Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing, Relationships, Weight Loss

The Effect of Emotion

What goes up must come down. After a triumphant step on the scales last week, things have headed south. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve had the best week in a long time – After nearly six weeks apart, I got some much-needed time with my partner, James. The first few days consisted of mostly sleeping on his part, so I toddled round doing my usual. The middle of the week was fabulous as we walked on the beach, told each other rubbish jokes, had a few drinks and had some chill-out time.

The Dread began to sink under my skin on Friday. I could feel it coming. The Dread is a familiar feeling to me, it used to come as a bumper-gift pack when I was sorely depressed. All of a sudden, you take no pleasure in normal activities. Going out the house doesn’t interest you, and that horrible feeling of not wanting to do anything at all creeps in. I’m a person that does stuff. Alarm bells started ringing. For me, my love of the outdoors disappears, I don’t want to wash and would rather hibernate under a blanket on a couch than do anything else.

I know fine well how it came about. On Sunday I had to face the hard task of putting James back on a plane to London. When I left the Fens, I took our whole house and our pets four hundred miles North, and left James standing on the doorstep of an empty house. All he had left was a car to drive and his job. I can honestly say it’s the hardest and most upsetting thing I’ve ever done. Bar none. Today was worse. It was like sending him back to prison for a crime he didn’t commit after a week in a luxurious resort. I know this all sounds a bit dramatic, but I can’t believe how much it has affected me.

The first thing I noticed was my writing. I write every day – sometimes just a few words in my journal, sometimes thousands of words in my novel. I stopped writing on Thursday. By Friday night, I didn’t want to go out anywhere and cracked open the Jack. I stopped tracking what I ate and drank. I stopped caring. Saturday, I hid from the world as the Dread took over. Sunday morning I did my best and busied myself getting James to the airport, but couldn’t stand and watch as he said goodbye to the dogs. It broke my heart. Again.

I kept myself together at the airport, cuddled him, told him for the millionth time that it won’t be long before he moves back for good, waved with a smile and drove off. I made it onto the M8. I pulled onto the hard shoulder and stuck my hazards on. I bawled my eyes out for a good five minutes. I cried for selfish reasons, I cried for James’ reasons. I cried for ruining what would have been a great WWs week, and for the confusion of our dogs when I returned alone.

Thankfully, I feel better today. I’m back to ‘normal’ – tracking, writing, and leaving the house. Phew. I told James the next time he comes home, I’m not letting him leave. Next time will be for good.

I suppose the lesson I’ve learned this week is that no matter how strong you think you are, never underestimate the power of emotions.

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Targets, Weight Loss

Didn’t She Do Well?

That escalated quickly.

I sauntered in to my weigh-in this morning full of hope for my 5% goal of 14st 2. I stepped on the scales and my leader said:  “Oh my God!”…. I panicked. I’ve been really good this week, exercised and tracked everything. Surely I hadn’t put on? No, no, no. It was an exclamation of surprise, but for the right reasons. I’ve lost 5lbs – I’m 13st 12.5. Smashed my 5% target, into a new number and half a pound from my stone, and second silver seven. I couldn’t believe it. Cordelia was smiling proudly in the corner of my brain, clapping demurely.

My brain reacted quickly to the clapping – always one for a challenge, I immediately said, “Let me get off and on again to see if I can’t get this stone.” I took off my shirt and hopped back on.

Beep.

13st 12 on the button. Cordelia dispensed with the conservative clapping, whooped, and started dancing in circles, flashing her petticoat at all and sundry. I did a little dance too, and got a massive cuddle from my leader, accompanied by applause from the other WWs. Pleased as punch!

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Although I feel like I’ve achieved above my own expectations, the hard work needs to continue. I have still got a long way to go. I have 5lbs left to lose to get running again, and more hard work will need to follow to get my fitness level back to where it was this time last year. But I’m ready.

More pressing is the coming week. I have my partner home from work (he works away). It’s his birthday, and we will be eating out no fewer than four times before I next weigh in, as well as ‘socialising’ a few nights too. I’m being realistic, I don’t expect a loss next week, maybe even a gain. I’m not one of those people who goes out and orders a chicken salad with no dressing. Life is for living, but I’m taking a tempered approach. I’m going to stick to low-point foods and meals outside of these occasions. I’m going to plan ahead if I can with online menus from the restaurants. I’ll estimate Propoints for meals which I don’t know the value of, and continue tracking and walking as I have been. No beer, no wine. If I want to drink, spirits and diet mixers only. I’m hoping this all-encompassing approach will limit the amount of chaos this week will cause, and draw a line under it next Sunday when James leaves.

Wish me luck.

Healthy Eating, Life Journey, Weight Loss

Ode to the Haggis

Being back in Scotland has many advantages. I feel very happy to be home on most counts. The only real drawback is the weather. As I mentioned before, it’s all the little things from home that you miss,  and I’ve settled back in well, enjoying all of those things and appreciating them. I’m starting to find a routine, which is something that I need. It’s particularly beneficial to me in terms of eating. I’m a ‘counter’, so tracking is important to me to continue the losses on the scales each week. I’ve gotten in to the habit again of tracking straight away after every meal so that the tendency to omit things is minimized and I can plan ahead.

This week has been good, I’ve been keeping myself active in preparation for going back to ‘proper’ exercise in a week or so (excited!) and I dropped a marvellous 3lbs at the scales giving me my first silver seven and leaving me only 1.5lbs from my 5% goal. I’ve updated my Positivity Page and my Goals Page if anyone would like a gander. My last stitch dropped out this week too, meaning when it has healed over I can head into the pool. All I need now is a swimsuit that fits, my old one is way too tight. I’m feeling good, and can definitely attribute the losses so far to tracking carefully.

“If you snack it, you track it”

Naturally, tracking leads to the inevitable ‘I wonder how many points is in this?’ and a quick tap on the app can usually satisfy the curiosity. Some things you just know are going to be horrendous (think half a meat feast pizza) and you’d rather not torture yourself by finding out. I’ve noticed that quite a lot of foods have surprised me though. A Rice Krispies Squares mallow bar is only 3ppts – if you have a sweet tooth but don’t want to splurge on chocolate, it’s ideal.

I was on one of these ponderings when I decided to look up an old favourite – Haggis. It’s not something I eat very often, say, once or twice a year, but I love it. I L-O-V-E it. Feeling a bit patriotic over the last few weeks, I found a tin winking at me whilst I was wandering round the supermarket, so I lifted it and put it in the trolley.

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Once I returned home and unpacked all my super-healthy shopping (ha!) I whipped out my app and looked up my haggis, thinking maybe I could have it as a treat sometime. It might be something nice to look forward to. Tap, tap, tap…my wee heart sank into the floor. I nearly collapsed. My tin was a whopping 14ppts! That’s nearly half my current daily allowance. ‘That’s not so bad?’ I hear you say – but hang on, we’re not talking a tin that you’d maybe split with someone…..

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This is what James refers to as a ‘diddy tin’. If I was to half it with someone for 7ppts (still a lot of points for me – my whole evening meal is often 7ppts) I’d barely have more than a few forkfuls. Absolutely not worth it.

So as I work towards my 5%, I think the wee tin of haggis will just need to stay in the cupboard. So much for the joys of being back in Scotland!

 

Exercise, Life Journey, Running, Stop Smoking, Targets

No Smoke (ing) Without Fire

The first full week of ‘behaving’ into the New Year has been interesting. I’ve got myself very organised, and got straight all the things in my head that need to be done. The next date that sticks in my head is my 30th Birthday in March, the day after my Half Marathon, so I can review my overall goals again then, and I’ve felt for a while that this will be a major turning point in my life. I weighed in on Saturday, finding that I was just 2.5 lbs heavier over the Festive period than at my pre-Christmas weigh-in. Not bad considering I ran twice over the two and a half weeks, and ate and drank like it was going out of fashion.

Patchy Patches

My weight hasn’t really been my main concern this week, because I’ve been overridden by the urge to SMOKE. It has consumed me, and Walter is poking me in the side of the head with his dirty, chubby finger whilst he puffs away on a Lambert & Butler. James and I decided to quit together, which is much easier I have to say, but it has meant that we have both been like bears with sore backsides since New Year’s Day.

I joined a smoking cessation programme at my local pharmacy to try and make things a bit easier on myself, and I need to check in once a week for the next 12 weeks. I was offered NRT (Nicotine Replacement Therapy) which is supposed to help take the edge off the cravings and eventually wean you off nicotine completely. I was offered loads of different options, and I specifically wanted to get away from the smoking motion of hand-to-mouth so refused an inhalator or electronic cigarette, and patches seemed to be the most sensible (and least disgusting) option.

It’s not going so good. Granted, I haven’t touched a cigarette in 5 days, but there are a few practicality flaws in the Masterplan. Firstly, you only get a weeks’ worth at a time, and you only wear one a day during your waking hours. Great, but no matter where you stick them on your body, the first hint of moisture and they peel right off and don’t stick again. So if you are showering/running/exercising you need to wait ’til you are done before you slap your patch on, or face the rest of the day nicotine-less. This has resulted in a few very tense mornings in our house, with cravings gnawing away at me sometimes until well after lunch-time.

The second issue is strength. I’ve smoked 10-15 cigarettes a day for nearly 15 years (give or take a few previous attempts at quitting) and the patches decrease in strength in three steps. Lovely stop-smoking lady gave me the mammoth strongest ones but said I may only need them for a week or two (instead of the full three) before switching down to middle-strength. If I wear one of these patches (which is roughly the size of a fold-out road map of London, by the way) I think I’m going to vomit within 2 hours, and end up taking them off.

Thankfully I’ve found a remedy for both problems that’s sorted me until my visit on Wednesday – I’ve done a little DIY job on them – Cut them in half. This gives me less nicotine, and also gives me 2 patches so I can wear one pre- and post-run 🙂

I’m going to bring these points up with my Cessation Leader and hopefully next week will be better…….

Weird things are starting to happen – I can smell my house. James and I have never smoked in the house, but I can smell stale smoke on the coats hanging in the hallway, and the laundry basket smells of it too (Febreze!) I can also smell ‘doggy smell’ in the porch – where the collies are left to dry off after a hard day at work.

We’ve binned all the lighters, so there really are no means of smoking at all. This is also weird – it’s unusual to get through a load of washing without seeing one swishing about in the washing machine! I’m not sure if my lungs are starting to work better yet, but my chest doesn’t feel as heavy when I wake in the morning, and I can taste the awful morning-breath. At least as a smoker you know you smell like a week-old ashtray when you wake up, but now I cannot identify the grotesque smells emanating from my mouth. It gives me an overwhelming compulsion to brush my teeth.  Suppose that’s a good thing.

Something that interests me is the ‘Stop Smoking Timeline’ and added benefits – lung function and circulation are important to me for running, and it’s nice to see how things are coming along. Nicotine levels obviously don’t apply to me for the next 11 weeks, but all the other nasties are leaving my body rapidly, and I like being able to compare how I’m feeling to the chart.

Change is as Good as a Rest…..

In other news, my WW leader decided to give up my meeting. I did not like this. I do not like change with stuff like that. I was annoyed, (purely for selfish reasons!) but this was partly due to the difficulty of trying to get to a meeting in between work – the two meetings are 20 miles each in different directions from home, and I was starting to get frustrated. I NEED the discipline of knowing that someone is going to be weighing me in, and also now I’d be jumping between 2 leaders.

I received a text message from a strange number on the 2nd of January. It was my new leader telling me that the meeting venue had changed, and there would be an additional meeting on a SATURDAY! HAPPY DAYS! Another problem solved! 1 meeting I can attend regularly, 1 leader (who is lovely and also a keen runner) no more hassle. Voila!

Race Day looms ever closer, and training is increasing. I’ve clocked up 26 miles running and at least 5 walking this week, so I’m hoping this will give my weight-loss a much-needed boost over the next few weeks. My sponsor forms are ready to go, and I’m now explaining to people what I’m running for. It’s a non-profit organization in the village that offers support to the frail and elderly in the local community, helping them to stay independent for as long as possible. Ballantrae has welcomed me wonderfully over the last year, so it’s nice to put something back.

I’ve yet to pick up my guitar, but other resolutions are off to a good start, so here’s hoping for another week of not-smoking, more running, a loss at the scales on Saturday, and maybe even a little strum…..

 

 

Healthy Eating, Life Journey, Weight Loss

Creatures of Habit – All change Again

It’s been too long since my last post, and there have been several crazy reasons why. Over recent weeks I’ve had an influx of ‘Silly Season’ – a raft of changes and upsets to my healthy mission. For the first time, one of these has left my physically unable to attend class and weigh in. They say that bad luck comes in threes – not so much bad luck, but mixed luck.

I finally got a ‘proper’ job – i.e one pertaining to my qualifications and something that involves what I love most – animals. I’m now part of a team that goes around dairy farms sampling milk which is tested for disease monitoring purposes, bacteria levels and yield volumes. This suits me perfectly, as I love being out and about (a throwback to my sales rep years),  talking to farmers as well as satisfying my scientific curiosities and meeting some lovely animals. To date my favourites are a sheepdog with a lazy eye, a cheeky escapee piglet and a rather stubborn and greedy Jersey cow.

Traditional vs. Industrial

Perfect job, right? Well…..like anything, it has its’ downside. And it’s a biggie. The hours are the most anti-social EVER. The first thought is that of a traditional dairy farmer – you need to be up early. Correct. Just how early is another matter. In addition, two samples need to be taken – an evening and a morning. So ‘old fashioned’ farms require a visit at night then you are up again to sample first thing. My earliest start is 3:30 am.

It’s not these charming little traditional farms that cause the issue however. If all were like that, your body clock would eventually adjust, and in my case so would my eating patterns. Not so.

Take a moment to think of the milk aisle in your supermarket. Think of how many cartons of milk there are. Not one type – LOTS of varieties – skimmed, gold, 1%, whole milk, cream etc. That’s a lot of milk. Dairy farms now reflect this, and some operate more like factories than farms. Your average ‘traditional’ farm will milk anywhere between 50-200 cows twice a day, but the masses and masses of milk that we buy in supermarkets (particularly skimmed/1% milk) is mostly generated by large dairy units (how very impersonal) milking 500-1200 cows up to three times a day. This obviously takes time, with many herds finishing one milking and being ready to start again almost immediately. The health/welfare implications of this can be discussed elsewhere, but my point is milking times.

I recently visited one of said ‘units’ working on an old-fashioned system (most big dairies have a rotary parlour that works like a carousel) for a night milking. 900 cows starting at 7pm. I had to drive 90 mins each way, so missed dinner-time, but went well-armed with soup etc for later. This parlour was an experience. Very little room, very warm (unusual) and no breaks. At all. I managed to get ahead at one point to give myself time to go to the toilet. I finally peeled my waterproofs off at 2:15 am, and got in the shower at home sometime after 4 am.

It’s stints like these that screw everything up, because they are thrown in at random (no-one in their right mind has that as a regular farm, so everyone takes turns for the night milking) and it’s not like working an 8-hour shift in a normal job. Once you start, you can’t stop, no breaks, and you are constantly working with numbers. Plus, in that particular parlour, you have to go up and down slippy step ladders to reach the collection bottles. I struggled to sleep when I got home that night, and was awake, bright as a button at 8am,which is a moderate lie-in for me under normal circumstances.This type of irregular work/sleep pattern has thrown exercise and eating habits into complete disarray, creating a vicious cycle of being too tired to exercise and craving stodgy warm food after being cold and tired.

Adding Injury to Insult

Upon taking this job, I had a transition period of three weeks where I was still working at the shop. So on top of crazy hours, in between I was either starting at 5:30am or finishing at 10pm. Also not conducive to attending class. Or getting any sleep.

During this transition, I had a bit of bother with one of only two fillings I have in my mouth – one had split and half of it had fallen out. I spent a few nights rinsing with salt water, unable to sleep. My dentist patched it during an emergency appointment to get me through the next few weeks until my ‘proper’ appointment. Within a week I had a full-on hamster cheek, and the pain was making my head throb. Bending down or lifting anything was out of the question. The smell was horrific and I knew then I had a mega-infection. Back to the dentist in between work.

I was offered root canal or extraction, the former being expensive and not guaranteeing success. I opted to haul it out – I’d had nothing but bother since the day and hour I’d had it filled the first time, and was feeling considerably rubbish. The extraction itself was pretty traumatic, I take a lot of anaesthetic, and even then I still feel stuff (apparently this has to do with the density of the jawbone) and this time was no exception. The tooth itself was knackered, and no amount of root canal would have saved it. (Phew! – Right choice.)

I was warned that I’d probably feel rough for a few days after due to the abscess and was told not to exercise heavily. As soon as the extraction pain disappeared a couple of days later, I felt a million times better. I went for a run. Big mistake. The throbbing started within minutes and I ended up turning round and walking home. The next day I had a sore throat, cough, and felt as if someone had stuffed my airways with cement. Mixed in with the crazy body-clock stuff, I developed two cold sores -a sure sign I was run-down. This is always my bodies’ way of telling me to slow down.

Here We Go Again

I’m now fully recovered and have finished my job at the shop (thank goodness!) and can start again building my habits. I’m very thankful that everything else in my life is pretty stable, otherwise things could have been disastrous (see posts from April) This is probably the last major aspect of my life to change that affects the way I eat and live, so now I can get on.

I’m sort-of ready to tackle the work/eating/exercise pattern now after giving it a bit of thought, and this ties in nicely with actually being able to attend weigh-in this week. I’m going to compartmentalize; the days I’m not working I’m going to keep as normal as possible. Get out for a run, track my points. The days I am at work, I’m just going to go with the flow and see where it takes me. My only rule here is not to stop at shops on the way to/from farms- as I’ve said before, sandwiches are a mega-weakness and can easily blow your daily allowance. Eating from home makes it easier to track. Hopefully after a few more weeks and getting some regular farms, I can start to plan round work because I’ll know what’s coming.

So, here’s to a fresh start on Thursday after weigh-in, as I’m pretty sure Walter’s been having a party behind my back…….

Healthy Eating, Running, Targets

Soup

Weigh in:  STS

I’ve had an interesting little holiday. I decided to take a week off from everything usual to get some more unusual things done. This included travelling 400 miles in one day, spoiling the Birthday Boy, nursing a fat foot, purchase of a car and having a little spending splurge (Very uncharacteristic). Although I’ve taken some time out, I still went to class to get weighed in, and went up and back down since my last post. I did, however get my 10% keyring and added it to my keys – I already have one of these, and it’s a reminder that I’m never adding a third. Do it once, do it right.

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‘New Shoes? Suits you Sir!’

After hitting my 10k distance I planned to go to a specialist running shop and get fitted for new pair of shoes and roped Mother Dear in for a girly trip. Before I managed to get that far, I managed to do myself an injury. I ran a total of 6 miles on the Sunday and then walked 5 miles to the pub (ahem) for some drinks for James’ birthday. I woke up on Monday morning with a fat foot which was painful to stand on. How the hell was I going to get a shoe on that?! (Sniggers from Walter)

It turns out I had tendinitis – an inflammation of the tendons usually caused by over-working the foot with poor support (i.e crap shoes – there’s a surprise) After some frantic RICE, some anti-inflammatories and a word from the doctor (‘No running for two weeks’ – yeah right!) Thursday arrived and my foot looked almost normal and the pain was gone.

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I was absolutely amazed at how far shoe technology has come on – it’s been a long time since I bought a pair and they have become like racing cars – slim, sleek and light. I bought a fantastic pair of shoes and immediately shaved over a minute off my 5k time on the first run!

Autumn

Between holidays/mood/laziness I’ve felt I’ve sort of been languishing on the eating front, and relying heavily on running – i.e I run to eat, not eat to run. Hurting my foot made me realise this (that’s how to put on 4lbs in a week!), and made the firm decision to get my finger out and track properly. I find the run up to Christmas (sorry) easier to keep on the straight and narrow, as the weather is still reasonable enough to get out and run, but the inclination to drink beer disappears because the sun isn’t out. Also, autumn means SOUP!

I love soup.

What’s not to love? Something warm, tasty and filling with zero points. I’m not talking watery chicken noodle/cup a soup-type rubbish, I mean proper, thick, squidgy standy-up-spoon type-of-soup. Perfect. The sky is the limit when it comes to flavours and combinations, so if you do ANYTHING this week, make a pot of soup. For those of you unfamiliar with this, I’ll post a recipe up later.

As Cordelia and I spent the last few days perfecting our soup game plan, meeting day rolled round and I was relieved to find I’d lost the 4 lbs I’d put on the previous week – just a blip from inactivity. Imagine my glee when I opened up my ‘Your Week’ leaflet to see the 12-week countdown to the party season. Great timing, and it’s pinned on my Weight Watchers board and finishes up a few weeks before I start my half marathon training plan.

Things seem to be coming back together, and I’m relieved that I have no more holidays/events/birthdays to deal with, so I can get stuck in, beat the impending stone hump and eat buckets of soup. Christmas party season in 12 weeks? Bring it on, Sissy.

Healthy Eating, Life Journey, Targets

If You Put Crap In…….

I’ve had the best weekend in a long time.  James and I had friends from university visiting, and we haven’t seen some of them for two years. The weather was excellent and  we spent time relaxing and enjoying our surroundings. I cooked for everyone, balancing tastes, preferences and making sure everyone was happy. I made some Weight Watchers recipes (Chilli, Spinach and Ricotta Canneloni) and a few other bits and bobs and had the usual selection of nibbles, and even made my double chocolate fudge cake with Splenda to lower the Propoints value. If you are trying to lose weight, it’s important to plan ahead for events like these, and decide how to handle it.

What has changed for me this time is that I’m losing weight for life, and want to change my lifestyle as a whole, not just my diet so I can lose weight. lt is the mindset that needs to change to achieve this, and this seems to be the hardest to change. One part of this is still being able to ‘live life’ – It’s important to strike a balance between social events, work and home life and still be able to lose weight gradually and be healthy. You have to be realistic in your outlook – I like to drink, and I like crisps and bread. I’m a grazer. I am never going to tell myself I’m not going to have these things ever again, but I just need to do it in moderation. I  struggle with the fact that weekends like this one aren’t ‘wrong’ and I am ‘allowed’ to enjoy myself. What I need to make sure I do is return to my normal habits afterwards, and carry on living my normal ‘healthy’ life.

Since being back at Weight Watchers I’ve had a loss every week, and not missed a class. Normally if I’d had a weekend such as this one, (I gave up counting points after beer number three)  I’d be eating minimal points the next few days until weigh-in and running the legs off myself to try and get a loss. I’m not doing that this week.

Two things have contributed to this.

I realized it’s been five years since all of us started Uni. It seems like five days ago. Life is precious and too short. I don’t see these people often enough, and I’ll damn well enjoy myself when I get the chance. if I put on 2lbs, it’s well worth it, and doesn’t detract from the other 14.5 lbs I’ve got rid of so far.  Secondly, I feel awful. I couldn’t go for a run if I wanted to. I’ve got a sore stomach and I’m pretty sure it’s my kidneys and liver that are both buckled under the abuse of the last few days. I feel sluggish, lethargic and have zero motivation.

It’s these bizarrely conflicting points that brought me to write this post – I’m beginning to accept that you can eat/drink things that are not necessarily good for your diet and it won’t completely derail your journey. It’s okay to party. However, the way I am feeling today indicates that the stuff I used to put into my body on a regular basis does NOT make you feel good, and ironically I don’t feel like doing it again. It’s like going from 0-100 in 3 seconds – not a good idea! Next time I party, I’ll be doing it slightly differently – skip most of the meat, don’t drink beer and wine, and cut down on salty/sugary treats.

I’m under no illusion that this week on the scales will not result in a loss, after all, if you put crap in, you’ll get crap out. That’s okay though, because I’ve learned an important lesson for health AND for life. Today is a fresh day, and everything is back to normal.  I’m at peace with that.