Monday, 11 October 2010

Still on track

I've been managing one pound each week so far.

Weighed myself this morning: still on track. Six weeks, six pounds exactly.

Not on a diet. Mindful eating.

Start: 171 lb.
Today: 165 lb.


Saturday, 9 October 2010

Two books, one very useful chap

Another strand of notable help I've received during the last few weeks.

In browsing around for more help on plantar fasciitis, I came across this book:

As the reviews point out, the book is quite small in content for something relatively expensive. However, in terms of the simplicity of explanation and scientific backup, it's well worth it. I like Jim Johnson's style: treats you as an intelligent individual, while at the same time assuming you have minimum knowledge about the subject.

I've been doing the prescribed stretches for the last few weeks. While it certainly hasn't cured it, there is no doubt but that it helps considerably with the pain I usually have first thing in the morning, and who knows? - if I continue, it may in the long run ease matters.

I looked further into the books written by this chap. I found this:

Another pretty diddy little book (although less expensive); but it says all that needs to be said. Concise, intelligent, practical and sensible. There's little here I didn't know in some form already, but seeing it so clearly and rationally expressed is reassuring and encouraging. Put simply, it strips away all the nonsense put about by most 'diets' to the very simple matter: calories in and calories out, via controlled eating, sensible nutrition and achievable exercise, are the only possible routes to weight-loss. We might not like the fact that there is no magic wand, but that's the way it is.

Using some of the wise advice in both these little books, coupled with my sessions with Jason and the other related matters in my last post, there is no reason at all why I can't return my weight and shape to the way I would like it to be.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

The results so far

And what difference has all this made?

30th August: weight 171 lb (12-3). BP 137/106. 42"-37"-44"*
6th October: weight 166 lb (11-12). BP 117/88. 42"-36.5"-43"*

* (bust-waist-hips)

Five pounds down. One pound each week. Feeling better. Quiet. Managing. Not panicking.

I still miss my running dreadfully. But this hasn't really, in the end, been about that. It's been about unpicking some truly ridiculous behaviours and self-image which have been with me for forty-seven years, and finally addressing them in a way that is appropriate, healthy and right for me.

I always knew the value of NLP and cognitive behavioural therapy. But I haven't experienced it in such a specific and powerful way before.

Thanks to Jason, Clare, my darling husband, Kim, and all the friends and fellow fitness enthusiasts that have continued to put up with me.

Stay with me.


I've been managing an average of two gym sessions each week, usually with Kim. However, I've also been walking, usually with my husband, round the village - we have four different routes. This usually happens about 3-4 times each week; each route is an average of 1.6 to 1.7 miles. Sometimes it's been grim weather, but occasionally we've been treated to some completely wonderful scenes around the Norfolk countryside, which lifts the spirits as well as the heartrate.

My foot still hurts. That's why I'm still not running. It's no more than mildly uncomfortable while I'm walking, but on my return it's generally unpleasant. But frankly, if it's going to hurt anyway (and it usually does), I might just as well get in whatever exercise I can.

... next post ...


So how am I doing? Over the last five weeks:
  • For several evenings in a row, my one glass of wine with my evening meal would be left half-drunk. My husband has now started pouring me a half-glass, and I'm quite happy with this. I can always have some more if I want it.
  • I'm eating much, much more slowly. Most of the time, eating at home, yes, I usually do clear my plate still; but it takes much longer. Sometimes I'll leave some and come back to it ten minutes later.
  • More than once in restaurants recently I have been faced with far more food than I want (or would have served myself) and have left the extra. [Just today, eating in a pub, I decided to treat myself to one of my favourites - an Eton Mess - and managed about three spoonfuls of the creamy concoction before I gave up and left it.]
  • I've attended three different social or networking events where cakes were provided, and I haven't had one. These aren't just ordinary cake, but extremely delicious looking home-baked cupcakes or chocolate brownies. Anyone who knows me will realise that this last, particularly, is enough to prompt the question "Are you quite alright?".
... next post ...


Jason mentioned on his website the technique of a 'virtual gastric band'. I knew instantly that this approach was not for me. I have real trouble coping with the idea of anybody having such an invasive surgical procedure except in cases of really desperate medical emergency; I would never countenance such a thing for somebody like myself, who is in no sense obese (although may psychologically feel that way at times). So to have hypnotherapy to make me think this procedure had been done ran counter to all my requirements for myself. What I wanted was a greater sense of strength and purpose for myself, my health, my lifestyle; a more realistic approach to who I am and who I could be.

Much to my relief, Jason completely understood this, and was perfectly happy to work with my particular view of the universe. We have had three sessions; my final one in the series is booked for this coming Saturday.

During this time, we've used a combination of hypnotherapy and NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) techniques to address some of the unwanted behaviours I've been struggling with for so long. The primary issues we've worked on have been
  • my use of food to represent sharing, giving, community
  • my inability to leave food & drink when I don't want any more
  • my view of my own body
The last one was particularly interesting. I realised, during one conversation, that my view of my physical body was precisely the same now - weighing around twelve stone - as it was when I was eighteen years old, weighing three stone less. Which is perfectly ridiculous. My self image was identical thirty years ago to what it is now: overweight-clown-make-'em-laugh-big-tits. I always wanted to be elegant, poised, glamorous. I wanted to be like Helen Mirren, and I felt more like Barbara Windsor.

... next post ...

I'm still here

I know it's been months since I wrote. That's because I had very little to report. Now; a little. But it is progress.

In that last couple of updates, last spring, I was taking comfort from the support of various friends, and that helped a lot. However, I didn't get any further with getting my head back into the right place; nor my body.

The steroid injection on my foot didn't have any lasting effect; maybe because (as I've read) the Plantar Fasciitis is more to do with damage than with inflammation, so it did no more good than an overdose of painkiller; maybe as a result of the onstage running around that I was doing in the farce I was acting in at the time (up and down stairs, across the stage, round the gallery - dear me. In heels. Not in trainers. Painful). Either way, we're now two years on from when it began, and I'm no better off than when it started.

I much enjoyed a yoga session with the beautiful Barbara Ives - and was planning to attend one of her classes; I then sustained a really nasty strain to my calf during the aforementioned play, and the class didn't happen. The rehearsals took up loads of time. We went on holiday. And so on, and so on.

We had a wonderful holiday in July/August, followed by a brief visit to some friends in the Midlands. Both wonderful experiences. However, the photographs of me on both occasions sent me back into the deepest state of panic.

OK, sitting next to one of my slimmest friends in the first photo wasn't a bright move; and the really short haircut in the second one was a bad mistake. But it wasn't good. I could have done without that many 'before' photos in one hit.

I returned from holiday at my heaviest ever: 12 stone 3. That's 171 lb. As is usually the case, took a few sessions back at the gym; panicked; tried cutting the food down; panicked some more.


I read a posting on FaceBook from a friend and local business colleague, Claire Bunton (who specialises in the appearance: she is an image consultant). Claire mentioned her recent very positive work on weight loss with a hypnotherapist: Jason Edwards. I read his website, including all the commentary about NLP techniques (which I've done some training in myself in the past). I was intrigued.

We had been lucky enough to have a small financial windfall over the summer (which paid for new glasses for my husband, among other things) and said husband was happy for me to invest a little more of it in this possibility. So off I went.

... next post ...

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Lots to think about

That last post was written in a fit of the serious poor-mes. I was hugely touched and encouraged by the beautiful responses I had, on this blog, on Facebook and by email, from several people - both dear friends and complete strangers - and it gave me lots of food for thought.

The important conclusion to come out of this is not about whether or not I need to lose a little weight. I know that I do. At twelve stone, I'm mercifully not obese, but I am definitely overweight - from a medical, healthy point of view, it's too much weight for a woman of 5'5". I'm carrying around some twenty pounds' excess strain on the heart, the back and all other bits of my anatomy. My blood pressure isn't yet dangerously high, but it's high enough for the nurse to call me back for an extra check and to caution me that she's not happy with it.

The actual numbers in my clothes sizes aren't that meaningful (let's face it, when I'm a size 14 in M&S, I'm a 12 in East and an Extra Large in Zara); but when I'm on the 12-14 racks, the whole bod feels better able to carry out its daily routine efficiently. And efficiency has always been important to me.

When, back in the summer of 2007, I had settled at roughly 10 stone 7, I was genuinely happy with my body, probably for the first time in my life - especially as it had been achieved by very little "dieting" and a lot of exercise, so was actually in far better shape than when I'd been even lighter in the past.

The trouble is that I was so thrilled to be bien dans ma peau, as the French so eloquently put it, that in my mind it meant that a very specific equation was formed: namely, ten-stone-seven = the right weight for me = attractive. Logically, therefore, twelve-stone = too heavy for me = unattractive.

The fear of getting dressed in the morning (faced with a wardrobe that is 75% useless) means that I might do two hours' work at the desk in my towelling robe before getting as far as the shower, unable to face the body and the wardrobe. I am likely to have a panic attack when "getting dressed up" because I'm limited to the two pairs of black trousers and one pair of jeans that I can wear with any comfort. And because my eighteen months in "the right place" was so happy, I had worked on the basis that I'd no longer need the 14-to-16 range... ach, we've all been there.

So where does this get me now? Trying, very hard, to think clearly. It is possible for me to be attractive at my present weight and size; it's just a different kind of sexy. It's not a place I especially want to stay, purely for reasons of health, but it will do, and is not by definition a place of ugliness. Wow - there's a concept.

So I've been to the gym twice this week, used the exercise bike three times, and been trying to eat sensibly. I'll have my steroid injection on Thursday, and see where it gets me. And I'll believe my lovely husband, and my dear friends, and those complete strangers who care enough to take time to send me good thoughts and best wishes. My thanks and love to them all.


I was supposed to be running the Norwich Race for Life today. My foot has been so bad that I can barely walk on it at the moment, much less run. What did I do instead? I went to see my lovely friend Kayla for a long-overdue waxing session (ouch) and back massage & facial (wonderful). A bit ironic, really, but I suppose I can live with that.

In the meantime, I am so proud of those friends of mine who have run or will run this race in aid of cancer research: Kinga, Tracy, Linda and my lovely friend Kim. I hope to be back with you next year.

Sunday, 25 April 2010

Not good

I thought a bit of determination was going to help. I really did enjoy that Sports Mile. But (who knows why: wrong shoes? not enough training?) the heel took a turn for the worse afterwards. For the last month, instead of just being uncomfortable first thing and after a long walk or running attempt, it's hardly stopped hurting at all, with the result that I feel crocked and old.

I have done a few gym sessions, a few walk-runs; and then I went out with Kim and another friend of hers, Jan, for a walk-run. Lovely route, mostly on soft but even forest floor; lots of pauses to stretch; probably about 25% walking, rest running, but certainly not fast. I spent most of the session in some pain; by the time I drove home, I was literally in tears: both from the frustration of being unable to enjoy such a beautiful evening and an activity I loved, and from the pain of it.

That was a week ago, and I think I've got to admit that the Race for Life is just not going to happen. Running through pain, putting up with muscle aches, all that's fine; but this is more than that, and a really intense pain that isn't going away.

I've finally been to the doctor and booked to have a steroid injection on 6th May. I'm not looking forward to it; I've been warned that it will hurt, and that it may not even work; but I don't know what else to do.

To add insult to injury, this morning I weighed in at 12 stone exactly - the heaviest I've ever been in my life, and one pound above my starting weight back in 2007. I have three pairs of trousers that fit me; 75% of my wardrobe (at least) is unusable. I am fighting hard, the whole time, not to disappear into a black depression, because it's affecting every part of my life, and I am not a good person to be with right now.

I hope the injection works. Otherwise I just don't know what to do. And of course, as that physical feel-good factor is no longer possible, what's the replacement? Food, of course.

I am deeply ashamed and sorry for the lack of inspiration, as I was so proud of what I achieved, but right now I feel worthless and deeply unattractive. I just hope I find a way out of it.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Chuffed to bits

Sport Mile this morning with Kim. First problem was that I had to use my old trainers - as the usual ones were in my gym kit, which I'd left in the car last night, and the car had gone off with my husband when he left to do the Sunday services!!

A glorious spring day, perfect conditions. Lots of folk there, so very slow at times, but a lovely atmosphere. I used my Runkeeper software on the iPhone (as the sensor for the Nike+ was on on the trainers in the car...) and was at first disappointed that the "mile" seemed to be only 0.77 of a mile. However, on arrival home I checked, and by comparing it with the official map, it was clear that the satnav signal had been lost from time to time, resulting in corner-cutting of the route - that is, the iPhone cutting corners, not me! So it turned out to be 0.98 miles in 10:35, which given how little training I've done recently was not half bad. And although some bits were very slow, this was mostly because of the large crowds - good to know I could have gone a little faster! (said the whiting to the snail...)

The really annoying part was that the only thing stopping me continuing to do at least one further mile-lap was the heel. While the leg muscles ached a bit, I could happily have run further, if it weren't that the plantar fasciitis in the heel was quite sharp by the end of that mile, and painful for the rest of the day. So I'm definitely going to contact the doctor for information about a cortisone injection to see if that helps. I so want to have a really good run, and to be able to do a proper job in the Race for Life; and today's run reminded me just how much I had enjoyed it.

The girls are back in town.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

A mile tomorrow

Foot better today (but still sore; will go see doctor, running shop etc. next week). However, will run the Sport Relief mile tomorrow morning.

If anybody fancies sponsoring me in this, my first run for 18 months, please click here. Sport Relief deserves it.

Friday, 19 March 2010

Triumph & tribulation

Last night, Kim & I went for a warmup at the gym, then along our favoured route between the Longwater and Bowthorpe roundabouts (exactly 1.5 miles each way). We successfully managed to run the first leg, and were very pleased. However, my heel was really sore by the end of it, so we walked back again.

Not a bad result: a pace of just under 12 minutes in the running (17'57" for the 1.5 miles), and obviously much slower (28'31") for the walk back. But I'm now concerned at just how sore the heel is feeling. I thought the plantar fasciitis had begun to leave me alone - and after 18 months, it would be about time - but this morning I can barely walk on it, despite painkillers & ice last night. I am still not at all sure whether the orthotics are causing more problems than they are solving; do I need new trainers; should I give in and have a steroid jab...

Will do my best with the Sport Relief Mile - it's only a mile, for heaven's sake! - on Sunday; but am trying very hard not to be depressed right now. No fair.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

The first running mile for months

... or nearly a mile, anyway. 0.92 of a mile, from my front door to our first pausing point.

Kim & I went out for a run-walk this morning. Lovely spring day, snowdrops all over the place, sun came out towards the end. Down the usual route to Morton, a brief pause to admire the snowdrops, then on down to the exit from the far end of the estate. Back again, through the woods and home again.

That first leg was all running - and for the most part, according to the Nike+, at a pace that wasn't too far over a ten minute mile and occasionally a bit faster. We then ran and walked alternate bits all the way back to the Rectory, giving us a total mileage (slightly under the Nike+ calculation of 2.86) of 2.72 miles in 34'16". Given that we'd done several stretches of walking, the average pace of just over 12:30 wasn't too bad.

Kim always did bully me out of the frame of mind that said I can't do this. Thankfully. Love her for it.

Now I know that I'll be able to run a mile on Sunday week!

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Back to the gym

I haven't had a gym workout since before the play - so about a month. During the "worst of times" - the last 18 months when my running has gone to pot because of injury - I've at least managed to keep visiting the gym; spasmodically, but on average weekly. Once the running is back up to speed - as it were - I'm happiest when I can run 2 or 3 times each week, and get to the gym for machine and weight work just once.

Tonight, with Kim, it was around 45 minutes ' cv on the bike, cross-trainer and stepper, plus about 20 minutes on weights machines. Flexibility of legs awful at the moment, and legs generally very tired (probably because all this week's exercise has been working them), but not a bad session overall.

But I'll be glad when I can look in those ruddy mirrors again without a shudder.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Just a walk

... but as I went to the postbox first (so an extra 0.4 miles in the opposite direction and back), it was at least 2.23 miles and 36 minutes "in oxygen", as they say.

Cold, grey day. Beautiful snowdrops in the woods at Morton.

Monday, 8 March 2010

I got out

Telling myself that I'd just walk my usual 1.75 miles, but as fast as possible, I put on the sports bra under the warm clothes (just in case) and off I went. Very late in the day (nearly 6pm) - I should've gone out two hours earlier - but just made it in the light.

My first reward for going out was a fantastic mackerel sky that I otherwise wouldn't have seen. Of course, the real camera would have done a much better job than the iPhone, but hey.

My second reward was to manage to break into a run, twice, which was (according to the iPhone Nike+ utility - sorry, I'm a geek) a sub-10 minute pace, even if it was only for a couple of minutes. The rest of the walk averaged out at around a 15 minute mile, which was fair enough.

I've committed to running just one mile for Sport Relief in a fortnight's time. I've been too embarrassed to ask for sponsorship so far, and ditto the Race for Life 5K in May, which I've also entered. However, if I can make it down to Morton Hall in one hit in the next thirteen days, never mind back again, then the first one is covered without too much loss of dignity. And then - well, who knows? Back in 2007, I went from zero to a 5K in exactly the same period of time (in fact, less - my first ever run was made on 24th March for a RfL at the same weekend as this one will be). So I can do it again.

Saturday, 13 February 2010

Good week

Having managed three gym sessions during this last week - one very brief (only 30 mins, but hey, it's better than nothing) before a rehearsal, and two decent-length workouts with Kim (about 50 mins + stretches in each case), the two of us got out for a run-walk today, together, for the first time in forever.

Genuine reason for only running (and that very slowly) part of the route was that all the recent snow / sleet / hail have left the roads, in places, treacherous, and turning ankle during get-back-to-running time didn't seem wise; but coming up through the woods at Morton Hall, rather than up the drive, the sheltered and leaf-covered paths were actually much easier to run on - no ice! Yes, tough going and wobbly legs; yes, we probably only ran about three-quarters of a mile out of the total of just under 2 miles; but good. Very good. No idea how long it took; was more interested in getting it done than timing it. Having bought a new sensor for the Nike+ kit I'll start monitoring it again soon.

I made our entries for the 2010 Race for Life this week, and was rather deflated when looking for a running photo of myself for the sponsorship page: depressing to see how different I look now. However, I've done it before so I can do it again.

NB: left heel (plantar fasciitis) hurts like the devil right now, but it didn't while we were running. That job went to the under-used thighs and calves.

Hang on in there with me.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

peeking over the parapet

I had a real hissy fit the other day.

As you can see, if you're really interested, from earlier entries, my fitness journey went in waves. Having spent around 44 years messing around with dieting but little exercise, in January 2007 I finally cracked it, and got a PT; six weeks later, I started running; and for eighteen months, life was good. A couple of minor injuries were overcome, I always got back in the swing of things, and the lost 20lb or so stayed off.

Plantar fasciitis kicked in during the autumn of 2008, and wrecked everything. And yes, I guess I let it. But it hurt. Lots. And that feeling of freedom, of running without ouch-ouch-ouch, which I found just occasionally, was lost. And I panicked. And the weight went back on. And so on, and so on.

Let's be fair to self: the weight didn't quite all go back on - it was all bar about 4lb. Given that in any previous existence I'd have leapfrogged over my previous heaviest weight, I guess I can put this down to the fact that I've at least managed one gym session per week, on average, during that fifteen months or so since I was running regularly. I've managed to stay within a size 14, rather than giving in to the sixteens again - but oh, the twelves were so much better.

So the hissy fit? Well, I'm in a play right now - rehearsing for a production of Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean at the Sewell Barn Theatre in Norwich, last two weeks in February. My character is Sissy - who, if you've ever seen the 1970s film, was the part played by Cher. I don't have her waistline, hair, eyes or money, but I sure as hell have the tits - and always will do, no matter what my weight.

Well, we had publicity photos taken the other night. I need a wig (my own hair is much too short for the period) and the only one they could source for the occasion looked awful - more width on my face I really do not need. And when I saw myself next to the actresses playing Mona (dainty, petite) and the younger versions of Mona & Sissy (gorgeous teenagers) on the screen on the back of the digital camera, my heart sank. Elephantine was not the word. Well, it was, actually.

I got home, and found an comment awaiting moderation: from the lovely gymbunny21, asking ever so nicely where my updates were, and saying how much she'd enjoyed this blog in the past. She's lost two stone - good on you, girl. She's just started her blog, and is newly motivated. Had I kept my weight off, was I still running?

Well, I just sat down and howled. I'd been ignoring the blog, ignoring the scales, and trying not to remember how good it used to make me feel, because I felt so ashamed. And here was a complete stranger caring what had happened to me.

So here we are again. I tried to run back in April last year - and gave up after a couple of tries; and again in August - ditto. Now the Race for Life 5K beckons once more. The heel might hurt still, but when I said to my darling friend and erstwhile PT, Kim, "I can walk for about half an hour before it starts to hurt" she wisely pointed out that if I could walk, then I could run for that time, too. The resting hasn't helped it, as far as I can tell, so I may as well put up with the discomfort.

And if I can get back to one or two runs plus one or two gym sessions per week, I know that those twenty pounds will be behind me. (No, I don't mean on my arse.)

I have just turned 47. I don't want to get any nearer fifty with the same image problems as I've had virtually all my life. So... here we go again.

I have just got back from a walk-run. My old, favourite route, down to Morton Hall: 1.75 miles round trip, flat-ish (this is Norfolk, after all) but a few undulating bits that make it slightly harder work on the way back. 200 steps walking and 200 running on the way there; the same on the way back but alternating every 100 steps. CV: not too bad. Leg muscles: despite gym sessions, clearly wondering what the heck I'm up to. Heel: not actually painful, but clearly something is still out of kilter. Not sure how much of that is psychological. Don't know how long it took me, I forgot to time it, but I think it was around about 22 minutes - so at least a bit faster than a straight walk would have been.

Weight: 11 stone 10 lb. Weeks till RfL: just over 15.

Thank you, Kim. Thank you, husband. And thank you, gymbunny, for the kick up the substantial arse that I needed.