Thursday, 4 June 2015

One year on

Apologies if this is just too smug... but I seriously need reminding sometimes of what the achievements are.

One year ago today, I had my first weight-in, measure-in, counselling session and juices at Obsidian.

With huge help and support from family and friends, and inspiration from other health and fitness experts, I've done what I set out to do. I've achieved a healthy BMI; I'm sub-ten-stone-seven for the first time in eight years; I'm a comfortable size 14 (sometimes nearer a 12, depending on the make); and bien dans ma peau in a way that I'd forgotten was possible.

My very heaviest weight was in fact two pounds higher than shown above, shortly before my visit to Spain, so:
  • Weight dropped from 13-1 to 10-6.
  • BMI has gone from just over 30 to just over 24.
  • Waist measurement was 37.5", now 33.5".
  • Widest part measurement was 45", now 40".
  • Bust was (probably - I don't have a record) about 43", now 39".

My perception of what is 'normal' has changed for good.

Saturday, 2 May 2015

More learning: thinking outside the (vegetable) box

I think I'm generally a reasonable cook. I don't go much for pastries and cakes anyway (mercifully), and the traditional feasts are not really my style; but I do enjoy simple, speedy, practical dishes with a lot of flavour. Generally if something takes less than 30 minutes (preferably 20) to cook, and has less than a dozen ingredients, I'm up for it.

Since moving towards a regular diet (as opposed to A Diet) that has more vegetables (but isn't vegetarian), less carbohydrate (but still some), minimal alcohol (but includes the occasional glass), I've been encouraged to try out more recipes outside my comfort zone. In the ten months since my visit to Obsidian, I've used an increasing number of veggie recipes and latterly of organic produce.

A new and excellent discovery is the lovely, organic food, Riverford service. I've been delighted with my free Riverford Farm Cook Book, and with the matching iPhone app which includes a useful recipe section (choose your combination of veg and it will display recipes in which to use them).

I've also realised that playing a particular mindgame with myself is proving rather helpful. As I put it on Twitter the other day:

Hate waste. Get @Riverford veg box weekly. Use veg up by next box = Learn new veg recipes = Increase veg intake. #result #mindgames

You know, it's been working rather well. My determination not to waste any of the delightful surprises - some of which are unfamiliar to me, some I just haven't used (e.g. cauliflower) for ages - has propelled me into trying several recipes, all of which have been pretty successful (also with my long-suffering husband, who mercifully is happy to try my experiments).

So far there's been

  • Penne with Cauliflower, Garlic & Anchovies (really tasty)
  • Butternut Squash & Aubergine risotto (lovely, and even better when reheated the following day)
  • Roasted carrot soup with rosemary & smoky paprika (set to become a favourite)
  • Cauliflower, Carrot & Parsnip Korma (lovely but slightly bland for our taste, so I added some curry powder)
  • Swiss Chard stir fried with lemon juice, mushrooms & olive oil (excellent accompaniment to a chicken & tomato dish)

More importantly, this process is helping me to think outside my previous boxes. It's a continuing process of learning. There are so many fabulous foods available - as well as possibilities for exercise, self-development, learning opportunities and all the rest - that I'm starting to see this wonderful bounty of products as a metaphor for other areas of my life. For example:

  • the new area that we're living in (a beach village on the beautiful east Norfolk coast) and the coastal walks that mean so much to me
  • my precious mentoring from the lovely Marla Dee, including a frankly challenging but ultimately rewarding regular writing task, which is giving me much food for thought
  • the fabulous inspiration and ideas from Karl Whitfield (aka Tigger, aka Karlmeister) at Mother Nature's Diet, whose Norwich seminar later this month I greatly look forward to

- and much more.

At 52 years old, I have (please God) still so much more to learn. The colours in my weekly vegetable box delight me, and so do the opportunities that still await.

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Another look back

The scariest photos I've ever had taken were in March 2014 at a Conference that I attend annually - for apdo-uk (the Association of Professional Declutterers & Organisers). Yes, there really is such a thing. As a past President, founder member and, until recently, member of the Operations Team, I usually have some reason to stand on stage in front of my colleagues, and of course, there's no hiding from cameras.

This year I attended as usual, and for once I didn't have to be afraid of the camera. The lovely Alessandra took a long-overdue new mugshot for me to use on my business website, and I couldn't resist using it to create another 'before-and-after' collage:

I am so thankful to have found another way.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

What's another year?

There are a couple of bits of software that appeal to my geek-who-curates tendencies. They look back at your postings in linked social media accounts, and remind you of what was going on x years ago. Momento is one; Timehop is the other.

There are also my own records. It won't surprise anyone who knows me to hear that I have a complete spreadsheet of weight and fitness records, going back nearly twenty years, to 1996. How sad is that?

19 February, 2014. A very brief posting to Facebook reads thus:

"Shit. Officially medically obese. Not good. #cupcakesorvalium"

This was the day that I recorded a weight of thirteen-stone-one-pound. At 5'5" tall, this pushed me into the 'obese' category when looking at BMI charts. Yes, I know that these don't take build into account (or, in my case, large mammaries); but as a rule, they're a pretty good indication.

My beloved friends were encouraging, practical, sympathetic and supportive by turns, and temporarily I felt a bit better. Why on earth I didn't take that as my wake-up call right then, I have no idea; the journey didn't start until my visit to Obsidian, nearly four months later.

Having achieved the sub-eleven-stone marker around about the time that we moved house (October 2014), I was simply very happy to have maintained that sort of weight through the move, Christmas, New Year, a holiday, my birthday, and lots more life.

However, having got the festive season out of the way, I've very gently refocused with a view to getting down to my target of ten-stone-seven. I've increased my walks-to-the-beach frequency, taken the alcohol down to one or two glasses a week, upped the vegetables, increased the breakfast juices / smoothies, and decreased the carbohydrate. I've continued to take inspiration and practical assistance from my experiences at Obsidian, and also from the superb Karl at Mother Nature's Diet; and to benefit from the support and encouragement of countless friends.

So on 19 February 2015, I'm logging a weight of ten-stone-nine. That's thirty-four pounds down from my heaviest weight, thirty-two from the start of my Obsidian visit. I've spent a bit of time this morning kicking out the last of my size sixteens, as well as a few more fit-but-don't-flatter items.

I need to remind myself from time to time of how far I've come. Just as it's virtually impossible to imagine being too cold when you're too hot, and vice versa, it's extraordinary how soon we forget the pain of being uncomfortable in our own skin.

The photographs below aren't quite representative of those dates; the one in the green dress (heaven knows how it survived the cull) was taken in August 2013 (so, scarily, not quite at my heaviest), and the 'after' photo was New Year 2014. I intend to get my husband to photograph me on 4 March, which will be nine months since my first Obsidian photo, to celebrate the actual milestones. But this will do for now.

It's not been a diet that I've now finished. It's been a lifestyle change that I still continue, because what is 'normal' is now different. 

That's why I have no fear of throwing out the size sixteens.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Three months on

In the last three months, I have:

  • walked an average of just over 100K each month (4-5K most mornings)
  • turned my eating plan upside down (have gone right off processed meat, eat virtually no red meat, poultry weekly, fish twice weekly, veggie the rest)
  • removed caffeine completely - now on all herbal, fruit and redbush teas
  • removed most dairy - now using soya milk and yogurt, and goat or feta cheese
  • removed most gluten - eating very little bread, and using GF muesli, GF pasta
  • juice for breakfast from Obsidian recipes most mornings - muesli and fruit if I'm in a real hurry
And these are the results. (Click on the photo for a closer look.)

(Same t-shirt but baggier! Jeans instead of the sloppy joe trousers, because they look better.)

I've lost 21 pounds. Still only about an inch from the waist, but three from the hips, and probably about two or three from the bust (that measurement wasn't taken in June, but I can guess from the clothes). I'm now fitting comfortably into size 14 rather than a tight 16 (although different stores have different ideas, of course) and have reclaimed a lot of my wardrobe.

I'm not quite done. My ideal weight, from a BMI point of view, at 5'5", is 10 stone 9. So that's where I aim to reach and settle.

My fabulous husband has been constantly supportive, eating the curious recipes I've dished up for him (actually, last night's quorn bolognese went down rather well), encouraging me with the exercise, helping me keep alcohol to a bare minimum. As a result, his own clothes are now fitting rather easier than they were too.

This is not (and really never has been) a 'diet'. It has been a genuine change to what I view as 'normal'. That's why the size 16s are not being kept 'just in case'.

I can never thank the good folks of Obsidian enough for setting me on a road that is - after 51 years - right for me.

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

My Obsidian video

I was delighted to see the excellent job that Cris and his colleagues at Obsidian had done in compiling my case study video.

As you've seen, this was shot after 7 days at the resort. A day further on my total weight loss was 7lb. By 'concert day' I'd added a further 9lb loss to that total.

So, so happy and grateful.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Determination helps me through

... as one of my friends has pointed out, this was a line in a song that I sang in a concert last night (Noel Coward's If Love Were All, if you were wondering).

About ten days ago, I was a bit annoyed with myself for getting a target wrong. Let me explain...

When I left Obsidian on 13 June, having lost 7lb, I was 12 stone 6. I reckoned that getting to under 12 stone would be enough to allow me to fit into a particular concert dress on 19 July. I set this as an achievable target during a session led by the splendid Marco during my stay in Spain. In fact, I actually well achieved that (by last night's concert, I weighed in at 11-11 - making a 9lb weightloss in around five weeks).

With ten days to go, and weighing in at about 12-1, I extracted said dress - and wondered why it was still far too small. When I checked, I found that my recollection had been faulty: the last time I'd worn it was in May 2009 - when I'd not long been coping (badly) with my plantar fasciitis, hadn't yet put on too much weight, and was around 11-3. Disappointed, I reckoned I'd have to borrow a dress or (worse) buy another one, as a loss of some 12 pounds in ten days seemed unlikely (not to say unhealthy).

However, a further four pounds came off in that time, and perhaps the exercise and mostly vegetarian diet are changing my shape; because I triumphantly wore said dress, and was delighted that it looked good. I actually felt confident in a stage outfit for, I would say, the very first time in five years.

I had to publish a silly photo to share with my Obsidian friends on Facebook, so this was it. Caption really should be (if you know your James Cagney films): "I made it, Ma - top of the world!".

So, after a wonderful concert, many happy times and much encouragement, I will now pause and reflect, focus on my next goals, and keep doing what I'm doing. Because there is another way, and it's working.