Long Time, No See

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I haven’t blogged in over a month, that’s a pretty lengthy dry spell! Apologies to anyone and everyone who cares. I’ve been a busy bee to say the least. 2012 was the year of the marathon, 2013 is going to be the year of the new business start!

After five years of looking, searching, head-scratching, wondering, planning, returning to the drawing board, amending, thinking and deciding – I’m finally opening a coffee shop/cafe/food store of my very own. To say I am pooping myself about it all would be a serious understatement. Blogging has been the last thing on my mind, but my weight still worries me as much as the new project. I am nowhere near the coveted 12 stone. I am still fluctuating between 12st 9lb and 13st 2lb. I am doing no exercise, and the muscle tone I had last year has all but vanished. I look like a saggy, doughy, bag of shite; and I’m a bit raging at myself. Having said that, my usual way of coping with nervous energy is to let it build up til my head is at the point of explosion rather than burn it off with exercise. I am sensible like that.

The cafe opens on Thursday, and I’m nowhere near ready. I may have bitten off more than I can chew, but old habits die hard! People keep asking me what I’m going to be serving, and are always surprised when I say I’m not serving chips. Chips are bla. I will be serving simple, traditional grub – like home cooking only in a restauranty setting. I can’t lie, there will be a Slimming World aspect to it, but you can’t say that explicitly or the powers that be will shout. That said, my soups and stews will be syn free, as will my ‘extra healthy breakfast’. I’m also making and packaging sandwiches made with Nimble bread for Slimming Worlders who are lunching on the go. Baked potatoes are on the menu too, as well as a syn free curry! Like I said, you can’t say this all explicitly, so you have to try and find a way of communicating it without using trademarked words and phrases! Not the easiest thing in the world! ‘Fat free’ isn’t right, ‘low fat’ is an overused and fairly meaningless term, and things like ‘healthy choice’ or ‘waist watching’ are patronising. I’ve gone for ‘Extra Healthy’. I figure local people who know my background will trust that when I say something is syn free, it really is. Since finding the SW plan, I find it hard to eat out confidently. You can never know 100% what goes into food you haven’t prepared for yourself – you just have to trust the chef. I rarely trust the chefs when it comes to oils and butter and things that are syn-heavy!

So it’ll be Fry Light all the way in McCooey’s! I know, a highly original name. Obviously I will be stocking a range of syntastic cakes, traybakes, and general indulgent stuff as well. I have no intention of lecturing the paying customer on what they should be eating, I am there to give them what they want. Hopefully they want what I have to offer!

Anyway, that’s the craic. Hopefully I don’t make a bollocks of the whole thing. If any of you blog followers out there are ever in Newry, give me a shout in and I will have a free coffee with your name on it.

Here are some photos to bulk out this post, and let you have a nosey at my life since January.

Toodles!

McCooey

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Sometimes Black Isn’t Always Slimming

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I genuinely thought that the photo of me in the blue t shirt from 2007 was me at my fattest. How wrong was I? I found this……..delight whilst hoking through an old USB stick earlier today.

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It’s not great is it? I can’t believe the sheer bulk of me. The breadth, the width, the spherical quality of me in general. It was 2008 and I was in New York for the first time, and I was fairly happy because I had been to Slimming World and lost a stone.

Yes. I was a stone heavier than in this photo.

With all my obsessing about what I look like now, it’s easy to forget what I looked like then; and how different things are. I should be grateful, and quit yapping! But look what happens when I ignore stuff, and pretend there isn’t a problem. If my current obsession keeps me from looking like I’m about to sink Ellis Island, then maybe that’s a good thing!

It’s all about balance.

When I’m feeling fat these days, I still retreat to black tops and jeans, which is a good idea. Black is slimming, but when you’re over twenty one stone, nothing is. Harsh, I know.

The journey to twelve stone continues.

A Rant About Customer Service

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As any regular reader will know, this blog is about mainly marathon training, weightloss, Slimming World, and all related topics in this sphere. Today however, I am going off-topic.

Working in retail is grinding my gears something serious.

I have been serving the public in one capacity or another since I was 10. My family owned a pub, and in typical Oirish fashion, I spent my formative years behind the bar serving pints and listening to the unique brand of shite talk that defines rural hostelries. I loved it! Flash forward ten years, and I’m working in a pub/bistro/nightclub affair – loving it even moreso, and eventually ascending the ladder to become General Manager. After some five years of that, I change scene completely, with a shift to retail. Convenience store and petrol station no less, where I have been for five years.

Working with the public is rewarding in its own way, as you get to meet all manner of people from every walk of life, some with great stories to tell and some who say very little but are charming nonetheless. However. There are days when working with the public makes me want to run out in front of a bus. For all their charms, the general public are stupid, rude, unmannerly, arrogant, presumptuous, and ultimately soul-destroying. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of handy rules to follow whilst in a shop, to ensure you avoid being stabbed to death with a Drumstick lolly by an irate shop assistant.

1. Say please and thank you. Basic manners are important, but often unused.

2. Be polite. You don’t need to make love to the person serving you, but at least make eye contact and engage in a smile.

3. Speak when spoken to. There is nothing more infuriatingly rude than greeting someone who simply does not answer. Even a half hearted reply is better than nothing.

4. Don’t fire your items at the operator. If there is no basket involved, set your chosen items on the counter calmly – heaping stuff down hurriedly is very irritating and slows down the whole transaction.

5. Have your method of payment ready. Don’t stand in a daze whilst the total is being rung up, only to spend an eternity hoking through a purse/wallet/handbag for money or a card. You’re holding up the queue. If you do end up doing this, at least apologise to the other customers.

6. Know what you need. Nobody likes the person who has all their grocery items rang through and ready to go, only to start asking for top ups, bill payments etc. Ask for these first, and they’ll be complete by the time your other stuff is bagged.

7. Don’t ask questions if you don’t want to hear the answer. It’s very infuriating to be asked for advice on a product, only for the questioner to give a contradictory diatribe about how you are wrong. If you know so much, why ask?!

8. If you can’t find something – ask. Don’t walk around open mouthed looking for it. Nine times out of ten, it’s right under your nose, and it’ll save time if you ask politely for direction.

9. Don’t hand over crumpled notes. Make some sort of attempt to flatten them before handing them over. It saves time.

10. Don’t cough or sneeze over money, products, staff or other customers. Have some manners and use a hanky, or at least cover your mouth.

Like I say, a thoroughly non-exhaustive list. My basic point is – do unto others as you would have them do unto you. And before anyone gets hysterical – here is the equally important flipside.

A list of rules for shop workers to abide by:

1. Say please and thank you
2. Be polite
3. Engage with the customer – small talk costs nothing. If they don’t respond, that’s their problem. For all you know, you may be the only person your customer gets to speak to all day.
4. Smile.
5. Be well informed about what you’re selling. If you can’t answer basic queries about what you’re selling, you’re no help to anyone.
6. Similarly, know where things are. Don’t point – show the customer where it is.
7. Personal hygiene is of utmost importance – you should have clean hair, hands, and nails. Chew gum discreetly or pop a strong mint instead.
8. Get off your phone.
9. Stop talking shit to your mates at the counter.
10. If you see a customer looking lost or confused – offer help. Don’t let them walk out.

Ultimately, if you can’t adhere to these basic rules – maybe customer service isn’t the job for you. The customer may not always be right, but they pay your wages. Leave your shit at the door, smile, and be grateful for your job.

Ironically, earlier today a young man was in with me – a regular customer who is pleasant and spends a lot of money with me over the year. Unhappily, the same guy is fond of telling me about his Christian faith; a topic that doesn’t belong in the realm of smalltalk. So even though he spent a solid ten minutes giving me his views on the ‘horror’ of the gay marriage vote and how it offends his religion, I remain impartial, listen, smile and take his money for the bag of coal he’s buying.

Such is life.

Back to Basics. Again.

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By the power of the Internet, I am returning to the joyful land of Slimming World as of tomorrow! I will miss the allure of WeightWatchers, but I won’t miss indulging the part of me that enjoyed eating ready meals and processed crap. I will be throwing myself into the Extra Easy plan with the same vigour I did when I started it properly in May 2009, and hopefully the results will be every bit as impressive – relatively speaking of course. I have made myself a pot of leek and potato soup to kick start my week properly, so no excuses for falling at the first hurdle tomorrow!

I have a serious amount of things swirling around my head at the minute, so I’m going to put the blog on ice for a bit to free up some head space. I will post again when I hit 12st 4lb – Christ knows when that will be. I weighed in yesterday at 12st 9lb, but have been eating Chinese food and drinking vodka since then. I dread to think what weight I am at the minute.

Anyway. See you all at 12st 4lb.

Keep in touch

McCooey

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Horrifying. Truly horrifying.

To WeightWatch or not to WeightWatch?

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So here I am on a sunny Saturday in McCooeyville, smacking my lips and congratulating myself on the wonderful breakfast of stewed apples and porridge I just had. This stewed apple thing is going to be the death of me – I literally cannot get enough of them. I imagine this is how the Women’s Institute get their kicks; aside from doing lines of icing sugar, obviously.

I digress.

Today was weigh in day, and it would appear I have gained a half a pound. A whole 227g. Now I never enjoy seeing the numbers going up, but I find myself giving fewer fucks than usual – why? Because I have enjoyed my eating this week! I have been eating SHITE. Processed, convenient, but ultimately permitted, shite. Tortilla wraps, ready meals, instant mash snackpot things, porridge that you just chuck hot water into – you see the trend. I have been eating my usual fruit, apples aside, and making myself vegetable soup; so I’m not a total tramp. Weightwatchers really is about smaller portions of all foods, fresh or otherwise, and that doesn’t normally sit well with me but I am coping remarkably well. I had planned to go back to the old familiar Slimming World as of tomorrow, as I miss the glorious cooked breakfasts, pasta, and baked potatoes; but I will find it hard to say goodbye to the sexy convenience of the mash pots, the porridge, and most of all – the free stewed apples.

The fact I’ve eaten and enjoyed all this crap, yet only gained a small amount, is quite remarkable. I think the gain is chiefly down to me being hungover last Sunday and eating everything in sight! Maybe if I hadn’t, I would be sitting with a small loss today. Who knows?

Do I go for another week of WeightWatchers, bringing me up to an even four weeks before trotting back to Slimming World? Or do I just go now?

Your thoughts please!

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I just like this picture. It has nothing to do with weightloss, and everything to do with my brain.

WeightWatchers vs Slimming World: A Game of Two Halves

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Weightwatchers is weird.

That’s what Patsy Kensit should really be saying as she purrs her way through that ridiculous tv ad. As if that woman ever had problems with her weight! Being a Slimming World head, the transition to WW was not an entirely happy one. I have compiled a list of pros and cons of the WeightWatchers points counting plan.

PROS

  • No food is off limits. If you want to have a KitKat Chunky for your breakfast – happy days, work away
  • You get to eat BREAD. I have regained a taste for bread/bread products during my 14 days of WeightWatchers
  • You aren’t a slave to the stove. It is entirely possible to stick to the plan without having to cook. Between WW’s own range of ready meals, and the fact that Sainsburys and M&S carry ProPoints values on their ‘healthy range’; you’re never really stuck for a quick meal
  • Most fruit and veg are now free – they used to carry points back in the day, but now they don’t.
  • The 49 extra Weekly Points – means you can essentially eat whatever you want on one day of the week. Feels like a day off, but you’re still on plan. Or you can spread them out during the week, whatever.
  • The mobile app is fantastic. Easily navigated and quite comprehensive, it takes the guesswork out of shopping/eating out.

CONS

  • With no food being off limits, it’s a dangerous plan for someone who is experiencing food addiction. That sounds very conspiracy theorist, but I believe there’s an element of truth in it. The fact that you can have a KitKat for breakfast if you want is great – if you can stop at that. If WW had been my first choice of plan to try at 21 stone, I’m fairly sure I wouldn’t have been able to control myself! I would spend all my daily points on crap, promising myself that I’d eat only fruit and veg for the rest of the day – which would inevitably not happen.
  • While not having to cook is great, there are times when only a baked potato will do; but at 8 points for a medium baked potato, it feels like you are being penalised for wanting real food! A typical WW ready meal is anywhere between 7 and 10 points, so it feels more prudent to opt for the ready meal. A typical Slimming World baked potato feast (for me) would consist of at least two potatoes and a Heinz snap pot. This would work out at 20 points! Leaving me eight points for the rest of the day. If I added bacon into the mix, that would further erode my balance. It’s a big change having to weigh foods that you previously ate freely, and it’s a bit of a stumbling block to be honest.
  • The mobile app is great, but it doesn’t have all the values all the time. You can use the points calculator, but prepare yourself to get lots of dirty looks from fellow shoppers if you’re clogging up the aisle as you tap away on your smartphone.
  • Eating out is fine, only if you’re in a chain – ie Costa, Starbucks, Burger King, Wagamama etc. Independent cafes and delis are great if you’re doing Slimming World, as you can get yourself an ‘on plan’ meal quite easily, baked potatoes, salads, lean meats and so on all being free. With WW, I can go to a deli and get these things, but am I really going to ask the server what weight the potatoes are? Or exactly how much chicken they are putting in my tortilla wrap? Or, for that matter, what size is that wrap? It would be easier in terms of counting to go to a Poundland and load up on WW biscuits. That’s not a healthy approach to anything!

So all pros and cons considered, how have I enjoyed my (almost) two weeks of Weightwatching? It’s hard to know. Like I said at the start, it’s weird. The first week, I didn’t lose anything, so I thought I’d give it another week. Since I weighed in on Monday morning, I have lost 4.5 pounds! I weighed 12st 8.5lb yesterday morning, so I decided to change my weigh in day to Saturday as it makes more sense – I can then enjoy my Weekly Points on Saturday night with even less guilt than normal. I went out last night and used them with great gusto!

I will say though, I am experiencing quite a bit of hunger on this plan. McCooey likes to eat, and I am missing my big feeds of pasta, potatoes, beans, cooked breakfasts etc. But maybe that’s not a bad thing? Maybe I am at the stage now where portion control needs to be looked at? Who knows. All I know is that I do seem to be eating smaller meals more often. I’m not feeling entirely satisfied, but then that is allayed by being able to have some chocolate later in the evening. Though how WW work out their ProPoints values is beyond me. A 200g portion of Heinz Beans (a snap pot) is 4 ProPoints – as is a Malteser Bunny. A three egg omelette made with three large eggs equals 8 ProPoints, before you add any ham, bacon, cheese, whatever. A Pot Noodle has 7 points. See the disparity? I’m not even going to get into the issue of ready meals and their salt content etc, but I can’t ever see how food from a packet can be preferable to actual proper food.

That said, the weightloss from this week is very pleasant to see, and makes me want to continue with the plan for that reason. The weightloss. Whether or not it’s sustainable remains to be seen, but I’m enjoying my break from Slimming World – despite missing most elements of it. Maybe there’s a way to combine the two? One week of Food Optimising followed by one of Weight Watching maybe? Or if there’s a period of time coming up where you know you’re going to be out a lot, or on holiday etc, maybe you can take time off Slimming World but stay ‘on plan’ with WeightWatchers? Even if only to maintain? I’m going to give it another week and see what happens next Saturday. I may wean myself back onto SW but keep an eye on my portion sizes, and literally Watch my Weight.

WILL I EVER BE TWELVE STONE AGAIN?

WILL I EVER GET OFF MY ARSE AND GO RUNNING AGAIN?

WILL I EVER STOP FREAKING OUT ABOUT MY WEIGHT?

Christ only knows.

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Egg, beans and toast = 13 points
Ready meal = 12 points

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Chicken HotPot. Does what it says on the tin. Or pot in this case.

Slimming With The Enemy

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So! I’ve been threatening to do this for ages, but after yet another weekend of not being able to keep my grubby fat paws off all things synful, I decided to join WeightWatchers on Monday. Yes. WeightWatchers. I dallied with this idea back in June, but took one look at the points system and wanted to throw the laptop out the window. Counting EVERYTHING felt so foreign and scary to me, after the luxury of Slimming World’s all-you-can-eat ethos. So what’s changed?

I’m finding food to be hard work at the minute. Maybe it’s the excesses of Christmas still lingering with me, but putting down the pies is proving difficult. I haven’t seen 12st 5lb since the 22nd of December, and instead am floating anywhere between 12st 10lb and 13st 2lb. Not exactly where I want to be. I think I’m getting lazy too. I’m finding it hard to get motivated to cook the yummy dishes I used to, just because it is time consuming and it creates a lot of dishes! I feel a bit guilty saying this, because Slimming World has been so good to me and I recommend it so highly; but I’ve always said that it isn’t for the faint hearted, and you need to either have a keen interest in cooking, or be prepared to develop one. I’ve been falling off the wagon too regularly, and I’m getting disheartened with the whole thing. So there was no better time to try something completely new.

I signed up to WeightWatchers online yesterday, and am tentatively making my way around ProPoints and the daily tracker. It’s a big change, as you have to keep an eye on your portion sizes, and you can eat an awful lot of stuff that would be taboo on SW. I also find it weird how things stack up against each other points wise – example – 1 x Heinz Beans Snap Pot is four ProPoints, yet 1 x Creme Egg is five. For a chocoholic, that would be a pure no-brainer! I’m not quite sure that it encourages healthy decision making. Anyway, I’m trying not to overthink things and am just putting my faith in the plan. I weighed in yesterday at 12st fucking 13lb, so I am going to try and dodge the scales til next Monday. I will keep you updated.

I’ve always slabbered on about how the secret to losing weight is finding the plan that suits you best. That was Slimmimg World for me, but I’m a very different person than I was almost four years ago, so maybe my go-to plan has changed. Have I outgrown Slimming World? Or does the thought of ‘allowed’ sweeties just tempt me more at the minute? I’d say the latter is more likely.

Anyone else swing both ways in terms of Slimming? Are you #bi-slimming? Tell me how you do it!

Laters!

McCooey

P.S. Patsy Kensit losing a stone in four months is the most uninspiring weightloss success story I’ve ever heard.