Not just another anxious parent

This was an excellent piece. Judgemental behaviour has no excuse. Nor does labelling people because one is unable, or unwilling, to acknowledge that differences are ok, that they are normal.
I absolutely detest labels. They are limiters and wholly detrimental. I admire restraint and witnessing the understanding that different people need to communicate in different ways.

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Party 0, Sludgebelly 1-ish

They never seem to stop, the Christmas parties around here. It started on the 3rd of December with a Swedish schnapps-fuelled, drunken group-singing, buffet-laden night (the Janssen’s temptation was burnt at the edges, poor show, dahling), the physical effects of which were endured well into the 5th.

Today held the first hurdle of the new year: the team Christmas ‘do’. And on 1400 cals for the day. In the old days I would have started off all prissy and controlling with a small glass of whine (sic) and before long, after succumbing to peer pressure from a load of blokes (it’s a male dominated industry), there would be more wine in ever increasing glass sizes and an ‘oh bollocks’ approach to what I ate.

It would be great: good, soft hearted, crusty bread lost beneath a comforting blanket of butter (with flaky salt added if no one was looking, until I’d had enough wine to wilfully dab up the salt with a buttery crust), a starter like, say…..escargot that had slowly been drowned in liquid butter until their meaty flesh was saturated with garlic, the parsley a token gesture trying to convince you that you wouldn’t be sweating heady, pungent garlic for days to come. Each mouthful slowly speared and chewed in a moment of introspective joy; woe betide any interrupters. The dish would be scoured clean with yet more of that glorious, sweetly scented fresh bread, the firm, chewy crust a handle to get into every last china curve.

Then it would be onto the main course, which could be anything. Let’s pretend it’s slow cooked stuffed squid. Prawns, chorizo and breadcrumbs, blitzed together with herbs, garlic and seasoning are forced into resisting-yet-pliant cones of milky white flesh before being submerged in a piquant, unctuously rich sauce of tomatoes, olive oil, olives (for that all important umami edge) and paprika. The squid tentacles tucked around the turgid little packages of squiddy promise and delight like ‘top up’ gifts around the tree. Vegetables, of course, and another good plate-wiping to finish.

Pudding? Oh, no, I couldn’t possibly. Well, let’s just look at the menu. Hang on, if I move around a bit I’m sure I can jiggle some extra room from somewhere, maybe around a kidney. If it gets crushed in the melee, I’ve another to keep me going. Cheesecake! By this point I’m eating for the sake of keeping my jaws moving. I can’t remember what it tastes or feels like. My face has gone numb from the wine and it’s a miracle I’m not drooling the masticated pudding out into my wine glass instead of taking another sip gulp.

So here’s a learn for you: get yourself prepared and check out the menu online, with calorie counts if possible. I had a great time tonight. It was a nibbly, platter-sharing starter where I hogged the green, raw stuff and was parsimonious with the baked cheese and charcuterie. The snails were avoided in favour of linguine. I had a single pint (not very ladylike, but then neither is having someone pour you into a cab to get you home) of wheat beer and stocked up on water. The pudding menu was ignored. The men went off to hard-drinking pub and the other ladies and I went home (getting on the motorway for 6am tomorrow is a great excuse). It was a great laugh and I’ve got 24 calories to spare. And I can remember it.

Was I healthy? Coffee for breakfast + vegetables for lunch = No. But it’s better than the alternative. And I’m starving hungry right now.

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Confession Time – Week 1

Ok people, it’s one week in and time for coughing up. The ‘be brutally honest’ part of this campaign is to share how I’m doing, good or bad; particularly when bad.

Week 1
Starting weight: 257lbs (it has been worse)
Loss : 2lbs
Loss to date: 2lbs
Exercise: walked for 30mins minimum every day bar Thursday.

Don’t forget the snack c.16:00. Supreme hunger feels like nausea; not great when you’re on a packed commuter train. You sit there, forcing yourself to swallow, lips clamped firmly shut, breathing slowly and deeply, wondering how you’re going to get to the train doors on the other side of the human sardine tin before it’s too late. Yelling ‘I’m going to be sick’ can be counter productive.

I’ve seen it happen. It was the first day back after New Year, everyone was trying to hibernate for the journey, not ready to accept that their body clock would have to change back to business-acceptable timing. We’d just passed the penultimate station, entering the long, slow haul into the terminus, the longest stage between stations on the entire journey. It was carnage.

When commuters yell ‘move down the train’, the response is usually ‘where to?’. It’s amazing how much room can be found in a commuter train when someone is sick, loudly and repeatedly. Poor woman, I feel for her even now.

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At work we are spoiled. We have a dining room, (not a canteen, no siree), and it takes up most of a floor. To put it into context, imagine you’ve just got out of the lift, start walking, keep walking for about 4 minutes. Stop walking, you’ve completed a brisk floor circuit – with no stopping for coffee or polite chatter with people you know.

Our kitchens and chefs produce enough food for 2200 people each day. And that’s just in one building. There are seven others.

Breakfast offering
Yoghurt bar, with dried fruits and nuts
Fresh fruit – whole or pre-prepared in pots
Pre-packed cookies & muffins
Bean-to-cup coffee offering four types of coffee (espresso, my life blood, is served in the ground floor cafe)
Eggs, scrambled plus one other (fried/poached)
Pork products: Bacon, black pudding, sausage
Kippers (blergh)
Tomatoes – tinned and fresh grilled
Bread: three types of sliced loaf, fried, toasted bagel, rolls
Cereal – six types
French pastries – normally six types
Scones – three types

Lunch offering
One vegetarian option, two meat options
Jacket potato (enormous!) with a choice of a hot filling or baked beans
One starch vegetable (including rice)
Two types of non-starch vegetables
Puddings – two cold, one hot; occasionally a cheese platter
Sandwiches, ready made
Sandwiches made to order
Soup, freshly made each day
Salad bar for self selection, with a fish, two meats and 12 types of salad and 4 dressings
Snack bags of crisps, popcorn, pre-packed bakery etc

Afternoon Tea (I kid you not)
Fifteen (yes, fifteen)types of baked sweet goods made on the premises by an angel.

It’s not that hard to walk by each day, the amount of choice makes it easy. By the time the day ends my average consumption at work is eight to nine hundred (my weight loss intake should be 1400 for the day) and an unquantifiable level of caffeine.

Oh, and we have a licensed bar, too. Everything on offer in these areas is heavily subsidised, which should be an indicator that we are not Google. We are just very, very lucky. And gluttons for unpaid overtime.

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New Year’s Resolutions 2014

The miracle of the interwebs, and WordPress’s suggestions, lead me to this post about how to make resolutions that stick, exercise being a frequent occurrence. While most shops put on their financial fat in the pre-Christmas rush, gyms live for the New Year, basking in the knowledge that they will rake in the cash and any overcrowding issues will be over by February.

That post got me thinking: What did I want to achieve in 2014, and what is the best way to get it all to stick? A big learn from 2013 was that a sure fire way for anything to fail was to over commit in the first place.

First and foremost, let’s talk about that elephant in the room, that old favourite on every Resolution List since year dot, shall we say it together? ‘Loose weight’! Yes, people, it’s Number 1 on the list again, for I am a flubber-wubber and no mistake. And I don’t like it, never have, never will. It messes up my health and is murderous to obtaining a good wardrobe.

There are no specifics No ‘lose ‘x’pounds per week’, no ‘size 12 by next Christmas’, no ‘I shall exercise every day, without fail, like wot the Fashion Buyers seem to do, and get as skinny as them’. The target will be ‘LESS’. Less than I am now. And healthier, despite the PCOS, the hormone imbalances, the thyroid and other complications that will be fighting to hang onto the flab every step of the way.

The plan to achieve it:
. Walk. It’s London. The streets lead everywhere, I have an unpaid lunch break. Go figure.
. Yoga. Have DVD, will stretch. My life is bent over a desk, yoga saves a fortune on the sports masseur and chiropractor. It makes me happy, helps sleeping and gets work out my system. Marvellous.
. Actively remember that a human is more than a cerebral exercise, the body comes into it too.
. MyFitnessPal app, 1400 calories. Nuff said.
. Be honest with myself, growth happens through discomfort.

Update the blog once a week, more if there is something to write about, or time to do it. Real Life is hectic, other stuff needs to be done.

2014 is the year of balance, and detecting the unbalance before the ol’ knicker-twisting, stress fest begins.

The original Master Plan still stands.

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5 New Year’s Resolutions That Might Actually Work

Given the new year/new start ethos I, too, am jumping into, this post seemed most apt. While I doubt the cat will live with a dog, and the husband may disagree with others spending our hard earned cash, it certainly encourages me to work out other ways to commit. And to work on actually completing something! Thanks, Dan.

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Journals vs Blogging


The zerotohero question was: why blog instead of a personal journal? It’s because blogging enables expression without the need to either pay someone to sit and listen, or expose innermost fragilities to some poor bugger who will suffer being the unwitting receiver of an intimate offloading.

It’s because blogging is an anonymous platform. Granted, it’s not totally secret, anyone who knows me, my writing style and opinions will be able to do the math. It is secret in my living room. You’re in my head, ‘out there’, each and every one of you a veritable Adonis or Goddess to a person, you sexy gorgeous, highly intellectual beasts, you.

But you’re not likely to be anyone I see, someone who may end up knowing too much about my innermost workings. My highly personal version of baggage-laden, insecure vulnerabilities. Frailty, thy name is Sludgebelly.

The irony is that I do journal. This blog is hand written beforehand. It makes the creation simpler, more personal, less daunting than typing directly into a platform that has ‘PUBLISH! PUBLISH!!‘ screaming at you.

Do you remember that scene in ‘Seven’ where they enter the murderous loon’s apartment? They find journal after journal packed with tiny, obsessively precise handwriting. The contents have always been a fascination, not because they might give a greater understanding of the head space of a supremo nut-job from hell, but because the journals represent a thing of beauty.

They are time and thought transformed into a highly selective communication form. Through a series of electrical impulses we allow a pen, a dead, inanimate object, to spin our yarns, offer up our interpretation of memories and imagination. By writing a journal we conduct an intimate relationship with a single object, the pen, into a sacrosanct form, the book. Books are revered. Their destruction is the ultimate act of barbarism and repression. To destroy a journal would be to show contempt and disregard for its creator, or to signify that they are at an end, through either physical or emotional death.

A journal will always be ours, and only ours. It is a place of exposure and exploration, of self development that we are unlikely to want to have revealed. It enables us to understand ourselves. It enables the illicit, forbidden reader to both identify us, and with us, jeering at our weaknesses as they recognise their own. A journal in physical form is no secret at all. That it can be found, and read by those that know you means it is a false secret. If it were faithful and true why would we feel the need to hide them? To adorn them with shallow locks and token keys? A journal is as infallible and as human as ourselves.

So if a journal is a secret with the possible hope of being discovered, like a criminal aching to be caught, what is a blog?

It is a journal of sorts, but a journal that is deliberately soliciting attention. So are all bloggers attention seekers? That reticence to show oneself, the avoidance of the spotlight for embarrassment for fear, for humility; for whatever our reasons. It assumes the majority of bloggers are introverts, of course. Blogging can take up so much time, it is a marvel that people manage to maintain RL social lives at all.

I posit that a blog is the antithesis of humility. It is entirely a platform for us to reach out to somebody, anybody, in the hope that we make contact and that our small voices are heard in the abyss. To prove to ourselves that we matter.

A blog, I’m afraid, is a vanity project. How many times do you read ‘I’ in a statement, let alone a post?
Ahem, guilty, m’Lud.
It is vanity publishing for the writing enthusiasts amongst us.
Guilty indeed, do not pass go, do not collect £200 etc.

The glory of the blog is that we willingly expose ourselves to a global audience, but can keep our blogging catharsis private in Real Life. For people, readers, to read our writing is a glorious thing indeed. To have a post ‘Liked’ gives us validity. To receive a comment makes us real, makes a connection with another human being.

At least we hope it’s human…

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One year on

A year has passed since I started this blog. Many, many months have passed under the bridge, like a never ending game of poo sticks in a fast slowing stream. They have also been many months of inactivity. Draft posts have been started, only for them to be discovered today half finished. Some were works of unutterable genius and beauty; I weep for their uselessness, their optimum posting time now lost in the muddy, grubby, poo-laden murk waters of that dratted stream.

It has been a tough year. I found myself ranting bile and caustic vitriol to the screen, creating hateful, bitter and alienating posts the only purpose of which was to be an outlet for my state of mind.

It has been a year of coming to terms with some things, and giving up on others to help my healing. A year of waiting on a platform for a train that never arrived.

We will never be able to have children of our own.

1. With PCOS I rarely ovulate and my egg quality is considered ‘poor’.
2. My cycle is somewhere between 33-42 days long.
3. Mother’s menopause started at 45. It’s an indication of my fertility span, ergo: baaaaad.
4. My auto immune antibodies are 94. Average is 0-30. The joke being that I decided I was immortal some time ago, saying all I needed to do was to convince my body of the same. Now, it would appear, my body was ahead of the curve.
5. It took three appointments of asking (six months) for the NHS to confirm the cut off period for IVF: 39yrs 6mths. Not 40, after all.
6. My BMI is still too high. I was down to living off 1240 calories a day and plateauing constantly. The last fertility consultant I saw admitted her surprise that my BMI was so high, as I didn’t look it. She even asked if I had weighed myself correctly. It was her nurse, on her scales.
Ah, she said, that’s going to be difficult for you to meet the BMI criteria.
No kidding, I said, and thank you for finally acknowledging this.
7. I no longer qualify for NHS treatment. We went private with a reputable clinic. The good news is that we can overcome the immunology problems, at a cost of c.£10,000, we can then start IVF, at a cost of c.£3,000 per go. I can’t remember the cost of the donor egg programme. And my immune system will need to be carefully ‘managed’ throughout.
8. When your Dr starts suggesting adoption or fostering, there comes a time when you have to accept that it’s not going to happen.

So there it is. We will remain childless. It’s been difficult to absorb.

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Denial Part 1: Clothes

The clothes issue? It was war. The fashion industry was out to get me. The sizings they used had got smaller, I was convinced. I’d tirade against the bastards who shrunk the sizes to get more outfits out of the fabric, to get more money out of the badly cut, badly sewn, roughly finished and generally shoddy offerings.

I’m 24lbs down now and it has been a cold shock to realise that the clothes I was trying on back then would never fit. Never. Never ever with nobs on. Ancient trousers have dead, never-to-snap-back elastine. The fact they fit me at all was testament to the fabric stretching to fit my ever expanding waist.

I now wear a 22. My work trews, non-stretch, actual 22’s, are now loose at the waist to the extent that I pull my tummy in and feel the waistband shift south. But they are old 22’s, and trusting the label is foolish. The ancient, oft-patched trews are now in the bin. When this momentous occasion was announced, my husband said:

Good, they looked hideous.

He had a point. It amazes me that I used to wear those old rags to work, like a shroud of old sack-cloth worn as a necessity to appear in polite society. They showed I had no interest in my body, my sexuality or my ability to consider myself part of a wider life. Life was reduced to the cerebral, it was easier.

I bought a pair of jeans (stretch, admittedly) the other day – size 22. And they fit. Then i had to admit that when I started this way of life. there was no way I was a 22. That size 22 was a distant memory that I clung to in desperation, holding a faded sizing label as a talisman to protect me from the truth.

My new jeans are closer, and too warm to wear at the moment, but they fit, are comfortable and I feel confident in them.

Last weekend I managed to fit into pair of 20 trews, non-stretch, but they were rather closer than I would like. Strong-mindely refusing to fall back into the denial trap, I shall wait until they are comfortable – and the 22’s start to look a bit too saggy around the arse – before venturing out to buy a new 20.

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The Dietician – Act 1

Jan 4th
Referral requested via Dr. Normal waiting times are 3 months.

Feb 2nd
Fertility consultant writes to Dr to strongly support my referral and request this is treated as a priority.
I’m on a count down to 39, you see, my time runs out the day before my 40th birthday.
1year to lose 100lbs. I can do this, there’s time.

I weigh 266lbs. Fitday says this burns 3100cals. To lose 2lbs per week I need to eat 2100cals per day. So this is my target. I ignore the confusing, contradictory advice on the Internet and get on with focussing on my path.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, I work away at Fitday, weigh myself weekly, focus on hitting my target calories as dictated by Fitday’s calculations. And encounter a lot of demoralising plateaux periods.

May 28th
Today is the day of my appointment with the dietician. Five months after my initial request.

The hospital reception is manned by volunteers. A sign says:

‘Due to patient confidentiality, please wait at the barrier’.

‘The dietician, please.’ My husband says to the retired gentleman volunteer.
‘Top of the stairs in area D’ the volunteer’s voice booms throughout the busy yet deathly quiet open reception. ‘D for dietician.’ He booms again helpfully, his voice reaching the far corners of the seating areas. Heads look up from torn, out of date magazines.

Small mercies for it not being Area S for Sperm Count.

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