Summer tum…

Gremlins-GizmoSounds like a polite way of saying ‘jungle bottom’ but in fact, this post is not about explosive disorders of the digestive system. Quite the opposite, in fact. This is about that realisation upon seeing your holiday snaps, when you are shocked nobody tried to roll you back into the sea while enjoying your beach break.

For me, this started with vague recognition that once more I was only wearing my baggy jeans. Then, a couple of months before giving up my job, starting to feel more tired – and in the last month, those aches and pains returning. No, it’s not age. It’s pasta. And stuff I don’t normally eat, like bread and cake and cookies, creeping back in.

So I climbed back onto the scales, and yes – I’m currently only half a stone short of the weight I was when I decided I needed to lose, and lost nearly two stone, two years ago. It’s crept back on, as so many dieters warn – a combination of comfort eating through stress and depression, lack of motivation, and having no social life to maintain a figure for.

Not that I’m not vain in my own solitary way. I like pretty things, but I am a fully-aware slob. What I’d like to achieve in my ideal world isn’t supported by the reality, and seems to be restricted by hours in the day, the fact I have only one pair of hands to do things with, and lack of people in my life for daily support (or delegation).

But I did lose the weight before, a combination of slim-fast/supermarket equivalent diet shake powder, not eating late at night or just before bed, and Chinese take-out once a week. I didn’t exercise. This worked – not sure why, except I had a combination of strange theories all running concurrently.

One, was the diet shake (calorie-controlled) theory. Weight loss is all about physics and chemistry – burning more fuel than you put in, forcing your body to burn from its reserve tanks. So put less in. I found mixed with cow’s milk it was indigestible, so I used economy soya milk instead, which my body coped with far better. I also cut out sugar in hot drinks and switched it to calorie-free sweeteners (Sweetex was my preference). Any sustained brain tension from artificial sugaring I outlet in writing crime fiction, where twists, turns, paranoia and conspiracies are deemed normal. In fact I quite enjoyed that part.

Two, was a word-of-mouth diet myth, via Hollywood. Don’t eat after 6pm. That way you body has burnt its daily intake by the time you go to bed, so you won’t lay down fat while you sleep. It does work, and it’s best not to eat your heaviest meal late in the day. Think of it as the Gremlins or ‘Mogwai’ Diet. If you eat too late in the day, you might turn into a monster.

Three, eat a big meal once in a while to stop your metabolism slowing down and going into ‘famine mode’ where your body compensates for shortage of food by reducing its burning capability. I went to the Chinese once a week and always ordered the same thing – sweet and sour chicken and special chow mein, and applied the same rule about not eating late at night, so it would be between 6 and 7pm.

Four, don’t take up an exercise routine you aren’t going to maintain. I’d done martial arts in the past, didn’t enjoy bruises, and actually felt too unfit to exercise – I had hip pains anyway, and stood around for my job in nightclub security. So I opted to do nothing. I’ve never been a sporty type, and was a skinny child who read books instead of going outdoors to play – so I knew it didn’t contribute in my youth.

I got from a UK size 14 down to a size 8-10 in about 5 months. All my aches and pains disappeared. It was gradual, and had plateaus of about a fortnight where nothing happened. My diet stopped when one week I couldn’t get diet shakes, and made a batch of cookies, and suddenly just wanted to eat loads of sugary things – and it crept back on again. I’d left one job to do another, was having a depressive phase again – I’d achieved what I wanted, but had no friends to share or to celebrate it with, or to keep me focused, so I just clocked it up as something I was capable of but that hadn’t gained me anything in the real world. Still no social life, still no boyfriend – just me on my own fitting into the smaller clothes in my wardrobe. I think I bought about 15 pairs of shoes to celebrate by myself, but only two of them have probably been worn outside my house. Lack of occasion to wear them more than lack of confidence.

So this time, I hula-hoop now, having already taken it up several months ago – again, on my own, privately, in my own garden. So I have exercise that I enjoy as my added back-up. I need to diet financially as much as for my health – before I saw the holiday photos, I was on the verge of going to my doctor about chest pains – because I can’t afford the weekly food shop, let alone pay for any health or diet club, or take up any out-of-home activity. So it’s just gardening, housework and hula-hooping on the agenda.

The last time I dieted, I had lots of hopeful aspirations about what being slimmer might bring, like a relationship and the confidence to have a social life – now all I’m thinking is it might prevent further illness and an overdraft I can’t repay. I still don’t have those other things, but I guess a realistic reason is as good as a fairytale one. And I really don’t want a man right now anyway. If I don’t currently recognise myself, anyone attracted to me at the moment is unlikely to want this particular look switched for a skinny one. Besides, dating seems to involve eating and drinking fairly often, which would get in the way of dieting. I can’t jump out of planes or do extreme sports for a dating activity, my eyeballs would fall out… (See ‘About Lisa’). So I’m cutting out dating as well as calories. Sorry guys, you’ll have to do without me… LOL 🙂

And I still have my smaller clothes it’d be nice to wear as well.


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