Weeks 20 & 21…in which I travel from Berkshire to Dubai via the plateau

Another REALLY busy work schedule meant that I couldn’t post the blog last week. I’d spent the week at an immersive event with another 30 gorgeous, young and fit people (see week 11, same event…but in the UK, colder and not on a beach). I spent the week eating things like this..

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While really wanting to eat this..

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But managed to avoid the bowls of sweets, marshmallows, brownies and jelly beans that seemed to appear every break time and stuck with small packets of almonds. Sigh.

I usually weigh on a Sunday but I left Berkshire, headed straight for the airport and caught a plane to Dubai fully intending to weigh at the hotel on Sunday and then post my blog.

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There were 3 things that rendered this impossible. The first was leaving my laptop on the plane and not realising it until I was 5 minutes from my hotel. This triggered a meltdown of EPIC proportion. I’m not proud of my reaction. It was messy, dramatic and highly emotional. The hotel staff were remarkable. With genuine empathy exuding out of every pore (turns out losing your laptop on a business trip 4000 miles from home is a shared nightmare) they promptly upgraded me to a suite ‘we really want you to relax while you’re here Miss Shackell’ (I was on my knees at the time rocking gently with my hands covering my ears) and gave me a dedicated person who spent the next few hours tracking down my laptop. I got it back that very night, but post-traumatic stress meant that posting my blog was the last thing I could face. The second thing was that there were no weighing scales in my room. This surprised me and delighted me in equal measure but in hindsight triggered the third reason. For dinner I met up with a long time friend and decided that after the drama I deserved a ‘blow out’. As I can no longer get pissed and don’t do drugs I spent 2 hours eating my body weight in Thai food..

Seriously, I don’t even remember what it tasted like. I just inhaled it whilst I wasn’t looking. Had I weighed I might have made a different decision, like staying in my room eating a small packet of peanuts and lovingly cuddling my laptop (see end of blog post).

It’s REALLY hot in Dubai. Like melts the soles of your shoes hot. I was hoping if I stayed out in the heat long enough it might actually melt my body fat…after all 120 degrees is the same temperature for slow roasting lamb. But you can’t stay outside in Dubai because you would literally evaporate, no-one walks anywhere (the streets are intimidatingly immaculate, you’d mess up the sidewalk if you decided to try it) and you can hire a driver for the day for about 50 quid..

So I neither melted my body fat nor walked it off and despite it being the busiest week of my life (26 meetings all over the city in 4 and half days) and even though I managed to avoid the EIGHT restaurants in my hotel including a breakfast bar the length of an aircraft hangar..

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..and regularly replaced lunch with one of these…

I DIDN’T LOSE A POUND IN TWO WEEKS, not a single pound…in fact, not even an ounce, FOR FUCKS SAKE!!

So, I have finally reached the dreaded plateau, the place where the energy consumed is exactly matched with the energy expended. The one place I was hoping I wouldn’t visit this year. Shit.

But I won’t stay here any longer. No thank you. I just need to refocus, get back in the saddle and on the treadmill…and stop eating copious amounts of fresh Arabian dates.

 

Weeks 18 & 19..in which I lose another couple of pounds despite the nacho’s and popcorn.

It’s been another busy few weeks, hence the two blogs in one again, but I need to publicly admit to a really unhealthy blow out. A cinema trip (Guardians of the Galaxy 2  – highly recommend it) resulted in me making a diet busting decision. Would I sneak a bag of almonds and some raspberries into the cinema?…or indulge in my passion for nacho’s and salted popcorn. I’m not proud to admit I went for nacho’s and popcorn. To assuage my guilt, I bought small versions of both..and also decided to skip lunch, breakfast and dinner. It was TOTALLY WORTH IT!  Even more so when my youngest daughter pinched what she thought was a gherkin only to discover too late that it was a jalapeno pepper. I nearly choked on my popcorn, not my finest maternal moment.

Last weekend I supported my family in their quest to complete Tough Mudder. My 20 year old daughter admitted that she’d never been so unexcited about something in her life. She perked up when she discovered they were giving out free bottles of cider at the finish line. That’s my girl.

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My youngest, at 11 years old, blew my mind. She looked like a mini GI Jane or one of those girls in the ‘if she can do it’ type adverts. I was seriously impressed and just a tad envious. I’ve NEVER looked like GI Jane. Even as a child I loathed any form of sports. I hated running, rounders, netball and basically anything that required movement. She loved the whole thing, her father’s daughter then – either that or they swapped her at birth.

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I couldn’t get past the fact that people were CHOOSING to do tough mudder. Just WATCHING it is exhausting. These committed but slightly insane people, of all shapes and sizes, pushed themselves through a devastating course of hills, mud baths and ridiculous obstacles. The final hurdle was to run through a cage thing with hundreds of hanging cords delivering 10,000 volts of electricity through the bodies of anyone running through it. I mean, SERIOUSLY? What the fuck is wrong with these people?? I remained delighted with the fact that in just watching it I managed to walk over 12000 steps.

Thanks to my friends at Fit for Leadership (www.fitforleadership.net) I’m getting my DNA tested. They use this uber cool assessment tool from the guys at DNAFit (www.dnafit.com)  who test your genetic make-up against 45 genes.

Take a swab, send it off, get back a report which’ll reveal what kind of foods suit you best, how you respond to exercise (I’m pretty convinced I know the answer to that one), recovery times and tendency to illness. It’s designed for athletes, so mine might really confuse them. I’m fully expecting it to reveal that I’m genetically related to a Sloth and hard wired to crave salt n vinegar crisps. The test arrived this week, they had me at the packaging…

I’ve decided that eating out at restaurants is definitely the way to go. Swap mains for starters and you can eat fabulous food guilt free. I’ve also become something of a home chef. Stealing more recipes from the back of the M&S ready meals is a seriously cool way of upping your healthy eating repertoire.

I’m finding the food thing easy – cooking healthy food from scratch, no snacks unless they grow in the ground or on trees, and small portions – but really need to up my fitness stuff. So I’ve recommissioned a room we hardly use as a home gym and invested in a treadmill.  While I’d far rather have spent the 300 quid on…oh, I don’t know…shoes.. I’m determined to be able to stick with my original commitment to walk / run / jog for 10k by the end of the year. So, instrument of extreme torture it is then.

The first attempt didn’t go well. It took me 10 mins to jog 0.8 kilometers before I dissolved into a gibbering wreck on the floor barely able to speak save for the words ‘I’m dying!’. It’s going to be a challenge. I don’t do sweating. But I’ve worked out that if I increase the distance in increments of 0.1 km each week  I should be able to complete 10k with ease…in about 3 years’ time.

Outcome – I lost 2lbs (running total 32lb or 14.5 kilo’s)

Week 16 & 17..in which I go arse over tit   

I’ve combined two weeks because I’m sooo busy. But fortunately not too busy to try…Arial Yoga

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I must admit, I wasn’t looking forward to it with joy but because of the school holidays and given that my husband that was going a little stir crazy looking after our 11 year old daughter, I thought it might be fun to book a family class with both husband and child.

I know that yoga is probably not the best thing for weight loss, but I thought it might be a fairly gentle introduction to actually moving my body. In truth, I had no idea what to expect when we turned up for the class at a suburban house with a garage on the side converted into a yoga studio.

The first thing I saw was a full size skeleton slumped on the floor in the corner. Fuck me, I thought, maybe yoga DOES make you lose weight! This was a GOOD thing.

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The second thing I saw was the slings hanging from the ceiling. Maybe this was a BAD thing. But actually it looked like it could be fun, my daughter was excited as hell, and even my husband was game to learn a few moves.

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My daughter made it all look rather elegant. I didn’t.

There followed an hour of stretches, swings, slides and bends all aided by the slings.

At one point we mounted the sling like we would a swing or a trapeze. For a few moments I indulged in my long term fantasy of being Satine in Moulin Rouge..quickly ruined by the fact that I was directly opposite a mirror the size of a wall. Looking at myself full on I then had to attempt a proper inverted acrobatic move. You sit on the swing, slide your arse back so that its hanging off, flip backwards, bring your legs up over your head fully extended spread as wide apart as you can take them, hang your arms down by your head which is now only an inch from the floor and allow your legs lock you in place. You are now literally legs akimbo and arse over tit. Think Rebel Wilson in Pitch Perfect 2. Yes, that.

It was not my finest moment. While my daughter almost collapsed with laughter my husband just looked a little pained. He hasn’t seen me in that position since..well, NEVER. The closest was child birth and I wouldn’t let him look. Getting OUT of the position was even worse, taking both the yoga teacher AND my husband to haul me into an upright position.

The end of the session was the best bit of all. There is a manoeuvre involving your knee, your arms and centrifugal force which turns the sling into a cocoon. Lying full length in what feels like a zero gravity hammock on your back (the rollover was a little inelegant) it was time for meditation. There followed a guided 15 minute meditation narrated by the lovely teacher Mel. Imagining a blue glowing star moving around my body (I could imagine it any colour I wanted) I fell into a state of relaxation I haven’t been in for a very long time. It was GLORIOUS.

I lost the plot (and thus my concentration) at only one point. Mel was talking in hushed tones about our Mind Monkey. The ‘monkey’ is apparently the chattering, highly excited, slightly angry little voice that constantly talks to you inside your head. We had to visualise our monkeys gently curling up in a furry ball on our laps so we could stroke it into a state of peace and submission.  The killer, for me, was the narrative; ‘Imagine your monkey is crawling onto your lap where he or she…’ pause ‘….actually it’s a non gender specific monkey…’ HAHAHA!!!! It was a NON GENDER SPECIFIC MONKEY! My cocoon began to swing wildly as my body convulsed into slightly hysterical silent laughter. Best thing to happen all week!

Other stuff…

I’ve discovered, thanks to a good friend, how to make the best ice-cream IN THE WORLD. You just need oat milk, 70% chocolate and an ice cream maker that costs exactly the same as small family car. I kid you not – on the taste or the price. The machine is called the PacoJet and takes 20 seconds to make the silkiest ice cream you’ve ever tasted.  It’s like a nutribullet for people who know how to LIVE. I’ve started a ISA so I can save for one.IMG-20170430-WA0001

I was invited to the opening of the burger joint that’s moved in underneath my office. This was a challenge. I easily resisted the burgers (I went for chicken) and the chips (I went for salad) but the BUCKETS of fried onion ‘strings’; golden, crunchy and salty nearly undid me completely. I left early, sobbing.

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Overall – I lost 2lb…which means I’ve hit the 30lb mark. Whoop!

Week 15 (holiday edition)..in which I do very little

Keeping this really short because I’ve just got back from a few days in the sun* and I think I left my brain there. All I can report is that…

I did a lot of this…

and even more of this..

and very little of this…

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AND STILL MANAGED TO LOSE A POUND!

*Check out Villa Dinari in Marrakesh, a hidden paradise less than 4 hours from London door to door.

**Normal blog service will resume next week when I’ll be reporting on a couple of private classes of Pilates and Yoga. Needless to say that I’m looking forward to this with breathless anticipation..

Week 14..in which I try mindful eating in the back of a London cab

I was in the back of a cab in London starving hungry when I remembered I had an M&S quinoa, bean and nut salad in my bag. Joy. I’d had the first few mouthfuls when to my surprise I realised that is was delicious. Wait, what? Delicious? SALAD??). And that’s when I had a bit of an epiphany. I NEVER eat a meal and simply savour it. Ever. Frankly I’m lucky if I actually chew it, inhalation is my default mode for food consumption, especially when really hungry. Honestly, I’m not certain I even really taste the food I eat, I mean properly taste it. Because I’m usually doing something far more important at the time.  Breakfast is eaten while checking my phone for texts, emails and social media, lunch is usually grabbed while working on my laptop or, when in out with a colleague / friend/ business associate,  either talking with my mouth full or listening intently to what the other person is saying. Dinner is eaten on my lap watching TV, working on aforementioned laptop, checking my phone and, most of the time, all three.

But in the back of a cab – with nothing to see / watch/ do / read / talk about or listen to – I just simply ate and tasted every single bite. Now I’m not saying that eating cottage cheese on crackers would have been as revelatory, but in that moment a bowl of quinoa and bits resembling rabbit food might well have been the best meal I’ve ever tasted. I enjoyed it so much I’ve stolen M&S ingredients and intend to make it myself; quinoa, green beans, peas, mint, black eyed beans, cooked spelt (you can get it from Ocado, I checked), broccoli, peanuts, almonds, pistachio nuts, poppy seeds, pumpkin seeds and coriander all drenched in a soy, ginger, honey and white wine dressing!

I had an extremely busy 2 days in London this week. I should talk about what I ate – or didn’t eat – for dinner at a function at Claridges…

 

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But I have to side-track.  During the function I heard a keynote talk from Tamara Rojo, Creative Director of the English National Ballet. I had low expectations. I’d rather sell my children than watch a ballet so I thought I would have no interest whatsoever in what she would have to say. Very wrong. She was MESMERISING. She made me want to immediately enrol my youngest daughter in the Bolshoi (who cares if they treat them like slaves – its ART), buy myself a tutu (which would be simply ridiculous), and immediately book every English Ballet ticket anywhere in the world. She spoke, for 30 minutes, eloquently, with fervent passion, eyes flashing with purpose, intent, humour and joy. I nearly cried. Seriously, never have I been so convinced that to really move, influence and inspire others you MUST find the thing that sets your soul on fire.

I was so engrossed in her talk that I didn’t even notice the tray of incredible truffles, Turkish delights, bon bons and clotted cream toffees that were passed around the table with the coffee. Go me.

I’d begged a bed for the night with a friend who owns one of the most amazing pads in London (I’m convinced his Egyptian cotton sheets have a five figure thread count) and before I arrived he texted me this;

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To my eternal shame I texted back this;

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Not to be thwarted in his mission of saving me from myself, this lovely man cooked me omelette for breakfast…with a blow torch. Yes, USING A BLOW TORCH TO COOK AN OMELETTE IS A THING!!

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At an all-day event the following day (with another speaking gig – 2,400 steps) I MIGHT have been derailed by the MILLION Krispy Kreme donuts that seemed to dominate proceedings but against all odds I managed to resist. Go me again!

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Outcome – Despite resisting the donuts I didn’t lose anything this week. Which seriously pisses me off, but I won’t let it get me down. I’m too busy enjoying the fact that for the first time in forever I don’t have a second chin the size of my forehead and that I can actually get into my husband’s car (a TINY Mazda MX) in the proper way – rather than having to fold myself up like a piece of human origami with my arse in first..backwards.

 

Week 13…in which I discover that a burger joint could derail me  

I work from home, a lot. I like it at home; it’s peaceful and allows me time to GET SHIT DONE. I make it into the office occasionally, just not as often as I should. So I’d made a commitment to myself that I would go into the office more..because it’s a half an hour walk…and walking is a GOOD THING.

But while I was in Australia something happened that’s made me look at the pros and cons of office working in a different light.

Pros

  • My home to the office is a 6000 step round trip
  • I can speak to people on the phone without my dog barking in the background
  • My team are in shouting distance of me
  • There is no TV in the office so I can’t be distracted by old episodes of Catfish and Bondi Rescue
  • Broadband is a zillion times faster
  • My PA listens into my calls – which means she then actions most of the things I’ve just committed to do, which is really handy, because I’ve usually forgotten what I’ve just committed to do by the time I finish the call
  • The office is in a gorgeous grade 2 listed building on one of the shortest streets in the UK – and it overlooks the Kennet and Avon canal…if you stick your head out of the window and twist your body like a contortionist.

Cons

  • The gourmet burger chain 7Bone has just moved into the vacant shop right underneath the office.

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Shit.

The 5:2 diet is easy. And made even easier by Marks and Spencer. Small pots of salad and trays of sushi are the way to go in my view.

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I’ve discovered that it’s easier to skip breakfast (which also plays into the intermittent fasting diet) and push through the hunger pangs that make me want to eat my dog, until around 1pm. The key is forward planning, and having the food already in your hand / bag. Not being able to get to M&S in time to stave off the aforementioned hunger pangs ALMOST saw me buying sushi from Boots. And buying sushi from a chemist is wrong on every level.

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Again one of the days I chose for the ‘2’ was a day in London doing a speaking gig. I can’t eat before a gig because adrenaline completely ruins my appetite. If I did talks every day I’d be skinny in months. This is what I ate in an entire day: Chicken salad, bag of peanuts and a nectarine *sigh*

The best thing about 5:2 is breakfast on the first 5 day. Rye bread, avocado, mushrooms fried in a little coconut oil and (the treat part) one piece of really expansive bacon (rind removed) with a little pepper and chilli flakes. Makes starving for 2 days totally worth it.

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Here’s an amazingly quick, easy and healthy meal courtesy of Waitrose – Thai soup with chicken (or fish, whichever takes your fancy);

Put a litre of coconut milk (or water), half a litre of chicken stock, a stalk of lemongrass and two tablespoons of Thai green curry paste in a large saucepan, bring to a simmer and then add 125g of jasmine rice and cook gently for 12 minutes. Then add some diced chicken (or fish /prawns/ whatever) and some green beans and cook for another 10 minutes. At the last minute add some fresh coriander, fresh basil, a splash of fish sauce, juice of a lime and then serve. It’s fantastic.

I’m still impressed with courgette spaghetti but spiralised butternut squash with pasta sauce is all kinds of revolting.

Next week I’m in Marrakesh for a few days with my husband..and no kids. In a weak moment I promised to go running with him. I’ve no idea who I am anymore.

Outcome – I lost 2lbs.

P.S. In an earlier blog I mentioned that the newly found park on my walk to the office had been taken over by moles. Clearly moles wreck the shit out of grass but they are seriously cute little critters that don’t seem to hurt anyone. I was surprised to see that the mole hills have been totally flattened since my last walk. Seriously, who does that? And how? I’m visualizing some sad bloke coming out at night and stamping on the hills as they surface. Either that or there’s a f**king huge elephant loose in the park.

 

Week 12..in which I learn skills from a chef

This week I took part in Jamie Oliver’s CEO CookOff. One of 50 UK CEO’s cooking with 30 famous chefs to feed 600 everyday heroes – dinner ladies, nurses, teachers – raising money for Jamies Food Foundation and UKHarvest. It was fabulous – where else would you get the Duchess on Cornwall and Dynamo on the same stage…or get a hug from this guy!

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I was paired with the chef Jose Pizarro. And seriously lucked out. He had me at Hello. He greeted me like a long lost friend with a bear hug (actually,that was probably me) and a smacker on the lips (definitely him). That’s him right behind us.

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Within minutes I felt like I’d known him half my life. 4 hours later we were practically related. And he has the most gorgeous head chef I’ve ever met.

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Really distracting when you’re trying to impress with your knife skills! The bit when he caught me eating the brandy soaked sultanas was not my finest moment.

But I learnt SKILLS!

I cooked this

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and this

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ALL BY MYSELF!

Which was actually a little stressful with 15 hungry dinner ladies waiting to eat my efforts. I pretended I was on MasterChef – easy to do when you’re surrounded by photographers and 4 film crews.

And Jose taught me how to make the BEST vinaigrette ever…one part runny honey, one part sherry vinegar and 2 parts olive oil with a dollop of English mustard. Amazing.

First week on 5:2. I chose 2 consecutive days whilst hosting a ‘boot camp’ for 100 under 32 years olds.

I figured that being trapped in a theatre for 8 hours a day, 4 floors up from the nearest food, would make it easy. And against all expectations (and constant self negotiation ‘maybe I could do this tomorrow, or the next day, or next month’) it was.

Here’s what I ate;

Day One – Banana, carrot juice, bowl of oat granola, and a 300 calorie ready meal from Tesco. Not the most interesting of food days. I was still jet lagged so couldn’t be bother to cook from scratch. Also I was staying in an Airbnb and couldn’t work out how to use the cooker so decided I couldn’t go wrong with the microwave.

Day Two – Small packet of almonds, banana, red cabbage couscous salad (surprisingly palatable)  and courgette spaghetti with puttanesca sauce. I’m new to courgette spaghetti. Total revelation!

The train journey home was a challenge. Honestly, I WAS STARVING! In my head I rugby tackled the on board chef to get the last cheese and ham toasty, but in reality I managed to sit on my hands for the entire journey repeating ‘I will not be beaten’ under my breathe until I arrived at my station.

Outcome – I lost 2lbs.

P.s – I bumped into Una Stubbs on a street in London. Literally. She’s tiny. I’m not. I nearly killed her.

Weeks 10 & 11…in which I turn 52

Have to admit, the last 5 weeks in Australia have been insanely busy. Which made concentrating on my diet REALLY hard. Well that and being invited on more than 8 occasions to 3 meals a day out at incredible restaurants.  And I couldn’t find the time to blog every week. Not if I was to keep my sanity. So here’s another 2 in one.52nd_birthday_designs_card-rf8d6c201198d41c9be99790519bb44d8_xvuat_8byvr_324

Today I turned 52 years old. So I’m 52 writing 52 in 52. See what I did there? I’m not happy about being 52. I remember my Mums 52nd birthday and thinking – oh my God, she’s ANCIENT. ‘It’s just a number’ is my new mantra.

It was the dawn of my 52nd year that was the trigger for deciding to do something about my health. Of course if this had been a film then the impetus and defining moment would have been the scene in which my 11 year old daughter gently slips her hand into mine, looks up at me with tears pooling in her eyes, and says ‘Mummy…If you don’t take care of yourself then you might die..(insert sob)…and I love you way too much for you to die…(more sobs)…because I’m really scared…(choking now).. that if you die…(holds breath)…then I’ll go off the rails, become a crack addict, have 15 children, live in a squat and then blame you forever for totally fucking up my life’. Obviously the film would have been by Tarantino rather than Richard Curtis.

Nope, spectacularly selfish as it is, to be brutally honest I’m doing this for me and me alone.

So far my method has been to eat healthy, no processed junk, only brown rice / bread/ pasta (even wholewheat noodles..who knew!) and smaller portions. Now I’m back from Oz I need to kick it up a bit. But calorie counting bores me to tears and life is too short to write down everything I eat. Given that I have the attention span of a goldfish and maths was never my strong point it’s not my preferred route. So I’m going to do the 5:2 diet for the next 4 weeks. Intermittent fasting – or as I prefer to think about it – intermittent eat what I like. I’ll eat hardly anything for 2 days and continue doing what I’ve been doing for the other 5. I might shake it up with 16:8 too – so when I eat, I’ll only do it during 8 hours.

Other stuff…

Gonna have to part company with the dayglow FitBit. It’s truly ugly and I can’t turn the display off – it’s on all the time which means apart from the fact that I can even see the display in bed with my eyes shut, it drains battery really quickly (usually just BEFORE I hit the 10,000 steps mark). Have ordered a new and more discreet one.

Week 11 was spent at Q Station in Sydney with 30 incredibly fit and gorgeous marketers. There is something truly inspirational about surrounding yourself with young healthy people even when you are THE OLDEST PERSON IN THE ROOM!

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The Funicular Stairway at Q Station has over 300 steps.

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I went up and down this f**king staircase twice during my stay. Easy coming down – but up was a total bitch. I had to stop for a breather many times, once actually over taken by a pair of Aussies in their 70’s (smug bastards). I pretended I was stopping to take photos of the view but in reality I was afraid I would throw up my lungs.

Q Station is haunted. Honestly, it’s a thing. I managed to survive 6 nights of the living dead with just one heart stopping moment around 4am whilst going to the loo for a pee. In the dark and during  what sounded like a hurricane, I caught sight of a round, middle aged, slightly mad looking woman wearing what looked like a voluminous victorian nightie lit up by something glowing on her wrist. Fortunately it was a reflection from the lounge mirror….and it was me.

Eating out in Sydney is a wonderful thing…

This 5 week trip has been amazing. A recent advert by Tourism Australia says it all. Watch this…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vUF7ja9ehIs

Yep, Australia isn’t just a place you see it’s a place you FEEL, even the air has more life in it. And they have Chris Hemsworth…and Bondi Rescue…and Housewives of Sydney AND Melbourne, seriously what’s not to love. If you’ve never been I strongly recommend you immediately book a flight, because you’ll only ever regret the things you didn’t do.

Here’s the cumulative 11 week outcome. I’ve lost a total of (drum roll) 22lb or almost 10 kilos. TA DAH!! At the age of 52 I’m lighter than I’ve been since I was 35 (apart from one long hospital stay – nil by mouth is still the most effective diet ever created). I’m 40% of the way to the 52lb target with 41 weeks to go in phase one and 22% to my total target of 100lbs. I’m ok with that.

Normal weekly blog service will resume forthwith.

Weeks Eight & Nine…in which it all gets a bit harder (aussie edition)

WEEK 8 was a nightmare. See below. I didn’t lose a single pound AND I DON’T WANT TO FUCKING TALK ABOUT IT, OKAY!!!

WEEK 9 has been better but started badly. I broke a tooth. As in it totally snapped off leaving a tiny stub of enamel. I want to say that I was eating avocado at the time (although I’m beginning to think that there are only so many avocados a girl can eat) but I’d be lying. I broke it on the ONE crispy roast potato I allowed myself whilst eating a meal made by one of the best home cooks in Sydney. Spotting the look of horror on my face she asked to see a close up. Rather unhelpfully but with total honesty she pointed out that I  looked like someone out of ‘Deliverance’. With an upcoming gig on TV and a fair few public speaking engagements I almost lost the plot. Fortunately aforementioned friend jumped into action. A few hours and $460 later I was the proud owner of an artificially constructed temporary tooth that actually looks better than the original one. I can’t eat on the right side of my mouth, but given last weeks disaster that’s probably a good thing.

Here’s some other stuff…

  1. I’ve discovered that when I’m really busy and in work ‘flow’ then I can eat something without even meaning to. If I don’t concentrate – and I mean REALLY concentrate on what I’m going to eat..then things simply jump into my mouth. Like the second crispy roast potato. Seriously, this getting healthy lark is really fricking hard because it takes a lot of focus…on me…and why the f**k would I want to focus on me when there’s so much more exciting stuff to spend my time thinking about! But I have a sneaking and newly dawned suspicion that not focusing on me might have been my problem for the last 20 years. Shit.
  2. Healthy eating takes planning too. I discovered that if I don’t plan for breakfast then I’m STARVING by 11am and will eat anything I see. Which is unfortunate because in Sydney there seems to be an epidemic of banana and raisin bread in the coffee shops. I’ve resisted so far though – this is what I’ve been eating for breakfast this week…

3. Did about a million steps on my one day off. Traipsing around the Blue Mountains was wet and cold (there’s a photo somewhere of me in a kagool but I’ve threatened divorce if it ever surfaces) but i absolutely loved it. Didn’t give up..although the upward steps on the near vertical ‘cascades’ gave me a wobbly moment..and didn’t get back ache once (that’s a new thing and must be linked to the weight I’ve lost thus far – a few months ago a walk around the block would have seen me bent over like a 90 year old).

4. I mentioned in week 7 my love for Camilla kaftans. Turns out it’s not just me. They had a warehouse sale last week with 80% off and over 1000 women queued to get in. One was arrested for posing as a security guard and pinching everyone’s shopping bags…#RESPECT!!

5. Australia has huge spiders. This one’s become a pet. I’ve wondered how hungry I’d need to be to eat it.

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6. I love that so many people are supporting my getting healthy mission and that I’m regularly sent things intended to inspire me..or make me laugh. I want these stairs installed in my house by the time I get home.

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7. I’ve dropped a whole size so far this year…and Australian clothes are one size below the UK. So I’m officially the thinnest I’ve been for over a decade…at least in the label of my new trousers.

OUTCOME…I lost one pound. Sigh.

Week Seven (aussie edition)…in which I get out the Miraclesuit

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My first week in Sydney and the newly heightened awareness of my weight and fitness levels has made me realise that it’s not easy to be overweight here. I was surprised to discover that I am, by far, the biggest person on the beach – I’ve honestly never noticed before. Everyone else is straight out of Bondi Rescue. Lean, tanned and gorgeous. Shit. So out came my new Miraclesuit. All women of a certain size will know what a Miraclesuit is. For those of you who are normal size, or male, the MiracleSuit is an instrument of extreme torture, in the shape of an upholstered swimming costume, designed to make you look ‘10lbs lighter’ and to stop you from being able to a) breath and b) pee. Actually you can pee, you just can’t take the thing off first. Not without a can opener. Folding your flab to fit into it is like a surreal session of human origami; frustrating, confusing and the end result isn’t worth the time and energy required to do it. While I lie in the same position for 2 hours (reluctant to move in case my flesh rebounds out of the top of the costume – it’s got to go somewhere, right??) I decide that when I’ve hit my weight target I’m going to have a ceremonial burning ritual of all the clothes I’ve bought in the vain hope of disguising my size.

This photo is NOT ME. It’s of a Miraclesuit being worn by someone who clearly DOES NOT NEED TO LOOK 10Ib LIGHTER!

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Other things this week:

  1. I discover that the best take away in Sydney is 340 steps from my rented house. THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING. Char Rotisserie http://thecharrotisserie.com.au/ cooks the amazing chicken and fortunately incredible salads (pumpkin, avocado, feta and rocket anyone?). They really need to open in the UK – seriously, who wouldn’t love roast chicken a million different ways and a choice of a couple of dozen sides all for around 18 quid for four. We had this twice this week – just had to reign in my sudden craving for potato salad and coleslaw.
  2. The most famous / cool / hip artisan bakery in Sydney is also on my doorstep. THIS IS AN EVEN WORSE THING. Iggys (http://www.iggysbread.com/down-under) is so famous / cool and hip that it doesn’t even need its name on the door. They bake something different and mouth-wateringly amazing every day (wholegrain sourdough with walnuts on Thursday, rye and caraway rolls on Friday). I was told that women over the age of 45 only have to sniff a carb to put on weight. I stood outside Iggys and put on about 3 kilos.

3. I hit a new record on Fitbit while on a day trip around Cockatoo Island yesterday (a former prison a bit like Alcatraz but with spectacular views). 12,674 steps. I’m writing this from my bed because I can no longer move anything from the waist down.

4. I’m about to visit my favourite clothes shop in the world camilla.com. Not cheap but the silk kaftans are absolutely gorgeous, look great on everyone regardless of age, size or shape and make you feel like a Goddess. Every woman deserves at least three of them. I’ve got seven and counting..(husband, if you’re reading this please don’t click on the link. I need you to continue to believe they’re only 50 quid a pop).

5. Regatta restaurant might be my favourite Sydney eatery (I say ‘might be’ because I intend to try many more during this trip). I find healthy eating is easy in restaurant – you just end up saying ‘no chips/ bread/potatoes/ polenta/ noodles’ a lot. Here’s a recipe I’ve stolen from Regatta;

Get some miniature versions of vegetables like tiny carrots, leeks, courgettes, spring onions, broccoli stems (I know they are a thing, I’ve seen them in Waitrose. I’ve just never seen the point of them) and poach them in some stock (‘poach’ a just a chefy way to say simmer). Buy some really good tomatoe consommé (cos life is too short to make your own) and warm up. Transfer the veggies into the consommé and serve with a dollop of harissa paste on the side with a small bowl of couscous topped with a teaspoon of crispy fried onion bits. Honestly, it’s fantastic and totally virtuous.

  1. I’m furious that my Fitbit doesn’t distinguish between flat steps and PROPER steps as in vertically steep stairs which I’m beginning to realise are a key feature of the Bronte to Bondi coastal path. The walk from my rented house DOWN to the beach is a glorious and gentle 1500 steps and has me thinking that it’s good to be alive. The walk back UP, which is also 1500 steps, makes me throw up.

OUTCOME: I lost 1lb (Iggys has got a lot to answer for).