Monthly Archives: October 2016

Landing On The Wrong Square

snake

I woke up early yesterday, having failed to fool my body into sleeping an extra hour as the clocks did their thing and rebooted ready for the dark winter months. I did however make good use of the extra hour, laying in bed for ages and contemplating the fact that I’ve been back from Cuba for two whole weeks – two fairly shit weeks in the grand scheme of things, with the last week in particular being a truly platinum-plated turd.

My general willingness to remember that I’m not that armchair-hogging food addict any more seems to have disappeared like a fart on a breeze, and I’m doing that thing where I’m refusing to look myself straight in the eye because I’m afraid of what I might see. For the few days leading up to the trek I was acutely aware that I’d taken my foot off the gas and made some dodgy choices, and whilst I was away my food plan went out of the window altogether. Neither of those two things would have been a massive issue. However. The two weeks since I came home have been a dieting car crash.

And you know what, I’d be the first to admit that I’m not very good with sums, but if I do a few quick calculations on the back of a fag packet I can’t avoid the reality of the situation I’m in…this isn’t just a bad few days. In the way that fuck-ups can run away with you like a freight train in a bad movie, this has morphed into a bad month.

I’ve been trying to think of ways in which to position it with myself so it doesn’t sound so bad and the most positive spin I can come up with is that I’m currently in hiatus between season one and season two. Season one was the start of this journey…begin the diet, find a voice, make some friends and build this awesome support forum. Find an adventure requiring focus and commitment, nail the plan and walk towards it as one big posse with the season finale featuring a finish line in Cuba. Season two picks up where season one left off, and it’ll take us right up to the point where the rest of my life can begin in a pair of size twelve skinny jeans.

The thing is, it’s not really a hiatus is it? The word hiatus suggests I’m pressing pause, kind of like a way to gather my thoughts and shape what I’m walking towards. Except that’s not what’s happening here, is it? I’ve fallen out of the naughty tree and I’ve put weight on…I’m struggling with my food plan and my head is refusing to play nicely. There’s a whole sub-story going on off-camera and that’s definitely not what’s supposed to happen when we’re taking a hiatus, at least it never did on Grey’s Anatomy.

It’s more accurate to imagine I’m living in a giant game of snakes and ladders, and right now I’m sliding down the back of the biggest fucking anaconda on the board. You know that one that always lurks right in the middle, and everyone in the game blows on the dice before they roll it when they’re in the general vicinity in the hope that it might prevent them from landing on that square..?

Well, guess who landed on the square. For fuck’s sake.

I didn’t see it coming but the more I reflect on the last few weeks, the more I think perhaps I should have, you know? Think about it. The trek was never supposed to be a thing in its own right…it was always a means to an end, something I signed up for as a way of staying on the path to Skinny Town.

And the fact that I brought it home was always going to be cause for celebration, given the amount of preparation I’d done to get ready for it. My mistake was allowing the Asshole voice to lead me directly to the I can relax now, it’s over! school of thinking, which was never going to end well. I could have prepared better for the fact that that might happen, and been ready for it. Note to self, that will ALWAYS happen because you have an Asshole who lives inside your head. It’s not rocket science, is it?

What I need to do now is figure out how to not let my bad month turn into two bad months, and then three. I can’t – won’t – go there.

First things first. I’m going to go to the Kingdom of Pain every day providing my work schedule allows me to get there…this week it does (although I’m away for the weekend which given the fragility of my food sobriety will throw up a new set of challenges but one step at a time, right?).

I had my eating under control last week between Sunday and Wednesday…it was the latter part of the week where it all went tits up. I was stressed, I couldn’t fit a work-out in and before I knew it the Asshole voice had snuck some all or nothing thinking into the equation…you can’t do THIS so don’t worry about THAT either.

Yesterday was better, in fact it was a good day. I worked hard in my circuit training class yesterday morning, I ate healthily, and I went to bed not having listened to any of the suggestions about popcorn or maltesers which were helpfully put forward by the Asshole voice as I was watching TV last night. Today I’m going to use yesterday as a blueprint and do the same again.

One foot in front of the other, and repeat, right? 🙂

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I Couldn’t Outwalk My Fork

fork

I know you’re all expecting the next chapter of my trekking story today but I’ve got a major battle going on as I try and cling on to my place in the sweet spot so I’m afraid the contents of my head have jumped the queue…trekking day two and beyond is buffering as we speak but my woes are already lined up and ready to go. Sorry about that.

I’ve got to be honest, I’ve had better weeks. On a scale of one to ten, one being really shit and ten not being much better, the needle didn’t even get off the starting blocks. I’m in that place where I’d be grateful for a one. My boy’s been in hospital for emergency surgery so I’ve had a  couple of sleepless nights…it doesn’t matter how old they are, your babies are your babies, right?

In between all that, my website is still broken and the people who should be sorting it out are seemingly much better at apologising for the inconvenience of it all than they are at actually fixing the fucking issue. I’m seriously at the end of my rope. For all of you trying to join in with the chatter and leave a comment, I’m really sorry you’re being blocked as suspected bots. If it’s any consolation whichever gremlins have taken up residence are tarring me with the same brush and I’m also getting regularly booted out of my own website for being of suspected dodgy character.

So I’m tired and I’m frustrated, on top of suffering from the huge anti-climax of returning from the jungle with a lack of forthcoming adventures to keep driving me forward…it’s got D-I-S-A-S-T-E-R written all over it.

On Wednesday I stuck to my food plan. Yesterday I didn’t. Yesterday anything was fair game. It started well, with melon. Well, I say it started well but to be honest I’d taken melon to work to snack on throughout the morning, and I accidentally ate it all in the car before I even got there so if we’re splitting hairs it didn’t start that well. But still, the melon was the only healthy highlight in what turned out to be a dieting car crash. I ate sandwiches and chips, and cake and crisps and chocolate.

I can’t even blame it on the fact that I was stressed…on Wednesday, as my boy and I sat for fifteen hours in a waiting room at the hospital and waited for someone – anyone – to feel better and vacate their bed so he could get the surgery he needed, I was stressed to the moon and back. He was on nil-by-mouth so no naughties passed my lips at all in what I considered to be a noble and selfless show of solidarity, you know? Yesterday however, surgery safely over, son on the mend and stress levels on the downward march, my jaws barely stopped moving all day.

What’s that all about? That’s not part of the plan. Especially when you consider I had a come to Jesus moment with the God of Pain on Sunday when he clocked the fact that I’d put six pounds on since he weighed me just before I left for Cuba. I swore to him that I was back on track. Genuinely, what I ate in Cuba was heavily carb-laden and dextrose-rich and I’m cool with the effect that had – we all needed that fuel to get through the trek.

What I didn’t need was all the other stuff I ate, on those nights where we stayed in nice hotels…I dined on the excuse that I was going to burn it off but clearly I failed to out-walk my fork. I also didn’t need any of the crap I’ve eaten since we got back. So Sunday was my reboot, the day where I drew my line in the sand and picked up where I’d left off. Except the week hasn’t shaped up that way for all the reasons I’ve talked about…or, should that say all the excuses I’ve made.

There is no reason why I should’ve allowed the wheels to fall off my food plan, just a lot of excuses why I did. I’m disappointed that I disrespected all the effort I’ve put in to get to this point, but today’s a new day, right?

Today I’ll do better.

 

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Cock-A-Doodle-Doo

image

So I wasn’t feeling quite so accomplished by the time dawn broke….walk the route on day one and survive, tick. Get a good night’s kip ready for day two, which if the rumours were to be believed was harder than the day before…epic fail.

It didn’t help that after dispensing antibiotics for my chest infection (the diagnosis of which involved me saying I think I’ve got a chest infection and the lady doctor who was accompanying our trek nodding wisely and saying ok I geev you peels) the group leader had decreed me and my roomie should have the tent nearest to the camp buildings. I suspect when I made it into camp at the end of day one they thought maybe I wouldn’t be able to stagger any further up the field.

And it was fine, you know being near to everything. Except maybe the chicken coop, which was right next door. And when I say next door, I mean had I been so inclined I could have reached under the tent and strangled that fucking cockerel, which set off cock-a-doodle-doing at about 3am. I’d like to say just after I’d fallen asleep, but I’m not entirely sure when that was. I must have fallen asleep, in fact judging by the number of times I woke up in the night I’d clearly been very effective at falling asleep. I don’t really remember the sleeping bits….just the waking up bits.

And every time I did wake up, my body sort of had this sort of Mexican wave of pain vibe going on. Turning over from one position to another with my body in shock from everything I’d thrown at it the day before would’ve been a challenge in itself if I’d been sleeping on a pocket sprung mattress with feather pillows. Sleeping on a ground mat in a two man tent with no pillow and nothing sqishy underneath me except for my own arse magnified every ache and pain several times over.

Still, by the time I crawled out of bed and stretched out my bones, my fellow campers were at various stages of stretching and limbering up after an equally uncomfortable night, and spirits were high. Whilst I’d stayed in camp in the early evening as we’d arrived the day before due to feeling as rough as toast, most of the group had gone on an optional walk out of camp to a waterfall before dinner, and had been caught on the hop when the heavens opened.

Dinner had been a very damp affair but with lots of laughing…the beer was cold and despite the rain we were still all very hot, and euphoric from getting through a really tough day. I wasn’t the only one who’d been a bit shocked at how hard it was, you know?

I’m sure my asshole voice was in very good company that night, I know for a fact that at that point, at least a couple of the others were wondering whether they’d get through the week.

So morning of day two saw the field littered with wet boots and damp clothes in the hope that whilst we breakfasted on more of what we’d affectionately nicknamed prison bread and green beans – yes, really – everything would start to dry out as the heat caught hold of the day.

We were excited. Yesterday we’d walked along jeep tracks, and flirted with the rainforest as we stood at the top of hills and look out across it all. Today…well, today we were going in 😊

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So, Where Do I Start!

tent

It’s hard to believe that a whole week has passed since I fell through the front door to a rock star welcome from my four legged fur baby and a bear hug from my boy – the whole week passed in a haze of jet-lag, and a busy work schedule. And best not forget the eight or so hours that I’ve been engaged in various chat room too-ing and fro-ing with people in a different time zone to me, who promised to fix my website.

Whether it is fixed or not remains to be seen….they tell me it’s fixed and that you lot can post comments again but to be honest I’m sceptical. They made the same outlandish claims on Tuesday and again on Thursday whilst the website was busy locking me out amongst wicked rumours that I too was a ‘bot’. Thing is, I was so banjaxed by the jet lag that I fell asleep twice clutching my laptop whilst I was on hold for web support and missed my chat window when it was my turn for someone at the other end to try and help sort it out.

Anyway let’s see how we go on. I’ve finally managed to upload all my pictures from Cuba…if you haven’t already seen them on our Facebook page you can click here …there are rather a lot, but even the pictures don’t really tell you the whole story. It was quite simply the most awesome experience I’ve ever had.

God of Pain knows his onions, I mean hats off to him you know? There can’t have been too many times in his life that a fat middle-aged woman has landed on his doorstep in ill-fitting exercise pants and thrown down a challenge to get her fit enough to trek 90km up a mountain but fair play, he knew exactly what to do. I mean sure, I know I was the one who put the work in, but he designed the programme and I’ll tell you what, it was bob on.

There were people on the trek much faster than me and much fitter from a cardio perspective – unlike me they climbed the mountain without once feeling like they needed an iron lung. Me, I was slower, and was invariably last across the line for whichever section we were doing but at the end of every day when lots of folk were struggling with tired legs, mine were okay…they were primed. I wasn’t fast, but I was ready and I was strong.

What I couldn’t have prepared for was the heat. On the day we started trekking it was around 40 degrees, and the humidity was running at well over 90%…I shit you not, it was like breathing in soup rather than air. I’d allowed myself to be lulled into a false sense of security as we set off on a boat across Lake Hanabanila…there was a gentle breeze and I remember sitting there enjoying the ride thinking this is wonderful, it doesn’t feel as hot as I thought it might. It took 90 minutes to cross the lake and it was stunning.

And then we got off the boat. The breeze disappeared as soon as my feet hit solid ground and we never felt another puff of air for the next five days. We started the trek as soon as we reached the end of the lake and within ten minutes I was hurting, but that was only the start. It didn’t help that I’d woken up that morning with a sore throat and a squeaky voice…not the ideal time to realise you might have a chest infection, right?

By the time we met up with the support truck, about 8km into the trek I was locked in conversation with the asshole voice, who was hell bent on convincing me that I’d bitten off far more than I could chew and trying to dream up reasons why I should spend the rest of the day on four wheels instead of two feet. I mean that was never going to happen, although I did find out later that our local guide was convinced I wouldn’t complete the first day. I don’t blame him, I’d probably have thought the same to be fair. I was right at the back, gasping for air and croaking my way up the hills, it can’t have looked promising.

I had to force myself to eat something at lunchtime, even though I’ve never felt less like eating in my life. I felt sick, and a bit shaky but I knew I needed the energy and once I’d forced a sandwich down my neck (I use the word sandwich loosely, given that the packed lunch had been provided by the Cuban equivalent of Fawlty Towers and the very sweet bread, chewy ham and plastic cheese combo was an interesting take on a sandwich as we know it) I felt a bit better.

We completed the first day in three sections, and the last two were a bit easier than the first. But I still found it really hard, and I was feeling like shit. Every breath hurt, my voice was coming and going and it felt like the flesh was melting off my body – I couldn’t decide whether that was because I was sick, or whether it was because I was old and fat and pushing the boundaries a bit in terms of what I was trying to do and the conditions I was trying to do it in. But I made it to camp, and even though I was hurting, I’d walked every step of the way.

As I laid in my tent that night, after a dinner of rice, beans and chicken accompanied by bricks disguised as bread rolls, on a mat which was about as thick as an after-eight mint, buried in my mosquito net with no pillow and throbbing toes, surrounded at every turn by the smell of deet, I don’t ever remember feeling quite so…accomplished.

I ached from head to toe. I was hot and sweaty with no prospect of a shower, there was a legion of ants marching around my sleeping mat and by this time it was pissing down with rain in biblical proportions but you know what, I’d done it. I’d completed day one. I could worry about day two tomorrow…

 

 

 

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I’m Home! And I Crossed The Line!

home

Two things have repeatedly struck me today as I tried to go about my first day back on UK terra firma; God it’s cold, and WTF is this jet lag all about? I seem to have lost a day somewhere. We left Cuba at 10.30pm on Saturday evening, and arrived into Madrid just shy of ten hours later, at lunchtime. We spent three hours kicking about in the airport before another flight back to London, followed by another time change and a five hour drive home. Despite seeming to doze a lot in and amongst all the travelling I feel like I haven’t seen the inside of my eyelids for a month.

But, it was worth it. I have had the time of my life and I cannot wait to tell you about it. All of it. I’ve got a mountain of pictures that I know you’d like to see but I think I’m going to have to do this in stages because there’s just so much to share, and right now my brain is scrambled. I pretty much devoted today to my mum, who has talked my ears off, so my house still looks like a camping-bomb went off, and as I write this it’s way past bedtime already. I’m wiped out but my head’s still in Cuba time and is refusing to play ball where sleep is concerned, you know?

I want to tell you about the twenty three lovely people and one Asshole voice who kept me company on the trip. I need to tell you about the pocket-sized action man whose machete was almost as big as he was, who didn’t think I could do it until I did it.

I’m dying to tell you about the mud and the camping and the heat, and the bugs and the food, not to mention the blood sweat and tears…oh boy, the tears. I’ve had moments over the last week where emotions crashed into effort and started a fucking tidal wave.

Most of all I want to tell you how it felt when I crossed that finish line, having walked 89.8km through the rainforest. You know how I love to tip the contents of my head out and sort through it all under your watchful gaze, well buckle in folks there’s a lot to go at. Thing is, I need to catch a breath first before I can do it all justice. I gave up trying to sleep a little while ago and allowed myself to plug back in and say hello, but my alarm call is due in five hours…shoot me now. I’m back in work tomorrow so I’m forcing myself to put my virtual pen down and do the sensible thing. I’m hoping things will get back to normal a bit later in the week.

It’s great to be back. I’m going to need your support more than ever over the next couple of weeks, as I try to climb down from cloud nine and get my head back into the reality of losing weight…my diet has taken a back seat for the last couple of weeks and I see red flags everywhere – the Asshole voice is latching onto every opportunity to knock me off the road to Skinny Town, and that simply cannot happen, right? Not a chance.

Night all…I’ll be back 🙂

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