Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Austerity roolz!

A pre-Christmas walk with D in the snow on Surprise View. It was a strange day - a mixture of murk and sunshine and very, very cold.

I've already posted one of these of Minty but it's such a lovely shot I'm going to put it up again! She looks like this a lot - interested, alert and slightly stroppy!


D on the phone in the middle of nowhere like some saddo. Actually he was trying to hook up with his brother stuck in Paris due to snow but that doesn't stop me taking the piss!

Me standing on the Salt Pot rock formation - freezing wind and D faffing around with the camera.....brrrr again

View towards Hathersage and the Hope Valley beyond.

View towards Stanage Edge

How clever of Peridot to pick up on what I said in my last post about being excited about the upcoming month of austerity. I truly am.

But I often feel like this after Christmas, as though I want to "cleanse my palate", eat plain clean foods, fruit and veg and not much fat or sugar. And the exercise too, I want to be out of doors and sweating rather than indoors and stuffy with loads of people around. I'm a bit of a hermit really, quite like a dose of solitude here and there.

So, it's going well so far (albeit it only 3 days in). Did my long walk and gym yesterday and set a date with Vicky for another visit to the gym this evening. Which is just as well because it's filthy here today. There's no way I would have managed a run, long walk or bike ride today - sleety, icy rain/snow and freezing cold. The roads are treacherous and the dogs could not get indoors fast enough so no support there!

Despite that, there are loads of people out running or cycling. I think I'm mad but they must be certifiable! I drove into Sheffield this morning to buy my outfit for New Year's Eve (of which more later) and there was thick snow on the tops (the higher ground betwen here and Sheffield) and I was having to pass not one but several cyclists or runners! Who in their right mind would head out over Moscar Top in this weather??

So, back to NYE. The fancy dress theme in my local is the 80's. Not very original perhaps but entertaining and easy and fun for the likes of me who turned 10 in 1979!! I remember it all folks....

I went into town today to try and put together some sort of outfit. I wanted a proper Dynasty/Dallas type dress and all the trimmings. There are loads of vintage shops in Sheffield aiming at the student market but I was worried that I might be a bit big, erm...fat, for the gear. I needn't have worried!! I tried on 2 LBDs a la 80's - you know the ones - black velvet bodice with ra ra taffeta skirt in black shot with gold or silver lurex! They were both slightly on the large side! So that gave me confidence to try the less obvious.

The shop was otherwise empty and I managed to engage the interest of the assistant (who was really nice) so she kept bringing me possibles to try. Stuff that I would NEVER have picked up in a million years. In the end I settled on a daffodil yellow silk power dress. Big shoulders, peplum waist and draped handkerchief skirt. It's horrific in a strangely flattering kind of way. I will team it with black elastic belt, black lacy tights and stilletoes, lacy fingerless gloves, lacy bow in hair and a selection of the most horrific balck and gold jewelry Top Shop could supply me with. The Top Shop thing freaked me out as the worst of their jewelry wasn't even on sale - there was no irony- girls might actually buy this stuff in all seriousness!!!

Anyway, I promise to post the pics. Hope you all have a great NYE - even you Peri - and an even better start to 2010. Mwah!

Tuesday, 29 December 2009


I'm very behind with my photos. This was a walk before Christmas on Mam Tor - I started off with the best of intentions to walk for a good long way but the weather came in and I turned back early. Thank goodness I did - the last 20 minutes of the walk were into a driving icy rain. I was soaked and freezing. If I hadn't turned when I did it would have been terrible!
This is the view into the Edale valley.

The amazing flying Minty!

View towards Sparrowpit and Rushup Edge. The weather still fine at this stage but very cold.

The path to the summit. It is such a busy walk that the Peak Park has built these york stone paths or erosion would have ruined the land by now.

Edale and Kinder Scout.

Me and the dogs on top.

For once I met a competent photographer - normally they cut half of me off in these circumstances!

The Great Ridge looking from Mam Tor towards Hollins Cross and Lose Hill

Well, I had a lovely Christmas with my family. We were over in Lincolnshire at Mum and Dad's (or rather, Nana and Grandad's as I came to call them). There was my sister's family of 6 plus 2 gorgeous golden retrievers and the boyfriend of her eldest daughter and my brother's family of 3 minus my brother himself over from Canada. Poor old Graham is stuck out on an oilrig in Canada as is Diarmuid (although different rigs).

So, nearly the full family complement. It was chaotic but good fun. My sister in law Hadi is a marvellous cook of the south-east asian persuasion so she did the catering pre-Christmas and I did the Christmas day lunch (very traditional turkey and all the trimmings). My sister was very tired and a bit under the weather so did the breakfasts and we had plenty of teenagers to tidy up (when nagged) and help out where required.

My father loved it; all his family around him, going to the pub, to church, for walks with the dog and playing games and telling stories. It was lovely. I enjoyed it more than I have in the past, perhaps because the kids are older now - the youngest is nearly 14 - so they were less demanding and more entertaining.


  • Walking all 4 dogs by myself on a freezing foggy and snowy Christmas day morning at 8.30am. My sister's 2 golden retrievers merging into the fog and my 2 girls sticking close to guard me from the big boys! I felt like the only person out and about and it was just magical - time to breathe before the chaos of the day started.
  • Going to the pub with all the girls on Christmas Eve and then onto Midnight Mass in the church where my sister and I were both married. It was full and beautifully decorated and my nieces and my sister and I sang the alto and descant parts to all the hymns. The nieces all sing in choirs and hearing their 4 voices soaring up to those top notes while Hilary and I tried to remember the alto parts was brilliant. Probably a bit show-offy but my Dad loved it and loads of people have commented to him about the girls' voices in the pub since then so he is bursting with pride. Very special.
  • Shopping on Christmas Eve in Lincoln - such a nice shopping town - not to big, not too small, pretty and practical.
  • Seeing my mum happy and relaxed. She is in the early stages of Alzheimers but she was very much herself over Christmas so, although she can't do all the stuff she used to do, she is still happy and when you get her on old stories, very amusing.

Anyway, I'm back home now and have a week off before going back to work on Monday. It is great. I'm concentrating on exercise and sensible eating and am determined to drop the Christmas pud and make a good start on getting back to where I was this summer. January is going to be a month of austerity and exercise for me and I'm very excited about it.

I started the regime yesterday with a monster mountain bike ride with my friend Vicky. Trouble is, the side roads and tracks round her are still pretty snowy and icy in places. I'm a bit braver about that stuff than Vicky so only took one tumble on sheet ice but Vicky lost her confidence so was falling off rather a lot. Felt a bit guilty! It was beautiful though.

Today was a big walk (6 miles) around the Chatsworth estate - Baslow - Pilsley - Edensor - Chatsworth. It was rather murky but still bracing and pretty. I found myself on tracks I've never been on which I enjoy and a couple of the views were spectacular. Vicky is calling round at 6.30 to take me to the gym too so there is no escape! We arranged it yesterday and both of us feel that an appointment will keep us on the straight and narrow. There is no way I would have made it to the gym this evening if I was not meeting her so I think we were right to make the date!

I'm also going to dig out my book of notes from the TV programme and remind myelf about the things I did this summer which worked so well. One thing is definitely getting back to daily weigh-ins and marking my progress on a big chart so I have nowhere to hide!! That is tomorrow's chore though.

Anyway, I've waffled on for long enough now so have better get back to my jobs. Hope you're having a good break (if you're off work) and that the Christmas poundage is not too daunting!

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

It's Christmas!!

Mintini in the snow - she loved it until the snow marbles appeared on her back paws...then there was much whinging!

Well, nearly. I've been rushing around like a mad thing to have a early Christmas with Diarmuid who has now gone over to Newfoundland and his ship. He was a very unhappy bear to be leaving - partly because we had had such a lovely Christmassy time before he went and partly just because. And then it snowed just to make everything look even lovelier and make it even harder (both practically speaking and emotionally) for him to leave.

And now I have to do it all again with my family. I'm about to head off to Lincolnshire and the parentship to rendezvous with my parents, sister and her family and sister-in-law with niece and nephew from Canada. There are going to be 13 of us and 4 dogs for Christmas - yikes! Really looking forward to it though. Then a week off after Christmas when I talk sternly to myself about food and exercise!! And blog, lots....

I have to admit to weight gain - but not a massive one. I got on the scales this morning and have an extra 5 or 6 lbs there which really shouldn't be there!! This is getting silly.

But I'm not distraught or even particularly unhappy. In fact, the extra weight is there because I've been so happy. I just need to re-focus and get back to what worked. In the meantime, over Christmas, I'm going to enjoy myself but not go mad so as to limit the further damage. Have some nice things but not eat for the sake of it. Keep up with the exercise (which isn't a problem for me at the mo) and just generally keep a lid on the excess.

The main thing to realise is that I'm still over a stone lighter than I was at the beginning of the year!! So that's a year when I have lost weight, not gained. And that is a GOOD thing!

I also have loads of photos to sort out. I have been slack on these as D bought me a laptop for my birthday and now I have to learn all the new gizmos on it. But I have loads of good pics to share. No wifi at the Olds' so it be next week now.

I hope you all have a wonderful Christmas and don't go too crazy on the party food and drink. Have fun - take the special stuff and leave the dross behind!!

Sunday, 13 December 2009

It's been ages....sorry

This is just a quick helloo to let you know that I'm alright, sticking to the grindstone (most of the time) and enjoying life too. I'm very excited this evening as I'm about to set off into Sheffield for Sports Personality of the Year!! It's been one of my annual must-watches since I was a kid and now I'm going to see it live!!

We were out for a lovely walk in the sunshine this afternoon but apart from that have done very little so all in all it's been a great Sunday!

Hope yours have been too and I'll be back soon. Mwah!!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The Chimp Theory

Below is an old post which I published back in April when I was first learning about the Chimp Theory during filming for the TV show. I removed it from my blog because the TV company got a bit paranoid and thought Steve Peters wouldn't be happy but he later said that he didn't mind at all! Anyway, Ex Yo Yo Dieter asked about the Chimp Theory so I thought I would re-post it for information. I learned a lot more besides but this is the clearest explanation:

So I don't sound like an insane woman rambling on about chimps, I had better explain the part of Dr Steve Peters' theory that he outlined to us last night. He said there was still more to come but he has to do it in chunks as it is quite technical.

The brain is divided into 6 sections. He told us to think of them as separate organs almost, like the liver and the kidneys. They work toegther but they develop differently and do different tasks. We're apparently only interested in the 3 of them that deal mainly with our emotions and behaviour.

The 3 are the frontal lobe which is "me", my logical, sentient, thinking personality. Then there is the computer which we didn't talk about last night and then there is "the chimp". He described her as being there already when "I" moved in. The chimp is the primitive, emotional, animal part of my brain which is NOT "me". And she is very strong. He said 5X stronger than me!

He said that me and my chimp do not always agree but if I try and take her on using strength (willpower) alone, I WILL LOSE. That was the first bell ringing. Willpower alone won't work. She (my chimp) might let me away with it once in a while but she remains in control.

This dual personality thing explains a lot for me. I often say in this blog how I conduct internal bargaining sessions. About what to eat or trying to persuade myself to go for a run, doing a short one and then carrying on etc. I've been talking to my chimp all along and I never knew!!

Anyway, what motivates her? This is the kicker.

Steve explained that for female chimps there are 3 primary motivating elements (there are many others besides but these are the main ones):

The first and most important is FOOD! Our chimps and therefore we are programmed internally from birth to be motivated by food. Men are not. (Their chimps' motivations are power, ego and sex - who knew!!). He explained that this is due to the female role in the wild of having lots of babies and the need to keep up our body fat to be able to bear them and them feed them.

The second (and this really knocked me down) is INSECURITY. He explained that it is necessary for a female chimp, due to her relative size to the males, not to take them on physically and due to her role in child care to be very cautious and fearful. Hence, constant insecurity is hardwired into our brains. A small rustle in the bushes and she's off. A male chimp, on the other hand will be more confident of taking on a threat so doesn't need the same level of insecurity.
Explains a lot eh?

The third motivation is the MATERNAL instinct. While this doesn't apply to me as I don't have kids, the women in the group with children were nodding. This is why women put themselves last in the pecking order and prioritise their family at the expense of their health and wellbeing. This might seem altruistic but it leads to sad, unfulfilled mothers which is, logically, not the best outcome for the children.

So, what does our chimp do about these 3 motivations?? Well, she fights, flees or freezes. Steve said that flight and freezing are by far the most common response with fighting being the last resort for a female.

This reveals it self in many ways. For example, one of my most detested personality traits is my procrastination. Steve explained that this was my insecure chimp, fearful of not being able to do the task, compelling me to either flee from it or freeze into inertia. Which is why, when I actually do start it, usually by bargaining with the chimp that we'll just do 15 minutes or something, we discover that we can do it and we actually enjoy it!

Regarding the food issue. I don't want to eat; I know I'm not hungry and can wait 'til lunch or I only need a salad. My chimp does want to eat. It's the jungle to her and she's not sure when her next meal is coming from. In a head-on battle, she will win. Maybe not always but often enough for me to know that she is in control.

So how to deal with her? Steve said, treat her like a child or a dog that you need to cajole, outwit and, ultimately, train. If a toddler was screaming for food 30 minutes before supper you would distract it. Try that.

My chimp is very social and concerned about her standing the group. You can shame her into not eating. Putting photos of your fat self on the fridge in a public place. Try telling people that you're not going to eat at a buffet, say. Your chimp is proud and will help you to not give in. This explains why I found abstinence when I was doing Lighter Life easy. I had told everyone at work, at home and in the pub that I was only eating packs and drinking water. My chimp wouldn't lose face by failing. Now of course, she is sneaky and tries to push the boundaries all the time. Cow!

We didn't have long on these techniques as the theory took a long time but it's all in the preparation. He wants us to identify our chimp this week and start to get to know her. Why don't you join in?

I felt a huge wave of relief as the theory unfolded. And excitement. Finally I could understand why I don't seem to be able to get past this permanently. Even Steve was slightly teary himself as he said how unjust it is that women beat themselves up for something which is not "them". It is their chimps. Once you get to know your chimp you can learn to control her and take over the running of your body and brain from her but until then, why feel bad about being a perfectly running female machine??

Also, so many of the diets, regimes and techniques which I've learned in the past are not wrong. They're just not the whole picture. It all hangs together now for me so I can see how CBT/NLP etc have their place (apparently we'll get to that in the computer part of the brain). I can see how the not beating yourself up helps. The take a small step, idea; the distraction techniques. Now I know WHY though and that, for me, makes all the difference.