Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Something Like Strangers

Well, the last few days have been both good and bad -- and I was starting to think that the bad? Was winning out. The thing is, basically, that I fell off the wagon on Sunday. I was planning on sticking mostly to the diet until next Monday and then going off it more completely -- i.e. by starting to make proper meals from all the books and recipes I've been marking over the last few months -- in Australia and beyond. However, I was making cupcakes on Sunday and everything kind of fell apart from there. I still thought I'd be able to keep a handle on it, but...apparently not.

The good thing, of course, is that I feel so much better, thought-process-wise. Not necessarily mentally or physically or emotionally, because I've eaten to the point where my stomach feels distended, I feel guilty as fuck about doing it, and emotionally I'm as much a wreck as I ever was, but the fact remains: I can work again. I can concentrate on my damn job, and on Monday I went to an online Japanese class for the first time in two and a half weeks and had a good time. I also went to a writing meeting tonight with a group I've been avoiding out of exhaustion, and last night? I started "reading" 「時の旅人 クレア」 again for also the first time in weeks...and I say "read" because it's a translation of an American novel for native speakers of Japanese and I can't read the half of it. It's just a good way to really familiarise myself with sentence structure and paragraph construction while recognising kanji in different contexts. The fact is that before I could barely get through a day at work, whereas now my brain has come back to life and I can actually think.

With that said, I've been wondering how straight I've been thinking because I've been stuffing my face for no discernible reason. Except maybe it's a famine response -- I just want everything. And it's worse than it was before, because even though I theoretically understand it's the end of the restrictive diet I seem to be terrified of going back on it. Even though by eating all this shit? I'm ensuring I'll need to go back on it. So, I've been terrified by my lack of self-control. Except...tonight, I decided I would do a couple songs on the Zumba tone and sculpt DVD. I ended up doing the whole hour programme, and then I danced to my favourite songs for half an hour more. I even dug out my old bellydance belts, tied them on, and shook my groove thang. And this...oh, I can't even begin to explain it. It was like a lightbulb went on, somewhere, and flooded everything with some kind of understanding. My body is so confused by everything I've put it through. It doesn't know how to react. But when I dance...when I dance, it feels right.

So, I guess the answer right now? Is whenever I want something to eat, I need to dance. I'm not hungry for food, I'm hungry for motion. I'm hungry for purpose. My brain is satisfied with the writing and the reading, but my body needs something now too. Eating was what it used to get, but what it really wants? Is something to do. Which is why tomorrow, after work and before class, I will go for a walk. Then I'll have class, then I'll have dinner. It will be later than normal, but my stomach is all out of joint right now from the excess of calories I've given it the last two days. It will cope. Tomorrow...is a more sensible day. Omelette for breakfast, crackers for morning snack, wrap for lunch, apple for afternoon snack, then prawns and salad for dinner with a piece of fruit for dessert. No more, no less.

And if my body tells me it wants food, I'll just dance. Because in the end, this is what I got this body for...movement. I can dance upon the air. This is what I wanted. I just didn't realise it until now.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Abide With Me

So, it's another Sunday -- and I am still thoughtful. About my choices, and my life in general. I weighed in this morning at 60.5kg, and that? Is pretty much what I had been aiming for when I was still doing this properly. I wanted to be into the fifties by the end of March, which is on Thursday. So, to that end...I think I will keep to the plan until at least Thursday, if not until the end of Saturday. Which is, after all, just another week...and it gives me a bit more wriggle room when I do stop. Because I am going to stop.

I keep wondering if this is the right decision, but then as I said the other day commitment to anything isn't really my forte. I'm not a reliable person, to be perfectly frank. I overthink everything and then I get scared and can't follow through. It's likely as not my perfectionist streak coming through, because if I can't do something absolutely one hundred percent perfect, I tend to despair and think it's not worth doing at all. That sounds concerning in light of what I am doing now, but I did run across a phrase in my reading yesterday that resonated strongly with the aching strings of my heart: that which yields is not always weak.

I have made a promise to myself, after all. I've lost a lot of weight -- by the end of it, it will be over twenty-five kilograms. And I did it in seven months. That's a lot of work to throw away, so I am not planning to. And my issues with food have always stemmed not only from emotion, but from laziness and ignorance. And perfectionism, too; I hated cooking for other people, mostly because I was terrified that they wouldn't like what I'd made. I'm over that in a baking sense now, for sure; cooking-wise I have a ways to go, but it will come. I'm no longer willing to just eat junk for the sake of "fuelling" my body with crap. I want to experiment, I want to experience. But I want to know that in the end I'm giving my body what it needs to live.

I also keep wondering if it's been a mistake, making the plans to run back to Australia. My mother made the comment on the day I did "Is it TOM?" and I said no, as I'd just had a two-week period from hell ten days before, but it seems to have returned. So, my hormones could be part of this. But then...when I look back on the last four weeks, I can count my good days on one hand. And every day I was exhausted. My mental health is suffering, and being skinny isn't going to solve that. You'd think I would have realised that by now, between the fact I still haven't come to terms with my body image, or by the fact that being skinny still doesn't make me attractive to the opposite sex. I need to find my own way to accept me for who I am, and forcing myself to lose another ten kilograms isn't going to help that.

But the fact remains that I am so much lighter now, both in spirit and in body. And I do think my lightened mood can be explained by the fact that I know there is respite to come. If I wasn't going to Australia again I wouldn't be feeling like this. So, no more guilt, no more doubt. It's not worth it, really. I am doing this to dedicate time to myself and my journey, because it doesn't really end here. I'm just taking another road.

Being calmer also helped me begin to catch up on some of my neglected studies yesterday, too -- and I also went back and reread the short story I forced myself to write through exhaustion and confusion last weekend and found it wasn't as terrible as I remembered. However, before I go back to working on that this rainy Sunday afternoon...I have to do something with everything I've acquired over the last week. I bought I cupcake book, as I mentioned on Monday, and since then? I've bought sugarpaste, gel food colourings, a palette knife, a mini silicone cupcake tray, a large cupcake tray with stand and carrier, cupcake cases of varying variety, and small cutters. And in the post yesterday I got an unexpected gift from my mother -- a silicone bunny mould, a cake tester, cupcake stencils and an apron. AN APRON. I've been thinking of buying one for ages, thinking I could hardly claim the mantle of "domestic goddess" without one, but I never got around to it. Thank God for mummies, yeah?

...and I will be seeing mine again very soon. And iTunes is reading my mind, playing to me as I read this GLaDOS and her eternally chirpy and terrifying advice: but there's no sense crying over every mistake -- you just keep trying until you run out of cake! Oh, dear. There will be cake, and you will be baked. That's just how it goes. But I will say I have managed to stand strong and not acquire any gem irons as of yet, though maybe I'll get some on trademe once I get back from Australia. It could be something to amuse myself with over the Easter holiday; I do know that I am planning on having a roast dinner on that Sunday. I know I can roast chicken well enough, but the only things I've ever roasted in my life? Are chicken and turkey. I should probably branch out and find a small piece of lamb, or pork. I could even make pumpkin pie. And no, this isn't going to be a regular thing. I spent Friday night going through my main cookbooks finding recipes for low-carb meals. I'm learning, and it'll be a steep curve. But I'm just about ready to do it.

I just...need to abide with myself. And learn to love myself, too. <3

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Right and Wrong

It's been a funny day or so, really. I had meant to update last night as per usual, but I ended up with such a headache and felt queasy as heck with it, so I decided to once again call it an early night. It still took me two hours to fall asleep. And this, I suppose, is the crux of the matter. I went into work yesterday and I felt so much better than I had on Thursday, and I started wondering if I hadn't made some sort of mistake. But then I talked to the retail manager and another staff member out the back and we all got weepy, and it's just...I don't know. It's hard.

I'm giving something up here and I can't be sure that it is the right choice. But then it's not as if I am convinced that staying on this diet and forcing myself through another seven or eight weeks? Is going to help me either. One of the reasons I couldn't fall asleep last night was because my stomach feels awful. My whole digestion system is rebelling against me, actually, and it's uncomfortable as hell. I'm also just in general concerned about myself. My hair is falling out in massive amounts. My skin is like paper. I have huge dark circles. Even though I am tired all the time -- tired to the point where I get into the shower and can't see how I'm going to manage to get out, tired to the point where I can't carry boxes -- I don't sleep properly or well. But what scares me more, I think, is that I get dressed or changed and see the bones beneath my skin and think: "Wow, imagine what I would see if I just kept going!" And this is even when I broke down in tears on Thursday multiple times because I can't sleep, because I can't study, because I can't work.

My aunt made the comment the other night about anorexia. I'm not sure how serious she was being, but the fact stands that she is a mental health worker and has been for longer than I've been alive. And while I would take exception to the "anorexia" label, I think it's entirely accurate to say that I have, or am developing, an eating disorder. Quite what this means, I am not sure, but I do not think it is sensible for me to continue on this diet. The fact that I am having such trouble letting it go is testament enough, I think. I mean, I spent most of yesterday daydreaming of my favourite restaurant -- which I have booked a table at for Monday next -- and while trying to sleep I contemplated buying some little things with which to augment the diet food over the coming week (baby carrots, avocado, bean sprouts, that sort of malarkey), but I got up this morning and had my diet breakfast and I honestly don't know if I can bring myself to break it. It's the bones-beneath-the-skin thing all over again. The desire to be thin isn't about being healthy anymore. It's tilting slowly towards some sort of obsession, even though it's destroying my mental and my physical health. For god's sake, I can't even get up from my bed these days without the world spinning around me.

So, in the end...maybe it's not about right or wrong. I've always had lifelong problems with commitment, because I tend to see decisions as black and white when they're in fact myriad shades of grey. I live in terror of making the wrong decision, and thus often never make the decision at all. This time I need to take the bull by the horns and just do it. Admittedly it's been very very fast -- perhaps too quick, and maybe that's why I've scared myself. But the truth of the matter is that normal people do not start crying for no reason. They don't sleepwalk through their lives the way I have for the last four weeks.

I have also got to trust myself. I'm not ditching the diet to go back to the way things were. Since December I have collected books and knowledge and I understand so much more about food and my body than I ever did. I also have learned that I enjoy exercise when I am not treating it as the be-all and end-all of a weightloss regime, and with a bit of luck and a hell of a lot of work...I should be able to maintain a sensible weight. It's a lifelong goal, but then this was never just a diet. It was a lifestyle change. And in the end, the fact remains that I never wanted to weigh fifty kilograms while living my life in fear of every single carbohydrate that passed my lips.

I could be wrong -- but then in some way, I know I'm right. And in the end it's all about the living, anyway.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Break Point

I've been off and on about this diet ever since I went back on it almost four weeks ago, but today? Is turning into a bit of a crisis negotiation. I'm really not quite sure what to do. I haven't broken the diet as of yet, but I am turning around in circles tonight.

Today started out fine, but for some reason after lunch...I drove back to work in something of a haze, and once I parked I just sat there in my car staring into space listening to Death Is The Road To Awe and not wanting to go anywhere. I just wanted to cry. I had no energy, and couldn't understand how I'd driven back to work, let alone how I could then get out of the car and go back to it. I did, after a fashion -- but I only lasted an hour. I couldn't concentrate. And a couple of times I had to go and sit down because I just couldn't bring myself to do anything. What disturbed me most, however, was when I went to the bathroom and started crying. It was for no reason that I could discern. The tears just started.

When I left, I went and sat in my car. I was too tired to drive, to begin with. And then I put on Abide With Me (it's a long story, somewhat, as to why I have a version of this on a CD in my car) and I just sat there with tears running down my face. I had more of an idea why that time -- it was simply because I was tired, and scared, and confused, and frustrated...and there was no-one there to care about it. I do live with my brother, but because of the shitstorm of problems he's having and the hand I played in turning my parents onto them over the weekend, he's not speaking with me. It reminds me of when I was in England and had no-one to turn to. Just...nobody who could just sit with me. I'm not a great talker, when it comes to my more confused states of mind, nor am I one for hugs and tears and small words of comfort. I'm more apt to respond to just sitting in the same room as another person while reading or watching television together. Just...silence, but not solitude. Peace, maybe. That's what calms me. Not having to be anything but myself, but not having to suffer to be alone to do it.

This is where the diet crisis comes in, although in the end it's larger than that anyway. I made a comment on facebook that I was home from work poorly and crying for no reason, and my mother ended up saying that I should come back to Australia and stay with her. And that hit me hard. Ever since I've arrived back in New Zealand, every time I've been upset I've thought back to Bunbury. I found that week to be so very soothing, after all that had happened at work and at home. Just...getting up. Zumba. Breakfast. Long, long walks in the warm seven o'clock air. Driving semi-aimlessly through lower Western Australia. Swimming in the ocean. Not caring about what was happening at work. Just...letting go. And doing it again...oh, God. I want to do it.

But there is the small matter of getting time off work. April is the cruellest month, when it comes to this; one pharmacist is away for a good chunk before and during Easter, and my boss is also gone after Easter for at least two weeks. But I started looking at flights and I keep thinking...

...okay, there's now a significant time delay in this post as I took note of the time and the fact that the cheapest flights I was finding in April sat uncomfortably well with what I knew of people's comings and goings in April. It's also Thursday night, meaning my boss would still be at work, so...I spoke to my mother briefly, then drove into work and spoke to my boss. I'm flying to Perth of the fifth of April and not coming back until the sixteenth. Effectively this means that my diet ends on the fourth. This...distresses me, but then it doesn't. When I drove home from work, I drove past the turnoff to my house and followed the road to its end. There, I drove onto the beach, parked, and walked down to the waterline.

The tide was out, but it was coming in. The sun was setting, the sky was clear, and it was pale orange and gold and a reddened blue against darkening shadow. It was an ending, a very clear one. But I am sitting here now with darkness outside my window and I know -- I know -- that the sun will rise tomorrow. And life will go on.

This diet has done some very good things for me, I can't deny it. I've learned a lot. But I think the time has finally come for me to accept that I can't go on like this anymore. I can't work, I can't sleep, I can't study. I have nothing left to me. The exhaustion of the last two weeks in particular...it's not sustainable. So, in the end? I will stay on the diet until the night before I leave. I've already booked a table for my brother and me at my favourite restaurant. Call it a late birthday dinner -- for him, for me. It's also on the road to the beach. But I've already let it go. The tide's coming in, and it will go out again. But we'll still be here.

I think that's just the way life is.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Never Be Afraid Of Change

One of the more amusing threads on the forum I belong to relating to this diet begins with "You know you're on Cohens when..." I'd list some of the ones that made me laugh the hardest, but they would likely as not just make you think I was insane. Instead I'll just go with one of mine -- because I know I'm on Cohens when I go Lara Crofting in the barn looking for gem irons, when I have absolutely no intention of eating anything I bake in them myself. And let it be known, too, that I actually own a Lara Croft costume thanks to this diet (although for those of you in the peanut gallery, no, I didn't feel the urge to dress in costume before I went cat-walking around the shelves twelve feet off the concrete floor...well, not enough to actually put it on, anyway!).

Incidentally, I didn't find the gem irons. I'm not entirely sure they're anything but mythical, although my father is fairly certain they didn't get rid of them while my mother suspects that we did. They belonged to my father's mother and to be honest, I never saw anyone use them -- including her! I don't have any particular urge to buy any myself, as they're useful really only for one thing, but I just really want to make some ginger gems at least once. Huh.

During my explorations I also discovered I own a popcorn machine. Which is hilarious, really, as I don't really like popcorn. Actually, last night I bought using my credit card rewards points yet another appliance -- a George Foreman grill with griddle. My mother has a grill, but while poking on the hotpoints website I saw this other thing and figured "Why not?" I'll need one of my own eventually, and if I have a griddle it saves on having to use both grill and stovetop to make my dinner of steak and mushrooms, so...yeah. I never would have pegged me for becoming obsessed with homeware, let me tell you. I've been to Briscoes twice after work this week already, and am torn about going back tomorrow for a storewide forty percent off sale because oh, yes, I still have my eye on a stand mixer. Er.

Still, what was I buying? Stuff for cupcake experiments, mostly. I've got silicone single cups and a single mini-mould, and I also acquired a silicone pastry brush and a fabric piping set. I'm planning on getting a tray/carrier/stand thing from Spotlight come Saturday, and I've also acquired from a speciality cake shop in the Hawke's Bay a set of colouring gels, a palette knife and a tub of sugarpaste. Seriously, I must be losing the plot here. Actually, my aunt was over this evening while I was out Lara Crofting in the barn talking to my brother, and when I was chatting to my mother on the phone about the failed mission for the gem irons, she came up to see me. She ended up seeing the books I have scattered everywhere -- they're all either Japanese dictionaries/textbooks or recipe books -- and announced that people who are anorexic love baking. She also commented that I was getting skinnier by the day. Oops. I was somewhat taken aback because my aunt's not saying this as a rank amateur; she's a mental health nurse who worked for a considerable length of time with the crisis intervention team (hence why she was talking to my brother tonight). But then again, she doesn't know how forward I am looking to being off this highly restrictive phase of the diet, so...

But yeah, it's all about change, and not being afraid of it, for me. Because I am afraid of change, even though I used to claim I loved that line from a Smashing Pumpkins song: the more you change the less you feel. Because usually if I hated something in my life? I'd change it. Or at least, I'd say I was changing it -- nine times out of ten, I was just running away. This diet, though...it's more about facing up to my issues with food and dealing with them. I want every meal to count, now. I want it to be good and tasty and special and worth eating and enjoying. No more empty calories, no more eating for the sake of it. That's what I want, and that's why I am obsessed with cookbooks.

Still. Change. I had an orange for dessert instead of an apple today, and that scared me. No, really -- I'm having a similar debate about breakfast, as I decided last night I'd quite like to have blanched asparagus with a poached egg for breakfast one morning, but I am scared it won't be as tasty as my current usual breakfast of a fluffy omelette, mushrooms, and tomato. It's all because I don't get a second chance if I don't like it -- I just have to eat it. And I want to enjoy every meal I have, because I just don't get that much food anymore! Which does continue to exhaust me, I have to say; Lara Crofting through the barn has left me ragged. But I went to bed early last night and woke up at four in the morning, so go figure?

Day Ten - Do you feel like you have given anything up over the course of this process? If yes, what is it, and how do you feel about making the sacrifice? 

I have given up quite a lot of things -- some I have come to understand will be permanent losses, others will be able to be returned if I treat them with respect. Carbohydrates are not my friends, basically, although I refuse to cut them out of my diet entirely. I just have to use them a lot less, although with that said I have discovered that in general? This won't be a hardship.

Some things, as I said, will be gone forever. Lift Plus, for one. Potato chips are another. Both of these are things I do not need and things that are full of empty calories I can't control my intake of. So...gone. How does this make me feel? Sad, in a way -- but then again, I am replacing my blind intake with an educated and curious eye, through my new interest in cooking and baking. So...it's a huge change for me. But it's an important one, and I'm not afraid of it anymore. I might occasionally doubt my ability to keep to it, but I'll never know until I try. And I am almost ready to do just that. <3

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Artist's Impression

Although I am by nature first and foremost a writer, I can actually draw. I'm not particularly good at it, although that's not why I rarely do it these days. It's more that while I can manipulate words to say exactly what I want them to, I can't render a picture with the same skill. It always falls short of what I want it to be, so I don't tend to draw unless I'm in a headspace where a mere shadow is acceptable. But I was thinking of drawing today, and that was just because the last few days I've been really noticing the change in my body shape.

I have a decent knowledge of anatomy for a couple of reasons -- partly it's because I have drawn since I was small, but it's also because of my training as a pharmacist. But I haven't seen the shape of the bones beneath my skin in a very, very long time. This is interesting mostly because when I drew people before, I knew all the little tricks for showing musculature and the definition of tendons and all that sort of thing, when it was necessary, and for the first time? I'm starting to see these things in myself. Like, my collar bones are becoming prominent. I can see the major tendons of my neck when I turn my head in profile. My hips are starting to look...well, not square, exactly. Never that. But I can see the actual shape of my hipbones and pelvis. Even my infamous thighs are picking up the line of the quadriceps. There's an actual skeleton, overlain with muscle and tendon and ligament, underneath all this skin. And now that the fat is leaving, I'm starting to really see myself in a way I haven't since I was very young. It's like coming out of hibernation, perhaps?

Or maybe it's more like the false colours being stripped from a canvas, revealing the simple initial sketch beneath. Sometimes, that's where the true beauty is -- in the simple things.

Day Nine - What are your co-workers’/friends’/family’s reactions to your weight loss? Positive or negative?

Again, this is a hard one for me to accurately gauge. I mean, I can tell you stories, but...I don't really know. I get both positive and negative feedback, certainly. I'm still quite confused about my parents' reaction to it all, to be honest. My father left the country before I'd started and my mother several weeks later, and they never really said much about it. My mother said the diet was not giving me enough food, although in her defense in those first few weeks? I was eating...not very well. I couldn't quite work out what to do with what I had. It was a couple of months before I really settled into a decent routine with really good food to eat. But she was shocked at Christmas when I told her I was a size twelve.

Still, right before I went to Australia on holiday in February, everyone at work kept saying my parents wouldn't recognise me -- I'd lost almost twenty kilograms, after all. "They'll be so shocked!" And yet when I stepped out of the customs area, I...didn't get much of a reaction at all. There was a time when I was trying on togs in a store that my mother actually said to me: "God, you're skinny!" but aside from that? They didn't say much. My parents both agreed that losing weight made me look much more like my sister, but...yeah. I don't know. Other members of my family generally agree that it's a good thing -- particularly at Christmas, one of my aunts was proud -- but a month ago my mother and her two sisters were making comments about getting too skinny and gaunt and whatnot when I said I was going back on-plan for a couple more months. But it's not as if any of them have told me to stop. And I was amused by my uncle's manner of looking at my pecan pie that one lunchtime before eyeballing me and saying: "Don't they say, never trust a skinny cook?" <3

Friends...have been by and large supportive. Again, I do tend to get the odd comment about "Surely you're thin enough now?" but it's not accusatory. It's curious, mostly. And given the fact that most of my "regular" deviations have been cake at my monthly spec writers' group meetings, they've been quite blasé about my not eating a thing at the most recent games and meeting nights. That helps keep me strong; it's much harder for me to accept that I don't need to eat to be "normal" or to "fit in" if people are making me feel that by not eating, I'm not being one of them. I suppose it helps, however, that I make the cakes. I'm not insulting anyone by not eating them, although I do think everyone is always a little suspicious that I don't. But that's human nature! ^_~

As for workmates...well, one of my workmates had a beautiful shout at work today, and I wished I could eat it...not because it looked delicious, although it did. I just felt terrible because she'd gone to so much trouble and I couldn't show my appreciation! The best I could do was thank her profusely for making it for us, and I discussed the recipe of the cornflake/Kremelta slice with her. Because yes, I have turned into the kind of person who loves talking recipes. But overall, my workmates? Have generally been supportive. There's been the odd moment where they've obviously lost patience with the strict nature of it, but when I explain that "one little treat" is actually one big drawback, they tend to accept it. I think it's helped, though, by the fact that one of my workmates (who has recently moved North) had started doing body challenges a year and a half back, and then last year spent most of it getting ready for a body sculpting competition. It was her dedication that inspired me most in the beginning, actually, but because of her trail-blazing? People were already used to having someone around who didn't eat sweets or cakes or everything on offer. So, it made it much easier for me to do the same thing.

They do have some trouble working out my headspace sometimes, I think -- the baking thing weirds them out slightly, because although they like what I make, they do find it strange that I can make these things and then not eat them myself. I also feel bad sometimes because one of my workmates is quitting smoking and she's eating more because of that, and I don't want to feel like I'm enabling that when I myself have the ability to say "NO" and not do the same when I am stressed. But...yeah. They do occasionally ask me when I am stopping, although now that I've given them a solid end date they've quietened down on that front. They're also very good for putting up with me in that I do get tired and frustrated more quickly than ever before, but...yeah.

Speaking of that, I had such a hungry day today. I was also exhausted by the end of it...well, actually I was exhausted well before the end of the day. Oops. We had a massive order in first thing that took hours to sort, and it sort of sapped all my energy for the day. Really looking forward to my bed, even though I do need to do some study tonight. Balls. But yeah, it's probably just another sign that I am getting to the end of things, so...

Oh, I am reminded of one thing about my workmates -- most of them are very good, but there's one I have a personality clash with at the best of times. He really pissed me off the other day, though; I came back from lunch, and he says: "Good lunch?" and I was all: "Yeah, it was fine." He then said: "Oh, did you bake a batch of biscuits and eat them all?" I just...um. Yeah. He guilts me about taking my lunchbreaks as it is, but to make a tasteless joke like that?

Well, in the end, some people just aren't worth it. I'm doing this for me. It's my self-portrait, and I like what I am seeing. And that's that.

Monday, March 21, 2011

The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Ugh, I have a headache tonight, which is a bit unusual for me. I think I need to find some Panadol and then give up on any thought of studying Japanese for the evening. I'm distracted by something else anyway, which I'll explain in a minute, but I suppose I should concentrate on the diet first! I'm feeling quite hungry now, actually, but overall I've actually had a fairly non-hungry day. Which is nice. It's just difficult to stay on track and concentrate on work when you're hungry all the time, so it's all good?

I had an odd experience this morning, mind you. Like most overweight people, particularly those who have lost sudden amounts of weight, I have a very disordered body image. I've found that since starting this diet I stare at people a lot. I try to gauge their weights, or I compare their body shape to how I perceive my own in order to work out how I look to other people. The BMI obsession I've had of late likely doesn't help, as I am still quite gobsmacked at how low I needed to be in mass before I was actually rated "normal," at least in that sense. One of my workmates didn't believe that I'd only become normal the other day, in fact. But yes, I tend to think of myself as "fat" even though nowadays, I'm clearly not. Occasionally I catch a glimpse of myself in a shop window and am struck by how slim I am, but by and large? I still feel large.

So, this morning on my break I needed to go to the supermarket to get Diet Coke for me, and also I needed some chocolates to put in the birthday parcel I then had to send to my mother. As I walked out of the pharmacy the lights were about to change in my favour before I could hit the button, so I basically just raced to the lights and then across the street. And I could not believe how easy it was to go from a casual walk to a sprint across the road. I was so very light. ...this isn't an entirely new sensation, I have to admit -- I picked up on this while re-engaging with Zumba in Australia last month -- but it still surprises me. It's just...I don't always see my weightloss, so it follows that I don't necessarily feel it, either. But I am carrying almost twenty-five kilograms less than six months ago, so I suppose it stands to reason that moving? Would be a damn sight easier now than it was then. Actually, as my current work "uniform" consists of tights, a loose dress with a belt, boots and a long flowing cardigan, I often feel like dancing. Something about what I wear and the way I move now makes me think of French ballet teachers. No, really! It's rather odd. But I do miss my Zumba, actually; I always enjoyed it, but stopped it when I commenced on the diet. I only did it while I was away because I had the energy, but...I do miss it a lot. I'm no good at sports or dancing or anything of the sort, but I do love to move to music.

The other odd experience of today? I was taking in a prescription and a patient says to me: "Oh, what have you done to yourself?!" I figured she was shocked because I wasn't wearing my cardigan, which tends to actually camoflague my size somewhat. I kind of grinned half-heartedly and was gearing up for a defense when she said: "You're beautiful!"

...yeah. Well. Um. I have no words for this one, actually, but suffice it to say I am not the kind of girl who gets told she is beautiful. It just doesn't happen. So this...saying it "made my day" is understating things, really. In fact I don't recall ever having been told I was beautiful ever before.

In other news, my distraction of the evening? Cupcakes! I bought a cupcake recipe book at the Post Office on a whim, and after my workmates and I examined it, we've pronounced it MORE THAN AWESOME. I rather like the idea of making cupcakes, you see, mostly because they're elaborate. The trickier something is, the more entertaining it is as a task rather than a treat, and hilariously? The longer it takes me to make something, the less I want to eat it. Ha. So, in that respect, it's probably a huge surprise that I never attempted cupcakes earlier. So, we'll see. I need to acquire sugarpaste icing and whatnot in order to have some real fun with this. And I also seem to have developed the oddest desire to make Punschkrapfen. It's a crazy rum-soaked Austrian petit-four, basically; I think it appealed to me because it's a) rum b) gluten free (I think, unless cornflour counts?) and c) the glaze is some seriously crazy shit. I think my workmates WILL murder me if I bring this in to them, but then again...I'm likely to get bored over Easter, as I won't be finished the diet and can't eat interesting stuff myself. Hmm.

Speaking of Easter...I am also plotting stuff for that. Simnel cookies, Easter cupcakes...I have an evil desire to make Oreo-stuffed chocolate chip cookies with mini Creme eggs instead of Oreos, actually. But what I really would like to do is make up the dough for hot cross buns on Good Friday and then get up and bake them on Saturday morning before taking them to my workmates, hot and fresh from the oven. Knowing my luck, mind you, I'll probably be working that Saturday anyway. Ha ha ha. Work is still being a real pain in the ass right now, actually, but fortunately this time? It's not interfering with the diet. So far. But then I'm into week four of nine and I'm seeing such good results that I don't even want to contemplate spinning this out any longer, so...it's all good? And it's also meme!time...

Day Eight - Your workout routine. 

As you can infer from the Zumba comments above, I don't currently have one. This diet is way too low-calorie to sustain any exercise programme; it's working on the principle of pushing the body into ketosis without going overboard, in order to burn fat preferentially over carbohydrate. Exercising would tend to push the body into full fasting mode, where it desperately tries to hold onto fat even though it thinks it is starving. So, exercise? Makes me hungry and tired. Or even more so, depending on the day I'm having! I do occasionally go for long walks, but I can't do Zumba or similar things because I just couldn't handle the jandal. But now that my body is lighter, something like that crazy angel's food cake I just made, I just...want to float away. I want to move. But there's work to be done yet, and so...feet firmly on the ground, head's not in clouds just yet.

But...one day. One day soon.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Child's Play 2

I'm rather surprised to be here this morning, to be perfectly honest -- I had an absolutely horrible night of it last night, though it wasn't entirely my own neuroses causing the problem this time. Believe it or not. The whole thing actually arose from my current living situation; I house-sit for my parents, who live in Australia, along with my elder brother. They still pay the mortgage and the rates and the insurance on the house and its contents; I pay all other bills. What does my brother do? Why, he sits at home all day, as he has done for the last almost two years, and plays computer games.

Incidentally, he's two years older than I am.

Generally I just roll with this, even though it galls me to go through such hell at work and have to come home and find he hasn't mowed the lawn in two weeks. It was almost knee-high when I went to Australia, for starters. But last night...well. I was started to feel somewhat agitated anyway because today's weigh-in for the week and I so desperately wanted to be under a BMI of 25. Around midnight, I shut off my computer, turned on some ambient music, and settled in for a good night's sleep.

...just wasn't to be, apparently.

About half an hour later, my brother cranks up the stero and for the next four hours proceeds to listen to crappy music at full blast. Because we live more or less in the middle of nowhere, it's not even like we had neighbours who could call noise control on him. I let it go until half-past two because it is, after all, Saturday night. But after that I lost my temper -- this diet, you see, has two very good reasons for getting enough sleep and going to bed at reasonable times. Firstly, my meals must be five hours apart -- sleeping in means fucking everything up completely, especially as I really need to have eaten all my meals by nine in the evening. Secondly, sleep is when my body is working towards weightloss with the changing levels of Human Growth Hormone; HGH does its magic tricks when the body is on downtime. So, being kept awake by music until four am and then being kept awake to roughly five by having to listen to him puke his drunken guts out?


My alarm went off at seven, because as I said, I need to have breakfast around eight to have lunch around one to have dinner around six. I had planned to go back to sleep for a couple of hours, but I don't think I will now; I have a cake to bake for a meeting tonight, and I haven't even finished the damn story either. I am going to be wrecked at work tomorrow. Really, I'd love to take the day off and just try and regroup; you'll recall from earlir entries of last week that by Friday night I was bloody shattered anyway. Last night's non-event of A Decent Night's Sleep is not going to help. But of course work is a nightmare because my boss is away yet again, and God knows when he'll be back.

But I guess that's enough of the negativity. What's with the post title, after all? Well, for some reason yesterday I was reminded of the days I first got into animated media. I was a late bloomer on that front, actually. It wasn't until I went on a school trip to Tacoma that culminated in a trip to Disneyland that I really became interested in animation. Being 1994, or thereabouts, I soon became enamoured of the animated television series that followed up on the movie Aladdin, for various reasons. I was watching old episodes on youtube last night and recalled rather suddenly that around that time, I'd written myself a time capsule letter. I'd run across it late last year, and it asked to be opened on the 31st of December, 2010. Whoops. So, I dug it out with some interest.

I haven't really read through all of it yet. It's quite long, but not really...substantial? I was a very fickle and shallow child, shall we say...huh. I bring it up in this diary, mind you, because very early on in the letter I actually note my weight. And this is interesting, because in the long run? I'm really very unsure of how my weight fluctuated as I got older. I do know that in Tacoma I weighed about 44kg, because I remember weighing myself at the host family's house for a lark and finding out that despite all the American food I'd lost a couple of kilograms. After that, I've never been sure of my weight. I do know I lost weight unintentionally at least twice, but otherwise it pretty steadily crept up. If you're curious, I lost weight my first year at university, while living in a hall of residence; for most people it's usually the other way around, but it apparently restricted my snacking somehow. I gained it all back and more once I started flatting. In another bit of wtf-ery, I actually gained the most weight when I lived in an old Gothic mansion on top of one of the steeper streets in Dunedin's CBD. You'd think walking up there several times a day would lead to weight loss, but apparently not.

The other time I lost weight was when I first moved to the UK; that was a combination of stress and a monstrously terrible diet. Basically I had a Kit-Kat for breakfast, a Subway sub and cookies for lunch, and then I sometimes had dinner -- and usually dinner was a McDonald's combo or a tuna salad from Marks and Sparks. Or if I couldn't be bothered with either of those, I'd have half a tube of Sour Cream and Onion Pringles. Again, I have no idea how much I lost, but it was significant -- five or six kilograms, at least. I gained it all back when my sister and I moved from Sheffield to Abingdon, though. And then I gained more here, to create my average weight of about eighty-five kilograms. Before that, as I said? No real idea of my weight, though I do recall being somewhere in the mid-seventies between my first and second years of university, and having it rise to the low eighties a year later. That's just because I worked for an aluminium smelter in my holidays and they required a yearly physical.

This letter, though, registered my age as fourteen years and six months, and my weight as 58kg. As my height is recorded at 153cm, my BMI at that stage was 24.78 -- so, I was very close to tipping over to the "overweight" category. This morning I weighed myself despite the horrible night, and...my Weight Watchers scales gave me 61.8kg. My BMI is 24.76. This is a nice piece of irony right here! And yes, I did a ridiculous happy dance, which must look doubly ridiculous for the fact I weigh on that scale in only my underwear. I was wearing my Paul Frank pyjamas and my Nigella black satin nightgown for the Wii's judgement; it gave me 61.6kg, actually, and for the first time ever I saw and heard what it does when the BMI result is normal. Happy chimes and a dancing Mii? YAY. So...despite the horrors of last night -- and it was more horrible than I've explained, actually, and is likely to become worse -- I am normal. I am normal. And I am ready to keep playing the Game and will work towards a weight in the fifties over the next week and a half or so.

I was also reading the latest issue of Healthy Food Guide Magazine yesterday, which had turned up in the post in the morning; in another nice bit of irony, this tidbit caught my eye:

In 2008, 9.8 per cent of men and 13.8 per cent of women in the world were obese (with a BMI above 30kg/m^2), compared with 4.8 per cent for men and 7.9 per cent for women in 1980.

In 2008, I was part of that percentage. As of today, I am officially not. It is the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes. ^_~ ...but in the meantime, and on a less dramatic and Elizabethan note, I should tend to today's meme question.

Day Seven - Who knows about your weight loss journey? What do they think about it?

I've had a bit of a hard time gauging this one, actually. In the beginning I was fairly close-mouthed about it; I purposely waited until my father left the country so I wouldn't have to explain to him what I was doing, and I only told my mother because I had to prepare and eat my own separate meals. I did explain to some of my workmates from the beginning what I was doing, particularly because we had a going away dessert evening that first week for the workmate who turned me onto this diet in the first place, but there were several workmates I had no interest in discussing this with. Friends sort of found out when they found out. Six months on, pretty much everyone knows about it one way or another; I'm less self-conscious and embarrassed about doing it, now that I've proven it works. However, it has got to the stage where people are beginning to really disapprove of it because in their eyes? "That's enough, now." And it almost is, sure.

But there's still a bit more of the Game to go just right. So...let's play?

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Ruling the Lines

You know how I was talking about the world ending yesterday? Well, the weather continued to cut up something chronic, and I eventually decided around ten to go and have a shower. It was a nice bit of timing in that just as I'd started to get dressed, the power cut out. I mean, there I was, half naked with dripping wet hair, but at least I wasn't in the shower with the water running. (That would be particularly bad where I live, as we're on tank water that's brought into the house by a pump -- which, naturally, runs on the now-absent electric supply.) So, I managed to get my pyjamas on and wandered back to my room. I have a candle on my bedside table and a torch hanging from my bedstead, not to mention my father's headlamp was on my parents' dressing table, so I was fine. And because I had my laptop on, I had sound and music to guide me around anyway. So, my brother and I lit candles, made appropriate zombie noises, and waited.

It wasn't off for long, thankfully -- it's bloody cold right now, and as I said no power here = no running water. But it was a bit sad, really, as power cuts in terrible weather? Are a lovely time to snuggle up in a big rug with a good book and some sort of treat. Basically I just crawled into bed and tried to read Anna Karenina by the madly flickering light of my vanilla candle; I got sick of it ten minutes in and ended up just zoning out to one of my ambient CDs courtesy of my freshly-charged iPod. Ah, technology, how you do keep us company even when the lights go out.

It does remind me, though, that I need to find one of our old telephones. The ones plugged-in currently are cordless and therefore worse than useless in a power cut or an end of the world scenario; we have normal phones somewhere, though. And yes, my brother and I both have mobiles, but we live in a Dead Zone for mobile coverage. Which is probably a nicely ironic moniker for such a situation, ha ha ha.

But yeah, I got through the powercut without resorting to food, even though I did have that instinctive yearning for it. You gotta go with the victories when you get them, yeah? But that wasn't really what I was intending to write about today. I've been thinking about Afterwards quite a lot recently, as you can probably imagine; it's likely one of the reasons why I am struggling with staying on it because despite being afraid of The End I am getting to the point where I am ready for it. But part of being ready is understanding the rules and changes of life on the other side, and...yeah.

Basically I am going to avoid juice, Lift Plus and milk as regular drinking options. I think I'm going to try and stick to tea, water and Diet Coke as much as I can. Although I need to cut down on the Diet Coke anyway; right now it's particularly useful as a kind of appetite suppressant because the carbonated part of it tends to fill my stomach. It's not great for my teeth in the long run, though. I don't really care about the aspartame hysteria, though; whenever anyone says "cancer!" to me I just get Stewie Griffin's voice in my head saying: "You know, they say starlight can give you cancer...but then again, what doesn't these days?" But yes, I am thinking that this? Is something I can do and I know that I can do it, because I've done it for months on end as it is. Even when I was off-plan, I can count on one hand the number of times I drank something that wasn't water, tea or Diet Coke. So, that's easy.

Another thing that will remain non-negotiable? Breakfast. Believe you me, before this diet, whenever I read things about improving health and saw the inevitable: "Eat breakfast every day!" admonition, I rolled my eyes. I was not a breakfast person. These days? I am a total breakfast convert. I love breakfast. I am particularly looking forward to being able to eat yoghurt and cereal for breakfast whenever I want, which again is hilariously ironic as before the diet the only yoghurt I could stomach was frozen. I am also going to keep up with my omelettes, and on the occasional weekend I will have muffins, French toast or pancakes. But they'll be treats. Either way, though? Breakfast happens. That's the final word.

Lunch is a more complicated beast -- I need to think about this one a bit. I need to restrict my carbohydrate intake even once I am off the diet phase, and by "restrict" I mean I don't want to eat carbs at every meal, and I want to avoid bread most of the time. I think I will experiment with wraps and tortillas and things, but in the long run? Lunch will mostly be salads, probably with shredded chicken or prawns or tuna. Fairly similar to now, really, but I'll be able to add in things like avocado and carrot, which I have been missing. And bean sprouts! Maybe I'll experiment with hummus and soups, too. Lunch is definitely going to be the interesting option, and I think my Healthy Food Guide magazines might be consulted quite a bit. (I actually just got one in the post today; I will read it tomorrow, I think, I've got other things I really ought to do this afternoon first...)

Dinner is the real adventure. Again, I want to try and curb the level of carbohydrates, but I am not cutting them out completely. I just have so many things I want to try from my recipe books, and I think I'll just let my whims and my waistline guide me as to what I can cope with, and what's just inappropriate. Obviously I am going for vegetable-heavy options, or meat-driven dishes, but we'll see.

Desserts...are interesting. Certainly there's a lot of things I want to try and will, but I am laying down the law of having to "earn" any dessert I have. If I haven't exercised that day, dessert will not be an option. It will not be a treat for simply having a bad day. I'm also reminded of a rule I had in university; I almost never bought biscuits at the supermarket. If I wanted them, I had to make them. I think I'll go with that here, too -- if I want dessert, I have to make it myself. This isn't exactly a chore as I obviously have developed a deep and abiding love of baking, but it does mean it takes time and effort to get my treats. And I need to move away from my usual default setting of Instant Gratification. Which means I am not to buy sweets or lollies or whatever, unless it's a special occasion (for example, the lemon sherbet lollies I can only get from Queenstown). Sweet things need respect.

Snacks...I'm still thinking about them. Definitely I want to have at least an apple a day, as I am in love with them, and I do like a good orange or mandarin or kiwifruit. I also have my crackers, and I can keep up with them happily enough, even plain without cheese or tomato. This is a trickier one, I think, as I don't want to go overboard but I think I need to make an effort to snack between meals at regular times to keep my blood sugars on an even keel. When I fast between meals I end up binging later, so this is something I also need to work on. It'll be a work in progress, but in the end the current snacks I have -- two crackers around ten-thirty, and an apple around four -- do keep things relatively even for me. They're a fallback I can live with.

So, with some basic rules already in mind...let's go to the meme again.

Day Six - Do you have any disordered eating habits? How do you overcome/cope with them?

Oh, god, you can see from what I've already said that my previous eating habits? Were disordered as hell. Basically I would get up in the morning and not eat anything before I went to work. As a consequence I would be starving by ten, and around ten-thirty I would go to the supermarket and buy a huge egg sandwich, a bottle of Lift Plus, and usually some sort of sweet. A bag of Pineapple Lumps, perhaps, or a giant bag of m&ms. Or a three-pack of Whittakers Peanut slabs. Or a fun pack of Moro bars. Or a huge bag of Wine Gums. Or a block of Cadbury's. You know, the usual suspects. I'd eat some then, usually. At lunch I'd go home, and because I never organised lunch or planned it or anything, I'd eat whatever I found in the pantry. Usually it was a couple slices of bread with Vegemite. I went through phases where I'd eat six grilled cheeserolls with lashings of butter, or kiddie hot cross buns with the same. Sometimes I'd seek out sushi, or I'd just have some sort of savoury scroll or bun or scone. In the afternoon, I'd usually be back into the sweets bought earlier in the day. In the evening I'd get home and hunt out some sort of snack before dinner -- peanuts, biscuits, chips if someone had a bag open on the bench. Or slice or cake, if Mum had been at the supermarket that day. I then had dinner, which for me was all about the carbohydrate component -- bread, potato, rice, whatever. I'd then have bread again as a snack at some point. And all through this, I'd drink Lift Plus, orange juice or milk like they were going out of fashion.

Weekends could be quite bad, too -- I liked to make pasties sometimes, and I could eat three of those in a weekend. I loved cooking up huge bowls of popcorn chicken. Often when I needed to study I'd drive to the dairy and get a large bag of barbecue chips and eat it while studying, washing it down with Lift Plus -- and usually I'd acquire K-Bars to go with. And if I ever cooked, it was always some dessert thing. I also had McDonalds at least once a week, usually because I'd been out at some sort of meeting after work.

So, yeah, my eating habits before? Definitely lousy as fuck. I don't want to go back to them, that's for sure -- and not just because of the weight thing. When I read all that I've written, I realise how gross this all was. So, the second part of the question...I've already overcome them to some degree, obviously, in that I am on a strict diet that allows for none of this previous malarkey. But my time off the diet assured me that I can fall back into old grazing patterns easily enough; it's far easier for me to turn things down when I have no leeway than when I do. So, in the end...it's going to have to be planning ahead. Because before? I never thought twice about what I ate. I knew it was making me fat and tired and ill and disgusting, but it was wilfull ignorance on my part. My eyes are open now. I'm not closing them again. Now that I've seen the world with light, the thought of blinding myself out of sheer laziness? Is abhorrent.

Still, if I want to live in this new world...I need to play by the rules. And right now, I'm reading the rulebook. We'll see how it goes. I'm thinking it will go well, actually -- because thinking ahead and thinking positively are what I need to do. So, let's do this thing!

Friday, March 18, 2011

Hitting the Wall

Rumour has it, around these parts, that the world's shortly going to end. It's a bit ahead of the 2012 schedule, but then I suppose New Zealand's always been the Land of the Future? And we're supposedly the "youngest" country around, and they do say that only the good die young, so...

Where's the rumour come from? It's the so-called Moon Man predicting another earthquake on the 20th, actually; as a consequence all my workmates left today with salutations along the lines of "If we all die on Sunday, it was great working with you!" and "See y'all on the other side!" It didn't help that I was late getting out of work thanks to it having been The Afternoon From Hell, and when I walked to my car? The side street where I park was deserted. It was also very gloomy, and cold, and the wind was kicking up something terrible. So, it actually felt rather like the end of the world as seen in zombie flicks. Although what was probably more depressing is between the weather and the horrible day at work and the fact today's Friday, is that under more normal circumstances it would be an absolutely brilliant night to have come home and made a huge pot of Japanese curry. I'd have then followed it up with either chocolate pudding or some sort of fruit and shortbread thing. With cream, sure. However, I came home and made my "burgers" instead. Which were fine, of course, but...not quite the same. Oh, well.

So, what does this ramble have to do with anything? Well, today at work turned into a real shitstorm, and as I've said before...when I get stressed, I get hungry. And then I get frustrated with this diet and start seriously contemplating quitting. I've got the Millbrook Mantra now, although that tends to be more useful when I have food in front of me (like when I was transferring leftover gingerbread from one container to another, or trying to find a plate to cut my apple on in a cupboard stuffed full of biscuits). The Millbrook Mantra is a knee-jerk reaction to a sudden temptation, although to be honest I am pretty down with them anyway. I struggle more with the longterm issues, and because of that I've been playing games with myself.

I'm not sure what you'd call this game, actually. Just One More... ...that works? Because that's all it is. Me telling myself that it's just one more [insert goal here]...! Basically what I do is put off making The Plug Pull by reminding myself of some much closer goal. Today it was the fact that with any luck, on Sunday I will get on the scale and find my BMI is under 25 -- it was 25.04 on Thursday morning, so this isn't impossible. And then I will no longer be overweight. I will be in the Normal Range (!). Once I hit that, of course, I will remind myself that it's only two kilograms until I can see the fifties for the first time in fifteen years. And then I will tell myself that there's only one more blood test to go, on the 11th of April, and that I might as well have that. And then it will be something like two weeks until the end of the six weeks and there's no point in stopping, so...yeah. I'll talk myself into it one way or another, most likely.

...thinking of the blood tests, though, I will be so glad to see them over. That's spoken as someone who's not really scared of needles, as such; I have more of a problem with the phlebotomists. The nice one who disapproves of my further weightloss is very good, but I've had a couple dire experiences over the last few months. I have sunken veins, even without the fat padding of before, and it can be hard to get a good vein in my arm. And I cannot stand people digging in my arm with a needle. It makes me want to throw up or faint, which is humiliating in the extreme. So, having the blood tests over...that will be nice. In the meantime, I suppose it's time for the next meme question.

Day Five - Why do you really want to lose this weight? Who are you doing this for?

Actually, one of the most interesting questions I've been asked about this diet and my progress so far on it? Has been the one that goes: "How did you decide to do it?" Or maybe it's more: "How did you know it was time to do it?" Because I'm really not at all sure. I just knew. I mean, it got started very randomly; one of my workmates had been chatting to a customer, and on our afternoon break that day she asked my opinion on the diet the woman had been telling her about. This was because of the fact it's very restrictive and low calorie, as well as incidentally very light on the carbohydrates; my workmate was also struck by the sheer speed of the thing. I dismissed it pretty much out of hand, but the fact that it was run on regular blood tests rather than just the first one made me a bit curious about the so-called science behind the thing. I therefore went and looked it up and found out quite a bit about how it works, and...over the next week or so I became convinced that it was something I could do myself.

It didn't happen right away, of course -- at that stage I was already booked in for a four week holiday to Mexico and New Orleans, and there was no way I was doing anything dramatic before then. To be honest, I didn't even quite believe then that I would go through with it. I mean, in early 2009 I made a 101 in 1001 list, and this is an extract from that list:

28. Lose five kilograms.
29. Lose ten kilograms.
30. Lose fifteen kilograms.
31. Lose twenty kilograms.
32. Lose twenty-five kilograms.
33. Buy a Loli-Goth dress mail-order from Japan to celebrate said weight-loss.

48. Get a piece of exercise equipment and use it regularly.
49. Get to a point where I can righteously tell my Wii balance board to stick its opinion on my weight up its ass.

As you can see, a rather decent chunk of this list? Revolved around weight loss and health improvement. And yet I hadn't done anything about it, really...well, I bought an exercise bike this time last year, but after two months it fell by the wayside. I'm looking forward to using it again, actually; I can't right now because of the energy factor, but I will. Being lighter gives me a strange desire to move, which is why it was so easy to swim and walk and Zumba my way through my Australian holiday. But...yeah. When I wrote this list in January 2009, I really didn't expect to achieve more than ten kilograms at most. I remember writing "twenty-five" and thinking it was a pipe dream. I would have been about 85kg at the time. On Thursday I was 62.5kg. I'm almost there. So...yes. Quite extraordinary, really.

But I still have no idea what made me do it now.

I suppose this is one reason why I struggle to stay on it. In the end I wanted to lose this weight for myself, because I wanted to wear pretty clothes and not feel ashamed of myself and my body whenever I went out in public. And that is definitely happening; I wore a bikini and a wetsuit in front of people in Australia and wasn't self-conscious about either, and tomorrow I want to go and buy myself a short skirt. I mean, I'm not perfect, but I feel so much more comfortable in my own skin. And maybe that's part of thr struggle; though I definitely want a couple more kilograms off my thighs, I don't really want to go much further. And because of the refeed issue of this diet, I feel like I haven't got control over my own body here. I guess I'll just keep playing the game and talk with my consultant closer to the end.

I do worry about the next six weeks, mind you. I was so tired this afternoon -- I had literally no strength. Carrying six bottles of paracetamol was nearly impossible. Not to mention I was so low on energy it took all I had just to work. I couldn't summon the strength to talk properly to my workmates, I just put my head down and went hard. That sucks, particularly as the situation in the dispensary is tense at the best of times anyway. And being fuzzy-headed in my position is downright dangerous. So...I don't know. We'll see how things go, we'll roll the dice a few more times, and hopefully? I'll be the winner at the end of it all.

...if, of course, there's still a game -- and a world! -- to be won on Monday morning...


Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Millbrook Mantra

So, last night turned out to be a bit of a nightmare. I made the gingerbread and the coconut ice, and though I was annoyed about the latter it was passable (and actually, today I was told it was fine despite being super crumbly; the gingerbread on the other hand got rave reviews, but I was expecting that anyway!). But I still wasn't really in the mood to do anything. It's not actually tiredness, it's just a total lack of motivation or interest, yeah? I also made the mistake of obsessing suddenly about my weight yet again, and after my shower I climbed on the scale. I know I shouldn't do this mid-week, particularly not at night; I never like what I see. And last night it was 63.7kg or something, so of course I went into a spiral of "I'M NOT GOING TO LOSE THIS WEIGHT IN SIX AND A HALF WEEKS IT'S NEVER GOING TO END OMFG."

So, I decided to go to bed and just sleep it off. Except...I didn't go to sleep until about one o'clock. And until then I tossed and turned and just couldn't shut off my anxieties. This diet is turning me into a neurotic mess -- and given I was already neurotic before this started, you can imagine? This is bad. At one stage I was half asleep and dreaming that I had a noose around my neck that was slowly strangling me, and...yeah. I eventually went off to sleep and when I woke I promptly climbed on the scales. Thank God -- it was 62.5kg. Lowest yet, and so very close to my normal BMI threshold. Therefore I'm hoping to have kicked myself over that point by my actual weigh-in on Sunday morning. But...yeah. This obsession is getting ridiculous.

I keep wondering if setting a goal/time limit was a good idea. It stresses me, obviously -- I have to feel like I am making progress, and that it's doable. And I doubt that every step of the way. For some reason I am really fighting the diet this time around, and I am not sure why. As I've said before, the food itself isn't actually the problem. I like what I eat. And while I wish for variety or to be able to try out some of these new recipes I find, it's not the end of the world when I can't. And yet, I rebel again and again against the "you have to keep going" thing. I think it's not helped by the fact I am at the stage where people are telling me to stop. I myself know that it's not quite time, but I am definitely in the stage where each kilo dropped is showing in the shape of my body. One of my workmates said my shoulders were really bony today, and this is after she made the comment yesterday that she felt like a "monster" standing next to me. I had a random customer today tell me with something between horror and amazement that I'd lost a lot of weight. And the other day one of the phlebotomists from the blood lab I go to, whom I haven't seen since December, shook her head disapprovingly when I said I still had a few kilos to go. So...from that perspective, it's hard to keep the faith when public opinion swings towards "that's enough, now."

The truth is, though, it's not. But I am scared of not knowing when it is, for all that I am pulling the plug five kilograms above my original end weight. But 54.9kg? Is the middle of the road when it comes to my ideal BMI, so fuck it. I'm just really scared that they won't formulate refeed for me then, and insist I go lower. I don't want to go lower. It's my goddamned body, isn't it? And if I'm in what the WHO says is ideal for me, then why can't I stop? So...I guess we'll see. I can just stop, of course, but without refeed I might not stabilise at that weight very easily. I don't know. Just another neurotic fear there, I suppose. And that segues nicely into today's question for the meme...

Day Four - Your greatest fear regarding your weight loss.

That it's going to be temporary -- that I've spent all this time and angst doing something that will be transitory, something that will flitter away into vague memory in a year's time. I don't want to have suffered this long to lose it all. I'm pretty sure that I am learning things and that I will not go back to how I was, but...I am a backslider in most other respects. I'm also scared of taking it too far, of switching one eating disorder for another. I don't want to regain all the weight I've lost, but I don't want to be someone who weighs after every meal, or who cries after every carbohydrate. I know my eating habits will never be the same again, but I don't want to be one of those horrible people who treats eating like a punishment. I want to enjoy my food. I don't want it to be a trial. I want to be happy and healthy and I'm so scared that it's an impossible dream.

One thing that occured to me earlier, though, is that at least I seem to have happily given up what I think was my greatest downfall -- what I was drinking. And no, I don't mean alcohol. It's more that I drank orange juice and milk (low fat, but still) like they were going out of fashion, and I also had at least one bottle of energy drink a day. I was probably getting the kilojoule content of entire meals that way. I don't think I'll ever do that again. I'm done with that -- water, tea, Diet Coke? I can live with that, most of the time. Certainly while on "break" I steered well clear of milk, juice and Lift Plus, and I think I can credit a good chunk of the weight maintenance to that rather major change in my habits. So, there is hope for me yet.

The other thing I did today? I booked a night at the Millbrook Resort in May, along with a two and a half hour package at the day spa, as well as dinner and breakfast. I'm going to drive up to Queenstown in the morning, do some shopping and wandering, get my massage/facial/pedicure in the afternoon, have dinner, and then read all night. Then I'll get up and have breakfast and wander some more. There will probably be Japanese food in there somewhere, too. This is all after the end of the diet and refeed, when things are truly all finished. But to be sure of the timing...I can't deviate even once. Not that I was planning to, but now I have something else to focus on. Every time I think of how tired I am, or how I'd like to have just one "proper" meal or treat again...I'll just tell myself: "MILLBROOK!" And then, I will focus again. Eyes on the prize, as they say.

So...there it is. The Millbrook Mantra. And remember: velociraptors run at ten metres per second and know no fear.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

To Every Season

It was quite chilly when I went out to go to work this morning, and looking up at the sky I thought to myself: "Oh, so it's autumn, then?" And I was a little bit shocked to realise it. My car lives in the garage these days so I was only out in the driveway to unclog the washer outlets, but I suddenly recalled a picture of me taken in September. I was standing by my car in almost the exact same spot, but I had an AMI snow scraper in my hand and I was moving a lot of unseasonal snow off my car. ...well, I say unseasonal, but it was the end of winter. It's just that I live five kilometres from the sea at sea level. That sort of snow? Doesn't happen. But it did that day, and it was almost a week before I started this diet.

So, here I am, six months later. Not finished, but I have to realise this: I've changed with the seasons. I'm still changing, but that's okay. I mean, today's been a bear of a day; I started out feeling right happy with myself, but work ended up driving me up the wall. About ten we got this massive food delivery from a local bakery courtesy of our absent boss, which is lovely in thought but not so much in practice. So, of course I felt left out because I can't use food to cheer myself up while we struggle through at work. And work really was a struggle today. I started getting cranky because of both this and the food, and then I came to realise...well. Food is not the be all and end all, really. It's just...food. Like I said yesterday, it's not as if I don't enjoy what I am allowed to eat. I don't even crave this stuff physically when I am following the plan, it's all in my head.

Besides, even though my boss had thought to order some gluten-free toasties for my workmate, they were filled with onion which she cannot eat, so like me? She couldn't eat any of it. And in the end it's really her and me who cop the most flak from our boss being away. But unlike her, this isn't a permanent thing for me. In seven weeks or so, I will be able to make the decision for myself. So...yeah. I was thinking, actually, of some of the things people say when you're on a diet. "Life's too short to deprive yourself!" they cry. And that's usually the thought that comes to my mind when I want to quit. Life's too short. But then I tend to recall that being overweight and desperately unhappy? Makes life even shorter.

Day Three - A picture of one of your rewards (dress, shoes, etc.). Why is this a reward? At what point will you “earn” this reward?

Hmm, I'm a bit undecided about my current "rewards" right now -- probably because I am so close to the end, and I've had a few rewards already. Mostly jewellery, which I was buying at four-weekly intervals, though I gave up on that after the fourth month. Right now I am contemplating something nice for the end; what really appeals, actually, is the thought of a night at the Millbrook resort with a nice meal and a massage. All for me, alone. It would be quite expensive, though -- about eight hundred dollars at least, not including the petrol to and from Queenstown. But all the same...I'm very tempted to do it. Just me and the spa. But then again, I just found out today that my boss is planning to be away again for about three weeks from the end of April, so I might end up with a bit of extra pocket money. It's a bit of a bastard time for it to be happening, too, actually...which is another realisation.

I came to the conclusion today that stress? Burns up way too much energy. It's totally one of my triggers, because while I was fairly content up until the food arrived, things started to unravel then. And when I got really stressed around four, I was so hungry. It's not even real hunger, either, and I know that. It's just...yeah. Pain in the ass. It's easy to get annoyed about my work situation, because in the end it was really the keystone reason of why I fell off the wagon so early and let it go on so long. Of course I have to take personal and ultimate responsibility for what I do and don't put into my own body, but still. It's frustrating, to be in the third week of nine and already feeling the pinch. Although speaking of that...I'm in those infamous size 10 Kathmandu trousers right this minute. They're not quite right, but I get them on easily and I can also move around in them no problems. I wouldn't wear them in public quite yet -- just a tad too tight -- but it's still all good.

So, things continue to change. My body is definitely one of those changing things. I just need to keep going. I think I'm annoyed anyway because I may have just cracked my sugar thermometer and the coconut ice experiment might have been a wash, but...food is always and only ever food. It's just a thing. It changes, too. And I need to roll with it. And so...here I roll.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Second Guesses

So, it's been a bit of a struggle today. I think it all went wrong last night, where I had no motivation to do anything. Lulled by the torrential rain outside, I had an early shower and was tucked up in bed with the lights off by ten-thirty. Generally I go to sleep long after midnight, so this was...unusual. I figured getting extra sleep -- and I had been up early to finish the roulade before work -- might give me a bit more energy. Unfortunately, this was not to be; I was woken up at three in the morning by the cats and the rain, and I never really got back to sleep. So, I've struggled mightily through today, and even though I feel cranky and tired and unmotivated still, I really am not going to be going to sleep before eleven-thirty. Dammit.

Hilariously, I still struggled this morning to get through making my breakfast; I'd been awake since three, but I didn't get out of bed until quarter past seven so it was a rush to make my omelette. But I was having the omelette, dammit. Ah, irony, my old friend...

My problem right now is obsession. I can't stop thinking about food. As I said the other day, I also contemplate quitting the programme at least once a day. Usually it's more guilt over how long it's taking than anything else. I don't actually crave the other food; I mean, I drove past Micky D's on the way home and it's not like I actually wanted it. And there were biscuits and slices and things scattered all through the staffroom today, and I didn't really want them either. It's more...I miss choice, I suppose. Because the stupid thing is? I like what I am eating. In fact, I will continue to eat variations of these meals far into the future, because I enjoy them. But I think I'm chafing against the strictness of this regime right now, and it's just...yeah. I want to be able to make my own mistakes. Though of course the thing is? I've made enough mistakes for the meantime...

I keep focusing on the negative, too. I mean, in reality, it's only six and a half more weeks to go. This isn't counting refeed, of course, but that's not the point. But then I get scared that I won't lose the weight in that time, even though I know that I will as long as I don't do stupid things. And I did recommit today; my six months is up in five days, and I called my consultant and paid up for another three months. And I can finish in that time. I want to be finished by the end of April, for crying out loud. But she just seemed taken aback that my weight was still 63kg. I have to keep reminding myself that really, being 63kg now after only two weeks back on the programme after six weeks of dicking around? Is pretty damn good, considering my lowest weight beforehand was 63.8kg. I really didn't gain that much, even with the dumb choices that were made, so...learning experience. Yes, so I could have finished long before now. And I keep thinking of that, which is the problem. "If you'd just stuck to the programme, you'd be finished now!" Yes, that's true. But that's not to say I'd have been in the right headspace for it. Chances are I'd have gone completely nuts as soon as I was finished and just flown off the handle. So...yeah. Learning experience, blah blah blah. Just keep swimming, as Dory would say.

Day Two - What is your height? How do you feel about your height?

I'm about a hundred and fifty-eight centimetres short. I've always felt my height: from childhood I've been either the shortest or the next-shortest person in my class. I never minded this much; I always felt small and dainty, to be honest! Like a fairy, or something. And I flitted around like one, too. I only really started to resent my height when the weight crept on, as it only served to make me dumpy and hobbit-ish. Right now my height irritates me in that if I was a few inches taller I'd be at goal weight, but that's really just me being Negative Nelly again. In the long run? I don't really mind being short, even when I do have to climb shelves to get at medications in the dispensary. Besides, I can run in five inch platform heels. That's real talent.

...so, that's the meme for today, along with my whine. I need to start focusing on things in my life that aren't food. I mean, tomorrow I am coming home from work to make Guinness gingerbread for St. Patrick's Day on Thursday, and I am agonising over whether or not to make coconut ice to go with it. This is the gluten-free thing again, of course, but the thing is that I could dye the coloured half of the coconut ice green instead of the traditional pink, and...yeah. It's also an excuse to use my sugar thermometer. But then I keep thinking: "Maybe this IS just torturing yourself!" Because last night I certainly sat around reading recipes and things and depressing myself. So...tonight? I am studying Japanese and watching anime and that's that. Although maybe I am also feeling a bit sad because I finally found some "kiddie" hot cross buns today at the supermarket. My workmate and I have been hunting in vain for them for the last week and a half, and today when I was getting Diet Coke for my break I found them. So, I bought one packet for her, and one for me. She ate hers with great delight for lunch, though mine are snugly stowed in the freezer. I mean, it would be nice to have one. But I don't really crave them, as I said above. It's not physical at all. It's all in my head.

In the end I suppose it therefore makes complete sense that my ability to get through the next six and a half weeks? Is also all in my head. I can do it, I know that. Just...focus on the here and now, and stop making food the cornerstone of everything. だから、今あたしは日本語を勉強して行っていますよ! 頑張れ、クレアちゃん!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Stop -- Meme Time!

I'd not really intended to ever do a meme in this blog, but I ran across one the other day on the forum where I lurk about for this diet, and I figured I might as well give this one a shot. It's one of those thirty day deals, and from that perspective? It's probably a good idea, as I really need to take this whole thing one day at a time. This is because at least once every day I think about how much further I have to go and think: "Why don't I just stop now?" So, I need to focus on the little things, on the day I am living and not those days that I will live some time in the future. Head in the here and now, yeah?

So, let's hit up question number one of thirty:

Day One - Starting Weight/Measurements + Brief Introduction with a picture!

Well, there's not a huge amount of point in the introduction, but here goes anyway: I'm Clarice, I'm twenty-nine, and I've been overweight since I was fourteen. Before that I was actually a normal weight; then I hit puberty and it was all over, Rover. Although I've been self-conscious about my weight since I was fifteen, I haven't made any real effort before to lose the excess. I did half-heartedly go in for several different exercise regimes, but because I never tried to adjust my food intake or eating habits, this never worked. Last May or June, thereabouts, I heard about a diet programme from a workmate and thought it sounded ridiculous. I investigated it mainly out of a desire to debunk it, but the little flare of hope in me was fanned into a flame. Therefore, in late September, I started this diet and...here we are!

Original Start Weight: 85kg
Diet Start Weight: 80kg
Current Weight: 63kg
Ideal Weight: 54kg

I'm not going to post a picture at this stage, because I'm not really big on posting pictures. Suffice it to say, though, that I bought so-called "chicken fillets" the other day and put on the mermaid dress I bought in Bunbury a month ago. With the bodice therefore sitting properly for once, it looked fantastic. And that's what counts. I am quite annoyed by the fact that my top half seems "done" while my bottom half is still pretty dire, but then I guess the next nine kilograms are coming off there? Who knows, anymore. But for some reason I was freaking out earlier today about feeling bloated, yet I came home and tried on the size 10 Kathmandu trousers that have never fit just right even though I have a size 8 Kathmandu dress and my size 10 Max trousers are actually prone to sliding down over my hips unless I pull the drawstring really tight. The Kathmandu trousers are still not entirely right -- for some reason they pull over my stomach -- but they are about ten times better than they were two weeks ago. Not to mention I spent yesterday prancing around in my size 10 "Lara" shorts from Glassons, so...things are moving. And they're moving down.

But yeah, I was converting weights yesterday for a laugh and realised I'd hit a couple of milestones. I'm now under one hundred and forty pounds, and I've also just scraped under ten stone. Single digits, baby -- I mean, I'm a child of the metric system, but it's still nice to see the numbers looking good in Imperial. I also continue to inch so close to having a normal BMI. To be "normal" I need to be about 62.3kg. If I lose a kilogram this week? I'm there. I can almost taste it. I have to keep telling myself it's not the end of the world if it doesn't happen, but by God I want it so badly. Right now my BMI is 25.28, so...yeah. It's somewhat infuriating to still officially be "overweight." I have to admit I want to be below 25 just so I can smile smugly whenever I see that "[insert latest statistic here]% of adults in New Zealand are either overweight or obese" statement and be proud of the fact that I am no longer part of that percentage.

But even if I don't crack that goal this week, I did make another milestone -- on Saturday I bought a pair of tights from Max in size "small," and today I wore them. So, life goes on. I also made a roulade last evening and I got up at six this morning to whip the cream and roll the sucker before decorating it with icing sugar, grated dark chocolate and strawberries. My workmates demolished this thing with great enthusiasm, but in the way of such things there was a tiny bit left at the end of the day because no-one wanted the ultimate responsibility of having finished it. As I got ready to go home I looked at it, thought of all the compliments I'd received, and thought: "What harm one little bite?"

Then, I threw it in the trash.

It's week three of the final nine. I'm going for it. No slowing down now.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

End Week Twenty-Four

...so, it's time to take stock -- officially this is the end of six months on this plan, although I was off it for five or six weeks in the end there. I had figured I'd be long finished by now, but I'm not. And I am not entirely okay with this, but the fact is that this journey is proving a lot more curious than I'd first accounted for. Although it was entirely possible for me to lose all the weight in that time, I'm not sure that it would have worked in the long run. And that's because I know now that my issues with food go very deep, and I really need to work very hard in order to understand and live with those issues.

I weighed this morning and got a kind of variance between the Wii and the WW scales; I'm going with the Wii's, because I want to. It gave me 63.1kg, and that will do me. So, that's 3.1kg to lose in three weeks. I can do this, dammit. I am just so ready to get out of this Fat Zone and start living my life again. I think that's really the issue right now; I feel kind of like I'm living on the outside again, or on pause. Which is ridiculous on the face of it, as this is helping get me into a position where I can actually live my damned life, but I never realised before now how much of life revolves around food. It's really quite ridiculous. And I appear to be dealing with this by becoming a domestic diva, as if I can't eat the good food, by God at least I can supply said food. My consultant said back when I met her in February, actually, that it's not uncommon for people on this diet to take up baking and whatnot. I think I understand why -- it's a way to be near food and its social aspects without actually consuming it. And in my case, for all my training as a health professional, I just didn't understand a damn thing about food and its effects on my body. Mostly out of wilful ignorance. Now, I am learning. So...yeah?

Here's another curious thing -- I am currently reading recipes for soupe à l’oignon. ...yes, French onion soup. Did I ever mention that I loathe onions? It's not so much the taste, because I will use onion stock for flavouring things, but actual onions? I tend to avoid them, unless I have blitzed the hell out of them in a blender or food processor first. And you should have seen the faces I used to pull in Paris whenever my father ordered this dish. He ordered it a lot, too -- he really likes the stuff. I never tried it, and now I do regret it. I regret not trying a lot of things while overseas, actually (although not the snails -- I'll never regret that). I do find it ironic, that I was a fatty but I couldn't ever be said to "love food." There were so many things I wouldn't eat. Basically I just ate easy carbohydate-laden rubbish. My major food groups would have been rice, potato, bread and chocolate. ...with the occasional pasta dish thrown in. I also drank Lift Plus at least once a day, which was a meal in and of itself kilojoule-wise. So, there was no way I was a foodie. I was just eating crap. Now, I want to be a foodie. I want to explore.

So, at some stage I am going to spend a long and lovely Sunday afternoon making soupe à l’oignon. You really need to spend hours doing it to get it right, after all, and by the time this diet is done it will be coming into winter, so...it would seem like a good time to give it a go. And if it doesn't work out and I think it tastes awful, well, I can always get out Nigella Express and go with grilled cheese and slaw, ha. Although I'm not and probably never will be a voluntary fan of coleslaw; to be honest I'd probably make a little prawn and avocado salad instead.

I do need to stop mooching around here obsessing about food, though. Half my problem right now is that I read too much recipe-wise and then get depressed because I'd like to give something a go and I just can't. Although once I have done my Japanese assignment, around four this afternoon I am going to experiment with a flourless roulade, so there's always that. Once again I don't get to eat it, but I do get to do something exciting with food. That's enough, now.