Thursday, 30 June 2011

The Perception Gap

When I first posted about the F Word earlier this week, I had an astonishing amount of responses from people, but one that really stopped me in my tracks came from my friend J.

"Not sure whether sexes has anything to do with it or whether my friends were all arse holes but I was always being called chunk, fatty etc. I think they call it banter but more like bullying to me! Anyway, family have always said to me, you're a jolly, big man and if you weren't then you wouldn't be you. So how does that inspire me to lose weight? Being told that if I become thin then I'm no longer going to be the person my family love? Oh well, back to the kitchen I go for a comfort snack in the form of wotsits!"

I actually cried when I read that because it made me realise the enormous gap that can exist between what our loved ones are trying to say to us (in this case "Don't listen to those bullies, we love you just as you are because you are AMAZING") and what we actually hear ("Doesn't matter how unhappy you are with your body, you musn't change otherwise we'll stop loving you").  It's a massive, Grand Canyon sized gap between intention and translation and I think it happens a lot.  

I know that in most cases, when people say "Don't be silly, you're not fat", it's not because they are trying to upset, annoy or derail me, it's probably because they are trying to make me stop feeling bad.  The problem with it is that it doesn't work and it's easy to read the subtext "I am not interested in your problem, I'm going to deny that it is happening" behind words that are most likely being said with the kindest of intent.  I still know that I'm overweight in the same way that J knows that he is, denying that there is a problem does not make it go away, we can see the fact of it in the mirror, in our reflection in every shop window that we pass, in the jeans that we don't fit into.

I guess the question becomes, how do you move past it?  Well, I clearly did it by posting on my blog and creating a minor shitstorm.  I honestly didn't see that coming (mainly because I didn't think anyone actually read my ramblings!) but what happened was that I was set on this path and given a healthy shove to get me started along it.  I don't know how J has started to move past the voices in his head.  I suspect that his first steps may have been taken with the support of his very lovely wife, but however it happened, I was really happy and encouraged to see this from him this morning:

got on the scales this morning, the big number has gone down by one. Next milestone within reach! 

Well done buddy, long may it continue.  Oh and if you're reading this, I've got something that I'd like to say to you and it is this.  You are awesome and amazing, one of the kindest and most generous people I've ever had the good fortune to encounter.  This is a true fact and would not change if you were 50 stone or 10 stone.  That is who you are, your body is just where you live.

This is my blog for the day, I'll do a calorie summary as part of tomorrow's blog.  This one had been playing on my mind since I read J's comment and I wanted to get it out there.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

How Do I Measure Up?

Good afternoon! Firstly, an answer to a question on yesterday's post.  My daily calorie allowance factors in my basal metabolic rate (BMR) which is the amount of calories that I burn whilst doing nothing at all through involuntary body function (breathing, blinking, farting, growing toenails, more farting etc).  So any calories that I burn through activity are in addition to that amount.  Wow I almost sounded like I knew what I was talking about there.

I measured myself last night and this is what it looks like:

Left arm 12 inches
Right arm 13 inches (Wwwwhhhhyyyy is my right arm fatter?! Is it because I'm left handed?  Poor lopsided arms)
Bust 37 inches (over my bust that is, not under)
Waist 41 inches (no wonder I have trouble doing up my jeans)
Hips 44 inches
Left thigh 24 inches
Right thigh 24 inches (at least my lopsidedness does not extend to my thighs)

Managed to get on the earlier train this morning which meant that I was able to walk to work (nr Liverpool St Station). It's quite a nice journey along the South Bank to Blackfriars before heading past St Pauls into the City.  It's about 2.5 miles to walk and on a lovely sunny morning like we had today, it's rather nice.

At lunchtime I headed to the gym.  Got on the bike and started to pedal.  Had planned on doing 25 mins on the bike, but the adjacent machine caught my eye and I had a go on that instead.  I now have a new most bestest favouritest gym machine.

My new gym BFF
It's a Wave machine and the movement of it is a bit like skating - I just looked it up online and found this video.  

Please note that I was not doing lots of arm actions etc and I sure as hell did not look all happy and smiley like these people (who look like they're enjoying it a little bit too much). In fact I was a sweaty mess, clinging onto the arms for dear life.  I also think the love affair may pale a little bit when I wake up tomorrow morning and hurt in places I didn't know I had.

Daily summary:
Calories eaten: 1,500
Calories burned: 670 (470 dog walk and walk to work + 200 lunchtime gym session)
Calorie deficit: 1,270
Status: So far, so good

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

The science part

OK, I'm going to blind you all with science now (or possibly just make you fall asleep - up to you - I'm not judging).

For someone of my weight, the daily calorie guideline is approx 2,100 to maintain current weight.  In order to lose a couple of pounds a week, I need to create a calorie deficit of approx 1,000 calories a day.  Some of this will come from reducing my food, while some will come from increasing my activity.

So here's how it went for day one:

Got up, walked the dog, then headed to work. In total I burned 290 calories this morning, just from walking. Whoop!

For breakfast I had uncooked porridge oats, mixed up with a splash of skimmed milk and some Rachel's Organic low fat yoghurt. I love this yogurt, has anyone tried it?  Today I had the elderflower & apple flavour and it is delici0us.  This is a fairly typical breakfast for me (unless I pop into M&S on the way to the office and grab a cinnamon swirl - lovely, but quite a bit more naughty!) and you can always spice it up a bit by adding some fruit to it - raspberries, strawberries, anything really. A friend put me onto this breakfast some time ago and I've never looked back!

Mid morning snack - some edamame followed by a bag of sesame sticks. Case in point - not everything that you can buy from Holland & Barrett is good for you! I do love this snack though, and had a bag of them left in my desk drawer.  I'm not going to beat myself up over the fact that I ate them, I've factored them into my calories for the day.
Om nom nom - edamame

1pm arrived and I headed to the gym for a quick 30 minute lunchtime session.  I went on the crosstrainer and burned 340 calories. Whoop.

When I got back to the office I had a quick spot of lunch.  Today's lunch is not typical.  I usually have a sandwich, a salad or possibly some reheated leftovers. Today I had low fat Brussels paté on some water biscuits. The paté needed eating up, but I have a feeling that this v. light lunch will leave me feeling a bit peckish late afternoon.

4pm. Waaaaaah! I want to eat something! But I'm not actually hungry, so I won't.

I'm going to post this before I leave the office for the day, but I'll let you know that for dinner I'm having one of my favourites.  It's essentially spaghetti bolognese but instead of pasta, I have bulgar wheat.  I call it Beefy Bulgar and I made a big batch of it for dinner yesterday, so now have another three portions to work my way through for the remainder of the week.  If anyone ever wants a recipe for the things I mention here, just say the word and I'll post it.

Daily summary:
Calories eaten: 1,500
Calories burned: 630
Calorie deficit: 1,230

Quote of the day - from Kim Peek - the real guy that the film Rain Man was loosely based on:
"Learn to recognise differences in others and treat them like you would want them to treat you.  It will make this a better world to live in. Care and share and do your best. You don't have to be handicapped to be different - everybody is."

The Start

Soooooo. I weighed myself this morning and tipped the scales at 13st 1 1/4lb (yes, my scales measure quarter pounds - may use them to weigh a burger at some point). While this is not good, it's important to know where I'm starting from and from here the only way is DOWN.

So here's how it's going to work.  I'm going to weigh myself every Tuesday morning and will record the results here. I'm not going to provide exhaustive lists of everything that I've eaten.  That shit gets boring reeeeeaaal quick.  That said, I will at least initially note down my food - you'll soon see that I eat about the same five things over and over again, anyone else do that? :)

I have an app on my phone that I'll use to log my food - I've decided to take a simple calories in / calories out approach - no forbidden foods, no food groups excluded.  I want this to be simple and most importantly sustainable long term.  I also need to increase my activity levels - despite general perceptions I don't actually spend all of my time running / swimming / single handedly saving the rainforest.

In addition to the weekly weigh in, I'm going to measure myself when I get home this evening (as suggested by Tina) and will update these metrics monthly, so hopefully I should see some progress there even if the pounds aren't coming off as quickly as I'd like.

Which brings me neatly to my goals.  I'm not yet at a place where I know what success looks like - how I will know when I'm finished.  I don't know what my final goal weight should be, other than I have a vague hankering to be a size ten.  I don't know if that is possible (have you seen my hips?!).  So for now, I'm going to set an initial goal of getting down to 12 stone, which I hope to achieve by losing a fairly steady 2lb a week.

Finally I want to thank everyone that took a moment to comment here or on my Facebook or sent me a message.  The outpouring of solidarity and support literally reduced me to tears last night. It's great to have you on board and hopefully we can inspire each other towards our goals (whatever they may be!) along the way.

All comments are welcome and gratefully received.

Monday, 27 June 2011

I'm fat and I want to talk about it.

My last post sparked quite the conversation on Facebook. It is clear that people don't want to risk offending or upsetting their fat friends. It is also clear that there is no such reticence when commenting on the weight of slim people.  It's perfectly ok to comment that someone is too skinny, but if a fat person so much as mentions their weight, it's a cause for panic. Our society is effed up.

Anyway, there is an unexpected side effect to my last post.  I can't believe that I was so clueless that I didn't notice that I was pinning my colours to the mast.  That I was (in a public forum) stating that I am fat and I want to talk about it. So I've been called on it. And have been offered support which I'm going to take.  Starting from tomorrow I'm going to use this blog to chart my progress from fatty to slinky hot babe.  I'm going to weigh myself tomorrow morning and will post that weight here as well as more details of what my goals are and how I plan to achieve them.

I'm not going to post every blog entry on Facebook, so if you want to follow my journey and support me, then I suggest that you follow me here on my blog. There's a button on the right of the page somewhere.

Tonight I'm drawing a line in the sand. It's a start line and tomorrow morning I cross it and start the race. Hope to have you on board for the trip.

The F Word

I finished reading How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran at the weekend. LOVED it. It resonated on so many levels, but one of the things that really hit home was what she had to say about being fat....

"Is the word 'fat' making you wince when you read it? Does it feel like I'm being rude, or indelicate, to say it? In the last two generations, it's become a furiously overloaded word - in a conversation, when the word 'fat' appears, it often alarms people, like a siren going off and prompts a supportive, scared flurry of dismissal  - 'You're not fat! Of course you're not fat! Babe, you're NOT FAT!' - when the person is, clearly and undeniably, fat, and just wants to discuss it"

If I had a pound for every time I'd had a conversation like that.... no, scrap that, if I'd LOST a pound for every time I'd had that conversation, I'd never have to have it again, because I'd no longer be fat. I mention to a friend that I'm on the wagon (again) and that I'm trying to lose weight (AGAIN) because I'm too fat. This is always met with a wall of denial. "Don't be silly Amy, you're not fat" "Oh pfft, you're fine as you are".

I've never been entirely sure whether people react this way because they think that's what I'm asking for. That I want them to reassure me that I'm not fat at all. But the point is that I AM. I am 5ft 7 and weigh in at 13 stone. I know that I'm not Biggest Loser material, I'm not looking to cut myself in half, but at the same time, there's no denying that both my health and my self image would improve enormously if I lost 2 - 3 stone. So, aiding me in my denial is really not want I'm asking for here.  If I mention the fact that I'm fat, it's because I want to have a conversation about it, to be open about it, to admit it and to try and move on from it.

Even before reading Moran's book I'd started to wonder whether a lot of people respond with denial because they feel uncomfortable that I have confronted them with my fatness or they're bored with me trying to lose weight (AGAIN!!) and don't really believe that I'll ever get there.  I've had a conversation in the past with one (size eight) friend where we were discussing my latest effort to lose weight and a few minutes later she OFFERED ME A BISCUIT. I'm sure she didn't mean to, but she may as well have said "Give up Fatty, there's no point in trying so you may as well stuff your face with a Garibaldi or two and stop going on about it".  It's like the F word had reacted with chemicals in her brain, creating an immediate ring fence to block it off and make sure that it didn't surface and try to mingle with her other thoughts. Was it a panic reaction? A frantic internal conversation "Oh God, she said the F word, what should I do, shit, what should I do?! OFFER FATTY A BISCUIT! Fatties love biscuits, it'll make her forget the whole thing". Or was it just a thoughtless throw away offer? I'll never know, I've never called anyone on these things, just let them slide.

And if you think that the F word is bad, how about I crack open the big one, the O word.  I'm overweight.  At one point in the not too distant past, I was obese.  That's the biggest O word of all, the one that you can't mention in polite conversation, like a fat version of the C word, you know the one I mean. It's still a giant taboo, even though it is quite literally a modern plague - why can't we talk about this?

There are only a very few people in my life that don't immediately deny my weight.  One is my friend B. She (unlike many of my friends) is not a natural size eight.  She has to work to keep herself to a size that she is happy with, and sometimes her desire for a glass (or three) of wine when she gets home from work is stronger than her desire to be a hot slim mama.  So she gets it.  She seems to understand that I'm not asking for sympathy and she therefore doesn't give it.  She understands that I'm asking for HELP and just drags me to the gym with her and gets me to crack on with it.

I'm not asking for sympathy.  I'm not asking anyone to help fuel a delusion that my weight isn't an issue, because it is and believe me I'm able to delude myself about it plenty as I'm reaching for the fourth packet of crisps out of the multipack.  It might not be an issue to you, I know you're my friends and you'd love me if I were the size of a house, but it is to me, alright?  

I don't have a conclusion to this post.  No magic bullet that'll stop me from being fat, or that will stop you from being uncomfortable when I mention it.  I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on this subject, regardless of your dress size....

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Tough Choices

Yesterday I got off the train at Farncombe, jumped straight in the car and headed off to pick up Murdoch as usual. Unfortunately I was unable to collect him, as the A3 was shut due to an earlier accident (which I think may have been fatal - gutted for everyone involved in that) so Murdoch stayed overnight at the Dog House.
I headed there this morning as usual for the 6.20am walk (don't want the boy to forget who I am!) and chatted to my dog guy (G) as we walked the usual route.
We discussed the fact that Murdoch is very very different when I'm not around.  We've had this conversation before, so this was not breaking news, but the conversation turned to the option of me changing how I am around Murdoch so that his behaviour doesn't deteriorate while I'm around.
Now I don't think that my treatment of Murdoch is anything out of the ordinary.  I'm not extraordinarily affectionate towards him - he gets stroked, he gets tummy rubs and he gets the occasional cuddle, but he's not allowed to jump up, he's not allowed on the bed or the sofa anymore, so I'm not sure what changes I could make that might make a difference.  G pointed out that if I took another dog home instead of Murdoch, I'd probably notice things that I don't do with that dog, but I do with Murdoch. 
Of course the flipside of this is the fact that I may spend the next ten years of my life with Murdoch (he's six) so do I want to (for example) never give him a cuddle on the off chance that it might improve his behaviour? How much would it need to improve his behaviour by in order to make it worth the sacrifice?
There is a big part of me that is so happy for what we've been able to achieve for Murdoch over the past few months, he is now (for the most part) merrily running around offlead with other dogs (still with a muzzle on, as he has his moments - usually when I'm around!) which was inconceivable to me even a few short weeks ago.
Then there is a small part of me that would like more for him - to be able to have him offlead, wherever I am and to feel confident that he will not try anything stupid.  In an unfamiliar environment, who knows how other, unknown dogs would react to my idiotic, boisterous dog?  It could all too easily end in tears and with Murdoch muzzled and unable to defend himself, he'd be the one that would come of worst.  In order to achieve a situation where unlimited offlead walks were possible, I'd need to look at modifying my behaviour.  Or I can continue to enjoy my dog's company as usual and know that while he can be offlead all the time that he is at the Dog House, whenever he is out and about elsewhere with me, he'll be on his lead.
Really tough choices and no answers from me as yet.......

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Three reasons I love working in London

A couple of months ago I realised that my life had become pretty narrow so I left my safe little job in Godalming and headed for the Big Smoke. I feel like I'm still adjusting to the commute, but here is why I love working in the City.

1. When I can get the slightly earlier train, I have enough time to walk to work rather than taking the tube. This journey takes me along the South Bank and it is simply glorious in the sunshine.

2. Broadgate is a short walk from my office and you never know what crazy shit will be going on there in your lunchbreak. Last week there were old ladies linedancing

YouTube Video

And yesterday there were people playing beach volleyball

You can't make this stuff up.

3. There are at least 3 branches of Starbucks within a 5 minute walk of my office. As a non coffee drinker, this took on far greater significance once my colleague introduced me to the delights of the (skinny) chai tea latte. It's a thing of delicious beauty..... *pops out for latte* Slluuuuuuuuuurppp.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

I'm Baaaaaaaaack!

I'm back! I jotted down some notes about my offline experience and here they are, somewhat in the form of disjointed ramblings.....

Friday (Day One)

Yesterday when I first thought up the idea of removing myself from my social media profile for three days, my first reaction was physical.  A fluttery feeling of panic in my belly.  And when I woke up this morning, my first thought was (as always) to grab my iPhone and check my Facebook and Twitter to get an update to start my day.  Instead, I hit the snooze button, rolled over and slept a little more.

So it's been 12 hours since I last checked my profiles and one of the things that I've noticed is that I now have the habit of noting little things about my day and thinking about them in terms of tweets or FB status updates, like "Feeling headachey and rubbish, think I might be coming down with a cold :(" or "Think I might run back to Waterloo today" or "God I'm tired". It all suddenly seems quite banal and boring - why do I need to share these things with the world?

I feel horribly disconnected.  Like all of my friends are at a party to which I haven't been invited.  And y'know what?  The party probably isn't that great, and I'll hear all about it on Monday, but until then, I'm filled with a panicky feeling of MISSING OUT. 

God it's like crack.  I can't stop thinking about it :(

There's no doubt about it, social media enhances my life. It adds interest and novelty to my day.

Wow, just read an article that contained these words.... “…a bit like sleep helps us to make sense of the day, it’s our time offline that helps us to make sense of everything online.”.  Well that about sums it up really.  I do feel as though I'm getting a clearer idea of why I like to be on Twitter / Facebook.  As someone who lives alone and sits in an office environment where my back is to the rest of my colleagues, connecting with people online makes me feel engaged and part of a wider community. It's a community that judges me on my personality (or rather those parts of my personality that I choose to share) rather than what I look like. I get a kick when someone retweets me or replies to me.  It's a SUPERkick if it happens to be someone that I don't know. It makes me feel like I'm interesting - like I'm the person at the party that has done the standout party trick.

Was quite happily getting on with my afternoon's work when I got a call from my dog guy asking if it was ok if he dropped Murdoch off at my flat, rather than waiting for me to pick him up.  This is fine, in fact it's great as it means that once I get off the train I can just stroll home and not have to worry about going to collect the dog.  But my first thought was.. "My flat is a mess!" and I really wanted to post about it, so my lovely friends and followers could reassure me that it didn't matter.  Instead, I am sitting here worrying that I may have left my pants on the floor :(

What a beautiful day.  Took the time to walk back to Waterloo from the office.  No rush, took it easy. Walked through the City and headed over the Millennium Bridge to the South Bank. It was vibing this evening, with an exciting mix of tourists and people enjoying a post-work drink in the sunshine.  The South Bank Centre in particular was packed and had loads of kids running through a sprinkler system.  We Brits know how to enjoy good weather properly!

Days Two & Three...... erm, nothing.  Not a thing occurred to me to write at all.  Didn't even think that much about what might be going on in my absence.  So I guess once you've gone through the shakes and panic of cold turkey, then it's plain sailing.

That said, I laughed an awful lot when I logged back into Facebook yesterday morning and saw what my lovely friends had been up to on my wall.... :)

Thursday, 2 June 2011

A Social Experiment

I realised today that it has been more than a year since I blogged and I'm not really sure why.  I mean my last post was a cracker, covering exciting topics such as Cheryl Cole, Godalming Kebab Centre and badger news. 

Since that last post in February 2010, I’ve run two marathons, completed first a team triathlon and then a few weeks ago a solo one.  I’ve managed to find a first class dog training / walking team that have been able to put a lot of Murdoch’s problems to bed.  I’ve become an aunt, changed jobs and started commuting to London every day.  So it can’t be because I have nothing to say.

Is it because I'm used to condensing my thoughts into 140 characters for Twitter and boring people with the minutiae of my life on a more regular basis?  Is it because I already overshare on Facebook? 
Short answer: I don’t know. 
Slightly longer answer: Probably all of the above, but really I don’t know.

I guess there’s only one way to find out.  I’m going to do the unthinkable.  I’m going to go offline.
*GASP*Is this possible?  Is it wise?  Jeeeez, is it really possible?!?!?!
Short answer: I don’t know. 

But I intend to find out. It’s not forever; I’m just going to sign out of Twitter and Facebook for three days – Friday, Saturday & Sunday - and am going to see what effect it has on my life.  I’ll still be checking my email, but will turn off all notifications.
So if you see me wandering about wild eyed and twitchy over the next few days, please gently remove my iPhone from my desperately clenched hand and, if you’re feeling particularly kind, offer me a consolatory slice of cake or a cup of tea.
I’ll be back on Monday morning to see what everyone has been up to, but in the meantime, you guys are just going to have to get used to not knowing what I plan to have for dinner.
See you on the flipside…..