The 'who's going to raise the children' question

I have spent a lot of time thinking about this and even more so now we are actively trying to get pregnant.

I think back to my own childhood and all the great memories I have of playing outdoors with my sisters, baking flapjacks in the kitchen with mum, home-made cakes and biscuits for Christmas and birthdays, coming home from school to afternoon tea...
And I know that's the kind of life I want to be able to give my kid(s).

And I think that's what's frustrating me most right now: I can't accept the idea of putting my 3 month old baby into daycare (cause that's all the maternity leave you get here in Belgium) and seeing it no more than an hour every morning and evening - just enough time to wash, change clothes, feed and put to sleep (cause that's all that's left over when you work a 9 to 6 job in advertising).

I'd love to find a job that would allow me to either work from home or be home around 4 every day or work only 3 days a week, and still allow me to earn enough to cover the costs. It's not that I want to stop work altogether, and I think it's a good idea for any kid to spend some amount of time in daycare with other children, it's just that finding a job that meets both the time and money requirements is a hell of a lot harder than it should be.

This country has resolutely chosen a parenting model that stimulates mothers to remain active professionally - daycare is tax deductible, you can work 4/5ths for a certain amount of time (15 months) after your child is born (but I'll immediately add that most companies in the advertising business subtely discourage it), you only get 3 months maternity leave. Well, that's fine for the women who place their career above their family (or who don't have a choice if they want to make ends meet), but what about the people who still believe that raising a child is already in itself almost a full-time job and who want to do it themselves instead of leaving it up to government-funded strangers?

Other countries have taken a different approach and see motherhood (and to some extent fatherhood) as jobs in their own right. They put in place structures that enable parents to work less hours and spend more time raising their kids. The job market in those countries is full of part-time positions and prospective employers don't look at you like dirt if you happen to enquire about the possibility of working less hours.

I've done the maths and I know we can live decently if I only work 3 days a week, providing I keep the same day rate as I'm charging now. The major issue is that as a freelance I can't choose the days I work, and most projects are full-time, even if they only last 2 or 3 weeks at a time. So there's no way I can decide to only work 3 - fixed - days a week and still hope to get projects. And I can't just decide to put my kid into daycare some weeks and not others, cause daycare centers don't work that way. Part-time jobs are almost inexistant - most of the positions that would fit my profile are more likely to pay you for 37 hours a week and expect 50 - and any job that would allow me to work part-time is likely to pay so bad I'd be better off on unemployment benefits.

This is totally, absolutely frustrating me. And I'm pissed off at a government, country and society that has made decisions that impact my life so much. And my freedom of choice when it comes to how big a part I want to play in raising my kids.

Oh, and if I hear one more person saying "well, that's how everyone else does it", I'll cram something down their throat. It isn't because this country is packed full of frustrated, overworked, over-stressed mothers that I have to become one of them.

Week 45, 46 and 47 WI, babies and knitting

Okay, I have shamefully neglected my blog for the past 3 weeks. No idea why I wasn't inspired to post more often, as I've been reading everyone else's blogs daily.

Over the past 3 weeks I have managed to lose an astonishing 0.1 kg / 0.2 lbs.
I am definitely an underachiever on the weight loss front. I did however get a silver 7 despite this ridiculous result. That's 2.5 stone gone since I started. Not the greatest loss for almost a year, but I haven't been tracking for the past 6 weeks and I'm not putting weight back on. That's an achievement in my book.

Loss this week (well, last week actually): - 0.1 kg / - 0.2 lbs
Total loss: - 15.9 kg / - 35.1 lbs

Other news: babies. I am currently having unprotected sex for the first time in 13 years.
Yes, I've come to terms with my fears. Well, almost. But I am truly excited about the whole process and eager to make it happen. Watch this space for updates (except if you're reading this and you're related to me, then I'll tell you in person).

Not sure if this is related to the previous bit of information, but I've started knitting again.

This is the result so far. It's a scarf. The first 10 rows represent the time it took me to remember I needed to alternate front stitch and back stitch. I'm thinking of it as my practice piece, that way it will exceed any expectations I have of it.
I am already wondering whether I will have enough wool to finish it though and am trying to imagine what else I could use it as if I run short before it's a decent length.

Other than that, the past 3 weeks have been pretty uneventful. I have given up alcohol and haven't had a drink in 17 days. An absolute record. I have decided not to drink at all during pregnancy and breastfeeding, so I still have a year or so to go, but I'm trying not to think about that.

Oh and our trip to New Zealand is now planned out and booked. 7 weeks to go till we leave!! I am really looking forward to it - I'll be spending Christmas with my mum and sisters for the first time in 21 years, how crazy is that? And it will be summer over there, yay!

Time to get some work done, hope you're all having a good week.

Babies and work (part 2)

Since my previous post where I vented my doubts about becoming a parent, I've had some more ups and downs, moments of decision and indecision, excitement and anxiety.

Surprising (to me at least) was just how much I'm worrying about the financial/time implications of having a baby. I'm really anxious about combining work and parenting, and I refuse to become one of those permanently stressed people I see all around me, running on 5 hours sleep a night, racing from daycare to work, battling to leave work on time to pick baby up, not having the time to actually enjoy quality time together, barely surviving the week and constantly over-tired, over-stressed, over-worked.

And at the same time I've accepted the job offer I got (see this post) only to realise after the first few hours there yesterday that life/work balance was definitely not a priority on their agenda. The girl I'd be replacing is actually an ex-colleague (from far, never actually talked to her till yesterday) and she gave me the low-down on the work ethics (working till 4 a.m., unpaid weekend work, budget restrictions - aka doing everything yourself so the bosses make more money, impossible client...). I'm already stressed at the idea of having to deal with all those situations, even though my resolution is to set limits and not let them put me under pressure, but I'm expecting it to be hell. In which case I'll be telling them "thanks, but no thanks" by the end of December.

So my existential questions are far from being resolved, but at the same time I'm feeling restless and impatient to get started on the baby front. Maybe a bit paradoxically, I can't wait to move on to the next chapter of our life and I'm really looking forward to seeing Bart hold our baby in his arms. I'm sure he's going to be an amazing dad and I'm looking forward to having him by my side to share this experience with.

Okay, so trying to be rational here: I still have time to sort out the work situation, I'm not married to this new job - far from, and there have to be jobs out there that will allow me to spend time with my kid and still stay active and earn enough money to pay my share of the costs. Right?

Back to the eighties (whoop!)

It's unofficial and all, and I know I'm not supposed to weigh myself every day, but this morning I stepped on the scales, and there it was...

89.9 kg

I'm into the 80's!!!!

Doing the happy dance and hoping I can keep it off and maybe even improve by next weigh in :)

Oh crap (more dilemmas)

Okay, so I've been offered a job today. Not freelancing, but a fixed contract. It's in an agency, working on a neat project, a kind of monthly magazine for a big supermarket chain. It's almost more of an editorial role than account management, and I like the sound of the project.

I met the account director 2 weeks ago, then the company's partners last week, and they asked me to come in today to make me an offer.

So the offer is: freelance part-time till xmas (cause I have other ongoing projects), then I go on holiday for a month, then full-time fixed contract when I get back.

The money's good (20% better than previous job), the people all seem really nice and open and I like the project. The downsides are: not having the luxury of days off between projects like I have now, and they're in a different city. Minimum 35 minutes away, but in morning and evening traffic more like 1 hour or more. Ugh! I hate, hate, HATE traffic and the impression I'm wasting my life in my car. They're quite flexible, so I can work from home in the mornings and stuff like that, but getting home in the evenings is not going to be fun.

I became a freelance cause I needed a break from my previous job (evil, evil people and waaaay too much pressure) and because I didn't know what I wanted to do. Now it seems I'm just doing what I did before, except for different clients and agencies, with the added paperwork. So I'm not against the idea of going back to a fixed contract, but wasn't expecting the opportunity to present itself so soon.

Anyway, I need to give them an answer tomorrow and I'm in another fit of anxiety over having to decide. I hate being put in front of life-changing decisions and right now I'm having more than my share (I know, most people would kill to be in my position, it's a luxury problem, yadda, yadda, I still feel crap about it).

By the way

Do you like the new layout? :)

Week 44 WI

I managed to lose the weight I put on last week, plus a little bit extra, so I'll happily take that result :)
I'm still not pointing, but seem to have found a good balance and am listening to my hunger signals and making healthy choices. Unthinkable 10 months ago because I had absolutely no sense of proportion or of what it was "normal" to eat in one day, so I have definitely covered some ground since then :)

Still very stressed about the baby business though (see previous post) so I hope I can keep the emotional eating in check.

But, on a brighter note, here are my updated results so far:
Loss this week: -0.7 kg / - 1.5 lbs
Total loss: - 15.8 kg / - 34.8 lbs
BMI: 32.0

Next week I hope to: get into the 80's (kg) - 0.3 kg to go. Which will also mean getting my 5th silver 7 and 15% loss - 0.1 kg to go. All very achievable!

Good luck to everyone else weighing in this week.

I think too much (to have or not to have babies?)

"You over-think" was actually the result of a quiz I took in this month's Psychologies magazine: "What are your secret stresses?". And it's true. I have a constant stream of thoughts going through my mind, the voices in my head are never quiet. And sleep would be a welcome reprieve if I didn't usually have vivid dreams related to whatever I'm worrying about.

Last night I had a restless night and thoughts of babies and the impact they would have on my future going through my mind constantly. I felt unsettled, anxious, unsure if I really wanted to go ahead with trying to conceive (we planned to start next month). I couldn't shake the thought that this decision would impact the next 20 years of our lives (and beyond).

I've always been ambivalent about having kids. I don't have the "urge" I see in some friends or read about on parenting sites. But I also don't imagine NOT having kids at some point.

I have no doubts whatsoever about the relationship I'm in. If there's anyone I want kids with, it's my husband, I know that's not the issue.

So what's the problem?

Well, I just seem to focus on all the negatives: less time for me/for us, sleepless nights, dirty nappies, crying, tantrums, illness, no more lie-ins, too much responsibility, everything structured and planned, routine... I worry about not having any room in my life for this new person who will undoubtedly take up all my time, about being tired, stressed, unhappy...

It's not a career/children issue in the sense that if we do have kids I'd prefer to work part-time, preferably from home, and that wouldn't be a sacrifice in any way, but I do worry about finances and will we be able to make ends meet if I'm only working part-time? As a kid, my parents and - after the divorce - my dad struggled with money and I didn't have a lot - I put myself through university on a grant and felt so liberated when I got my first pay-check. I am terrified at the idea of going back to a place where every penny counts and we can't do what we want - holidays, dinner, clothes, all the things we can treat ourselves to now.

And I suppose more fundamentally, I'm just not sure if I want whatever it is children are supposed to bring you - unconditional love? a sense of purpose in life? fulfilment? I'm just not sure I need those things, and whether they're worth the sacrifice of time and energy involved.

Also, I am shit scared of losing myself, of becoming a "mommy", of being redefined by the children I have as opposed to who I am. It took me a while to find that person, after years of living with an overbearing parent, followed by a fucked-up relationship, and I'm not ready to lose her again.

I'm finally getting to grips with my eating disorder, self-image and self-confidence. I have defined myself as a creative, talented, intelligent woman. I don't want that to all be erased by a "mommy" label. And I'm afraid that if I have babies I'll turn into a different person (well, that's more like a certainty) and I kind of like the person I am now.

Finally, at least for the purposes of this post, there's also the question of how our relationship will change if we have a baby. Will we manage to find time for each other? Will we respect each other as parents? Will we deal with the added stress? Will we agree on parenting issues, from bedtimes to pocket money and the thousands of other little things parents have to decide on?

The thing is, I'm 31 and Bart is 37. I don't want us to be "older" parents. I feel if we want to do this we need to decide now or at least soon. And Bart wants kids, so it's all on me. And I can go through the motions and rationalise myself into it, but these nagging fears just keep popping up. I know the responsible thing to do is to work through these questions before jumping head-first into this pregnancy, so I'll be doing some serious soul-searching over the next few weeks. Although part of me feels I'm over-analysing it and should just let nature take its course. In the meantime, I just feel so confused about the whole thing.

Week 43 WI

And I've been a bad, bad girl.

Well, actually I thought I was pretty good, if I completely blank out the 2 days I spent in London at my friend Anne's.

Saturday was lunch at Carluccio's (hey, I had the tomato soup for starters) and Sunday full roast lunch at Brown's (oops, did I mention the oven roast camembert we shared for starters?). Both meals nicely topped off with sparkling wine (the kind that goes down a little too easily).

I actually thought I had limited the damage as I was too full for dinner both days, but snacking on twiglets and pretzels washed down with white wine obviously didn't fit into that plan.

Anyway, back from temptation and the damage as measured this morning is 0.4 kg / 0.9 lbs on.

I've been back on track since Monday, but still not actually tracking. I'm just really tired with the whole counting points and I think it actually has a negative effect on me: I eat healthily all day and listen to my hunger signals, but when I point everything I've eaten and I'm under points, I suddenly start wondering what else I could eat. If I don't add up the points, I don't actually think about having that extra snack.

Anyway, I've decided to give pointing a rest for a while longer and see how it goes. Fingers crossed.

Week 42 WI

I am completely gobsmacked at this week's result. As I explained in yesterday's post, I didn't track my points last week, but I did try to eat sensibly and didn't snack. Neverthesless, I was fully expecting to stay the same or even put on a few grams. So I am absolutely elated to report I lost 0.8 kg / 1.8 lbs this week!

This is my biggest loss since the end of July, and although I don't understand how it happened I am really happy with it.

Also... drum rolls... I have just squeezed under the 200 lbs mark. I am now 199.6 lbs. And I need to lose another half kilo to reach the 90 kg mark. Some great milestones :-)

Here are my updates results:
Loss this week: - 0.8 kg / - 1.8 lbs
Total loss: - 15.5 kg / - 34.2 lbs
BMI: 32.1

I'm not sure I'm going to just "carry on doing what I did", cause I still think I need to track to have a realistic view on what I'm eating, and also the mojitos and crisps on Friday night and red wine and chocolate cake on Saturday just don't feel like an acceptable part of a diet. But I am going to enjoy this loss :-)

Hope everyone else has a great week. I look forward to reading all your results.

Food obsession

I didn't point all week. Which doesn't mean I went completely over the top, I was actually quite reasonable all week - until yesterday night when the red wine and chocolate cake got the better of me.
But I tried to stick to 3 reasonable meals a day and no snacking, and really didn't do too bad.

Which made me think back to 9 months ago and remember how I would fantasise about food all day long.
I remember going to bed at night dreaming about the next day's breakfast, or finishing lunch and already fantasising about everything in the cupboards, doing a mental inventory of the fridge and obsessing about any chocolate bar or biscuit I knew was sitting in the kitchen waiting for me. The worst moment of the day was after dinner, when the food sirens would call to me and I would make regular trips from the couch to the kitchen to nible at anything and everything, hoping my husband didn't notice. Total obsession. I would estimate I spent about 6 hours a day just thinking about food, feeling taunted by it, anticipating eating it, battling with myself about whether or not to eat it, eating it, feeling guilty about eating it...

I realised at the time that I was completely obsessed and knew it wasn't normal or healthy, but I couldn't imagine it ever changing, I thought that was just the way I was kinked and would have to battle my food thoughts for the rest of my life.

9 months on and I hardly ever think about food (I'm not kidding, I really rarely think about it anymore), I can go 6 or 7 hours without eating and suddenly realise it's dinner time because I feel hungry (yes, HUNGRY!). I think "so this is how normal people feel about food?" and have a hard time imagining I was so obsessed about it in the first place.

Of course, I still have issues or I'd already be a size 10. Stress sees me making unhealthier choices (not eating more, just less healthy) and social situations are triggers for going off track (alcohol and snacks, my two worst enemies).

Last night I sat at a dinner table with 2 friends. One naturally skinny and one a constant dieter - she's at a healthy weight now but often yoyos up and down by 10 kilos or so. On the table, a bottle of red wine and a chocolate cake. This was after a relatively healthy and filling dinner of chicken and vegetable curry.
It struck me that whereas naturally skinny friend could leave a half-eaten slice of cake on her plate and half a glass of red wine in front of her for half an hour without touching it, dieter friend and me were constantly sipping and nibbling, cutting away small bits of cake and topping up our glasses of wine regularly. I'd estimate that by the end of the evening we'd had about 3 times more cake than skinny friend and double the amount of wine.

So, still some issues to deal with before I am 100% freed from the food demons, but I do think I can get there eventually.

My dream is to become a naturally healthy person, able to stay at a steady weight for long periods of time without much effort, auto-regulating any excesses without even thinking about it, with an inate sense of balance. I wonder if that's possible or if the overeater in me will always be lurking in the shadows, ready to send me soaring back into obesity?

Week 41 WI

I had a week off last week. Well, not on purpose, but that's the way it turned out.

I had just a little bit too much to eat every day and couldn't be bothered enough to point it. 3 days in a row eating out, plus mad hours at work meant I wasn't as strict with myself as I am most of the time - at least in a good week.

Having said that, I made decent choices and indulged in a controlled way, so I was quite pleased to see a 0.1 kg / 0.2 lbs loss on the scale today. Not much, but not a gain after a week of potentially explosive situations. Yay me!

Back on track this week and no alcohol for a week - still amazing how tired I am the next day even after just 2 glasses of wine...

Week 40 WI

40 weeks in, wow. I'm not sure I ever believed I'd keep at it for this long when I started. Pretty proud of that actually.

Last week was another one of those "well, I stuck to points but nothing happened" weeks, with a minuscule loss of 0.2 kg / 0.4 lbs (and to be completely honest the scales were hesitating between 0.1 and 0.2 kg, but I decided to be optimistic about it and take the greater loss).

Still not going quite as quick and steady as I'd like, but what a turn-around I've made in my eating habits. I feel so much healthier, so much more in control, so much less dependent on food. So I guess fast or slow doesn't matter, what matters is I've made a change for life and I'll get there eventually.

Results to date:
Loss this week: - 0.2 kg / - 0.4 lbs
Total loss: - 14.6 kg / - 32.2 lbs
BMI: 32.4

Also, I went down another size in clothes this past month and can now fit into quite a few old pairs of trousers, so it feels like I have a new wardrobe, lol!

Exercise was virtually non-existent last week, except for an hour and a half of yoga, which I LOVE and will be doing every Tuesday from now on. But work was intense, I was busy till 8 or 9 most evenings, so not much time for anything else. I'm hoping to get back to badminton this weekend though. On top of the exercise, it's a nice activity with my man and a good way to spend time together.

Hope everyone else is feeling good and progressing. Good vibes to all my WW blogger buddies :-)

My mother-in-law

... is a real sweetheart. I mean, she's rather loud and very much set in her ways, not very adventurous or worldly, and we don't always understand each other - her language being my third language and she speaks it with a heavy accent - but as far as supporting me during my diet goes, she's gold.

We go to see them once every 3 weeks on a Sunday - in itself a very reasonable amount of in-law time ;-) - and have dinner with them. She is also quite heavy-set and has followed WW herself in the past, so knows what I can and can't eat and actually prepares special dishes for me when she makes anything that's not 100% good for me. So while evryone else was eating cheese croquettes for starters and fries with the main course, I got parma ham and melon, and boiled potatoes. Probably saving me about 12 points! What an angel :-)

On a more freaky note, she was telling me today how much she noticed I'd already lossed (bless her!), then told me not to lose too much or I wouldn't have any breasts left, adding "don't take my son's toys away!". Eeeeuw! Okay, so he's an only son and she is obviously extremely attached to him, but that was just one step too far for me.

But, moving swiftly on... today she made "paling in't groen", a traditional Belgian dish of eel in a green sauce made with spinach, celery, parsley, onions, etc. I was a bit squirmish at the idea of eating eel, but really it tastes just like any other fish, isn't slimy at all like I thought it would be and it went down really well :-)

Baby talk

Well, I went to my ob-gyn yesterday to get the results of my blood test and everything is looking good: no risk of trisomy, good blood sugar levels and my kidneys and liver are "working perfectly" (not sure that would have been the case 9 months ago, so thank goodness for my new diet). So we got the go ahead to make babies :)

The only negative is that I'm not protected agains CMV or toxoplasmosis, so will have to take some precautions when pregnant, but I can live with that.

We also discussed weight issues and the doctor is supportive of me trying to not put any on weight during pregnancy. He says it's all up to me and as long as I'm eating a healthy, balanced diet he doesn't see why I couldn't keep the weight I have now (meaning I'm actually losing weight as the baby grows). I'm going to look into it some more as I read somewhere that the toxins released when you burn fat weren't good for the baby (?), but for now that's the plan.

And then because of our trip to NZ at the end of the year we won't be trying till November so we're back here on time for the (apparently) all-important 13 week scan. So for now we're still doing practice rounds ;-)

In the meantime I'm going to try and lose a couple more kg to get into the 80's. I am still unsure about starting a pregnancy at this weight, but at the same time I think if my body can't handle it, chances are it just won't happen.

So, I'm off to find some more pregnancy blogs and forums to read and get as much information as I can to prepare for the whole experience (yes, I'm a control freak). How exciting!!

Week 39 WI

And the weirdest thing happened: despite my pizza pig out on Saturday, I lost 0.6 kg / 1.3 lbs.
Well, Saturday night, after posting about my disgusting meal of pizza, garlic bread and red wine, I actually had indigestion all night, so perhaps nothing got absorbed. And yesterday I only had 13 out of my 23 points, both in an attempt to limit the damage and, well, because I couldn't actually stomach much.
So, amazingly, the results this week are:

Loss this week: - 0.6 kg / - 1.3 lbs
Total loss so far: - 14.4 kg / - 31.8 lbs

My BMI is now 32.5. Just over 7 kg to go to get me below 30. My goal is to be there before xmas, with an average loss of 0.5 kg a week. Slower than I'd hoped, but I have to be realistic, and it would mean I've managed to lose 21 kg in a year, which I'll be pretty chuffed about.

Good luck to all with your weigh ins this week!

Everything I shouldn't have eaten today but did...

It's been a very long time since I've had a day like today. I was helping a friend move into her new apartment, and she made spaghetti for lunch and got delivery pizza for dinner. The only thing I can hope is that all the lifting and carrying and running up and down stairs used up some calories, because I am going to need all the help I can get to counter the damage:

Breakfast (3.5 pts):
2 Weetabix + semi-skimmed milk

Snack (4 pts):
1 Balisto
1 Prince biscuit

Lunch (12.5 pts):
1/4 bag Doritos nacho cheese
Spaghetti bolognaise
Grated cheese

Dinner (18.5 pts):
1 Pizza Hut garlic bread
3 slices ham & mushroom Italian pizza
2 glasses red wine

And to top things off, the 3 large glasses of Pepsi Max I had may have actually been regular Pepsi.
I feel slightly sick. Ugh.

I have no hopes whatsoever for weigh in this week. I fully expect a gain and am really diappointed.

Week 38 WI

Soooooo sloooooooowww.... I feel like I'm losing weight in slow motion.

Results so far:
Loss this week: -0.3 kg / -0.7 lbs
Total loss: -13.8 kg / -30.4 lbs

Okay, I'm feeling quite crap about how slowly this is going, so I'm going to force myself to look at the bright side:
* I've lost over 30 lbs! 13% of my body weight is gone :)
* I'm 1/3 of the way there!
* I'm eating more healthily, taking in about 1/3 of the calories I used to and feeling so much healthier and more energetic.
* I've cut waaay down on alcohol, crisps, sweets and biscuits.
* I almost never have cravings anymore, and haven't had a full-blown binge in several months. I make better choices and when I don't I manage to stop the downward spiral before it gets out of control.
* I'm slowly picking up sports and feeling good about it.
* My body doesn't hurt anymore when I get up in the morning, my knees hurt a lot less, my back is improving, and I'm sure there are other improvements I can't see.
* I've gone down 3 clothes sizes, I can actually buy clothes from regular stores again.
* When I go somewhere, I don't feel *huge* anymore, just a bit overweight (okay, my BMI still reads obese, small detail).
* I've probably added a few years to my life and am on my way to being a healthy weight to have babies and other such things ;-)

Okay, so I guess a slow loss isn't too bad. As long as it's going down and staying down and I'm learning a whole new healthy way of living, it's all good :-)

Sigh (Inner peace and the lack thereof)

I am at home alone tonight and trying to relax, but I obviously haven't quite mastered that art yet.

I'm surfing, half watching tv, after calling my mum and my sister and I'm fighting the incredibly powerful urge to get up and eat the fridge empty. Right now I'm contemplating reading a book or getting on the exercise bike or both at the same time.

And I feel anything but relaxed. I am so intent on "doing" something that I am constantly in a state of frenzy that only actually stops when I fall asleep. For some reason I believe food will help me calm down.

Maybe it would be helpful to write down everything that's going through my mind right now to justify eating: I want to feel comforted. If I eat I will feel calmer and be able to relax. Food will fill me and bring me to a safe, soft place. I deserve a treat because I've worked all day. The taste of chocolate will make me happy. I deserve to be happy. Eating chocolate now would be like giving myself a present. Not eating anything is refusing myself a pleasure and it won't make any difference. It's not like I'm going to lose weight this week anyway. I never lose much, even when I deprive myself all week. I'm going to stay this weight for the rest of my life, I'll never get to goal. I feel comfortable the way I am now, safe and protected. If I eat something now, I can just stay on the couch and get fat and never have to get up and I can spend the rest of my life feeling comfortable and drowsy. I can relax. If I eat I can ignore the fact it's really time for bed and the day is over and I don't feel I've achieved anything. After a day at the office I feel useless and I don't see the point of what I'm doing. I want my life to be meaningful and fulfilling and by eating chocolate I can prolong the day, then maybe I'll feel fulfilled. Eating chocolate will give me the inspiration to do something amazing instead of just getting ready for bed. If I go to bed now I'll have missed out on the opportunity to eat, I'll go to bed feeling empty. I won't feel comforted....

I urgently need to take up meditation (or medication?). I'm glad my yoga classes are starting again in a couple of weeks, that could be my salvation.

Week 37 WI

And I didn't budge an ounce.

I guess I have absolutely no leeway on this diet. I didn't do much exercise last week (badminton and some walking) and I used up all my points (but didn't go over), and nothing, nada, ziltch.

After last week's disappointing loss (loads of exercise and didn't use all my points), I'm beginning to think I'm really not meant to lose weight, at least not at any encouraging pace.

So I am mentally preparing myself to increase the effort I put into this. Saturday I am going to start a "Start to Run" programme with a friend. I am slightly apprehensive, to say the least...

No alcohol last week (2 weeks in a row!), but last night I had a couple of glasses of wine, so I haven't completely given up booze ;)

Oh well, back to being a good little weight watcher today so hopefully it'll be a good week and I'll get a decent loss this time next week :)

Week 36 WI

I don't know what came over me last week, but I was on fire!
I didn't have a single craving and as a consequence didn't eat anything outside of mealtimes, had 3 healthy meals a day and was actually under points almost every day!
I played badminton, cycled and walked, earning 16 bonus points.
I actually saved a total of 28 points last week!!

Totally chuffed at myself for doing so well, though I am slightly disappointed that the scales only show a 0.6 kg / 1.3 lbs loss. But I know I must be happy with that and need to realise I'm in this for the long haul, so as long as I get there in the end it doesn't matter how long it takes.

Oh, and I didn't have any alcohol. Despite eating out twice :)

My updated results are:
Loss this week: - 0.6 kg / - 1.3 lbs
Total loss so far: - 13.5 kg / - 29.8 lbs

I am actually "this" close to the 1/3 way mark, almost 30 lbs gone, 60 to go.

Having said that, I started working again full-time yesterday for a 6-week contract, and today was quite stressful, so I had a bowl of cereals after dinner that I wasn't hungry for. I hope I can keep it under control, and will try my best to, but I'm a bit worried nevertheless.

Week 35 WI

I don't know about the biggest loser, but how about the slowest loser? Grrr... Only a measly 0.2 kg / 0.4 lbs off this week despite my best efforts. I really expected to lose more as I had an amazing week: on points - despite eating out 5 times, no snacking, very little alcohol (2 mojito, half a glass of wine and a glass of ouzo), lots of walking, exercise bike and badminton. Apparently my extra kilos have decided they aren't going to give up without a fight. O yay!

Updated results are:
This week's loss: - 0.2 kg / - 0.4 lbs
Total loss so far: -12.9 kg / - 28.4 lbs

If there is any justice in this world, I will have a massive loss next week :p
In the meantime, I'm glad I seem to have found my mojo and haven't had to fight any cravings lately - I put that down to almost completely eliminating refined carbs.

On another note, I have a meeting today with an agency about a job - 5 weeks from the end of August working on some of their projects. I really, really hope it goes well and I get it. Then I can stop worrying about money for a few more months :)

Hope everyone has a fab week. Look forward to reading all your updates!

Panic attack

I'm getting myself worked up into what could easily turn into a full-blown panic attack, and I need to do something about it. For now, I'll let some steam off here, and if that doesn't work, I'll have to attack the mojito's.

I don't know why all of a sudden the workless / work-free situation is feeling unbearable, but I have suddenly gone from feeling wonderful about it to being overwhelmed by a feeling of impending doom.

3 months ago, I started working with a woman, S, on a project for a mutual client. She was really enthusiastic at the prospect of us working together and wanted me to be part of her project to start up her own communication agency. We talked about it a few times, she wanted me to be her partner in the business, but could I meet with the two silent partners who were financing it all to discuss it with them? So I met with them and talked and decided I wasn't ready to give them the long-term commitment they expected, and my address book wasn't interesting enough for the prospection role they envisioned. So we decided I would work with S on a project basis, as a freelance, while she was expanding her business.

Now this was all fine by me, but the thing is, she's been stringing me along with vague promises of work for the past 2 months now, and I still haven't gotten a single job out of her. First she was going to hand some projects over to me during her holidays; then she left on holiday and there wasn't really anything for me to follow up, but she'd be in touch when she got back; then she dropped me a mail to say she was back but busy and would contact me the week after to discuss a new project; then she was sick and it would have to wait another week. And yesterday she emailed to say she would only know in two weeks' time if she'd secured the contract for the project she wants me to work on.

In the meantime, I haven't been actively seeking other work as a project manager, partly because it's the holidays and there's not a lot happening, but partly also because I've been keeping myself free for the work she's been dangling in front of me. And it's starting to dawn on me that it really isn't in my own best interest to approach it that way.
Meanwhile, S is persuaded we're not only going to work together, but I'll actually work exclusively for her as far as project management is concerned. She's been really enthusiastic about our collaboration, and I believe she is sincere, but she is really only looking out for herself - and I can't blame her. However, I need to start looking out for me... and that means looking for work elsewhere. And if I find something and can't work for her, then so be it. The problem is I just hate being the heartless, tough, businesswoman, and I'm stuck in trying-to-please mode again.

And then there's the other half of my freelance business: translation work. And there I've been quite actively prospecting new clients, answering ads, creating profiles on translation sites and responding to tenders... So far, so good, except I've come to the conclusion that the rates people expect you to charge and the rates you expect to get paid are about as far apart as I am from my ideal weight. I just can't believe the nerve of people (translation agencies, mostly) who expect you to work for such ludicrously low amounts. Nobody can survive on that. I used to earn more as a teenager, babysitting for the neighbours! Anyway, I nevertheless took on a few of the less badly paid assignments, but they are few and far between. Also, the level of proficiency that is expected in really specialised fields is ridiculous. Like no one's ever heard of a learning curve.

I just got asked for a quote on a job translating a ridiculous 93 words, and when I told them my minimum rate was 15 euro (most agencies have a minimum invoice amount of 27 euro or more), got told that was "waaaay over budget" and they preferred to look for someone else to do the job. So I asked what their budget was and didn't get a reply. These people can't be for real? Of course with the globalisation of the industry, they'll probably find a kid in India to do the job for the equivalent of 2 euro... and I really don't even want to compete with that.

I know this all sounds really bleak, but the thing is I am (or was) totally confident about working as a freelance. I still think I can do it, but I've got to stop sitting around waiting for S to give me the work she's been promising me. I've got to toughen up and accept that I might need to tell her I have other obligations when she finally decides to give me work.

So tomorrow I'll be sending some emails and contacting some interim agencies to see if I can get some work in the short term. Cause as much as I've been enjoying the time at home and the lack of stress of the past few months, I still need to earn a living, and that's not going to happen by just sitting on my ass waiting for the phone to ring...

Week 34 WI

Yay! I've definitely broken my plateau and am back on my way down!
0.7 kg / 1.5 lbs off this week! I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw the scales, it'd been so long since I'd seen the numbers really go down like that.

Results so far:
Loss this week: -0.7 kg / -1.5 lbs
Total loss: -12.7 kg / -28 lbs

And that also means I got my 4th silver 7. The last one was way back in March... So that's 2 stone gone. Will stick to what I've been doing (no alcohol, wholemeal carbs, sports) this week and hopefully see another good loss next week :)

Traditional Belgian dish - chicon and ham rolls

I made this dish last night so thought I'd take a few shots of it and post the recipe here. It's one of my favourite dishes, more a winter kind of thing, but I indulge in it all year round.

The main ingredient is chicon, or witloof chicory*, which are pretty difficult to find in the U.K.. They're slightly bitter, so if you're not a fan of artichokes and Brussels sprouts, stay away from them ;)

* Witloof Chicory (also called French or Belgian Endive) are blanched, tight heads produced by forcing (or growing in the darkness) the big mature chicory roots in forcing structures. See picture further down.

I have tweaked the original recipe - which uses lots of butter and cheese - to make a WW-friendly version, but if you're not on a diet, please indulge in the real thing as it is absolutely divine with the added ingredients ;)

Ingredients (serves 1)
(the reason I make this dish for 1 person is that my husband hates chicon, so I always make it just for myself)

2 nice big chicon
2 large slices of ham (about 30 g per slice)
200 ml semi-skimmed milk
2 level tbsp cornflour
150 g potatoes
1/2 tsp butter
salt, pepper, grated nutmeg
Optional: grated cheese

Cut about 1 cm off the base of the chicon and cut out a small cone to get rid of the harder core. Don't wash the chicon before cooking, as this increases their bitterness apparently. If necessary, remove one or two outer leaves if not perfectly clean.

Melt a tiny amount of butter in a saucepan (about 1/2 tsp is enough), then add the chicon to the pan. The butter just gives them a really nice creamy taste, so I don't leave it out, but you could. Add half a cup of water and cover, leaving to simmer on a low heat for about 35 minutes (the softer the chicon become, the nicer they are). The water should just about fully evaporate - make sure they don't burn and add a little extra water if necessary.

I usually make this dish with mashed potatoes (simply cook the potatoes, drain the excess water and add a couple of tbsp of milk to them before mashing them up, then add salt and pepper).

For the sauce: put the milk on to boil and add the cornflour. Stir on a low heat for about 20 minutes, while the sauce thickens (this is a low-fat version of a white sauce. For the full-fat version, use an equal amount of butter and flour). Season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg.

Take the cooked chicon and roll each one in a slice of ham. Serve with the mashed potatoes and cover with the white sauce.

Optionally, you can sprinkle the dish with grated cheese and put it in the oven to grill for a few minutes.

The low-fat version of this dish is 7 points (including the potatoes). Add extra points if you use butter in the sauce or grated cheese on top.

Bon appétit!

Recipe time - rice and tuna salad

I've never posted a recipe before, but this one is so yummy I thought I'd share it.
It's also very easy to make and great as a summer dish.
I made it today and for the first time I used brown rice instead of white and it works just great, much healthier too :)

Ingredients (serves 4):
180 g dried brown rice
1 small tin of sweet corn (140 g)
1 large tin of tuna fish in brine (185 g)
2-3 tomatoes or about 20 cherry tomatoes (love cherry tomatoes!), chopped
20 green olives, chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
1 tablespoon wine vinegar
1 teaspoon mustard
salt, pepper, oregano, parsley, garlic, onion...

Cook the rice, boil the eggs, chop up the tomatoes, olives and eggs and, when everything's cooled down, mix all the ingredients together in a big salad bowl. Other ingredients are possible, depending on what you have handy: anchovies, bell peppers, capers, apples, nuts, cheese...

The salad itself is 4.5 points per serving, the seasoning 1 extra point, but it's possible to use lower point salad dressing if you want. I love my olive oil, so this is one thing I still indulge in :)


Inspirational videos about Emotional Eating

I was up last night till 2 in the morning, unable to sleep, and started browsing the internet for information about food allergies and food addiction, a topic I've seen pop up on a few other blogs, and I stumbled across some videos on YouTube. The girl in them - Josie - has been doing research into Emotional Eating and was sharing her findings, and everything she said really made so much sense.

So, if like me you're not only trying to shift the excess weight, but also wondering what goes on in your brain to cause you to overeat in the first place, if you're prone to emotional eating and want to understand why, you really should check out these videos. You can find them here:

I really recommend you watch all the videos, but I'll give a quick summary of them here (and this is in my own words, so you might take something slightly different away after watching them):

a) our excess weight initially comes from emotional eating. Once we start trying to lose the weight through dieting, we get stuck in a vicious circle of repression (diet) -> binge eating -> guilt -> more repression...

b) the binges can be curbed by stopping the repressive attitude towards food. To do that, we need to eat more intuitively and let our body decide what it needs to be healthy (instead of strictly calorie counting...) - by eliminating foods we are intolerant to, listening to our bodies' hunger signals, stopping when we're full... the video that touches on this - "Take a Skinny Friend to Lunch Week" - is really interesting as it highlights the differences in the way we - dieters - approach food as opposed to the way naturally skinny people approach food. And I live with a naturally skinny person, so I have plenty of opportunities to study those differences and learn from them!

c) once the binges are curbed, we're basically left with the emotional eating, which stems from a really interesting coping mechanism we learnt in childhood. There are several concepts in this part, which I find absolutely fascinating. One of them is learned helplessness (the experiment with the dogs explains it really well - check out the video for the full explanation), which means that if, in childhood, we learned we were powerless to solve a problem, we will continue, in adulthood, when faced with a similar problem, to believe we are powerless to solve it, without even trying...

The second concept concerns task-oriented and emotion-oriented coping strategies, or as Josie calls them, soothing and solving: when faced with a problem, do you focus on solving the problem, or do you focus on getting rid of the feelings (anxiety, fear, sadness) that the problem provokes in you?

We all have situations in which we are task-oriented: for me, it's stuff like organising a party, managing projects at work, organising holidays... I just analyse the situation, then act to get things done efficiently.

And then there are the situations in which we resort to soothing (emotion-oriented coping). This happens so instinctively that we don't even realise what's happened until we're half way through the cookie jar. We feel helpless (because of learned helplessness) in the situation and don't even try to solve it, we just assume - on an entirely subconscious level - that we can't do anything about it, so we reach for a bag of crisps and a beer (in my case) to soothe the emotions the situation provokes.

Identifying the trigger situations in which we instinctively "soothe" instead of "solve" can really help stop us from emotional eating. I think I do it mostly in inter-personal situation where there's a risk of conflict. I can't stand the idea of telling certain people I'm not OK with their attitude, or don't agree with them, so I avoid the conflict by stuffing my feelings down with food. The other situation in which I comfort eat is when I'm bored. Instead of taking 5 minutes to actually think about all the things that I could be doing (and there are a lot of them!), I panic... and do the one thing I feel "safe" doing: eat.

Some of the other really interesting things I picked up from these videos:
- These mechanisms go back to our childhood and are deeply ingrained. I learned these coping mechanisms during my parents' divorce, when I was 9 years old, the same age Josie was. And she mentions she was taught to diet at age 10. Same here.
- She also makes a link between being brought up by an extremely strict parent and resorting to emotional eating (as a child you are helpless to solve situations when you are brought up that way - the strict parent always decides for you), which also hits home for me. I also think a lot of it had to do with the fact that neither of my parents actually wanted to know what I was feeling and if I was OK. I had all these emotions and no one to talk to about them. So with no way to address and resolve my feelings, I stuffed them down with food.

I hope you find this useful... I'm going to pay much more attention to any triggers that have me reaching for the cupboard or fridge, and I'm also going to try to be more intuitive in my eating patterns, I will keep planning and tracking what I'm eating, but will eat when I'm hungry, stop when I'm full and won't beat myself up when I go over points...

If you stumble across any more interesting articles or videos about this, please post them in the comments!

Editing to add: I just found Josie's blog on blogger, if you want to follow her :)


As work is really, really slow right now, I signed up for a 2 day painting course last week to kick-start me into actually using some of the art supplies I've had lying around the house for decades...

It was really neat, as I was able to try out oil, acrylic and aquarelle over the course of the 2 days, which saved me buying all the material for nothing.

I definitely prefer working with oil paints. I love the way you can keep blending the colours on the paper and how the painting evolves constantly as soon as you add a new colour or brush stroke. It totally suits me :-)
I also quite enjoyed the acrylic paints, but they don't have the same feel to them.

I took some pics of the "works of art" (lol), so here they are:

The first four are oil, the last 2 are acrylic. Yesterday I invited and friend over and we had a painting session in the afternoon, so more paintings will follow :-)

Week 33 WI

At last! I have managed to move in the right direction, at my personal lowest now... After 10 weeks stagnating, I am now 0.2 kg below my previous lowest, and well determined to keep moving in the right direction.
For the first time in weeks I managed to finish the week with a positive points balance, get some activity points in and lose 1.2 kg (after putting 0.7 kg back on last week after our weekend in Prague).
My goal for this week is to keep going down, no more slip ups or half-arsed attempts!

Results so far:
Loss this week: -1.2 kg / -2.6 lbs
Total loss: -12 kg / -26.5 lbs

I now have extra motivation to lose the weight, as we have been discussing starting a family, and my doctor would like me to lose another 14 kg / 30 lbs before we get started. That would get my BMI down to 28. I'm quite impatient about it, so want to see steady losses from now on to get there as quickly as possible!

Yesterday we went to the park and played some badminton, which felt great. We're going to play once a week from now on, starting this Wednesday. In September I'll be taking up yoga again with a teacher I had 5 years ago who was absolutely amazing. And I'm contemplating trying out Jillian's 30 day shred that Joy has been talking about, I found it in bits and pieces on YouTube, but I haven't quite plucked up the courage yet...
In the meantime I'm going to try walking as much as possible, which shouldn't be too difficult with the amazing weather we're having.

Anniversary weekend in Prague

We got back last night from our fabulous 4 day anniversary weekend in Prague.
What an amazing city! The first day we walked around, I didn't know where to look, there were so many beautiful, ornate houses in every street in the old town!

We fully enjoyed every minute of our trip and I would love to go back and discover some more.... 4 days just isn't enough!

The first day was beautiful and sunny, 30°C, and we spent the day walking around the old town, starting at Charles bridge, before taking a boat trip on the Vltava river, then lunch at a cheap and cheerful vegan place (Country Life). In the afternoon we went up the tower of the Old Town Hall and walked around some more.

Around 6 p.m. it started raining and we took refuge in a lovely little pub (Le Corsaire), had a couple of beers and a light salad for dinner, before heading back to our hotel after the rain cleared.

A statue on Charles Bridge

Charles Bridge seen from the river

Us at the top of the Old Town Hall

View from the top of the Old Town Hall

On Charles bridge at dusk

The thunder storm and rain picked up again during the night and the next day it was still raining heavily, so we took refuge in the museum of modern art, housed in the impressive Veletržní Palace.

It took us over 3 hours to walk through the whole 6 floors of this massive museum, so after that we were ready for lunch, which we took at nearby La Crêperie. A yummy spinach pancake and carrot cake later, and still facing torrential rain, we decided to head to a shopping center in town for some window shopping.

Later on, the rain had calmed down, so we made our way to the Municipal building for a drink in its wonderful Art Nouveau café, then walked around some more, stopping at Nike and G-Star so Bart could spend some cash ;-). Dinner was at Thaï restaurant Orange Moon, another lovely place recommended by our Rough Guide.

The impressive interior of Veletržní Palace - 6 floors of modern art

Some modern art

Having fun in the rain

The Art Nouveau café of the Municipal house

On the third day - our anniversary! - we finally made our way up to Prague Castle and wandered through its impressive interior - actually a very long courtyart surrounded by a number of completely mismatched buildings. A local vineyard on the path back into town offered a welcome excuse for a break and a nice glass of wine.

Back in town we had lunch on the waterfront at restaurant Hergetova Cihelna before visiting nearby Kafka museum - a depressing account of his life, made even more dismal by the installations in the exhibition... coming out into the sunshine, I was just happy to be alive and feel the sun on my face!

We wandered through a park to the Kampa museum (more modern art) but opted for a nice relaxing drink on the waterfront terrace instead of another museum visit :-)

At 7 we headed off towards the next bridge up and, spotting the dancing house, made a quick detour to take a look at it before heading down river again to the pier where the Jazz boat was awaiting. I had booked us a table for dinner and live jazz music during a 2.5 hour river cruise and it was absolutely perfect! We bought the jazz group's CD and got the musicians to sign it for us as a nice souvenir. We arrived back at the hotel at midnight, exhausted but happy...

Enjoying a glass of wine with a view

A curious statue by artist David Cerny in front of the Kafka Museum - the men spell out Czech poems with their pee...

The dancing house

View of the river from the jazz boat

Live jazz with the Frantisek Uhlir Team

Monday arrived fast and we barely had time to pack our bags, put them in a locker at the station, have a quick - but very filling - Czech lunch and make one last museum visit before it was time to head to the airport. As we couldn't agree on which museum we wanted to see, I opted for a visit to the Mucha museum (I love his work), while Bart went to the museum of Communism (one depressing museum on this trip was enough for me!).
Also, a final visit to the local Adidas store means I am now the happy owner of the Adidas originals I had been looking for.

One of Mucha's beautiful drawings

Back in Brussels and it's Bart's birthday today (37!) as well as being a national holiday, so we're relaxing at home with no special plans.

Week 31 WI

Well, it's been nice and scenic on this plateau and I've had time to visit it well over the past 10 weeks, but I've decided it's time to continue my descent now. Last week was my first week "back on track", although a friend's dinner party on Friday night put a bit of a dent into an otherwise perfect week. Result is 1.1 lb / 0.5 kg off, and I'm almost back to my lowest weight yet, last visited on May 18th. Only 0.3 kg to go to get there, and I'm determined to go well beyond that this week.

Today started off the week well, with 3 nutritious and filling meals and a yogurt mid-afternoon, as well as 35 minutes on the bike while watching Mamma Mia (I love that film, I just watch it with a smile on my face the whole way through, I've always been a big ABBA fan and am sure it's better than Prozac to cure depression).

Results so far, just to recapitulate after the last few weeks of not posting, are:
Loss this week: -0.5 kg / -1.1 lbs
Total loss: -11.5 kg / -25.4 lbs

Also, Bart has promised we'd start playing badminton together as of next week and we're off for a long romantic weekend this week which will involve a lot of walking (and maybe some other physical activities, lol). I booked it a while ago as we'll be celebrating our 1 year anniversary already this Sunday and it's a complete surprise, he doesn't have a clue where we're going. I love it!! :)

Week 25, 26, 27 WI (this is getting ridiculous :p)

I am beginning to doubt the usefulness of updating this blog with my weight-loss efforts when there isn't actually any weight loss happening...

The good news though is that over the past 3 weeks I have crawled back down to where I was 5 weeks ago, cancelling back out all but 0.1 kg of last post's gain.

The results so far are therefore:
Total loss: -11.7 kg / -25.8 lbs

In the meantime, it has not been a straight road from A to B. I have seen the scales change by over 2.5 kg from one morning to the next, then go back down slowly over the course of the next 3 days or so. This has happened at least 4 times over the past 3 weeks. So, I guess I should start seeing a pattern there and take a closer look at what it is I eat differently on the days my weight goes up. So, I've done just that and, invariably, the answer is: alcohol. One glass of wine can put me up 1 kg! Of course, I chalk it down to water retention, but it's still a little bit over the top and I'm wondering if I don't have some kind of allergy to alcohol.

I know, I know, it should be so easy to just not touch the damn stuff. (and I'll just leave it at that, no "but")

Aside from that, I have not been sticking to points like I should, which is obviously not helping either. I go about 20 points over per week, which is really only 3 a day, or the equivalent of 210 kcal, so I should still be getting a small loss with that, mathematically speaking. Or maybe I'm just kidding myself and you really do have to stick to the magic Weight Watchers formula for it to work (in other words: half the effort does not mean half the loss...).

This week (week 28) is in the same trend, I'm 16 points over by now and weigh in is on Monday.

So, what am I going to do about it, really?

At the risk of sounding completely pathetic, lazy and utterly devoid of willpower, I'm going to say: not as much as I should. OK, I will stay away from alcohol; OK, I will try harder to stick to points, I will go and buy more WW deserts and yoghurts for when I want something sweet, I will buy more fruit and vegetables, I will choose potatoes over pasta or rice as often as humanly possible and OK, I will get off my ass more often and go out for a walk. But I have to face facts and accept that I am not / will not put more effort than that into it right now. And stop expecting that at this rate I will be a size 12 by Christmas.

I really hope I will regain my "WW mojo" soon and get serious about it and have another good series of losses and be another 2 stone down by the end of the year, but right now it's obvious I don't feel compelled to do it.

Truth is, I already feel a whole lot better about myself and about what I see when I look in the mirror. I can fit into some of my old clothes again - another couple of kg and I'll be able to fit into a whole lot more of them - and I can look at pictures of myself and not feel disgusted. So maybe this is a place I feel comfortable at for now. I'll call it "practice maintenance" and any loss will be a bonus. Maybe taking the pressure off will do me good. It took me several years to put this weight on, I can deal with it taking a little longer to come off. For now.

Week 24 WI

Cringe, cringe, cringe... I almost didn't write this post, but then I suppose I have to face facts.
So, here goes...

I gained 2.2 lbs/ 1 kg this week.

I am not a happy bunny and I have no one to blame but myself.

So I have just put back on the result of 5 weeks' effort. And although I can acknowledge that I made some very bad choices this week (a pub quiz on Monday evening with 4 beers and chips, cheddar and garlic mayo, for example) and have not been exercising at all, I am still really disappointed because I know I am still a hell of a lot healthier than I was 6 months ago.

Also, I have been on WW for almost half a year now and have *only* lost (not even) 11 kg / 24 lbs. I am feeling discouraged to say the least.

Yesterday I think I didn't do too bad, but I ate out lunch and evening, so hard to know if I pointed correctly. And I'm just getting bored of the whole pointing thing anyway... I just want to be able to eat without thinking about it. This whole food relationship thing is a real curse and I just don't want to have to deal with it for the rest of my life :(

Well, that's enough whining from me for one day... Butt kickings welcome.

Week 22 & 23 WI

I really need to update my blog a little more regularly, lol!
Last week I stayed the same, so didn't post - again - and this week lost 0.5 kg/1.1 lbs, getting me my 25 lbs star :-)
I'm glad I'm losing, but it's all going a little too slow for me... even though I prefer slow and steady than yoyo down and straight back up.

The reasons I haven't been losing at a great pace are
a) I'm not doing enough (any) exercise
b) I'm "treating" myself a bit too often
c) I'm being more lenient on the wine and alcohol front - too many celebrations, including my birthday this week

Having said that, I know I should be making promises to run 15 miles a day and never touch a drop of alcohol again, but I won't cause that really isn't realistic.
Instead, I want to try and keep making healthier choices as I noticed this week just how much my body is influenced by what I eat: pasta, bread, alcohol and anything sugary really send me into a downward spiral of eating crap, so I will be avoiding them as much as possible from now on.

Anyway, enough ramblings, here are the results so far:
Loss this week: -0.5 kg / -1.1 lbs
Total loss: -11.8 kg / -26 lbs

Good luck everyone, I saw some fantastic results on other people's posts :-)

Week 20 & 21 WI and a NSV

Well, I stayed the same last week, so didn't even bother to post as I've been really busy with getting my business started up. This week I lost a little under a pound, so not great, but I went a whole 25 points over this week, so I am actually quite happy with that.
Starting up the business and getting used to this new rhythm of working from home has been a bit stressful, so I think that's influenced my eating. Getting it all under control again, planning healthy meals this week with lots of veg and hope I'll be back on track in no time :)

So, the results so far are:
Loss this week: -0.4 kg / -0.9 lbs
Total loss so far: - 11.3 kg / -24.9 lbs

Oh, I wonder if they give a star for 25 lbs lost??? That should be next week then :)

Hope everyone else is doing well!

Oh, and a bit of a NSV for me this week as I fit into a pair of size 18 trousers!!! Although they're in some kind of stretchy velvet material and I probably can't fit into any of the other 18's I have piled in my wardrobe, but I'll get there eventually :)

Picture time

A friend posted some pics she took of me this weekend and I realised I was wearing the same top as in some of my "before" pics, so decided to compare them. Here's the result:

I tried to frame them similarly so they're easier to compare... what do you think? I definitely see a difference in the way I "fill" my clothes :)

Week 19 WI

And finally got my 10% off!! Woohoo :)

Only lost half a kilo, but it was enough to get my 10% and drop me into the next stone bracket, so lost a point too...
I really want to try and stick to points from now on, as I've been a bit lax and do notice I'm not losing as fast as others who are probably much more disciplined than me :p

So my updated results are:
Loss this week: -0.5 kg / -1.1 lbs
Total loss so far: -10.9 kg / -24 lbs

I am getting impatient, so really need to see the numbers go down to stay motivated...

Week 18 WI

I guess all the walking cancelled out the extra chips and hotel biscuits, so am quite happy about this week's result even if it's only a small loss:

This week's loss: -0.2 kg / -0.4 lbs
Total loss so far: -10.4 kg / -22.9 lbs

Still haven't reached my 10% but am sure I can get there next week. Which also means dropping a point as I will be in the 14's, yippee!!

Good luck to everyone else for their WI and hope you all have a great Easter Monday!

A weekend in Bristol

Just got back from a really nice weekend away with Anne. We went to Bristol by train (first class, hehehe) and spent 3 days there.

Friday was quite rainy but we got lots of walking done, visited the Clifton Suspension Bridge and spent a few hours at Bristol Zoo... I just love the animals :)
Then had a gorgeous dinner at a random Greek restaurant. If you're in Bristol, check it out, their food is divine: Entelia.

Saturday was gorgeous and we took the train to Bath for the day and completely milked our 2 for 1 sightseeing bus tour tickets. The tour guides on the busses were so nice and gave us lots of interesting info we wouldn't have had otherwise. I treated myself to fish & chips for lunch, but got the healthy-ish option of cajun grilled salmon instead of fish in batter, which was yummy. I of course absolutely adore chips with malt vinegar, so no healthier option there, ahum!

Saturday night, after relaxing back at the hotel for a few hours, we went out to The Shed for drinks on the the terrace overlooking the river Avon, followed by a really nice dinner. I had the Scottish smoked salmon
followed by a thaï green vegetable curry. Yummy :)

Today we took day passes for the ferries and went up and down the river all day, stopping off at the SS Great Britain, the one thing I absolutely wanted to see. It was really, really worth it, absolutely amazing! I love maritime history, especially stories about ocean liners, so I was in heaven. The museum and the ship are beautifully presented and there is just so much to see and read about... and of course the ship itself is the highlight of the tour. I am completely awestruck by how well it has been restored and how amazingly the interior has been reconstructed to give us a glimpse at how it must have been in those days. I even got quite emotional walking through the 3rd class quarters. This is a picture of the engine room:

I wonder if any of my ancestors immigrated to New Zealand on that ship, as there were quite a few Armstrongs listed in the passenger records. I will ask my mum next time I speak to her... Also, the whole visit to Bristol was a bit of a pilgrimage for me as it is where my mum went to university, so it was really strange discovering the city and imagining her living there all those years ago (well, about 40!).

We finished off the day with a nice late lunch on a sunny terrace overlooking the water and I actually got a bit of a sunburn. So now after this really nice weekend I'm back in London for the last 3 days of my trip and wondering what to do with the time I have left as the course is over and I don't have any other obligations... I think I'll try and get a ticket for Priscilla Queen of the Desert or Mamma Mia and maybe go to Tate Modern. Fill up on culture before heading back to Brussels ;)

Week 17 WI

Goodbye 10 kg!!!! Yay! A week later than I hoped I made it past the 10 kg lost :) On to my 10% which I will achieve by next Monday!
I am really pleased to see the scales going down again as I have been really good. Okay, I had a few glasses of wine last Thursday, but apart from that I've been angelic ;)

So the results are:
Loss this week: -0.9 kg / -2 lbs
Total loss so far: -10.2 kg / -22.5 lbs

It's weird because it seems like a lot and not a lot at the same time... I mean, 10 kg is heavy... more than a 6-pack of water... and that's all weight I'm NOT carrying around with me everywhere I go anymore. On the other hand, I'm only a quarter of the way there... it seems like a long road ahead.

Which brings me to mention what an inspiration my fellow bloggers have been to me so far. It is great to see people who are 60 or 100 lbs down the road and are living proof that it really is an attainable goal :) You rock, girls!

Week 16 WI

Well, I was just going to skip this one, as I am completely gutted by the result of a week of sticking to points and walking 3 miles a day: I gained back a third of what I'd lost last week.

So unfair, but there you go...

Anyway, this week's results are therefore:

Gain this week: +0.5 kg/+1.1 lbs
Total loss: -9.3 kg/-20.5 lbs

So much for my 10 kg and 10%... but I'm determined to get them over the next couple of WI's. I also have the impression I get bloated at Anne's... no idea why this is, but my fingers are all puffy and I could well be retaining water which would explain why I gained. Maybe the floor heating? Hmm.

Despite the gain, I did have a minor NSV: my size 22 trousers are getting way too big for me, and I tried on one of my old size 20 trousers and it fit :) So I must be doing something right!

Oh, and I got a haircut this week at Toni & Guy - first time in 8 months!... feel so much better :)
Here's a quick shot of it :)

Week 15 WI

Yes! Last week was a great week, and it showed on the scales :)
I stuck to points every single day, clocked up 22 activity points - which I didn't use - and could feel my clothes getting looser, so am really pleased it has resulted in a nice loss.

So, the results for week 15 are:
Loss this week: -1.5 kg/-3.3 lbs
Total loss: -9.8 kg/-21.6 lbs

Woohoo! On top of this good result, I also got my 3rd silver 7. It took me 2 weeks to get the first, 4 to get the second and 8 to get this one, so I am determined to get the next one in 4 weeks again.

Also, this means I have some nice little goals to look forward to in the coming weeks, namely to get my first 10kg off by next WI as well as my 10%, if not next WI, then the one after. I'm aiming for 0.7kg loss which would take me to just 0.1kg away from 10% loss. Also, next WI I should pass the 1/4 way mark: 10 down, 30 to go!

I wanted to have a visual of my progress, so made this chart:
The red line is my goal, the blue line my losses plotted against weeks... Hope to see that line going firmly down over the next few weeks :)