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A Belated New Year Post

17 Feb

I forgot to share my resolutions with anybody. As I usually share them with people and tumble off the wagon anyway, I’m not too worried. I’ve been doing well so far!



1. Follow WeightWatchers. I have been documenting my food intake religiously, and with the assistance of two bouts of winter vomiting (yay!) and a lot of running, I am 7.4 lbs down since new year. It’s slow, but it’s steady, and it feels manageable. I’ve also enjoyed some pretty awesome meals out, and at least four curries, so I’m certainly not being deprived.



2. Stick to the Jeff Galloway marathon training plan. I’ve been doing extremely well at this, having clocked up 66 running miles so far this year. The delightful stomach bugs have meant that I’ve skipped a few, but I’ve got back on course with relative ease. With only two more long runs to go before the Brighton Marathon, I’m really starting to feel like it’s real. On the day, I’m sure I’ll feel like a kid on the first day of school, not feeling like I should be there. I’ve never run with another person before, so I’m not really sure how that’s going to affect me. I know that I am slow (averaging a 17 minute mile on longer runs – don’t laugh!) so I don’t want to fall in line with someone else’s pace and then be exhausted by mile 3!



3. This one’s a little different, as it’s not as SMART as the other two. There’s no “you either are or you aren’t” about it. I’ve been figuring out the stuff that drags me back into the unhealthy rumination and dwelling upon things I simply cannot control. Racists and homophobes; Daily Mail comment threads; dimwits with no understanding of basic economics; masters of self-promotion; “the only way is my way” mothers and many members of the Republican Party.


The Serenity Prayer seems to sum it up – 


God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.


There’s just no use in getting stressed about things unless I’m going to get off my behind and do something to change them. And frankly, I don’t know what to do about them. I don’t really think words have the power to change anyone’s mind. Nor do statistics – we seem to accept the ones that confirm our beliefs and disregard those who don’t. The only think that can make a difference is experience combined with the employment of logic, and people who lack either of those things simply cannot hear.


I’ve taken a step back. I’ve unsubscribed from stuff that stresses me out. The TV remains off. I have to confess that it has been a delight. I have no problem with having my ideas challenged and taking the opportunity to learn, but I do not need to be preached at by people with an extremely narrow world-view. I’ve even become skeptical of journalists who appear to share my opinions, simply for the icky taste that reading any kind of one-sided article leaves. Are there no writers who explore both sides of an argument any more?


And if I need any help lowering my blood pressure, there’s always this little guy…





Finding Inspiration

4 Nov

I’m an avid reader of many healthy living blogs. I love being motivated by their positivity. I feel inspired to go out and actually do some exercise. I try new recipes, and hunt for strange and unusual ingredients in health food shops. Admittedly, I skip over posts that are just about food and exercise, but still, it doesn’t always sit right.

Have you ever been in a situation in which the whole group suddenly starts talking about a topic to which you can’t possibly relate? Maybe it’s when you’re around friends who know each other from school; or when a bunch of work colleagues start talking shop. This is just how I feel when the issue of body image is raised on healthy living blogs.

Healthy living bloggers are lovely. They start things like Operation Beautiful – a scheme that involves leaving post-its in random places, with positive messages. The strongest message across the blogosphere is that your body is amazing, and you should love it no matter what.

One thing that links many of these bloggers is a history of restrictive-eating disorders. We see photos of beautiful, healthy teenage girls alongside stories of disordered eating (understandably no photos at that stage), and the road to recovery leading to healthy, athletic adults. Their message of self-acceptance is so important to encourage others out there to look after themselves, to love themselves.

But what if you’re the newbie amongst the old schoolfriends; the artist among bankers? What if your body isn’t healthy – all medically-recognised methods of measurement call you obese; and workouts leave you feeling wonky, broken and thoroughly down in the dumps? I’ve spoken before about my gratitude to my body for carrying me through infection, but you can’t help but feel, as Janet said, “What have you done for me lately?”

It’s a struggle to listen to the message to love your body when you just want to shift those 60lbs first. It’s tough to hear a natural size 6 girl say “don’t count calories! Just listen to your body, like I do” when listening to your body all your life has gained you a steady 6lbs per year since you left school.

This is why I was delighted to come across Lisa’s blog – 110 Pounds and Counting. This is someone I could truly relate to – she went through her early 20s being large; she recognised that there was more to it than the simple “Don’t diet, just eat less! Move more!” that the naturally-skinny bellow at us. While I will always love the blogs in my Google Reader, I am glad to have discovered someone whose life and attitudes are comparable to mine.

How about you, readers?

1. Where do you turn for inspiration?

2. Do you separate weight and health, or are you at the stage where the two goals are intertwined?

3. Do you find it easier to be inspired by people you feel are similar to you?

Is Something Chasing Me?

13 Jul
Because that’s the only time I ever run! Ok, this isn’t really running, just a light jog, but this morning I got up, left the house at 6 and did 5k. I’ve been faffing around with Couch to 5k programmes for so long and getting absolutely nowhere, so I thought I’d take the advice of the title of my latest blog crush, and just Shut Up And Run!
I seem to have reasonable stamina at low levels of effort, so I figured I’m just going to focus for now on getting my 5k jog up to a reasonably respectable 5k run. To do this, I did 500m warmup, jogged for 2.5km, turned round and jogged back for 2.5km, then 500m cooldown. Simple enough! I suppose what I’m hoping for is to get to the stage where that feels really natural, and so I can push myself a bit further.
So… Here’s the data! I’m not sure how exactly figures out what a lap is, but I haven’t managed to find a better site for this purpose yet.
Lap # 1 – 1.70 km; 14.30 minutes; 6.84 km/h
Lap # 2 – 1.62 km; 12.23 minutes; 7.06 km/h
Lap # 3 – 1.66 km; 13.14 minutes; 6.91 km/h
Lap # 4 – 0.85 km; 07.58 minutes; 5.80 km/h
Total – 6.04 km; 52.51 minutes; 6.74 km/h
The route I take is absolutely beautiful – there’s a canopy of trees that make it almost faerie glen-like. Once the new phone arrives (Carphone Warehouse rang to inform me that they believe that the delivery driver has stolen the one that I was due to pick up today…) I will be sure to take some pictures to share. Maybe even ones of my post workout face, á la Chocolate Covered Katie. Hmm… We shall see.

Photography Gripes and Seeing Results!

6 Jul
One of my blogger faves – Nodakademic – posted this very informative post about what it’s like to photograph a wedding.  Rather than totally hijack her post with my thoughts-in-general about the world of wedding photography, I thought I’d share over here!
Having watched our photographer in action at a wedding recently, I have no doubt that it’s a physically and emotionally tiring job. He was wearing a pair of North Face-type shoes, which my fiancé (his friend) commented were rather scruffy for a wedding, until he started leaping almost ninja-like from rock, to bench, to bit of ruined castle, all to get the perfect shot, without getting in the way of anyone.

The niggle that I do have about wedding photography is why photographers aren’t more straightforward with their charging methods. When someone quotes me £1500 for a fancy album that I don’t want, or £3000 for the jpegs as they don’t want the quality of their work to be compromised by cheap printing or online sharing, it’s hard not to be really confused about what exactly the role of a wedding photographer is.

Our wedding is not a piece of art, it’s a day from which we’d like visual mementoes, and we don’t want to have to rely on friends/family members (like we would at a regular party) to give up their party time – so we hire a photographer. We want them to have photography skills, an inquisitive nature, and a keen eye for detail.

That’s where the first issue arises – with the increased popularity of recreational photography, there are more and more alleged professionals popping up with no more skill than I have with a camera.

While the improved accessibility is wonderful, and competition is healthy, the fact that these lower-skilled photographers are charging as much as the good ones is just not on. We, the laymen, are not always equipt to make the best decision regarding photography – we may naively fall in love with the details of a wedding and confuse that with good photography; a good-looking couple can also sway us; and the number of photographers peddling tales of celebrity clients is amazing. I know it’s all a case of caveat emptor, but the accountant in me is just crying out for industry regulation!

My dream photographer? Someone who says “I’m going to be with you for X hours; travelling for Y hours; processing for Z hours. My hourly rate for onsite work is £A; my hourly rate for travelling is £B and my hourly rate for processing work is £C.” They then charge for products at cost plus mark-up, like a regular business does.

I’d be happy to pay a handsome hourly rate to get exactly what I want – nothing more, nothing less. Good photography is a great skill, and it should be rewarded – but an industry where there is such emotion attached – it is rare to hear a bride confess that the photographer had been “just ok” – and where repeat custom is almost non-existent, I’m not sure that fair rewards are being paid.
I’m currently in negotiations with a boudoir photography company (I shall report more later!) who charged £50 for an hour-long shoot including five minutes with a make-up artist, and one 5″ by 7″ print. The next level up is four 5″ by 7″ prints, for £250! Not only were there not four that I *loved*, but this is a gift for the groom – but having already bought him a beautiful watch, I’m really not planning on spending even more. We’ve got a wedding to pay for, after all! 
I offered them a further £75 for a second print – there are two that I love – but they declined, saying that they felt their packages provided good value. Um… Correct me if I’m wrong, but doesn’t buying more than you want kind of go against the principles of good value? Sort of why I’m not allowed to fill my trolley with the 10p-a-punnet tomatoes that are just about to go off. 
So, I’m just sticking with one photo. For the cost they have incurred providing the photographer and the make-up artist, not to mention the overheads –  a pretty studio; hefty marketing; two reception staff – they are reaping a total of £50, simply because they didn’t want to compromise. And for the baby bump picture I was planning in the future? I’ll be looking elsewhere.
Couldn’t just leave you without sharing a pic of my super-slummy lunch! Half a vegetarian lasagne from Sainsbury’s; brussels sprouts and spring greens, all on a tasty corn tortilla with lashings of extra virgin olive oil. 
Here’s a little story about EVOO, as the food bloggers call it: some time ago, I read an article in goodness-only-knows-what magazine, but a chef who said that you should never use EVOO for cooking, because it loses its flavour – only ever for dressings and such. It was one of those things like saying “hippopotami” or naming your child after a celebrity – people do it to appear refined, but actually show themselves to be less so than if they hadn’t tried in the first place. Well… Ha! Mr Snooty Chef. Call me unrefined, but I think that EVOO tastes delicious when used in cooking, and I definitely notice that it tastes fruitier than normal olive oil.
As a result of this discovery, I have decided that any calories I have left over at the end of the day (according to my beloved MyNetDiary app) will be used in a big ol’ drizzle of olive oil in my supper. It makes even the diet-iest of meals taste like a treat – and the presence of good fats means that my body isn’t going to freak out that I’m eating less and exercising more.
So… I should probably share some of my results thus far – 

Whoop! The dotty line is what the scales say; the solid line is the TrueWeight smoothing out. And… The dress is fully zipping up!! Relief. Now I can just get back to slow and steady health-improvement.

As an aside – I apologise if anyone felt that my use of actual monetary figures was a little crass – I just felt that quantities were necessary to make the illustration. x

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