Exercise won’t make you slim

At least not if you are fat, obese, very overweight or whatever. It may tone, sculpt and shape, increase flexibility, endurance and strength, improve cardio vascular performance and release wonderful things in your brain that make you feel amazing… happy, lively, sexy, alert and it will increase the number of calories you use… physics tells us that but it won’t make you slim.

Gratuitous photo of ripped guy

This article in the Guardian based on some medical study or other (I’m not a technical blogger academics was my job I can’t make it my fun) states that exercise will not make you lose weight or stop being obese. Lack of exercise is not the cause of obesity, too much sugar and the wrong types of fat are to blame for that and it accuses governments and health bodies of over emphasising the need to exercise in order to reduce obesity and not putting enough emphasis on the need to have a healthy diet.

Well who would have thought it?

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I don’t know about you but every time I use one of these balls I near break my face

I know personally from my own efforts that exercise of one type or another has had various effects on my body, inch loss is more of a feature than weight loss when I step up certain types of exercise such as strength training, a more toned appearance is more of a feature with the stretchy types of exercise such as pilates, increased stamina is more a feature of cardio such as walking or cycling, a greater sense of well being, tone and improved posture (which can show as inch loss) are more evident from exercise such as Tai Chi and Yoga, with all types of exercise, my sense of mental well being is enhanced as it reduces stress levels, makes me feel happier and energises me… the more fun exercise like swimming, playing tennis, really has an even more enhanced effect on me mentally.

Does my exercise make me lose masses of weight? I don’t think so, I know that dietary changes have massive impacts on my weight loss but without the feel good of exercise I would not have the mental wherewithal to fend off stress and misery and the associated lack of resistance to bad food temptations. Exercise helps me work off my frustrations, my anxieties and at times I punch out my sadness and residual effects of bad life experiences.

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Posture matters if you want to feel fabulous

Exercise also makes the impact of my weight loss more visibly obvious as my posture improves, my muscle and skin tone, my strength, my awareness of my physiology, it all helps to make me look slimmer and that makes me feel slimmer and that inspires me to not eat crap and continue to lose weight. Take a fat person sit them slouched on a stool, hunched back, spread legs, belly flopping between and then sit that person up straight, put their legs together (or as close together as you can), straighten the back, pull in the tummy, open and press the shoulders down, extend the neck and they’ve lost 10 pounds…. well they haven’t but you know they look like they have.

Do you know I’ve got an inch taller since I started this journey of mine? I’ve regained the inch I lost during my late 30s and that is purely due to having pulled my body back into a posture more befitting a lady and less that of a potato.

So yes I believe that exercise alone is not enough and diet really is the big magic key to weight loss and the better the diet, the more it suits you and the more healthy it is (depending on what you believe, organic ultra low carb has by far had the biggest impact on weight loss for me and my family AND best equips us with energy for our active lifestyles) then the more effective it will be in terms of helping you lose weight more quickly. BUT do not abandon the thought of exercise because it has its place in your success and is important.

And please don’t let that word exercise put you off, think of it just as moving more. To exercise you really do not have to don a lycra one piece and leg warmers and contort your body into strange shapes and lie gasping for breath by the end of the first half of a step class warm up. It doesn’t mean buying expensive equipment and paying for personal trainers. It doesn’t mean sweating your fat ass off in a gym infront of perfect bodies. It just means moving more today than you did yesterday and getting a groove on with that. That can mean cleaning out a spare room or the kitchen cupboards,   it can mean using your upstairs loo rather than your downstairs one, it can mean walking to a bus stop or train station and taking public transport rather than your car, it can mean strolling around a park during your lunch hour rather than sitting in the

Even this is better than total immobility
Even this is better than total immobility

canteen, taking the stairs rather than the lift even if for just one floor, it can mean walking the kids to school rather than driving them, it can mean you taking the dog for a walk with the kids rather than leaving it to them, it can mean standing up in your living room and stepping from one foot to the other during your favourite soap opera, or going for a five minute walk around your neighbourhood at 11pm when it’s dark and no one can see you. People exercise in chairs and in beds, there are videos to follow on You Tube of exercising lying down and sitting down, there is no excuse not to move more. Trust me you will be AMAZED by how fast your fitness levels increase, it happens in a matter of days and your capacity to exercise only increases the more you do it.

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Animal fat… do your research

But yes, I agree for real results and weight loss, to change from obese to normal you really do need to address that diet first and foremost. Read about food and what it does to your body, read about how your body deals with food, how it processes it and how it gets the best out of it and what it does with the rest and develop an eating plan to suit you. Include what you like to eat (the healthy things that is), find ways to adapt what you like into a healthier version so you do not feel deprived, treat yourself now and then, cut right back on sugar including the naturally occurring kind, cut out unhealthy fats (research animal and dairy fats before you make assumptions about them), think organic, think green and leafy, think minimal cooking, think naturally occurring, research your health issues and your health concerns ie hereditary conditions you want to fend off and see which nutrients and foods might help with that, read the pros and the cons and youno-matter-how-slow-you-go won’t go far wrong. Also, if you know your over eating or eating of the wrong foods is linked to something else and has become a habit or a boredom fix or something to do with your hands (ex smokers take heed) then change those habits. This should be a lifestyle change not just diet and not just exercise but often the thing that prevents us from getting in shape is a really bad habit.

Don’t think that if you can’t exercise you can’t lose weight because if that was the case how do we explain people in comas or incarcerated getting real thin and we all know that being bed bound with an illness and unable to eat results in dramatic weight loss… so whilst I wouldn’t advocate any of those methods of losing weight they prove that you can lose weight without moving much, but moving much makes losing weight so much more fun and you won’t run the risk of ending up a skinny weak saggy miserable mess at the end of your efforts.

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Weight loss Update 149 pounds gone … I lost a whole person!

Almost there but still a road to travel yet and then begins the hard part, maintenance. But let’s not allow that thought to cast a shadow on the most recent achievements.

It’s very significant that I’ve passed the 140 pounds mark as it marks a few milestones for me.

1. Tracey, my visual inspiration from the beginning is now gone. I set a long term goal last April to lose a whole ten stone (140lb) by whenever. When I realised that this was a whole person I randomly chose an image from Google and divided her into twenty 7 pound pieces which I have picked off over the course of this past year. Sometimes it seemed a huge task to remove all of the pieces and others they seemed to be flying off. I always kind of thought that the last few would be the hardest and I was prepared for that challenge as it approached but in the event they shifted faster than any of the others. I believe this was down to a shift in the focus of my eating habits from a largely fruit and vegetable based diet to a carb free diet. I hadn’t realised how much sugar I had been tipping into my body with all of that what I thought was harmless nutritious fruit, the juices and smoothies.

Clearly the big loss in this past month must be attributed to that shift. I don’t expect to maintain such fast weight loss, I am impressed by it but aware that for my body it was a change, another kick start like you get at the beginning of most healthy eating approaches and I am sure it will settle to a normal, healthy loss rate of a pound or two a week which is always my aim. But I can’t detract from the fact that this approach has had significant impact on weight loss and also on my general sense of well being. It can be difficult to tell when something is affecting you positively when you feel so healthy, alert, active and happy anyway but I definitely have noticed that working out is a little easier and I have more stamina. What was a push for me and had been for a long time suddenly became more easy to achieve in my cross fit work outs and so we’ve stepped things up for the first time in a few months. I really thought I’d reached my peak but no, all of this protein and the reduction of sugar has meant that my peak has yet to come. I have also found that I don’t feel hungry other than in the morning when i wake up and often I’m cooking meals hoping I am hungry when they are ready and finding that as a result my portion size has decreased dramatically. I can now sit and eat a small pork chop or chicken breast with a side of green leaves and actually be full for the rest of the evening. That is a real first for me and something I never thought I would achieve. The emphasis on a big protein rich breakfast and a protein based lunch and dinner has really helped me to get that balance right and I’ve been heading that way for some time but just not with the right foods. I haven’t removed fruit from my diet and it is amazing how good an apple tastes now or a few grapes or an orange when it feels more like a treat. I feel the hit from the sugar too which is surprising. I did have some heartburn issues for a couple of weeks but they have now settled and I’d hoped it was just my body getting used to the changes and it must have been as I’ve not experienced it for a week or so  now.

So yeah Tracey kind of rushed out of the door with barely a goodbye in the end and it wasn’t the long lingering farewell I’d envisaged. Don’t get me wrong I’m so glad that happened but I’ll kind of miss having that visual goal and incentive. Although the poster will remain in my dining room to remind me, it’s time for the virtual blog Tracey to go. My visual incentive now is something I spotted on a blog post a long time ago and wanted to start doing then but decided to hold off until this point. I have two identical jars one with 30 glass pebbles in it and the other empty and each time I lose a pound one of the pebbles will be moved to the empty jar until the load has totally shifted. Then I will be an ideal weight for my height and finally a ‘normal’ person with regard to the dreaded BMI chart. I’ll be the top end of normal but that will do me, I’m not a dainty girl and I’m quite robust in terms of muscalature through all of the training I do so I’m never going to be a 120lb girl. 160-170 will do me fine and I’ll always allow myself a fluctuation within that with a high of 178 maximum.

So yeah onto achievement number 2.

2. I finally dropped below 200 pounds and currently sit at 198 with a total weight loss of 149 pounds in almost exactly one year.

3. I am no longer categorised at obese on the BMI chart, I am simply overweight as I may have mentioned in a previous post 😉

4. I was worried about this but I still have no sagging skin anywhere other than a bit of a loose sway when I wave… I’ve just started doing it like the queen though. No problem 😉 I’ve made a determined effort to try to avoid sagging skin and have blogged my various methods over the year but I do think it’s a combination of factors:

  • genetics and there’s not a lot we can do about those. I have a mother in her 80’s with barely a wrinkle and aunties the same
  • age – again there is nothing you can do about this but I do feel I’m the right side of 50 to still have some elasticity in me yet, not that I think after 50 all hope is gone because well cared for skin looks far better than neglected skin at any age
  • hydration – I drink tons of water and know that it helps keep my skin moisturised from within
  • steam rooms and mineral spas – I’m pretty sure keeping my pores unclogged and releasing those natural oils and complimenting them with mineral salts helps with general skin health. We have to remember our skin is an amazing organ, it needs treating well and that means nutritionally as well as rest and pampering. It doesn’t have to be expensive you can DIY at home easily
  • exercise – keeping my muscles toned underneath the skin helps keep everything where it’s supposed to be and improved circulation through a good cardio vascular system helps keep that skin supplied with oxygen
  • moisturising – I try to use natural oils and based creams on a daily basis of course the oil of the moment is coconut oil and I do use it and can’t say that it hasn’t been good for my skin
  • safe tanning – I don’t use fake tan products but do allow myself to sun soak (we do need Vit D) when I get a chance but I do so sensibly, using high factor protection from both UVA and UVB, moisturising well and staying out of the sun at its hottest points ie when it’s highest in the sky
  • nutrition – a healthy diet, high in organic produce with lots of vitamin C (look to vegetables for this such as spinach and kale rather than over dosing on sugary oranges). Doesn’t need to be expensive, you can grow both of these really easily in a container and if you can only afford to buy one organic produce in the supermarket make it one of these two
  • No smoking – stands to reason
  • Massage – a good massage to relax, moisturise and tone the skin never hurt anybody and they don’t have to cost either, most of your body you can reach yourself if you have nobody to do it for you and if you do have somebody to do it for you then go on a course together and save money on experts, although an expert now and then is a real treat
  • Sleep and rest – like any of your body’s organs skin renews and repairs when you’re asleep so get plenty

I’m going to blog more about the changes I’ve been through in my anniversary post, coming soon but for now let this suffice as the summing up of my reaching this milestone and what it has meant to me in terms of making me feel like a winner for once, making me feel like I’m in control for once, making me feel happier than I ever felt in my life and just making me a better person. It’s not all been about food and exercise, it’s been about so much more, about mental health and emotional issues which underpin my problems with food but whatever it’s been about it’s not done yet, there is still a road to tread and lessons to be learned and as I shrink I know there is growth to be had. I’m just glad to be here now as I am able to see a future with my children and not worrying about them putting me in a box in the ground sooner than they have to.

Life is good and I made it that way, nobody else could do it, it was up to me and am I proud of myself for getting this far? I am awesome and for the first time in my life I actually believe that I am and don’t say it with my tongue in my cheek. I am awesome and I’m going to become even more awesome.

Thank you for reading and for your support it has been priceless and if you don’t mind I’ll be needing it a little longer.

I only went and did it!

I really want to find time to blog about this properly as there is so much to say and my inability to keep a secret is going to reveal other things which I want to blog separately about but I just can’t keep it in.

I’m finally OVERWEIGHT!!! Just overweight not obese or morbidly obese or super morbidly obese as I was this time last year but just pure and simple overweight. Just overweight. Isn’t that wonderful?

Before anyone tells me it is not good to be overweight, I know I know but it is a whole lot better than being super morbidly obese so cut me slack and keep your opinion to yourself, I’m trying here. I’m not settling for overweight, normal is my goal but right now I am feeling positively skinny, I swear I have protruding bones (if I lie down and suck in).

This also lets a couple of cats out of the bag in that I’ve clearly passed another huge miles stone and shrunk below 200 pounds for the first time in a long time and I’ve lost so many pounds over a hundred now that I’ve stopped counting and Tracey my ten stone initial target is done although I’ve yet to update her.

This also shows that I’ve experienced a huge weight loss in a month following a zero carb diet and a huge weigbtloss after I’d already lost over a hundred pounds was something I wasn’t expecting at all and I have been loving my meals beyond expression.

A proper update or two will come as soon as I have time but my life is hectic right now putting the house back in order family and with work and prep for Easter that I don’t have time to give it what it deserves but it needed a tiny shout out from the roof tops. All that and my teen son has really got into girls so I’ve had reiterative sensitive talks aplenty going on too. My motherhood duties are far from over although we do find we are ushered out of the house more and more these days, encouraged to go to the cinema and to eat and for walks. I must blog about all that as it’s all new to me and to Nick as we’ve both had teen daughters but the sons are lagging behind. So we’re probably getting it so wrong.

We’ve taken up yoga too so anyone with tips or advice please comment And please DO link me to your blog posts in comments I am not averse to that I find it really helpful. I’ll blog about yoga too but we’re loving it so far. We are looking to find a couples yoga retreat somewhere nice and hot and sunny if anyone has any recommendations I’d be grateful. I’m sure these places exist in reality and not just in Meet the Fockers.

Happy days and after a very late night where we dined out on delicious lobster and frolicked in the rain on the beach like teenagers and came home to find ourselves positioning and repositioning lovely things in our new kitchen and dining room like newly weds in our first home it is definitely time for some sleep if Nick can tear himself away from restocking cupboards with tableware and polishing glasses.

Spring has sprung chez nous our new beginning has begun. I’m feeling twenty years younger than I did last year it’s amazing. If you’re wanting to lose some weight or beat an addiction or kick a habit or to just take back control of your life and make yourself happier, know you can do it, just take a tiny step today and another tomorrow and another the next day and you know what? Magic starts to happen. It does.

Spring refurb – Using your home to help you reach your goals

Around this time last year there were stirrings inside of me telling me that it was time for change and again this year I am having those stirrings.

Either post Christmas, new beginning, resolutions and all of that new year resolve to change something just takes a while to really kick in with me or my stirrings are more related to the new birth, new growth spring time vibe that is going on around now. Something tells me that it’s a mix of the two. I am a bit of a procrastinator and so the resolve I have at the cusp between new and old years does kind of sit in the back of my mind nagging away for a little while longer than it should. Thankfully then the spring time appears and kind of gives it a boost and gets it actually moving for real.

I’m considering myself pretty lucky to live here and to have that spring time come at a nice steady pace behind the new year so that the ideas I had for change on January 1st are not too dead and buried by mid to end of March and are still showing some signs of life even if it is weak and they are barely hanging in there. If I lived in the Southern hemisphere I’d never do anything.

I recall last New Year’s thinking that 2014, would be the year when I would finally conquer my weight demon and re-find myself under the obesity and reinvent my middle aged self, find the woman who was going to take me into old age and be sure she would be someone I liked and felt happy being. I recall feeling slightly down hearted that I couldn’t quite get the mental concept into a physical reality by the end of February and into March. But I also remember how by the middle of March I was making determined moves towards digging that New Year concept out again and with the advent of spring that desire to be a new woman really gathered pace. Fresh life was breathed into it as the daylight hours extended and the hours spent glued to a radiator lessened. The rest is now part of my history as I continue to win the battle to be someone I like more and am happier being. So many things have happened since last spring and I’ll probably pay tribute to them all in my anniversary post next month but this year I am delighted that I am still looking for something to improve and that my post Christmas ideas are once again now coming to life as spring comes busting out all over.

I remember feeling a little fed up with my home decor around Christmas time. I started to realise that I’d allowed my home to reflect myself, I noticed that my walls were pretty blandly painted a wishy washy non colour… neutral but with nothing to really break it up. I’d lost interest in art, ornament, decoration and everything was very serviceable. The only real places where comfort came into it were my lounge and bedroom where there were dark, luxury colours of black, purple, red, satins, furs and velvet textures which reflected my desire to relax, to retreat to hole up and be cosy and comfy and gave me places to hide and do nothing in… they reflected my lazy, withdrawn, glutton self and were my lairs where it was OK to lie down and indulge myself and cut myself off from reality.

I remembered that I love flowers and yet weekly fresh flowers all over the house was now a hit and miss thing, not something I made an effort with to give me a mental boost every day, I used to have coordinated towels in the bathrooms, it would bother me if they were not,  now I didn’t care that the blue towels were in the green bathroom and the pink ones were in use by a male. I realised there were windows in my home which had not been opened for over a year at least, some never and pulling back some curtains for the first time in perhaps two years in one room revealed an array of deceased creatures and specks of mould on the window frame, the glass dull with the stain of what I could only assume was condensation. Oh dear, I’d not been housewife of the century but worse than that I just didn’t care and yet I spend so much time in my home, I work here now and I know my environment affects me and so it is up to me to effect my environment to make sure it effects me positively.

OK so during the  year I’ve done a lot of work in the garden and had some home decor go on, I’ve made a nod to clearing out the old and refreshing the place, kind of in sympathy with my new approach to life. Most noticeable was my hall, stairs and landing where mirrors became a big feature and light was allowed to flood in and I was forced to look at myself where formerly I’d more or less banished  mirrors from the house. I’ve done some tidying up and clearing out but really I noticed at Christmas time I’m still living in a bit of a drab, boring blank canvass and that really doesn’t reflect me now,  perhaps it did reflect who I was at this time last year and it was definitely in parts representative of my transitioning self but my home was not representative of my  new self at all. There was no colour, no vibrancy no hope or happiness.

I know it might sound crazy to some people that their home decor can reflect those things, especially hope, how do you make your home reflect hope? I kind of feel that hope is the most important emotion, to believe that something better is possible, to believe that something better is probable, that it is attainable that something different is around the corner, something new, that there is learning to be done, experience to be had, love, life, laughter all waiting somewhere ahead for you. That all kind of describes how I see hope and it is one of those blessed qualities which just keeps me going forward each day. It makes life worth waking up for, it makes problems surmountable, it makes me feel satisfied by my achievements and ready to look for more still to accomplish, it inspires and motivates me and hope really does keep me happy. I want my home to reflect hope and happiness because I’m filled with those two emotions much of the time if not all of the time and in the moments I forget I want my home to shout in my face “Hey Mich remember hope and happiness? They’re still around”. When I think of hope in terms of making it tangible two key things spring immediately to mind… a palette of fresh colours and light.

I didn’t want my home to be a blank canvass any longer, it was ready to be written on and so began the mammoth task of redecorating the whole place and rethinking use of rooms, positioning of furniture and walls and doors and windows, the whole place is being remodeled and I’m buzzing with excitement. Ideas were flowing like you would not believe and inspiration was coming at me from all angles and the overwhelming feeling coming back at me from the mood boards for each space was happiness, peace, hope, light, love. Bright whites, clean lines, natural fabrics and woods, vibrant pastels, reduced window dressings allowing so much natural light through, hand crafted decorative items, our own art on the walls, coordination and a natural consistent flow from one space to another. Clean and fresh, that’s the feel and it’s how I want to feel inside. It’s how I want us all to feel, it’s how I want everyone who comes here to feel.

So, every room is being attacked  I want the whole place to reflect the new me. What has been really really refreshing is that I thought I might come up against some resistance from the son who might not really fancy his areas being pasteled out but to my surprise he has contributed to the think tank and has supported my choice of colours, going for delicious more masculine shades of greens and blues accenting pure white in his rooms and agrees that letting lots of light in is the way to go. It mattered to me that my theme flowed through the whole house, I didn’t want to wake up in love and hope and walk into happiness and then have to cook breakfast in dull misery and eat it in morbid gloom.

I love that Nick is really excited about the changes too and am happy that my ideas are not too girly soft but appeal to both sexes and are just what we all need. I also got to thinking how we as women often dictate the way our homes are decorated and how our mood or head space can therefore affect everyone in our home and I felt a little regretful that the decor has maybe affected everyone else in the house over the past few years. But in some sense that has helped them get on board with the remodelling as they are all ready to get rid of drab too. I’m not going to feel bad about it for too long, I beat myself up too much about what effect my misery and obesity had on those around me, I prefer to slap myself on the wrist and forgive myself as readily as they have forgiven me. So, looking forward I’m glad that from now on we’ll all be bathing in an aura of positivity when we are at home. I see it impacting on everyone’s mood already and know it will make everyone feel happier when it is complete. I even think it will make us all more productive and I’m going to watch my son’s school performance and just see if there is an upswing in his attitude and attainment.

A few walls are coming down which is a bit messy but that will open up areas for more communal living and I think I’ve been too happy for too long with the smaller room, boxed off type of feel of our  house which is very English but which can be quite lonely and segregational too, although it does offer privacy of course which can’t be underestimated. I think choosing this home with lots of individual smallish rooms was subliminally satisfying my need to be alone, away, apart from others, it was the perfect place to hide in, so nobody would notice what I was going through, even those who shared the home with me. So we’re opening it up because I don’t want to hide any more!

The kitchen diner is being knocked through into the formal dining room and creating a huge open bright big space for cooking and eating and entertaining which is more useable for us as a family and good for socialising. I’m ready to start throwing dinner parties and having gangs of friends around again now and that’s a real huge step towards how I used to live before obesity and mid life crisis really took its toll and something I really wanted to regain. It also will provide me with an amazing space for home tuition and instructional classes around a huge table and even for groups of friends to come around and do a fun exercise class with if we push furniture to the sides. I want that area to be the heart of our home again. I have another area for daily exercise too but I really want this big space to be multi purpose and for social events and the other space to be more private. I’ve worked on designing the lighting so that when I want to entertain more formally or dine more formally the kitchen can be lit away and focus will be on the dining table, making it more intimate and then again when it is a social communal place the lighting will open the whole space up and invite movement around the kitchen and into the dining area and empty spaces to stand drink in hand having a good chatter.

My son’s den and the lounge are remaining separate but are having total revamps with an additional window being added to the lounge and it being opened up with the hall wall being taken away, creating more light and space and losing the corridor feel of the narrower parts of the hall. The staircase is being stripped and losing its solid sides and having those replace with modern spindles and frosted glass to again let light through and create space and that will now be a feature of the lounge instead of being away in its own area. The lounge and den will gain some space from the former office and studio and the den gains extra space on the other side from the former dining room and so it will have two new features, it’s own direct porched access from the drive and it’s own wet room so that when sleepovers are in progress especially after muddy football or sweaty tennis the lads can take a shower and have somewhere to change without having to parade through family spaces. We’ve also factored into the design a cute kitchenette area where he can have a drinks fridge and make pop corn and snacks and do his own washing up. He is loving the idea of having a kind of studio apartment space of his own with pull out and throw down beds and somewhere he can play his instruments and his console games and do his homework and  just hang out with his friends. He has chosen a selection of plug and go snack making tools, including a toaster/grill and a pop corn machine.

My office and studio have moved into one upstairs space (another reason why there is space for expansion of the lounge and den) we took out one of the bathrooms and one of the bedrooms which gave us more useable space and less unused space. It’s been re-glazed with big picture windows on two sides, a south facing and a west facing wall so there is almost round the clock natural light. On a clear night even the moon manages to cast a fair glow into the space, it’s magical. The rest of upstairs is all base painted crisp white walls with stripped, white washed floor boards with different accent colors in each bedroom and bathroom and of course the follow through of the new bannisters from the stairs letting more light into the whole area in general.  So my kids still have their own bedrooms (even though the daughter’s is now all but empty of her personal affects) and my son will spend most of his life in his den but that gives us space for Nick’s kids to stay over comfortably and we still have plenty of space if ever we get everyone together.

It’s been a big clear out time, that was already more or less a fait accompli as there has been a gradual clearing away of clutter as my mind cleared but it’s well and truly over now. We’ve salvaged lots for recycling. Fabrics have been laundered and cut up into useable craft stash pieces, zips and buttons have been picked out and added to the stash too, stuffings, feathers and cushion pads have been laundered and vacuum packed ready to refill new soft furnishings, wooden pieces of furniture, mirrors and picture frames suitable for upcycling with a  bit of paint and some imagination have been set aside for stripping and remodeling and tons of stuff has been donated to charity and those who might make use of it. I even salvaged the carpets we pulled up and have stashed them in the garage ready to use to line some more raised vegetable beds we have planned to build. Old carpet is a great insulator (just staple gun or tack it on to the inside of wooden beds) and it also helps prevent weeds encroaching from around the bed. We’ve had two skylights added to the loft and had a cute space saving spiral stair case fitted which leads from my studio so that we can use the space as storage for larger furniture items and bulky materials. The spiral stair case was bought second hand and was a real bargain. It was black iron but it has been repainted white with the stair treads stripped and stained different pastel shades and sealed. It used to live in a wine bar and we got it for thirty pounds complete with hand rails. We’ve also put the gym equipment up there and created a cool work out space for us all to use although my son still has a weight bench, punch bag and treadmill in his den too.

In terms of project management, we top downed the approach so the loft was done first so that we had storage space for things we wanted to keep from the beginning of the project and then we completed the studio and fitted it out with temporary beds before everything was moved from downstairs so that we could sleep in there while the bedrooms were being redecorated and refurbished and we used the existing ground floor wet room while the bathrooms were having a coat of paint and some fresh tiling. Then once the bedrooms and first floor bathrooms were ready work began on the ground floor which is where the majority of the work is taking place. This has ensured that we have somewhere to sleep, relax, work and bathe while the ground floor is being remodelled. We’ve managed to temporarily plumb the washing machine and dryer into what we call ‘the gardening wet room’ on the ground floor so we can still do essential laundry and we have been managing to eat lots of grilled meat using a big George Foreman and lots of fresh leaves from the garden which we are keeping crisp in a fridge in the loft for the time being. That’s where we expel our cooking fumes too and so far it’s working well.

Breakfast is something we did struggle with at first, nobody feels like ascending to the loft first thing to cook eggs and bacon and so we’ve been treating ourselves with breakfast out each morning at a local hotel where we fill up on scrambled or boiled eggs, bacon, sausages and or ham and as much tea as we can drink at 6.30am for £7 a head with my son eating free as he’s still classed as a child and then my son heads to school and we enjoy the luxury of  sitting in armchairs for a while and read the papers before we go and take our exercise and start the day proper. It’s a lovely treat and gives us some respite from the rubble and dust and noise at home and just starts our day off well and helps us cope with the rest of it. If you are having invasive work done at home and you can afford a little treat like this it is well worth it even every other day, it just makes the whole experience feel easier. Being confined to the first floor and loft is suprisingly stressful when really it ought not to be as we do have everything we could need. I think it is that feeling of having your movement restricted that just gets the better of anyone in the end. I perhaps suffer more as I tend to stay up there most of the day whereas Nick is more hands on with the supervising of the project and answering questions and he’s also been offering an extra pair of hands, something I have no desire to do, I stick to making food and drinks and keeping my businesses ticking over. Nick has also managed to escape to work a couple of times which has been good for him. I do have some respite in that the garden is taking up a bit of time lately as the seasons change and so I do get out there and do a bit of prep when being indoors gets too much. I don’t perform well in chaos, some people love it, I don’t.

We managed to keep costs pretty low too as we have not replaced bathrooms, we have repositioned one essentially by recycling the fittings from the first floor ensuite that we took out and putting those back into the den wet room and upstairs most of the work was a simple refurb of the bedrooms and landing with no major structural work happening other than at the back end of the level where the studio/office is and the changes to the loft were made. We bought second hand windows and we floored the loft with recycled floor boards from a wood yard. Keeping that major work at the back end of the house and getting it done first meant that it was very unobtrusive to our lives and more or less happened without any real impact on us. It also meant that my work was not interrupted which was important. I lost one day of work while we were moving everything from the ground floor to the first floor and loft but that was all and we managed to do that on a weekend. As I said that approach also meant that we had a huge useable loft space for storage of items that the rest of the refurb displaced which meant we could sort, strip and store very easily with little mess. That allowed us to save money in that items we wouldn’t have had anywhere to store and would have been tempted to get rid of were able to go up there and be worked on as upcycling projects.

We still have protective coverings on the landings which I will be glad to see the back of and we have a membrane across the stair well to prevent dust from coming up to the completed levels which is working well but means movement around the house is a pain at the moment as we need to get help to get through that membrane and reposition it when we need to go to the ground floor which we try not to do unless totally necessary.

With me having been unwell recently the dust and fumes have not helped with that but open windows and not too bad temperatures have eased it a bit and my bedroom was completed which meant I was able to relax through most of it and I also still had a lounge at the time thankfully.

We are with power and water and heat when we need to be and the builders have been tremendous when it comes to meeting our needs and keeping us informed, we’re very lucky to have a great bunch of guys working on this who my daughter had recommended from a business owner guy she knows who uses this team to refit his shops and bars. They are very quick and efficient and hard working and at times I hate having to ask them to call it a day as I know they are used to working through the night and just getting jobs done fast due to the nature of their usual work but I do have to consider neighbours and also the fact that my son needs to sleep and also think about the days when Nick has a long drive next day so sleep has to be protected. We’re not far off finished with structural work now and things are taking shape though, I’m sure we would be well onto decorating by now if I’d let them work to the time scale they would have preferred. At least when it comes to non noisy finishing and decorating they have my blessing to work until they finish, through the nights if they wish. Their attention to detail and the quality of finishing is excellent and you can just tell they are used to having their work heavily scrutinised. The gang consists of essential registered trades and multi-trades so you get a lot of bang for your buck from them. They are loving the protein heavy lunches I’m providing too and are not used to organic rib eye with a home grown organic green salad for lunch from most of their clients so I’m confident they are being fed well and all of that low carb organic protein energy is really doing them good. I know my butcher has a couple of new clients.

The ground floor is total chaos at the moment but although I sound like I’m hating it,  I have really never been happier to live in chaos in my life. If anything I’m frustrated because I just want it all done now. The upstairs is beautiful and I’m enjoying adding the finishing touches gradually and finding time to work on some pieces for downstairs.. I’ve bought some beautiful fabrics and am really loving creating things with them. I can’t wait to see my new kitchen and entertaining space, I’m desperate to throw a big party and have not felt like doing that in too long. My daughter was here last week for two days and she did some beautiful art work which is at the framers now and I can’t wait to see on the walls.

It is amazing how much of ourselves we can see in our homes and how much our homes reflect us and our moods and our outlook on life without us really knowing that they do. I really think that I needed this huge upheaval now, the time is right for me to wave out the old me, she’s almost gone now, I’m so close to my first big target, a target I never truly believed I could reach, I’m just not the woman who bought this house or who decorated it or furnished it and the new me, combined with the welcome return of familiar elements of the old me is making herself known now, she is able to do so demonstratively by throwing her arms open to the world, opening up her blinds and windows and doors and saying welcome, come in, enjoy and feel the wonderful energy of my new home, of the new me, full of hope and happiness and light… step right in and let it wash over you, it’s so good it simply has to be shared.

I’m a lucky lady, lucky to be alive, lucky to have this life and lucky to have the support of so many amazing people who influence and inspire me daily through the sharing of their own hope, love and light, I love to step into the virtual homes of my blogging community buddies and hope that mine will always be a place where you feel welcome understood and inspired too.

This new environment for the new me is really going to help me to keep on my journey not just to one of my many goals but to the main goal which is to never ever rely on food to mask unhappiness ever again, to deal with my issues openly and honestly and not hide anymore behind anything. I’m feeling like a bright happy hopeful woman and I want my home to be one of the things which reminds me of who I am and of the wonderful life that is there waiting for me to make the most of. I need this and I realise again that my house isn’t just somewhere I eat, wash and sleep, it is far more than that.

Sometimes going back takes you forward

So the projected start of the eat good meat and dairy and barely any carbs plan has had a delay. Firstly because the organic meat delivery was not placed on time and wasn’t  received on time. Secondly because we had a couple of celebrations going on so it wasn’t the best time to tighten any belts. So it starts tomorrow.

BUT, I can attest to something and this involves a horrific confession of over indulgence which I am never ashamed to make. I have little to no ADDED sugar in my diet and I’m already eating very little carbohydrate, why the transition to a low carb lifestyle is going to be slightly easier for me. I do however eat a lot of naturally sugar laden foods, which I didn’t realise before. I eat copious amounts of berries, seeds, nuts and a few grains. I didn’t even know some of these contained sugar at all but you learn something new every day. I’m not  a measurer. I am a big eater, anyone following me knows I have gradually been reducing the quantity of what I eat more as an accident and consequence of the other health benefits going on in my life over the past 11 months. My portions are not meagre by any means, I know I can’t succeed with any weight loss if I’m hungry so I’ve never let myself be hungry. My weight loss has come via what I eat not how much I eat.

Besides eating a lot of fruit and vegetables I drink a lot of juices and use juices as dressing for salads and I squirt lemon and orange into and onto everything, believing it a better flavour adder than oils. I also have green juice three times a week.

So anyway, that’s kind of the back ground to what I discovered this week. At a celebration yesterday there was a sweet stall cart thing. Now I’ve not been near chewy, sugary, bright sweets really for a long time. I have sucked on a Ricola or two for a sweet fix but I’m more of a chocolate and cake kind of gal than a Skittles and boiled sweets one. BUT, here on this stall that I just happened to find myself seated beside, was an array of colourful bright little sugary temptations and I yielded to ‘just a few’ chewy, tangy morsels of deliciousness. Now ‘just a few’ in an obese, over eater’s world is never that is it? Let’s be honest. Just a few hands full more like.  I totally lost all of my will power and my common sense approach and my tactics for coping with temptation went right out of the window and I sat chatting to people and popping into my mouth, one by one, just like the old days. Eventually not even registering they were going in there. Old habits eh? They sure do die hard.

So let’s just suffice to say I lost my mind and probably ate at least a whole regular pack sized amount, maybe two, definitely not a family size bag… oh lordy I hope I didn’t do that but who knows?

I only stopped when I noticed that I was starting to become a little hot, my temperature was rising at an alarming rate and I started looking for an escape to get some air, at that point I noticed that my heart was positively pounding in my chest, audibly and sensorily, I could hear it in my ears and feel it in my chest, thumping away like someone had put it on overdrive, more so than when I’m exercising to my  max even. I started to feel nauseous from the temperature I think and I started to panic a little as I became convinced I was having a heart attack. I tried to check my breathing which was starting to become shallow and rapid through the panic and I made my way to the exit, got outside into the cold air, sat on a bench and breathed deeply. Nick had noticed something was wrong and had followed me and he immediately went back in and came out with water. I sipped the water and started to calm down, things started to go back to normal.

Only then did he ask what was wrong and I told him what I’d experienced and we both realised that it was my body’s reaction to those sweets. That sugar, perhaps the additives and colourings I don’t know, but my body did not like what I had done to it and it was letting me know in no uncertain terms.

I sat there with Nick feeling very stupid, very greedy, very gluttonous and strangely very fat. I’d felt amazing when I’d put my new outfit on earlier in the day but suddenly I felt swollen, ugly, bloated, trussed up, miserable and everything felt too tight. I don’t know if that was a mental thing with my mind playing tricks on me making me feel like a fat failure and so I imagined myself fatter than I am or if I had physically swollen. I kind of felt ashamed of myself too and I had to quickly dispel those self loathing type feelings and the shame because they are no good for me, I know that and I had to put things into perspective with a “Good God woman you had a few sweets at a party, get a grip, you are not the anti-christ you didn’t go and slaughter half a dozen women and children”. I have to talk to myself like that sometimes to keep it real because I know that self loathing, shame, blame and all that are my enemies and always have been.

One thing it did do for me though, and this is the reason why I’m glad that I did sit and gorge myself, was it made me wonder how I had coped for years with that kind of pressure on my body. I realised that my healthy body really didn’t enjoy being abused like that and yet I had abused it for years and years and never ever listened to it groan or felt it shudder. I had just carried on treating it bad and not caring. I realised that there was no wonder I felt so bloody miserable all of the time, no wonder I had no energy, no wonder i was so stressed, no wonder I couldn’t cope with things, I was poisoning myself on a daily basis. I poisoned myself so much that my body was probably dealing with one toxin and then another and then another to the extent that it didn’t have time to alert me to what I was doing to it, it was just trying to keep me alive.

How sad to think that I just did that to myself for so long. How lucky I am to not have suffered any long term damage (that I know of yet). How grateful I am to be finally freeing myself from that awful cycle I was locked in.  How fortunate I am to be getting better now, to have the opportunity to reverse that damage and to make mistakes and to see why they are mistakes.

I’ll never ever eat a sugary, bright coloured sweet again as long as I live. That was scary and I’m not going back there again. I’ve learned a lesson and one thing about eating and living healthy that we often underestimate is that power we give ourselves to be able to notice when we eat something that is not good for us, our body does let us know, it tries to warn us and only when we make those attacks on our health rarely do we really get the message and it definitely makes us think about what we were doing wrong.

This is why I think the gradual small steps approach to changing our lifestyle is important for morbidly obese people, we need to learn lessons that will stick with us forever, we don’t need quick fixes. Through a gradual process we learn and we refine our way of eating, our exercise, our whole lifestyle. Because of all the changes I have made thus far I was able to spot the harm those sweets were doing to my body and I have learned that I really don’t want to put that stuff into my body again, ever. I know something now which I didn’t know last week and I don’t just know it from reading about it, I know it from experiencing it and that’s another point I’d like to make; it’s OK to trip up, it’s OK to make a mistake, it’s OK to go backwards now and then because then we really learn the lessons, then we really see the effects our old ways have on our new bodies and believe me this lesson was poignant.

So now the meat is here and I’m ready to roll, more ready than ever. Let’s see what happens, we’ve all recorded weight and measurements this morning and we’re all in this, so we will have views on how this approach affects a middle aged woman, a middle aged man and a growing teenage boy and a young lady. By good fortune all of us had full bloods done recently too so we’ll all have a repeat health check in sixty days and see if there is anything going on in the inside that we hadn’t bargained for. My son is convinced that if we eat bacon with the fat every day we are going to put weight on but let’s see.

Earl Grey, grief and miracles

I had a wobble yesterday. I have them now and then and I need to let myself not feel so much of a failure for having them, I’m human. I have to remind myself of that sometimes. I think we often go into machine mode and forget that we are not robots set on go, we are organic beings who mess up and have anxieties and get affected by externalities. I need to remember that.

Anyway, two good things came of said wobble. Firstly I didn’t give in and eat my body weight in mint Aero and secondly because I chose to flee the house, drop my work and get on my bike to take my mind off bingeing and the way I was feeling I had a really cool experience that I would otherwise have missed.

At the midpoint of my bike ride, as I hauled my much happier and energised self into a cafe and ordered a cup of Earl Grey I realised I had no money, the lady behind the counter said it didn’t matter I could drop it in some time and an old chap behind me offered to pay for my tea. Normally I would have declined but I was still frazzled enough to just accept. I asked if he wanted us to sit together as he ordered his own tea and a biscuit for the dog.

This was funny because I’d joked that I’d go and find an old codger walking his dog to talk to before I left and here he was, complete with little Westie outside waiting for his biscuit. We sat in the shelter of the cafe but outside in the sunshine, it was freezing but such a beautiful day it was a shame to spend it inside. The hot tea warmed my hands and insides anyway.

We had such a lovely chat about everything and nothing, I learned that he was 91 (he didn’t look a day over 70), he had a sharp mind and a sharp wit to go with it and he really cheered me up. He told me tales of wartime and tales of his children and grandchildren and great grandchildren all scattered around the world. When we’d finished I asked if he wanted me to walk with him down the sea front, he said it would be lovely to have some company and so I locked up my bike and we set off arm in arm. It was the first time I’d been arm in arm with an old chap in years, since I lost my dad I think and just being close to this guy and smelling him and listening to him reminded me so much of my dad it was unreal.

I realised as we walked along that a lot of my sadness is grief from losing him and that sometimes it just spills over again, even after all of these years. He was the only one who ever understood me and I realised that I just miss him and that time does make it easier but that loss when it hits you afresh is as bad as that first morning you wake up and remember that they left the day before. It cuts as deep and takes the wind right out of your sails.

I felt myself snuggling up to the old guy closer and had to check myself so that he didn’t think I was going to molest him. When we’d finished our walk I told him thank you and said how he didn’t realise but his company, his jokes and laughter, his stories, his conversation had been a huge tonic for me, I’d been having a crap day and he had given me something I couldn’t explain but I was grateful for it. He told me that I’d done the same for him. He said it was the first anniversary of the loss of his wife who he had married when he was just 19 and spent a lifetime of happiness with. He told me he’d spent that morning at home and all of the family he had talked about, none of them had called to see if he was OK. He’d been acutely aware of his solitude and he’d left the house wishing he had a companion to take his mind off things to walk along the sea front with and chatter about something or nothing. He said he’d told himself not to be so foolish, it had never happened before, all he had to look forward to was a solitary walk again with just Rosie the dog for company, it would take a miracle for him to find someone willing to spend time with an old boy like him.

He planted a soft kiss on my cheek and thanked me for being his miracle.

Well he was mine too. It was all very emotional and lovely and we’ve got a date for Friday (tomorrow) to go for a walk again, I told him he’d have to share me with Nick this time but he didn’t mind, he said it was just lovely to have someone to walk with again and reminded me that I’m buying the tea. I really hope one of his family called him later that day.

Life’s as complicated as we make it and other people might be pains in the arse at time, but at others are heaven sent, good people exist, happiness restored.

Never going down again… struggling today like no one would believe

It’s amazing how horrible people are. I do not court praise for my achievements in anything. I’m a fat person I want to be invisible. I’m the award nominee who doesn’t go to the award ceremony and misses out on the experience too scared that I might just win an award and have to suffer people applauding me for doing my job or something I felt was needed. I don’t need noticing for that, it’s just what I do.

My trophies are in boxes somewhere while my kids photos and framed childhood indecipherable art works adorn my walls and interior decor displays. They are the things which make me smile and feel fulfilled and satisfied, the things which inspire me to be better and remind me I’ve done good.

I remain anonymous on my blog and never mention my weight loss journey anywhere else. I don’t talk about it in any detail other than to those who are integral to its success. If colleagues when I was teaching full time asked about my food or commented on my weight loss I kept it simple with a “I’m just eating healthily and moving more”.  When people who don’t usually speak to me comment on my weight loss I have to admit I more often than not look straight through them with the same blank stare they gave me when I was huge. I don’t want to speak to them now, I didn’t then either.

I don’t post photos of myself on social media and have asked my children and close friends not to do so either. I don’t want my life or myself to be defined by my appearance or size by anybody else. If I want to do that to me then I will but it’s not for anyone else to do that to me. I want to control my own image. that is important to me. I’ll tell you why…

Unlike a lot of obese compulsive over eaters who have struggled as a life time fat person I have had periods where I have been slim and where I’ve been somewhat aware of my beauty and attractiveness, not hugely so but somewhat. I’ve been aware of the pull beauty and a good figure can have on other people, how it can make you, your opinions, your experiences somehow more valid than a fat persons. I’ve been on both sides of the table I’ve been the fat person and the thin person at the boardroom table and I know the different ways I was treated as the same person. I’ve been chubster and glamour puss in restaurants and shops and bars and know the very different levels of service and attention I received as each persona. I’ve been dumpy job candidate and hot tomale legs to here blonde. I know how we are treated differently based on the way we look. I know how shallow people are and I know who I want in my life and close to me. I don’t want people defining me by how much weight I’ve lost, I don’t want people telling me I’m beautiful or that I’m doing well or asking how I’m doing it. I know that sounds weird when I write a blog about it but anyone who reads my blog knows what this is to me and I know the people who encourage and support me do so for genuine reasons.

I know how differently I behave as a fat versus thin person and when I was a sexy young thing I wasn’t very nice. I wielded my power like a weapon I was ruthless with the feelings of others I was selfish I was unkind and I don’t want my size to make me that person again. I don’t want to be adored to the point I lose my sense of reality. I don’t want that power in the way I had it before, I want only power over my own demons and I actually resent that the thinner I become the more valid as a person I’m becoming, the more popular I’m becoming. Seriously I get so many more invitations to things now than I used to and I know that the multiple facebook friend requests come from people who have heard that I’ve lost weight and who just want to have a look for themselves, so I ignore them all. Sometimes I wonder if this is why I’ve subconsciously wanted to stay fat because I know then that people around me act genuinely and like me because of who I am not because I fit aesthetically into their world.

I avoid being upheld as a role model for anyone other than my children. I don’t want to be a role model. I don’t want to be responsible for anyone else’s success or failure and I don’t want to draw attention to myself because I know how fleeting success can be. I don’t want that pressure on. I think half of the problem is knowing that so many people who feign interest in my success will be waiting for me to put it all back on again just like I always do and I just don’t want to hear those voices in my head or think about that day because it’s never going to happen.

I just want to be me. I want to know I feel great and look great for myself. to give me the courage to continue to love living my life before it’s too late and its all over. I want to feel healthy more than anything.

But this is a small town and the rumour mill and grape vine are rife and I know a lot of people. This couple of days I’ve heard how I must have had surgery, how I must be taking cocaine, how I must have had skin removal by now, how I’ve definitely had a face lift, how I’m doing something terribly unhealthy to have lost so much weight, how I’m starving myself, how I must have an illness I’m keeping quiet, how I’m going without food to keep my man. I mean seriously where do people get off?

Lots of it is coming from family and extended family and that is my main reason for keeping my blog anonymous because if one of them was to see it my journey would be over such is the negative power they have over me still. I don’t want them to know what I do or think or feel, they  never cared when I was one of them and if I ever let a chink of the inner me shine out they were quick to destroy it and turn it against me and it damaged me, it really damaged me and I don’t want to go there because I know if they knew I was writing this blog and doing so well they would want to destroy me and my happiness and success and I’m still not strong enough to shoulder that. There are too many of them and at the end of the day they are my weakness because I tried to love them, I tried to bring them together, I tried to be loyal, supportive, faithful and kind to all of them and they betrayed me, all of them, one by one or at times en mass and I can’t get over that just yet, it’s a massive barrier which I’m chipping away at. My real problem is that I don’t want to care about them, I need to learn to not care about them but I’m a caring person by nature and I find not caring very difficult and I’m incredibly loyal and there are engrained values which I can’t get out of my system wholly. So I live in this parallel universe with them on one side of the divide and me on the other and I try to not let them into my life or influence my life and it works but then I hear some stories from the rumour mill and all I feel is negative energy.

I just wish people were kinder and I wish people could be happy for someone else’s happiness and keep hate out of the picture. I just wish I wasn’t so influenced by other people and their perceptions of me but I’m working on that with my therapist, it’s a big one. I’ve always been made to feel so self conscious all of the time and I am working on not feeling that way and hoping that that will lead me away from this pressure I feel from other people which makes me want to hide away.

This post is all over the place and I might come back and read it later and make some sense of it myself but I wanted to thrash out my thoughts and I also feel I need to show that in spite of my progress with all things obesity related, there is still a whole long road to travel. We don’t win this over night, we can’t change everything that made us the sad person who ate to feel happy with a wave of a wand, it’s tough, it’s an ongoing battle and voyage of discovery and sometimes it’s not as easy as others. Today I really want to eat like I’ve not wanted to in months, I can taste mint chocolates, I can smell a big fried bacon bun, I am battling a physical compulsion to go to the corner shop and buy a couple of tubes of Pringles and a whole basket full of cookies and chocolate and salted nuts and cake and sit in a darkened room watching a sob inducing movie and stuffing it all down my throat.  Even though I know it won’t make me feel happy, I really feel that it will make me happy and therein lies the problem. It is only the true and absolute knowledge that I will feel like a ton sack of shit if I do it that I am managing to restrain myself. Diversion techniques are in full force but are not taking the need away, being home alone isn’t helping so I think I might just drop everything, get out of here and go for a bike ride and find a lonely old codger walking his dog on the sea front and strike up a conversation about anything.

I’m not giving in to the need to destroy myself and I’m never going back to where I was, never. I made myself a promise and I’m keeping it and no matter how much strength it takes to keep myself walking away from fatness I’m going to find it. I believe I have it in me and today I just need to dig a bit deeper to find it.