Frylight to stop the ingredients sticking. Keep this on a low heat, and allow to sweat. When the onion is starting to brown, throw in a wee shake of tumeric – this will turn everything a currylicious colour! Throw in the chopped up chillis. Seeds in – burny hot. Seeds removed – not so hot. Add more Frylight, or a little water if it starts to stick. Also, this point is very important, add a pinch of the ground clove. Seriously, this stuff will blow the head off you, approach with serious caution and respect or your dish is ruined. I use the tip of a sharp knife to lift a tiny amount out of the tub and that does me. The smell when this combo comes together is amazing.

Keep letting this sweat, and keep a good eye on it to make sure it doesn’t stick/burn.

Throw in the courgette and the onion. Give a good stir around, coating everything with the spicy mess already in the pan. These new ingredients will introduce moisture into the dish, so keep stirring and enjoying the aroma. Whilst you’re enjoying the whiff, cut the chicken into rough chunks. When you’ve got it all chopped up – turn up the heat and add the chicken. You will need to keep adding water (or the stock from the sweet potato which is cooking away) to stop this sticking. Once the chicken is sealed and starting to brown, your sweet potato should be pretty much ready, so drain off the stock into a jug and throw out the star anise. Transfer this saved stock into the chicken and vegetable mix, and turn the heat down ’til everything’s at a gentle bubble. Then, throw in the tomatoes and begin adding spices. First up, a good shake of the Garam Masala (it’s basically a curry powder), followed by a more cautious sprinkling of cumin, the same of the ground coriander, and a cautious dusting of cinnamon. Stir this all around and taste. A good idea before adding spices is to smell them first so you know what you’re getting into. So add, taste, add, taste etc until you get to where you can’t to be.

When you’re done spicewise, add the already cooked sweet potato. This will give a different texture, add sweetness, and help to thicken the curry a little. It means you don’t need to spend syns on using cornflour to thicken it! What joy! Now, you can let this all simmer away for as long as you want. The longer it sits, the more the flavours develop. Just before serving, chop up a handsome handful of the fresh coriander and toss it in. Stir, serve with rice, enjoy.

Experiment with the spices in terms of amounts, but make sure and use them all. If the dish has no flavour, it will be bland and you won’t enjoy it. If you spend time preparing all the ingredients well, use fresh stuff, and cook slowly and gently, you will reap the rewards. Remember, all the ingredients are FREE. You can eat as much as you like. You can save some for the next day. You can share it with a partner (ugh) or whatever, and you can be sure they’ll enjoy it too.

This has been incredibly difficult to write, I hope to God is is semi-easy to understand, and I hope at least one person tries it. For those of you who have a superior recipe – good for you. This is how I roll.

I’m away for a cig. This has been stressful. Comments welcome, in moderation.

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T’Was the night before Juneathon…..

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….and all through the house, the participant was shitting herself. I am no poet.

Anyway! A fairly lazy day today, my last day of relaxation before 30 straight days of activity! I can’t say I’m looking forward to it, but I know it’ll be a good thing. The last thirty-ish days of exercising every other day is finally having a positive effect on my body and has allowed me to play fast and loose with the oul diet (without gaining a shitload of weight); so, in theory, I should be lighter at the end of the month! Please God. Speaking of which, hope my Douchebag Jesus picture above hasn’t offended any of you. So, I shall sign off now. I will get my blog on again tomorrow, as per the Juneathon rules. See you then!

www.juneathon.com

My Left Foot

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The last time we spoke about marathon training, I had just popped my event cherry. Since then, I have struggled to match the dizzy heights of my 36 minute 5k, but have been running/exercising consistently. The main exercise passion killer at the minute is the weather! Now I know I have yapped in the past about hailstones etc, but a happy medium wouldn’t go amiss! I got utterly scorched on Thursday morning, having intended to do a 6k; but I limped back into the house after three and a half as I was melting along with the tar on the road. Very sweaty and unpleasant. I’m guessing running in the sun wouldn’t be so bad if I didn’t have to have so many supporting garments on me. I have a shocking wobbly belly (a fair part of which is loose skin), and if it isn’t kept under control it starts to hurt after a bit of running. Same goes for the back fat and love handles. So it goes, wonderpants (M&S), support vest, capris pulled up to my cervix, and then a top over that. You can see why it’s a sweaty affair. I could do without the top easily, especially when the weather is like that, but I can’t bear the thought of getting my bingo wings out totally in public. It’s not so bad in the gym, where I have retreated since the sun put its hat on, but really not for public highway consumption.

I have to say, one thing that I’m really pissed off at myself about is the state I’ve left my body in. The flab, the loose skin, the fact that I’m not even 30 and I’m talking about bingo wings. Remarkably, my obesity had no real effect on my actual health. At my top weight of 21 stone I had perfect blood pressure, and my cholesterol was low. No sign of any threatening diabetes either. Perfectly healthy, just too fat. So whilst I managed to dodge a bullet healthwise, I am suffering the after effects physically/aesthetically. I should learn not to care, but when I see rogue bits of fat and skin in the corner of my eye whilst running, it makes me feel like shit.

Anyway, the gym is a cool and pleasant haven when it’s too hot for outdoor activity. It does have some pitfalls too though, mainly the treadmill. One mile on the treadmill feels like three out on the road. For some reason it takes a shocking toll on my shins, and each run feels like its my first. Having said that, there are cross trainers and bikes to play with, so no excuse for losing out on cardio. Plus I’ve started doing some weights again to keep the fire burning. God forgive me, but I’ll be glad when the temperature drops a bit so I can get back out on the tarmac again. It has struck me that it’s all very good being able to do 5/6/7k, but it’s time to get upping the mileage. This point has been hammered home by a few running Nazis I’ve come across this last while – what’s the story with that?! I’m starting to get cheesed off with know-it-alls who run a 10k and suddenly feel qualified to dispense advice on distance running; what to do, what not to do etc. It’s very unattractive. I don’t go around telling fat people what to eat! It’s manners to wait until you’re asked for advice before you dispense it! Rant over. I could go on.

One way of upping the miles is approaching me soon in the form of Juneathon 2012. Suggested to me by angryjogger.com, you basically have to run (or exercise) every day in June, blog about it every day, and log your runs at Running Free. I’m so used to being a scaredy cat when it comes to committing to things that I usually say no, but in the spirit of renewal and all that shite, I decided to say yes and give it a go! It may be just the thing I need to truly infect myself with the running bug. If you’re even semi-interested, have a wee look at http://www.juneathon.com for the info. Given that I’ve signed up for this, I’m figuring it might make sense to give it a bit of structure by starting to follow a running plan. Long story short, I have enlisted the help of the App Store and am using Run Coach Pro to get me to 10k standard by the end of June. As luck would have it, 30th of June is a Saturday, so really no excuses for not being able to fit it in! The plan includes rest days, so keeping to the rules of Juneathon, these will be spent in the gym crosstraining, or in my living room doing a Jillian Michaels Workout DVD (Ripped in 30 in case you were wondering). That bitch is crazy. So apologies in advance for what will be a full month of daily marathon training blog entries, I will keep them brief, unless something ridiculous happens that needs to be fully discussed.

I know the title of this post is My Left Foot, and I have made no reference to it, but feet aren’t really my kinda thing. However, my left foot is a train wreck at the minute. My tendonitis is still a factor to be considered on an almost daily basis, especially in terms of lacing shoes etc. Not only that, but there’s some weirdness going on with my toes as well. I think it’s because my left foot is bigger than my right, and there’s a bit of overcrowding on the go in that shoe. Anyway, my right foot is fine, all icky problems seem to be confined to My Left Foot. Like the antithesis to the Christy Brown thing. I don’t really know where this thread is going, so I shall cut it now.

I’m away to the gym. Later!

When Slimming World Doesn’t Work

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So! In my previous post, I tried to explain in very basic terms what is involved in Slimming World – food wise at least. Another important part of the process is the group meeting after weigh in each week, but to be totally honest; in the three years I was a member of Slimming World, I never once stayed to group. At the start, I was too embarrassed. I just wanted to get in, get weighed, and get out. Plus, it can be intimidating! Becoming a newbie in any established group is hard, cliques have already formed, everyone is getting on with what they are used to doing each week. So realistically, I can’t really talk at length about group because I’ve never experienced it. For me, losing weight has been all about getting my food cravings under control. I didn’t need any help to identify what was causing my weight gain, or to pinpoint what kind of ‘dieter’ I am, but that’s a story for another day. Slimming World also has a fantastic online service which comes as part of the membership, and I found this a big big help the whole way through.

Obviously Slimming World works. I’m not the only person who has had a substantial weightloss with this club, in fact, my loss is quite modest compared to some of the real success stories. By this I mean people who have lost 10, 15, maybe even 20 stone! Truly life changing amounts, the kind of numbers you would assume only surgery could produce. However, there are still people who claim SW ‘doesn’t work’ for them. This statement usually comes after the ‘honeymoon period’ of initial large losses. Slimming World guarantee that if you stick to the plan 100%, you will lose weight, so when it doesn’t work – why?

1. Complacency

I know this is the main reason SW doesn’t work at times. I know because I have suffered from this personally! After your first full week of following the plan, it’s not uncommon to lose anywhere between 3 – 7 pounds. Like any new project, it’s exciting and you give it your all, and the feeling of being told you’ve lost such a great amount of weight really is priceless. Weeks two and three is usually a repeat of week one, and by the time the first month is over – you have this Slimming World thing nailed. Easy peasy. You know exactly what 28g of cheese looks like without weighing it. You know that you had eleven syns today, so you’ll have nine tomorrow. You go through every packet of bacon on the shelf to find the one with so little fat you don’t really even need to trim it. You’ve found out that your local butcher stocks syn free sausages, well, he calls them low fat but they’re definitely syn free. Well they might have half a syn each, or per 100g or something.

My weight losses tailed off completely as I got into around the sixth month of SW. I couldn’t understand why, so I checked out some of the online forums to see what other members were saying on this. The overwhelming piece of advice was to get back to basics. I started weighing things again – and I was shocked to see that my ’28g’ of cheese was sometimes nearly double what I thought it was. I had been counting my syns wrong as well, just being generally careless and not checking my books often enough. So a full week of going back to square one was all it took to get me back on track again with a loss. Respect the plan and it’ll reward you!

2. Eating too little

As I’ve said before, it is widely thought that to lose weight you have to ‘eat less and move more’. Moving more is always good, but eating less is not always a good thing. Eating less shite, yes! All joking aside, the free foods are there to be enjoyed freely. Eat them until you feel satisfied, regardless of the amounts involved. No word of a lie, my absolute favourite SW meal when I first joined was baked potatoes with bacon, beans and my healthy extra of cheese grated on top. I’d usually have two large baked potatoes and at least four slices of trimmed bacon, cooked under the grill or in a non stick pan. If I was really hungry, I’d have three potatoes. When I relayed the tales of my superfeeds to people, they’d look at me disbelievingly – “how can you eat all that and lose weight?”. Well I could, and I did. My plate was full, but it was full of low fat food. Naturally low fat foods, cooked without fat, and with no fats added afterwards. It’s all very well being frugal with portions, but if this leaves you feeling unsatisfied, it’s highly likely that you’ll end up craving high calorie foods later on in the day. You’ll probably end up bowing to those cravings and falling off the wagon so to speak. Then comes the guilt, then the ‘I’ll be extra good tomorrow’ and so on and so on. If you’re hungry – eat. Eat within the plan and you can’t go wrong.

3. Maybe Slimming World isn’t the diet for you….

Absolutely anyone can ‘do’ Slimming World. However, following the plan means you need to cook. By cook I mean actually cook, not ‘pierce film’ or boil in the bag. You need to chop, stir, slice, bake, roast, blend, mash……the list goes on. The only way of truly knowing a dish contains free foods and no syns is if you prepare it yourself. In fairness, SW has done a lot of work in producing syn values of branded products and publishing them so we can make decisions about what we buy. In terms of eating on the go, it’s very difficult to get a complete meal from the likes of MandS, Tesco, Asda etc that comes in under your allotted syns for the day. Deli counters and takeaways are everywhere, and may seem like a safe option, but they are fraught with sneaky syns! Oil based salad dressings, butter basted rotisserie chickens, mashed potato with added cream, and so on and so on. I found SW very doable because I enjoyed cooking anyway, and following the plan has made me enjoy it even more. But there are some people who either can’t cook or won’t cook! It’s easy for me to spend a full day in the kitchen preparing stews and casseroles that can be portioned out and frozen ahead, but I don’t have three or four kids around me. I don’t have school runs to do, or elderly relatives to attend to. I don’t work two jobs. I have a lot of time to plan ahead and to prepare, but other people may not necessarily have that luxury. In this instance, it isn’t enough to just be a member of Slimming World – to have the books and get weighed every week. The weekly meeting at most accounts for two hours of the week, the rest is up to you. If your idea of hell is standing over a hob for a good 30 mins every day, or preparing tomorrows lunch in advance, then Slimming World probably won’t be a fit for you. Maybe in this case Weightwatchers is the way to go. There’s no denying that WW have crafted a very attractive and convenient range of ready meals that compliment their plan, the list of options is seemingly endless. For me though, it’s all about volume! The portion sizes involved in such ready meals would simply not satisfy me, so I’m quite happy with the list of free foods SW makes available to me. And I’m more than happy to spend time creating and enjoying the many different recipes I come across in the magazine and online. It’s just not for everyone.

So if it’s not for you, don’t beat yourself up about it. But if it’s laziness in the kitchen, don’t blame the plan. You can’t have your cake and eat it (bad analogy here). If you can’t be bothered to sacrifice a bit of time and energy doing something that will ultimately benefit you, maybe your lightbulb moment hasn’t quite come yet. And if you’re simply clueless in the kitchen, keep trying. Ask for some help, tips or cheats from your consultant or have a look online. If you don’t give it a good shot, you’ll never know what you could be achieving. Slimming World might not work for you sometimes, but it’s important to know when you’re not working for Slimming World.

Ah so.

Slimming World – For Dummies

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Slimming World has changed my life. That’s a terribly magaziney statement, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. It’s very true! It is the least restrictive ‘diet’ I have ever followed, and for this reason, it has been a success. Now I know that anyone reading this who is a very firm believer in Slimming World will be screaming “It’s not a diet! It’s a lifestyle change!”, and this is absolutely true, but for the purposes of this post I will be using the term diet.

As I’ve said previously, most people who want to lose weight believe that if they stick to a predetermined set of rules regarding their food intake over a specific period of time, they will lose weight. That they are allowed x, y and z each day and are not allowed to go beyond that. Their food intake is restricted, and therefore they lose weight. Makes perfect sense when you think about it, but is completely unsustainable for someone who needs to lose a larger amount of weight. Weightloss takes time. I used to think that if I stuck to a diet (pick any fad) for a month or so, I’d lose all the weight I needed to and the problem would be solved! Ridiculous, but when you’re becoming desperate you get delusional. Three years on, I now know that my ‘diet’ as it stands is actually known as normal, healthy eating. What came before was not normal. It was totally unbalanced, unhealthy, and largely unsatisfying. I will never be able to eat exactly what I want. I am not one of these people who can inhale vast amounts of calories and never gain any weight, it’s just not the way I’m built. And I’m not the type of person who doesn’t care what they look like – obviously.

So if it isn’t a diet in the common sense of the word, what is Slimming World? What can you eat?

Simply put, you can eat anything. This, I think, is the main reason some people find it hard to understand. Nothing is off limits. Plus you can eat vast quantities of most foods and still lose weight. It honestly bugs me when people ask me “how did you lose the weight”? All full of wide eyed wonder and anticipation that quickly crumbles when I say Slimming World. A lot of people claim they can’t understand it, that it’s too complicated, that they tried it and didn’t lose any weight, and so on. This is complete bullshit. When I hear this, I feel obliged to nod sympathetically and offer a few basic hints to enhance the understanding of this puzzling and rocket science-esque plan; when what I really want to do is beat the person into a coma with a bag of spuds. The plan that beginners follow when they join is called EXTRA EASY – the clue is in the name! I shall quickly summarise the plan, and will let those of you not already familiar judge as to the difficulty of it. Please note, my summary will not be exhaustive, as there really are no foods off limits. This is a dummies version.

Foods that can be eaten freely include:

All lean red meats
All lean poultry and pork – including bacon
Fresh fish/seafood
Eggs
Potatoes and pasta
Rice
Quorn mince/Quorn pieces
Vegetables
Fruit
Some fat free yogurts (ie most Mullerlights)

These are the main foods that can be eaten freely. This means UNLIMITED AMOUNTS. The only proviso is that you do not add fat to these foods, during cooking, or afterwards. This means, do not fry the lean meats in oil or butter. Don’t dress your pasta dish with olive oil. Don’t put butter on your baked potato. And always trim off all visible fat from your meats before cooking.

Next up: Breads/cereals and dairy products. You can eat one portion of each, every day. Not difficult to keep track of! These are known as ‘Healthy Extras‘ as they supplement your free foods.

One portion of bread would be two slices of wholemeal bread from a 400g loaf, or a 60g wholemeal roll. Or you could have 4 original Ryvita, or if you like your morning cereal, 2 Weetabix. Enjoy a nibble with your morning coffee? Have 2 Alpen Light bars instead.

One portion of dairy could be 250ml of semi-skimmed milk, or 30g of cheddar cheese. Choose a low fat cheese and your portion size increases to 45g – more than enough to fill a sandwich or melt over a baked potato or homemade steak burger.

Finally: Syns. A Slimming World term for treats, naughty things, indulgences etc

Foods that are not ‘free’ or deemed a Healthy Extra, are awarded a syn value. Think of syns as currency. You have 10 syns in your pocket first thing every morning, and you can spend them how you wish. Choose wisely and you can get a lot of bang for your buck. Examples include:

Spending 10 syns on a Cadburys Freddo bar at lunchtime…. And another one for after dinner
Spending 6 syns on a bag of Snack a Jacks with lunch
Treating yourself to a vodka and Diet Coke after work (4 syns)
Spreading two level teaspoons of real butter onto your healthy extra of toast – 4 syns
Perking up a free foods ‘fry’ with a tablespoon of Heinz ketchup – 1 syn

There are thousands of ways you can spend your syns. Different things work for different people. I spent mine primarily on chocolate, as there was no way I could go cold turkey! Other people I went to Slimming World with had no heed in sweet stuff, but couldn’t handle the thought of not having a drink at the weekends, so they’d save their daily syn allowance for five days and then have drinks on a Saturday night. They continued to have steady, impressive losses at their weigh in.

So far so good? This is as basic as I could make it. Granted, some may find the counting of syns confusing or restrictive. This is where it comes in useful to write down what you eat, for the first couple of weeks anyway. Sometimes I think the human brain has an incapacity to understand things that are basic. That by complicating something that is simple, it is able to understand more fully? Or is that called awkwardness? Either way, I defy anyone to say that this plan is complicated. It’s not. But that’s assuming that you have read the literature provided to you when you join. I get asked a lot of questions by people who have the answer sitting in front of them in the books that you get when you join, and I swear to God, it irritates the hell out of me. The books are well written, easy to read, and contain EVERYTHING anyone needs to get started. That’s why they are given to you when join. That’s what you paid a joining fee for. Read the books properly and you shouldnt have to ask stupid questions. Grrrrrrrr.

Right, I can feel a rant coming on, and I need to get ready for a run. This has been Slimming World for Dummies (as I see it). Please remember – I am not a Slimming World guru. I don’t intend to promote myself as such. If I am so well versed in the ways of weightloss, why was I fat in the first place? Believe me, I know my place. And I know that if I let myself, I could easily put that nine stone back on again in a shorter space of time than it took me to lose it; I just hope that even one person reading this will try it out and succeed. It really has changed my life.

I just wish I’d changed it sooner.

Popping the Event Cherry

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What a vision of athleticism! This is me, posing with my shiny medal having completed the Lord Mayors charity 5k in Newry on Thursday evening. This was my first ever proper event, and despite my initial concern of feeling like a douchebag, it actually went ok! I knew a lot of people there, and I think most of them were a bit bewildered by my attendance – given that the last time they saw me I was the size of a small shed. It was actually funny, and quite nice, because you could see the realisation dawning on them as I was running (ish) towards them.

Is that the girl who used to work in The Bank? No, it couldn’t be. Houl on…….. Christ maybe it is her. She must have lost weight, that’s right, somebody told me she had a gastric band, Jesus it is her” – KEEP HER GOING, GOOD WOMAN, FAIR PLAY!

This is how I imagined their thoughts when they saw me! Am I being conceited in thinking this? No. Newry people love to know your business and love a bit of news, I am guilty of this also! So, back to the race! Now, when I found out the route I must admit, I was a bit perturbed. The main event was 10k, with a handful of special cases like me doing the 5k option, all following the same route. Get this for mental arithmetic: three times around the route was 10k, and twice around it was 5k. Stunning logic there! There wasn’t a big pile I could do about this, so I jogged on, literally. Now. Lesson learned. I have come to realise in my training that if I walk the first mile of my planned distance, that gives me enough time to acclimatise to what I’m at, and I can run more consistently thereafter. When we took off at the start line, there was no way I was doing that! I trotted off at a slow jog immediately, I didn’t want to be walking past the few spectators there were like an oul doll! But it wasn’t the best idea, I was feeling ropey after five minutes, and of course then the negative thoughts came flooding……

I considered dropping out after one lap, but a bit of applause and a few looks of recognition and congratulations from familiar faces in the crowd, and I felt better. I stuck at it and finished. THIRD LAST. But I didn’t give a fuck. The memories of battling the other fat girl in PE at school are fading fast. I have moved from second last – to third last, that’s progress. As for my time, I wasn’t too concerned, especially given the extended route! Nike Plus informed me that I had actually covered 7k, not 5k as I had planned. So that’s my longest run to date and I did it in 53 mins – doesn’t sound great does it?! Having said that, Nike Plus had been set for a 5k workout and recorded my time as 36 mins for it – that’s my fastest 5k to date. Maybe starting off jogging is the way to go after all.

I shall be running again today, a proper 5k, to bring my mileage for the week up to 14. Plans are being made for a 10k in June….. And angryjogger mentioned something about Juneathon….. Running and blogging every day in June. I am intrigued by the idea, but don’t know if my legs could cope! Or should I quit yapping and just suck it up? Opinions welcome.

Laters!

Lightbulb Moments

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You’d be forgiven for thinking that every good weightloss success story starts with a lightbulb moment. By this, I mean the sudden flash of realisation that change needs to happen, usually as a result of some devastatingly embarrassing event – getting stuck in a bath, having to pay for three seats on an airplane, losing the family pet in a fold of flab – that kind of thing. Thankfully, I didn’t suffer any such catastrophe; usually because I was clever enough to avoid situations where something along those lines could happen. Not clever enough to lose weight though! Anyway, there were plenty of ripped shirts, flying buttons, torn trousers etc that should have led me to the conclusion that it wasn’t in fact shoddy manufacturing that was causing these fashion disasters, it was the fact that the material isn’t designed to suffer such great stress/expansion. I ignored this, and blamed the fashion trend of ‘slim fit’ for my woes.

Despite being incredibly fat, I was actually quite fit. I remember meeting a woman I used to work with one day, after I’d lost about three or four stone. Needless to say, the conversation immediately turned to weight, and she went on to say that she had gone up to fifteen stone the year before and suffered joint pains, shortness of breath, and all round poor health. I find that hard to fathom. At my top weight of 21 stone, I was working almost seventy hours a week in a bar/restaurant, and loving every second of it. I felt great! Admittedly, I did have one complaint – a bad back. True to form, I refused to believe that this had anything to do with my rotund shape……oddly enough, since losing weight, I am no longer troubled with back pain. But my point is, fat doesn’t necessarily preclude you from having an active job. A further point would be: if I was that active and was still fat, what would I have been like if I had a desk job?

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A bit like him maybe!

Thank Christ I was spared the indignity of being disgraced into weightloss, but if there was a pseudo-moment of realisation for me, it was on a trip to London with my other half. The first ‘holiday’ as such together. We headed into what looked like a fairly arty-farty restaurant on a Saturday afternoon, the place bustling with the beautiful types that London attracts in their droves, not to mention the restaurant was bedecked with very slim and pretty hostesses – one of which led us to a table. The table was at the rear of the floor, so there was a lot of uncomfortable weaving in and out of tables and chairs en route, much to the annoyance of the diners who had to shift aside to accommodate my ignorant bulk. With the table in sight, I caught sight of something that chilled me to the core. The chair. The chair looked like some rickety piece of shit that you’d find in a skip. The venue was one of these boho-chic, mismatched furniture places, so there’s a good chance that the said chair did come from a skip! I knew to look at it that there was no way it would survive a meal with me reclining on it, so I panicked. What do I do? Do I feign illness? Do I try to let on I’m sitting on the chair, but secretly squat? Or do I say to my fairly new other half, “Here. I’m gonna break that chair, let’s go to Wagamama where they have benches”?

In the end, I think I tentatively sat on the end of the chair before shooting up and practically running out the door, bewildered partner (bllleeeeeugh at that term) in tow. I can’t even remember the explanation I gave, all I know is I was on the verge of tears – part embarrassment, part anger at myself. So we hit a bar and I hit the vodka. Sounds more dramatic than it was, but we both got sufficiently tanked to go to the theatre later that night and giggle the whole way through the performance. That was around 2006, so it was another three years before I actually joined Slimming World for the second and last time – so it was hardly a lightbulb moment. But it stuck with me, and I’m still horrified that it happened, and really horrified that it didn’t spur me on into losing weight then. I feel like by not losing weight before now, I’ve actually robbed myself of life. That sounds very enigmatic, but it’s true. Life is a lot different now, on a basic level. I don’t have a fear of breaking chairs, and I don’t have a problem negotiating tight spaces and sharp turns. I don’t rip things, and all buttons are intact. Sometimes I catch a glimpse of myself and I look different, randomly. Like I caught a glimpse of my hand in the wing mirror of my car yesterday – it looked like someone else’s! It looks skinny, and I can see the individuals tendons and knuckles etc. It used to just be a doughy lump. Weird.

So if that wasn’t my lightbulb moment, what was? Truth be told, I didn’t have one. I was cautiously inspired to try yet again to lose weight via Slimming World after meeting a friend who had done the same. I didn’t have any targets or expectations, I just went to try and change what I had become – a very fat and fed up 26 year old. It just worked this time, and I can’t say why. It wasn’t as if it was a new concept to me, I had been a member before – having said that, there had been changes made to the eating plan which made it (in my opinion) more manageable, but I’ll cover that in the separate Slimming World category. Like I said, it just worked this time. If I’d known that this was the way it was going to pan out, I wouldn’t have beat myself up so much in the past when I fell off the wagon of whichever diet I was on at the time! So if you’re trying to lose weight, don’t be too hard on yourself. Just keep trying. When you find the method that works for you, you probably won’t even realise it – it’ll just work, and all you have to do is keep it going. Losing weight is easy, but it’s finding a way of doing that is healthy, manageable, and enjoyable that is difficult. Remember, once the weight is off, it has to stay off! Otherwise, what was the point?!