Wednesday 30 September 2009

Rounding up a fabulous week...

Whoa! Have been trying to post for the last couple of days but life and work kept getting in the way (outrageous!)! There's a big project coming to an end this week and Joe and I are trying to change our (massively terrible) bad habits (i.e. messiness, lateness, being less productive than we ought to be, etc...) and we ended up going to sleep by about 10pm last night - at least 3 hours earlier than usual!!

Anyway, the consequence of that is that I haven't been able to blog, or really read anyone else's (which is hard at the best of times as last count it was 166 blogs I was following!!).

So this post is going to be very loooooooooong, apologies in advance but I've got a whole week's worth of news to update you with!!

Firstly can I please say that I still cannot *believe* I'm a finalist in the Maximuscle Body of 2009, I'm still beaming. I'll be sat at my desk, suddenly remember and break out into an enormous grin :-D

My colleagues, who already think I'm bonkers, now probably think I've actually finally completely lost the plot due to the semi-permanent maniacal grin I now sport!

I won't tell them the reason for my mirth and merriment though, and I don't think I'll tell any of my friends either. I have told Joe (obviously) and my son knows now as well - he was wondering why we were having champagne with our beef casserole on Monday as our usual dinner beverage is Joe: glass of red wine, Me: small bottle of Bavaria (0% alcohol Belgium lager, it's lush).

He was very pleased, he said "ooh so are you going to be in those magazines then?" (our place is littered with various Maximuscle product catalogues and copies of "Fit & Toned"!)

Anyway, here's the week's round-up:

Wednesday 23rd Sep - Anniversary celebration! :-)

I took a half day and we went first to see District 9.


That's all I can say really, I was blown away, it was so clever, yet implausible... if you haven't already seen it... what are you waiting for??! There's action aplenty and a story-line that'll melt and break your heart all at the same time. It's not perfect, but it's bloody brilliant.

After the cinema we went for food. Joe wouldn't tell me where it was, just that it was close to the place we were going that night.

We ended up at the most amazing steakhouse. Given that I'm such a protein fiend nowadays, I think Joe picked the best place.

This wasn't an overrated franchise selling mediocre steaks, this place was the dogs bollocks when it came to beef. Check it out, it's called The Hawksmoor and I can safely say that I've now eaten the best steak of my entire 30 years on this planet!

We sat at the bar to start and had a cocktail, I can't remember which one it was to be honest as it was one of their seasonal... it's fair to say that it was delicious though!

We exchanged some prezzies, I got a bottle of lovely smelling perfume Jean Paul Gaultier - Madame, and the most gorgeous turquoise and silver necklace - I tried to take a picture in the mirror as you can see... it didn't come out too well though haha.

I bought Joe a bottle of Hugo Boss - XY which had received the thumbs up from *both* my male colleagues (result!), he seems to like it :-)

I also got him tickets to see Snow Patrol when they play the Royal Albert Hall in November, looking forward to that, they played this year's V Festival - ended up headlining when Oasis pulled out prior to them splitting for good. Will be good to see the boys at a more intimate venue :-)

So, onto dinner - we were asked to 'pick our steaks'! Basically they had a blackboard with all the special cuts they had available in the restaurant at the time. We debated over the Porterhouse, which we were informed was a T-bone with a sirloin on one side and a fillet steak on the other... sounded nice but as we were being charged by the 100g we decided to go for the Chateaubriand (if like me you have no idea what this cut is, here's an explanation. We ordered the 800g, rare, between two, yes we're greedy sods... or rather I am as it was my idea!!

We had oysters to start. I'd not had them before and was warned that they didn't have the best texture, but they were still quite nice actually!

Then came the steak, look at this, how beautiful eh (unless you're a vegetarian or just not a fan of beef...), I think this was over half way into the meal and there was still tonnes of meat left... drooooollll...

It was the most delicious thing ever, we had it with a wonderful bottle of red, thick cut chips, field mushrooms and a spinach and stilton salad. The meat melted in my mouth, I savoured every bite... I'm salivating as I type this!

Unfortunately the Hawksmoor is a bit on the *ahem* pricey side so we won't be going back there in a hurry, but it was a special occasion and was cheaper than last year's excursion to Gordon Ramsay's restaurant in Chelsea - which remains the single most wonderful dining experience ever - and the only time I've ever looked up on pigeon with anything other than disdain (as it was served up on my plate in the most amazingly delicious fashion).

Later that night we went to the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen to see my current favourite male artist, Liam Frost. I *love* this guy, he's amazing.

I hadn't heard of him until a couple of weeks ago when I was listening to XFM and I heard him interviewed on their 'Razor Cuts' show.

Click here to listen to/watch the song he played on the show, it's called Held Tightly in your Fist and is just beautiful.

I looked up his MySpace page. His new album, We Ain't Got No Money Honey, But We Got Rain is out to buy now - buy it!

So anyway, he was performing at the Hoxton Bar so me, Joe and a very small audience crowded around the stage while just Liam and an acoustic guitar held us captivated for over an hour.

Here's Joe and I feeling a little euphoric after an amazing meal and listening to some wonderful music: :-)

It was wonderful, I felt almost empty when it was over, I wanted more! I got his autograph though, very chuffed, and a hug too! :-D

Thursday 24th Sep

Can't actually really remember much about this day, it was about as boring and nondescript as they come!

Friday 25th Sep

By contrast to Thursday Friday was far from boring... long, heart-wrenching, disappointing, frustrating, all those things, not boring! After spending the whole day hoping desperately to hear from Maximuscle I dragged my despondent carcass to join my other half and some friends at Ozer Restaurant in Oxford Circus... have blogged about this place before, it's really fantastic :-)

We had a lovely meal and sat in the bar area for a while afterwards before going off home. Nothing could shake the huge feeling of failure though, how ridiculous that I'd let it all get to me like that!

Saturday 26th Sep

Saturday was better and far more productive. Stopped mooching, sulking and skulking about and did productive stuff like bake bread and tidy up the house. In the evening we rejoined our friends at the Wyndham Theatre to see the screen classic The Shawshank Redemption brought to life on the stage.

I wasn't sure how this would translate to the stage, it's such an amazing epic of a film (I've not read the book but can only imagine it's even better).

I loved it, it was very cleverly constructed, really entertaining, really gripping and engrossing. My hands hurt *so* much at the end from all the clapping!!

I'd actually even go and see it again, like tomorrow, and that's unusual for me when it comes to theatre productions!

After the play we went over to Dalston... now, if anyone here is especially familiar with the dulcet tones of Razorlight's front man Johnny Borrell, you might remember a line in a song which goes "don't.. go back... to Dalston..."

There is a reason for that, it's scary, it's edgy, and it's uber trendy to boot - I guess that's a symptom of areas like that, you either have to be psychotic or too-cool-to-care to visit them!

We got out at London Bridge and got a cab, explaining that we were going to club that was behind a pub... and that we didn't really know where but we had to knock on a wooden door... our cabbie then decided to regale us with tales of one of his misadventures in Thailand where he'd been recommended a 'good bar good bar' behind a wooden door... walked in with his friend only to have the door shut and bolted behind him and come face to face with a room full of scary guys with guns. He said was able to get out of there by waving his passport furiously around and yelling that he was British and that there were people who knew he was there. Apparently nobody spoken English but he and his friend were released

How much of that story is *not* the fictitious ramblings of a London cabbie I don't know, but it did leave us feeling a trifle uneasy as we approached The Wooden Door.

We needn't have worried, Passing Clouds is an elusive little joint but really worth the trek... it's basically a bedsit that's been converted into a club, it's fantastic. The whole place is kitted out in the most lush sumptuous fashion, really hippy, new age, bohemian, everything like that! They had a drumming band from Senegal playing while we were there - it was superb!

It was my friend's 30th which is why we were there but we didn't stay long and I was teetotal all night because of my 10k race the next day - which leads me nicely onto...

Sunday 27th Sep

Sunday I took part in one of Cancer Research UK's 10k events. There were quite a few held up and down the country and at the most beautiful of locations - castles, palaces, parks etc...

The race was held at Hampton Court Palace, on the actual grounds. It was a beautiful day, really clear blazing sunshine... which made for tough race conditions! Luckily I had a running bottle with me so was able to hydrate all the way round.

I ran with one of my friends who had got 1:05 in training so I thought wouldn't be too far off me during race conditions as the atmosphere makes quite a difference to your speed and effort (I find!).

The thing was that we set off together, and after the 1 kilometre marker my watch said 06:05. If I wanted to break the 60 minute marker, and indeed get better than the 57:01 I got for August's race, I was going to have to run faster than 06:05KMs!! So, I said to my friend that we needed to pick up the pace... we got to the second kilometre marker and I hit the split button on my watch only to see it register 06:34 - I was apparently slowing down! I really started to worry that I wasn't going to break the hour mark at all, nevermind beat my speed so I picked up the pace even more.

When I got to the 3km marker I hit the split button and saw it said 04:40. Hmm, that's not right, I wasn't running *dramatically* faster than how I started... it then dawned on me that the other markers must have been out but by that time I'd sped up and I find it really hard to decelerate so I kept going at that pace. Unfortunately my friend couldn't keep up and dropped behind a bit.

The rest of my KM splits were completely nuts, here are all of them:

KM 1 - 06:05
KM 2 - 06:34
KM 3 - 04:40
KM 4 - 06:01
KM 5 - 04:57
KM 6 - 06:12
KM 7 - 03:40 (!)
KM 8 - 06:12
KM 9 - 07:15 (!!)
KM 10 - 04:15

I was in a foul mood while running because I was totally unable to predict my finishing time whatsoever because of the dodgy marker placing. I finished in 55 minutes though, just over 2 minutes faster than the 10k I raced in August! I was thrilled, but knackered, I (think I) have only run twice since the race in August and that was in this last week before - two 5km runs. However I've been cycling and walking and strength training... and I've lost a bit of weight since then so I'm not entirely surprised I was faster.

Here's a pic of us all afterwards with our lovely shiny medals... yes I'm aware of how red and flustered (and short!) I look, but that's not unusual (the redness that is, the boys are all over 6'!)!!

I do wish I'd trained better though as I couldn't have run any faster than I did... I was completely wiped out after the race. We went with my friend (who finished in 57:26 - not bad for his first 10k!!) and his girlfriend who'd kindly looked after our bags, to a pub for a roast dinner:

I had a pint of real ale and a pint of lager PLUS a huge (but incredibly well deserved!) meal of beef, veg and yorkshire pudding and I was zonked! We all were, sitting at the table yawning our heads off - what great company we must have been for each other!! :-D

We got home and I cooked turkey meatballs later with garlic and jerk seasoning. It was lovely, will have to post the recipe :-)

Monday 28th

I got into work on Monday morning feeling a little low. On the back of my desk under, my monitor was the slip of paper I'd pinned with the "Could you be our body of 2009?" message on it... so I binned that, lol. I went to get it back out but the recycling guys have been already, boo!

I thought I'd sit down and reassess my goals. I'd put all my energy into the Maximuscle Body of 2009 competition that when it was over I felt a bit lost, bereft even, especially when I'd not heard by midnight (yes, I kept hoping *that* long!).

I've learnt so much this year, have had so many daft food and training myths I'd heard (and believed!) dispelled and have acquired so much knowledge, all the time increasing my strength and transforming my body, that I don't want it to end here! I know I've got my Open University Health Sciences course but that's just to expand my mind, I still have so much I want to do to my body!!

I contacted Jo at who I met through Weightloss Resources earlier this year to ask if she'd consider becoming my training buddy.

Jo has lost nearly 4 stone through training and diet alone and has been truly inspirational to me throughout this year, a real shining example of effort, control, perseverance and results! I've had my ups and downs this year, as I found it hard to commit to overhauling my diet, but she nailed it right from the start and got the results she wanted really fast as a result. She also happens to be one of the nicest, most supportive and incredibly helpful people you could ever hope to meet - she'd bend over backwards to help someone out!

I'd been scouring the net for other competitions I could enter but all I could find were those with women with bodies I don't think I could really hope to achieve!

I wish I had the discipline and willpower that people like Jo have, but I don't want to give up things like going out for meals with friends/family, drinking good red wine and eating the odd chocolate or big pasta dish!

However, I cam across these pictures for the NABBA"Miss Figure - Toned", (as opposed to "Miss Figure - Trained"!!) and I think that's a more realistic look to aspire to :-)

I also really want to improve my 10k race time, row and cycle a lot faster (and up larger hills!), lift a lot heavier and complete harder routes on climbing walls.... and that's just for starters! There's lots to focus on post-Maximuscle comp so I was feeling more positive by lunch time that I had so much to look forward to and much much more to achieve.

Then, Monday afternoon, I got "the call" and things went from 'better' to 'just simply amazing'!!

I still can't fully articulate how I felt when I took that call. I tried to explain to Joe and the best I could come up with was that it was like the feeling you have if you've ever lost anything really dear or precious to you; losing hope of it ever turning up again, but it then doing so!

I felt very dazed on Monday night (not just from the champagne!), spent at least an hour thinking of what to write in my blog to tell you which managed to p1ss Joe off as he didn't understand why I couldn't just 'get it all down' in a shorter time. I tried to explain that it's not like writing a homework essay or anything where your thoughts are concise and clear... mine rarely are, and at times this deteriorates into a stream of unintelligible nonsense.

Tuesday 29th Sep

So, onto yesterday... as if the day couldn't get any better I learnt that the bike I was after had been delivered to Action Bikes in Victoria, so was ready for a test ride.

I popped along at lunch and hopped on it and took it for a ride round the block... the block being Scotland Yard Police Station... possibly not the best place to ride a brand new bike, complete with all the tags, around... I got a few weird looks as the price tag fluttered loudly in the wind... I'd not nicked it, honest guv'!

Here's the picture I took of it, propped up outside the Ministry of Justice.

Henry, my new steed :-D

I was going to take it for a ride round St James's Park but I didn't need to... a few minutes on it convinced me that it was the bike for me. It feels a lot smaller than my big mountain bike and I wasn't prepared for the judderyness that fixed forks would afford, but a) I work in area with a zillion potholes and b) on smooth surfaces it literally gliiiiiiides along :-)

So I bought it, him, Henry I've called him. I don't usually name inanimate objects but I thought I'd make an exception this time.

I picked him up after work... he looks a little different now having had a pannier rack fitted (as well as the price tags removed!) and by the time I got home I was in love!


That's all for now I think, this is the most ridiculously long post after all and it's nearly the end of Wednesday! I think (hope) that it'll be a little less busy tomorrow so I might even be able to finish telling you all about my activity holiday in Les Gets!!

See ya later


Monday 28 September 2009

The most amazing thing has happened

you know, since my very first post on Monday 16th February this year, I've spent the last 7 months not being able to shut up on this thing. I can waffle on for hours, seriously! But now, well, I don't know what to say exactly! I don't know how to put into words just how I am feeling!

I was sat at my desk at work earlier and I saw a call flash up on my mobile - it didn't say 'unknown number' (e.g. 'sales call') so I thought I'd answer it, to find myself speaking to a lovely lady from Maximuscle!

The rest of the conversation is a bit hazy to be honest... rather like one of those dreams you have during a lie-in on a weekend... where you've woken up to use the loo and then gone back to sleep for an hour or so - it's all quite vivid, but hazy, clear but opaque.

From what I could glean there was a problem with the entries submitted via the website (I got mine in on the morning of the 22nd - cut-off day!) so the judging got held up and they weren't able to inform everyone who made the shortlist before today.

And I've made the shortlist for the Maximuscle Body of 2009.


It seems even more dream-like as I sit here typing away, tipsy on 30th birthday champagne (saved for a special occasion, and I deem this one!) and listening to the Foo Fighters on Spotify.

Did I dream this? I've got the number still on my phone, I took her name and direct line just in case, I'm hoping I'll go into work tomorrow and it'll still be there so I know it's real.

It's difficult to articulate just how much this means to me. To have my hard work noticed by a company that has supported my goals, a company that I have trusted and believed in, and have since been rewarded not only with a body I am proud of but by making the shortlist for this competition I've been working towards all year.

I feel both proud and humble, it's really odd!!!

I don't care if I don't win it, to be perfectly honest I didn't think I would win the whole competition, but I wanted to at least make the shortlist and be recognised for my efforts and transformation.

And I have, and I couldn't be happier.


Friday 25 September 2009

This is horrible

all this waiting around to hear... I wasn't prepared for the physiological, nevermind psychological effects on me!

when my blackberry vibrates for a new email, every time that little sodding red light winks its eye at me, (which happens very often, not because I'm popular in the slightest, just because I've signed up for so many newsletters on health, exercise, nutrition, sportswear, activities, races etc...!!!) I nearly leap out my skin! My hands go icy cold, my heart starts racing, my head prickles.... plus I find myself holding my breath as I reach for the phone

this isn't healthy!! why am I acting in this manner? I've never been competitive before, particularly as I wasn't a sporty child/teen/young adult etc, so why does it matter so much now?

Is it because I've put myself up there in such a public way. even though I haven't told my friends or family I've basically told the whole wide world if they want to hear/read about it!

I guess I just didn't realise how much I wanted this until now, the final day to hear back from them. Maximuscle say in their entry Ts & Cs that:

"Applicants will be shortlisted for each category and invited to attend a photoshoot. Shortlisted entrants will be notified by Friday 25th September 2009"

BY Friday 25th September.... so people might already have been told before today... today's the cut-off to hear back.

I wish I knew either way, I wish I knew how much competition I was up against, and the calibre, and... more importantly what Maximuscle really 'want' in the person(s) they in essence choose to represent them over the coming year.

Obviously I think I stand a reasonably good chance or I wouldn't have put myself out there would I? I train hard, research hard, eat well, I genuinely love Maximuscle products, as has been noted on here so many times, and I've seen really good results because of all this.

And yet I feel guilty for wanting this! It's not even about the money (although that would obviously be amazing!!), but I do believe in the company and the products I've been taking and, if I dissect this down to its smallest element I think right now I feel like a child worried about being rejected by their parent!!

Which is just ridiculous I know, as I've come so far and done so well to worry about approval from a huge organisation like Maximuscle, but I suppose I'm looking for vindication that my loyalty and efforts have at least been noted? Or am I just this small fish in a very large pond of much more attractive and marketable females?

I just would love so much to make it on the shortlist, to feel like my efforts have been recognised by them, this may sound pathetic I know but then perhaps maybe entering the competition in itself appears ridiculous and narcissistic?

I don't know, I just really really want this and I'm scared by how much, and how rubbish I'm going to feel when I don't hear back from them!

I really wish I could shake MYSELF by the shoulders!


I'm so sorry, I'm going to stop ranting and (attempt to) get on with some work

glad I got it off my chest though

hope you're all well...


Thursday 24 September 2009

competition pictures and reflections on my progress and transition towards a new me

I started writing this post yesterday but I ran out of time had to nip off as was working a half day, it was my and Joe's anniversary, aww. Had a fab day/night, will tell you all about it later :-)

So, here's my progress this year in pictures (click on all pictures for the larger size):

In February I took some pics of me in a bikini which I thought I quite liked (the bikini that is, not the photo subject - it looked good on a hanger anyway!)

However, as the year went on I got more caught up with writing about losing weight and less about doing everything to ensure that I did! I didn't take any pictures of me in a bikini during these times as I felt so bad about myself. I wish I had though, they'd have been better (or worse, depending which way you look at it!) than the ones above!

These pictures below were taken on my actual birthday (23rd May) when we were in Dublin. I was so gutted when I saw them as I'd aimed to lose a significant amount of weight by my 30th birthday but all I'd done is gained more!

The reason for this was that although I had the right ideas, I didn't have the right practices. I was doing everything right when it came to training and I was eating healthily and well. However I was still drinking quite a bit of alcohol on week nights and my portion sizes were just way too large.

I also wasn't entering ALL my food in my online food diary with Weightloss Resources, it's the little things you eat, like the odd chocolate here, or spoonful of peanut butter there, that add up to a lot come the end of the day!

These are some of the only pictures I have of me during that time, I was so ashamed with my backwards progress that I deleted all the pics that I took and had access to! It's only because Joe's so insistent on never deleting a picture that I have the ones above!

Anyway, enough of that. Having hauled my arse into gear these past couple of months, here are some comparison pics of my face and body:

And here are some of the actual pictures I submitted in my Maximuscle Body of 2009 entry. I didn't know what sort to take so I took some pics of me in a couple of dresses as well as bikinis

I'm not 100% thrilled with the bikini ones as I was still feeling a bit puffed up from all that alcohol on Friday night, what a div eh? Because of that and the fact that I'm not very tanned you can't really see my muscle definition, particularly around my abs, but it is there, I do have visible, and a flat tummy that I'm really proud of!!

Grr, so annoyed at myself but I'm only human and still learning as I go along.

So, looking back over the last 7 months:

What I did wrong:

I don't want to dwell too long on negatives because actually I've done really well in the end. However it's important to learn from your mistakes and I made a lot of them at the beginning of the year!

I think my biggest error was in thinking that this would be easy. Even if I didn't voice it, that's what I kidded myself into thinking. It wasn't, it was bloody hard work, I couldn't carry on with my previous lifestyle like I thought I'd be able to and I had to make sacrifices when it came to food and alcohol. It wasn't until I came to realise this that I began to see real results.

Tara from Figure This has written a great post entitled 'How To Lose Weight'. She says that many people struggle to lose weight for a number of reasons, and on her list I really identify with the first three:

* lack of belief in one's ability to lose weight.
* lack of discipline.
* lack of knowledge.

Read the rest of the article if you can, it's really good. I think I identify with the first point more than anything. I didn't believe in myself enough, or in my abilities. I was approaching this in a half-hearted manner because I didn't really truly deep down believe I had what it takes to make such a huge difference to my body and my life.

It wasn't until I remembered a poem I knew as a child, which I ended up posting on here one day that I realised I wasn't going to succeed if I didn't start believing that I could. You've got to think you're a winner before you can become one!

I started to visualise my success, how I wanted myself to look, and the feelings I'd get when I saw my reflection and liked that I saw. Those feelings I have now, when I get into our mirrored lift at work, or walk past a shop window and catch sight of my reflection - I am really pleased with what I now see, I don't think "eugh" and it doesn't make me feel miserable.

It's the best feeling in the world :-)

What I've done right:

* I've not given up, even when things didn't go to plan at the start
* I've never lost sight of my goals
* I've totally overhauled my eating habits and changed my relationship with food for the better, and forever
* I've not reverted to old effective but destructive methods, not once, not ever, that's just not a part of me and who I am anymore
* I've not isolated my family during this but have included them in my healthy new lifestyle (interesting healthy meals, cycling, swimming, running, activity holidays etc)
* I've learnt so much about exercise, nutrition and general health, and have loved it so much that I'm going to continue doing so and am making it part of my current and future study goals
* I've succeeded in my goal of feeling confident enough to enter the competition

Above all things, I now AM Slimmer, Fitter, Stronger and Happier :-)


Wednesday 23 September 2009

I just wanted to say

thank you all for your comments, they're really appreciated, so much

I'm still feeling a bit strange now after writing all that, and still coming to terms with 'baring my soul' quite so openly like that... even over this relatively anonymous and remote medium!

I dunno, feels weird, at times elated to have got it all down but also uncomfortable that I was so honest... I guess I've just gotten used to hiding things and burying them deep inside me. Not that I'm a usually duplicitous person, just rather private and secretive about issues that affect me personally.

So I feel a bit exposed now!

I don’t know if I’d want any of my friends or colleagues reading this, I guess I just still feel so ashamed by it all though I know I shouldn't :-(

I'm sure it's all part of a healthy process though and your support really helps me along

so thanks again x

Tuesday 22 September 2009

Tired but happy

ve been exhausted today, both physically and emotionally. I was up typing my story until nearly half four in the morning and then I had to type up my *actual* Maximuscle Body of 2009 entry as I was massively (like 10 times!) over the word limit!

I didn't finish typing my entry and sorting out which pictures I wanted to send until 6.30am! I managed to catch a couple of hours sleep but nothing near what I need so I'm surviving on skinny lattes and diet coke. Boy am I going to sleep well tonight!

The chances are that the people at Maximuscle will never read the other post but to be honest it's not the end of the world. You see I really feel as if a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders. Although over the last few months I have spoken to Joe and my friends about what I've been through, and have posted about it on the Eating Disorders board on the Weight Loss Resources (WLR) forum, I've never actually committed the whole lot to print, it's been hugely cathartic.

I thought I'd feel ashamed by my actions, but I don't, in fact quite the opposite. Now it's all down in writing I can look objectively at where I was and how dark a place, lonely and scary a place it must have been. It's almost as if it were somebody else's experiences, I feel very detached from that person now, another life, another me, but not me anymore.

I think people believe that if you have an ED you can choose whether when you switch it on or off, but that simply isn't the case. For so many years I couldn't escape the eat-purge cycle, I wasn't strong enough. The thought of digesting large meals literally frightened, stressed and panicked me hugely. I felt anxious at the thought of eating out in case the loo wasn't big enough to kneel down in, or that it was too small or close to another, or that there would be only one and so there'd be someone waiting outside to use it. It was like when I smoked for a while, I'd worry about going on trips, where I'd have enough cigarettes to last, when and where I'd get a break so I could smoke... I had to 'plan' my cigarette breaks and in the same way I guess I had to plan for my purge breaks too.

The two major factors that have contributed to my recovery and subsequent body reshaping have been

1) talking about my problems, emotions, issues, actions and beliefs. Particularly to my close friends, Joe and the people on the WLR Eating Disorders Forum. The latter has been a huge help, you can't put a price on the knowledge that you're not alone and that there are others going through something similar, if not almost identical to you.


2) taking inspiration from strong women. I have spent the last few months in awe of the amazing looking women I've seen on personal blogs and the Figure Athlete website. Before this year I'd never even *heard* of a figure athlete nevermind knew what one was!

Suddenly my eyes were open to all these amazingly gorgeous, yet muscular women! That being said, I do think that some women take it a little too far and it does concern me the amount of silicon that is out there... does every woman who trains with heavy weights end up losing her chest completely?!

There are so many women who inspire me but my current heroes are: Anita Bean, Dame Kelly Holmes (I have a signed copy of her book :-) ), Jillian Michaels, Rachel Cosgrove (can't wait for her book to come out next month!) and Joey Bull.

I knew I wanted 'that look', but also that if I did I'd have to feed my body, and therefore my muscles, properly otherwise I'd never see results

So I started weight training and researching all I could about exercise and nutrition. I love Muscle & Fitness magazine, as well as Men's Fitness, UltraFit and Holland & Barrett's 'Healthy for Men' magazine too, they've all got great articles and reports on scientific studies.

The problem I have is that there are so many conflicting articles on the 'correct' type of exercise for fat burning and the right amount of protein vs carbs vs fat etc - it's all very confusing!

So this in turn led me to decide to study Health Sciences and find out the information for myself and yesterday I got an exciting delivery!

I also got another equally exciting delivery in the form of my work's cycle scheme voucher!

I went into Action Bikes yesterday and I'm almost 100% sure that I'm going to buy a Trek 7.5FX.

The 2010 version comes in a very sexy black and red colour, look at this beauty!

Hopefully it'll provide me with the right balance of speed vs feeling more secure in a more upright position - opposed to being on a road bike with drop handlebars - I'm such a wuss!

I'm very excited, will pop along to the shop tomorrow lunch time and take it out for a spin to see what I think :-)

Also, some really really great news that made my day - remember I reported that I finally plucked up the courage to email my Uncle on Friday night, well I got a response!

I won't paste the whole email but here are some excerpts, I'm so thrilled

Thanks for the mail and also sorry not been in touch. Been really busy getting my Company off the ground which has been hard going.

I am adamant that I wont go back and work in Iraq.....good money but still very dangerous work.

I am sure your whole experience about Kevin has been a painful one Tara, but Kevin choose the path in life that he wanted to live.

When my Mum died in 1999, Rosemary and I went across for the funeral and we met up with Kevin. I had not seen or heard from him for a long time and I was
quite shocked at the state he was in....bloated and drinking excessively. When we parted he promised that he was going to get his life together and when he came out to South Africa in 2004, it seemed that he had changed and he looked good and was'nt drinking alot. He said that he had some really good friends in Newcastle and he was happy. When he died, I went over to Newcastle to bury him, I met up with some of his Friends. Really good people and they told me that Kevin had got himself sorted out and although he "fell off the wagon" a few times....he was really healthy. They told me how kind and generous he was and that he was a good person.

I do not know what happened between your Mum and Kevin, but I truly believe that he never stopped thinking about you.

Tara I want you to know that although we have never met, we are still family and I want you to think of me as your Uncle okay. You and Ryan would be so welcome in our home so remember that okay !

I have a Shuttle and Touring Company which I've just started... and am also studying to becomming a tourist guide. Hopefully when the soccer world cup comes here next year I can make a few bob !

Okay gotta go now and take some people to the stay in touch please!!!

Love Raymond

I'm so happy, I was grinning all the way to work :-)

All in all this has been a tiring, but very positive day :-)

I'm off now for dinner with a friend at a South African restaurant called Chakalaka. They do awesome ostrich scewers, yummmm can't wait.


Monday 21 September 2009

Friday night didn't go quite according to plan

it started off well - I got home from work and went out for a speedy 3 mile run. I felt fantabulous, really full of energy and hardly taxed at all - despite the fact that half the route was up-hill. I guess that losing over a stone in weight is going to do that for you right? I mean, previously it was like the equivalent of me running with a huge heavy backpack on - doesn't make for fast or easy times!

So, I sat down at my PC with the intention of writing a frank and honest account of my eating issues over the last 18 years.

What actually happened was that I got a little carried away with the rather tasty red wine while waiting for Joe to get his arse back home from the Empire Casino, resulting in the intoxication of me, by quite a large margin!

I started to write my piece, but it's a really difficult subject to talk about and I didn't get very far to be honest and it didn't exactly 'flow' unlike the red wine!

One productive thing that came out was that I *finally* wrote to my Uncle in South Africa - something that I've been avoiding doing for a long time.

You see, I found out earlier this year that after spending many years searching for my biological father, that he had in fact died back in 2005. Although I had always suspected that that might have been the case - I used to joke all the time that he'd "probably drunk himself to death" - to have it confirmed was quite a bitter pill to swallow and affected me more than I thought it would.

I have no memory of my real dad. He was raised in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) in Africa and came over to England in the late 70's and met my Mother. I was born in 1979, and, although they weren't married, I was given my father's surname: Shankland.

My Mum doesn't talk much of her memories of Kevin as it was a horrible time for her. From the sounds of things he'd been psychologically disturbed by the part he played in the civil war during which he told her that, aside from killing soldiers he had also killed women and children. Having recently watched Blood Diamond, I can see how that might be the case.

My mother tells me that Kevin was a violent and twisted alcoholic with a sadistic side - nice father material eh? Apparently he wasn't always like that though, he just deteriorated over the few years he and my Mum were together. I have a picture of him from 1978, he was a good looking man, though apparently by the time they'd split properly - i.e. my Mum had had a restraining order taken out against him and changed our surnames by deed poll, oh and moved because he left her in so much debt we had to move to a smaller place - he was hugely overweight from all the alcohol and associated bad eating.

All that aside I wanted to find out for myself what had happened to him. I didn't have the happiest of childhoods to say the least, and I never really felt wanted. I am an only child (my Mum has never been particularly maternal and my stepfather didn't want any children) my Mum has no siblings and my stepfather's only sister lives in Canada, as does my maternal granddad.

Having no brothers or sisters, aunties, uncles etc can make you feel like your world is quite small. I always hoped that Kevin had got his act together and sorted himself out, found somebody who made him happy, gave up alcohol, had more children and that I might have half brothers and sisters somewhere, and that I'd meet them and finally really feel part of a family.

I found out this year, through managing to contact Kevin's brother (I didn't even know he had a brother! My Mum says that she doesn't remember him much, just that he came over to the UK once or twice and would irritate her by speaking Afrikaans with Kevin, which she didn't understand!), that Kevin died in January 2005. He'd been living in Dublin for a while after he and my Mum split up, then he moved to Newcastle. He was living in Newcastle while I was with my last boyfriend, who was actually from there! I had visited the city that he was living in and I never knew it :-(

My Uncle says that Kevin joined him in late 2004 in Johannesburg where he lives with his partner. I have a picture of him while he was there, he was huge, he looked so unhealthy and older than his 50 odd years.

He died in his sleep of a heart attack, he was only in his early 50's but had already had a hip replacement and heart bypass surgery. He died penniless. While alive he lived off the state, on benefits paid for by my taxes. He NEVER sorted himself out, he never got it together, he DID drink himself to death, as I'd always joked he might have done.

What a waste. It makes me so angry to think that I managed to sort myself out. I didn't finish school, I moved out of my parents' place when I was 15 and had a child at 16 years old! But I got it together, I went back to college, I got myself qualified and got out there into the working world instead of sitting at home scrounging off the state like so many of the women in the mother and baby hostel I lived in did - and still do!!

I'm so disappointed that he threw his life away, that he never got help for himself. I have a friend whose father went the same way, but he still lived in the family home, she says I shouldn't think that I could have done anything to change how his life turned out but I can't help but think that if only I'd found him sooner, that he'd known that I was interested in knowing him, in helping him and that he had an amazing grandson, that maybe things might have turned out differently.

I don't know, I'm still dealing with this I guess. It's just hard to take how final death is and that I'll never get to ask him all the questions that I wanted to.

In any case, I wrote back to my Uncle who was kind enough to send me those pictures of Kevin. I sent him the pic I had of him from 1978. I would like to go and visit him in Johannesburg at some point in the future, it sounds like he sorted his life out - after doing security work in Iraq he is now setting up a company that makes safety nets for swimmers - presumably to keep away sharks? I'd love to go to SA, I've always been fascinated by the South African accent, for some reason I really like it, maybe I *do* remember him... just a little.


Friday 18 September 2009

I'm not good at

articulating my thoughts in any brief manner, in fact... if you look up 'succinct' in the dictionary, my face is *definitely* not beside it!

however, all that aside, I still have to keep my shit down to 900 words for my entry to the Maximuscle Body of 2009 comp and, to be honest, I haven't even begun to think what I'm going to write really - probably because I don't really know what I want to say!

Whatever. It's not going to happen tonight, I've had too much to drink to be able to compose anything of real merit.

You see, tonight Joe is out, playing poker as I type this. Our friend Dom has been bought into (at £1k buy-in!!), and is reporting on, the The World Series of Poker Europe here in London at the Empire Casino in Leicester Square tonight. So it's me and the cats, and the telly. So far Derren Brown has failed to 'stick' me to my seat... I did feel a little disappointment at this, but given that I am fairly unstable in the mind, and have a hypnotherapist for a mother, I'm not all that surprised at this.

Next was Jonathan Ross who had the excellent Eddie Izzard on, having just run/walked/crawled 43 marathons for Sport Relief... honestly, what a fucking legend, seriously... I love this guy and it's not just 'in my miiiind' ha! Also on was Peter Andre, who I can't look at and not be reminded of my ex... not that my ex was an australian greek-cypriot, but, let's put it this way... his lips made most women jealous and when we went to Turkey he was mistaken for a local!

blergh, definitely a bit drunk, I think I might make the most out of my privacy and intoxication and get a bit more honest with you good people about my history and what led me here. We'll see, gonna post this and have a think about it.


Phew! I was getting a little worried as I'd not heard from the OU regarding my "Introducing health sciences: a case study approach" course!

But here it is, in its glory - my course website and study planner - hurrah!

I can't wait to start, it's going to be awesome! Case Study 1 is "Water and Health in an Overcrowded World". here's the full list:

Case Study 1: Water and Health in an Overcrowded World.
Most people now live in a very different world to the one in which we evolved. Rapid urbanisation and changes in human lifestyles means we inhabit a ‘human zoo’ that, despite many benefits, incurs many costs to health and happiness. We focus on the global shortage of clean water that exposes over a billion people to infectious diseases and chemical pollution.

Case Study 2: Pain.
This case study presents an integrated account of the neurobiology and psychology of pain. It considers the common properties of pain triggered by injuries and the pain of events such as divorce. You’ll study the anatomy and function of the nervous system combined with psychological processes such as classical conditioning to understand how effective drugs, surgery, placebos and cognitive therapies are in treating pain.

Case Study 3: Alcohol and Human Health.
Heavy drinking increases the risk of life-threatening diseases; accidental injury; psychological impairment; and addiction, but moderate intake may have some health benefits. You’ll explore not only global health statistics, but also the chemistry of ethanol: how alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream and its effects on major organs, behaviour and memory.

Case Study 4: Screening for Breast Cancer.
Mammography screening using X-ray imaging to detect early breast cancers occurs in most wealthy countries. This case study examines the physics of mammography, the rationale for screening and the risk factors for breast cancer, and explains how normal and abnormal cells are distinguished in diagnostic tests. It considers the benefits, efficacy, costs and drawbacks of screening.

Case Study 5: Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease: A Forgotten Killer.
Permanent loss of lung function due to COPD affects millions of people worldwide. In richer countries, most are older cigarette smokers, but in poor countries, younger women and children exposed to indoor smoke from cooking fires also suffer. This case study explains the science of respiration and treatment, and the effects of COPD on people’s lives.

Case Study 6: Trauma, Repair and Recovery.
Traumatic injury causes millions of deaths and disabilities globally and cases are rising as road traffic increases. You’ll look at how the body reacts to tissue damage, focusing on limb fractures in younger and older people. The psychological – as well as the physical – effects of injury are considered in the context of variations in access to emergency and longer-term care.

Case Study 7: Visual Impairment: A Global View.
Partial or total loss of sight affects millions of people worldwide. Many cases are preventable or curable, but simple interventions are unaffordable in poorer countries, where even the lack of clean water is a significant threat to sight. This case study explains sight loss and corrective treatments through the anatomy and physiology of the eye and the physics of light and lenses.

After this course, if I want to go on and get the Certificate in Health Studies (which I do!) I need 30/35 points from the the list of optional courses they provide. I'm already almost 100% sure I'm going to take:

* Understanding human nutrition (10 points)
* Human genetics and health issues (10 points)
* Challenging obesity (15 points)

in that order :-)

I'll also most likely take:

* Understanding cancers
* Understanding cardiovascular diseases

and I'm quite tempted by Elements of forensic science as I'm ever so slightly obsessed with the stories that Tess Gerritsen writes... I've read all her crime fiction books bar the latest one which I've not seen on shelves here in the UK yet - will have to keep an eye out for that!!

These courses won't be part of the Certificate in Health Sciences, instead counting towards my Open Degree. I'll have to draw up a plan for that soon (when I say 'draw up', there's an electronic form on the OU website that does it for you!) as I need to pick a certain amount of level 1, 2 and 3 courses to get the right split of points for the Honours BSc Degree.

It's all hugely exciting and I'm just *so* glad I embarked on this whole weight-loss journey! It's taught me so much about food, nutrition, people and, most importantly, myself!

If I hadn't set myself this goal of entering the Maximuscle Body of 2009 competition there is NO way I'd be studying health and nutrition now. I'd still be studying for a degree in Computing with Business and feeling thoroughly miserable, stressed and without direction. I'm so glad that for once I've had the courage to decide to study something that interests me, rather than go for my usual approach of picking a subject that I know I'm good at, so I therefore think it *right* to pursue. I'm quite happy and willing to study various other business modules as well as computing (after all, that is my job!) along the way to reaching my degree, but now I've got the flexibility to mix it up a bit and add topics that I feel passionate about, like nutrition, like health issues, like cancers and other diseases - ALL those topics have personally affected me and are of importance, as well as interest, to me.

Whatever the outcome of this competition, I feel very positive about the changes that have taken part in my life and I look forward to beginning the next stage of my journey :-)


Thursday 17 September 2009

I don't usually use the 'c' word

...but for James Martin I'd be quite willing to make an exception!!

what a complete arsehole, disgusting behaviour >:-(

Wednesday 16 September 2009


Ploughing through pics in preparation for this weekend's Maximuscle Body of 2009 comp submission...

the problem is that I've deleted all my 'fat' pics that were taken by my camera because I was so horrified with how I looked!

Because of that I'm having to rely on Joe's pics taken by his digital SLR earlier this year as I won't have been allowed to delete them - he's funny about things like that ;-) there are loads he's taken though (not all of me mind!) and they're at least 5MB each so it's taking *forever* to upload and access them!

I found the pic above which made me laugh though... the sneaky thing took a pic of my arse while he was over for the weekend of Pride & Prejudice! Just goes to show how good his camera is though as he was bloody far away at the time of taking it!!

For once, I actually like a picture of my bottom! It's actually smaller and shaplier than that now as that was taken in July, but still pleased nonetheless

I'm putting together some 'comparison' shots for earlier this year and more recently - e.g. this pic of me in April at my friend's birthday party compared with one of the ones taken the other day:

I got a shock looking back on some of those pics, no wonder I'd deleted my own ones, can't believe how much rounder my face was! Just goes to show what a few months and some bloody hard work can bring about :-)

off to bed now, hope you're all well


Tuesday 15 September 2009

Top 50 Exercise Science Blogs (apparently!)

Paul Rogers from has posted a link on his blog to a post on The Health Hut blog

Not sure if I agree entirely with the assertion that these are the top blogs around but they certainly make for good reading if you're a bit of a blog addict like me! :-)

Anyway, here's the link:

Happy reading!


Monday 14 September 2009

Saracens Saturday

I'm not a huge rugby fan... don't get me wrong, big butch burly men running round in short thigh-exposing shorts really does it for me big style - but I can't understand the game to save my life!

Give me football and I'll be able to tell you exactly what's going on, I even know the offside rule (get me!) possibly stemming from dating a Sunderland AFC fan (I still follow their progress to this day, for my sin!) and having a son who played for Fulham FC juniors in goal for a few years... check him out, so cute, can't believe he was ever that small! :-)

These are from his first year when his team basically won everything! The other teams in the 5-aside league used to hate the Fulham kids with a passion as they won most titles

One of the many benefits of playing for Fulham FC Juniors is that we got to go see games for a fiver and my son got to be ball boy and parade his team's trophies at the end of season on the pitch!

here's him and his team outside of Craven Cottage:

and here they are on the pitch

The guy with the boys is Ross, he was an awesome coach but was hounded out by another Dad who had delusions of grandeur and was on a power trip, very sad :-( I wonder what he's doing, it wasn't the same after he got forced out left. He was running a company called Brasilia Soccer, I hope it's doing well.

ooh, come back with that! :-D

At a penalty shoot-out... times like this (actually most times!) when I'd wished my son had picked any other position than that of goalkeeper!!

And here's my boy a year later, looking a lot more grown up, still dinky though :-)

Anyway, not sure where all that was going, think it might have just been an excuse for some proud Mummy pics :-D

So, Saturday we went to see the mighty Saracens take on the Northampton Saints. I'd not been to Wembley Stadium before (have seen bucket loads of gigs at the Arena but never in the actual stadium!) so was super excited and my son was too :-)

The first half was pretty dull but the second was great, not that I understood any of it but there was lots of cheering, running around and, importantly, scoring!

here are some pics - here's me and my completely and utterly attractive stunner of a boyfriend

wow, what a hottie, how can I resist eh?!

A nice pic of me and the boy

Mmm, thighs...

I did ask my son if he felt in any way 'odd' turning up to a RUGBY match in a Liverpool FC football top?! I don't think he'd even given it much thought until that point!

Now, I absolutely love this picture, it's my phone wallpaper at the mo, but yet again it's blurred :-(

I reckon I might have to get a new camera, pah

doesn't my son look so much like me - poor kid eh?! :-D

hmm, he's got a bit of a way to go before he catches up with Joe ;-)

Last but not least of the Wembley pics is one of us outside the stadium, a rare full length pic of me! I was unhappy at first as Joe took it from not the most flattering of angles but then he did a) get the arch of Wembley Stadium in (although you have to squint as it was quite a bright day!) and b) manage to make my legs look pretty long - those jeans are a size 10 btw woot woot!!! :-D

and here's him trying to be sly a nick Joe's wine... no love, you're not in France anymore!

We went back to Ozer, the place I mentioned a couple of weeks ago, and had the 'Healthy Menu' again... the service there is faultless and the food is so wonderfully fresh and tasty - and good value for money!! If you live in the Capital, or are thinking of visiting, then check out:

Ozer Restaurant and Bar
5 Langham Place

T: +44 (0) 20 7323 0505
T: +44 (0) 20 7323 0111

That reminds me, I must contact them this week about Xmas menus... as I did 'such a good job' last year at organising the annual festive meal I've been given the job again. Joy. The rule is that last one in takes on the task... however, our latest in was our Head of Pensions - who therefore has the almighty power of.... D.E.L.E.G.A.T.I.O.N


anyway, that's enough from me, hope you're all hunky dory, I'm very well and looking forward to writing up my piece for the Maximuscle Body of 2009 competition - entries close beginning of next week, not long now, very pleased with results now so all I need to do is get typing and also snapping!!

Laters lovely people


Sunday 13 September 2009

Friday photo foolery

Last Friday night was a lot of fun. It started off a bit pooey as I was feeling rather low by the end of the day - I think it might have just been post-holiday blues and having worked a whole week of long days... who knows?

this was all compounded by the fact that I got to Victoria Station only to find that someone had 'fallen' beneath a train so couldn't get on the tube to go and meet my friends and Joe. I ended up getting a bus and then another train line but it was all a faff and I wasn't in the right frame of mind... pah

anyway, by the time I'd walked past Tower Bridge in all its lovely lit-up glory my mood had improved. Had a lovely glass of pinot grigio and then switched to shorts to minimise calorie damage ;-)

everyone was quite merry by the time I'd arrived and I'd brought my camera to show pics from our paragliding and somehow this turned into a mammoth snapping session with lots of silly poses :-D

Steve wasn't actually aware of where his cigarettes had been before smoked them... hmm

Not sure what style of pose Marie and I were aiming for (but quite like the look of my biceps! ;-)

Me and my lovely girlfriend Jen ;-)

Caption contest anyone? ;-)

what a response... if you actually knew what the actual topic of conversation was...!!!!

Dave's not exactly welcoming of Steve's affections... ha!

but one gives as good as one gets...? ;-)

uh oh, more posing...

this pic makes me crack up!!

that's better...

nice pictures ensue...

me and steve

I'd like this pic of Joe and I if it wasn't so blurred, dammit!

this is better :-)

On the walk home... This pic is a bit dark but Tower Bridge looked rubbish with flash...

I think that's more than enough :-D there were actually 95 pics taken in total, not *all* by me I hasten to add!! but this is more than enough to demonstrate the level of tomfoolery that was reached, rather daft but it's good to be daft sometimes :-)