Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Week 4 Day 24

Just got in from seeing Dorian Gray. It is rather good, and Dorian Gray himself is a bit of a hottie (not the painting so much, obviously), and he was up to all sorts of sauciness in the film, which was very nice to watch. Which now obviously means I must dig out my Prince Caspian DVD and drool inappropriately through it.

Anyway. I think I've indulged in a little self-sabotage today. It was this morning before I left for work, when I was stumbling around blearily and decided to have my porridge before I left, because then I could blend it (and, damnit, if I couldn't have cinnamon I could at least eliminate the lumps).

This presented two problems:

1. I generally don't have breakfast. My stomach doesn't really wake up until lunchtime (when of course it is a ferocious beast and requires much sandwich-based appeasement), and forcing food down in the early hours is a bit like swallowing sick.

2. My brain doesn't generally wake up until about 11am. Before that time I'm only good for making coffee, leaving the house without my keys, lighting the wrong end of cigarettes and missing my train.

Which was an ideal time for my self-saboteur to strike.

"I'll just have a little cinnamon," I thought. "To give it a bit of flavour. Just a little. It won't do any harm."

So I did have a little cinnamon, and I have been hungry all day. Not very hungry, just a little hungry, appropriate to the amount of cinnamon I had. I had already decided that I prefer feeling unhungry and energetic to cinnamon. I don't think my subconscious got the memo though.

I also didn't drink enough water. I need to drink 4 of my 75cl bottles to have my daily 3.5litre fix, but I kept forgetting to drink, or forgetting to fill the bottle. I've heard lots of people say that the more water you drink (in moderation, and slowly, obviously), the more weight you lose. Because drinking water makes you pee out the fat-burning enzymes, the ketones. And when you expel ketones, your body makes more. So you burn more fat per day.

I'm pretty sure my self-saboteur is using this knowledge against me.

When I use the water flavourings I glug it away like anyone's business, so life would be much easier if I carried it around all day. For some reason I've decided I need to do it the hard way though.

Clearly this is a self-esteem thing. I sometimes think with these sort of things that the trick to changing behaviour is to pick apart the why. But that approach alone doesn't seem to be working, so I'm just going to pretend that I think I'm eligible for an easy life and see if that turns the tide.

The hardest thing about this diet, for me, is that I know it's not just about food. I doubt anyone's problem is just with food.

Eating too much and staying bigger than I should be is all part of a cycle of avoidance, so if I'm to succeed I need to address how I live my whole life, not just what I stick in my mouth. One part of me feels totally ready to do this; I think I've been ready and raring to go for a long time. I want to be better.

It's just that what my heart thinks is a priority my head, sometimes, ties rocks to and sinks to the bottom of my various neuroses.

You know, it's funny. Watching Dorian Gray sort of opened my mind's eye to myself. In the film they show very well how, upon realising the sort of life he could have, he gives himself over to pleasure and excess.

Whereas I'm the opposite.

I'm sort of pretty. I'm pretty elderly (in my early 30s) but luckily I still look about 23. I have a good a good relationship, loads of great friends, a good job, lots of respect, a nice house, loads of interests and hobbies, and I live in one of the most vibrant cities on the planet. But I never exploit any of it. I even sort of know - after years of searching and wondering - what I want to do with my life, but I'm too paralysed with fear to do much about it.

And being overweight helps all of this continue.

I can't get my head around the fact that I'm going to be slim relatively soon. I'm carrying around too much being-overweight baggage. And I'm so worried all the time. I plan to give up smoking once I've lost weight, so really I only have another 3 months of smoking. I keep worrying that I have cancer (even though I have no symptoms). Maybe I should just be enjoying these last few cigarettes instead.

I think I'm just used to things turning really, really bad just as I've relaxed into something and started to enjoy myself. I don't know if that's happened every time in the past, but I feel as though it has. So... I seem to have decided at some point just to worry about things and never really enjoy them.

Which isn't really living, is it?  I have so many things going in my favour and I just worry, worry, worry.

Somewhere in my attic there's probably a painting of a slim, content, adventurous me.

Of course this doesn't meant I'm going to dump my poor boyfriend and begin a hedonistic existence of pouring champagne over half-undressed debutantes (not really my bag). In fact I'm not sure what to do with that thought, but it's an honest thought and I'm glad I had it.

Today was my first day at work after a week off and I got lots of "gosh, you've lost so much weight!" comments. Also, one member of my team - totally innocuously - congratulated me for having stuck to it, saying "We all thought you'd give up after a few days!" "You all thought that?" I replied. "Yeah, we all said," she confirmed.

Nor am I sure what to do with that comment.

Anyway, this is what was going through my mind as I watched Dorian Gray, chewing happily on my peanut bar.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Week 4 Day 23

Well, here I am in week 4 and it's time to change up a gear.

Since I started LL I've kept my head down, gritted my teeth and got on with it. Eschewing all social content, the only places I've been for three weeks are work, home and LL HQ. I've been poring over all the LL literature and online info, constantly monitoring myself to make sure I'm not making any mistakes, and that I'm on the right track.

All of which I needed to do at the time, so I'm not going to beat myself up about it. But I can't stick my head in the sand (which I'm tempted to do; I have a bit of a thing for avoidance) for the whole 14 weeks. In fact, if I do, I'll probably find it very hard to survive back in "the real world".

I need to start thinking about my wider life, and LL as part of it.

Today I did 3 things:

1. Bought a "magic frother mug" (Google it if you'd like one) - a cheap, motorised, battery-powered mug for handy soup-mixing on the move.

2. Realised the link between cinnamon and feeling hungry - a few days ago I read somewhere that cinnamon was allowed on LL, so I added some to my porridge and it was DELICIOUS. Thing is, for the last few days I've been feeling hungry. Today I read that it's not allowed - technically - but it's up to you as it can make you hungry. As delicious as my cinnamony breakfasts are, I'd rather not feel hungry. Hopefully it won't have affected my weight loss.

3. Decided to spelunk into the attic today to unearth my smaller-size clothes (today was my last day of leave). Halfway through I realised it was futile as I've only lost 9.7lbs so far (although I weighed myself at home last week and appear to have lost a stone). I'm currently somewhere between sizes  (remember those black skinny felty jeans? Fit me perfectly! I wore them all weekend!) so it's probably best to try looking when I've a) lost a bit more weight and b) a bit more time.

I bought the mug because during thise weekend's ghost hunting adventures made sticking to the diet a bit tricky. I didn't lapse, but I did have 2.5 bars in one day (you're only allowed one a day) because I was relying on hotels and public transport and the soup-making opportunities were a bit low on the ground. But it would have been better if I'd got my head out of the sand and been a bit more prepared.

On Friday I went to meet my best friend from work. She didn't have a heart attack but she did say "You look fucking amazing! You look like you've lost a stone" which was gratifying. It was really great to see her. I haven't seen anyone in ages, and not seen her since I started LL.

The event was out in the sticks and the plan was to get the train, check into the Travelodge we'd booked for the night so I'd have time to have my third soup, then go to the event. I planned to have one bar as my fourth pack during the event and, if I needed another, I could have another bar at midnight and count it as the next day's. But the train was horribly delayed so I had a bar on the train, then we had to rush to check in and get to the event.

I was already one bar down so I thought I might be able to have a soup at midnight - we had breaks in a cafeteria every hour or so, but I felt really embarrassed and didn't want to make my soups in front of everyone, so I had another bar (for a full account of the ghost hunting go to my Minimins post about it).

We got back to the Travelodge and crashed out about 5am, then woke up literally minutes before we had to check out at noon. I was overly optimistic about being able to mix up a shake in the tiny hotel room cups (it looked like diarrhoea and I only managed half). Then we headed back to the venue (it had historical merit) to have a look at it in the daytime. While we were there I had ANOTHER BAR (yes, 3 bars in two days - hence the need to prepare better!) and on the way back to the station we saw - TUDDAH - Primark! I bought some "inbetween sizes" tops and a really nice coat (I've been looking for a coat like this for ages - who knew I'd find it in Primark for under £20?) I bought in a size 10 and have hung it by my dressing table for motivation.

So I survived. I did the best I could given the circumstances, but I need to be better prepared, not least because my friend and I are going on another couple of ghost hunting events soon.

Tomorrow is my first day back at work after my week's leave. Sadly, looking back, I haven't rested as much as I wanted to. Part of this wider-perspective thing is looking at the way I live my life; about listening to my body and seeing what it needs - both with food and in life. I have improved a bit overthe last week, so hopefully I'll be able to get better and better. I need to be brave enough to get off the Minimins forum and start living life again!

Well, returning to work should take my mind off it a bit. Also tomorrow I'm meeting my bezzie mate again to to go the cinema  (I shall be taking my last peanut bar with me for dinner). On Saturday I'm going to see my mum for the day.  And I've made plans with another friend in a couple of weeks. Before Sunday I need to get my blood pressure checked, too. I *think* I can do this at my doctor's surgery myself so I'll try that on Friday. If not, I can't get my packs!

Anyway. Enough tonight. Bedtime.

Thoughts about RTM (Route to Management)

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want to do when I complete Foundation (the initial 14 week period of total food abstinence), and whether I’m going to do Route to Management (RTM - the further 12 week period of gradual food reintroduction you undertake when you’re near your goal weight).

When I started this, I had no intention of doing RTM. 12 more weeks, are you kidding me? I thought ‘I’m not a true fattie, I don’t need that much support’. Plus, my friend who did LL had similar food issues to me, and lost a similar amount of weight - she didn’t do RTM and she’s fine.

But I’ve been getting a lot of support on the Minimins forums - much of it from people who have completed LL (RTM inclusive) and are maintaining their weight. And they swear by RTM - for them it was the biggest challenge of the entire diet - and they get a bit irked if you say you’re thinking of not doing it: they remind you of the importance of RTM and that lots of people who didn’t do RTM have piled the weight back on.

Which basically led to me deciding to do RTM purely not to piss off the people on the Minimins forum.

Which, now I think of it, isn’t an honest decision at all. So I’ve been sifting carefully through my thoughts, picking out the ones that are driven by self-sabotage and the need to please, and isolating the thoughts that are purely about what’s best for me (these ones are the hardest to find).

And my decision is:

When I’ve lost 2.5 stones, I’m going to switch to Lighter Life Lite (LLL).

If you have 3 stones or less to lose, you can do LLL. I was offered it when I started, but I chose full abstinence. On LLL you have 3 packs a day and, instead of the fourth pack, you have a proteiny, low-carbohydrate meal.

My reasons for this are twofold:

1. I really want the challenge of preparing my own meal each day
Although it’s my choice to stay abstinent and it’s up to me not to lapse, being on full abstinence feels a bit… external. It’s like drinking a magic potion someone else gave me and seeing the weight fall off. Doing LLL would be like drinking a magic potion someone else gave me 3 times a day, and then once a day making the potion myself, and still seeing the weight drop off. It would give me a greater sense of control, responsibility and self-reliance, and improve my confidence around food.

2. The LLL RTM is just 4 weeks, not 12
I’ve thought very carefully about this and it’s not self-sabotage speaking: this is all me. The more I learn about myself and why I overeat, the less I feel I need the full 12 weeks.

I want to return to the way I used to eat before I put on weight - I have wanted to for a long time, before I even head of LL, before I even thought about losing weight - just purely because I was tiring of the food I was eating, and wanted to feel like "me" again.

I want to do this properly, and I totally understand the importance of RTM, both in terms of your metabolism and successful weight maintenance, but I really don’t think I need 12 weeks. 

Also, I’m going to Las Vegas in February, and I don’t want to be dieting! The entire point of the place is decadence - decadence in moderation, but decadence definitely!

And I feel guilty about this decision, even though I could have done LLL from the start. And even though I think there is a world of difference in the support that someone who’s been obese (or worse) for years and years might need, versus the support that someone (like me) who’s piled on 3 stone (above ideal weight, this is, only 2 stone above healthy BMI) over the last few years through unhappiness, would need.

At the end of the day I really feel this is the best decision for me. Which is an odd idea to get my head around.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Week 3 Day 18

Week 3! Day 18! I honestly never thought I'd make it so far. I thought my resolve would fail (it has a way of doing that) or my health would (that has a way of doing it too) and I'd be massively allergic to something in the food packs, but here I am.

My LL meetings are on Sundays, but I'm away this weekend so I had a pop-in tonight to get weighed and pick up my foodpacks for the week.

I've lost 2.5lbs since last Sunday!

So far my losses have been relatively low but I've figured it's mostly because I'm short. But we'll see - 2.5lbs in 4 days is promising. My next weigh-in is Sunday-after-next so hopefully I'll see a big loss then.

But I'm almost 10lbs down now, and it really shows. Every day I look a little thinner and things fit a little better. My boobs, they were the first to go. That was the only part of being overweight that I enjoyed: the boobage. I've been near-flat chested all my life. Farewell funbags, it was swell. Good riddance to underwire though.

I have been in a dark place for the last few days - wanting to scurry away home as soon as the working day was over and coddle myself in slipper-boots. I've turned down (and actually ignored) social invitations left, right and centre, To the point where I fully expect not to be invited to things again. Part of this is, I'm sure, early-diet-lockin. It's hard to contemplate going back into circulation brandishing my sachets and my (presumably) ketosis-induced halitosis, and swapping cocktails for sparkling water.

It's harder still to admit I'm on a diet. To admit that I'm not happy with something. That I'm not happy with myself. I spend a lot of time worrying about what other people think and this kind of thing presents a chink in the perfect mask I try to present to the world all the time, and I'm not comfortable with that.

That said, if someone told me they were doing this diet and no thank you, take those cocktails and crabcakes away, I'd be awash with admiration. So basically I need to buck up.

The little sabotages - the not drinking enough water, the irregularity of packs - I'm trying to iron them out. And think about what I'm doing ("WHY do you need the peanut bar tonight?") etc. And maybe I can work up the courage to reenter the world imperfect and proud.

This weekend will be a little test of this. I am spending the weekend with my best friend: going to meet her after work tomorrow (which will be weird as I worked at the same place for years, only quitting 6 months ago). Then we'll go back to her place and I'll amuse and delight by spraying her kitchen with powdered soup mix while trying to demonstrate my blending skills.

On Saturday we're getting the train to Oxford, where we will be partaking in A GHOST HUNT. No, don't look at me like that. I'm not nuts. It's an organised event - basically like an extended ghost tour but with seances. And people who reckon they're psychic. Although you do get to mooch around on your own with torches, and it is fun to creep around a spooky place in the dark.

The thing runs from 7pm till something like 4am. I'm wondering how I'm going to manage, hunger-wise, as I generally have my last pack at about 8. I'll just load up on bars and soups (there's hot water and mugs on tap) and hope for the best I think. After that we're crashing in a local Travelodge then moseying back to London on Sunday.

I haven't seen my best friend for three weeks, and I really want her to see all the weight I've already lost and almost have a heart attack. It'll give me some validation. We have long been avid co-enablers of our own bad eating habits: post-pub trips to MacDonalds; lunchtime visits to the Japanese Canteen for their yummy curries "because we've had a bad day"; "sneaky" Chinese meals at each others' houses, and many, many chocolate peanuts. But she's diligently working her way through WeightWatchers and I'm doing this, and I am half-afraid that we'll have nothing to talk about, or that we'll just pack it all in and go down the chippy.

Which is plainly tosh.

Today I have had an explosively upset stomach. I think it was down to the two(!) banana mochas I had this morning. My stomach just might be rebelling against two espressos. Or it could have been the peanut bar I had last night (but I seem to have got used to them). Who knows. It was quite painful though, and I wasn't even sure I'd make it to the pop-in. I shall load up on pills and whatnot because diarrhoea while ghost hunting in a mediaeval castle is probably not quite spiritual etiquette.

I have a few days off this week and next week. I've not really been indulging them; I've been up early and mooching around achieving little. And I think it's all down to this antsy, "dark place" feeling I've had lately. Tomorrow I plan to have a Big Shower. This is where I depilate, exfoliate, deep-condition every inch of me, then smear myself in smelly body lotion and blob paint messily onto my toenails.

Which is interesting. Because I'm only doing it because I'll be "in company". When it's just me I just make sure I'm clean and sod off. But really *I* deserve to feel soft-skinned, glossy-haired, dewy-lipped and well-maintained every day. Just for me. Not doing it all in a job-lot because someone is likely to see me in pajamas.

Note to self!

There's also something very calming about applying body lotion every night, and perfume in the morning. I shall get on that: apparently my subconscious was ahead of me as I appear to have bought body lotion and a body-brushing, er, brush earlier this week.

I ALSO bought, to celebrate my half-stone loss (even though it doesn't FEEL like something to celebrate) the necklace I promised myself, plus some nice smellies from Lush. It's time to start paying myself some attention.

Talking of which, beauty sleep beckons.

A post to say I'll post...

A curious thing.

After that last post - and its lightbulb moment - I seem to have withdrawn. From life, from the Minimims boards, this diary and from being in touch with most of my friends.

This feels like a very familiar yet slightly illogical thing to do, and I think it's part of the self-punishment pattern.


Off to an early weigh-in tonight so had better scarper. But I'll be back.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Week 2 Day 14: 3rd LL meeting

After last week's LL meeting I came away with a great sense of insight and hope: I hadn't lost much but was confident this would mean a bigger loss the following week, and I learned so much about who we are and what motivates us to eat.

Today was different - our regular LLC was back and most of the group was present. I was weighed and it turns out I've lost 3.2lbs.

I was really surprised and a little disappointed - I can see the loss so clearly on myself: I'm lady-shaped, not blob-shaped now, and boobs are smaller, clothes fit better, my neck is slimmer etc. etc. I was actually half-surprised that everyone didn't go "OMG YOU LOOK SO THIN" as soon as I walked in, but most of them have only seen me once before.

But also, thinking about it:
  • I may have gone out of ketosis for a day this week (sucrose in tablets)
  • I had just had a shake before going to the LL meeting
  • I didn't drink nearly enough water (apparently this really affects your loss) for 2 days
And I have now lost half a stone. Which was one of my goals. I get to buy myself a necklace now. Whoopee.

Yeah, I'm just not feeling it. In fact I'm having some tetchy thoughts of the "I would probably lose the same amount on WeightWatchers if I did it" variety (not that I would stick to WeightWatchers of course). It's just that this week seemed so long. Well, it seemed short at the time, but I am thinking of Lighter Life, Lighter Life, bloody Lighter Life all the time. And after all that eating, and all those "ooh look how skinny I am" moments first thing in the morning, I've only lost 3.2 fucking pounds?!

There is also the fact that I am quite short, and shorter people tend to have a slower loss.

But still.

I feel angry and tricked.


At group today we talked about the different types of psychological hunger, and about behaviour around food. In particular, secret eating. Now I have been blithely going around thinking "Oh, it's just that I overeat at mealtimes, I don't snack all that much and I certainly don't binge", which is only half true.

The truth is that when I was skinny, I would happily say "fuck the world" and treat myself to a DVD, some ice cream and a big fuck-off pizza that I couldn't hope to finish - once a month - and all would be right with the world.


One night a week the Boyfriend goes out to indulge his hobby. And on that night, as soon as I get home (no matter what thoughts I've been having about trying a new pasta dish, or just having a hot sandwich or something for dinner) I order a pizza. I then inhale the pizza (all the pizza, because I have a big hoover bag for a stomach now), stuff it in the outside trash so he doesn't see it, and hate myself.

When the Boyfriend gets home and inquires about my dinner, I say "Oh I wasn't hungry". Or I say I had toast. The next day I have stomach problems, bloating, pain, and increased hunger so I never have "that salad to make up for it" that I was planning.

I don't even really like the pizza.

It started as a treat, then got corrupted into a way to punish myself with food.

It was so hard to admit, even to myself. It's secret eating and binge eating. It's food addiction. I'm addicted to food. It sounded like such bullshit in the LL literature but, damn it, it's actually true.

Then a strange thing happened when I got home from group. I arrived home feeling all churned up and unhappy, and realised I was hungry. I was a bit confused as to whether this was psychological hunger, disguised thirst, or actual hunger (I was due my third pack). And it's hard to be objective when you're feeling weak and unhappy and hungry and the food is right there.

This is the conversation that went on in my brain:

Me 1: "I really want a peanut bar. Right now."
Me 2: "Noooo! I'm off work after Tuesday and I bought them specially to have for honey roasted peanuts in the evening as a treat!"
Me 1: "But I want one now.  I really really want one."
Me 2: "But they give me a windy belly! And they make me hungrier. Why not just have a shake and have the peanut bar on Tuesday evening? I have an early morning physio tomorrow and I don't want to go there with a windy belly, and then spend the morning at work on the loo!"
Me 1: "You mean having a peanut bar now would decimate my 'treat' supply and cause me pain and discomfort exactly when I don't need it?"
Me 2: "Yes! It would literally be self-destructive of me to have a peanut bar right now."
Me 1: "Right then, I'm having one."

So I had one. I had it because I was feeling shitty and because I was feeling shitty about myself, and because having the peanut bar would make me feel even shittier.

And now of course the temptation is to continue to sabotage myself by doing something else to make me feel shitty. I could start an argument with Boyfriend just so I'd feel crap about having done it later. I could think about all the weight I haven't lost, and about the woman in my group who lost a stone in 2 weeks. I could look up my exes on Facebook.

But I won't. I'm going to have an enjoyable evening on the sofa. I'm tired of creating bad feeling in reaction to bad feeling, then sublimating it all into a cycle of failure, punishment and excess.

No more. I'm actually an okay person. I don't deserve to beat myself up all the time. I'm fine.

Lightbulb moment: guilt

LL calls little behavioural epiphanies "lightbulb moments". I've been having a few since I started so thought I'd record them.

Earlier I noted that I felt guilty about whatever I put in my mouth; I've since noticed I feel guilty about everything I do. Or don't do. Yesterday I had a little play on my neglected piano. I don't indulge my hobbies like playing music because it never feels like play. I constantly monitor myself for mistakes, and chide myself when I make them. I haven't played properly in years and I want to learn new pieces and relearn old ones but I avoid it because I spend the time telling myself off for my technique, for not taking the time to practice, for not learning the new things and constantly playing the old things.

It is as though my childhood piano teacher is standing over me, having a go at me each time my fingers wibble. He did that a lot. A lot. It was years before I actually realised I was good at playing the piano, and by then all enthusiasm for it had ebbed away because all I got when I tried was grief.

So while I was playing yesterday I deliberately turned off the telling-off voice, and found that I really enjoyed what I was playing, even though it "didn't count" because it was an old piece and I hadn't learned a new one.

I feel guilty about everything. Today I ordered a taxi to take me to my LL meeting and it was horribly late. I had some really unkind thoughts about the taxi woman on the phone (even before the taxi was late) and I felt guilty about that. I still feel guilty. I even had to "own up" to the Boyfriend.

I'm feeling guilty about writing such a long blog post, even though it's my fricking blog and, to be quite honest, this is mainly for me, not you.

As with most things, I think this goes back to my childhood. I was always being told I was up to no good (even when I wasn't). I was quite bright at some subjects and, if I had trouble with other subjects, the teachers used to accuse me of 'troublemaking'. And it seemed the better I did in one class, the more grief I got in another.

When I was a teenager I was, like most teenagers, a little shit. But I was also really unhappy, and being summoned to account for every minute of the day by the adults ("What are you doing over there?" "Why the long face?" "Make yourself useful and help me with X, Y and Z", "You're lazy", etc.) didn't help. I, again, as a lot of teenagers, thought of my household as 'Nazi Germany'.

The point is I've inherited this Critical Parent (hello LL psychology) voice and I'm always telling myself to pull up my socks, that I should do this, I should do that, I should push myself at this because you know what I'm like, I'll never get it done and I'm always making excuses.... Every day is an exercise in failure, and the Critical Voice saps the pleasure from almost everything... hence the guilt.

Week 2 Day 13: lightbulb moments, poppadoms and banana mochaccinos

I'm actually posting this on Day 14. I didn't post yesterday because, by the time there was anything to say I was tetchy with myself for allowing Saturday to turn into a "Nothing Day", and I ended up lurching away from the computer and throwing myself on the sofa to wait out the long hours till bedtime in a vague, mostly subconscious sulk.

NB: By "Nothing Day" I do not mean the sort of day where you lie, glued to the sofa (Derren Brown notwithstanding) watching crap, eating crap, lightly dozing and blissfully ignoring the phone and the household chores. I consider this a wholly venerable activity - everyone needs downtime - and I'm 100% behind it. In theory. The truth is I allow myself one or two days of this a year, and generally only when I have a hangover.

A "Nothing Day", for me, is a day spent dithering. Not achieving and not resting. Neither fish nor fowl. I woke early, dithered about getting up (Boyfriend was still asleep), got up, mooched about disconsolately, then dithered about still feeling tired, so went back to bed, then mentally dithered, couldn't fall asleep and got up again.

Mostly, I worried. I worried about this new getting-up-early-on-a-Saturday malarkey. All my life I've woken early - still tired - and then felt crotchety and vaguely tired and "off" for the rest of the day. In the last few years I have Achieved the Weekend Lie-In. Sometimes till stupid o'clock (11am), and not always when I've been out until the early hours the night before. Boyfriend considers this lazy, but to me it's been a massive coup - actually getting the sleep I need, and bugger the rest of 'em. On Saturday I wondered if it might be weight gain related, and worried that the new, thinner me was going to be a early rising, knackered mimsy again.

Boyfriend had the right idea - he spent most of the day on the sofa with big mugs of tea, the paper and reruns of the US version of The Office. Meanwhile I danced around the house, trying and failing to Achieve Things - admin, various little projects, a little correspondence. Nada. Just kept being distracted by things and thinking about how nice it would be to join the Boyfriend on the sofa.

I did, for a bit, then got bored and felt guilty about not Achieving things and went back to dancing unhappily round the house until evening, when I felt I could legitimately give up the ghost and rejoined him on the sofa.

It occurs to me now that I should have just HAD A NAP. It's basic science: not enough sleep; can't sleep - so sleep later. But I see dithering/tiredness as a sort of personal flaw, so feel the need to beat myself over the head with my failure for a whole day. Pah.

And I've just realised what prompted my feelings of apathy/self loathing.

You know how some people always need something familiar around when they start a new thing? A picture of their family, favourite cardigan, lucky pants, etc.?

When I start a new thing I don't feel at home until I've identified the girl who's like me, but better, and felt bad about myself as a result.

I did it at my first LL meeting ("There you are," I thought when I met her. "We're about the same age, but you seem totally on top of things, and that makes me feel like a caveman in comparison. Nice to meet you").

I've done it at my job. I do it whenever I indulge an interest or try anything new. I look on this person, possibly befriend them, and think about everything they've done and how I come up lamentably short next to this person. To myself I call it making a new friend, or admiring someone, but really it's a ruler to measure myself against, always come up lacking, and feel really shit about, and ultimately hate myself.

Undoubtedly it's rooted in my past somewhere.

But I did it on Saturday morning. I did it on Saturday morning, and that's what spun my day out into a bunch of crap during which I subconsciously berated myself about whatever I happened to be doing (or not doing).

It's horrible. It's self-destructive. It's self-betrayal and so, so negative. But it's familiar. And so I do it again and again.

Hmm. Interesting.

Anyway, I did manage to do 2 things on Day 13:

I sort of perfected my latte idea (to my tastes anyway)
  • 1 espresso
  • 1/2 banana pack
  • 1/2 chocolate pack
  • 2 sweeteners
  • 500ml boiling water
  • Blend! Blend like there's no tomorrow! Then blend some more.
I also attempted...

I know, it even sounds rank:
  • Mix a soup pack with 4 tablespoons hot water
  • Stir until you get a smooth paste
  • Add salt, pepper and tabasco
  • Spread it evenly on a dinner plate
  • Microwave for 1.5 - 2minutes
  • Open the microwave every 20 seconds to let it bubble and settle
  • When it's golden, remove it, let it cool, peel off and enjoy.
Only a half success I'm afraid - I added too much water so it went all soggy in the middle, so I did it for a further 3 minutes(!) until it was virtually burnt and dried to the plate. And, though Boyfriend mocked me, I did manage to lever it off using a knife when it was cool and it was QUITE PLEASANT.

I might try again tonight.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Week 2 Day 12

Gosh, day 12 already. The first week seemed interminable but this one is vrooming past.

Today was fine - another thinky-work day, got lots done. Energy levels have remained high, and again I had to really force myself to have my first pack (porridge) at lunchtime. Rushed my second pack (mushroom soup) a couple of hours later because I was on my way to a meeting - I didn’t rinse out my mug properly beforehand so my soup was bubbly and tasted distinctly of washing up liquid. Bleurgh.

Today my colleagues went to Carluccio’s for lunch and I didn’t feel a pang of regret. Actually I felt bad for their wallets and their afternoon concentration. Although I listened carefully to what they had - I’ve never been to Carluccio’s and it sounded yummy; I’m mentally making a ‘food list’ of things I’ll want to eat when I’m off the diet. So far I have:
  • Albondigas (spicy Argentinian meatballs)
  • Something at Carluccio’s
  • Something at Chilango’s
  • Something at Masala Zone
  • Another big pink drink in a goldfish bowl I had with a friend recently which, again, I rushed as we were on our way to dinner.
  • Big Mac
Yes, a Big Mac. I’ve never liked them before but yesterday I was craving one. But then again apparently your tastes change when you’re on LL (I hope I still want my beloved lattes when I get off this thing) so we’ll see. It might be all apples and celery but I hope not. I come from a foodie family and I intend to continue enjoying food, just not over EVERYTHING ELSE, and in moderation.

I think I’m losing weight; I keep weighing myself in the mornings - I know it’s bad, and that a morning post-pee weight isn’t true, but the numbers keep going down and that’s good enough for me.

I don’t think my stomach bulges out as much, and I can see some definition in my upper abdomen, around my clavicle and in my arms. At least my arms look more like *arms* now, and not so much like sausages. I have to wear a belt on some roomy jeans which used to fit snugly, and some other skinny jeans (really nice ones: black and faded and felty) which I could barely tug on before fit slightly too tightly now, but at least I can hoik them up and over my thighs and hips without the use of a crane anymore.

The not-feeling-hungry thing is odd. When everyone around me is hustling around trying to score a sandwich I wonder how I’m going to spend my lunchtime. This week I’ve just worked through it, taking my nominal 20 minutes to pop to the loo and put the kettle on. I feel like I’m an alien in disguise. It’s disconcerting but I am enjoying not relying on food.

I get a deep gnawing in my gut and that’s when I know my next pack is due. Hunger for me is generally that feeling, plus a kind of higher-up sensation (I can’t describe it) and, if I leave it too long, a low-blood-sugar faintness and sheen of sweat. But I remember being slim and having this gnawing feeling and thinking “hold up, better eat something soon”. And that, if I left it too long, *did* result in the faint feeling. But not all these sensations together, as they have been for so long. Now when I get the gnawing I feel slightly afraid that the faint feeling is coming, but it doesn’t. It must be a lifestyle with lots of refined sugar thing: is my body resetting its hunger levels now?

One thing I’ve noticed is that I feel guilty every time I put something in my mouth. I’ve just had my third pack (hot chocolate) and I feel guilty. I have found a sweetener-to-cold-water ratio which makes black coffee almost enjoyable, and I feel guilty about that too. I feel guilty about every single thing I eat and drink, and I think I have done for some time. It’s a bit mad.

Other little things, too - I’ve stopped listening to new music, or doing any ‘young person’ things. It’s like I’m not a young person, I’m a fat person, and I’ve put all that behind me.

Last night’s banana mousse wasn’t a huge success - it moussed up just fine (50ml of water, whisk, stick it in freezer for 5 minutes) but it tasted revolting. Now I’m going to try toasting a peanut bar then crumbling it up and adding some salt for “honey roasted peanuts”. I’m also going to drink the fuck out of some fizzy water and water flavours because I’m nowhere near my 3.5litre mark for today.

I was a little pissed off this morning when my skinny black jeans didn’t fit like a dream straight away. But this is the longest I’ve ever stuck with a diet (normally I just think about doing them and that’s exhausting/restrictive enough) AND this is the most weight I’ve lost on a diet. So that’s something.

Ooh, and Kellogg’s honey nut clusters. I’m adding them to the list as they look yummy in the adverts.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Week 2 Day 11

Just a short one tonight - I'm plumped on the sofa in front of Grease, having just choked down a semi-successful banana mousse (my first attempt).

For most of the day I've been filled with the sense of intense wellbeing that I've heard others report. I'm sure it's down to the combination of minerals and vitamins in the food packs. They're all detailed in the green LL book I got, and I've resolved to find a way to supplement my diet with all of them when I've finished the diet. B-complex vitamins are where it's at I reckon.

Normally on a Thursday I have to drag myself around and am for all intents and purposes asleep until I've had at least 2 coffees. There was none of that today, I was raring to go and my concentration hat was on. In fact it was on so tight that I forgot to have my first pack (porridge) and didn't have my second (hot chocolate) until I got home at around 6pm. Don't think I drank the 3 litres of water either.

And I have, almost logically, found something else to worry about. It's a health thing, I don't want to go into it here, but I am seeing the doctor next week (it's one of those things you have to check out really) and am going to not worry about it till then.

After I got home, partly dude to the worrying, I got quite emotional and had a bit of a cry. Not sure what it was about; as I was crying I wondered what it was I was crying about... Perhaps it's LL moodswings. Who knows.

Anyway, I'm not fantastic at resting so I resolved to take it easy tonight. Hence sofa, Grease, hastily curtailed over-analysis. Goodnight.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Week 2 Day 10

I have solved the Case of the Mysterious Hunger: it was the tablets I took to soothe my belly after it had a fight with the LL peanut bar. The tablets contain sucrose, which is all kinds of verboten on the programme (apparently most people get this talk when they join but because I joined 2 weeks after the rest of my group I think my LLC forgot).

But sucrose can knock you out of ketosis. So it was the sucrose in the library with the candlestick.

But! I'm not out of ketosis! Today I invested in some Ketostix (Litmus paper thingies you pee on; you can buy a tub from the chemist for about £5) and mine went cranberry again, which means I was in ketosis and somewhat dehydrated. It is harder to chug water when it's colder.

Today was fine - woke up about 30 minutes before my alarm went off and couldn't get back to sleep so I pootled around blearily then went to work. Energy levels were fine; didn't have my first pack until almost lunchtime.

Then a lovely guy from my work sidled up to my desk and whispered "I hear you're on the old Lighter Life" out of the side of his mouth: turns out he did it earlier this year and lost four stone in seven weeks. Mad. He didn't do Route to Management because he felt he'd learned everything he needed to know, and he's kept the weight off. He couldn't recommend LL more highly, and said it's really changed his outlook on life:

  • He almost instinctively makes healthy choices now
  • His approach has inspired his wife to start eating healthily
  • And they make sure their kids eat more healthily too
  • His tastebuds have changed; he used to love Chinese food and Diet Coke but can't stand them now
  • He eats treats and junk food now and again, but he takes his time over them and really enjoys them so he's properly satisfied
  • He only eats proper chocolate now (I suppose he means posh chocolate....)
  • He told me how to make a poppadom out of the soup pack (I remain unconvinced)
  • He warned me not to go swimming or play rugby while on the plan; he almost passed out. So I won't be doing that, especially not the rugby.
It was all really useful and he's a lovely chap. Sort of big and burly but not overweight at all. And it turned out I'd nicked his mug (it had his name on and everything) but he didn't mind.

I had a long work day, and had three of my packs there:
  1. Porridge
  2. Vegetable soup
  3. Mushroom soup
Because I was going to see my LLC and swap some packs after work. It was a really intense work day, with lots of head-down projecty thinky work, and I noticed that I got hungrier sooner when I'd been doing thinky work, as opposed to when I'd just been in a meeting or something.

Plus I've been pretty active all day - gallivanting around at lunchtime, plus walking (about half a mile) to see my LLC afterwards. Didn't feel faint or anything, but I have noticed in the last few months (where I've just been eating indiscriminately) I have felt slower and heavier. Part of that is undoubtedly the problem with my legs/ankles. Normally I go charging around at a clipping pace, so to have to slow down is quite depressing. Today I felt slow and heavy and lumbery still, but I'm just trying to relax into it and hope it'll get better as I lose weight.

But I've been pretty much either walking around with a heavy bag or sitting and thinky-working from about 7.30am to 7.30pm, and I don't feel any the worse for it. A bit tired, or perhaps the feeling that I should be tired. Had my last pack (cold choco-banana) at 8ish and have just finished a cup of Earl Grey (since I can have it).

At my pop-in (LL encourages these cutesy sort of names; I'm already thinking of the other women in my group as 'ladies') I ran into a girl from my group. When I first met her I was intimidated by her tales of going for runs and being active and fabulous in her first week, and because I "only" lost 4lbs at my first weigh-in I'm half-convinced I'm going to be the sickly little small-weight-loss-and-lots-of-minor-health-problems girl; the runt of my group. But the girl, who - it grieves me and my snap-judgment prejudices to say - had struck me as excessively hale and hearty and opinionated, told me she's been having health problems and hasn't really seen any weight loss until recently. It's not schadenfreude exactly - I really liked her, and I think she does look slimmer - but nice to know I'm not alone in my wondering if this is all ever going to take off.

I want to see changes NOW NOW NOW, you see. I want to see a new, slimmer me every time I look in the mirror. But today my clothes felt looser and the pendant my boyfriend gave me a few weeks ago is sitting lower on my chest.

I think I'm going to have to engage patience mode and, perhaps, start thinking about things that aren't Lighter Life. Managed to sit through a cookery programme tonight so maybe that's a sign that I'm on the road to being able to Be in Company again.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Week 2 Day 9

Day 9 has gone almost swimmingly.

With sensible use of hot water bottles (last night), peppermint tea (this morning) and avoidance of all things LL bar-shaped, the stomach aches have subsided.

However, I have been curiously hungry all day. Proper, growly-stomached, weak-and-woozifying, must-eat-now-or-will-faint hungry. I haven't felt like this since I went into ketosis.

I had my morning hot chocolate at about 8 and started feeling hungry at 10ish. But I try to space my packs out every 4 hours, so I hung in there. But by 12 I was starting to feel faint, so I had my porridge. Then I nipped out of the office to run some errands at lunchtime and found I was hungry (hungry hungry, if you get me) and all weak by 2pm! So again I waited and had my soup at 3ish. I got a huge wodge of work done today so I left at 4.30. Now I'm home with the hours stretched before me and only one pack to have left. But I plan to spend the evening on the sofa, so if I faint, at least I won't be uncomfortable....

I had a cup of black Earl Grey day-before-yesterday, and half of one today. And while I was drinking I realised I didn't know if it was allowed on LighterLife. Earl Grey has oil of bergamot and some sort of lemon in it, and I wondered if this had knocked me out of ketosis, causing the hunger.

Which is all very odd as I noticed this morning that my jeans (which I wore yesterday) were looser this morning.

Anyway, rather than fret about it I called my LLC who confirmed that Earl Grey is allowed, but maybe to knock it on the head for now as I might be more sensitive to the citrus content than others. And if I've been knocked out of ketosis it won't be long before I'm on it again.

And I have just done a rather stupid thing. I have just weighed myself on my own scales. And appear to be the same weight I was on Sunday.

ALL OF WHICH MEANS NOTHING. Tomorrow evening I'm popping in to swap my bars for things that won't make pain-spaghetti of my insides, so I'll wee on a stick then and see what's what.

Other than that I've had a grand day - quietly getting through my work in the office, not talking to anyone (yes, I am a hermit) and plugged into Last FM. It's a soggy, grey, rainy day but I like days like these. They make me want to curl up in an armchair by a window and read a book.

And it occurs to me now that whenever the weather's like this I always think "ooh I'd love to curl up in an armchair and read a book" and then proceed to not do so. Ever. I mean, I don't even own an armchair. I probably think this then go and do something the exact opposite of curling up in an armchair with a book.

Like fretting needlessly about Earl Grey and ketosis.

Hm. All right then, I shall go and curl up on the sofa with a book, chug water and normal tea and ride out the hunger pangs, or whatever they are, by splitting my last pack.

This Lighter Life counselling thing is awfully pervasive. I suspect they may all be wizards.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Week 2 Day 8

Today I feel a bit meh. Not sure why, so I'm going to explore it in the form of a bulleted list. This is going to be terribly self-absorbed and boring and I apologise.

Reasons for meh:
  1. The LL honeymoon is over. I've been through the "ooh I'm dying" drama of the first week and the excitement of trying all the different shakes, soups and bars (although there are some left to try) and I know I'm in it for the long, long, long haul.

  2. I woke up this morning with a dull pain in the left side of my abdomen, a windy belly and had to make non-urgent but frequent and uncomfortable trips to the loo.

    The whole thing puts a dent in my energy levels which aren't great to begin with. I've had similar symptoms quite a few times over the last few months and I've spent half the day fretting that I've got diverticulosis or Crohn's or something sinister. The thing is, I don't have any real sinister symptoms, and long ago I was diagnosed with stress-related IBS. And I do suffer with stress. A lot.

    The truth of it is probably that I had an upset tummy last week and I'm not completely over it because I have IBS; the diet is new, my stomach is adjusting to it (and will take some time because, duh, I have IBS) and having the bars probably doesn't help as I've heard they can cause stomach problems. In fact I had my first bar yesterday and had the stomach problems today, so it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out what might be up.

    But it's as though I need to find something, anything, to worry about. Yesterday and the day before I was worried that I'd put all the weight back on once I finished the diet and ate a potato. Then I asked around on various forums and was reassured. Now I've found this to worry about.

    In fact, my Adult head is saying okay, it's probably the bars, let's leave them for a few days and see how the tummy does. My child is saying BUT I HAVEN'T TRIED ALL OF THEM AND I WANT TO. And my critical parent (maybe) is feeling put out because I WORKED OUT A SYSTEM FOR THIS WEEK DAMNIT (porridge and bars at work, in order to avoid being Conspicuous Diet Girl). Ugh. So my adult head is saying okay, put the bars to one side and just have porridge and soup at work, and if the tummy problems continue let's see a doctor. So let's do that then. I guess. Although it sounds all too sensible and balanced if you ask me.

  3. I only lost 4lbs this first week. I KNOW I KNOW. If I were on WeightWatchers or something it would be a massive coup. It's just that other (admittedly taller and heavier) women have had enormous losses at their pop-ins, then further gigantic losses on their first week, whereas I lost 3.4lbs and then a dizzying 0.4lbs at my first week weigh-in. I'm afraid that I've somehow done something wrong and that I'm not in ketosis anymore. I'm worried I won't see anymore losses. After the initial excitement of clothes feeling looser, they sort of feel the same now (although I think my stomach is a bit bloated with all the nastiness). I look in the mirror and it's the same. And I can't imagine it ever being any different.

    And I fret that I'll have to keep taking Imodium and that'll slow down my weight loss. Even though when I asked the locum she said it makes no difference; it might not show on the scales initially but you are burning the fat: you can't help but burn the fat. If you're in ketosis.

    And so of course now I'm privately wondering if the actual tablet content is taking me out of ketosis, or maybe I blacked out and ate something and don't remember, and just in case you're wondering whether this is all actually based in fact let me remind you that MY KETOSIS PEE STICK WAS PALE PINK YESTERDAY.

    It's all foundless blather.

    Maybe it's my internal chatterbox thingy trying to discourage me from following the diet (I have in the last hour or so started wondering if it's medically unsound and will kill me). Good lord I really need to shut up.

  4. It is my best friend's birthday. She is abroad with another close friend, having a whale of a time. This time last year we were all together, abroad, having a whale of a time. I honestly don't get this emotional but I feel like I could cry, because I feel left out (even though there are perfect reasons why I'm not there) and left behind and all sorts of self-pity crap.

  5. I'm not experiencing the "woohoo!" boundless energy other people have reported. I hope I'm not one of the sickly ones who look all pale and drawn and tired throughout the diet.

  6. Everything lately has been about LighterLife. Researching it before I started, the newness of it, going to the meetings, talking about it in forums, worrying about it. I actually want to tell it to fuck off for a bit. Not to stop doing it, but to stop thinking about it, by Christ, there are other things in life.

  7. I had a few revelations at the LL meeting yesterday about who I am, and what I do, and whether or not I'm betraying myself with my actions. And it's made me a bit withdrawn and thinky.
Well, there you go.

On the plus side (assuming you've stuck with me so far) today was my first full, busy day on LL. I went to my pre-work appointment, went through a long, busy and stressful work day, completed lots of work of (I hope) quality, and ran around the building, up and down stairs etc. And although I'm not feeling brilliant today, I didn't feel hungry (emptyish when it was coming up to food pack time), and though I had this pervasive tiredness I didn't feel faint or ill.

And my attitude to food is funny now. My colleague was eating a lovely fat baguette full of meaty and salady things next to me at lunch. And it smelled attractive, and I looked at it and felt sort of contemplative and melancholy. As though I were an old man looking at a young woman who reminded me of my wife who died many years ago. Or something.

I guess the point is I didn't feel deprived, or want to whip it from her hands and swallow it whole. How much of that is down to LL or just the fact that I'm a bit bilious today, I don't know.

Today I have had:

  1. Hot chocobanana before I left the house. Too hot! I am not good at making things that aren't coffee before 7am.
  2. Porridge at work: an extra sweetener and taking it out of the microwave to give it a good stir every 30 seconds makes it a lot more palatable.
  3. Toffee bar. Curried vomit in a yogurty aspartame shell. I think I even vomited a little of it back up in my throat later, and it tasted the same. There is no misery like suspecting that something is upsetting your stomach and then having to eat another one because you've nothing else. Bleh.
I think I'll go and do some non-LL stuff. Mainly lying on the sofa at this point, but I may progress to non-LL conversation with the boyfriend or even something like piano practice. However I suspect an early night is more on the cards. But I may take a book.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Things what I am going to do when I is skinny, yeah.

  • Learn yoga. Or pilates. Or yogalates. Or poga. Whatever - in a class with other humans, not in my living room in front of a DVD like a loser.
  • Join a tribal bellydance class. Because that shit rocks my world.
  • Quit smoking. Either when I'm in my healthy BMI, when I'm navigating the cake-infested waters of management. Or, perhaps more healthily, when I've been off LL and maintaining my weight confidently for a couple of months.
  • Get almost every inch of me waxed and manicured.
  • Take my enormous guitar, which I have to admit was a stupid purchase since I am tiny, and part-exchange it for a smaller, nicer one. I may do this as a treat when I hit a weight loss goal.
  • Buy an entirely new wardrobe. I'm going to be poor for a while, but my stash of size 10 clothes are early 2000's fashionable and may need an upgrade.
  • Go swimming. Get some prescription goggles sorted first, so I don't dive into the shallow end or something.
  • Go to the Green Man Festival. Just because it sounds nice and the last festival I attended was Glastonbury '99.
  • Learn to drive.
  • Get my hair coloured. I have long black hair and I'm going to put a fat streak of pale blonde through it and you can't stop me.

Week 1 Day 7: 2nd LL meeting

The rest of Day 6 went well - I haven't yet experienced many of the OMG FABULOUS AND AMAZING!!!!!! ketosissy bags of energy loads of people on the forums report, but it's early days. And perhaps I'm just not a very OMG!!!! person.

I wasn't hungry at all though, and had to force my last pack (hot chocolate/vanilla - vanilla and I are parting ways now, blech) down myself at bedtime. Today has gone pretty well, too, energy/hunger-wise.

I tried the tomato soup at lunch. I won't be doing that again.

Today I had my second LL meeting. Our LLC was otherwise indisposed today, and when I arrived I could hear the locum in the next room, roundly scolding one of the ladies in my group. Apparently this lady had just turned up to 'pick up my packs and go', and the locum sent her away with a flea in her ear about the importance of attending the counselling sessions, doubting her commitment to Sparklemotion, and so on.

I just sat there, awkwardly flicking through one of the LL magazines and wondering what kind of hell the session would be.

But it was brilliant! Disappointingly, only 2 of the other ladies turned up, but having such a small group made for a really useful session. Today we learned more about ego states, and talked about what makes us eat when we're not hungry, and what is actually going on in our heads when we reach for extra food at the end of a stressful day, say.

Our locum was amazing. She had x-ray eyes! After about half an hour she looked at me and said:

"I think you know exactly what you want. I think you moved to London to do a number of things, but you're hiding from them behind your weight. You're eating instead, worrying about what other people think of you, and you're putting everything else first rather than taking care of yourself."

Which shut me up. She seemed to be spot-on about the other ladies, too.

Talking to her I also realised:
  1. When I'm angry, I rebel by eating all the foods I'm not supposed to, because I'm not supposed to.
  2. I rarely give myself non-food treats. Despite having 101 interests (my guitar, piano and fiction writing software are languishing under layers of dust), I always revert to food.
And she talked about crooked thinking - for example:
  • An event - eg. someone asks you to host a party.
  • Crooked thinking - you immediately think you can't do it because you're rubbish.
  • Balanced questions - well, what evidence is that that you can't do it? How do you know if you haven't tried?
  • Action - accepting the offer.
  • Feeling - positive and excited, while being aware of feeling nervous about it too.
So it's not all mumbo-jumbo for fatties. It's about examining how you behave and, rather than beating yourself up for behaving that way (which is, apparently, what the Critical Parent ego state would do), thinking about what's behind that behaviour, and looking at healthier and more productive ways to solve the problem.

It was all really interesting really.

This week I also got a special green book full of info, advice about the diet, psychotherapy techniques and pretty pictures of smiling, sylph-like former heffalumps, and my bars. I have tried the peanut one. It was delicious and it made me hungry.

Which brings us to my weight loss.

Ladies and gentlemen, at my week 1 weigh-in I have lost the staggering....



I was feeling physically hungry, I'd just peed on a special stick and it went a bit peach. I wondered whether I'd somehow fallen out of ketosis by sleepwalking to MacDonalds and having a quarterpounder with cheese meal or something (oh my god quarterpounder with cheese meals... but you see, this is exactly the sort of 'treat' I would have maybe once a month when I was slim, and be ecstatic about.... but the sort of thing that in recent years I've had after every big night out. After a while they taste quite samey).

Anyway, no. My pop-in was only 4 days ago, I've stayed on the programme, had a period (sorry, men), an upset tummy (sorry everyone) and had to take Imodium twice (sorry again). The locum says that as long as I've stayed on track I'm losing, and small losses this week mean big losses next week.

Of course I am worried that I'm that one person in a billion trillion whose body gets ketosis wrong and loses no weight at all.

But it's probably more likely that all the factors above plus the fact that I've not settled into a foodpack rhythm just means that my body's holding onto more at the moment.

Ooh, I wanted to note that, although I've been gulping water like a good LLer throughout, yesterday I didn't start drinking until midday. It was purely because I'd left my water bottle upstairs (and I honestly can't think of a lamer excuse) and I had had two large black coffees, but all the same, it's all too easy to fall into the habit of not drinking so I will CUT THAT OUT NOW.

Altogether I'm feeling quite positive about it all. Provided that I haven't put on any weight next week.

Now I'm off to read more of my green book.

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Week 1 Day 6

It's now early afternoon, and so far it's been good.

I woke up naturally after about 10 hours' sleep, my energy levels felt even and my clothes felt looser, although I'm trying not to weigh myself at home. And I don't feel ill. Empty, not ill.

I didn't have my first pack until 10.30 - didn't feel I needed to. Then I pootled off to the shop to fetch the newspaper and some snacks for the boyfriend. I didn't feel weak on the way there or back, and I like getting him snacks. I like walking around with Twixes and Double Deckers in a bag, knowing I'm not going to eat them. I also like cooking for him (or, let's be honest, putting things in the oven and taking them out for him), because it makes me feel less of a freakazoid for being on this diet.

My sense of smell has heightened since I started on LL, too - I can smell a barbeque from a mile away now. I've since learned that pizza smells lovely; rice and tofu less so (also watching the boyfriend eat that makes me so irrationally angry - why would he choose to eat that when there's tastier food he can have?); macaroni and cheese smells delicious. Apple cores have their own smell that I never noticed before. Luckily I'm not at the point where my cat's food makes me hungry.

But smelling nice food, I'm finding, is almost as good as eating it. Yum.

3.30pm and I've not yet had my 2nd pack!

I vowed to spend this weekend lying down and drinking lots of water. Tomorrow I have my 2nd meeting, so I'd better work on that lying down business rather than splurging neuroses on this journal.

More later...

Still doing well, but could do without the constant thought cycle: Ooh I'm hungry/what shall I have to eat?/Well, what do I fancy?/Something toasty or cheesy or chippy/Oh wait/I'm not eating food/Bugger.

Week 1 Day 5

This was the day I returned to work and, unfortunately, I woke feeling crappy. Not as crappy as the previous days, but still pre-migrainey, nauseous and feeling a bit weak. Even after I made up I noticed I was looking pale, with dark circles under my eyes. My stomach was grumbly too, and I wondered again if the Water Flavours were to blame.

However, I was heartened by the fact that some jeans I'd bought and not worn were snug when before they'd just not fitted at all. I had my first shake and went to work.

Work wasn't too bad - desk working was okay, and I survived my meetings with my sports bottle of water clasped firmly to me. A couple of people seemed worried that I looked so unwell, but I pointed out that the first few days are likely to be a bit rubbish and that I'd look into it if I felt unwell after the second week. Privately I was a bit disappointed that this famed 'ketosis energy' seemed to have left me.

Thankfully I racked up enough hours working at home to allow me to slope off at 4pm, avoiding a colleague's drinks event (not strong enough for these yet!). Again, I felt weak and shaky on the way home, but then recovered well after sitting down and preparing a hot chocolate shake.

There's something about the space between my second and third packs of the day that makes me weak and shaky. Wonder what the solution is. Felt all right (and very relieved that the working week was over) sitting on the sofa and, for the first time that week, went to bed at a normal time (10.30).

Week 1 Day 4

Day 4 was my final day working from home, and I had my mid-week "pop-in" that evening.

It was the worst day.

I have never felt so low, so lacking in energy, and so utterly hopeless as I did that morning. And I've had swine flu.

I was weak as a kitten, still getting painful, physical hunger cramps, headachey, nauseous, and so, so tired. I knew I had to go to my pop-in later, and that I had to go into the office the next day, and I just couldn't imagine doing either because walking to the loo was taking it out of me.

Then someone on the Minimins forum said that feeling so bad was usually a sign that you were going into ketosis, so I should be feeling better soon.

Ha! I thought. You obviously haven't met me and my ability to feel unwell no matter what the circumstances.

The afternoon brought the unexpected surprise of a blocked toilet (not me, guv) and a trip, with boyfriend on crutches, to the local plumbers merchants for various tubey, plungey and acidy goodness to deal with it.

The boyfriend dealt with it. I helped, but mostly held my nose.

Then it was time to go to my pop-in - I'd ordered a taxi there and back but found myself feeling quite jaunty as I went up in the lift. Then I met my LLC - I've not made my mind up about her yet. She's very personable and knows her stuff. She lost 9 stone on the diet herself. But... how to put this? She's a bit overweight. A bit. It's just... well, I don't know what to do with that information, or how to ask about it, or even if I should. She also seems a bit flustered. I still don't have my LL registration number (admittedly I've not asked for it yet) but it means I can't get on the official Lighter Life forums. And she'd arranged for my pop-in to be at 6pm. You're supposed to get 45 minutes of uninterrupted you-time, but two other women turned up at that time as well. The LLC claimed she'd left them voicemails telling them to come later, but.... anyway. I didn't get my 45 minutes - more like 25 - but she was sorting out stuff for a promotion and god knows I've had my ditzy moments, so I shan't judge.

So anyway. By the time I had to pee on a stick I was quite jaunty. Full of beans and energy. I peed, the stick went a lovely shade of cranberry (I think that might mean that I was dehydrated), which means I WAS IN KETOSIS, BABY!

Then the LLC asked how my first few days had been, but it was all very rushed. I got weight (lost 3.5lbs in 4 days - but possibly more as I had my period and might have been retaining water), swapped some food packs for banana and chocolate flavours, bought some Water Flavouring and went on my merry.

When I got home I was so full of energy that I raced up and down the 3 flights of stairs in our house (that earlier that day I had literally taken minutes to climb), sorting out the bins and the recycling. Then I had my water flavour with some fizzy water (tastes like champagne after all those soups and shakes) and generally felt quite well-disposed to the world - hunger mostly gone, weakness gone, and feeling solid again. Quite happy to go back to work the next day, if I continued to feel so good.

Week 1 Day 3

Day 3 was better. I awoke after 12 hours' sleep feeling less weak than I had the day before. AND I perfected my vanilla latte (the trick is to use HALF the vanilla pack, then blend it with the espresso and about 500ml of hot water like a motherfucker).

I ate:

1. Vanilla shake - split with 2 espressos (wheeeeeeee!)
2. Banana shake, split with chocolate shake (yum).
3. Chocolate shake, split with banana shake (hot - also yum).
4. Strawberry shake (meh).

Two vanilla lattes did make me a bit wired though. Also, reading about the lady who died on LL was a bit of a setback, however there are plenty who didn't die... there was also that lady who died after drinking 4 litres of water in 30 minutes while on LL. Now LL's standard line on water consumption is "drink to thirst", but the unofficial line is 4 litres still - to make up for all the water you normally get from food. I am quite short, so spent quite a lot of the day wondering if I'd drunk the requisite 3.5 litres, then panicking because I thought I'd drunk too much and was going to die.

On Day 1 I joined the Minimins forum and found some other ladies who are at a similar stage of the diet. I am very impressed with them as they all led busy lives and had children to manage during the first days, whereas I was just working at home salivating over beef and feeling sickly.

Different strokes, I suppose.

HOWEVER. Although I still felt somewhat weak, I did manage to take in the grocery delivery (boyfriend is recovering from surgery to his leg and I don't drive, so we're pretty immobile right now) without keeling over, AND I put it all away without sampling any.

I did feel all weak and feeble after all that heavy lifting, though, so I had my third pack and took some headache pills, then tried to rest for the evening. Although I failed - I worked, and went on the Minimins forum, then had another early night.

Week 1 Day 2

Now, I'm very lucky because, having done my research and knowing that the first week on LL can be difficult, I asked my boss if I could work from home for 3 days that week, and she said yes.

That said, day 2 was rubbish, too. I was still faint, weak and nauseous for most of the day - plus I had a sick, pulsing headache that felt like a threatening migraine. Apparently these symptoms are down to carbohydrate withdrawal, and I do like my carbohydrates.

Undaunted I attempted the vanilla latte again (I'm really missing my daily lattes). This time I unearthed our dusty espresso machine, made a proper espresso and mixed it with a vanilla shake. It was an improvement, but still too gloopy.

I tried to space out my packs every four hours, as I heard that it can help with the wooziness. I had:
  • 1 porridge (very nice; very porridgey - could have been hotter)
  • 1 banana shake (split into two; I tried making a mousse with the first half but added too much water; I had the second soon after as I was feeling so weak)
  • 1 mushroom soup (out of a mug, just like cuppa soup, yum).
But I still felt awful. I managed to get quite a bit of work done, but not as much as I'd liked, and got a bit emotional thinking I'd let my boss down, and had a bit of a cry in the afternoon. Luckily my boyfriend works from home so he was a captive audience for my misery.

I was also swooningly physically hungry. I sometimes suffer with (non-diabetic) low blood sugar crashes; I get woozy and feel as though I'm going to faint, and need some fruit juice (or, to be more honest, a Snickers bar) pronto or it all starts to go wrong. I've had more of these since I put on weight, and I was looking forward to having the chance to 'reset' my body's blood sugar level during abstinence.

But I felt as though I were having a blood sugar crash all day. To be honest, I'm not sure how much of this feeling crappy was down to the diet or the upset tummy of the day before.

Either way, I was physically hungry and emotional. Adverts on TV were driving me mad - I never noticed how much food is mentioned before! Someone said the word 'beef' on TV and I swear my mouth instantly filled with saliva. "I'm literally starving" I told my BF, who opined that I wasn't literally starving, and I got very cross.

It was a relief for everyone I think when I had my final soup pack (I felt a bit better by then) and went to bed early.

Week 1 Day 1

Day 1 was horrendous, even before I'd started my diet.

1. It was a Monday.
2. I started my period.
3. I'd been half-awake all night with painful trapped wind and nausea.
4. As soon as I got up I was stuck in the loo with diarrhoea.

I had to cancel a pre-work physio appointment, and was even wondering if I could actually get to work, and whether to start my diet the following day.

In the end I swallowed some Imodium, made my first pack (disgusting: I tried to be clever and try a thing I'd read where you mix a Vanilla flavour shake with some instant coffee for a vanilla latte - but it was too gloopy and hot and I had to gag it down) and forced myself to go to the station.

Which probably would have been okay if the train hadn't been delayed, then packed FULL (and me not sure if I wouldn't need the toilet urgently) and diverted to an out-of-the-way station.

In the end I got to work and managed to make up my porridge pack before diving into a three hour meeting where there were CROISSANTS and PASTRIES. To be honest I was feeling so faint and lightheaded, and sick, that I wasn't hungry. I just kept gulping down my water.

I felt unwell for the rest of the day and finally came home. I should have had my third pack before leaving the office because I felt faint and sweaty on the train home. As soon as I got home I inhaled a chocolate shake, complained to my boyfriend, then had my Thai Chili soup pack and put myself to bed early, feeling utterly rubbish - nauseous still, weak, and with a painful stomach.

My first Lighter Life meeting

My local Lighter Life HQ is not, as Google Maps purports, "six minutes' walk from a local train station", but slightly too far for me and my fragile ankles to walk comfortably. Which is annoying.

I'd already been weighed at my introductory session (turns out I have borderline BMI - I could have chosen the "lite" programme where you eat a proteiny meal a day, but I am a keen and prolific self-saboteur and that method seemed to have to wide a margin for error), so all that was left for me to do was join the group.

LL HQ has a large, comfortable room with lots of light, squashy sofas, a TV, a flipchart with squiggly psychotherapy diagrams, and a big sign saying "NO FOOD TALK" on the wall. There were about 6 other ladies (the groups are all single sex), who were between 20 and 60 years old (I reckon), and between 1 and 2 weeks ahead of me on the plan. None of them were heifers; some were plumpish, but most just looked like they were carrying a little post-Christmas weight.

They were all really nice and very chatty, and there was a definite coffee morning feel to the entire affair as they all greeted each other, compared weeks, swapped the food packs they didn't like for ones they did (everyone had different tastes), got weighed, and went to pee on special sticks to see if they were in ketosis.

I sort of sat curled up on my own, feeling shy and taking trouble over choosing my packs. What to have? I went with a selection of everything: porridge, shakes and soups (you don't get bars until your second week).

I also tried the water flavours - an orange one, a fruity one and a lemon one - which cost £9 and taste like orange and lemon squash, and Ribena. You don't get these until you're halfway through the first week of your diet. The Lighter Life Counsellor (to whom I will refer hereon in as LLC) warned me that all but one of them (Fruits of the Forest) contained Inulin, a sort of fibre which can cause upset stomachs.

I sat there sipping a glass of St Clements (orangey and Inuliny) and talking to the other ladies until the 'counselling' session began. This week was about the parent, adult and child "ego states".
  • The parent state, if I have this right, is the voice that says "you mustn't eat this" and is critical.
  • The child state is the voice that goes "BUT I WANT IT"
  • The adult state is your more balanced voice who makes decisions based on what's in front of them. "I want this but I shouldn't. Am I really hungry?"
Or something.

To be honest the counselling bit seemed a bit perfunctory. The LLC went over the points on screen and asked us all how food was seen in our households when we were children. I felt this went very quickly, then we were moving on to the next thing.

However, it did make me think - in my house, my mother was very strict about food - about not having sweets or snacks, eating everything you were given whether you liked it or not, and staying at the table until everyone was finished. But mealtimes were BORING because the adults talked and talked and talked through all the courses, right through to the sherry and cheese bit, and the bit where they all smoked. It seemed to last FOREVER.

But then one parent or another would suddenly stop being strict and be "naughty" - encouraging me not to finish my meal and "save space for pudding". Then giving me extra pudding (which we rarely had at home). Then they'd randomly break their no snack rule and take me out for ice cream or sweeties.

God, I was a spoiled child.

But the thing is, it was "naughty" behaviour. My family, for all their properness, were very playful, and I think the children in the house gave the adults an excuse to indulge their playful, naughty side. And they love their food. Going out to eat, whether we were off to a posh restaurant (always fun because of pudding, less so because of the endless talking) or getting takeaway from KFC, was a Big Event that made everyone jolly.

It's a wonder none of them were fat.

So I suppose I associate sweet food and snacks with naughtiness, and a certain amount of adult endorsement.

And I haven't been slim all my life - there was a period as a young teen where I was desperately unhappy and fed my unhappiness by skipping meals and solely eating food gleaned from the school tuck shop - crisps, chocolate, fat Coke, etc. And I seem to remember my mother also giving me the food I wanted, perhaps in a desperate bid to help me, but not knowing how. Somehow the weight dropped off me over the next year, and I went to sixth form college a size 10.

Anyway. I didn't say all this (the LLC moved on too quickly!) but it did ring a few bells in my mind.

Then I got all my food packs, was wished good luck, and left.

My first 2 goals

Now, I'm not very good at goals. I have little experience of setting them and, obviously, even less of achieving them.

But everyone I've met on the various Lighter Life forums out there seems very jolly and positive, and they've set goals - and appear to be motivated by them. So I thought I'd try it too (I'm a sucker for peer pressure).

So. I have three stone to lose. Plus an extra half-stone if I don't do Route to Management (so I have 7lbs of leeway for weight gain when I quit abstinence).

So that's six (or possibly seven) half-stone goals.

Hmm. That's quite scary. I'm having trouble thinking about one non-food or drink-based treat, never mind seven!

Baby steps then.

My original two goals were:
  • Get through the first 4 days - DONE
  • Get into ketosis - DONE
So my next two goals are:
  • First half-stone: I'll buy myself some nice cheap acrylic jewellery from my favourite designer.
  • First stone: I'll buy that pair of Fly London boots I've had my eye on.
It's easy to wander into and-a-pony territory here, so let's revisit once I've achieved at least the first of those goals.

Why I'm following Lighter Life

Because I want to lose weight, duh.

I used to be slim and vigorous, with a healthy interest in pasta and chocolate, but an even healthier interest in walking everywhere and going for a run every morning. I didn't think of it as "diet" or "exercise", I thought of it as "life".

Now I'm neither slim nor vigorous. I'm 3 stone over my ideal weight and 2 stone over my healthy weight. I got this way after I moved to Big Scary London, and comforted myself by joyfully patronising Pret and Starbucks during the working day, and engaging in competitive dinner portion sizes with boyfriend (who stands a good ten inches taller than me) in the evening.

Add to that a sedentary job, a disinclination to run on horrid London streets, being too self-conscious of my blobbiness to even contemplate joining a gym or exercise class, and an ankle injury which causes agony when I walk, is exacerbated my my weight gain, and has inspired my doctor to forbid me from walking so much as half a mile until I've shed the extra weight lest my ankles explode or snap off or something, and what you have is a vicious cycle, and a miserable person challenging the borders of cuddlydom.

Recently I've found myself gazing at slim young women enjoying life in nice clothes, and I've thought wistfully to myself: that used to be me. As though I'm a wizened crone sighing over her lost youth in the Crusades, or whatever. Thing is, I'm still young. And I deserve to be slim, wear nice clothes, and enjoy life.

Which brings us to Lighter Life. I've done my research, I've quizzed my friends, I've asked every medical person I know, and I've read all the scare stories. And I'm still motivated by the prospect of losing a stone a month, having healthyish ankles by Christmas, and some counselling to give me more insight into why I overeat.

When I started this I wasn't planning to do the 12 week Route to Management programme at the end of the 14 weeks, where you reintroduce food into your diet. But loads of people swear by it, so we'll see.

How Lighter Life works

Firstly, I don't work for Lighter Life or anything. I just buy their food packs, attend their counselling sessions, and pray for slenderness.

Lighter Life is a Very Low Calorie Diet (VLCD), on which you abstain from normal food for 14 weeks. Instead you have 4 protein-based, nutritionally rich (apparently) "food packs" per day - shakes, soups and bars.

You can only do Lighter Life if you have a BMI of over 29; if you have less to lose you can do the "lite" programme, on which you have 3 foodpacks and a low-carbohydrate meal per day.

Doing all this gets you into ketosis, a state in which your body burns your own fat, rather than food you've digested, for fuel.

If you follow the programme you typically lose about 3 stone in the 14 week period.

There are other programmes with a similar regime - The Cambridge Diet and the government-endorsed Lipotrim system. But the two things that set Lighter Life apart are

1. The price - at £66 per week it's so hefty that every time you feel yourself wobble, pound signs appear before your eyes.

2. The counselling - you can't do the programme if you don't commit to the weekly group counselling sessions. Your Lighter Life Counsellor (LLC) uses cognitive behavioural therapy and transactional analysis techniques to explore the reasons why you overeat: the idea being that once you finish the programme you'll have lost all your extra weight, and you'll be fully equipped to go back into the world without stuffing your face with cake every day. And, if you do stuff your face with cake every day, at least you'll understand why.

The stages of Lighter Life (as I understand them)

1. Foundation - the 14 week abstinence period

2. Development - if after 14 weeks you have more to lose, you go onto this programme. Not sure how long it is, and I think you have some sort of break before starting it, as you're not supposed to follow a VLCD for more than 14 weeks without some sort of dietary change.

3. Route to Management - a 12 week programme in which you gradually reintroduce normal food until you're eating regularly again. I think the purpose behind this is to not completely blitz your metabolism, and to put some of the food behaviour theory stuff into practice.

4. Management - this is when you've reached your goal weight, and I'm not at all clear about how it works. I think it might involve some sort of secret handshake.