23 May 2013

The Pity Party is Over


Normal service is resumed.

I went back to Slimming World today, thanks to Polly for dragging me along. I could have easily just given up, but I'm not a happy fatty.

So, I put on fifteen pounds in three weeks. Whatever. Nobody died.

I'm back on the diet healthy eating plan.

I'm going to see Dawn to get my head straight.

I'm sorry about the self-loathing in my last post. I've stopped now.


How to Gain Eleven Pounds in Seven Days

Want to know how to gain eleven pounds in seven days? The answer is to go on a diet.

There are not many things I really and truly hate, but I detest diets. I've either been on a diet or thinking I should be on a diet since I was nine years old. That's thirty four years of misery and guilt. Thirty four years of yo-yo dieting. Thirty four years of disappointment and self-loathing.

I was hoping to be able to write a ta daaaa! post, with before and after photographs, showing how much weight I had lost. But my latest attempt to become fitter, healthier - and smaller - has crashed and burned.

I'd spent a good few years saying that diets didn't work (if they did work, I'd be a size 10) and I was never going to diet again, but I was getting fatter and fatter. I had to do something. I'd tried Thinking Slimmer. Some of my behaviours surrounding food and exercise had changed, but I didn't lose any weight. I'd been seeing a Cognitive Hypnotherapist and she did help me to break through some of the mental barriers that I'd put up, the ones that I'd built up over the years, the ones that prevented me from losing weight. So then I was ready to lose weight. I joined Slimming World last October .

The first four months at Slimming World were great. I found that the eating plan suited me, as did the group support. As well as losing three stones, I lost the headaches and the heartburn of the binge eater.

Then I got ill with pneumonia, pleurisy and sepsis. After a few days of illness, a week in hospital, and a scary first few days at home, I'd lost another stone.

It was important to me to get back to Slimming World as quickly as I could, but more important to eat well after my health scare. I followed the plan, but my weight loss had stopped. I had reached the dreaded dieter's plateau. Despite eating healthily I stayed at the same weight for two months. I haven't been able to exercise at all, my recovery from serious illness is slow and I have to rest most of the time. Even so, I would have expected some small weight losses.

A few weeks ago I went for my weekly weigh-in to find that I had gained a pound and a half. I had followed the diet plan to the letter that week. The disappointment I felt prompted a week off the plan. Six months is a long time to stick to an eating plan, even one as simple as Slimming World. I didn't go crazy - we eat healthy, balanced meals as a family - although I did eat white toast with butter, chocolate and biscuits. I ate all the things I fancied, but hadn't really had for a while. Mmm, pizza.

I gained a whopping eleven pounds in that week off the plan.

I didn't think it was possible to gain that amount of weight in a week. I went straight back on the plan for five days but only lost a measly two pounds. Since then, for a week or so, I've been binge eating. Out of control. Eating everything in sight. I can't stop. I have continuous headaches and heartburn. I'm bloated. I haven't weighed myself. I daren't weigh myself. I hate myself.

Where do I go from here?

If I go back to Slimming World, I'll feel a big fat failure every week as I can't seem to control my eating right now.

If I stop dieting I'll end up bigger than I was before. I hate being the biggest mum at the school gates. I hate being an unhealthy, out of breath, lumbering, unfanciable lump. Fat cow. Lazy fat cow. Stupid fat cow.

As this was a rant of epic proportions, I've linked up with Mummy Barrow's Ranty Friday:


14 May 2013

The Top Five Regrets of the Dying

I read an article in the Guardian this morning, entitled Top Five Regrets of the Dying. It's not a new article, and I have heard the sentiments expressed before, but it has certainly made me think today.

The Five Regrets, collected from her patients by a palliative care nurse, are:
1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.
2. I wish I hadn't worked so hard.
3. I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.
4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.
5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

I can see that being true to yourself, expressing your feelings and allowing yourself to be happier are three sides to a triangle - they are all necessary. But how often do we compromise on one, or all, of these?

I am all things to all people. I act differently depending on the company and the situation. I'm a professional writer/blogger, a dutiful daughter, a loving wife, a caring mother and a good friend. I am afraid that if I expressed my real feelings all the time then my clients, mother, husband, children and friends wouldn't like or love me quite as much as they do. So how can I be true to myself?

On my old CV I had, under 'Strengths', communicates well at all levels. This is supposed to be a Good Thing, but am I not being authentic or true to myself if I modify my behaviour and speech depending on who I'm talking to? I want to fit in and please everyone, whether it's at a board meeting, in a shop or at the school gate. I sometimes wonder whether this shows weakness rather than strength of character.

If I'm not true to myself, how can I be present and honest with anyone else? I worry that I don't know how to be anything else.  I haven't always done the right thing, preferring to keep the peace over standing up for myself or others. These mistakes eat away at me. There are decisions I made that I regret right now - I'm not waiting until I'm on my death bed to feel like this. I regret more of the things that I have done, than the things I haven't.

Perhaps being honest with myself here (on the fourth anniversary of starting this blog) is how I start to turn this around. Maybe I'm being unnecessarily hard on myself and my character flaws. I know I'm not a bad person, I just need to let go of the past and move forward. I want to be authentic and happy, to have strength of character. I will cherish those friendships that I still have. To do this I need to take all of this negative baggage and lose it somewhere.

Would there be anything you would regret on your death bed? What can you do now to change that?

Between drafting this post and deciding to hit publish I visited my Google Reader.  One of my favourite people has written an awesome blog post that I have to share with you. Please do check out 33 Things I Have Learned by Kat at Housewife Confidential. You'll be glad you did. Promise.



10 May 2013

Reasons to Love Living in Milton Keynes #8: The Stables

The Stables at Wavenden in Milton Keynes is my new favourite live music venue.

It was built by Dame Cleo Laine and the late Sir John Dankworth in 1970, in the grounds of their home. It is now run as a charity providing world class music and entertainment. There are also hundreds of educational events held each year. You can learn to play the ukulele or even study songwriting with Beth Nielsen Chapman.

The Jim Marshall Auditorium seats just 398, but attracts a diverse range of artists from Seth Lakeman to Sarah Millican via T'Pau. There is also a second stage hosting even more intimate performances from up and coming artists.

Late last year I saw that Turin Brakes were playing at The Stables. I'd seen them earlier in the year at Esquires in Bedford and wanted to see them again. Andy already had a ticket to see Luke Haines that night so we got a babysitter and I decided to see Turin Brakes on my own. I managed to book a single ticket in the front row.

Everything about my experience of The Stables was fantastic. Stewards ensured the parking was well-organised. Yes, I do realise how middle-aged I sound. All of the staff inside the venue were friendly and helpful too. We were all ushered into our seats ready for the support band. I don't think rockers Strange Empire had ever experienced such a polite, seated, appreciative crowd. I think they enjoyed the experience. We did.

Turin Brakes were amazing, of course. The sound quality was excellent. They played most of one of the best albums of all time, The Optimist LP, as well as tracks from their other albums. They also treated us to some new songs. I can't wait for the new album. They are great musicians. I love them. Me, gush? Never. Okay, just a little bit.

At one point they hopped off the stage and did an acoustic number, like a band of wandering minstrels.


Despite us staying in our seats (we didn't want to get a friendly telling off from the ushers), I hope the band knew we were loving the gig. There were ovations and encores galore at the end.

Dear Turin Brakes,
Please please please please come and play The Stables again soon.
Thanks, Sandy x

In the meantime I shall take my pick from Jane Siberry, Midge Ure, Ricky Ross, Richard Herring, Chas n Dave, 4 Poofs & A Piano, Hazel O'Connor, Sam Lee, Ruby Turner, Gretchen Peters, Elkie Brooks...


1 May 2013

The Selfie

Digital photography and camera phones really are fantastic, aren't they?

No more snapping away in the dark, hoping for the best that you don't have your thumb over the lens. No more waiting for Truprint to process your roll of film, only to find half the photos have stickers on telling you that you have camera shake. The stickers were unnecessary, frankly. I could see with my own inexpert eyes just how poor my photos were. Dark, disappointing, fuzzy images and half-closed eyes are, fortunately, a thing of the past.

Now we can take as many photographs as we like and select the best images, publishing them instantly onto social media. You don't need anyone to take your picture, you can do it yourself.

And so, the selfie was born.

Wherever you are and whatever you're doing, you can record it and share it with the world.

At the hairdressers? You must Instagram your hair in the mirror before, during and after your cut and colour.

Unwell? You need to show us exactly how rough you look, so we can respond with the appropriate level of sympathy.

Met a celebrity? Take an arm's length selfie or we simply won't believe it happened.

All dolled up and about to go out? You must share how amazing you look - especially if it's a rare night out.

Met a friend for drinks? Show us how much fun you're having. Raise that glass.

On holiday? You must share your just got out of the pool look.

Home alone and bored? Take seventy seven photos of yourself pulling faces. You never know, one of them may be good enough to be your new avatar.

Please tell me that last one isn't just me.

You could pretend someone else took the photograph and caught you looking naturally glamorous or hilarious, but we know it was you.

How many selfies do you take? Or, to put it another way, exactly how much of a narcissist are you?


This is my entry into The Photo Gallery: Week 140. The Gallery has been going for 140 weeks - how did that happen? The theme this week is self-portrait.


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