Week 7 WI and a spectacular sunrise

Week 7 loss: -0.7kg / -1.5lb
Total loss: -7.2kg / -15.9lb

Still going down, albeit at my own slow rhythm :)
As far as the goals I set last week are concerned, I had 2 glasses of wine + 1 champagne (very decent!), only cycled once (ouch) and lost the 0.7kg I aimed for. All in all, not bad.

This week: more exercise and hopefully a 0.8kg loss to bring me to 8kg total.

The sunrise this morning was amazing, the sky was on fire...

Hope everyone has a fabulous week!

1 stone treat

I've decided to treat myself to something special for every stone I lose and as Monday I got the first one off, I went looking for something appropriate later this week and found these earrings.

I got my ears pierced in September, so this is the first pair I buy myself since then :)

They're steel, which I hope will reduce the chance of allergic reactions and although quite plain, I really like them :)

I hope to have reached the next stone by the time I leave for London, beginning of March... and am already thinking of what I can treat myself to!

A walk in the woods

I went out to the British supermarket in Kortenberg today. It's a 20 minute drive from where I live, so I don't get out there too often, but when I do it's like Christmas :)

I love British food, British brands, the homely feeling I get when I pick up a packet of oatcakes or a jar of Sunpat peanut butter (imagine I live without those things on a daily basis here!) and I do treat myself when I get out there. Walking into the store is like travelling back home :)

I was also interested in trying out some of the WW foods I'd read about on the 5+ WW board, and they had a really large selection, which was cool. I got a packet of WW naan bread and a jar of WW korma sauce, so will try those out tomorrow for dinner.

On the way back home from the store, I have to drive through some woods, and today I really felt like getting out and going for a walk, so I did.

Walking in the nature isn't something I get to do a lot here in Belgium, which is a pity as I enjoy it so much. But the reality is that there just aren't that many green spaces where you can take a walk and clear your head with no one else around. In fact, if you take my imaginary list of the "Top 10 Things I Hate About Belgium", number one would be the fact it's so over-populated (other items being their apparent inability to queue and the fact they eat their chips with mayonnaise instead of vinegar).

I grew up in Shetland... a place where you can go for a 3 hour walk without seeing a soul. You can sit on a rock and look out to sea and rebuild the world without anyone bursting your bubble. It's heaven. Here, the moment the sun comes out, it's as if every acre of forest or field is immediately populated by 5 families complete with pushchairs and dogs and a bunch of people on horses...

Misanthropic remarks aside, I guess I just find it difficult to feel "at one" with the nature around me when I'm sharing it with 20 other people...

Luckily today it was still really cold, so I only ran into 1 pushchair family, 2 people on horses and a couple of other lonely wanderers while I was out.

The walk was worth it though, and I find the woods in the winter emit a special kind of energy, with the majestic trees standing proud and barren amid a blanket of brown leaves... it was really quite beautiful.

I also managed this spooky Blair-witch project-type picture of myself... lol

I'm going to London, baby!

So I just got off the phone from my interview with the teaching school I applied to in London, and the interview went well and the woman I spoke to said she would be happy to offer me a place on the course!

I do realise they're probably not all that picky about who they take on... I mean, they hold something like 50 courses a year, with 20 students per course, so they're obviously not super selective, but still, I'm really chuffed to know I can do it.

Just need to sort out the details now, but this means I should be going to London in March for about 5 weeks :)

It's a strange feeling actually, knowing that my routine world is going to be disrupted like that... I'm a creature of habit really, and going to live somewhere else for a month is quite exciting and a bit scary to be honest.

I am really looking forward to spending time in London, as I have been there on several occasions but have never gotten to know it as more than just a tourist. And I've got quite a few friends there, so no doubt I'll have a busy social life too!

Week 6 WI

My scales were not cooperating this morning, and I had to weigh myself 4 times before I got a steady result, but here it is:
Week 6 loss: -0.8kg / -1.8lb
Total loss: -6.5kg / -14.3lb

I got my 2nd silver 7, so have lost my first stone, and am in the 90's in kg :)

Some goals for this week:
- lose 0.7kg / 1.5lb
- exercise on the bike 3 x 45 minutes
- not more than 2 glasses of wine this week!

New book - In Praise of Slow

I was at Waterstone's yesterday, looking for a book about teaching English, and this book caught my eye:

I picked it up and discovered it was all about something I've been talking about for a while now: the fact that people are caught up in the rat race and probably don't even know why they're doing it anymore, and the fact that we seriously need to slow down and take the time to enjoy life.

I'm convinced we will be happier, healthier and even richer people if we can break free from the endless stress and pressure this "modern life" puts on us and choose - consciously choose, instead of getting caught up in - a more serene lifestyle.

So, I'm going to log off for today, make myself a mug of tea, curl up in the couch and dig into the book. A nice, relaxing way to end the weekend :)

Training, doubt and procrastination (again)

Yesterday I was thinking about a recruitment ad I saw for freelance English teachers at a language school and noticed they mentioned requiring a TEFL certificate. So I decided to look into how to obtain one and found a course in London which looks really interesting. It's a 1 month course and with the pound so low, works out quite cheap compared to other similar courses.

I'm thinking: if I can get a job giving trainings in English via one of the language schools in Brussels - a subject I obviously have an advantage in, it being my mother tongue - I can build up experience in training and move on to give other subjects that interest me maybe a bit more (the "personal development" subjects, like conflict management, assertive communication, etc).

So I took the plunge and sent off an application for the course. There's a 30 minute phone interview and if I'm accepted, hopefully I can get on the course that starts in March!!

Which also means I get to live in London for a month! I've got quite a few friends living there and one of them has already offered me a place to stay during the course, and I'm frankly quite excited about the whole idea :)

Bart on the other hand was a bit sceptical and put quite a damper on the whole project last night, saying he didn't see why I was taking a course in something that wasn't what I wanted to give trainings in initially. I don't know if he was being really short-sighted or acting like that because he's afraid of me going off for a month, but it made me second-guess myself for a moment and I hate that. It reminded me so much of my father, always destroying all my projects and making me feel inept and incapable of deciding anything for myself.

I also realised that it was no wonder I had such a hard time deciding what I wanted in life, after living for so long with someone who always decided everything for me and made sure I never got to choose my own path.

I actually found an interesting article on the website of Psychology Today, linking my father's attitude with my current tendency to procrastinate. It says: "Procrastinators are made not born. Procrastination is (...) one response to an authoritarian parenting style. Having a harsh, controlling father keeps children from developing the ability to regulate themselves, from internalizing their own intentions and then learning to act on them. Procrastination can even be a form of rebellion, one of the few forms available under such circumstances."

Anyway, I explained all this to Bart and I think we've sorted it out. Now to hear back from the school and see if I can get accepted... and we'll take it from there.

Adding some colour to my life

Spring is in the air - well, actually, the weather's crap, but at least the days are getting longer - so I decided it was time to brighten up my blog and play around with a new colour scheme. What do you think? I like it, minty fresh and summery :)

The header picture was taken while I was lying in a park in Oslo last June and reminds me of the freedom I felt and sense of peace, so it's a very soothing image for me :)

I also finally fixed my blog post from a while ago with my before pictures on it. The text and images wouldn't align the way I wanted them to, so I solved the problem using a table. Then discovered blogger does some weird stuff when you use tables, adding a massive white space in front of it. Aaaaarg! Luckily I found this blog post about the problem and the code fixed it. I replaced all the line breaks in the text with paragraph breaks and with a bit of tweaking it finally looks decent - well, on my computer at least!


Last night at dinner, a friend who has recently been promoted to head of marketing was explaining how she wanted to get rid of their current ad agency and how she would prefer to work directly with freelancers, but didn't have the time to do all the extra coordination.

Me being me, I didn't even blink at the time, and it was only several hours later, at around 1.30 a.m., lying in bed, that I realised I might have the perfect solution for her: I could coordinate her ad campaigns for her! Bart already has his company he uses for his freelance copywriting business, and I am after all an Account Manager, perfectly capable of managing my own clients!

I was so excited at the idea, I shared it with Bart and obviously neither of us could sleep after that. I immediately sent my friend an email, and she replied today, extremely enthusiastic!

So now I'm of course completely snowballing the whole idea, and thinking I could easily find 2 or 3 such clients and basically handle all their advertising needs. I have experience in enough different types of projects to pull it off... and we'd have a serious competitive edge, because as freelancers we ask for a lot less than ad agencies' normal rates. Of course we wouldn't be doing huge national campaigns, more like sales folders, maybe some mailings, brochures, etc... stuff the traditional agencies turn their noses up at most of the time.

So, anyway, I sat down this morning and decided to put all my ideas and options on paper. I used the mind mapping technique and thought the result was pretty neat:

I think a scenario is starting to form in my mind, but I need to let it sink in for a while... But I'm really excited!!

What the... ?

Weird and wonderful things are happening to me right now and I can't really make sense of them...

Tonight I arrived half an hour early for a dinner out with 4 friends. I sat in the restaurant (Thai) and ordered a cup of jasmine tea while I waited. The waiter brought the usual complimentary basket of prawn crackers to the table and I felt a sense of dread... surely the basket would never survive the 30 minute wait? And if by any miracle it did, I would undoubtedly spend each and every second of those 30 minutes obsessing over the crackers, eyeing them, salivating over them and feeling utterly deprived?

40 minutes later, the first friend arrived, and I realised the basket was still there, still intact except for one cracker I had eaten 20 minutes before and I had completely forgotten about it!

Then as the other friends arrived, someone ordered a bottle of wine and poured us all a glass. Usually that's my cue to down the glass in 2 minutes tops and proceed to finish off the bottle. It is impossible for me to make a glass of wine last for a whole meal. I drink compulsively. Yet, even after waiting 20 minutes to be served, it was still there and I took my last sip as I ate my final bite, leaving several pieces of meat on the plate - and I didn't even have any rice!

All this is so absolutely unusual - scrap that, unheard of, that I have been feeling puzzled by it all evening.
I really have stopped fighting myself! Food is no longer the enemy! I just feel so strange, like a part of me I've been living with for years just up and went. And I didn't even realise it had gone until this very moment. But it has gone, and has been gone since before I even started WW almost 5 weeks ago.

I can vividly remember how obsessed I could feel in the presence - or even in the absence - of food. I remember the panicky feeling at not being allowed to stuff everything into my mouth there and then, the sweaty palms as I wondered if I'd waited a decent amount of time before reaching out for another crisp, the constant image of food overpowering any other thought in my mind... and no matter how hard I try, I can't bring that feeling back. And no, I don't want it back! Not ever! But it's so hard to believe it's actually gone, and not just hiding around a corner, waiting to jump out at me and overpower me once again.

Damn, I hope it's gone forever.

Part-time work, happiness and getting to goal

Last night Bart commented that he hadn't seen me this happy for this many days in a row for a very long time.
I was kind of shocked to hear him say that.
I mentioned it to a colleague at lunchtime today, and she confirmed that other people at work had also commented on the difference.
Had I really been so grumpy and seemed so unhappy this past year?

The answer is probably "yes". Daily frustrations and stress at work just stacking up and compounding into a permanent ball of resentment against everyone and everything in my life. Thinking back, it's difficult to understand how I let it get that far. And why I didn't do anything about it sooner.

But I also wonder what job I can possible find that won't have that effect on me. Maybe it wasn't the job? Maybe it's me. Maybe I feel some kind of entitlement to happiness that makes me bitter as soon as anything in my life isn't going the way I want it to?

I have to admit, I love being lazy. Well, I guess that isn't true. I love procrastinating, by doing just about anything except the one (or ten) thing(s) I'm supposed to be doing. I'm not actually lazy, because I'm usually busy - just not with whatever it is I'm supposed to be busy with.

Right now I should be working on a presentation. Actually I was supposed to have the afternoon off, but I'm staying at work instead to catch up on some things I should have already managed to finish this week, and probably would have, had I put my mind to it. Is it as frustrating for you to read that as it is for me to write it? Don't you just want to hit me over the head with a two-by-four and tell me to just get on with it?

I remember reading somewhere that people who procrastinate do it because they have a need for instant gratification. When faced with a cake with a cherry on it, they eat the cherry first, then the cake. Apparently, "healthy"/"normal" people are people who learned the concept of delayed gratification. These people are capable of getting the "chores" over with first, leaving them with masses of time for the fun stuff.
Us procrastinators for some reason have a problem with delayed gratification. We always want to do the most fun things first - but are also obliged to do the "chores" - and we usually end up in some kind of half-arsed version of both, dragging along our string of chores like a kiddy's blanket, whilst guiltily indulging in something we enjoy more, but not quite getting completely into it because of the chores we know we really should be doing instead.

All that to say, I wonder if I was less of a procrastinator, could I get my work - whatever it is - out of the way quicker and have more time to enjoy the rest of my life, thereby becoming an overall happier person? Do I create my stress and unhappiness because I always put off the essential (presentations, budgets, strategic recommendations...) to take care of the urgent (phone calls, emails...) that in reality are not that important? I know I get a "kick" out of feeling efficient and reacting rapidly to people's requests, and that is my "instant gratification", but it's not what I'm paid to do, fundamentally.

And finally, I'm wondering how my new-found dedication to WW fits into all this. Because isn't food the most common form of instant gratification? And what else is a diet if not delaying gratification? Choosing not to eat the crisps or drink the wine in order to fit into a size 12 jeans by the end of the year is exactly what I have been incapable of doing up till now - at least not for long periods of time, and these past 6 weeks are definitely a record. Am I finally learning to delay gratification? According to this site, the ability to delay gratification is often a sign of emotional and social maturity... so is this all part of me (finally) growing up?

The Wikipedia page on deferred gratification relates the following tell-tale test of impulse control:

[In] the "gift delay," (...) children were shown a nicely wrapped gift but told they must complete a puzzle before opening it. Researchers then calculated a "delay score" based on how long the children held out. When independent examiners interviewed the test subject years later, they found that boys who had not delayed were "irritable" and that the girls were "sulky." In contrast, the patient boys were "attentive" and the girls "competent."

Hm... there's that sulky girl again. Well, if that's true, it really is time I do something about it.

5 weeks in - results!

I'm doing the happy dance today, had a great week!

I lost another 1.1kg / 2.4lb :)
Total loss: 5.7kg / 12.5 lb

Back on track this week after a difficult New Year's week, except for a dinner party on Friday where I acted recklessly with a bottle of wine. But instead of feeling defeated that I had let myself go and lost control, I just made a note in the back of my mind to not let it happen too often.

I realise that although it feels great to see the numbers go down, there's no race to the finish. I also know that once I get there, staying there will most likely be the hardest part, so this is just the beginning of what will probably be a life-long battle.

Actually, "battle" isn't the right word any more. I've stopped feeling like I'm fighting myself. Maybe this time it's finally more about "finding" myself. I think realising where my relationship with food went wrong and why I self-destruct by over-eating has really helped me short-circuit the vicious circle. I'm finally ready to treat myself with respect.

New life right around the corner

As of next week and for the next 2 months I will be working part-time. Woohoo!

The plan was initially to work January then take February as unpaid leave and so arrive at the end of my contract with my current employer, but I hardly have any work (amazing when I think back to the horrendous busyness of the past 2 years) and am bored stiff, so I proposed this new arrangement to my boss who agreed.

I see it as a win-win, as he isn't paying me to sit around all day doing nothing and has an extra month to find a replacement, and I have "me"-time starting Monday instead of having to wait another month. I also get to keep using my car for an extra month and all the other work-related benefits such as cell phone and laptop.

I want to use the free time to look for new opportunities, whether job-wise or study-wise, as well as to take more care of myself, cooking proper meals, exercising and maybe even getting a haircut, lol.

Speaking of new career opportunities, I saw an ad for freelance trainers today, to teach English to various groups of people, mainly professionals. The hours are variable and you can basically compose your own schedule apparently. Of course, they ask for experience and/or a diploma related to teaching, which I lack, but I want to contact them and see if there is a possibility to follow training courses through them.

Frustratingly, the only recognised studies that really seem relevant to what I think I want to do involve going back to university for 5 years, and I'm just not sure about that level of commitment. Something I need to think hard about over the next weeks and months.

I'm curious as to what part-time work is going to feel like. I have the feeling it's going to be great, having all that extra time, and I'm hoping I can find a way to integrate more me-time in whatever the future holds for me :)

Blood test results are back!!

And the good, no, the GREAT news is that I don't have diabetes (blood sugar 0.89 g/l, so not even pre-diabetic).
Equally good news is that my cholesterol is under the recommended limit (total cholesterol 1.6 g/l, well under the 2.4 limit), although I should up my "good" cholesterol a little.

I'm waiting for the doctor to call me with his interpretation of all the other results, but these two things to me are such good news!

I would have been so, so angry at myself if the results had been bad. I know I'm finally doing what I should have done all along, losing the weight and eating more healthily, but I had imagined the worst about the damage I may have already done to my health.

I'm pretty sure these good results have something to do with the huge amounts of garlic I consume, lol!

Well, just to say, it's a big relief and it has motivated me even more to take care of my body properly from now on.

It's Monday again, and that means...

It's time to post my weigh in results.

So, today sees me at -0.3kg or -0.6lb compared to last week.
Total loss so far: 4.6 kg or 10 lb.

Not a great result this week, but I figure a loss is a loss is not a gain, right? lol.
And I know exactly why I didn't lose more, having gone 26 points over allowance and only 10 activity points to compensate...

Given the fact it was New Year's Eve (3 glasses of champagne, a glass of wine and 4 different mini-desserts) that caused the biggest damage, I can safely assume I will have no problem getting back on track this week.

I'm actually really pleased with my results so far. I can't wait to get to my 10% goal as I know how important that is for my health, and also I'm hoping that by then I'll have dropped a size in clothes.

Hope everyone else has a good week... good luck to all with weigh in.

Sunday at the beach

Yesterday I was whining to Bart that we never went out and did anything at the weekend, so today we drove to the seaside for a long - and freezing - walk on the beach.

I tried to take some pics whenever we came across anything interesting, but the cold wind pushed us along pretty quickly and after 45 minutes we retreated for a yummy lunch before walking around in the shopping streets - incredibly busy as it's the first weekend of winter sales...

Home now, trying to get warm with a big mug of tea, and happy we got out of the house and had such a nice day.

"Before" picture selection

Choosing "before" pictures is a significant event, for me at least.
It means I have enough faith in myself to believe I am going to lose the weight.
Because posting "before" pictures and never getting down to a weight where it's worth posting "after" pictures, well that would just be lame...

So here is my selection of "before" pictures:

Our wedding, July 19th 2008.

When Bart asked me to marry him on November 29th 2007, I of course vowed to lose weight before the wedding.

But as the weeks and months went by, I could only observe that nothing was happening... work was more than hectic and I was eating irregularly and badly, and de-stressing with alcohol and treats in the evenings.

I decided in the end to not let it get to me, and resigned myself to be a bride at the heaviest I'd ever weighed (16st4). I did however vow to have the wedding pictures redone should I ever lose the weight.

August 30th 2008, in town with my lovely sister.

My sister is a beautiful girl. She's tall and slim. It wasn't always like that though and she has battled with her weight several times before.

She's now a fitness freak and can be found at the gym 7 days a week. She also has a really strange diet, which I'm not sure is very balanced, but it seems to work for her.

She lives with us for the moment, and being around her all the time can make me feel quite fat, old and ugly, but I love her to bits :)

November-December 2008, on our honeymoon in RĂ©union and Mauritius.

After an already perfect wedding, we had an absolutely blissful honeymoon last month. That wouldn't have been possible without the help of all our friends and family who put money into our honeymoon account, and I was thrilled we were going to be able to indulge in a real tropical paradise :)

I am always apprehensive about holidays. I absolutely love travelling, and get a real kick out of planning and organising everything, but one thing that can get me down is the prospect of showing more flesh than I'm comfortable with when we go somewhere hot... so I always choose clothes that cover me up as much as possible.

Of course, I usually feel like a clown, with my long trousers and long-sleeve tops when everyone else is sauntering around in skimpy bikinis. But I try not to let it get to me, and only occasionally let myself feel defeated by it.

The other reason the holidays confront me with my weight is that I am so limited in the activities I can do. I would love to go diving, climbing, abseiling, canyonning and horse-riding, but I am usually either too unfit or it would require me fitting into gear that isn't made for someone my size. So I save myself the embarrassment either way and just don't do all these things. I keep thinking "I'll do them when I'm fit and slim", but at age 30 I'm starting to wonder if by the time that happens I won't be too damn old!

Finally, the thing that can really bum me out with holidays is the flight... for the past 2 years I cringe just at the idea of having to sit in a plane seat... especially when it involves a 12-hour flight.

I mean, seriously, I know my ass has gotten bigger, but I am also persuaded airplane seats are forever getting smaller!

In any case, it is another reminder of how my weight hinders me and another very good reason to get rid of the excess baggage!

But these holidays were a blessing, and eating lots of fruit and veg every day, drinking less and feeling altogether happier and more relaxed was what inspired me to join WW when I got home. I joined the very next day, with a starting weight of 16st 9lb and so far things are going good :)

So that's it for my "before" pictures. I hope that by the end of February I'll have lost enough to be able to see the difference and post some "progress pics" :)

Happy New Year!

2009... I wonder what this year has in store for me?

Hopefully a few nice surprises and not too many unpleasant ones.

This year will be all about creating a new career for myself, after I finish my job at the end of January.
I have options, which is nice, but still need to decide what it is I really want.
Seeing as work is pretty calm right now, I hope I'll find some time to look into it over the next few weeks and feel a little more prepared for it all.

On one hand I really want to do a complete shift into coaching & training, and am seriously considering re-doing university to study psychology. On the other hand, I know I could use my experience in project management to find a well-paid job, with the advantage of not having to worry about money, health insurance, etc. I'm still not sure what my priority is right now, or if I can find a way to combine both goals. So, lots to think about...

2009 will also be the year I get back to a healthy weight. The first 3 weeks on WW went really well, this week has been more difficult with New Year celebrations and I've gone 20 points over my daily allowance in total over the past 3 days... I'm already doing that thing where I think "one piece of chocolate won't hurt me", followed by "a handful of crisps won't make a difference", before moving on to "one teaspoon of ice-cream doesn't really count". Yes, I diversify, lol.

On a positive note, I know I should be really proud of myself for limiting my alcohol intake (1 glass of wine at dinner with the in-laws tonight!) and being able to resist a lot of temptations (2 hours sitting next to a plate of chocolates and biscuits without taking a single one and getting a tangerine instead). And I didn't feel I was depriving myself.
Nevertheless, I can feel a binge coming on... it's itching me... I recognise the build-up of little indulgences which will give way to a full-blown pigging out session in a couple of days' time and I'm not sure how to stop it.

No doubt this is going to be a battle, but at least I won't be so stressed out and worn out by work that I have neither the time nor the energy to fight it properly.

Anyway, I hope everyone has an amazing year in 2009. I hope the world economy improves quickly (and I am optimistic it will) and we all achieve our goals. I can honestly say 2008 was a wonderful year, moving in to our new place, getting married, going on an amazing honeymoon, and even the stress at work and health problems cannot put a damper on that. I can only believe 2009 will be just as fascinating and enriching.