Exercise, Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing, Running, Targets, Weight Loss

Fat Girl Who Runs

When it comes to healthy body and mind, I used to worry about what people thought of me. I used to slouch my shoulders to hide my ample bosom and avoid photographs with my ‘skinny’ friends. I was ashamed. I used to go out of my way to hide the fact that I’d suffered mental illness – no-one wants to deal with a nutcase. During my months of inactivity pre and post surgery, I felt as if I had to justify to people why I’d got fat, and why I wasn’t sleeping and looked like crap. Much as we live in a more accepting and open world these days, people still judge whether we like it or not.

Friday was a very special day for me. I laced up my running shoes. Running for me is about keeping a mental balance, proving to myself I can work hard and follow my commitments through to the end. It’s not about weight loss, that’s an added bonus. When I’m mentally ‘up’, I find it a lot easier to control my food intake, but also how well I cope with day-to-day life.

I was absolutely scared stiff.

Not only had I not run for over a year, but I was 28lbs heavier than the last time I pounded the pavement. My ‘big’ running gear was tight. Thankfully I’m a bit more level-headed these days, and my sensible, positive voice Cordelia sat me down and had a chat before I set out. She told me to forget what I’d done before. This was going to be a new start. Today was the first step. She patted me on the knee and ushered me out the front door.

I chose a 2.6 mile route simply because it was an easy out-and-back, and I knew 5k was out of the question (lamenting my 16-mile run to my WWs class in times of old). Come on Gem, be sensible. Okay. No expectations. Start with little more than a walk. Really slow. But I’m on a main road. Everyone can see me. So be proud. Show all those people you think are staring at you as they drive by that you’re a warrior, and being heavy or slow isn’t going to stop you. Yes. Cordelia, you’re right. I’m a warrior. No-one knows how far I’m running, no-one who passes by and judges knows my story. Screw them. Just run.

And I did.

I held my head high, puffed and panted all the way, wiped sweat away and talked to myself (out loud) pushing uphill. I stopped to walk when I needed, and I completely ignored everything else. As I came downhill on my last half mile, I felt strong, confident. I sped up a little. Three men in a white transit van approached, and they were looking at me. Uh-oh. Talk about a buzzkill. I looked straight back at them, waiting for the sneers and perceived taunting going on inside that van. Guess what? It never came. They beeped the horn and gave me a thumbs-up as they zoomed past. I sprinted the last tiny bit home.

If I had looked away instead of at them, I’d have taken the horn-beeping as a cruel, judgmental gesture. That might have been enough to kill my confidence completely. I suppose the point I’m making is that what we think others see is often what we torture ourselves with, and if we lack confidence in what we do, our own judgement can swing wildly from one extreme to the other. Don’t worry about what others think. It’s too delicate a balance to be upset.

So what if I’m big and I go running? So what if I’m proud of my 12-minute miles? One day I’ll be back at 8-minute miles, 16 mile runs, chasing a long-forgotten and insane 5k PB. The people I think are judging will be long-gone by then, and I’ll only have the Fat Girl Who Runs to thank.


Exercise, Mental Wellbeing, Running

Emotion and Elevenses


Weigh-in: 2.5 lbs loss


It’s been a funny week. Usually it flies in, but I seem to have been wading through treacle to get from one weigh-in day to another. I’ve had a reasonably good week for eating, but really feel I’ve overdone it exercise-wise. I’m pleased to finally be over the 12-stone hump, and am embracing the 11s with renewed vigour. I finally feel that I’m going somewhere and that my weight loss is becoming more regular, and therefore more genuine, and that this time I’m NOT going back.

Feelin’ Good

In light of the song-and-dance I’ve made about being ’11 stone something’, I’ve done a lot of reflecting this week. I have spent an unhealthily large amount of time scrutinizing in the mirror and thinking to myself that I’m beginning to look a bit more ‘normal’ as opposed to fat. When I wake up in the morning, one of the first things I do is reach down and feel my hip bones. That sounds horribly bizarre, but when I lie flat, they are almost visible now, whereas before they were engulfed in a fatty blanket. Prior to that, I couldn’t see my hips because the flabby mound of my belly was in the way, even when lying down. My true shape is beginning to show through. By reaching down and touching, it’s just a safe reminder that I haven’t magically put on 20-odd lbs overnight. (When I went to WWs the first time, that’s exactly what I thought had happened!)

I also had a bit of a rake through my wardrobe this week. I spend most of my time in wellies-and-waterproofs, running gear or old clothes for housework/dog duties. I tried on a lot of stuff that I knew fitted, but just don’t really wear. Most of it is a lot looser but still wearable which made me feel pretty good too. Unfortunately the jeans situation isn’t getting any better – thanks to my lovely Italian lineage (and probably running) I have massive thighs. I’ve always had them, and they are never going to go away. My problem now is that my middle is disappearing and the thighs aren’t catching up! The lovely designers of the fashion world seem to have decided that regardless of your size, if your thighs do not resemble that of the downpipe attached to your house for rainwater, then you shouldn’t wear jeans.

The result? Spend all day howking up (good Scottish word, that) the waistband of a pair of 14s (Even with a belt – more on that later) because your bum-cleavage goes on show when you sit down, or spend all day howking up a pair of 12s because the movement of your gargantuan thighs pulls them down to accommodate your ample saddlebags…….sigh……

Belts – One of my non-scale goals was to fit back into my star belt, which is my absolute favourite. Feeling fruity, I attempted it this week, knowing that my gut has shrunk a considerable amount. The word dismay doesn’t cover it. The buckle design is one of these pins-with-the-bobble-on-the-end (I’m sure it has a proper name) that just pushes through the hole. I got it on alright – in the tightest hole. And it’s so loose it just comes undone! Typical! Needless to say it’s been added to the ‘Damn-you because I really liked wearing you’ pile.

I’m also beginning to feel quite fit. In the last week or so, I’ve CR’d my home route 5k, (I’m pretty sure I’ve mentioned before its damn hilly) made it up a steep course that I hadn’t attempted in over a year (and failed miserably on the last attempt) and PB’d my 5k time by over a minute. Things are improving, confidence growing,  I like the 11s!

Club Runner

I’ve been running with Girvan AC for a few weeks now. The ability level is split into two groups (the ‘Big Boys’ and the ‘Plodders’ as I call them) and I’ve been running with the ‘Plodders’. When I say ‘Plodders’, this is not to be sniffed at, they are reasonably brisk runners with varied ages and abilities, and they tend to run a few set routes of different distances and that keeps them going.

The Big Boys are ultra-fit, and consist of fell runners (AKA nutters), trail runners, multi-time marathoners and very experienced runners -One guy started running the year I was born!- who race every other weekend. In amongst all these scarily fit men is the weeny (let’s call her) Teeny, who at 40-odd, mother of 4,  boasts an ‘easy’ pace of an 8-ish-minute mile (that was me absolutely flat-out for my 5k PB, folks). What a bunch.

The problem is, Teeny hates being the only girl, and doesn’t see any good reason why I shouldn’t be running with her. Last Tuesday I was unceremoniously wrenched from the ‘Plodders’ into the ‘Big Boys’ group. This was good and bad.

Let’s start with the good. I was incredulous that any of them thought I was even close to running at their ability (I’m categorically not, by the way) but the group view me as having potential and see room for a lot of progress. Teeny also said (rightly) that progress WILL come, as I’ll be constantly challenged because everyone is a lot lighter/faster than me, and I’ll always have someone in front pushing me on. With the Plodders, I was running at the front bar one (man of 68, would put most men half his age to shame). My age is an advantage – I’m joint-youngest in the club – but they also don’t see me as a fat smoker who less than a year ago wasn’t fit to jog a mile. They don’t see someone who is trying their very, very hardest to lose weight. They don’t see a fat person, because they’ve never known that person. That person doesn’t exist. And that’s when it hit me. I got very emotional.

Inside, obviously.

The Bad. Dealing with the emotional turmoil of even turning up to the club in the first place nearly ended me, so this was Armageddon. I was so frightened about making a fool of myself, and also keeping all the ‘proper’ runners back – I almost walked away there and then. Teeny persuaded me to have a go, and we did a set of speed-drills. Surprisingly, I managed two thirds of them, albeit at a very slow pace. It was lovely though. Everyone encouraged me in passing and congratulated me at the end.

The club have organized a 5-mile fun trail-run this coming Saturday, and naturally I’m keen to do it. It’s a comfortable distance for me, and somewhere new to run. Next training day rolled round, and two of the boys offered to run the route with me as a ‘practice’. I’d been told there was a nice hill in the middle, and I’m pretty good with stuff like that. As we began to run, I let the boys go on in front and kept them within sight. Then I met the hill. Rough, steep (I mean really steep) and twisty doesn’t cover it.  I didn’t even make it a third of the way up. If you were to walk up it briskly, you would be labouring. I talked about a horrible feeling of uselessness and despair during my half-marathon, and that’s what happened. What made it worse was the other ‘youngster’ was right beside me, watching me struggle. I ended up walking most of the hill. It was embarrassing.

All my hard work, weight loss and running achievements dissolved. The one thing I class as failure is walking. I instantly felt fat, unfit and useless. As if I had achieved zip-all in the last year. It is the single-most soul-destroying feeling in the world. And it can ruin everything. It nearly did. If I hadn’t had company, I would have stopped at the top and cried. Thankfully, I sucked it up, finished the course as briskly as I could manage, went home, poured a large JD, and without a word to James, took myself upstairs and let it out.

I’m now a borderline cripple. My hips ache. My back aches. My legs scream at me when I move in any direction. My training plan for my ultra-distance is in full-swing, so these added sessions were the straw that broke the camels back this week. I will not be doing nearly as much next week.

However, after time to digest what has happened, Super-Feisty-Gem has regained control. By nature I’m stubborn, and I am still competing in that race next week. I’ve altered my training and am going to run that hill as many times as I can this week, because I’m damn sure come Saturday I’ll not be embarrassing myself or my club by having to walk up it.

Somebody order a stretcher, please.




Exercise, Life Journey, Mental Wellbeing, Running


Today I was asked a question about why I don’t talk more about the intricacies of WW in my blog. I thought it was an odd question, but valid all the same. The topics I cover here are based on the thoughts and feelings I go through every week as I make my way into creating healthy habits for a lifetime – sometimes this results in a ‘dear diary’ sort-of effort,  other times it throws up more interesting material. I’m not any sort of WWs ambassador and am far from perfect when it comes to following the plan, but ultimately I still hope to help people along their journey, even if it’s just distracting them from snacking for a few minutes to read my blog. Plus, that’s what you pay your Monthly Pass for.

Keeping on Track

In my last post I talked a little about the day-to-day grind of keeping up motivation and how it can affect us emotionally. Today I had to heed my own words, and thought about my situation (and all of YOU, too). I’ve not had the best week, my eating master plan for work backfired (Hank Marvin at 9 in the morning in the middle of nowhere with nothing to eat), I ended up with surprise guests over the weekend and running opportunities have been limited. I could have easily just written this week off, not gone for a run this morning and called it a do.

I had a pretty good chat with myself – I knew I wanted to go for a run, I knew it would do me good, but I was cosy on the sofa in my slippers with the dogs…  Cordelia popped in as the voice of reason: ‘If you run today/tomorrow and REALLY keep your points in check, you are making less work for yourself next week – even if you gain, it will be less than if you don’t do anything…..’. Shes right. Again. (No wonder Walter doesn’t like her)

It made me think about my actions over the last nine months and what’s changed. My weight loss hasn’t been as rapid as I would have liked, but I’m a dress size smaller, I’m a different shape, I’m a lot fitter and I eat less than I used to. That’s progress. The only reason this has happened is because I’ve kept at it. I could have easily given up over the last six weeks, and although they’ve been crazy, I still had it in my head that I’d be going back to class. There was no questioning or reasoning in my head, that’s just the way it was, and I’m glad.

You only lose the fight if you stop fighting. So fight. And keep fighting. You WILL win eventually if you keep fighting. So fight.

I ran like hell this morning. (Well, as like hell as a 3-stone overweight 5ft 3 Italian with short legs can) I ran my home route with it’s downhill/uphill carry on, and push, push pushed all the way. Normally I try and hold back a bit on the way out so I don’t run out of steam in the last half-mile – today I ran like that little boy in the playground. At one point I was running an eight-and-a-half minute mile (waaay to fast for hills!) and guess what? I regretted it on the way back up.

Fighting Like Hell

My face was hot. The sweat was dripping into my eyes, stinging, and my legs were screaming at me. My high-vis was annoying me. So was my armband. I wanted to take all my clothes off because I was too warm. I wanted to slap the Runkeeper lady and tell her to shut up. I wanted to stop and walk so, so, so bad. At that point, Cordelia started with me again, and I really wasn’t in the mood. Am I going to be sick? No. Am I going to pass out? No. Am I dead? No. Well keep running then.

I repeated this to myself out loud all the way back in the last mile (I’m REALLY glad there’s not many people about where I live!) in amongst things like ‘Dig in!’, ‘Come on, Gem, get a grip!’ and ‘ PUSH!, Nearly there!’

I made it home and literally had everything off before I was inside the porch door. It was then, when I stopped that I realised I’m actually full of willpower, determination and sheer stubbornness. I just need to harness it a bit better. After looking at my Runkeeper, I saw why being determined is good, and why it’s important to keep on fighting. I ran my 5k hill route in twenty-eight minutes and forty-seven seconds. My route best is 30:41. My season best (on a much flatter course) is 30:01.

Holy Moses.

See What Determination Can Do?

Can you imagine how differently my day could have turned out if I didn’t go that run this morning? I’d probably still be languishing in my jammies pinning winter scenes to my Christmas Pinterest board, eating toast and drinking tea.  It’s completely set me up for the rest of the day, and I know my eating and tracking will be spot on. It’s also spurred me on to carry through to weigh-in tomorrow night, and even though there is a possibility that I might put on, I know it won’t be as much as it could have been.

So please,  if you are having an off day/week, do something positive RIGHT NOW and things will change. Take two things from this post today:

  1. ‘I’m not puking, I’m not fainting, I’m not dead, so I’m running’
  2. You’ll only lose the fight if you stop fighting……
Life Journey, Weight Loss

The Cost of Losing Weight

Weigh-in: 3lbs Loss

So, a good result for me this morning, putting me back on track and 0.5lb lighter than before my six-week sabbatical, and FINALLY getting my third silver seven. I’ve crossed off number 6 on my WW goals list, and I’m focusing on getting over the Stone Hump before Christmas. When I get to this point, I’m celebrating with a Happy Wardrobe Dance and a third progress picture. This picture is always taken wearing the exact same clothes, which I will continue to do, even when they are baggy and hanging off – I think this is important because when you look in the mirror every day it’s difficult to see the difference in yourself. I will also share these pictures with my lovely readers and fellow bloggers after the third one is taken. (I’m warning you now, the first picture in particular is NOT a pretty sight – don’t want to put you all off your carefully propointed lunches 😉 )

As we draw nearer to the festive period, my thoughts turn to one thing only. Money. Gifts, food, trees, nights out,transport costs….There is no doubt that it is an increasingly expensive time of year, and definitely shows no signs of getting any cheaper! This little thought has been niggling away, and Cordelia has kindly pointed out that as a Weight Watcher, this can sometimes make things even worse. But for someone who is trying to lose weight, the costs are definitely not just financial, and I wonder how many people (particularly people who have never struggled with eating/exercise/weight) actually realise how the different aspects of losing weight actually  ‘cost’ us.

Financial Costs

The obvious ones are here. Let’s talk about food bills. In theory, shopping bills should be less because we’re eating less, right? Wrong. I find my shopping bill has crept up substantially over the last 4 months and here’s why:

Although James is happy to eat most WW recipes, he needs considerably more sustenance than me to support his labour-intensive job. Things like whole milk, real butter, nuts and so forth are the best way for him to keep up his calorie intake without eating too much junk. (Oh, and the sacred Second Breakfast) So I find myself buying two versions of things. Although we are using less of each, perishables don’t last any longer unfortunately. In this sad day in age, it is cheaper to buy over-processed, fat and sugar-laden pre-packaged foods than it is to buy fresh stuff. Prime example: Pizza. I can pick up a frozen pizza for £1,but to make from scratch would probably cost me double that. In addition, buying reduced-fat/sugar versions of things can sometimes be more expensive. See where I’m going with this?

Aside from food bills, many people choose a support network to aid in weight loss (more on this in a bit) like WWs etc. These are not free. Add that on to your monthly weight loss bill. Personally, I don’t grudge this, because I couldn’t be successful without it (and believe me, I’ve tried!) and when you do start being successful, you get to fork out MORE money on a regular basis because none of your clothes fit! There are discount sites and some swapshop-type groups to alleviate this and I personally have no problem wearing hand-me-ups although some people can be ‘funny’ about that. However, that cost will never be eliminated completely, you’ll still have to buy knickers.

As you adopt a healthier lifestyle, you’ll probably pick up or re-ignite a healthy hobby like walking, swimming or Zumba. Guess what? More money! Some pastimes are relatively cheap (walking being one of them) but it is very easy to get carried away- or, like me, get all scientific and seriously embroiled because it’s a PASSION. Even if you go to Zumba, or join a gym, add that cash up over a year….yep, told you! My expenditure on running is pretty hefty if you add up everything since the summer. Surprisingly, I’m not kitted out top-to-toe in the best of gear,but it’s kind of crept up….

Runkeeper subscription: £13 per year

Monthly Running Mags: £10

New Kicks: £130

Winter Gear: £60 (High-vis jacket, longsleeves etc)

New Socks: £20 (!)

iPhone armband: £12

Sports Bras: £70 (don’t even go there!)

Race fees: £30

The best thing is, most of these things wear out and need replaced eventually. I’ve already done 120 miles in the new shoes, so at most I’ll get another 6 months out them and it will be time to get another pair. I know my shoes were quite expensive, but that’s one area I’m not scrimping on – I need to help my knee out as much as possible. Aside from that, all my clothes are picked up at places like Sports Direct or Ebay.

See? Being healthy IS expensive!

Emotional Costs

The less-thought-about costs of losing weight should not be discounted. For many, weight issues are often tied in with emotions. Emotional eating (be it perceived through positive or negative means) is a common theme. Having to detach oneself – A bit like throwing out a comfy pair of slippers – from such habits is both difficult, long and takes a fair bit of work, and this is often overlooked for the more physical aspects of weight loss. (Tell me you aren’t more bothered about what the scales say than how your brain is coping!).

One of key aspects of controlling the emotional investment is the same as with any other habit – repetition. Do something often enough and it becomes second nature. Weight loss the sensible way is often the longer, harder route which is key in developing a new set of habits that will last a lifetime and prevent further weight gain, as opposed to surgery, for example. It’s a traditional case of prevention is better than cure.  This repetitive cycle is what we need, but can often become a grind, and develops into something that can become very wearing over time. It’s at this stage it is important to use determination, staying power and focus to control feelings of despair/being overwhelmed etc. and being able to sever the ties to our old, unhealthy habits.

Losing weight can be a very enjoyable journey too – the elation of getting to goal after so much work, the sense of achievement when someone tells you you look fabulous, or (my personal favourite) the satisfaction of jeans slipping on effortlessly when previously they got stuck round fat thighs.

The point is, going on a weight loss journey is an emotional investment as well as a financial one – we lay bare the rawest emotions to complete the mission, in the hope that the rewards will leave us richer in the long run.

Social  Costs

Pause for thought: What’s changed in your social circle since you decided to lose weight? Hmmmm.

I’ve lost touch with people I used to drink with. James and I are now very rarely in the pub, and when we do go, I find I have very little in common  with the regulars as my life no longer revolves around ‘What happened to wee Jimmy in the bar the other night’ and how many pints it takes to get me sozzled. This is a positive change, and what I call ‘Stripping out the Fails’.

Another example of this is losing negative attitudes from your life – again, a positive step, but this doesn’t mean it’s easy. I had to ditch a friend who I realised was not helping me in any way, shape or form. How do you tell someone you are cutting them out your life? This person was great fun to be around,we had lots in common and  got on well, but only because she was slim, pretty and got all the attention. From everyone. I soon realised she liked hanging out with me because I was fat, which meant all eyes on her. We hadn’t seen each other for a while after I’d lost weight the first time and it had started to creep back on. Her words to me were ‘ Well seeing your new life hasn’t done your figure any favours! And I know I can say that because you and I were friends when you were really big’


I’ve seen her once since that incident and pleased to report that she’s got fat. Really fat. (Childish, I know) The best of it is, she spent the whole time telling me how comfortable she was and didn’t care what size she was (Read: ‘I hate myself!) GET RID OF NEGATIVE PEOPLE WHO DON’T SUPPORT YOU! I certainly don’t feel like my life is any less enriched in her absence.

Finally, support networks. For me, this is the biggest ‘cost’ to my weight loss journey. The number of people I rely on to get me through my journey is astronomical. WW leaders, friends, followers, other bloggers, partners, the lady in the coffee house that knows not to offer me baguettes anymore….and yes, you as well 😉

The number of people I subject to my relentless tirade of running, propoints, clothes sizes and goal lists is ridiculous. And I still expect these people to interact with me regularly as if I’m not a crazy person. This can be a risk, but end up costing you dearly. I once told a story of a ‘sabotage’ husband who was scared he’d lose his wife – you are basically asking people to accept that you are going to change whether they like it or not. I happen to be very lucky at home – Although James has never had a serious weight issue, he is very good at being supportive, and tries his best to take an interest in my running. If I thought for one minute that becoming healthier would jeopardize our relationship, I would seriously have to reconsider my goals.

After all, losing weight can be a costly business.

Healthy Eating, Life Journey, Weight Loss

Think like a fatty, eat like a fatty

I can’t stop eating today.

I’m tracking my food intake, but I actually cannot stop eating. I’ve gone through the mental checklist – boredom? Nope. Emotional eating? Nope. Bingeing? Nope. So what the hell is this? Answer: I have no idea. I’m talking proper rumbly-in-my-tumbly hungry….

It’s 6pm, and I managed to tear myself away and slam the anchors on my kitchen capers at 2pm. I think dinner this evening will be a light meal and that will be the full stop at the end of the sentence- a sort-of damage limitation exercise. You would think that my success on the scales yesterday would be a good enough wave to ride for at least a couple of days!  Apparently not. And that is because I still think like a fat person.I know I am still a fat person, but that’s half the point of the exercise (pardon the pun).

This is probably the hardest thing to overcome when losing weight. After being heavy for such a long time, you need to change the inside to match the outside. For about a year after I lost weight the first time, I automatically looked at the back of clothes rails in shops for the biggest sizes, even though I was wearing a 12. Sometimes I even bought a 12 knowing that it was a little loose and could have probably gotten a 10. This is because I was still thinking fat. The nice thing about it is catching a glimpse of your reflection and realising it’s you – that’s a great feeling.

I’m going to put today down to thinking fat. My brain is trying to tell me that the last week or so has been one big game, and it’s ready to go back to normal. Well guess what buddy, this is normal. Ha. Take that, fat brain!

My thin brain really should be kicking in about now, but I suppose it might take a few weeks for my body to get used to smaller portions and an overall lesser amount of food. Is this possible? Anyway, I feel better for getting it out there, and tomorrow is another day.

Don’t let the fat brain win!