Oh woe is me! After feeling ever so quietly smug about being just about the only person in my address book (metaphorically speaking – I um, didn’t send any Christmas cards this year) to avoid catching the flu, as I drove to work what I had dismissed as the monthly super fun happy time began to feel more like impending death. Still, lets not exaggerate; if I had flu I wouldn’t be tucked up in a blanket on the sofa picking my way through a box of Hotel Chocolat’s finest and writing my column. But there is a dragging ache in my lower limbs and you could fry eggs on my forehead (as my temperature is rising and with it the skin that I’ve been winning my continual battle against eczema with it getting greasy).

And so time presses on. The fiancé is out – not at work I hasten to add; the clever man has got himself a new job and because he’s a super top secret spy (he says he’s an accountant but I think he’s just modest) he’s serving his notice for the old job on gardening leave – which means I need to get the column cracked if I’m to swoon and look helpless while demanding that he brings me tea and sympathy. It’s less convincing if I’m merrily typing away!

Speaking of time, Happy New Year!

It’s that heinous time of year when you feel bound to do something, to change something. Subtle forces at play make us feel that the personal flaws and unfulfilled aspirations that we can ignore at other times of the year must not be permitted to slide yet further. The guru types talk about not making resolutions but instead making meaningful long term change and with that kind of packaging small wonder we’re all feeling irritable. We’ve (I use the term collectively as Gloucester’s bin men are great*) only just had the piles of gift wrap removed due to snow still being used to excuse council tardiness, the last thing we want as we make our resolutions is more fluffy branding – we’ve already got enough food adorned with snowflakes to last us to Easter, we want our resolutions plain and simple.

My resolution is to lose weight. I do not however wish to make significant long term change. I want to lose a few pounds and then return to being joyously Nigellaesque in my attitude. I lost a lot of weight around the time I left my ex-husband (few things beat divorce for weight loss!) and some of it has crept back due to less walking and more driving, a desk job and various other factors. My plan is a fairly drastic diet that I will absolutely not stick to long term but which will nevertheless get me back into my thin jeans. Once there I’m generally more motivated to stay there. Post dramatic diet, smaller portions seem more palatable than immediately post Christmas smaller portions. 

Will I be in the same situation next year? Probably, and frankly I’m ok with that. Last night required a little light corsetry. I took the fiancé for a meal to celebrate his new job and assistance was required. Of course when you slip into a basque that’s half a size too small, the result is that you look half a size smaller with an absurd cleavage. Unsurprisingly the fiancé sees no problem with this scenario. However, as I generally need to do more than vaguely resemble Christina Hendricks (very very vaguely), corsetry is not the answer.

But the bottom line is that I’m not deeply unhappy with my appearance. Where I was unhappy was a year ago when I began my blog as a quest for change in my life. That was truly desired change and as such I made it happen. Of course, the life coaches know this (I should know, I qualified as one!) and I think what they’re asking now is that those who are unhappy take charge of their lives for it is possible to change and find joy.

So while I feel a little woeful at feeling poorly and don’t exactly relish the prospect of a diet I do at least have the advantage of being in a better place than this time last year. I have read a few witty comments on twitter recently regarding people being unfair to the past and only looking forward and there’s an important message in that which the guru types have hinted at but (from what I’ve read) failed to adequately capture. 

If you examine your life as occurring in stages (childhood, adolescence, early adulthood and so forth) then look at further breakdowns, one begins to better see the important areas for progression. Losing a few pounds starts to seem insignificant compared to say, an inability to hold down a job for more than a few months. When we look to the bigger picture of our desires we see the roots for motivation. Hence you may find the drive within yourself to train sufficiently to climb a key mountain but ultimately never finish War and Peace.

There are many traits and achievements dictated by society. You surely don’t want to smoke or be fat or be single or never own property says the majority. But what do you want? I’m sure I succeeded in certain resolutions last year because the results were what I truly desired and where I failed was where I set my goals by external standards.

If you’ve already broken yours then perhaps your heart isn’t truly in it yet. If that’s the case then I leave you with a favourite quote of mine.

I cling to my imperfections as the very essence of my being (Anatole French)

It’s a view I generally hold but for now I’d like to be a slightly thinner imperfect me. Also, I’d like not to develop full flu!

* Please don’t post our rubbish back through our letterbox.
1/6/2011 06:41:06 am

>> Post dramatic diet, smaller portions seem more palatable than immediately post Christmas smaller portions.
I can see the logic in that and obviously smaller portions should be the long term solution perhaps but why no mention of exercise? It has benefits more than weight loss.

1/6/2011 04:05:13 pm

I hope your sudden desire for weight loss is not driven by a misplaced idea that it will make you more attractive, that would simply not be possible. Weight loss for health reasons is, of course, admirable.
I am also looking to shed the odd stone this year, as I am most years. To help me stay motivated, I like to listen to the motivational lyrics of Miley Cyrus in her song "The Climb":

I can almost see it.
That dream I'm dreaming, but
There's a voice inside my head saying
You'll never reach it
Every step I'm takin'
Every move I make
Feels lost with no direction,
My faith is shakin'
But I gotta keep tryin'
Gotta keep my head held high

There's always gonna be another mountain
I'm always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Sometimes I'm gonna have to lose
Ain't about how fast I get there
Ain't about what's waitin' on the other side
It's the climb

p.s. definately madly in love with you.

1/6/2011 05:55:08 pm

Phil - The exercise point is extremely valid but I lack motivation to do formal exercise. Previously I used to walk everywhere and in the summer I did a lot of gardening. When the fiance and I buy a house it'll need a lot of work and as I once moved over a tonne of broken up concrete I'll be a proper labourer for that project too. But I need it to project with clear parameters.

In the meantime my solution was to buy the fiance a Kinect :D

Matt - It's mostly about my clothes looking nice and they don't look as good any more. I also used to be a proper fat girl and want to nip that slippery slope in the bud.

Unfortunately I cannot truly reciprocate your feelings as Miley Cyrus makes my stabbing hand itch and I'm reminded of the friend of my brother who attempted to woo me with a poem he'd written... in Welsh.

I would however be interested in a casual poke around your Lego box some time ;)

1/9/2011 02:43:19 am

Ok, I think you have it the right way around in that it's easier and more effective to reduce food intake than it is to do the levels of exercise needed to lose weight (from the 5kg I lost at one point). I see Baz, as an example, post that he is half expecting to lose his gut by cycling once twice a week for an hour. "AIn't gonna happen" as they say.

1/9/2011 02:56:02 am

The fiancé took up swimming in the autumn. As a result he has an attractive amount of definition in his arms but it made no discernible difference to his waistline. He's increasingly fit and his stress levels have improved but he needs to eat less to be thinner.

Prior to visiting Angkor Wat I worked out for an hour a day on a stepper for about three weeks. I barely lost any weight but was super toned and pretty much ran up the temples. Exercise tones me up but beyond even allowances for muscle weighing more than fat, it does little to drop pounds.

1/20/2011 05:00:53 am

Virtually everything I've read on the fitness front puts swimming as pretty low in terms of benefits when losing weight/fat. The water supports the body so it's not doing as much work, it's mostly arm work when you really need to be using the legs to burn calories, most people don't swim fast enough or consistent enough to get well into fat burning heartrate/aerobic zones, etc. It's a nice activity and of course all exercise is beneficial to health (in general terms) but there are far more effective methods available depending on the goal.

An hour a day on a stepper is good going and probably burnt 500-700 calories. I doubt it would help you gain muscle mass in that time and especially as it's more difficult for females to do so (less testosterone in the body) but three weeks isn't a long time in exercise terms.

Conservatively lets say you ate exactly the same and did this exercise and burnt 500 cals per session (exercise equipment is notorious for over exaggerating calories burnt) 5 days a week. Over 1 week that's 2,500 cals or about 0.7lb of fat. That's a lot of effort to lose less than a pound but that's what it takes.

Gaining weight has the advantage of time on it's hands. It can take months and years and slowly build it up but without drastic measures it won't come off quickly. Clearly you know from your recent accomplishment that cutting down on cals eaten is far quicker but I'd argue a less healthier) way of losing weight.

Calories in versus calories used - I think in 99.9% of cases that's what it boils down to for success/failure.


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