Monthly Archives: September 2016

Dialling Up The Pressure


Holy Moly it feels like the pressure is really ramping up now – I’ve got some last minute bits and pieces sorted out this week, and tomorrow I have my final practise walk before the actual trek itself. It’s scary to think this time next week I’ll orienting my way around Havana, feeling like a proper adventurer on my way to explore the deepest depths of the Cuban rainforest. Eeek!!

Something that hadn’t occurred to me, in the middle of all this preparation for the walking and the bugs and the camping, was that for the first and last two days of the trip we’re actually on holiday in a proper hotel with a pool and a cocktail menu. Result! And there are some trips arranged for us around old Havana amongst other things, I mean they’re really going to give us a flavour of Cuba. I’ve been too caught up in everything else to even think about that.

I’m even more excited now I’ve actually read the small print, although it’s sort of knocked my packing a bit sideways –let’s be honest, I’d look like a dick sitting around the pool in full trekking gear including hat complete with mozzie net, looking for all the world like I’m on the edge of an adventure whilst everyone else gets their groove on with a Cuba Libre and a good book.

So it seems like I need four days’ worth of non-trekkie clothes too. Which is fine, except they’ve given us a limit on luggage, and most of my allowance will be taken up by bug spray. Maybe I need to relax a bit about the bugs. Just take, you know five gallons of insect repellant instead of six..? I was playing fast and loose with my baggage allowance until they said my bag might need to be transported by donkeys, and since they’re much cuter than your average baggage handler I feel a certain obligation to remain within my weight limit.

Honestly? The pressure of knowing everything I’ve been working for is just around the corner is playing havoc with my food plan. My Asshole voice is having a ball, trying to talk me into no end of naughties and I’m afraid to admit he’s achieved a pretty good strike rate this week. WTF is wrong with me? I ate three cupcakes at work today. Three. Counting them conservatively in terms of smart points that’s twenty one points out of a daily allowance of thirty four. That’s not even funny, right?

It’s been the same all week, and it was equally hard last week too just to stay in the zone and maintain focus. I’ll bare my arse to the world if I’ve lost any weight this week… I’m three points in deficit at this point and I haven’t eaten dinner yet. The boxing class I should have gone to after work didn’t happen because the motorway was snarled up with an accident and I didn’t make it in time even though I left work early so I’m relying on our long walk tomorrow to help me snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. But talk about sailing close to the wind.

I need to give my head a wobble and remind myself why I’m doing this…I didn’t lose weight to go to Cuba, I’m going to Cuba because I needed something to help me focus my mind. How ironic would it be if the pressure got to me enough that I fell off the wagon? Don’t worry, I’m not planning to, I’m just thinking out loud.

Tomorrow I’m going to walk my socks off, and Sunday is a bright shiny new week…let me at it 🙂


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Moments Like That


I couldn’t help wondering when I skidded sideways into the optician’s waiting room yesterday morning with seconds to spare before my appointment, what opinion I’d form about me, if I was having an out of body experience and watching myself from a distance. I was bang in the middle of a serious menopause moment, you know one of those where that prickle of heat starts in your toes and works its way upwards ’till you feel like you’re about to spontaneously combust?

My face was glistening with a sheen that screamed crazed middle-aged hormones at work, and my hair, totally banjaxed by the moisture rising from my skull had gone wild at the back and flat at the front. I looked like the lead singer from Flock of Seagulls, in fact I’m surprised that nobody stopped me for an autograph.

It’s fair to say that my day had gone tits up from the minute I opened my eyes. I arrived at the Kingdom of Pain at 6.30am prompt to do my fat furnace class, and you know that yellow T-shirt that was so hard-won, the one that tells everyone that I’m a citreenie..? Well I only went and bloody forgot to put it on didn’t I…I mean, whaaaat??  In my defence, I was on 6am autopilot and I just grabbed the first T-shirt I came across in my gym drawer.

It seems I’m not the first. God of Pain even has a special garment reserved for folk who forget…it’s known as the yellow vest of shame. If I’m doing the citreenie workout I need to look yellow, them’s the rules.

So out came this hideous day-glo yellow mesh vest, made from the kind of nylon that makes you sweat like a stuck pig. I had to pull it on over my T-shirt and it was a snug fit, bunching up around my waist with the bottom of my own T-shirt sticking out underneath like a tutu. I looked ridiculous, and I don’t think I’ve ever sweated as much in my life. Of course my fellow athletes took no pleasure whatsoever in my predicament, judging by the amount of piss-taking they managed to squash into the next hour 🙂

I then had precisely 45 minutes between getting home and leaving for my eye appointment, during which time I had to shower and dress, dry my hair, put a load of washing in, get supper going in the slow-cooker and make lunch to take to work – so there’s no wonder I hit the opticians looking like the wild woman of Borneo. And putting my face on without my contact lenses in seriously hadn’t helped the situation, although looking at the world through soft focus meant I didn’t realise it at the time.

I’d gone to get fitted for some new contact lenses – I usually wear daily disposables, but I don’t want to be fannying around in the rainforest with grubby fingers trying to put them in or take them out, and I don’t want to wear my specs. So the eye guy had agreed to order me some lenses for the trek that I can leave in for two weeks at a time. Despite realising that my face looked like it’d been made up by Picasso once I’d put them in, they felt fine but he still needed have a good look.

What was different compared to the last time I went, was that yesterday I fitted in his chair. This time last year, I didn’t, and having my annual contact lens check-up was excruciating. I’m supposed to rest my chin on a little ledge inside a framework so he can look through his machine thingamabob at a close-up of the lenses in situ.  The framework is fixed to a table, and the table needs to be wheeled close enough to my chair so that I can stay seated and lean into the machine…problem was, last time my belly wasn’t letting that table get anywhere near me.

If I’d had a neck like E.T I’d have been okay but as it was I ended up standing, and bending forward with my bum sticking out backwards and my back screaming at me in protest whilst my chins battled to stay on the ledge so he could gaze into my eyes.

But that was then. Yesterday I took a seat like any normal person would whilst he did his thing…no drama and no embarrassment. Moments like that…well, they make every bit of hard work worthwhile, right? 🙂

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Under The Hundred!


I can’t imagine that there would be too many folk doing a happy dance at the prospect of being ninety eight pounds over their ideal weight, but it’s all about perspective isn’t it? I lost a solid two pounds this week, which means that for the first time in years I have less than one hundred pounds to go before I can officially check into Skinny Town and unpack my bags. And you bet your sweet ass I did my happy dance.

I’m halfway towards beginning the rest of my life as a person who lives in a body that’s nurtured with all the things it needs, and I’m starting to get curious now about what effect that’s going to have on me as I get older. I’ve abused my body for years, with little or no exercise and a volume-rich-nutrient-poor diet. You don’t have to look very far before you come across statistics which suggest that’s not particularly compatible with old age…once you get the wrong side of fifty it seems the ice upon which we all skate gets very thin if you live on a diet of cheese balls.

I used to be very blasé about it when I was younger – sure, I’m bigger than the average bear but I’m as healthy as on ox. I’ll be fine. Except, somewhere around my late forties, my stamina disappeared faster than a puff of smoke on a windy day, and shit started to hurt. And somehow, despite people who knew about stuff like that the world over declaring it to be inevitable, I was naive enough to believe that it would never happen to me.

I can’t help wondering whether there are things on the inside of my body that I can’t see which have taken a proper battering as a result of me yo-yo dieting for the vast majority of my life. I mean, there’s plenty of evidence on the outside…one look at my bingo wings and it wouldn’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce that they’ve been fat and not so fat and then fatter again on an endless loop for the last forty years. I wave my arms and there’s immediately a tsunami going on in my sleeves.

It’s not pretty, but I doubt it will kill me. Same with the dimples in my knees…unsightly, but harmless in the grand scheme of things. There’s probably a bloke with a scalpel somewhere who would happily suck nip and tuck the evidence away for an appropriate fee and who knows, if I win the lottery I might choose to walk that path. To be honest though, I find myself more pre-occupied with what’s going on inside.

I remember reading once that if you stop smoking before you’re forty, by the time you’re fifty your lungs will look like you never smoked. No residual harm. I quit one month before my fortieth birthday, so by rights my lungs should be as pink and healthy as a baby’s bum by now. I wonder how long it’ll take all my other bits and pieces to forgive me for subjecting them to a lifetime of food abuse…? They surely must be more battered than those in the body of a fifty-year-old lifelong skinny string bean.

I wish this epiphany hadn’t come so late in life, I mean I’m not old old, but if I’d got the measure of my Asshole voice much earlier I can’t help thinking that my engine room would be looking a little less tarnished as I bump into my middle years. I’m just grateful that the lights are all on now. I’m doing better.

I know that cheese balls aren’t a food group, and that making healthy choices is much easier once you’ve built up a head of steam. I know that using the remote to switch TV channels doesn’t constitute exercise, and I’ve learned that even a knackered old body will respond given the right sort of encouragement.

I feel strong, actually. I had a great walk yesterday with a bunch of good friends…it wasn’t hard, even though there was a lot of going up and down. It was just enjoyable you know? I didn’t really think about the walking, I was too busy looking around at all the beautiful scenery and watching Charlie dog having a ball jumping in and out of the river. I could have been doing this years ago, and it pisses me right off that I wasn’t.

But I am now, and that’s what matters, right? 🙂


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The Spider In My Pants


I’ve got to be honest, it wasn’t just assessment nerves that made me twitchy as I went through class on Tuesday – ridiculous as it sounds, I was convinced there was a spider in my exercise pants. There wasn’t of course, but I swear I could feel something tickling me as I worked my way around. There’s not a whole lot of room inside those pants for stray threads so I pretty much convinced myself that a spider must have crawled inside them in my drawer before I put them on.

The whole time I was obsessing about the non-existent spider in my pants, I was working my way around a circuit training session and for once I didn’t think too much about how much it was hurting because my head had found something new to worry about. My mind joined the dots between the imagined spider in my pants and my forthcoming trek, where the spiders and bugs will be mahoosive. Before I knew it I was obsessing over what would happen if something really did get in my pants, like when we’re camping, you know?

I’m going to be a complete basket case in that jungle, I just know I am. Even in my post-assessment euphoria, as soon as I got home the first thing I did was to run upstairs and make utterly certain that all my walking pants have ties around the ankles so nothing can shimmy up my trouser leg when I’m not looking. I’ve spent hours scouring the internet for deet-infused accessories, and as well as bug spray and bite cream I’ve bought wristbands and anklets which allegedly keep bugs away, and even a mosquito net tailored to fit over my head. Yes, really.

Thing is, to biting insects I’m seemingly very tasty. I don’t know what I’ve got that other folk haven’t – well, apart from considerably more flesh to go at – but they make a beeline for me. None of my fellow trekkers will need to worry about getting bitten because even surrounded by a fog of deet I’ll still be the decoy of the group…mozzies form an orderly queue, your fine dining experience starts here.

I had a very weird dream when I went to bed on Tuesday, about needing a wee in the jungle in the middle of the night, and getting attacked by a legion of bugs when I switch my head torch on and emerge from the sleeping bag. I imagine this marauding band of flying teeth just waiting for me to drop my pants before going in for the kill. I know I’m being a bit of a drama queen but even so…I’m dreading that.

Shall I tell you what I’m not obsessing about though..? The physical elements of the actual trek itself. I’m totally cool with that, in fact I’d go so far as to say I’m not really thinking about it much at all. I mean, of course it’s going to be challenging, and I’m sure there will be plenty of times over the five trekking days when I’m hot and knackered and out of breath with sore feet and aching limbs but you know what, it’s going to be fine. I’ve worked hard and I’m ready. Let’s be honest, in every Fat Furnace class there are moments where I feel like chucking the towel in.

But I never have. As God of Pain would say, going for another second in those moments where you think you can’t is what gives you the shape. It’s every bit as much about mental resilience as it is about physical ability, and I’d like to think that I’ve developed my mental muscles a little bit over the last few months.

We’ve got a practise walk this weekend up in the Lake District…I’m going all out with my new rucksack and my walking poles, not to mention my new Tilley hat which is awesome…two weeks today I’ll be in the air and heading out for the adventure of a lifetime. I can’t wait.

Sod the bugs, right?


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I’m A Citreenie!


I felt a bit twitchy when I walked through the doors of the Kingdom of Pain yesterday because I knew that straight after Fat Furnace, somewhere around the point where I’d worn myself out doing two circuits of kettle bells and planks and power bags and reverse lunges, I was going to have to strut my stuff in front of a very solemn God of Pain who would be holding a clipboard and scrutinising my every move…my first assessment.

In our fitness studio there’s a bit of a colour vibe going on, and the colour of the T-shirt you get to wear indicates what level of torture you’re going to be subjected to when you walk into a fat furnace class. It tells people how fit you are, sort of like the belt system in martial arts, right? As a rookie, you wear one of your own T-shirts which is sort of couch-potato-in-training status. But once God of Pain thinks you’ve practised enough and got your technique down, you get formally assessed and providing he’s happy with what you do you’re awarded your first colour…last night, I got mine.

After four months of blood sweat and tears I’ve earned my yellow T-shirt. I’m officially a citreenie, and I shall wear my T-shirt with pride. It feels awesome, you know? Four months ago I didn’t know how I was going to survive my first week, and a T-shirt of any colour looked way out of reach…they were for proper people who deserved to be there and didn’t risk conking out every time they broke a sweat. But look at me, I’m one of them now…one of the gang.

You might have seen the picture on Facebook…admittedly it’s not the most flattering photo of me that you’ll ever see, with my purple cheeks and sweaty hair plastered to my face but I can pretty much guarantee that you’re not likely to spot a happier girl anywhere. It’s a flaw in God of Pain’s ritual, making you pose for a post-assessment photo in your new T-shirt when you’ve just done an hour of circuit training, but right at that moment I didn’t really care. Even the fact that he was going to tag me on social media and share my hot sweaty jubilation with the world wide web didn’t faze me…I’m a citreenie after all, and we’re well hard.

It’s funny, as I drove home dressed in yellow, my boy rang to see how I’d gone on. After I’d shared my news and had a giddy two minutes, he moved on to more important matters like when are you home and what’s for supper? before uttering those immortal words do you fancy a Chinese? and the funniest thing happened…I opened my mouth to say yes, and no came out. There’s a variation on a theme, right?

Saying no to Chinese food kills me…it’s one of my hardest things. I love it and to be fair I do still eat it, but I have to budget for it. And yesterday I hadn’t. Normally if an unexpected Chinese food opportunity presented itself I’d spend a good while doing a bit of creative accounting to try and find a way to make it fit, but before I had chance to start doing my sums, the word no sprang out of my mouth like it had the hounds of hell on its tail.

No dodgy accounting here…I’m a citreenie, but I can’t rest on my laurels, you know? Fire-opal I’m coming to get ya 🙂


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