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Week 6…in which I arrive in Sydney lighter than I left it

I have a weird relationship with my FitBit. It’s certainly not a love/hate one – there is no love from my side whatsoever.  My FitBit is a passive/ aggressive, patronising, smirking little shit. I HATE that I have to wear it, it’s hardly unobtrusive. No other device so overtly broadcasts the intent of the wearer more than a fitness device and most people know EXACTLY what it is. When people who don’t know me notice it I can see their confusion. I’m not built like your typical wearer – at least not yet – so I feel the need to silence their unspoken ‘well that’s not working very well is it’ with a proclamation of ‘what this thing? Really? Is that what its for??’

But I feel a bit lost when I’m not wearing it, like somethings missing. Not enough to stop me being unfaithful to it though. The thing ran out of battery mid-morning before I flew to Australia (is it being unfaithful if it can no longer perform?) so I downloaded a pedometer to my mobile. I wondered how I was going to make 10,000 steps during the flight, but needn’t have worried. A mistake on the airline booking had me stopping at both Dubai and Bangkok on route to Sydney – each stop requiring a grueling, stressful, 40 minute sweaty hike, with much swearing under my breath. I chose not to use the travellators – I thought it’d be a cop out and just wistfully watched my fellow travelers whisking past me as I hobbled to the gate with my phone clocking my steps from the safety of my pocket.

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It resulted in a whopping 13,240 steps in 24 hours so when I boarded the last flight I PRETENDED to reward myself with desert…

Other things this week..

  1. I walked to the office and back TWICE – I’ve discovered (to my total shock) that I quite enjoy it. Gives me time to think. This might explain how I’ve had the best weeks sleep in a decade (averaging 7 hours a night) My best ‘thinking time’ has, for years, been between 2am to 5am, but having at least an hour a day to think while walking means that I find there’s nothing I haven’t already mulled over. For the first time I’m seeing unexpected benefits of this healthy year thing.
  2. A 40Kg baggage allowance combined with having so much stuff spread around my fairly big house meant that packing alone racked up 2105 steps. But packing fatigue is a thing. A good friend of mine has a real live butler. I consider asking to borrow him, and then realise that he’d be used to packing clothes from Gucci and Tom Ford rather than M&S and ASOS Curve so my pride stops me.
  3. A speaking engagement in Leeds had me worrying that spending a day on a train would be bad for my eating and worse for my stepping. But I was wrong. Changing trains at Birmingham New Street was a revelation! The station has been turned into a mecca for shopping and eating with at least 20 restaurants and 5 times that number in shops. HUGE! 4000 steps huge. And I prepared food – back to juicing (for breakfast and lunch) and as a litre of avocado juice is enough to feed a family of four on a budget I wasn’t hungry once. But I discovered that I pace when I do a talk. In half an hour of presenting I’d taken over 1500 steps…which must have made the audience dizzy. I plan to work on this.
  4. Wasabi restaurant is a very healthy place to eat if you’re careful. Brown rice sushi is an actual thing too.
  5. I see something I want in the Prada shop window. At the end of this year I’m going to go in and buy something. Right now I’m simply not in their demographic and can’t walk into a designer boutique without the shop assistants holding up a crucifix and clove of garlic.
  6. I arrived at Sydney airport to be greeted by a wall of 38 degree heat and promptly melted into a puddle on the floor. I decided this must be a good thing for the flight induced water retention and wondered if it would look weird to get my scales out and weight myself immediately.

Outcome – I lost 3 lbs

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Week Five…in which I meet the ‘Weight Loss Guru’

As terrifying as it may be there are many benefits to going public with the decision to lose the equivalent of a baby elephant in body fat and get active. These include receiving shed loads of books, recipes, introduction to very cool people, advice, tips (keep ‘em coming..I’m going to try everything you suggest) messages of support, sympathy, empathy and more than a few piss takes (which make me laugh, and laughter uses calories). For me it’s proving to be a HUGE motivational driver – tempted to eat that after eight mint? Absolutely not, because the very thought of having to post a blog where I don’t lose weight, or worse PUT IT ON is enough to send me scurrying for a stick of celery. I highly recommend that if you have even the smallest ego or pride then go public with your goals.

This week I was laid low with a horrific ear infection which rendered me pretty much immobile for the first few days (YES!!). Just as well because last weeks adventures with the power plate resulted in quite a bit of pain. I’m told this is a good thing, shows it worked, but its really not much fun when you feel like you’ve been beaten on the backside with a rolling pin for FOUR DAYS!

Here’s a few of this weeks highlights….

  1. I was born to live in The Ham Yard hotel. And they serve fabulous breakfasts.

2. Someone told me that smoking is causing me more harm than being overweight. She said ‘if you really were serious about your health you’d give that up immediately’ (I said ‘you can fuck right off’..in my head). Clearly she was right, its unarguable logic – but I remain convinced that if I embarked on healthy eating, exercise and stopped smoking AT THE SAME TIME I would a) want to kill myself, b) want to kill everyone else, c) fail completely. So I’ll wait until next year.

3. It really is amazing what the universe will deliver you when you put stuff out there. This week I met THE ‘weight loss guru’. Amongst many tips, which I’ll write about in the coming weeks, he talked about the ‘voice’, your own inner voice that tells you that you’ll fail, or that you can’t do something. Or in my case the voice that tells me I really REALLY need a packet of crisps or I’ll die. He suggested visualising this voice as a duck, which you can name if you want to. It disempowers it and makes you recognise it for what it is, a stupid voice. I decide to embrace this so whenever that voice starts whispering I can tell myself to ‘shut the duck up!’. What’s not to love.

4. Claridges Hotel makes amazing desserts – at least they LOOK amazing. I had a stare off with this one.

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5. I met one of our team GB Paralympic gold medal winning rowers – she’s amazing, truly inspirational. She’s registered blind and was told when she was young that ‘You can’t do that…because you are blind’. She flipped the ‘can’t’  to ‘can’ and has done pretty much everything. I reflect about all the things I can’t do because I’m fat…and momentarily panic that my only real excuse for not flying long haul in economy might disappear with my weight.

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6. Somerset House has some seriously cool eateries. I had Pumpkin soup with one colleague and watched another one eat this..*sighs*

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7. My youngest daughter was thrown and an early 11th birthday party by my twenty something daughter and her mates (I was tempted to frisk them for drugs and alcohol – and that was just the 11 year olds). It was a Domino’s Pizza and Chocolate Cake party, so I politely declined to join them. My husband later found me in the kitchen sniffing empty pizza boxes.  `

Outcome – I lost 2 pounds.

My next five blogs will be posted from Australia. If anyone knows how to rack up 10,000 steps on a 24 hour flight please let me know.

Week 4…in which I get intimate with a Power Plate

This week a much loved friend booked us in for a joint session with her personal trainer. She really cares about me and wants to help so I said yes (who am I kidding, she gave me absolutely no choice), but to say I wasn’t looking forward to it is like saying that I find Donald Trump mildly irritating. I texted her to check out what was in store. She said:

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The gym (VibeFitness) is in Bath, the trainer (Simon) was lovely. Way too nice to hate. But the workout? My worst fucking nightmare. I was introduced to a power plate. Oh I can do that, I thought, don’t I just have to stand on it and let it shake the fat of my body? Well no, not exactly. It was the basis for half the workout – all the torturous bends, jumps, lunges that you’d expect to do in a workout…but on a vibrating plate that shook so violently my glasses nearly fell off. At one point he had me in a superman pose, bent at the waist on one leg with my arm out in front and my other leg up behind me. Not my finest moment. The other half of the workout required the use of an elaborate rope contraption hanging from the rafters that I last saw in 50 Shades of Grey. I quite liked this one, not particularly aerobic, more strength based – and my ego kicked in with ‘this will not get the better of me’ macho bravado. But after 25 years since I last stepped foot in a gym for a proper work out, it was all too much. While my friend was doing some kind of commando style bunny hops on and off the power plates barely breaking a sweat, I found myself sitting on a bench with my head between my knees trying desperately hard not to throw up.

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And then came the good bit. My friend had said ‘you’ll love the warm down’ and she wasn’t wrong. The trainer set mats on the floor and asked us to lie on our backs with our lower bodies draped across the power plate. Setting the vibrations on high we lay with our legs and bums being massaged by the plate. Bliss. And then came the REALLY good bit. WE HAD TO TURN OVER ONTO OUR FRONTS! With everything from hips downwards pressing against the power plate this suddenly turned into an actual scene from 50 shades. All woman deserve this. Not just after a workout but EVERY DAY..for at least an hour. I promise you, if sitting on a washing machine floats your boat then an intimate massage by power plate will transport you to another place entirely!

Other stuff:

  1. Straight after the gym and still glowing (for the wrong reasons) we took away a fantastic lunch from my new favorite eatery in the world ‘Beyond the Kale’. If you’re ever in Bath, go here. You’ll want to buy everything – including the home made dark chocolate real coconut bars; Me to shop assistant “OMG, is that like a really, really healthy Bounty bar?” Him; “um..well..everything has calories”. Got to LOVE a healthy eating shop that’s totally honest.

2. I was awarded a Penguin Badge by my Fitbit. I had to look it up. It was for walking 75 miles since I started tracking. Which is the precise number of miles walked by Emperor Penguins to reach their mating grounds. Yes, they walk 75 miles FOR A SHAG!!! I’ll stick to the power plate.

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3. I adore The Delaunay for a London lunch meeting. Like a good girl, I had the Wholegrain and Avocado Salad (which was exactly what it said it was)

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While my lunchtime companion had this…bastard.

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4. I walk to the office and back. I’m deeply ashamed to admit that in the 10 years I’ve lived in my house I have never ONCE walked to the office. It’s a mile and a half. I take the dog to work and decide to walk through the park (what is it with dogs and the number of times they stop to pee? He must go 15 times on a 30 minute walk. I’ve had three kids and my bladder is stronger than that – just). I’m struck by how pretty the journey is, and that my local park has a serious mole problem. To entertain myself from the sheer boredom of walking, I decide to increase my steps by jumping from mole hill to mole hill.

5. My daughter is my friend on Fitbit. We compete – she doesn’t know this, I’m secretly stalking her – and she regularly beats me. I consider letting my dog run round the park with my Fitbit attached to his collar just to wind her up. I’m a really bad mother.

6. I got new trainers. Actually I’ve had them for 4 years BUT HAVE NEVER WORN THEM.

7. Discovered that Waitrose sells freshly made wholegrain noodles. If you’re gonna have carbs have brown carbs – they taste the same but with not a hint of guilt and zero remorse.

8. Great recipe: Chop up a chicken breast, half a pepper, half an onion, a couple of cloves of garlic and a red chilli. Fry all together with a spoon of coconut oil. In separate pan warm up one dessert spoon of crunchy peanut butter, one dessert spoon rice syrup, 3 tablespoons coconut milk, one tablespoon soy sauce. When the chicken’s cooked through add the warmed sauce and combine with half a packet of aforementioned wholegrain noodles. It’s divine.

OUTCOME – I lost 3 pounds….making a cumulative 4 week loss of 15lbs OR 6.8kg

Week Three…in which I try a treadmill and freeze my arse off.

Another tough week from a healthy eating point of view. I spent most of the week as a guest of McKinsey & Co in Kitzbuhel, Austria. Their ‘Alpine University’ is actually the former Grand Hotel and they give 5 star service to every McKinsey consultant and client that stays there.

But this meant 3 amazing meals a day and a constant supply of every kind of energy giving, carbohydrate loaded snack known to man – I think McKinsey would call it brain food.

But I was good. Really good.

Food I didn’t eat…

And the food I did..v__6a36

And I kept up an average of 8000 steps a day  – not easy when you’re sequestered in a hotel sitting in 9 hours of lectures every day (at one point my Fitbit actually said ‘its step o’clock’ *sigh*). But they had a gym (which I used) and a climbing wall (which I didn’t).

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My first ever treadmill experience was a mixed bag. It was 5.30am at the McKinsey gym (simply couldn’t face doing it with actual people watching). First up I had to ‘programme’ the thing; speed, incline, distance, time, calories, pace – oh for fucks sake, I JUST WANT TO WALK! Then it asked me to log my age and weight. Apparently the last person to log in on this particular treadmill was 25 years old and weighed 50 kilos….so I decided to skip this bit for fear of the machine screaming ‘get the fuck off me right now’. Afterwards the machine delivered the results. I’d walked 1.66 km in 20 minutes working up a slight sweat and an average heartbeat of 133 bpm (nope, not a clue). I felt quite good about it, until I saw that I had burned precisely 79 calories. 79 CALORIES!!!!! FOR 20 MINUTES OF TORTURE?? I console myself with the thought that I can now have a quarter of an ounce of honey on my muesli.

Couple of other things I learnt this week…

  • Going on the back of skidoo at the top of a 100 foot sheer drop, in the dark, in minus 10 degrees is not advisable without brandy.
  • I’m informed by husband that the act of running or even jogging requires both feet to leave the ground at the same time. WTF? The very thought of both my feet leaving the ground and thus rendering my body suspended, albeit momentary, in mid-air strikes me as so funny I nearly choke. There really is a reason why elephants can’t jump.
  • You know those curly queue things they do at airports that control the crowd by making you walk around ropes to get to through security? Well, it takes 340 steps to cover what would be 10 steps as the crow flies. I will forever more see them as beneficial to my health instead of a complete pain in the arse.
  • In Europe you can dry your hair in the bathroom. But there are rarely chairs in hotel bathrooms. So, if you step from side to side you can clock up 250 steps while you blow dry.

OUTCOME: I lost 1 pound. Which seriously pissed me off.  Husband said ‘your body has carried your weight for twenty years, and it’s going to do everything it can not to give it up’. Right. Rather more helpfully my daughter googled ‘flying + fluid retention’ and turns out the two go together like salt n vinegar crisps and me (I love my family). So, I’m never flying again. Except to Australia in a couple of weeks’ time – at which point I’m anticipating an increase of about a stone in water retention.

Week Two – in which I walk..mostly to restaurants

I’ve worked out why I hate exercise so much. Quite apart from the fact that its seriously uncomfortable and I hate sweating, get enough of that with the hot flushes, it’s also really, really boring. If I’m going to exert myself I need a ‘purpose’ beyond the whole ‘getting fitter and losing weight’ thing. Walking TO somewhere is ok – there’s an obvious point to that – but walking for the sake just doesn’t do it for me. So I’ve devised my own way of increasing my steps in my own home. It’s called EMPTYING THE DISHWASHER. Number of steps from dishwasher to plate cupboard return = 8. Steps to kitchen dresser (mugs and glasses) return = 20 (long kitchen). So, by emptying the dishwasher ONE ITEM AT A TIME I can do at least 400 steps. Result! Takes a million times longer of course but it has a purpose; I end up with an empty dishwasher – and a very happy 10 y/o daughter who’s been relieved of her duties until she’s 12.

This week was always going to be difficult. I had 2 days in London which included one breakfast and two lunch meetings. I wasn’t looking forward to choosing the clean options while ignoring the stuff I REALLY wanted to eat.

Here’s how I got on..

  1. Breakfast at Charlotte Street Hotel https://www.firmdalehotels.com/hotels/london/charlotte-street-hotel/ the restaurant does amazing breakfasts – try the rye toast, avocado, crab and poached egg. But ask for one piece of toast and one egg, otherwise you get a breakfast that’s bigger than your head.

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2. Lunch at Berners Tavern http://www.bernerstavern.com/ still fairly full from breakfast I opted just for a starter. I had ‘diver scallop crudo with cucumber, black radish, jalapeno and lime ice’. In addition to learning that black radish is a thing, I discovered that the starters in Berners are TINY. It was 2 thinly sliced raw scallops hidden under a slush puppy. As it cost 15 quid I tried to make it last, but I breathed in too deeply between sentences and it was gone.

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3. ‘I’ll have a decaf coffee with skimmed milk’…words I never thought I’d say.

4. I smashed my previous 8000 steps record with the grand total of 11,230. Wasn’t that hard (apart from the fact that I still can’t feel my feet) but it wasn’t by choice. On the first London day I had 4 meetings. As I never walk or travel by tube when in London I was shocked to see my diary looking like this..

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Turns out my PA has decided to support me in my new regime by refusing to book taxis for any journey less than 2000 steps. I consider, for a moment, whether this is grounds for dismissal.

5. Second London breakfast came via Great Western Railway – a banana. I pretended it was a muffin.

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6. ‘I’ll have a peppermint tea please’…I’m not sure who I am anymore.

7. Lunch at Jar http://www.jarkitchen.com/ Drury Lane. I had roasted brussel sprouts, cous cous, soft boiled egg and raisins. Sounds truly weird but tasted divine – and will be replicated at home for a fraction of the price. Not so the oat milk which tastes as weird and it sounds.

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8. I’ve ordered Tom Kerridges new book: the Dopamine diet. https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01NBMU6KW/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1 He’s a Michelin star chef who lost 12 stone in 3 years. He’s into big portions and big flavours. My kinda guy.

9. Found out that Fitbit awards you a trophy every time you lose weight. Well thanks you patronising bastard but next time please award me a packet of salt n vinegar crisps.

10. OVERALL – I lost 3 pounds.

Next week I will mostly be in Austria. It doesn’t bode well, I hate being cold and love strudel of any kind…..

Week One – in which I lose 8lb and manage 1326 steps whilst driving my car

Ok, so first week wasn’t too bad. Going back to reality the week after New Year is never brilliant but fortunately the week was planned to have me mostly working from home – a good place to be, I thought, when starving and irritable.

I’d decided to kick off the plan with a detox. 4 juices a day, no solid food, no caffeine, no fizzy drinks, no alcohol – not that I drink. I gave up alcohol 9 years ago when drinking too much of it landing me in intensive care. In fact that was the last time I really lost any weight. The NHS ‘Nil by mouth’ diet is f**king amazing, you can lose nearly three stone in as many weeks!  And don’t get me started on the wonders of morphine…but that’s another story.

Juicing then…in 3 days I consumed by body weight in the juice of green vegetables and fruit. Ok, maybe not my body weight, that would be ridiculous, but I’m pretty sure that weight for weight I lost more pounds than the volume I drank. And, here’s the shocking bit, IT WAS EASY! A few light headed moments, but not a single hunger pang, not once. If you want to try it I recommend you check out;

http://www.rebootwithjoe.com/  and watch his film, Fat Sick and Nearly Dead – unlike the title its an inspirational, fascinating and at times emotional viewing.

https://www.juicemaster.com/ and if you ever get the chance (and the money) go and stay at Jasons retreat in Portugal – 7 days of nothing but Juice, exercise and sun (I went two years ago. I skipped the exercise but loved the sun bit).

Days 4 to 7 I shifted to CLEAN eating. Which means I can eat anything I want as long as its low sugar, low carb, low dairy, not processed / packaged and cooked from scratch.

Meals & snacks include avocado, eggs, seeded non gluten toast, home made granola, an AMAZING chicken satay and Vietnamese salad, Chili con carne and brown rice (brown rice is surprisingly good), homemade soups, salmon and broccoli, fritatta, crispy sweet potato chips, kale crisps, nuts, rice cakes and peanut butter, paprika and lemon chicken. Not too shabby.

I’ve walked too. The exercise bit is the thing I’m dreading the most. So I’m breaking myself in gently. The fitbit helps – although the little messages telling me to ‘feed me another 146 steps’ frequently provoke a ‘oh just fuck off!’ response. My record so far is 8000 steps, and given that took a good 90 minutes of walking I have no idea how I’m actually gonna find the time to walk the target of 10000 steps – but I’m sure I’ll get there.

Here’s some of the weeks moments and leanings;

  1. I hate beetroot. I’m choosing not to include this liquid mud in my regime going forward.
  2. I bought a diet plate. Its 10 inches across, but was very upset to discover the bit you actually fill with food is the size of a normal side plate. Shit.
  3. According to my fitbit I managed 1326 steps..driving my car! RESULT!! I didn’t even break a sweat. I got this.
  4. Thanks to a friend on FB I was led to http://www.helohealth.co.uk/  While I haven’t yet embarked on the 3 month challenge the concept and recipes are seriously good.
  5. In weak moments I just thought about the 800 or so people that saw my post about my 52 in 52 commitment. Turns out my pride/ego is much bigger than my appetite.
  6. Rooiboos tea is just about palatable without milk…but ‘fruit teas’ are a new kind of hell.
  7. I was introduced to this guy via fb https://www.davidkingfitness.com/ He sounds all kinds of great (which is a shame because I know I’ll end up hating him) and gave me a boost just talking to him. I’ll be working with him a bit later in the year…I’m saving him for when I hit THE WALL (anticipated time of arrival..about March).
  8. If I walk anything over 4000 steps my ankles feel like they’re trapped in a ski boot that’s 2 sizes too small. Not that I’ve ever put on a ski boot – that’d be way too physical for me.
  9. A friend sent me Tim Ferris’ book 4 Hour Body http://fourhourbody.com/  I skipped straight to the chapter about the 15 minute female orgasm. Obviously.

10. Overall – I LOST 8 POUNDS! 

52 Lbs in 52 weeks – a story in 52 parts.

I’m 52 years old this year..and I’m 100lbs overweight. Thats 45 Kilos. Or 7 stone. Yup, that’s ONE WHOLE F**KING PERSON!

I can’t run (actually I probably can, like if someone was attempting to murder one of my children, I just really, REALLY don’t want to), and getting out of bed gets harder every day with every joint (especially knees and ankles) creaking with the trauma of moving my body into an upright position. Whilst I FEEL like I’m gliding through life, I’m actually waddling.

My natural state is..static. The very thought of ‘getting fit’ makes me want to dive into a packet of salt n vinegar crisps under a duvet. I HATE any form of physical activity, and I LOVE food of every single kind.

But no more.

In 2017 I will lose 52lbs (yeah, one lb per week – I know about setting realistic goals). By the end of the year I will run the 6 km Coogee to Bondi coastal path…or 6km of the Bournemouth coastal walk (much colder and not as gorgeous).

And in 2018 I’ll lose the rest.

.