Monday, 22 June 2009
It was late evening and sunny, but I was running towards a massive black cloud so there was an awesome rainbow. Just as I struggled to the top of the hill and stopped at the stile to catch my breath I turned and saw this double bow just perfectly framing Hathersage. Beautiful.
Oh well. You can't win 'em all and at least I enjoyed it!
Apart from the run and being really good foodwise, I feel fat and bloated!! It's very annoying. I have to have faith that it's just TOTM but my big monthly weigh-in for the TV programme is tomorrow evening as well as the 1km time trial. I'll be cursing if I haven't lost any weight or if I can't improve my speed!! Bad timing.
Hey ho.....wish me luck.
Friday, 19 June 2009
This one didn't want to get up even she she stood up. I felt guilty for disturbing her!
I've been pondering on the phenomenon I think of as "The Fog". This is the state which can last a day, a few days or sometimes several weeks or even months where you drift away from your tried and tested routine of food and exercise and into murkier waters. Where you shut your mind to the consequences of what you're eating and drinking and "forget" to exercise. Where every test of will seems beyond you.
When you becalmed in The Fog, you don't really know it; you think you're just having a hard day and you'll get it back tomorrow. It's only later, when you sail out of The Fog that you look back and think - "what the hell was that?". Everything suddenly seems so much easier; healthy food tastes delicious again; exercise is wonderful and the scales start to head south....la la la...Happy Days.
I've been caught by The Fog loads of times. Now, I even recognise it and can, if I really try, swerve out of its grasp but, even now, it can ensnare me from time to time. I want to know what triggers it; what I can do to evade it; how I can make it short and WHY ME?? [Note - I know nothing about clinical depression and really don't think my Fog is anywhere near that extreme. I can still function fine, go to work, get up in the morning, even force myself to do exercise etc, don't cry randomly and can still have a good time on occasions throughout the fogginess but, overall I suppose a cloud of fog is heading in that general direction.]
What helps me to avoid the Fog? In no particular order:
- Company; having things arranged. If I'm at home by myself and have a quiet weekend, I often look forward to it, thinking that I'll get loads done but now I realise that these are the danger times for me. I need to make sure that I have arranged at least a couple of social events, be they a night out, a walk with a pal, or just doing some gardening or shopping with someone. An empty weekend is a trigger.
- Keeping busy. Nearly the same thing but it's not so much about the company but more about the activity and stimulation that it brings. If I'm dashing around going to personal training, french class, velodrome, running, pub quiz, walking the dog, watching football, socialising, I'm less likely to hit the fogbank, more likely to sail in clear waters.
- Change. When I completed my half marathon last spring, I was stale and bored with the relentless demands of my running training but I had nothing to replace it with so I slacked off on the running (almost stopped it) and this created a vacuum inviting the Fog into my life. If I had replaced it with tennis or golf or mountain biking, who knows whether I might have been able to stave off last year's lengthy (and expensive in terms of weight) stay in the foggy doldrums. What I do know is that taking up cycling and learning the track discipline for this TV programme has stimulated my love of exercise again, I'm back running and I'm enjoying it all in a different way.
- Reasonable expectations. If I expect too much of myself then I'm bound to "fail". This then sets up the stressed eating and hiding behaviour which characterises the Fog. If I accept that I do a lot and sometimes just need to rest and that's okay, then I'm Iess likely to push myself into failing.
What helps me get out of The Fog once I'm in it?
- Often, outside accountability. Being weighed and having to report to someone else. This can jolt me out of my complacency and avoidance of the issue.
- Time. Sometimes you just get through it. Usually though, time is accompanied by gaining weight so it's not really the passage of time but desperation because I've gone up a size (or in the bad old days 2!) that leads to me emerging from the Fog. This is NOT what I want. I need to find a way to get out of it before I'm wearing a larger size!
- Help. A third party, be it a friend who invites me to go jogging or someone to go to a slimming class with. A bit random.
So, it seems that the best way to cut short a period of bad habits is to set up a structure of outside accountability while you're in the good times in readiness for the bad. The need to weigh myself at set times and report on this weight to someone who would force/encourage immediate action if gains are made. How to set this up, I'm not quite sure. I thought originally that a weekly weigh in of my own and a graph on the fridge or something. But I'm not sure this is strong enough. When I'm in the thrall of the Fog I'm very good at fooling myself and could easily rationalise away any gains. Will think about this. Maybe get D involved in a positive way in maintaining my weight although this seems like anathema to me.
BTW, all this talk about the Fog is just my way of thinking about this. In reality, it all fits perfectly with the chimp theory. The Fog is when my chimp is in control and the behaviour prevalent during the Fog is her behaviour. So I'm really talking about avoiding periods of time when my chimp is in control and wresting back control when she is. Hopefully, as I learn to live my life in a better balance and keep my chimp happy on a day to day basis, this Fog business will recede but, at the moment, it's something I have to guard against.
Phew, another biggie. I must post a few more...went for a walk, ate muesli....la la la posts or I'll tire you out!
Monday, 15 June 2009
On the TV front, it has been quiet and a bit stagnant to be honest. I feel as though we've been trudging through the exercise and diet without much input recently. Hopefully, that'll change as we have 1 more week to go before another lot of weights, measurements and our penultimate 1km time trial on Tuesday 23 June. That motivates me and gives me something to really aim at this next week. I think the sense of a "lull" was what caused me to seize on Lainey's idea of losing a stone. I need that added interest to keep me going.
So, why am I feeling the lack of input? If I'm honest, I think its because I wanted this TV programme to "solve" my issues for me. As I have done throughout my history of dieting and exercising. I wanted this new guru to step in, tell me what to do, motivate me to do it and, essentially, wave his magic wand, all in full view of the TV cameras, until I was slim and able to maintain my slimness. Clearly, that is never going to happen.
The beauty of the TV programme is that they have left us to it to a large extent. It is clear that our motivation or lack of it has to come from ourselves. The Psych guy has made it clear that we are the queens of our programmes and he and the rest of the team are merely knowledgeable advisers. This is beginning to sink in; when I've had a bad week or a poor day, it takes less time for me to stop the rot, turn the behaviour round and start to lose again. I'm wasting less time bemoaning my fate and berating myself for slipping off the wagon and more time looking forward and concentrating on what I need to do to achieve my goals.
This leads me to 2 topics which are new to me (amazingly - I mean I'm nearly 40 years old, you would have thought these might have occured to me before now!):
It's important to have them. Well, durrr. However, how you formulate them is important too. Previously my goals were large and general - "I need to lose 9 stone", "I need to get fit", "I want to be able to wear size 12 clothes and look good". Maybe then I needed such big goals to spur me on to lose the bulk. But now, such general statements are not terribly helpful. "I need to lose 3 stone/ 2 stone" does not motivate in the same way. Now, I think it helps to tie your goals to specific deadlines, to vary them and to break them down:
- "I want to lose a stone by 1 August". It's catchy, manageable and measurable. It will make me happy. I know how to do it and just have to get on with it. Seemples..
- "I want to improve my 1km time trial time". This has been interesting as it has lead me to look at exercise in a whole new way. Previously, exercise was only there to help me lose weight. Now it is an end in itself, one of my goals. So, instead of trudging through the low intensity, long lasting aerobic stuff which burns the most calories, I'm adding in sprinting and high intensity intervals. This has challenged me and made me appreciate what my body can do. I'm seeing an improvement in my times and an improvement in the intensity at which I can work. I did it before when I trained for the half marathon but that involved more of the same in terms of long distance running. Once the TV programme is over, I'm going to find something new, a new skill which I can work on.
- "I want to work on my relationship". The work we've done with the Psych guy has not just been limited to track times and weight. He recognises (as we all do) that external factors have a bearing on the achievement of our goals. His insight into the interaction between my chimp and D's has been amazing. It has explained so much. I have found this the single most useful aspect of the programme. In applying some of his suggestions, I've felt much more relaxed and able to appreciate the many positive things about D and minimise any negativity and some of the niggles of a long distance relationship. It has been advice in the real world too; there's no suggesion that everything is always going to be perfect but lots of helpful ways to smooth things out and minimise stress.
This is different to one's goals. Goals are what you are aiming for, motivation is what makes you do the work. Motivation, inspiration; I think they're the same thing. Given the dearth of external motivation from the TV programme, I have been increasingly trying to work out what works for me. Previously, I think I was afraid. I lost weight because I was frightened of how fat I had become. I was worried that I would somehow "fail" at life. My marriage might struggle, I wouldn't be popular, I wouldn't be attractive. All scary stuff. I masked these fears with a show of bravado and outward confidence of course.
Now though, my motivation is much more positive. There is no stick and lots of carrot (quite literally, mate...). I'm moving towards a healthy, active, attractive life which involves lots of balance. Now, I'm inspired not intimidated by women who seem to be living the life I want to live.
Like my friend who lost weight years ago and since than has incorporated running into her life and now looks as though she is bursting with health and vitality (and great legs!). So much so that she has recently taken up learning to drive a horse drawn carriage (which is harder and scarier than it might sound)! Helen who bikes regularly and stays slim and combines motherhood with working and running our play area fund-raising group. Peridot who bikes into work and braves the London traffic, the Pillock Peloton (I love that phrase) and hair issues! Stacey who gave up a well paying legal job in the City, moved up to near me in the middle of the countryside and now has a feature film she co-produced being released at the Edinburgh Film Festival ("A Boy Called Dad" - check it out, plug plug plug). Mrs L who constantly strives to better herself , help others and support her family and pals despite challenges on the health front.
When I'm feeling flat or unmotivated I try and think about these women and remind myself that they must have times when they don't want to do whatever it is but they do do it and look at the results.
I'm not scared to use competition as a motivating factor either. I recognise that I am quite competitive and, as long as it doesn't drag me down if I'm not "the best", which I'm frequently not, it's a useful spur to my chimp. "If she can do it, so can I", sort of thing.
Now, I'm developing a picture of what I'm aiming at not running away from something that frightens me. It's much nicer this way round.
Thursday, 11 June 2009
An even newer foxglove with the sun behind.
The sun beginning to set through the trees.
Each new realisation was celebrated and analysed and seemed to add a new layer to the notion that I would never return to fatdom. Well, nearly 2 years have passed and I have not returned to fatdom although I did flirt with it and I haven't remained as slender as I briefly was. My mind has caught up with my body and I recognise new definitions of "fat" and "thin". I have changed (I hope) forever.
So, what is new and exciting about this stage in my (beware, dreaded word coming, avert your eyes if of a sensitive disposition) journey?
- An inner calm and confidence. I do not dread things in the same way as I used to. The stakes are not as high. Why might this be so? I mean, I've only lost weight not changed jobs or inherited a fortune. I think it the achievement of a longheld desire which has taught me that I can do stuff; I can set my mind to a goal and achieve it. And also the sheer fact of being slimmer and more attractive sets my inner chimp (yes, her again) at ease as she worries about these things. Life for a fat chimp is necessarily more precarious and a fat chimp would be more insecure and worried about her main aims, namely finding a partner in order to procreate. [Note - I'm not the chimp - just because she cares about these things and causes me grief in so doing, doesn't mean that I do but it helps me if she is happy too.]
- After that rather deep effect, a trivial one: my feet don't hurt. When you're a big girl, your feet hurt nearly all the time. Now they don't.
- I don't try as hard. I don't feel the need to wear make-up and high heels all the time. I love make-up sometimes and love dressing up too but, now when I dress up I know it's because I want to, not because I would feel miserable being seen in public without my armour of make-up and "flattering" clothes. The same thing applies to my socialising. I used to make a lot of the running socially. Arranging things and keeping in touch with people. Now, while I'm willing to take on my share of the social "duties", I don't do more than my share. If I don''t feel like going out, I don't (unless there is a genuine obligation and it would hurt someone etc). I trust that people enjoy my company for me rather than having to make the running and somehow "earn" the right to be popular. (Truly, fatness is a debilitating condition.) I'm more willing to say no and set limits than I used to be and less likely to hunger after popularity and approval.
- Are you ready for a trivial one? Tights. If I have to wear them (ie.during the depths of winter) they're not too bad. They don't automatically ladder when stretched over massive thighs and then rub during the day. If they do ladder, I can nip out and buy another pair in a local shop, I don't have to have several back up pairs of fat girl tights in every location because I can't fit into normal sizes. And, best of all, the minute it even looks vaguely like spring, I can discard them confident that the tops of my legs will not rub and chafe and blobs of cottage-cheesy flab will not adorn each chubby knee. Okay, my legs will never be slim (they just won't - I would have to be skeletal everywhere on my body and gaunt in the face for my legs even to approach slim) but they're not bad now and tights are not the angst-ridden works of Satan that they used to be in my fat girl incarnation.
- Reality. I think I recognise the concept a little now. I know now that life will not magically become perfect once I lose weight. I did that and it didn't. But I also know that I can make it better through my own efforts. As a fat woman I dreamt of escape and frequently did escape from real life. I read loads, often sitting for hours on the sofa reading pulp fiction about other people living wonderful lives. Now I read a bit but don't use books to escape from real life. I read for pleasure, relaxation and information. I think more about what I read and sometimes even apply it. If something is wrong with my life, I face up to it (eventually - hey - I'm a work in progress here) and try to do something about the problem. I don't read yet another novel about some woman changing her life and then marrying Mr Right. I don't dream about a magical weight loss surgery which would slice hanks of fat from my thighs without leaving a scar and instantly render me gorgeous. Or a terrible tropical virus which first puts me in a coma and then wastes the fat from my frame until I'm eventually saved and emerge a slyphlike size 10. Oh yes, I did used to dream. Now life is generally better than the dreams and there's fun to be had away from the sofa.
- Your final trivial example - speed. It was raining today when I left the supermarket. I was carrying 2 bags of shopping and wearing work shoes but no coat or umbrella. So I just speed-walked back to the office so as not to get too soaked. On my way back I overtook 2 of my colleagues, pretty large ladies both. They were toiling back at a steady, weary pace and getting wet. Speeding up was not an option for them but it was for me.
Anyway, there are bound to be loads more but that's enough to be getting on with. Thanks Claire for making me think; I've really enjoyed the process....perhaps I should do it more often!
Wednesday, 10 June 2009
Racing towards me through the bluebells.
Tuesday, 9 June 2009
The final one is to use logic and truth on you chimp and "box" her in. This one depends upon you finding something devastatingly strong which will just shut her up. For example I was explaining how I'd eaten a second portion of supper which I knew I didn't need and yet I'd not stopped myself. He suggested a Stop Sign saying "If you eat this, what does that make you?" Then I supply the answer which would most make my chimp stop in her tracks. A glutton? A failure? The idea is not to berate yourself but to shock your chimp with the truth of what she is trying to con/persuade you into doing. You can still go on and eat the second portion but you should do so in full awareness and acknowledging what you are doing. And obviously 99 times out of 100 you're not going to do so.
So, plenty of food for thought there for me. Need to work on both the distractions and the stop signs to help me power through this next 8 weeks. Not so sure about the exercising the chimp - I'll let you know if and when I get round to that!!
Monday, 8 June 2009
Dont' know why D was running but it was a sufficiently rare sight for me to record it for posterity. The dogs were confused by this unusual spectacle too.