Rage Against the Machine

A little update, starting with some more meals/snacks from last Sunday’s half marathon

My stomach was so ‘off’ the day of the race that I could barely choke down half of my normal pre-race breakfast: I usually go with two bars (size dependent on the length of the race) and a banana, but the best I could do was this protein bar alone:

It’s a great improvement on the first version of this bar (I reviewed one ages ago when I was still on WordPress and gave it 0/10!) and it settled my stomach very well.  I didn’t have anywhere near my usual level of stamina at the end of the race though, despite downing some (probably non-vegan, but I felt so horribly dizzy…yes, I do feel guilty about it!) Haribos just after I finished.

You’ve already seen the huge smoothie I had for lunch in my recap.  For a strange afternoon snack I ate a massive bowl of kale chips:

And then had chocolate cherry peanut flour GF oats for dinner:

So many gratuitous pictures.  Oh well.  I need to remember how delicious it was!

Unfortunately I remained off the Go Kaleo plan for another day post-race…

I had tofu protein pudding oats (silken tofu blended with cocoa powder and truvia) with strawberries and one of Laura’s protein frappes for breakfast:

 My stomach hated the tofu as per usual…but my tastebuds loved it.

 Lunch was a herbed socca with homemade hummus, baby peppers and blueberries.

And I had a chickpea, butternut squash, fig and pine nut salad based on this one of Laura’s for dinner.

The whole ‘three squares’ thing does not sit well with me at all – I only did this through guilt about being ‘off plan’ and I felt pretty crappy and faint with the long gaps.  Plus I was chugging so much water and coffee to try to keep myself full…

Luckily I was then back ‘on the wagon’ the next day with a green smoothie for breakfast…

Fruit (a pear and 100g blueberries) plus some unpictured PB (1 tbsp) for a snack, and the following salad for lunch:

A whole avocado mashed with nutritional yeast flakes and GF soy sauce, used as dressing for a shredded beetroot salad with baby peppers.

And I stuck to the plan completely Tuesday-Friday.  And despite my hip hurting, I got back up to a 97.5 mile week, plus all of the other 5-6 hours’ worth of classes and DVDs every damn day.

But this morning I gained 1.25lbs.  On 2200 calories.  Even with the two days ‘off’ that should not happen – race day was about 3000 calories, the day after more like 2000.  This should not happen.  Ever.  I’ve had weeks where I’ve binged and only gained 1.5lbs.  I’m done with this, seriously.  I don’t care what happens to my stupid body – the worst outcome possible is that I drop dead from a diabetic coma.  And at this point that would be a merciful release.  If I can’t lose weight in a fortnight eating that amount and exercising enough for six people, then what the hell do I have to do?  It’s just awful, this total lack of control.  It’s worse than bingeing because at least then I knew I deserved to gain the weight.  For f**k’s sake.  And I won’t get any more help re:blood tests and results because my GP is on holiday for a fortnight.  By the way, for anyone that thinks I have body dysmorphia, my BMI is now in the ‘overweight’ category, and I’ll be damned if that’s muscle given that I don’t even fit into a UK size 10 any more (and I’m petite, I’m 5ft 3 and small-boned so do not try to tell me that I ‘should’ be a size 12.  I threw up in my mouth a bit just writing down that size).

I couldn’t leave my last post as it was with anyone thinking I might be thin or have lost weight.  Screw this.  I’ve been hungry 24/7 for a fortnight and GAINED weight.  I just don’t f***king care any more.

Race Recap: Run Alnwick Trail Half Marathon – 1:45:43

Well, photos from the half marathon I ran last Sunday seem to still be stuck in the ether, so I thought I’d go ahead with the recap anyway and post any photos separately.

I didn’t have high hopes for the Run Alnwick Trail Half Marathon.  The Thursday prior to the race my left hip gave out on me so badly I thought I had sustained a third stress fracture.  I took 48 hours off running, then on my Saturday test run the dead, numb feeling in my right leg kicked in only 10 miles into a 15.5 mile effort, leaving me hobbling for the final 1/3 of the run.  Unlike other occasions, the leg never ‘came round,’ which is a worrying development and doesn’t bode well for any future races.

The phantom (or real…time will tell) stress fracture was, however, just the kick in the arse that I needed.  I had been getting complacent and taking running for granted.  I had not been appreciating the ability simply to run, I was approaching the trail half with trepidation and wondering whether I should have signed up at all.  I was moody, petulant and considering bailing on the race altogether should more bad weather hit the region.  As it was, the conditions were perfect and we had nothing to worry about except a light drizzle at the end.  Parts of the course were obviously boggy and a bit slippy, but the course itself was so beautiful and spectacular that I barely noticed my special mud compression socks until I covered the entire car with dry mud flakes on the way home (which, by the way, I completely cleaned and hoovered the day after!)

A few photos of my own from the day:

 Alnwick Castle.  A lovely backdrop for the start and finish.

Makes a change for me to actually have to hitch my shorts up before the start.  Unfortunately it wasn’t due to some magic weight loss – I stupidly washed them at the wrong temperature and they stretched ridiculously.

I was actually eyeing a very good-looking runner at this point while he was warming up…

Seriously.  And I later found out that he won the race.  So at least I have a good radar for excellent runners, even though I am sure his partner is tall, thin, gorgeous and athletic rather than an unholy hybrid between a Hobbit and a troll like me.

Scenes from the start (after we were ‘off’):

So, long story short, without the motivation of the possible stress fracture, I never would have given it my all and, ultimately, finished as second female and twelfth runner overall (although my placing is very likely due to it being a small race with a tight limit on entries!)

Here are the splits:

1: 7:52

2: 7:58

3: 7:52

4: 7:36

5: 7:33

6: 9:15

7: 7:29
8: 9:03

9: 8:31

10: 7:34

11: 7:30
12: 7:52

13: 7:32

0.26: 8:14

Garmin Time: 1:45:52 – 7:59/mile

Chip time said 1:45:43.

Initially I was very disappointed with this, despite my placing.  The winning woman finished in 1:42 so I wasn’t too far behind, and I believe that she and I were the only women not to walk some of the steeper hills.  I wasn’t too far off my pace for the Paras’ 10 and I was much faster than the Hadiran’s Wall Half Marathon, both of which were on similar (or slightly tougher in the case of Hadrian’s Wall) terrain. 

However, the miles following them were sheer downhills and to still be in the 7s and not the 6s in terms of minute miles is very disappointing.  I have some serious work to do before my (hopeful, injury pending) September half marathons.  As per usual I felt like a lumbering hippo for much of the race: I thought I had gone out very quickly but my splits reveal anything but.  The race organiser did warn runners not to go out like bats out of Hell due to the killer hills later on in the race, but most people (including me!) didn’t listen and paid for it later.  I can honestly say that this is the only race where I have felt ‘done’ by mile 6.  After refusing to walk that hill my legs were on fire and I was so hot I thought I was going to melt.  The next fiendish climb came at mile  and it was at this point that I was told I was second female, after overtaking two women who were walking (I knew those thunder thighs were good for something…now if only I could find a use for 5lbs of extra belly fat…oh, wait, the winner was really tall and lithe.  Damn.)  This actually psyched me out really badly – with 5 odd miles to go I was paranoid about being caught and overtaken just before the finish.

My Mum took some photos of me coming in from atop the finishing straight (although it’s quite hard to pick me out):

Images of being pipped at the post kept flashing through my mind, but coming in to the finishing straight (up another hill…) I couldn’t see anyone except a man finishing strong ahead of me…if you really zoom in you might be able to see me!

I tried to put in a sprint finish to catch him, but my legs were dead and I had absolutely no kick left in me.

When I realised I’d come in second I was chuffed to bits, and absolutely beaming!

There were photographs of the three of us (top three women) taken at the time, and hopefully they’ll be published soon.  My Mum (who was well enough to attend the race and this only made the day 10,599% better) wanted a photo too but didn’t want to muscle in on the race photographers.

I cannot fault the organisation of this race.  Trails are a lot kinder to my hip and joints than roads, and I felt no pain or fatigue the day after the race despite putting so much effort in during the event.  The course was well-marshalled and the difficulty of the terrain very articulately explained.  At one point around mile 10 I turned the wrong way and two brilliant marshalls yelled after me to turn around – if they hadn’t done that then I’d still be lost in the woods around Alnwick!  It was entirely my fault though, as I missed a course marker that was pretty much right in front of my face (and luminous yellow – no wonder I got so lost at Hadrian’s Wall!)  Even though the half and 10K runners went off at the same time, and shared the first 5K of the course, at no point did the course seem crowded and the 10K runners made their way mostly to the front so that they weren’t impeded by the half runners starting at a (necessarily!) slower pace.  The trails were tough, but not ridiculous to the point of being dangerous, and some of the views from the hilltops were really spectacular.  The organisers were so very friendly, and willing to put up with my hyperactive prattling at the end of the race (they even provided jelly babies and custard creams at the end for runners – lovely for quite a small race in its inaugeral year).  Such a brilliant and enjoyable experience!

Links to the results are here.

There are also more photos of the course here and here.

I loved the black ribbons on the half marathon medals.

and the t-shirts were excellent quality too:

After the race I downed a huge smoothie – I must admit that on race day (and the day after.  Ahem) I did not stick to my Kaleo diet.  I overate on race day, felt guilty, and then probably cut down too much the day after (not that with my body there’s such a thing as eating ‘too little’):

Frozen cherries, raspberries, spinach, Chocolate Sun Warrior, water, ice, maca and lucama powder.  With sunflower seeds, raisins and peanut flour/Vanilla Sun Warrior sauce.  Yes, I really missed my ‘fancy’ smoothies with a million toppings.  Too bad my waistline (and thighline, and underarm chubline) didn’t.

This race just exemplifies the fact that trail races can be totally hit or miss.  Hadrian’s Wall was such a nightmare that I vowed never to do another ‘proper’ trail race again (the Kielder Marathon was part trail, part road), but the Alnwick Trail Half was an absolute blast.  Huge thanks to the organisers for a fabulous race, and to the weather for not drowning all of us on the day.

WIAW: Go Kaleo?

Thank you to everyone who has wished my hip well: it’s a slightly more confusing injury than I’d thought at first, and even though it manifested very much like another stress fracture initially, after 48 hours of rest (relatively speaking) it seemed to be back to normal.  But it still feels ‘off’ somehow.  I can’t really afford more physio at the moment so I’m just having to go along with things and keep to the grass wherever possible, as that seems to aggravate it less.  I did do a trail race on Sunday because my hip ‘passed’ a test run I did on Saturday, but the photos from it are taking a while to be published so I’ll have an update on that soon.  It was a lot of fun though, the scenery was breathtaking and it was nice to run on some challenging terrain (I think my lower legs were entirely obscured by mud by the end).
I have to apologise for being melodramatic yet again but for me, everything is a worst case scenario.  On Thursday the pain genuinely was awful and I thought I’d be out of commission for months, leading to a classic Jessica meltdown.  There’s still potential for that to happen; I know my hips are basically ticking time bombs in terms of potential for more stress fractures.  Plus, as I’m sure I’ve mentioned before (because I am so brilliant at repeating myself ad nauseam) I can’t stand that people might be out there thinking I’m running when I am not (it makes me feel guilty, like I’m a liar/fraud?), so I have to run (limp?) here and ‘confess’ that I’m adhering to my self-inflicted label of fat, lazy slob.

I mentioned last WIAW that I am following the meal plans (vegan/paleo hybrid) featured on the brilliant blog ‘Go Kaleo’ in a bid to get my blood sugar levels under control following a diagnosis of pre-diabetes.  It has been a challenge, for sure, and while the plans would work brilliantly for anyone with a normal digestive system, I’ve already had to bring down the amount of soy featured in them for the sake of my IBS.  The amount of fibre and fat is also proving problematic, but I’m attempting to stick with it.  One thing that has annoyed me is that, even with 48 hours of reduced activity (though I was still yoga-ing for 2.5 hours one day, and swimming/back to back spinning/incline treadmill walking on the other), on the 2200 calories the plan suggests I should have seen some weight loss.  Sadly for me, I’ve just maintained.  The only day I didn’t stick to the plan was the trail half marathon on Sunday, because I knew that if I didn’t reduce the amount of fibre I was eating the only running I’d be doing would have been to the bathroom.  Very quickly…I’d like to have seen my potential splits for that.
Anyway, the meals have been tasty, although my energy levels are pretty low which makes sense given the reduced calorie intake.  I don’t know what to do other than try to persevere, stick with it, and hope to goodness I see some results soon.  Although I have made some substitutions, I always make sure that the calories are equivalent to those suggested in the plan and I never increase the amount of sugar: the only exchanges I have made have been to swap fats for proteins sometimes, as my stomach rebelled against the high(ish) amount of fat suggested.  Each of the photos below is a separate meal or snack:

Sun Warrior protein oats (I don’t have the brand of protein powder suggested but the calories are the same) cooked in water.

A smoothie with frozen raspberries and avocado.

An apple and a portion of cashew nuts.

A sweet potato with 1/3 avocado and a tsp of PB.

Apple, 100g blueberries and 2 tbsp PB.

Beetroot and Butternut Squash roasted in coconut oil.

Cooked lentils and watercress with coconut oil.

Spring greens, kale and 1/2 block baked tofu.
It’s been strange having some food/meal combinations shaken up and swapped around: I’m a creature of habit and routine, but clearly these routines have not been working for me.  So I’m adjusting to the idea of sweet potatoes and PB for breakfast:
And green smoothies for evening snacks:
  
Above: handful of spinach, ice, almond milk, a pear, .5 scoop each of Vanilla and Chocolate Sun Warrior, maca and lucama powder, cinnamon and ginger.
And, randomly, because I don’t have anywhere else to post it, I was at a loss for what to do at the gym this morning after 50/50 was cancelled (it’s 30 minutes Body Pump, 30 minutes Combat) so I bored myself to death on the elliptical for a while, then made up my own leg weights circuit based on some of the LiveFit routines:
Smith Machine Squats (4×8): 60kg/132lbs (all reps)
Barbell Squats (3×12): 40kg/88lbs, 45kg/99, 47.5kg/104.5lbs
Barbell Lunges (3×12): 25kg’55lbsx1, 30kg/66lbsx2
Seated Leg Press (4×8): 90kg/198lbsx3, 100kg/220lbsx1
Leg Extenstions (3×12): 28.5kg/63lbs (all reps – I suck at using this machine for some reason)
Seated Calf Raises (3×12): 60kg/132lbs (all reps)
Standing Calf Raises (3×12): 2x16kg/35.2lbs dumbbells (32kg/70lbs total, all reps)
I have a very short attention span for weights so I only bothered with 10 seconds rest between reps.  I’m sure I did absolutely everything wrong when putting together this workout, but my legs were dead by the end of it so I’ll just cross my fingers and call it good.  I should probably add a ‘don’t try this at home’ disclaimer, but I doubt anyone would try to copy it anyway!

The Places That We’re Broken

Well, I had it coming.

0.3 miles in to this morning’s run and something ‘went’ again in my left hip.  It’s been giving me warning signs all week, but I just pushed through and hoped it would go away.  I can’t put any weight on it now.  I limped back home and don’t have any point to the rest of the day, week, month or year if it takes that long to heal itself.  I’m presuming another stress fracture because, having had two of them, I know bone related injury pain better than most.  Plus I can run through almost anything else.

I’ve said enough times that I can’t face blogging or blog reading while injured.  The comparison and sense of failure is bad enough when I am ‘well.’  So consider me gone.

xxx

*ETA* I am really not sure what is going on with my hip at the moment – after 48 hours off it had improved, but it feels like it could literally ‘go’ again any time.  I guess a halfway house between completely isolating myself and getting even more depressed, and reading my entire blogroll (and still getting depressed by certain runs…) is to keep reading and commenting (I feel like a selfish, bitchy cow ignoring a lot of posts) but hit that little red ‘x’ whenever something makes me feel too down.  Such a simple concept – too bad it took eons for my tiny mind to grasp it.

WIAW – The Diet Starts Tomorrow?

When I was seven years old, I bought a folder for school featuring Garfield the Cat.  Emblazoned on the front was the phrase ‘The Diet Starts Tomorrow…’ alongside a picture of Garfield stuffing his face with cake, not unlike this one:

At the age of seven I was a slightly chubby child, but my weight did not get really out of control until I was around ten.  So I had no thoughts of dieting, or awareness of my weight.  Needless to say, my mother was horrified and tried to get me to put the folder back, but I was a stubborn little madam and insisted on getting it.  Although my Mum obviously feared I’d picked up on the eating disorder that had plagued her life for around thirty years at that point, the reality was that I just liked Garfield.  And stuffing my own face with cake.  Perhaps my combined love for Garfield and Sonic the Hedgehog influenced my propensity towards eating too much and running a lot today.  I’m being sarcastic, but I’ll bet I could find a psychologist to back that theory up, given some of the sh*t they’ve tried to sell me over the years with regard to eating disorders.
Anyway, the point is that I am the classic ‘diet starts tomorrow’ person.  When I was a teenager I would schedule in ‘binge days’ where I would circle back home on the way ‘to school,’ let myself back in the house and eat just enough of everything for no-one to work out that anything was really gone.  I was lazy and greedy (and still am), but the reason for those binges was because I was too terrified to face the verbal and physical abuse I’d get at school every day.  Now I have no reason, but I still resolve to ‘start the diet tomorrow’ the same way I did then, and shove in as many of my favourite treats as possible in a bid to cut them out forever in the future.  Now, more than ever, it is necessary.  I have pre-diabetes, my underarm fat chafes after five minutes of running, my thighs are starting to hit each other when I run and if there’s one thing that will stop me running forever it’s if I have to put up with thigh chafing as well as my stupid, fat arms.

I am doing my best now to stick to the meal plans featured here, which balances out any fruit-related sugars with fat and/or protein so that blood sugar peaks and troughs are hopefully avoided.  It’s already hard, though, and I’ve had to omit the tofu and sub in with more PB after my stomach died on the first day I tried to make it accept some soy (I’d had a small iced coffee with soy milk the week before, and that only produced a mild reaction, so I pushed my luck unsuccessfully).

However, prior to that, I ate quite a few overly sugary treats:

Green smoothie (for dinner…): spinach, frozen raspberries, water, ice, 2 scoops of Chocolate Sun Warrior, frozen cherries, puffed corn cereal, raisins, Truvia and Lucama powder.

After Katie’s recommendation of Booja Booja vegan ice cream (it’s based on cashews) what…two years ago? I finally tried some.  Obviously I chose chocolate.  To me it tasted exactly like dairy ice cream, with a nice smooth texture.  However, being a soft-serve and not ‘real’ ice cream person, I won’t pine for this sweet treat relentlessly the way I am some of my other favourites.

And this bar was just plain strange.

I think the best thing about it was the bright pink colour of one of the layers: this was too sweet even for me, and the centre ‘stripes’ were really quite grainy in texture.  Not appealing.  It also had ‘may contain traces of dairy’ on the back and I tend to try to avoid products that say that.  #fail.

Looks healthy, right?  Well, I might have had vegetable stir-fry and carrot noodles for dinner, but I covered it in home-made sweet and sour sauce featuring 300ml of sugary apple juice.

Puffed corn cereal with sultanas, Truvia, cocoa powder and rice milk for a snack (in a breakfast-sized portion)…

Eh, these were okay, but a total waste of calories – they were quite bland and I couldn’t taste the sunflower seeds that were meant to be in them.  They reminded me of a less sweet version of coconut ice, but weren’t worth the price tag (extortionate…)  And they were SO calorie-dense.  Just goes to show that just because something’s raw, it isn’t waistline-friendly.  I’ll bet if I tried I’d be the only person ever to gain weight on a 100% raw diet.

Smoothie with 200g frozen cherries, ice, Chocolate Sun Warrior and rice milk.

Breakfast of overnight Sun Warrior/Chia/Flax oats with frozen cherries, cacao nibs, roasted almonds and Truvia.

Another breakfast: spinach, frozen raspberries, vanilla Sun Warrior, water, ice, maca and lucama powder.  With frozen cherries, raisins, cashews and peanut flour/Choc Sun Warrior sauce.

At least I managed to eat a few slightly less sugar-laden things…

Sweetcorn, watercress, spinach, buckwheat noodles and peanut flour/soy sauce.

 Same mixture but with tomatoes instead of watercress.  And I’ve just realised how sugary tinned sweetcorn is.  Doh.
I also switched buckwheat noodles for brown rice spaghetti one day (basically because I ran out of the noodles – I’m not really a fan of brown rice spaghetti any more).
Hopefully next WIAW I will have some less blood-sugar spiking meals and snacks to share.  I need one of those ‘motivational’ images with ‘yesterday you told yourself tomorrow’ or something written on it.  Although given that I’m struggling with niggling hip and hamstring injuries at the moment, I don’t hold out much hope.

(Beyond) Beyond Bananas

In the past, I created, posted at and subsequently deleted three blogs prior to this one.

My reasons for deletion were varied: sometimes wanting to move to a more secure place (posts can be password protected on WordPress) and sometimes because when I am injured I want nothing to do with the blog world and all of its fit, thin, amazing ladies.  Call me misanthropic (or a sourpuss…) but I cannot stand reading about people achieving their dreams, running, reaching for the stars when I’m limping around and most likely stuffing my fat face with binge food.

Anyway, a very kind person indeed had the archived material from my WordPress blogs which, she sent to me and I published here a while ago.  However, the posts from my first blog Beyond Bananas had eluded me.  Until now.  I managed to trawl through Google Reader and dig up the posts, although the images are gone (which makes me very sad.  I wish I had more photographic evidence from when I was thin.  I’ll cling to every scrap of that identity and appearance I can get).

Beyond Bananas (which is also an entirely different and very successful blog!) is interesting for me because it documents a 14lb weight gain (nut butters and dried fruit seemed to be the main culprits)…and subsequent 20lb loss.  I don’t talk about that much, but it seems to me I lost the weight without too much effort.  That p*sses me off all the more after ANOTHER 1lb weight gain this morning.  I managed to stop the cycle back then before it was too late: even after the 14lb gain I was another 16lbs lighter than I am now.  But I took hold of my body and said ‘what the Hell do you think you’re doing!?’  I lost that weight before it became unbearable.

At the end of Beyond Bananas I was struggling a bit with bingeing, and it was the winter so my running was limited due to hideous weather conditions.  I did screw up then a lot more than I do now though, wussing out on planned exercise and dealing with just as many injuries.  But I got away with it.  Now, one tiny slip equals another pound, and another.  Heck, even when I think I do ‘well’ I still get even fatter.  I KNOW what could make me lose weight: just copying the meals and snacks at Beyond Bananas at the appropriate post junctures would be enough.  So why can’t I just do that?  Why am I so weak now, despite being stronger and more committed in other areas?

My ‘voice’ then was different: it wasn’t quite so full of despair.  I was more positive, but it’s easy to be positive when you’re not fat.  I was also dishonest.  I didn’t post my true thoughts: I tried to fit in with the mould of ‘loving your body’ that was so prevalent (and still is…) on blogs when what I really wanted to say was closer to the Truth (subjectively) that I post now.  I was also convinced that I was Bi-Polar I, a diagnosis I was given that has since been refuted by more ‘professionals’ than it’s been confirmed by.  So no, I am not Bi-Polar I.

Anyway, the posts are included below this one if anyone is remotely interested.  Mostly they’re just here for me – I don’t want that part of my life to ‘disappear’ ever again.

Memory Lane: Beyond Bananas (5)

01/01/10~ New Year’s Angst

I woke up this morning to this:

White-out. I do not swear. Well, I do say ‘bugger’ quite a lot (how very English of me) but rarely anything stronger than that. It just sounds wrong coming out of me…some people swear with style but I just sound ridiculous…and to be honest I’d rather find a better way of expressing myself. But, just this once this sight said to me ‘Happy New Fucking Year.’ Really, I think that fate likes to take the mickey most of the time. So 2010 looks to be worse than 2009 already. Yep, it’s selfish and pathetic and there are people in the world with far greater problems than the fact that they can’t run, but to be blunt that doesn’t make it any better. In my warped psyche, which teeters on the edge of sanity most of the time anyway, this is the last straw. I am trying so hard to hold myself together but yesterday I was so manic that I started not even making any sense to myself. DBT has helped me to manage these problems quite well until the snow hit, but the sense of entrapment and total insomnia for almost a fortnight now (I thought people were meant to drop dead by this point?) is making me so irrational that it’s scaring me. Binging is constantly at the forefront of my mind, because as I mentioned previously it’s a way of taking back some control…I am choosing not to run, the weather is not forcing me not to…but binges just make the mania worse in the long run. There’s just no way out, no solution to this…I can’t stand being stuck here in the same situation next year, doing the same things, never moving on. I’ve lived in the same region for twenty-four years and I want to get out so badly, to see other places…but I don’t see how I can. Financially, I have no way of getting out of here…one can’t just up and move abroad without any money. So I’m still trapped, still sliding inexorably towards wasting even more of my life and gaining even more weight. Some people see the only way out as suicide, because there is no other concrete solution. I’m too weak and terrified of death to even consider that…only making the entrapment complex worse. If I knew I at least had the option of ending this then perhaps it wouldn’t be so bad.

Part of the reason it took so long to diagnose me as bi-polar I was the fact that I’m not ‘typically’ manic. Most people experience delusions of grandeur, an inflated ego, a sense of purpose that they are special and chosen to do something or somehow superhuman and this relates to specific psychotic episodes. I get very irritable, highly aggressive, so energetic I feel like I’m about to burst out of my skin, talk so fast that the words aren’t even discernable, become so anxious that I start totally dissociating myself from my surroundings, can’t concentrate for even a second on anything…hence the reason this post is taking so long to construct. But I’m not myself, I’m not in control and binges typically happen when I’m so manic that the racing thoughts just will not stop and the only way to shut them up for a second and quell the anxiety is through food. There’s a theory that it’s because the food ups seratonin levels…but that doesn’t explain why every bipolar person doesn’t do this. Running is the only way to get the mania under control…that I’ve found. Last winter wasn’t as bad as this and I was mostly in a depressive state, which is what typically happens. Manic summer/spring/autumn, depressive winter. At least then I usually get some sleep. But, aside from a short period in November, I have now been in varying degrees of manic state (with occasional windows of ‘normality’) since…March, I suppose. It’s frightening the heck out of me.

Every time I read a blog that mentions that the blogger ran in the morning I want to tear out my own eyes…the solution would be to stop reading them, but just knowing that other people have the freedom to run and I don’t is maddening. I have to get out there somehow…I just pray that I don’t either give up and binge or break my ankle in the process. Even the roads are like sheet ice.

I should have put a warning up to skip all of that…well, if anyone hasn’t been scared away there are some food pics. My blog has turned into vegan eats with a side of insanity.

I tried some Doves Farm brown rice pasta which I bought as part of my ‘binge-shopping’. It seems that, amidst the buying of junk food, some semblance of my healthy personality remained.


With lentil bolognese, watercress and green beans.


With pinto beans in tomato sauce and green beans.

I liked it. It had a nice nuttiness reminiscent of wholewheat pasta, which I really miss. I’m also relieved to find an alternative to white rice pasta, which sends my blood sugar levels a little insane and has little nutritional value. It’s not very filling though…but with my mammoth appetite, what is?

Product Review: PB & J Larabar ~
Very interesting tart/sweet balance. I was nervous about the unsweetened dried cherries on the ingredients list as I hated them in the Cherry Pie flavour because they were so sour and bitter. It’s a tiny bar for 210 calories…have Larabars gotten smaller or is it just me? It’s less of a problem with peanut-based ones though, as they tend to be much richer than their almond-based counterparts. It tastes very similar to the PB Cookie flavour and I’m not sure what the dried cherries add to it really. They’re not sweet enough in themselves to represent jam and the peanut/date paste combination was the sweetest element, where as it’s usually the other way round in a ‘proper’ PB & J ~ salty, savoury PB and sweet, sticky strawberry jam. Not as good as many flavours but quite pleasant…still a disappointment though after seeing so many bloggers rave about it. I’ll be microwaving the next one to see if it improves the flavour. If only Larabar made a Dark Chocolate Dreams version…
6.5/10

Yesterday’s food (missing a huge bowl of pumpkin protein oats with banana):


Carrot, tomatoes, celery.

Lentil loaf sandwich on GF bread with ketchup (low sugar/salt)


Apple/grapes


Pinto ‘baked beans’, roasted butternut squash, spinach & watercress


Yes, that’s a WHOLE large squash. Over-eating should be my olympic sport.

Product Review: Tropical Fruit Tart Larabar
Unlike the PB&J, this wasn’t a bar I was expecting to be overly enamoured with. Citrus flavours can be hit and miss with me, as evidenced by the Lemon/Lime Pack Tunch bar which I disliked so vehemently. However, in the past (i.e a year ago when Larabars could still be purchased in the UK) I was fortunate enough to be able to try both the Key Lime Pie and Lemon Bar flavours, which I adored. What struck me about this bar was how incredibly sickly it was. The predominant scent, and flavour, was initially coconut. However, then the pineapple kicked in and I was pleasantly surprised…ntil the bitter orange element crashed the party. As I progressed through the bar it became overwhelming and overall I wasn’t a fan. In hindsight, I wish I’d asked for flavours I knew I liked as opposed to being swept up in the desire to try new ones.
3/10

***I still have five of the Tropical Fruit Tart Larabars left and I doubt I’ll be eating them. Would anyone be interested in a swap of some sort? Just leave a comment if so. I may throw in some PB&Js as well…I might not. It depends if microwaving them improves them in any way.***At least I still have the PB cookie flavour which I like…

Breakfast this morning:

Protein pumpkin oat bran made with water which, to borrow a phrase from my US compatriots, makes it taste like ass.

With banana of course…the water was an attempt to save the calories I can’t burn by running, but made it so gross I wanted to binge even more. How on Earth can people eat oatmeal with water!? Trust me to like high-calorie everything.

DVD Review: Geri YogaI couldn’t even get through ten minutes of this DVD before I promptly switched to MTV Power Yoga. The incessant chatter between Geri and her trainer drove me insane…or more insane. I just couldn’t cope with it and spending the first section of a DVD basically lying on the floor was more than I could stand. Less witter, more yoga please.
0/10 for me, possibly more if you have an attention span which hasn’t been addled.
Now I must go out and at least try to run. I am sorry once again for this. I know watching me insulting myself must be annoying and I apologise for that too. I just can’t cope with anything at the moment.

I hope everyone is having a better New Year than I am.

29/12/09 ~ Totally Random

This post is essentially a mish-mash of random thoughts and housekeeping issues. Firstly, I must point out that the beautiful Katie is hosting a Wild Bar giveaway, which I would be elated to win but I think the number of entries will probably top those for the National Lottery. But if you don’t try, you can’t succeed.

Well, the weather ain’t getting any better but at least four of the five gym-free days are over and done with. Yesterday was the worst one yet. I lost count of the number of times I slipped on black ice on the road. Still, it was preferable to not running and there were a couple of other guys out so I didn’t feel totally vulnerable. Ah, who am I kidding? I was terrified. Again. Anyway, I still don’t understand how these men can balance so much more effectively than I can but they seemed to be skipping along quite happily, much to my chagrin. I just have New Year’s Day to worry about now. Still, covering 48 miles in 4 days made me quite a happy and slightly proud bunny :)

Less happiness eminates from the fact that my life seems to have boiled down to: eat, exercise, write thesis, attempt to sleep, freak out, repeat. As I’ve mentioned before I feel so powerless to change my life and so inhibited by my various mental illnesses. Every time I attempt to make progress, I fall flat on my face. My dream may be to *visit* New York but my ultimate ambition is to be able to make a life for myself in Florida (this was pre-blogging…it’s been my dream since I was ten) but I just don’t ever see that happening. Never mind the flight, I’d never get any of my family out there and the fact that I can barely be left alone for a day makes taking care of myself unlikely. And then there’s the small matter of paying the bills. Meh.

Anyhoo, just a few food pics from the past few days:

Lentil/carrot/watercress/pea stew with roasted butternut squash. I’d been neglecting my old squashy friend in favour of cousin Kabocha and forgotten how divine it is. I just can’t decide which one is more delicious…kabocha has a better texture but butternut is just so delightfully sweet and moreish. It’s a tie.
Artful leaning tower of fruit, veggies and hummus.
Err…equally artful attempt at photographing the hummus sandwich that went with it :P
Old faithful: lentil bolognese, corn spaghetti, roasted courgettes.
Today’s lunch: PB sandwich (1/2 smooth Whole Earth, 1/2 crunchy Whole Earth) + unpictured fruit/veggie plate. Why, oh why, can I not be sensible with this stuff? Probably 90g or something equally obscene of PB there. I try weighing it/measuring it but no, I have to be so disgruntled with the tiny serving size that many more jar spoonfuls somehow make their way into the sandwich. Don’t buy it? But then I obsess over it. I have wasted a full hour staring at PB&Co products online. I kid you not. But if I have it, this happens. Hello gaining back the 8lbs I lost pre-binge episode :(

My Mum’s friend from work arrived home yesterday after a very cold holiday in NYC. Before she left, she offered to bring me back some Larabars as she knows how much I love & miss them. I told her my favourite flavour and the ones I’d like to try, and I expected…two, perhaps three? This is what she handed to me (obviously they were in a bag at the time!)

Holy heck. Eighteen Larabars. I paid her for them of course (insisted!) but it was still unbelievably kind of her. I’m saving them and must make them last! Not that I wasn’t elated and grateful, but I have a hard time dealing with people being so lovely to me. I just don’t deserve it. My parents, her, wonderful bloggers and commenters…I feel so guilty that with so many people trying to make me happy, I’m still a miserable (or manic) binging pig. I wish I could repay their kindness by being a better person.

A few reviews…

DVD Review: MTV Pilates MixI love Kristen McGee. Her presenting style is cheery without being irritating and knowledgeable without being sententious. This DVD contains two half-hour workouts and one fifteen minute bonus ‘express’ section and focuses primarily on core strength. I adore the fast pace of the MTV series of yoga and pilates DVDs, which suits my spectacularly short attention span. I combine the workouts and 75 minutes flies by, constantly challenging me with familiar (hundreds, jacknife etc.) pilates moves and less conventional inclusions in the practice (dog spilts, pliets, lunges, etc.) It’s not really for beginners and at times it’s difficult to see what’s going on due to camera angles and the fact that pilates is primarily mat-based. You’ll spend the first rep of every move craning your neck and straining to see what you’re supposed to be doing in the more complex moves. However, once I get used to it and memorise the sequence of moves, I am sure that this will become a more minor issue.
8/10
DVD Review: MTV YogaThis is, to my mind, the perfect yoga DVD. Not overlong at just 50 minutes and with detailed pose explanations for beginners at the end, this workout encompasses sun salutations, balances and some fantastic stretches, particularly if you have tight hip flexors and quads from running. The sequences are fun, challenging yet doable for all levels and the pace is slightly more relaxed than the onslaught that it MTV Power Yoga. Kristen McGee explains the postures fantastically and at the end I felt both energized and nicely stretched out. Faultless.
10/10
To wrap things up I’d like to include a few recipes of mine which I recently shared with my favourite Blue Eyed Heart. They do rely on a liking for Chestnuts though…but they are an ideal winter comfort food that’s relatively healthy too :) Apoligies for the underlining on the final two recipes: no matter what I do, blogger won’t let me get rid of it!
I’ll give you the non-IBS versions of my recipes…the only difference I’d have if I was making them for myself involves omitting both onion and garlic and using water instead of vegetable stock, which tends to contain both onion and soy:

Chestnut Sofrito (Makes Two Servings)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
small piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 medium (7oz or so) sweet potato, thickly sliced
2 carrots, sliced thinly or diced depending on how crunchy you like ‘em
13.5oz can chickpeas, drained
13.5oz can chopped tomatoes or passata
8oz whole chestnuts
3/4 pint vegetable stock
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 cinnamon stick, halved or two tsp cinnamon
Salt and pepper to taste

1.) Heat the oil in a pan. Add the onion and fry for five minutes until softened and pale golden. Stir in the garlic and ginger and cook for two minutes.
2.) Add the sweet potato, carrots, tomatoes and stock to the pan with the chestnuts and chickpeas and bring to the boil, stirring. Add the turmeric, cinnamon and seasoning.
3.) Transfer to a casserole dish, cover and cook in a preheated oven, 180 celcius or 350 degrees F for one hour until ingredients are tender.

Mushrooms & Chestnuts with Sweet Potato Mash (Makes two servings)

Gravy:
2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
6oz chestnut mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tbsp gluten-free flour
10fl oz vegetable stock
1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
6oz chestnuts
salt/pepper

Mash:
1 tbsp parsley, chopped or 1 tsp cinnamon
salt/pepper
1.5lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1.) Gravy first ~ Heat the oil in a large saucepan, add the onion and fry for 5 minutes, until beginning to brown and soften. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for a further two-three minutes. Sprinkle in the flour and stir over the heat, letting it brown a little. Pour in the stock, stirring until thickened. Add the soy sauce and chestnuts, then leave it to simmer gently, uncovered, while you cook the potatoes.

2.) Steam the potatoes for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Mash and add salt/pepper, cinnamon or parsley to taste.

Brown Rice and Chestnut ‘Not-Risotto’ (Serves 1 hungry Jessica)

100g chestnut mushrooms, chopped thickly
5g dried porcini mushrooms
2oz brown rice
2oz chestnuts
1 tbsp gluten-free soy sauce
1 tbsp mushroom ketchup (not sure if this exists in the US!)
salt/pepper

Can add 1/4 onion and a crushed garlic clove if you have a functioning digestive system ; )

23/12/09~ Came Crawling Back…

I took these pics yesterday while out walking in the woods… determined to try to find some beauty in the snow. It’s still far too slippy to run on though. I might look happy and smiley in some of them with the weird close-ups, but looking back on them now I shudder to think of what I did yesterday.













Dear oh dear, I just can’t stay away, can I? But what happened yesterday is still driving me crazy and I have no-one else to turn to so although I’d intended to keep my struggles private for once, yet again I come crawling back with an awful confession. I suppose making it public is one of my many ways of trying to exorcise the massive feelings of guilt I have, which are so overwhelming I can’t stop crying. Basically, I snapped. I couldn’t take going to the gym yet again for 2hrs 15minutes to be bored out of my mind. That much I could *almost* excuse. What I can’t excuse is the binge which followed. It was the worst one in over five years. Ordinarlily, I can pull the day back around and gain some sense of control back but this weather has just driven me over the edge. Not being able to run outside for a solid week is just…unfair. We’ve never had a winter like this, never. But that’s no excuse. I must have taken in 5000kcals yesterday. It’s obscene. I am just disgusted with myself. Why, WHY do I have the capacity within me to DO this!? I thought it was gone forever but it’s as if I’m not even in my own head when I’m doing it, as though I’m totally numb and some weird entity has taken me over. I am still there, screaming ‘stop!’ at the top of my lungs and yet I just keep eating and eating and eating. I got on the scales this morning and had gained two pounds that I worked my backside off for three weeks to lose. I can undo so much hard work in just one day, it’s frightening. I’d just got my weight to a point I could deal with and now…well, now I just feel utter despair.

I read so many accounts of bingeing where the definition is eating two cookies instead of one. For those who want to know what bingeing actually is, see the vile list of things I ate yesterday below (not all at once ~ over the course of the day):

1.) Usual huge bowl of Mesa Sunrise cereal (which incidentally is over 100g of the stuff) with rice milk & banana.
2.) Two slices of gluten free bread with lashings of Pure Spread and Strawberry Jam
3.) Huge handful of sultanas
4.) Massive portion of lentil loaf with ketchup
5.) Apple, carrot and two big spoonfuls of peanut butter (one smooth, one crunchy) ~ Whole Earth brand, not even PB I particularly like.
6.) This is the worst one. 500 kcals worth of vegan chocolate ~ one Dairy Free Rice Crackle Bar and TWO packets of chocolate buttons. Which all have soy in them. Cue stomach groaning.
7.) Full serving of polenta, peas in tomato sauce, watercress and nutritional yeast flakes.
8.) Sun Warrior smoothie (1 scoop vanilla Sun Warrior, 200ml rice milk, frozen banana)

I had pictures of all of this but I just couldn’t bring myself to post them, especially not of the obscene amount of Pure Spread and jam I used. At times, I have eaten knifefuls of the spread by itself. I am that bad. What really fries me is that I walked to the shops, bought the damn PB and chocolate and then ate it. All the time in those thought processes there were so many times when I could have turned back! And I ‘snuck’ the food as well, waiting until my Dad was out of the house to scarf down the bread and jam. I hate these behaviours, I hate myself. God, I would do anything to be rid of this disgusting obsession. Most people would never entertain the idea of eating when they’re not hungry, let alone stuffing themselves to the point where they’re sweating all night because they’re so full. The truly disturbing thing is that I could have eaten even more than that, and there were definitely points where I wanted to. I did go back to the gym today but just did 7 miles on the treadmill and a few leg weights. Then I called it a day. Those two pounds won’t go away…they’ll just be replaced by two more and two more and two more until I get back to my heighest ever weight. The only possible plus is that at least everything I ate was vegan so I can retain one tiny shred of moral dignity.

I am so sorry to post this, but both my Mum and Dad were so disgusted by the amount I ate (and said so) that I felt the need to confess and…I don’t know, humilate myself, I suppose. I also wanted to get across the raw horror of what bingeing really is. I had entertained so many notions of hope, of starting a new blog on WordPress with an emphasis on balance, but balance is truly impossible for me. Certain foods just make me obsess about them when I can’t have them and binge on them when I can. I hate this part of myself. If I could physically hurt it, torture it, rip it to shreds, I most certainly would.

The pigging out continued this morning, but tapered off during the day…

Breakfast:
1/3 cup oats, 2/3 cup rice milk, cinnamon, raisins, banana, one huge spoon of crunchy & one of smooth PB, packet of Dairy Free Chocolate Buttons melted in.

Dinner:

At least I managed to make myself a stabilising dinner ~ 2oz brown rice (dry), lentil bolognese, peas & spinach.

I’m so lost. Mostly I’m just unbelievably scared of myself. What have I become?

21/12/09~ Brain Freeze

 After this post I will be taking a short hiatus, possibly until after Christmas. It really depends on a multitude of factors, the primary one being the weather. I am not dealing with the snow very well at all. On the surface it would seem that it’s because it looks like it’s going to wipe out my ability to run outside for a fortnight, minimum. We just keep getting more and more blizzards and temperatures are due to stay at a maximum of zero degrees celcius for a while. For a start, I’m scared that I’ll lose my fitness and if I ever get to run again I’ll have turned into a slug, both in terms of speed and endurance. I can get to the gym, and if I really push it I can make 9-9.5 miles on the treadmill split up with the elliptical for 35 minutes in a total 105 minute block. But it’s difficult to get my arse out of the front door because I hate the gym, while I love running outside. Obviously for the period that the gyms are closed over Christmas I’m terrified about how fat and unfit I will become. I have been known to see a three pound increase the minute I stop intense exercise, and it sticks. I think the real kicker though, is the fact that this awful snow reinforces the fact that I can’t control most things in life. It’s not just the running, it’s the choice being taken away from me. Shaking my fist at fate will do no good but sometimes I think it takes the mickey, sending the worst snowfall we’ve had in a decade at a time when I rely on running to keep me sane more than I ever have.

So, because I am struggling so much, I think I really have to take a break. My self-harming behaviours have returned for the first time in a year. It’s nothing serious ~ there are no sharp or scalding objects involved ~ but it does mean that I am now covered in bruises all over my back and legs. Being filled with manic energy with nowhere to divert it isn’t helping. The winter usually brings more depressive episodes, so I am very confused right now. The timing of this is impeccable, as to complete the assignments I have to do over the holidays will involve writing over 1000 words per day, and even then it leaves me no time to read over or check what I’ve written, so those words really have to count. It might not seem like much, but when you have a constant knot in your stomach and keep bouncing off the walls it’s difficult to concentrate enough to write two words that make sense.

Hopefully I will be back after xmas or New Year with something more positive to say…I will still be around reading and commenting though. Can’t get rid of me that easily ;)

The highlight of my year so far came on Saturday when I met up with Katie and Fiona. I was so nervous having not been in a social situation for, oh…over four years! But they are the nicest, funniest, brightest, most intelligent, personable, lovely and sweet people I have ever met. I can’t think of enough superlatives to describe them. It was so amazing to feel ‘normal’ in a social situation. I have never felt that before in my life. Ever. It seemed as though I’d known them forever…ah, the wonders of blogging ;)

I snapped a pic of both of them but in my overexcited state I completely neglected to take one of all of us together…luckily Katie has more brains than I do and hopefully when she posts her pics I will be able to link to them…or even cheekily post one here with her permission (of course!)

***ETA Katie has since posted pics so here they are…I must admit, I feel like a total gargoyle beside beautiful Fiona and Katie (is it just me or is my smile too wide for my face?) but the memory of being with them more than compensates for my appearance.

My two favourite people : ) I apologise to Fiona for trying so vehemently to make her smile! But it was worth it ~ she has such a lovely smile! Hopefully I didn’t scare either of you too much in my excitable state. It snowed so heavily while we were out in Durham and on the way home my Mum and I were temporarily stuck in a snowdrift…as both of my trains home were cancelled! I live on top of a fell and cars were skidding and slipping all over the place trying to get back up the hill. A bus even started sliding back down it towards the cars. Scary stuff. Lots of cars were being abandoned but eventually we managed to get through.

I’ll leave you with Saturday’s eats and Sunday’s breakfast:

1/3 cup oats, 1 cup rice milk, 1 scoop Chocolate Sun Warrior, 1 cup pumpkin, cinnamon, banana
Fruit/veggie plate with roasted red pepper hummus

Rest of the hummus in a sandwich on GF bread.

Chocolate Brownie Pure Bar
Chickpea stir-fry & brown rice
Seriously, microwave your Pure Bars! It takes them to an 8/10!

1/2 cup oats, 1 cup rice milk, 1 scoop Sun Warrior Rice Protein, cinnamon, banana

Love you all and ‘see’ you in the New Year…

18/12/09~ I Need a Vacation…

…preferably to the Bahamas. Although I wouldn’t say no to Florida. My usual dream destination of New York is excluded from my holiday fantasties because, from what I can tell, the weather there is no better than here. Is it terrible that the main reason I want to go to New York is all of the vegan products available there? Damn food fixation. The city wouldn’t hold any appeal for me otherwise not because it isn’t stunning, beautiful and with plenty to do, but because of the general lack of greenery, business and crowds. I have enough trouble dealing with pint-sized Newcastle when it’s full of Christmas shoppers.

Call me a Grinch (I won’t be offended) but I can’t think of a single thing I like about Christmas. The whole world grinds to a halt, gyms are closed for FOUR days, there’s untold pressure and expectation to be happy for no good reason unless you’re a Christian and the relentless money spending and commerciality of the holiday just really irks me in general. Every year, Christmas is a low point for me. I’m lucky that my parents don’t celebrate it, but outside influences and reminders of it are pretty much unavoidable. At least I don’t have to put up with the pressure to stuff in an inordinate amount of food just for the sake of it…but then, I’m quite good enough at doing that anyway without external incentives. Perhaps if Christmas was in the summer, I might like it better. But for the last three holiday seasons I’ve just been tearing my hair out over the weather. Thankfully, the heavens have been kind to me while the gyms have been shut and I’ve managed my outside runs…this year, it could well be different though…

Bingeing episodes were *narrowly* avoided on Wednesday and I made the decision to squeeze in a run on Thursday even though it was supposed to be a day off outside running (ergo, two hours in the gym instead.) I’d seen the weather forecast for the next week and it wasn’t pretty. I was determined to get in a proper run before the snow hit the fan. So I did nine miles and got caught in a hailstorm on the way home…luckily I was only half a mile from my front door when it hit. I ate breakfast to warm up…


1/2 cup oats, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, 1 scoop Chocolate Jay Robb Rice Protein, Banana.

Then THIS happened.


*insert expletive here*

I was so glad that I’d snuck (word? Not sure) in my final run outside for what looks to be a while. To those US bloggers who are complaining that it’s cold, at least you can physically run outside! I’d be out there at absolute zero if it wasn’t for the damn pavements. The irritating thing is that there are long-ish stretches of grass about, but they’re broken up by treacherously slippy road crossings. Hmph. Anxiety over the snow sent me scurrying to the gym for an hour of ellipticalling and some weights. Post-uni I also went to Body Jam in the evening, since I needed some cheering up and I’m trying to maximise my use of the classes before they go AWOL for two weeks starting on Monday. Also, bugger the impact as I’ll be stuck indoors forever with no pavement to run on anyway. Sorry! I am ranting at the weather, not at anyone in particular.

So, today marked the first day of the year I haven’t been able to do my scheduled run at any point during the day…

I can’t express typographically or verbally or linguistically how much this kind of weather messes with my head. Rationally, I know it’s stupid but that doesn’t stop my racing thoughts and my stomach from tying itself in knots (not that it prevents me from eating!) I puched a pillow, gave the window the finger and did Nell McAndrew’s 80 minute Peak Energy DVD. Then, more oaty goodness.


1/3 cup oat bran, 1 cup rice milk (used too much liquid last time), cinnamon, 1 cup pumpkin, 1 scoop Jay Robb Vanilla Rice Protein, Banana

Thank goodness I didn’t have Uni in the morning…though to be honest I probably would have skipped it if I had. I went to the gym determined to run until I physically couldn’t any more. I did 9.4 miles in 1 hr 10minutes, split into two segments with 35 minutes of ellipticalling in between. The break did help with my dead-leg issue, but it was still very tough…and aforementioned leg made its presence felt, just not quite as badly. I limped home tired and depressed…and a sweaty mess. I also ended up with cramp in my right calf for some reason which is odd as I never get muscle cramps.

So often I think that there has to be more to life than this…crying myself to sleep every night because I’m so scared about four days with only exercise DVDs and what it will to the body I’ve worked so hard to get down to a level I can tolerate, if not feel comfortable with. Logically I know I could just eat less but every day the urge to OVEReat gets worse and worse, and this weather only exacerbates the matter. I do wonder how on Earth I got myself into this mess, let alone how to fix it.

Just as a side note, I’m not criticising those who do like Christmas…it’s just that for me, it’s a holiday loaded with bad memories.

16/12/09~ An Apple A Day…

While I almost always eat an apple a day (they’re my favourite fruit after my beloved bananas) it sadly doesn’t seem to keep the doctor away. My appointment on Tuesday morning was intended to discover the source of my spells of dizziness, faintness, nausea and slight vertigo. What happened instead was that this doctor (who I have seen in the past but isn’t my regular GP) chose to give me a complete health check and then basically read me the riot act over being ‘non-compliant’ with the orders…I mean suggestions that previous health professionals have given me. Long story short, the dizziness is a combination of labyrinthitis, low blood pressure (mine’s 80 over something or other) and low blood sugars. This last one weirded me out slightly because it doesn’t make any sense. I had my yearly bloodwork done recently and the results came back clear (my hormones are all over the place but that’s expected given the surgery I’ve had in the past…hence the bloodwork checking for nasties on a regular basis) but apparently it looks like I’m hypoglycaemic on top of everything else.

This resulted in the doctor weighing me (to be fair, he did ask whether I was comfortable with it, but if there are a set of scales to be stepped on, I’ll step on ‘em) and noting that I’ve lost weight. Duh. Just because of that and the low blood sugar reading he then assumed that I was descending ‘back into anorexia.’ On my medical record it says ‘anorexia’ because I did at one stage get to a very low BMI and have been in the 16s several times since then (not NOW though!) But I am not, nor ever have been anorexic. My weight dropped so low primarily through exercising on a calorie intake that most women’s magazines nowadays seem to consider ‘normal.’ I never existed on black coffee and apples. I fought with huge bingeing cycles, but never purged. I still fight with overeating and bingeing, but that doesn’t matter to anyone other than myself. The medical profession just will not acknowledge that I am not typically anorexic nor ever have I been. My BMI isn’t anywhere near that so I don’t know why this guy had gotten it into his head that just because I am lower than I was the last time I was weighed I’m automatically restricting my food to a ‘dangerous’ level. Ugh. Plus he started pushing me over the dairy issue (I have crappy bone density. The NHS seems to think that they only way to deal with this is to pump myself full of dairy products and take artificial oestrogen that will make me a blimp overnight…and is sythesised from horse hormones. Nice.) I really should just lie and say that I’m eating yoghurt till it comes out of my ears, but the minute someone criticises veganism I just can’t bite my tongue. My social anxiety goes out of the window and I become very defensive.

I left the appointment in tears and with his suggestion that I’m going to lose inches in height when I’m older battering my mind. When I got home I was within a hair’s bredth of bingeing due to the anxiety and general exhaustion I have anyway. I even went so far as to get the bread out of the bread bin and start smelling it. Whole wheat bread, not the gluten-free variety. The realisation that I always binge on foods that upset my digestive system the most and leave me in constant pain snapped me out of it…bingeing is a means of punishing myself for something, masquerading as comfort at the time. It solves nothing…but in the heat of the moment try telling my brain that.

14/12/09~ Handle With Care

Just a quick postie ~ I actually managed to remember to take pictures of everything I ate on Sunday so I thought I’d upload them here. I can’t believe I managed to capture every morsel for a month or more when the blog started…then again, I did have a lot of time on my hands and no real prospect of having anything to do for the coming year. Life really does throw some curve-balls. I can’t believe I’m almost through with the first semester of my MRes…after the undergraduate degree, I honestly said ‘never again’ and didn’t think I’d ever be writing another dissertation, let alone a thesis. Right now, I’m being pushed to carry on to PhD level and I’m finding myself saying ‘never again’ err…again. Perhaps I’ll feel differently in time but the fact remains that I am doing a postgraduate course because I have nothing else and because it’s on a scholarship basis. I also believe that the faith of the University is misplaced; they have no idea whether I’ll even have a decent enough thesis to extend to PhD level! I often find myself becoming overwhelmed by the complexity of ideas articulated in some of the theory texts I have to read even at this level.

Things haven’t totally settled with my panic attacks and anxious mania either…I just don’t talk about it much because it’s mostly just one monotonous delusion after another and a heck of a lot of twitching (as in restless limbs and extreme surges of energy). At least I seem to be able to keep a lid on the episodes of aggression and hypersensitivity/irritation better than I used to. But then, being that it’s winter, there are also days like today with no energy at all and general apathy combined with lethargy. In the summer, it’s mania all the way.

I suppose I’m just trying to delay the inevitable moment where I will need to get a ‘proper’ job for eight hours a day or risk being categorised as a bum. But I need distraction, constant psychological stimulation (and to an extent phsyical exertion…no, not in THAT way) to keep me sane, to keep my from myself. It’s not that I don’t want to engage with full-time employment, more that my brain just will not allow me to function that way. Katie posted recently about something similar, and I think she expressed the way that my mind functions far more succinctly and accurately than I ever could. After one four-hour shift at Next, I became so psychologically unstable that I couldn’t be left alone for a week afterwards. The lack of stimulation had completely fried my brain and let in thoughts of hurting myself, thoughts which rarely surface because I usually work damn hard to keep a lid on them. Eight hours at a desk or behind a shop counter? I honestly have no idea what would happen.

So much for a ‘quick’ post. I am obviously utterly incapable of being concise. Anyway, back to Sunday: thankfully there was no sign of frost so I could do another 13.5 miles, this time in a decidedly unspectacular 1:47:44, but given the fact that I kicked my own butt at the gym on Saturday that’s hardly surprising.

Breakfast:

Doesn’t quite look like oats, does it?
That’s because it’s 1/3 cup quinoa flakes, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, 1 cup pumpkin, 1 scoop Chocolate Sun Warrior and a Banana. My quest to find an adequate oat substitute is at an end. There simply isn’t one. Although this was an improvement on rice flakes in the sense that it was edible and palatable in its own distinctive, nutty way, it just wasn’t a patch on oats or my favourite oat bran. It also wasn’t anywhere near as filling: oat bran typically holds me over for five hours when made in this form, oats will keep me going for around four. This didn’t even manage three and by lunchtime I was chewing off my arm. I don’t react too badly to oats, unlike other gluten-containing grains, so I’m just going to stick with them…they’re worth a little discomfort.

Lunch:

Carrot, cherry tomatoes, roasted mushrooms from my Mum. Sometimes I wonder whether I shouldn’t accept her leftovers…because she knows I’m a garbage disposal for veggies, she also knows that they won’t go to waste if she doesn’t eat them. Not that she should be filling up on veggies, but at least she’d be eating a ‘meal’ rather than leaving parts of it. Oy, I don’t know what to do…I can understand how confused, angry and anxious parents sometimes get with their anorexic offspring…it’s so frustrating to watch someone you love hurting themselves so badly :(
Obviously I didn’t only eat veggies: looks like any other one of my baby food-esque soups, no?
Well, this one had chunks in it. Chunks of carrot and parsnip to be exact. I would post the recipe for this Lentil & Parsnip soup but it’s taken from Marks & Spencer’s Count on Us Cookbook and the only modifications I made were to omit onion and garlic. Darn copyright. I blended half in my Mum’s new high-power blender and left the rest in tact, then mixed the two halves together for a hearty and filling winter soup. At least in theory…I was hungry again three hours later *rolls eyes*

*Insert walking and Tae-Bo DVDs here*

Snack:

Apple, Grapes and some Melon my Dad didn’t want that was a day out of date and tasted a little odd. I am the family trash can, it seems.

*Insert Geri Body Yoga here*

Dinner:


Lentil, carrot, pea and watercress stew with roasted Kabocha sqaush. The poor squash looks so naked without its distinctive green skin. My tummy was thanking me for peeling the squash though.

Snack:


Brownie Pure Bar…they’re growing on me. I just wish they weren’t so incredibly small!

Just a random aside but it saddens me that fear of food is now so commonplace amongst people my age. Not that everyone has an eating disorder, but that disordered relationships with food are just a given, especially for girls. I noted this in the contrasting attitudes of people in the various exercise classes I go to: as it’s coming up to xmas the coaches bring in chocolates as a ‘treat’ and while the older people at the regular gym I go to always take one (albeit with rumblings of ‘I’m so naughty, I really shouldn’t’) the students who frequent the new gym looked at the poor instructor as if he was offering them a box full of maggots…as if just *looking* at them would somehow contaminate them with fat. I know it seems hypocritical of me as I wouldn’t eat one either (1= they’re not vegan, 2=I would worry that it would lead me to binge even if they were) but it’s just so hard for people who do have EDs to recover when the whole of society seems screwed up around food. Where are the positive role models out there? The level of anxiety amongst the teens and twenty-somethings must have been four times that of the thirty, forty and fifty-somethings.

Not a lot else to report really…the semester is winding down, the weather is getting colder and my hips feel like they’re made out of glass. There’s no pain, just a sense of fragility there. I’ll have to try and stick to running on the grass whenever possible. I have an interview for the post of volunteer web writer and researcher that I applied for a while ago on January 6th, so I’m quite pleased about that. I hadn’t heard from the company for so long that I assumed I’d failed to even make the shortlist.

Huge hugs and thanks for every comment as always!

xoxox

10/12/09~ So Dizzy (My Head is Spinning)

So I thought a ‘reverse’ post would be fun. Well, different anyway. So, we have eats first, ramblings second.

Evening Snack (Monday):

200ml Rice Dream, 1 Scoop Chocolate Sun Warrior, 1 frozen banana

Breakfast (Tuesday):

1/3 cup oats, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, 1 cup pumpkin, banana, 1 scoop Vanilla Jay Robb Rice Protein

Wednesday (actually managed to get a full day of eats for a change…what with the rush of work at Uni and dizzy spells I’ve been neglecting my photographic duties):

Mesa Sunrise Cereal with Rice Dream, Sultanas & Banana

Lunch:

Carrot coins and Tomato tower…
Baked sweet potato with home-made ‘hummus’

Packed Snacks for Uni:

Two Mini 30g Apple Pie Nakd Bars

Dinner:

75g Corn Spaghetti, Lentil Bolognese, Watercress & Peas

Snack:

200ml Rice Dream, 1 scoop Vanilla Sun Warrior, 1 frozen banana

Breakfast (Today):

Forgot how much I love oat bran ~ 1/2 cup oat bran, 1 cup Rice Dream, 1/2 cup water, cinnamon, 1 scoop Chocolate Jay Robb Rice Protein, banana. Love how it fluffs up and becomes so voluminous.

Is it wrong that a huge proportion of my post titles are inspired by cheesy pop songs? Oh well. It seems appropriate though, given the fact that I still appear to be located on a cross-channel ferry in the middle of a raging storm…despite the reality that I’m actually sitting perfectly still in my study. I don’t understand where this wooziness and general spaced out feeling has come from, but I wish it would just dissipate. I suppose it’s even more irritating because for yesterday and this morning I backed off a little on the exercise, which freaked the bejeepers out of me. Now I’m pretty resentful and irritated because it’s as if it was all for nothing and I should have just pushed ahead with what I was going to do. Plus, now the hypchondriac in me is scared to death that it’s a brain tumour or something equally nasty. It’s so strange that someone who is so unenamoured with life should be utterly petrified of dying, but there it is.

Without all of the beautiful pieces of advice I received on my last post I think I would have cracked up. I hate to be so ‘needy’ but often the comments I get are all I can hold on to. I can’t trust my Mum’s advice on food or exercise at all given her own anorexia and lack of commitment towards recovering from it, despite occasional flashes of progress (after which she tends to relapse even more chronically) and although I’ve been getting on better with my Dad, there’s no way I can talk to him about it. The problem is that I hate myself even more vehemently because I’m causing such lovely people to worry, when honestly I’m not worth worrying about. When I posted I couldn’t conceive that it would produce that kind of reaction, because I can’t even conceptualise that anyone would ever care about me. I’m so sorry if I made anyone stressed out or upset with what I said. I know my posts tend to come from quite dark places, and sometimes I wonder if I should keep my thoughts to myself on those occasions…but I was never any good at keeping a diary consistently because it felt like I was talking to myself, hitting my head against a brick wall repeatedly. Unfortunately the blog would be quite barren without my cyclical crises :(

Anyway, I reduced my mileage on Wednesday from a planned 13.5 to 7.5 and today from the scheduled 2+ hours in the gym to 8 miles outside because the weather was gorgeous, bright, sunny and there was no frost in evidence. It doesn’t seem like much but it’s huge for me: I never, ever voluntarily do less on account of not feeling well. I just keep going until I phsyically burn out and can’t continue any more. My OCD makes changing plans all but impossible, and I couldn’t have done it without the support I receive from the blog world. That doesn’t mean that I’m not being eaten up with guilt, feeling fat and disgusting and lazy because I didn’t reduce what I ate…I even ate a little more by adding 1/4 cup sultanas back into my breakfast, which felt like they were rotting my teeth off after not eating them for a while. It’s because I’m now at a weight where I feel comfortable. Not happy, but comfortable. It’s at the bottom of the healthy BMI range, which is fine for someone of my frame size. The trouble is that I have two ‘modes’ of either losing or gaining. I don’t know how to maintain; never have. I always get caught up in the euphoria of losing and trying to get back to the 14 BMI I had before I developed bingeing problems, which is a road to nowhere except more pain, just in a weaker and more fragile body. Then, when I’m too ill to carry on, I ping back into bingeing mode and end up even heavier than I was to start with. Then there’s the fear that, if I’m not losing then I don’t have any room to manouvre and MUST be gaining if I slip up over even one calorie. It’s something I am struggling so much to get over, but the difference is that this time I am truly trying to beat this. Before the blog, I never would have. I would have just repeated the cycle over and over again. I just wish this damn dizziness would subside.

It’s not just about weight though: as mentioned in previous posts, I have a paranoia that I’m not fit enough or althletic enough. Half marathons were once a dream, an ultimate goal. Now, because I’m not doing them twice a week any more I’m scared that I’ll never be able to run that distance again. I’ve been caught up in reading marathon running blogs and forgotten that I’m not technically even supposed to be able to run more than a couple of miles without my back and joints giving out on me.

The way my body is now, there is a possibility that I might, just might be able to work on appreciating and accepting it more. Having loathed it my entire life, that’s progress. I know self-acceptance shouldn’t be conditional, but at a higher weight I just can’t do that. The problem is that the process of maintaining that body is fraught with complications. I’m not usually one for affirmations, but if I can work on giving my body a break having fought constantly with it for so long, then we all need to realise that there are little things we can appreciate about ourselves. Even if it’s just one tiny element, even if it’s not a physical trait, even if it’s just ‘hey, I like the way my eyelashes curl’ then it’s a start.

Thank goodness I don’t have Uni this morning and my essays are done…

Love you all

xoxox

07/12/09 ~ Recipe for Success / Recipe for Disaster

Unfortunately tonight I’m a little woozy, but I wanted to post because I haven’t in a while and have a few subjects I wanted to cover anyway. Besides which, I promised recipes and it’ll niggle at me for ages if I don’t deliver on them. Recently I have been getting less and less sleep. Every morning I wake up (or just open my eyes, if sleep hasn’t been forthcoming at all) and resolve not to get up. I’ll decide to lie in, get up later and make a huge breakfast with dried fruit and nut butter, then lounge around all day and do nothing. Breaking all of my rules, basically. But then I know how miserable that would make me, how my legs constantly feel grotesque as it is and the sense of gargantuan fatness only multiples the more I eat and the less I do. So I get up and run, then go to the gym on top of that, then walk, then lift weights, then go to pilates, all fitted around Uni. Last night I totally broke down because the thoughts of bingeing were so strong. I am proud that I fought them off but I just don’t know how much longer I can continue like this. Even maintaining my weight is such a daily struggle that I’m just wrung out. I’m so scared, I’m totally on the edge of just losing it, sitting around doing nothing but stuffing my face all day. All of the hard work I’ve done will be for nothing…that’s the terrifying thing about weight gain for me…it’s a LIFELONG battle. Years of pain and effort can be effaced in a few weeks.

At the gym today I was in a mirrored studio and had to restrain myself from crying for the entire Shape & Sculpt class I was attending. The new gym I’m at is mostly frequented by students, people my age or younger, with legs like toothpics. And yet they weren’t putting much effort into the class at all, where as I’d run 9.5 miles in the morning and then done 45 minutes on the elliptical, fifteen on the recumbant bike plus additonal weights and I was still pushing myself to the limit during the class. I hate to be so puerile but it just isn’t fair. Fine, I may eat too much…but NET my body only has about 1300 calories to work on, and that’s without all of the additional walking and pilates I do. What the heck do I have to do to be able to maintain a half-decent weight without killing myself? I’ve been dizzy, weak and shaky since lunchtime but tried to work through it…although I’m not sure how I didn’t faint while walking in the afternoon. Would’ve been an interesting sight at Uni…as if I don’t already come across as being screwed up enough.

I just can’t take much more of this…I have three options: continue doing this till I drop, try to halve the amount I eat or gain weight. I’ve said it before but I just don’t see those as viable choices…and no matter how many times I might be told that my weight doesn’t define me, I can’t believe that. It’s just the cornerstone of my life…I can’t go back to the higher weights I’ve been at, where I’m so uncomfortable in myself I’ll scratch huge marks into my thighs. Sometimes I wish I wasn’t such a coward and could just put all this to an end for good, because there really isn’t anything but this endless cycle of yo-yoing weight to look forward to. It’s always the same; I lose a little, can’t sustain it, binge and end up back as the recumbant blob that I was seemingly destined to be from the start.

In addition, I’ve been reading some new blogs (new to me at least) in which people are very obviously existing on a low calorie level and rationalising it by saying that they don’t exercise much, or that they might have spent a day on the couch. Even when I had to rest, I ate 1600kcals that day and that’s far more than any of these people are consuming. The comments to these posts disturb me even more, implying that these intakes are normal and eating more than that is ‘stuffing’ oneself. Tiny, meagre portions and few or no snacks don’t exactly seem normal to me. I suppose I’m just bitter, annoyed that I can’t subsist on so little food and struggle not to binge even when eating 2000kcals or more. But these posts truly make me feel disgusting. Fine, I shouldn’t read them but I find myself drawn to them, desperate for someone to point out that this kind of calorie intake isn’t right, especially for those who claim to be recovered and displaying models of what is now ‘healthy’ eating just because they might include foods like butter or cream in their diet. Those foods might be present but the quantities are so miniscule that it more than mediates that. Sometimes I feel like I’m in such a minority in believing that this is wrong, both in real life and online. But then again, I’m just a resentful, cynical fat cow who just wants everyone else to shovel in more food and ‘stuff’ themselves in order to make me feel better about my intake, yes?

Speaking of which…

Breakfast (Saturday):
1/2 cup oats, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, 1 scoop Vanilla Sun Warrior, banana

In ‘reviewing’ the Vanilla Sun Warrior I’d give it the same as the chocolate (8/10) because they taste almost identical and the nutritional stats are so similar. I really can’t distinguish much difference in flavour between the two apart from a *tiny* hint of cacao in the chocolate. Both flavours are slightly oversweet but I’m thinking of buying some dark cocoa powder to undercut that sweetness and taking my chances with the caffeine. There are 10 more calories in the chocolate flavour (80 as opposed to 70 per 22g scoop) and 1g or sugar as opposed to none, yet the protein content is the same (15g) so I suppose perhaps the vanilla should get an extra .5 of a point for that?
Lunch (Saturday):
Home-Made Red Pepper ‘Hummus’ (just chickpeas and roasted pepper blended) sandwich on GF bread.
Fruit & Veggie Plate with leftover hummus…

Snack (Saturday):

Grapes and a Nakd 30g Apple Pie Mini

Dinner (Sat):

The kabocha is back…thankfully I ‘limited’ myself to half a squash this time. I stupidly ate the skin though…so tasty but so fibrous. It’s with watercress and lentil/mushroom/carrot stew.
Kabocha love…

Snack (Sat):

68g Coco Loco Nakd Bar

Saturday also involved 90 minutes of Nell McAndrew’s Peak Energy DVD, 2hrs 15 minutes at the gym, walking four miles, weights and an hour of pilates. Hence the reason I’m so exhausted every.single.day. And then I ran 13.5 miles on Sunday morning in 1:47:58. Oy.

Breakfast (Sun):

1/3 cup oats, 1 cup rice milk, 1 cup pumpkin, cinnamon, 1 scoop Chocolate Jay Robb Rice Protein, Banana

I still haven’t managed to locate brown rice flakes yet and really don’t want to use white, so I’m sticking with the dangerous oats for now. I’m getting away with only minor discomfort at the moment so touch wood it stay’s that way. I have ordered some quinoa flakes to try though.

Sunday’s Dinner:

Pinto Bean, Sweet Potato, Chestnut & Carrot Sofrito, Steamed Courgette

Today’s Lunch:

Usual chickpea salad with more Kabocha…sans skin this time.

Heaven on a plate…half steamed, half roasted as always.

And here are the recipes, finally. The requests I get are mostly for the lentil bologneses and my tagine, so I’ll post the response I gave to the wonderful Emma of Lunchie Munchies, who co-incidentally asked for just these three such things:

Due to my IBS I have to stick to quite a plain range of foods which would probably seem boring to anyone else’s palate, so I’ve included both the combinations I’d use for someone with a working digestive system and the modifications which I make:

I use two recipes for the lentil bolognese and lentil and apricot sauce that I
seem to live on recently ; )

I’ve included both of them below, but because of my intolerances I’ve made a
few modifications which I’ll mention in brackets:

Lentil & Apricot Sauce
Serves 3-4

200g / 8oz red lentils
900ml water
1 medium onion, chopped (I leave this out as I’m allergic to onion)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp garlic, crushed (again, I omit this)
300ml creamed tomatoes
125g apricots, halved or quartered depending on how chunky you want the
mixture to be
Two vegetable stock cubes, crumbled (I leave out these ~ I hate strong
flavours and most people would find what I cook quite bland, so I’d suggest
that you use these)
salt & pepper to taste

1.) Place lentils in water and creamed tomatoes. Half cover and bring to the
boil. Boil rapidly for ten minutes, then cover and simmer gently for a further
ten minutes (minimum)
2.) Gently fry the onion in the oil for five minutes (I just stick the oil in
with the lentils as I don’t use onion or garlic)
3.) Add the onion, garlic, apricots and stock cubes to the pan. Cover and
simmer gently for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure the lentils
don’t stick. Season.

I just make the full recipe and freeze leftover portions : )

Lentil Bolognese

Serves 6

1 onion, chopped (I leave this out)
2 garlic cloves, crushed (and this!)
2 carrots, coarsely grated
3 tbsp olive oil
115g/4oz red lentils
2 tbsp tomato purée
1×400g can chopped tomatoes or 1×500g carton creamed tomatoes
450ml stock (I just use water)
1 tsp dried marjoram
salt & pepper

1.) In a large saucepan, gently fry the onion, garlic and carrots in the oil
for about five minutes, until they’re soft (I just fry the carrots)
2.) Add the lentils, tomatoes, tomato purée, stock, marjoram and seasoning.
3.) Bring the mixture to the boil then partially cover with a lid and simmer
for 25 minutes until thick and soft.

The chickpea tagine is just a lot of ingredients chucked in a pan and there isn’t much method to it: chickpeas, creamed tomatoes (passata), cumin, ground coriander, paprika and cinnamon (heavy on the cinnamon if you’re like me and love it to bits!), finely sliced carrot and cherry tomatoes, boiled and simmered on a very low heat for at least an hour.

***ETA If you have more self-control than I do then you might like to add 25g of dates to the mixure at the very end to keep them whole as it really makes a lovely difference. I used to do that but then stopped buying dates owing to the fact that a 350g packet would barely last three days with me around***

The agave roasted aubergenes are sliced quite thickly and marinated overnight in a mixture of (this is for one medium aubergene): 1 tablespoon sesame oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp soy sauce (I use gluten-free) and 1 tablespoon of agave nectar. Then they’re roasted in the oven or grilled.

Night all

xoxox

04/12/09~ One Week

One week. Only one week to go until the end of the semester and then I’m free. Temporarily. And I am going to block the monumental amount of work I have to do over the holidays out of my mind for now. When I first started the semester I honestly didn’t think I would make it to this point and there have been five separate occasions when I was within a hair’s breadth of quitting. I thought I’d absolutely hate the course and the people on it, and initially I did. If the timetable had stayed as full as it was at the beginning of the course, there’s no doubt I would have continued to loathe it and eventually given up. Fortunately, the hours became more sane and I found myself quite enjoying the company of some of my fellow postgrad research students…granted, they are both men in their late forties but it seems like I just don’t have the capacity to engage with anyone who isn’t middle-aged in my current environment. Obviously this is in an academic rather than a social setting but it’s an improvement on my undergraduate years when I’d barely converse with anyone at all unless asked a direct question. So progress, of sorts. Even when I was a toddler I was already middle-aged myself, running away from the other children to talk to the adults.

I’m also on track with my essays, which relieves some of the pressure for these last seven days. So, logically I should be happy and looking forward to the break. The problem is that the Christmas period is a nightmare for me. Every year it’s been the same: I’m so monumentally bored because all of the classes I usually go to are off for two weeks and the gym closes over the xmas period, the weather is usually terrible so it restricts my exercise options and I end up bingeing because another new year is approaching and I can’t stand the prospect of it being the same endless, repetitive cylcle of weight gain and loss in the same old routine that has defined my life for eight years now. I only have two options: to eat what I want (nut butters, dried fruit, etc.) and exercise when I want (shorter runs, less gym time) and gain weight, therefore making me miserable, or to eat on a calorie controlled basis and resent everything I’m having, not really enjoying it and wanting to binge on my Dad’s chocolate supply and Bran Flakes every minute of the day and exercising until I’m ready to srop, thus still making me miserable but a little slimmer.

I have such a set routine and I can’t do anything at all outside of it: I’d never be able to go on holiday or even go anywhere for more than a short afternoon because I have to fit in a certain amount of exercise. Logic would dictate that one day would not make a difference, but it always does. If I even slack off a little bit, it shows on the scales. How this is possible I don’t know: it takes an excess 3500 kcals to gain or lose a pound, or so says science. Yet I can gain a lot when it’s physically impossible to have eaten that much extra and conversely sometimes lose when I haven’t accrued that much of a deficit. Would I still exercise if I didn’t have to watch my weight? Yes, because I like to run…I just wouldn’t do as much as I do now and wouldn’t have to be constantly afraid of doing a little less one day or even a couple of days without having to cut down to a miserable level.

I was thinking about it on the train on Wednesday…the first memories I had of hating myself and my body had nothing to do with weight and started when I was five. Yes, five. There was a climbing frame at the park where I used to play…my Mum would take my down there and I’d watch all of the other kids navigating the monkey bars with ease, swinging themselves from bar to bar and from one end of the frame to the other. When I tried, I couldn’t even move between two bars. I’d always fall off. I remember being frustrated, angry and upset. I couldn’t stand being weaker than everyone else. I would pinch my arms afterwards, crying because my body was so useless. This continued all through primary and secondary school: initially I loved sports, but because I wasn’t any good at them and had no athletic ability I was picked on relentlessly and always left until last when it came to selecting teams (though I was so ‘weird’ I probably wouldn’t have been picked even if I was Usain Bolt). I wasn’t inactive, but I just wasn’t athletic in any way. It infuriated me, and eventually I became so disillusioned that I exercised less, ate more and became even tubbier and more unfit. I wanted to be althletic more than anything in the world.

This is, in my opinion, what drives me to run other than weight management. I never, EVER want to be that weak, pathetic kid again. I went back to the park last year and even though it looked utterly bizarre and my feet were only just off the ground I swung from one end of that frame to the other multiple times. It didn’t make me feel much better about myself though…it just made me want to kick my younger, useless self in the face multiple times for still being a part of me and torturing me endlessly with endless food obsessions. No matter what I have done in my life, even when I’ve broken out of my routine and been stupidly busy, all I have ever looked forward to is the next time I am going to eat. How the hell can people ‘forget’ to have lunch or only eat three times in a day? I don’t know how to do that and I never have.

Backtracking to Wednesday night, I did have a small snack before going to bed…

Snack:

Packet of Chocolate Outback Animals and a cup of decaf tea with Rice Dream (Calcium Fortified)

50s B-Movie: Attack of the Monster Mutant Cookie. Apparently, a hippo, koala and kangaroo have bred and produced this interesting fusion…a Hipkoroo, perhaps?

Since my stomach had stopped playing silly buggers Thursday morning I felt the urge to run…but the dark made me wait until after breakfast. Thankfully, I wasn’t at Uni in the morning so I did 80 minutes of my Nell McAndrew Maximum Impact DVD and then ate this:

Breakfast (Thursday):
Smoothie of 250ml Rice Dream, 1/2 Banana and a Scoop of:


Product Review: Jay Robb Rice Protein~Chocolate:I was very impressed with my first taste of Mr. Jay (keep it clean, people). While I don’t find him as sexy as some other bloggers do, I like his chocolate protein powder very much. It blended into the milk very well without leaving any chalky chunks and had a subtle cocoa flavour with only a hint of stevia taste. With a more intense chocolate hit than Sun Warrior and 24g of protein per (larger) scoop, it’s really difficult to fault it.
10/10
And…


Product Review ~ Choc Chip Trail Mix Pure Bar:One word: eew. Very eloquent of me but this was just awful. One bite was enough. This was dry and totally flavourless apart from the relentless bitterness of the cacao nibs. Inedible for me. Now I have a box of eleven and no-one to eat them…
0/10

Since this was so vile I replaced it with:



Product Review: Chocolate Brownie Pure BarThis was a distinct improvement on the last one, but still nothing special. The texture just seemed off somehow, not particularly dense or soft and velvety like a Larabar but not firm either…just bendy. The chunks of nut were a little rubbery too and it seemed almost chalky/gravelly from the rice protein addition. Taste-wise, there was a nice level of sweetness constrasting with dark, rich chocolate but it took a while for said cocoa element to come through. Initially, I thought it was quite bland. I suppose it tastes a bit like a cross between an Organic Food Bar Kids Chocolate Brownie Kerrunch and a Chocolate Coconut Chew Larabar, but slightly inferior to both and not a patch on the Coco Loco Nakd Bar or Pulsin’ Coffee Brownie.
7/10

Overall, I haven’t been very impressed with Pure Bars. They certainly don’t compare to Larabars, Organic Food Bars or even Nakd Bars and have a gritty texture that just isn’t very palatable. I’d still be intrigued to try the Wild Blueberry and Cherry Cashew flavours though…maybe next year’s birthday?
I then ran 13.5 miles in 1:44:14…and it would have been sub-1:43 if I hadn’t been stuck for over a minute waiting to cross a duel carriageway. Hmph. I feel like I’m cheating if I stop my watch though, so I just let the time run…my house may be in the middle of nowhere but there are several busy roads about five miles from it. I suppose that enforced ‘rest day’ did me good…not psychologically though!

***IF ANYONE WANTS THE CHOC CHIP TRAIL MIX PURE BARS JUST LEAVE ME A COMMENT, TASTES VARY AND I’D RATHER SOMEONE ELSE HAD THEM THAN THEY JUST WENT TO WASTE. BE WARNED THOUGH; THEY ARE A COUPLE OF MONTHS OUT OF DATE AS THEY WERE ON CLEARANCE FROM THE WEBSITE MY MUM BOUGHT THEM FROM…BUT I’VE EATEN LARABARS THREE MONTHS OUT OF DATE AND THEY HAVE BEEN FINE…BUT I’D EAT A LARABAR EVEN IF IT WAS COVERED IN MOULD…***This morning I ran 9 miles and then went to the gym for a while (45 minutes on the elliptical and 25 on the static bike)…in between the two I finished my last essay and ate this:

Breakfast (Today):
Whole Earth Cornflakes with Banana and Vanilla Protein Shake poured over the top
(which consisted of 350ml Rice Dream and a scoop of Vanilla Jay Robb):

Product Review: Jay Robb Rice Protein ~ Vanilla:I’m trying to give this a fair review, as it wasn’t mixed with banana like the chocolate one was so obviously the stevia’ness’ was more pronounced. Somehow this seemed chalkier than the chocolate one and the vanilla sweetness was just a bit too sickly. Still, the nutritional stats were faultless and it might be better in porridge…I think I’ll reserve judgement on this one.
7/10
Yeah, so this breakfast really didn’t work…but I was pushed for time and just ate it anyway. I miss my dried fruit/nut butters. Oy. If only I could be sensible with them. At least it had 30g+ of protein, which is more than I usually get in a day.

I’ve just eaten a chickpea stir-fry with quinoa and since I bought this books to read on Wednesday, I think I’ll turn to them to distract myself from thoughts of overeating…lets see how long that works for.

Now that’s my kind of reading material. The spooky shadow fits the atmosphere nicely.

Nighty night

xoxox

***ETA: I’ve had several requests for certain recipes and will get round to posting them soon, I promise! It’s just my eyes are totally boggled right now and I can’t focus on the computer screen for much longer. But I haven’t forgotten and I’m so flattered that anyone thinks my interesting creations are worthy of making!***

01/12/09~ Deflated…and Many Reviews

The last two days have been pretty stressful. Not by anyone else’s standards I’m sure. Most people have to cope with holding down full time jobs, juggling work and family, desperately trying to find a spare half an hour in a day just to squeeze in some exercise or relaxation for themselves. I am under no illusions: I have a damn easy life. I have parents who love and support me. I have a scholarship to a highly accredited course and don’t have to work in order to put myself through a postgrad qualification. I have enough time to fit everything in if I don’t mope around in a despressed stupor for half of the day. And all of this just makes me even more frustrated that I find it difficult to cope and function. Perhaps if I had legitimate reasons for crying every.single.day I wouldn’t be so ashamed of myself for doing it. Fine, there are essay deadlines aplenty and a presentation I have to make tomorrow, which incidentally I am shaking like a leaf over, but that’s just a part of life that everyone else has to get on with, usually in addition to far more problematic issues on top of that.

Post-race highs never last very long and the negativity started creeping in the minute I saw my placing. The fact that 50 odd women placed ahead of me brought me back down to Earth with a bump. No-one has as much free time to train as I do. These women will have families, jobs…their lives will not revolve around training the way mine does. And yet, even with those obstacles, they still manage to beat me. Really, it’s a metaphor for life where I’m concerned. That led me to get upset over my pictures, to start criticizing my legs in particular and questioning why I run at all. To be fit? Yep, but not to the extent that those other ladies are…and the recent issues over my back prove that perhaps I’m not as fit as a thought I was. To keep my weight in check? I still have to do a ridiculous amount just to maintain, even though I’ve cut back to a caloric level that would see most other people maintain with a reasonable level of exercise. In terms of appearance, no one ever noticed I was underweight in the past until my BMI dropped into the 15s. Even then, people tend to estimate my weight as being higher than it is due to the shape and size of my legs. It took being severely underweight and for my top half to look utterly skeletal before I even saw any change in them. Where am I going with this? Not sure. I know it shouldn’t bother me, I rationally realise that there’s more to life than agonizing over the chunkiness of one’s thighs, I know I should be happy that I have legs at all. Unfortunately those thoughts don’t seem to help.

Perhaps the source of all this is the increase in aforementioned stress, in combination with the ice-rink the pavements have become. Running in the dark on sheet ice isn’t clever, but it’s the only way I can fit it in. Yesterday and the day before I’ve been so close to falling over multiple times…it takes all of the joy out of running when you’re constantly scared and because I have to slow down I end up getting up even earlier than usual. To be honest, I’m sick of it. Have I mentioned enough times that I hate the winter? Hate is actually not a strong enough word.

There have been some positives to take away from yesterday and today. Firstly, I received a lovely present and card from Katie

Positive No.1:

This picture doesn’t do the gorgeous necklace she sent justice. I fully intend on wearing it tomorrow and thinking of how strong and brave she is when I’m doing my presentation.
Katie’s card is the beautiful blue one. My Uncle’s card is next to it on the left…
I love how the card is entitled ‘Minnie’, just like my own adorable feline friend.

Positive No:2:




Product Review ~ Coconut Cream Pie Larabar:Part of my present from Aisha, this bar was my joint favourite with the PB cookie when I tried it last year. It seems that in a year my tastes have changed a little, because while it was still delicious, there are other flavours of Larabar which surpass it in my opinion. I really don’t remember it being so incredibly sweet with nothing to counterbalance that sweetness. The texture is perfect though; soft and fudge-like with none of the whole nuts which spoil other Larabars such as the Apple Pie for me. It really was very rich and decadent in taste with a strong, sugary coconut flavour (though obviously those are natural sugars from the dates in the ingredients!) I couldn’t really taste either cashews or almonds though. It’s a little high in saturated fats and low in protein in terms of nutrition, though the jury’s still out on how damaging fats from coconut really are. Overall, I still like it and my love for coconut will never diminish, but I prefer it when it’s paired with something to undercut the sweetness, such as the bitter cocoa in the Chocolate Coconut Chew variety.
8.5/10

After dodging pavement ice and then being soaked by freezing rain on Monday, I knew I needed something to boost my flagging immune system:


I mixed the Amazing Grass Kids sachet Aisha sent me with water.
Mid-swirl…

Product Review: Amazing Grass Kids Superfood ~ Wild Berry Flavour:
I wasn’t even expecting something with so many ingredients and ‘grass’ in the name to be palatable but as this is intended for kids, it was actually reasonable in taste. The berry flavour was highly artificial and it reminded me of the sugary squash I used to chug as a child (Robinson’s tooth rotters!) but it didn’t taste ‘grassy’ at all and I certainly didn’t have to choke it down. For something with so few calories and so many nutrients I really can’t complain, but I did notice that it didn’t amalgamate with the liquid too well and I ended up with a layer of Amazing Grit and the bottom of the glass ;)
6.5/10

To Complete this Berry Themed Breakfast:

1/2 cup oats, 1 cup rice milk, sultanas, cinnamon, banana, crumbled 30g Berry Cheeky Nakd Bar

Positive No.3:

My parents ignored my ‘no birthday presents’ (aside from chiropractor appointments!) and ordered two flavours of Sun Warrior, two flavours of Jay Robb Vegan Rice Protein and two flavours of Pure Bar (Chocolate Brownie and Choc Chip Trail Mix) for me. While I appreciated the gesture so much and am obviously elated to be able to have these things, I was left feeling immensely guilty and spoilt. I really do not deserve my parents. I am sure that there are lovely, wonderful, non screw-up children with awful parents and if fate was just then we’d have to swap.

Dinners (Sunday and Monday):

Chickpea, carrot and tomato tagine with green beans and brown rice/quinoa respectively

Breakfast (Today):

1/2 cup oats, 1 1/2 cups rice milk, cinnamon, 1 scoop Chocolate Sun Warrior, banana

Product Review~Chocolate Sun Warrior Vegan Rice Protein Powder:
Another example of my tastes changing: this time last year I would have given this protein powder 10/10, no question. But again, it’s the sweetness of it which makes it lose marks although there’s no sugar involved, only stevia. As rice protein goes, this is at the top of the pile with no chalkyness at all once mixed into porridge or blended in a smoothie with a banana and rice milk. The chocolatey flavour isn’t very pronounced and certainly isn’t for dark chocolate lovers, but this versitile protein powder packs a huge punch of 15g of protein and 80 calories per scoop, which is included buried somewhere in the massive tub of powder.
8/10

Lunch:
Agave roasted aubergenes and pepper, carrot, tomato…blob of home-made ‘not-hummus’.
Plus the ultimate sandwich of two thick slices of GF bread, not-hummus and aubergenes. The hummus is just chickpeas blended with a little of their juice and coriander…tahini and garlic both bother my IBS. Most people would find it plain and boring but I loved it…it’s a standing joke in my house that I’ll turn into a chickpea with the amount of them I get through.

Snack:

Pink Lady apple, grapes

Dinner:


Last of the lentil & apricot bolognese I froze in portions months back, corn spaghetti, peas & green beans.

I think I might be coming down with something…I’m currently nursing a hot water bottle again and tearing my hair out over the fact that the brief for one of my essays has been changed by the module tutor and I may have to re-write the lot. In a week. I guess I won’t be sleeping much on that basis.

P.S All of the comments I received on my last post were incredibly flattering and, similar to my parents, I really don’t deserve such great support from so many fantastic people. Huge hugs to the blog world.

xoxoox


Memory Lane: Beyond Bananas (4)

27/11/09~ Chink of Light

Let me prefix this by saying that I’m more than a little sleepy, so my thoughts may not be very lucid. What am I thinking, are they ever!? Anyway, after finally finishing that essay (insomnia can be highly useful when my eyes decide to co-operate) and narrowly avoiding a migraine, I was presented today with the task of doing small group presentations to class, which weren’t being marked but we’re being watched in a somewhat hawk-like manner the entire time so there’s always a certain amount of pressure to ‘perform’ to a high standard. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been. Group work is never going to be something I view with anything other than terror and revulsion but at least on this course people tend to pull their weight and contribute…apart from one of the older part-timers who barely said a word and left everything to myself and two other people. Grr. Anyway, it went quite well…although I was guilty of a little blog reading in the preparation period to calm me down. I know, I’m such a rebel, using the Uni’s wireless and all. I’m just so anxious to prove that I’m not the dimwit my last essays might suggest that I am. I put so much into this essay (it’s worth a higher percentage of the final module grade than the last one) and I’ll be devestated if it turns out to be another failure…it really will prove that I’ve ‘lost it’ academically. But everything crossed it will be okay.

Thursday was difficult. I don’t think I’ve done so little in a day for quite a while, even though it’s probably more ‘normal’ than what I usually do. I was fortunate enough to have the entire day off Uni and I spent most of it going to various appointments. I had to have yet more bloodwork done and came out of the nurse’s room looking paler than a Twilight vampire (not a fan…read the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice for a much edgier slice of contemporary vampiric action…plus she can actually structure a sentence, which is always a plus) but there was no time to collect my thoughts as I was off to seek a second (and third) opinion on my back. I hadn’t asked for anything for my birthday this year (haven’t for the last…um, five!) but my Mum said that I could pay to see both another phsyiotherapist and a chiropractor. Odd birthday present, I know. The point is that I always used to take the opinion of one practicioner as gospel and never question it. After seeing several bloggers (Caitlin and Megan in the past, among others) be strong, independent-minded women and question medical advice, I set out to discover whether the situation really was as bleak as my current physio had me believe.

This lady is great at her job, but she always paints a very bleak picture of what’s going on. According to her, I shouldn’t be able to run more than five miles and she nearly had apperplexy when I ran my first 10K nearly three years ago. She is also a private physiotherapist, so it’s not technically in her interest either that I stop seeing her or go to a chiropractor for treatment. Physio number two had a somewhat different view of matters. There is an element of risk to the disc alignment in my lower back but no more so than there has always been. She thought that several things might have pushed it to the point where it’s at; recently starting to swim, which causes me to tense all the muscles in my back as I’m always slightly scared in water, using the rowing machine at the gym which repeatedly jars it, sitting for more than I’ve ever done in years at Uni and at home doing research (my request for an orthopoedic chair is still pending) and doing too much high-impact activity on top of running. I saw her post-chiropractor visit which was both enlightening and left me feeling a little nauseous afterwards. Cracky-bone noises always make me queasy, and some of the clicking I was doing was like someone cracking their knuckles while hooked up to a massive speaker system. However, it was more than worth it. I walked out of there with minimal pain. I honestly didn’t think it would be possible from just one session and I had another one earlier this evening. Fingers crossed, it’s the best it’s felt in years.

So basically I’ve been doing 2-2 1/2 hours of yoga and pilates since Wednesday and becoming very well accquianted (haha, I typed ‘equated’ first. Told you I was tired) with the elliptical trainer at the gym. The point is that physio no.2 did not prohibit me from running. Granted, she said 60 miles a week was really pushing my luck and it would only be a matter of time before something really bad did happen, but Wednesday’s episode was most likely caused by a ‘shifting’ disc and the pain which followed it more of an aftershock.

This has taught me three things:
1.) I have to be more active in fighting my compulsive nature. For me, the world works in absolutes. There is no shade of grey. If I wasn’t trying to build up to 100 miles a week, I was nothing. Clearly this is a ludicrous goal. My version of resting has sucked after only two days, but it has been worth it to see improvements in my spinal alignment so quickly. I would never change anything in my ‘routine’ before simply by virtue of it being routine…I can’t afford to do that. If something is hurting me, pushing through the pain won’t cut it…I might like pain, I might like to punish myself for being such a, pardon my French, screw-up, but it’s not an acceptable behaviour.
2.) I need to stop being a doormat. It’s not a surprise, but I felt guilty even asking for a second opinion. I am paying these people to help me…it’s not a crime to question what somebody says or does.
3.) Running does not make you a God. It is a fantastic self-esteem booster but the way that the woman from Body Balance bragged about her achievements and set out to make everyone else feel inferior to her was not okay. I am no better than anyone who can’t even run a metre…and equally so, she is to be admired for her time but condemned for her attitude. Bolstering your own self esteem by eroding that of others is something only bullies do. No matter what happens, I will never use running to elevate myself in that way, never at the expense of others. It’s a fine line between espousing your love for running and preaching; showing off as she was.

So in the long term there’s no more Body Jam, swimming or rowing for me. The sitting thing is really irritating me but there’s not a lot I can do about that. As for running…well, I’ll just have to wait and see. Apparently, I can give the Thirsk 10 miles a shot as long as I don’t run tomorrow. I have to have two full days a week where I don’t run at all. I’ve been looking forward to this race for so long and now that I am pain-free I’m determined to try it, even if I have to walk some of the way. Hopefully the drama of the past two days was partially caused by my panicking and the injury wasn’t as bad as I thought. Please let that be the case!

Breakfast:
Another day, another bowl of cornflakes, rice milk, sultanas and banana. I have decided that Whole Earth’s brand are my favourites now…lighter and more delicate than Doves’ Farm. Hey, when you eat as limited a diet as I do due to IBS, you learn to become a conoisseur of the foods you can tolerate. My miraculous food reference last night was to being able to eat a Nakd bar with no ill effects…until five minutes’ after the post, when the old bloating and cramp kicked in again. Spoke too soon :(

Dried Fruit = nemesis. Dried fruit and nut butter are the two foods I just cannot control myself around. Other things I will get sick of…these two foods I can eat uncontrollably for hours. I could probably polish off a jar of nut butter and a bag of raisins, sultanas, figs or dates a day if I let myself. I didn’t lower my calories in the end, as the potential of bingeing was just too dangerous. I’m still worried about ballooning from this though…

…but then this arrived to distract me! I was so happy to see it when I got home.

Aisha sent me a wonderful birthday present (I’ll just pretend it wasn’t birthday related!) and I have to say a huge, huge thank you! Her choices were spot on ~ my two favourite flavours of Larabar! And I can’t wait to try the Amazing Grass Kids mix. The paint brushes will be put to excellent use, as (as you will see below) my current brushes are looking a little dog-eared and sorry for themselves. Man, it’s going to be tough to save those Larabars for tomorrow and Sunday ;)

Yep, I keep them in a mug.

Hope everyone had a faboulous Friday and is looking forward to the week-end :)

26/11/09~ Love you and Leave You

This is going to have to be a super-quick post because I’m frantically scrambling to finalise an essay of mine and I get the feeling it’s going to be an all-nighter before I’m even vaguely happy with it. However, I couldn’t just take a leave of absence without thanking everyone who has commented to me from the bottom of my heart. Yet again I have been pulled out of a dark place by the wisdom and rationality of my fellow bloggers. I love you all, and I mean that sincerely. Huge apologies for the temporary lull in my reading and commenting. I can’t wait to catch up tomorrow though.

I should be back either tomorrow or Saturday with an injury update (hopefully a positive one) and some thoughts on the whole exercise trap / reflections on my experience. One thing I can safely say though, is that I gave dairy a shot again for today…or part of today, and come hell or high water I will find a vegan way of getting my calcium levels up, I swear. Perhaps watching PETA videos that I’ve never been able to bring myself to watch today wasn’t the best idea, but I had to face the reality of what I was being asked to do. It boggles my mind that for four years I never had any problems but in the fifth year of my veganism I have had four dairy-eating episodes due to one reason or another. But every time I re-incorporate it, even for one meal, it just re-affirms why I don’t want to be a part of consuming it, ever.

Melodrama aside, there have been some curious developments on the IBS front too. No, it’s not gross, promise…more some things that I thought were no-nos suddenly seem to be okay. It’s utterly bizarre…but I’ll get to that tomorrow.

Hugs to everyone and happy Thanksgiving to all US bloggers (and any UK ones who like to celebrate the holiday. Or who just happen to like pumpkin.)

<3

22/11/09~(Mis)Representation

So I realised that in my last post I may have given the impression (indirectly) that my poor protein intake and problems with calcium absorption have some relation to my vegan lifestyle. This couldn’t be further from the truth: for almost everyone it is perfectly possible to maintain an adequate protein and calcium intake as a vegan. The Vegan Society has some great factsheets on the subject.

My issues are so complicated it’s a joke. My IBS complicates matters hugely, as I can’t eat green leafy vegetables aside from spinach and watercress. I can’t tolerate tofu, tempeh, dried figs, tahini or any of the other vegan calcium sources. That’s why I cook my oats in rice milk and try to incorporate the calcium fortified Rice Dream into other things too (i.e polenta). My inability to absorb calcium is linked to other health problems: I’m supposed to get 300% of the RDA, but even so it’s a total shock and surprise that my levels were that bad. I’ve got the dairy-eating brigade on my back about preventing osteoparosis by the time I’m thirty, but they seem to have overlooked the fact that dairy isn’t the best calcium source anyway: the animal protein inhibits absorption and countries with a low dairy intake (such as China and Japan) have lower rates of osteoparosis than the dairy-chugging West. Shame doctors don’t seem to understand that, though.

The same goes for protein: the only protein-dense vegan foods I can eat are chickpeas. Lentils and beans I have occasionally but they upset my stomach too…I have them for variety more than anything. Sadly, I don’t have the money to purchase protein powders such as Sun Warrior, which would help me hugely. Thanks a lot to HM Customs for slapping a £100 import charge on it on top of shipping fees. Anyone without my IBS and wheat/gluten/most soy intolerance could easily meet their protein requirements as a vegan.

Sometimes I feel that I shouldn’t post food at all or mention veganism, as I am a terrible role model for it and give the impression that vegans are malnourished, disordered in their eating and, well…crazy. I don’t want anyone to associate veganism with negative connotations, however subliminal they may be. I want people to know how wonderful veganism is, ethically and in terms of nutrition, yet I still struggle to maintain my own veganism (five years with a few ‘slips’ of insanity) not because I’m deprived but due to a combination of my IBS and disordered eating patterns.

In other news, my right hip (the old problem was with the left one ~ it’s not the same hip that was injured a while ago) is improving *fingers crossed* with some intensive physiotherapy on Friday. Apparently, it’s not my hip at all but a nerve running down from my spine. Scoliosis strikes again. Also, it’s unlikely to be a running/overuse injury, but a sciatica-related issue caused by sitting for long periods typing endless essays and spending vast amounts of time on my bum, compressing my spine while doing research. I wonder if the NHS will pay for orthopoedic chairs? Doubtful.

Breakfast (Friday):
1/2 cup oats, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, raisins, chestnuts, banana
I’ve been attempting to live without nut butters, hence the strange oat toppings recently. I always overdo the portion size on nut butters and with the uncertainty of the winter frosts looming I just don’t think it’s safe to have them in the house as potential binge triggers. I do miss them though…whole nuts just aren’t the same :( The problem here was that, though chestnuts are naturally sweet, pairing them with raisins and banana made them taste strangely savoury and bland by comparison.


Snack (Friday):



Product Review: Whole Earth Soy Crisps ~ PaprikaYou’d think I would be a seasoned label reader by now, but apparently not. Despite taking a photo of the back of the packet I totally missed the fact that these have onion powder in them. It’s there above me, in black and white (well, yellow) and as a result it’s difficult to produce an unbiased review of something that gave me four hours worth of acid reflux to deal with. Never mind. When I was a child, among the many unhealthy snacks I liked to consume (away from my Mum’s health-conscious eye…boy, do I wish I’d listened to her more then) were Walkers Barbeque Flavoured Crisps. These taste exactly like them: smoky, slightly spicy and a little ‘junky’. Though these aren’t full of crap like the Walkers version and the lovely, airy texture of the Salt & Vinegar flavour is still there, I wasn’t crazy about the artificial element of the taste, despite there being no suspect ingredients. My tastes have definitely changed, thank goodness. Even without the aforementioned onion being added, I still much prefer the Salt & Vinegar flavour. These are still a great source of protein though ~ 8.7g for 110 calories really can’t be beat in terms of a crisp-based snack.
6/10

Newly replenished bar stash…I really shouldn’t eat these as the gluten in the raw oats makes me feel as though I’ve swallowed a beach ball, but I have no other bar options and can’t afford to keep ordering online. I also don’t like baked goods, even gluten-free ones and haven’t got a powerful enough blender to make home-made bars. I do love the taste of the Nakd Bars though. It’s the same with oatmeal…after two instances with no negative reaction it’s causing me stomach problems again. I can’t live on cornflakes every morning for breakfast and I’m afraid to try other grains in case they don’t work and I binge because they’re unsatisfying, or that they end up being too high calorie. I suppose at least aforementioned beach-ball effect makes it very difficult to think about bingeing. I curse my digestive system sometimes.
There’s more…Nakd Minis

Dinner (Friday):
Full serving of polenta (made with rice milk), peas and spinach in tomato sauce, nutritional yeast

Snack (Friday):

The very last Raw Organic Food Bar. I feel somewhat ambivalent about them all being gone…on the one hand I was a little sick of them after eating 32 in five weeks, but at least they were gluten free and didn’t mess with my stomach. Usual 9 miles and DVD craziness for exercise.

Breakfast (Saturday):

Doves Farm Cornflakes, rice milk, banana, sultanas

Snack (Saturday):

It’s back…Coco Loco Nakd Bar. My poor tum went a little insane after this. Twas tasty though. Saturday included biking 14 miles, gym and pilates.

Breakfast (Today):
2/3 cup oats, 1 1/3 cups rice milk, cinnamon, raisins, banana


I really don’t learn. While it was a delicious way to refuel after a 13.5 mile run, I am still nursing another Watermelon-sized stomach. Bleh. I wish I could just eat normally. Then again, don’t we all?

Hope everyone is having a great Sunday.

<3>

19/11/09~ Wreck

I’m becoming quite the master of one-word post titles, no? I don’t know whether that’s symptomatic of my lethargic state of mind lately (um, it’s a polite phraseology which basically means ‘I’m lazy’) or just that my customary verbosity has taken a holiday…where titles are concerned at the very least. Actually it’s becoming difficult to formulate my thoughts into a post at all…not so much Bloggers’ block as being unable to write anything even vaguely coherent. Clearly, this also applies to my academic work.

I’ll elaborate further: basically, the marks I received for my first two essays broke my heart. I know that sounds horribly melodramatic, but bear in mind that academic achievement is the only validation I have that I am not completely insane. If my marks are high, then I can somehow pass my ridiculous brain off as being a reflection of ‘tortured genius’ or something similarly arrogant. Without my top grades, I am just another nut. Sorry to be so glib, but the last part of my identity that I wasn’t utterly ashamed of disappeared on Wednesday afternoon. Granted, they weren’t bad in the sense of failing my Masters, but they weren’t anywhere near the standard that I’m used to. Perhaps it’s unsurprising; my heart really isn’t in this course at all and I’m still pining for an art degree, but I still put in a decent amount of effort. That was just the first in a series of events which left me feeling utterly despairing.

The other three are as follows:
1.) My hair is now coming out in clumps the size of furballs when I brush it. At this rate I’ll end up bald and with my face shape I’ll look like a shaved egg.
2.) My bone density has worstened since last year. Apparently my calcium levels are rock bottom too, which I don’t understand as I take a supplement and drink calcium fortified rice milk.
3.) My right hip has officially died. It hurts to do practically anything but I’m pushing through the pain. I know this is stupid, I know it’s counterproductive but I don’t have the willpower to eat less to compensate for any lack of activity. I either rest now and gain weight, or push it to the point of collapse and also gain weight. It’s a choice between fat, fatter or fattest and that isn’t a damn choice at all. I’d have to eat <1200 calories to compensate for the lack of activity and there’s no way I can do that without bingeing.

17/11/09~Bland

Oh my…it feels so odd to be posting without a specific ‘purpose’. It feels even more disconcerting not to be able to impart any incidents of high drama or emotional upheaval. The weak so far has been, as the title suggests, bland. It’s a case of same old running (though I still love it!), gym, pilates, weights, essay writing, essay feedback, presentation-compiling, hours of academic discussion. I don’t mind it as much as I did when I first started the course, but I still get the disillusioning sense that I’m ticking along through life and wasting it. What I would like to do and/or how I can find that sense of fulfilment that I lack is so intangible that I have absolutely no idea what I need to change or do, or how I can be proactive in making something of my life. But I won’t dwell on those thoughts because then my brain starts coming out with the ‘life is pointless’ sentiments it’s so fond of and other thoughts start creeping in which are too hideous to acknowledge. I don’t know why they keep trying to be honest: I love my parents and would never do anything to hurt them that much. End of story.

I’m sorry if this post is as bland as my week ~ I often feel very much an outsider in the sense that my blog does not fit a particular genre. I am constantly surprised that anyone reads it at all! I’m not recovering from anorexia so I can’t post inspiring quotes, fears overcome, battles won. I don’t have a particularly engaging or dynamic personality so my writing is unlikely to reflect anything other than the timid introvert with a serious case of disorganised thought processes that I am. I’m not training for any spectacular feats of athletic endurance. I don’t have an amazing and unique way of looking at the world which allows me to help others or observe it in a wonderfully cynical or humerous way. I struggle to formulate my thoughts into coherent narratives regularly, which means posts can be all over the place…which is still better than the stuttering wreck I become when I attempt to talk about anything other than academic waffle in ‘reality.’

Anyway, enough self-depricating musings. The wonderful Jessica (is there any other type of Jessica lol) tagged me for a survey with an autumnal flavour, so here goes nothing:

1. favorite variety of apple? Jazz all the way. However, I have never seen or tried the Honeycrisps that most people seem to go wild over, so perhaps I am missing out?
2. apples dipped in..? Nothing! Why spoil a gorgeous apple? Bananas & nut butter, yes…apples and nut butter? Not really a fan.
3. favorite way to enjoy pumpkin? In a bowl of oat bran with chocolate Sun Warrior Protein powder mixed in. Ah Sun Warrior, how I do miss thee…
4. favorite soup? with crackers or bread? Carrot, cumin and coconut milk with freshly toasted gluten-free white bread.
5. do you eat orange foods all year round? Most definitely. I can’t think of a day in the last ten years when I haven’t eaten at least one carrot. Sweet potatoes are a firm favourite year-round too.
6. most used spice in your autumn cooking: I think we all know that I’m going to say cinnamon…
7. you are baking some homemade bread, what flavor combination of bread would you like to make? Hmm, well my gluten-free baking endeavours have all been unmitigated disasters. But if I could manage to make it work I’d say vegan chocolate chip pumpkin bread…with cinnamon ;)
8. favorite autumn vegetables and ways to eat it? Kabocha squash, steamed or roasted plain. I adore steamed Brussels Sprouts but my stomach can’t handle them :( Although my beloved Kabocha doesn’t like me much either…next time I’ll have to buy a much smaller one. Fibre + Jessica=no bueno :( Might have to revise it and say nuked sweet potatoes but that wouldn’t be very creative of me, would it?
9. hot chocolate, hot cider, coffee or tea? Since caffeine sends me haywire I’d have to say decaf tea with rice milk.
10. favorite seasonal dessert? Baked apples with raisins, agave…and cinnamon!
11. lets make a fall stew! pick any 6 ingredients to create your one: Lentils, carrots, sweet potatoes, watercress (not ‘fall’ strictly but I love it and it’s great in stews provided it’s added at the very last minute), oats and peas…oh, and chestnuts! Yeah, I have seven…I’m a rebel.
12. pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts or almonds to snack on? I’m not crazy about any of them but if I have to choose I’ll say roasted almonds, burnt slightly.
13. popcorn flavor/seasoning? I’m so awkward…I don’t like popcorn as I always choke on it!
14. bowl of hot cereal you have been wanting to try: Chia Protein Oat Bran
15. post a link to a recipe that you recently bookmarked: Simple Lentil Loaf
For this survey I tag:
Breakfast (Monday):

1/2 cup oats, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, banana, Bear Cocoa Cherry Pie Granola, raisins

Lunch:

I know it looks horrible but honestly it wasn’t! Caroline’s link to Simple Lentil Loaf in a sandwich. The portion size was huge! I hope to goodness I didn’t get the recipe wrong…
There was even a slice left over to go with my fruit/veggie plate.

Snack:

There was also an apple with this…Pink Lady, not Jazz as it had been sitting in the fridge for weeks and needed to be used up.
Good stats again…

Product Review: Bear Granola ~ Apple CinnamonDare I say that this was bland? It’s the word of the week, folks. My main issue with these granolas is that they’re so dry and really stick in the throat. I must have downed 500ml of water while eating this one packet. I know I shouldn’t complain about something that isn’t laden with calories and fat as most granolas are, but when it affects the taste it just isn’t worth it. That said, it did have a nice crunch to it and the clusters were nice and chunky. It didn’t have the artificial flavour of the cocoa cherry variety and actually tasted of what it was supposed to. Overall it was good but not great, and I probably won’t buy it again. 7/10

Dinner:


Mushrooms and chestnuts in vegan gravy, sweet potato & parsley mash, peas & watercress.

Breakfast (today):

1/2 cup oats, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, sultanas, almonds, banana
And after I said I didn’t like almonds…but my Mum roasted them and then didn’t want them so who am I to deny my status as a human garbage disposal?

Short post for me…I wish I had something better to say but we’ve all had enough of negative rants so I think I’ll sign off and try to get some much needed sleep!

15/11/09~ Panacea

Apologies for the last post. Once again, I was in the midst of a total panic when I wrote it. I suppose I feel that whenever people think anything good about me, it increases the pressure not to ‘mess up.’ I care immensely about how I come across to others, despite my facade of individuality and agenda of going it alone. If my comments are helpful, I worry that the next one won’t be up to scratch…I always think that the only way is down, where as if everyone else shared my low opinion of myself than there is no expectation, nothing to lose…but that’s a ridiculous attitude because having nothing to lose means that you literally have nothing. Fear of failure is such a destructive thing…it can compel you to undermine yourself before life or anyone else gets the chance. Thank you for indulging me in yet another one of my pity-parties.

I did manage to start that presentation (and later my fourth essay) in the end and this week-end has been fairly productive. I have feedback on all my work so far on Wednesday and to be blunt I’m terrified about it…but not as terrified as I am about my upcoming presentation. Whether I can handle them or not depends entirely on my mood, which lately has switched from being up and down like a yo-yo to just being…down. But depression is preferable to mania as far as presentations are concerned because I simply don’t have the energy for anxiety beforehand.

In other news, my hair has been thinning again. It bothers me tremendously. It was never thick and always resembled ‘ratskins’ as one girl nicknamed me. When I was underweight, it looked like whisps of smoke emanating from my head. This time it isn’t weight-related so it’s either my wonky hormones or stress. To be honest most of the time I just wish I could have it all cut off in a crop, but because I’m allergic to all make-up I’d end up looking like a fifteen year-old boy…plus I don’t have the face for it. I’ve tried everything I can think of to fix it and nothing has worked…I suppose my mediocre protein intake doesn’t help.

Then again, I wonder why it is that whenever there is anything whatsoever wrong with me I see food as a method of fixing it. We are fed so much (pun?) garbage about this or that food being ‘life-changing.’ We’re bombarded with adverts for probiotic or prebiotic yoghurts to cure all stomach ills, superfoods full of antioxidants to prevent cancer, energy-giving drinks and revitalising goji berries, anti-ageing this and that, omega 3 & 6-enhanced bread…the list is endless. If I’m ill, I get frustrated and think that there must be something wrong with my diet. But food can’t fix me. It won’t stop me from being bi-polar (though caffeine and food additives do have a strange effect, as do refined sugars), it won’t stop my skin from being both greasy and dry simultaneously, it won’t make me taller or less anxious or make my hair grow back. I know it won’t because I’ve subscribed to every health-gimmick there is and none of them have helped. Food is a much simpler solution than trying to look deeper into my life and find something else, something that doesn’t come in a packet or even an organic hemp-woven bag. Food is the ultimate in a society of ‘quick-fixes’: just eat this and you’ll be okay. It’s obvious that a balanced diet does have an impact on health, but it doesn’t equate to being some kind of glowing goddess without a single flaw, mentally or physically. I suppose that’s something that I still find difficult to accept because food is something one can control, where as other solutions are far more complex.

13/11/09 ~ Spoke Too Soon…

Well, today is Friday 13th so given my supersitious nature it should have been utterly terrible. Instead, so many good things happened that I still feel a little shellshocked from the combined flow of positive energy. The trouble is, yesterday was a real struggle. The elements that should have lifted me today just haven’t, and with every additional positive I have felt lower and sadder than before. It’s pathetic. Why can’t anything get through to me? People have terrible, hideous things to deal with in their lives and all I can do is be so self-absorbed. Argh. Anyway, to save one ridiculously long rant I’ll break the days up into food-recaps and the like:

From the minute I woke up on Thursday I knew it was destined to be a ‘black’ day (don’t know why I call them these as I love the colour black…ah well) Enter serious lethargy and the urge to cry simply for waking up at all. It took me half an hour to drag myself out of bed, limbs feeling like lead. Sometimes I think I function better when I don’t sleep. I entertained thoughts of giving it all in, raiding the kitchen and just curling up in a dark room stuffing my stupid face…like I did for my entire sixteenth year. I fought off the laziness and indolence and got my butt in gear for long enough to do an hour of Tae-Bo on DVD. Non-running days are always bad, but this was exceptionally tough.

Breakfast (Thursday):

1/2 cup oats, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, raisins, chopped pink lady apple, banana
This really didn’t work; the apple was too raw and sour. Next time I attempt ‘apple pie oats’, I would microwave the apple separately beforehand and then just add it on top. Picking out bits of apple and choking them down is no fun. Needless to say, such a mediocre breakfast in combination with serious bingeing urges is not a good combination. However, I had no time to make anything else if I was to fit in the gym and swimming before Uni.

This is where I feel ashamed to admit that I broke down. It’s the worst one I’ve had since the summer when I fell out with my Dad over my behaviour. I was literally a screaming, crying wreck in the car on the way to the gym/pool. I was fighting so hard with my head…the constant ‘do/don’t’ about exercising vs. going home and laying about like the swine I am was unbearable. Why I have to push so hard on days like this to exercise I don’t know. I’ve been down the alternative route: it only leads to weight gain and misery. I made my poor Mum cry. I truly am horribly selfish and there is no worse feeling in the world than to see her upset. It breaks my heart that I can’t be a better daughter for her and put her through so much. She was my saviour and waited for me to calm down. I was yowling that I wanted to go home, chuck it all in and binge but she wouldn’t move the car. Eventually I came to my senses and dashed into the gym. As soon as I was on the treadmill I took out all my anger and confusion in the run…and the feelings lessened as they always do. I think I have to totally exhaust my body just to get my mind to shut up. I ran 4.8 miles in 35 minutes then swam 102 lengths (25m each). I wasn’t tired as I’d told myself I was. I should have sucked it up and got on with it straight away.

My battles with exercise are not something I like to go into much because they’re such a sensitive subject for me. Exercise is my main method of weight management as I seem utterly incapable of restricting food to a weight loss level: it curbs my appetite rather than makes it worse. I do exercise for enjoyment and to manage my scoliosis, but I know damn well that it’s also compulsive. If my Uni schedule hadn’t eased up I would have crashed and burned with the amount that I was trying to fit in. But without it I go utterly crazy, as in ‘sectionable’ (as my Dad used to say) crazy. Injury terrifies me…as in gives me nightmares. Balance is not something I know how to work with and to an extent it doesn’t ‘work’ for me anyway. But the psychology of this is something I’m just too tired to contemplate right now.

Lunch (Thursday):
Fruity Carrot Plate
Looks just like my other soups but this was roasted yellow pepper and sweet potato…sadly it was another bleh creation: the pepper flavour was just too strong and slightly bitter. Then again, in these moods nothing tastes right. Lights always seem dull…everything is bleak.

Good Thing No.1:

I won £15 worth of fitness vouchers for coming fourth in the Maltby 7 miles :)
There was a presentation afterwards and if I’d realised I might have stayed (well, probably not due to social anxiety but anyway…) but I thought there were only prizes for the top three finishers. This was a mixed blessing because it only reinforced my fury at myself for nearly giving up this morning…how awful would I have felt if I’d chucked in my commitment to exercise only to then be rewarded for it? It’s almost like a sign that I need to fight this terrible urge even harder.
My aunt and uncle also sent me £20 for my birthday. Again, I felt terribly guilty as I don’t see them very much (family ‘issues’) and I don’t feel deserving of it.

Thursday Snack:

Lyme Regis Fruit Break: Plum & Apricot

Sorry for the terrible lighting and shot…

Product Review: Lyme Regis Fruit Break (Plum & Apricot):
This tasted just like every other Lyme Regis Fruit bar. Honestly, I was hard pushed to distinguish any other flavour apart from overwhelming sweetness. I could see pieces of prune but certainly couldn’t taste them. These bars are really disappointing and, while not inedible, are ridiculously small for the calorie count. They’re soft and slightly sticky, making them not the best bar for breakability. I won’t be buying these again.
5.5/10

Dinner (Thursday):
Lentil Bolognese, Corn Spaghetti, Peas & Watercress

There were other eats but they were mind-numbingly boring: just two 50g Organic Food Bars, Chocolate Coconut and Chocolatey Chocolate Chip…one before my Body Jam class and one after.

Breakfast (Friday):

3/4 cup oats, 1 cup rice milk, 1/2 cup water, cinnamon, banana, strawberry jam
I used to be terrified of rice pudding as a kid…anything with a ‘skin’ on it just makes my toes curl. I have a phobia of gelatinous textures (custard, blancmange, raw tofu…*shudders*) so I thought I’d recreate rice pudding using oats :P This worked quite well but I didn’t like the way the water made the oats taste a little insipid…but this was already a calorie bomb so I didn’t want to use all rice milk. I was also hangry, explaining the huge amount of oats…running 9 miles is one excuse I suppose. My joints were hurting quite badly this morning (right knee and both hips) but there isn’t much I can do about it: not running is always far worse than running and putting up with it for me. I’ve never ‘voluntarily’ taken a rest day, only had a meltdown and become a sloth temporarily. I can’t remember the last time I had a ‘rest’ in the literal ‘duvet day’ sense.
As part of lunch I had this granola snack pack I picked up in Newcastle because my beloved Whole Earth Soy Crisps were sold out in every flavour except Cheese *bleh*.


Product Review: Bear Granola ~ Cocoa Cherry PieGranola is one of the foods I can’t have in the house in full-size packs for fear I’ll eat six servings at once. Actually, having tried several granolas I’m starting to think that I like the idea of granola rather than granola itself. This was…strange. The clusters were quite large (and would have been larger had the packet not been crushed under three Kabocha squash for a while) and crunchy, but a tad too dry. They stuck in the throat a little and were quite bland. By contrast, the dried cherry pieces were sweetness personified in fruit form. Occasionally, there would be a wonderful chocolatety, caroby burst where the taste was just beautiful, but these were somewhat sporadic. I’m just not sure that the chocolate/cherry combination worked too well, as the cherry essence was a little artificial despite there being no artificial ingredients. I’m not doing too well with these new products, am I? Ah well, I still have the Apple/Cinnamon variety to try and another packet of this flavour…perhaps it’ll work better as an oatmeal topping?
6/10
So right now I can truly say that I hate myself. I don’t know why, but my mood has just gone South. There is no reason for this. I’ve been having some problems at Uni that are a bit too personal for the blog (yeah, even for me to reveal) and my tutors/supervisors have been so understanding and helpful. The compliments they have given me are just embarassing. I deleted the e-mails they sent me because I cried every time I read them. I just don’t deserve such praise and if they knew the ‘real’ me they’d be as disgusted by myself as I am. It’s almost as if I want to do something awful, just so people will realise that I’m not worthy of anything except revulsion. I feel like a fraud. I’m constantly terrified of being ‘found out’, of handing in a mediocre piece of work or making an awful presentation and everyone nodding their heads and going ‘yep, I knew it.’ I can’t let everyone down yet I can’t concentrate or focus. I’m blogging instead of repaying their kindness by working just because I’m too scared to start in case this is THAT piece of work, the one which turns them all against me and makes their opinion of me plummet.

Ugh, sorry for this…I’m just desperate and struggling and worried that I’ll crash and burn…stop running and start bingeing, particularly on things which aren’t vegan which would break my heart…Holland & Barratt have started stocking so many Amy’s meals and I keep getting compulsive thoughts about trying them even though I know they’ll wreck my stomach…and Fage 2% is giving my mind so much trouble. I don’t even want it, it’s just a compulsive thing…I know and abhor where it comes from and always will. How pathetic and insignificant does this sound…honestly, there are people out there with REAL problems and I’m worried about THIS!? But most of all I’m worried that I will fail everyone I love and care about.

11/11/09~ Persistence Pays Off?

I am so, so flattered and a little embarassed by all of the lovely comments that I received in response to my last race recap. I haven’t stopped blushing every time a new one comes up yet. Keep going at this rate and my ego will need its own time-zone ;) You’re all far too kind to me, seriously.

Just highlighting a few points that several people made: I wasn’t bemoaning my position or complaining that I’d come fourth (in the sense of saying it was bad or a reflection of a pathetic performance), I was merely venting my frustration at the fact that I keep placing somewhere in the region of fourth-eighth depending on the scale of the race. I know I’m running with club runners and there aren’t many unaffiliated people who choose to do these smaller races, so the calibre of the entrants will be higher. However, the ambition which drives me to run also prompts the desire to constantly do better: if Usain Bolt never pushed himself and settled for finishing out of the medals, he wouldn’t be much of an athlete! Having goals and constantly striving to do better is obviously a good thing but I know that if I’d come third I’d be unhappy because I wasn’t second, and second to first, and first that I hadn’t broken the course record. It’s just the way I am and the problem is that drive is great when it’s constructive, but because mine is connected to self-doubt and the constant need to prove myself academically, physically or in any other respect, it becomes a destructive force. People assume that because I’m ultra-competitive I’m confident or even arrogant. Wrong. I’m competitive because I crave some kind of sign that counteracts my inner belief that I am worthless, unfit, weak and…yes, fat.

That brings me to the other issue that was raised: I know my perception may be skewed and I will probably always see some kind of waddling blimp staring back at me. I was christened ‘thunderthighs’ and all sorts of far worse names all through secondary school and its pretty much engrained. I weigh about the same now as I did then, though because I didn’t exercise as much (though once my ‘chub’ of ages 11-13 wore down a little and I actually stopped being such a lazy bum I played tennis and hiked frequently, if not daily) I may be more muscular now. That’s the thing: if we’re going by scales I am nowhere near underweight. Please don’t worry for me on that score, because I have leeway before I’d even approach that category. It’s difficult for me not to strive for a little weight loss because I used to be thinner than I am now and I have also been a heck of a lot bigger. The ‘big’ side scares the living heck out of me and I always want maximum ‘wiggle room’ so I don’t get anywhere near there again. I also see many bloggers balking at the thought of having a BMI of 20, or declaring that at 17.5 they are recovered and ‘normal’, inferring that anyone over that is on the hefty end of the spectrum. I honestly have no idea what my ‘natural’ weight even is…but it was certainly a confidence-boosting experience to receive so many compliments…I don’t think I’ve had that many in my entire life before, particularly about my appearance. The closest I’ve ever come to being declared ‘pretty’ was when one of the bullies said that, paused, and then used it as a preface to ‘yeah, pretty ****ing ugly that is.’

08/11/09~ Flight of a Thousand Bars, aka Maltby 7 Miles Race Recap

I must apologise for my terrible Evita-orientated pun in the title of this post but I think unfortunately I have inherited my Dad’s penchant for cringe-making jokes based on wordplay. The reasoning behind the title will become clear in due course ;)

If there’s ever a day that epitomised the extremes of my temprament and personality it was today. As I mentioned yesterday, I have a huge, overwhelming fear of failure…so much so, in fact, that in the past I have backed out of things where I may have not performed to my required standard simply to save myself the ignominy of under-achieving. This is, of course, a ridiculous attitude: any effort is better than none. Nevertheless, the terror of doing badly in the race kept me awake as predicted and the anxiety became so overwhelming that there were several points during my morning warm-up where I was close to breaking down and calling it off. Thankfully, I didn’t: both my parents had got up early to take me to the race and watch me and I was darned if I was going to be selfish and let them down. I switched up my pre-race DVD and did the weights section (Pump) of my Davina McCall DVD along with the boxing section, as in the past doing the abs workout has left me feeling lethargic rather than energised afterwards (when you’re tired anyway lying on the floor for any length of time, even to do sit-ups, isn’t a great idea!)

Still, all the way to the race in the car I was battling negative thoughts and the pressing desire to give up, go home and raid the cupboards for food. Why this always happens I don’t know: I think my demons want to make me into the failure they believe I am and deny myself the chance to get concrete proof that they’re wrong. Things did not improve when we got horribly lost and seemed nowhere near the location for the start with only 15 minutes to go. I’m ashamed to say that I couldn’t stop crying and having a full-on ‘tantrum’ while my poor mother was attempting to navigate the labyrinth of streets that comprises the suburbs of Middlesbrough. Seriously, it’s the easiest place I’ve ever been to to get lost in. Luckily, my Dad took charge (hmph, talk about gender-stereotypes and clichés!) and got us there with only 5 minutes until the start. I dashed to the toilets (erm, I may have ingested a 750ml bottle of Evian beforehand), did my best to stretch out and *just* made it to the start line in time.

Pathetic though it may be, my obsession with numbers extends to the number 13, which I am inexplicably afraid of. I also have a disklike of the number 6, despite not having any religious grounding (though as I have said before, I differ from my parents in the respect that I would like to gain some sense of spirituality and they do respect my views on the matter). So, obviously, I blamed the detour and near-miss of the start on being assigned my dreaded number. When my race package first arrived, my initial reaction was to flat-out refuse to run with that number because I was convinced something terrible would happen.

Just before the gun went off, my Dad came out of the crowd, gave me a huge hug and said ‘Just enjoy it, no matter what.’ It was as though a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. So many times I have said negative things about him here and I now feel so terribly guilty for it…he has changed recently and I hope it’s permanent. I think perhaps my diagnosis for bi-polar I helped him to realise that I don’t choose to be the way I am and have to actively fight against it every second of every day. He’s done some reading on the subject and seems to finally understand that mental health problems are illnesses, not reflections of a weak character. Despite my dreaded number, everything from the gun onwards was perfect. The weather was lovely (better than the forecast temperatures and rain): 7.5 degrees celcius and with a hint of sunshine. The course was incredibly rural and picturesque, with undulating terrain that reminded me so much of home. I had a great playlist on my iPod and the tunes helped me to pace well (ridiculous hybrid mix though! I can’t figure out how to make a screenshot work but I’ll list the songs below):

1.) Shinedown ~ Devour (Repeated three times throughout the playlist as it’s my current favourite song and obsession!)
2.) Christina Aguilera ~ Candyman
3.) Kelly Clarkson ~ My Life Would Suck Without You
4.) MC Hammer ~ U Can’t Touch This
5.) Kenny Loggins ~ Footloose
6.) The Weather Girls ~ It’s Raining Men
7.) Nickelback ~ Burn it to the Ground(old favourite’s still there!)
8.) Nickelback ~ Next Go Round
9.) Jerry-Lee Lewis ~ Great Balls of Fire

As you can see, although my roots are in metal, I run to the songs that get my legs moving the fastest. No shame in that…and I have to say that I owe Rammstein an apology! I downloaded their new album three days ago and it is absolutely fantastic. I made the mistake of judging them on one out-of context snippet of what is definitely the weakest song on the album. Rammstein, you still rule. It says something when your favourite band consistently amazes you even after eleven years of listening to them. Yes, I was a strange twelve-year old.

Back to the race: I panicked a little when I had been running for a while and apparently only gone 2km. My legs had felt like lead at the start and due to the aforementioned lateness I was right at the back of 275 runners. It took my ages to weave through the slower runners in front of me and I was worried that my time was going to be terrible. Then I realised the markers were in miles, not kilometers. *DOH* I fell into a group with three older guys (in their forties or fifties) and ran the remaining five miles with them. It was so funny the way we would keep overtaking and then falling behind one another. One guy in particular was my ‘competition’ and we had an amusing time trying to leave each other in the dust. The final hill was a killer. I’m used to fell running but this was insane. It was signposted as a 20% incline. Once at the top I kicked for the finish a little too early and my ‘competition’, who later revealed to me that he knew the course, overtook me at the very last minute. He said ‘sorry’ afterwards and we had a good laugh about the whole thing. I love the atmosphere of these small, club-organised runs…so much less soulless and commercial than the larger ones. So many people said ‘well done’ afterwards and although I am not a social person by nature it’s wonderful to connect with people who share the same passion for running that I do.

Breakfast:


Standard Pre-Race Fare: Organic Food Bar (Active Greens with Chocolate) and a Banana

Snack:



Sorry for the blurred shot. During my anxiety attack in the car I ate this. Silly, but luckily it didn’t prove detrimental to my performance.

Product Review: Lyme Regis Fruit Break ~ Banana & SultanaAgain, this bar was distinctly average. It had a smoother, richer texture than the Date & Fig version but was still somewhat bland and definitely nothing to write home about. It tasted like a very sweet Banana Cookie Larabar (a flavour I have no idea why I gave such a high mark in my initial review of it…now the thought of it makes me want to gag and I’d amend my mark to 4/10!) with an overwhelming sultana-ness. In fact, it was too sweet even for me and that’s saying something! It’s lacking in protein too, so the nutritionals don’t redeem it. Not as bad as the Fig version, but there’s huge room for improvement.
6/10

Post-Race Pics:

Here I am with my ‘goody bag’. Note the winter attire!


That’s the ‘oh crap, I placed FOURTH’ expression. I will place in the top three women someday, I swear! I was actually 41st overall but fourth female. The results are here. My time was 48:03 which I’m quite pleased with for such a hilly course and an unfamiliar 7 mile distance.

Sadly no motion pics as my Mum wasn’t quick enough with the camera (not that I mind! I’m just grateful that she was there to support me!)…and no stretching pics (sorry Jessica!) because my camera battery died right after this last pic was taken. Totally my fault as I forgot to charge it!

So a bad day turned into a great one. I had no pain at all in my back or hips and did a heck of a lot of yoga when I got home to attempt to keep it that way. Obviously I ate more than what I’ve pictured but most of it was very boring and unphotogenic anyway. I may not have eaten a thousand bars but I have had a total of four over the course of the day (breakfast and three smaller bars as my snacks). Oops. I really am a bar fanatic!

So nuts to my demons and hooray for positivity. I may regret poking fun at them when they come back to bite me in the butt tomorrow morning if it’s frosty, but I’ll have to take the risk. The wonderful wishes I received buoyed me up so much and I honestly thought of them every time I thought about giving up. HUGE thanks for every comment! Roll on Thirsk 10-miler…it’s the day after my birthday so hopefully that will give me something to look forward to apart from the dread and horror of turning 24!

<3>

07/11/2009 ~ You Know the Score

Another Saturday, another case of pre-race nerves. Being plagued by self-doubt is something I suffer from on a daily basis, but it’s worse when there’s a specific scenario in which either my mental or physical capabilites are going to be tested with a tangible, measurable result in numerical form. It doesn’t help that numbers drive me mad anyway and always equate to ‘success’ or ‘failure’ in every case, not just in the sense of weight. I always feel such a strong sense of disconnection from the person who does well…for instance it’s inconceivable to me right now that I can run a 40-minute 10K, just as I can’t remember how to ‘be’ the person who achieved the academic marks she did in the past. I always become scared, frightened that something has changed within me so that now I’m a total failure. Mostly, I link it to weight: ‘you’re x lbs heavier than when you achieved that, so now you’re fat and useless.’ Now I’m capable of rationalising that thought pattern as disordered and telling it to go and take a running jump (pun not intended) but the anxiety is still there.

I’ve never raced in the winter before and the forecast tomorrow isn’t great…it’s quite fortuitous that the race is at 11:00am when most of the frost should have cleared. At least I don’t have to go insane with worry about the pavements being icy when I usually run at weekends (6:15am) because I have the race to go to later. It’s still difficult though, difficult to have any faith in myself at all. I actually dread races the night before, when entering just doesn’t seem like a good idea…I’d liken it to riding a rollercoaster and yelling ‘I want to get off!’ at the top of a peak before really enjoying the ride once it drops…or when it’s over. I still don’t understand how I manage to maintain a 15kph pace when I struggle to maintain 14kph on the treadmill for more than 30 minutes…ah well, I’ll just have to get on with it. Hopefully it won’t be too cold for my Mum watching me (it’s in Maltby, through several villages so hopefully I’ll be able to persuade her to wait in one of the tea rooms instead of freezing her butt off watching me on the course!)…I’ve tried to dissuade her from staying outside as she’s, well…basically got no insulation (!) and has very poor circulation, but she’s having none of it. Oy. I’ll just have to use her as motivation: the quicker I am, the less time she has to endure the cold just because she’s too damn caring for her own good.

Speaking of freezing temperatures, I made the idiotic decision this morning to cycle 13.5 miles as it was too frosty to run (my bike has thick treads on its tires so grips well) If I had known exactly how cold it was I would never have gone, but being the stubborn twit that I am, once I’ve started something I have to follow it through. I can’t stand the feeling of quitting something, even if it’s detrimental in the long run. My fingers were so frozen it was painful by the end…gloves didn’t do much good unfortunately. Then when I got home I made the stupid mistake of plunging them straight into hot water in an attempt to bring some sensation back into them. They hurt so much that I cried but at least I could feel them again. Stupid, stupid thing to do pre-race though…knackering one’s immune system isn’t the best preparation for a 7 miler. The struggles are returning though and I think I was slightly manic at the time…I’m on sleep deprivation too so that can’t have helped my logic. I didn’t stop shivering until I went to the gym two hours later and attempted to ignore one of the classic gym-based ‘anorexic’ users working herself to the point of collapse on an elliptical trainer. The girl must have been 5ft 10 and six-odd stone. I had so many mixed feelings…pity, sorrow, resentment, jealousy. At least it wasn’t just jealousy, which is normally the case. I suppose that covetous attitude of mine isn’t going to change overnight when it’s been there for so long.

05/11/09~ Remember, Remember

A few posts back when I was struggling particularly badly, Katie reminded me of my resolution to take Halloween as my deadline for making a decision about taking the medication I had much maligned, Lithium. I had conveniently ‘forgotten’ that promise to myself because it’s such an incredibly difficult decision to make. Following another appointment today, both myself and my GP (who may as well be my psychologist, she is so helpful) agreed that I won’t be taking it. It’s a tremendous weight off my shoulders as I was worried that the mental health system would press-gang me into the stuff, regardless of my personal wishes. But the fact remains that my body does not tolerate anything ‘artificial’ being pumped into it. Every drug I have been given has always produced an extreme physical reaction: painkillers make me nauseous, listless and shivery ~ even paracetamol sends my stomach into knots. Antibiotics cause all sorts of unpleasant problems that really aren’t suitable for a public forum. After my emergency surgery when I was nineteen, I was given morphine for the pain and my blood pressure went so high there was a serious concern over cardiac arrest. I sweated so much that the bedclothes were soaked constantly and couldn’t keep a single morsel of food down. The bottom line is: reagardless of the pyschological benefit (which in itself is questionable) the physical side-effects just aren’t worth it. Prozac was bad enough: not only did it send me into the most ridiculous period of rapid cycling I’ve ever experienced for a fortnight but I was breaking out in rashes and (sorry for being so graphic) throwing up at least once a day. This played into my desire for weight loss by any means at the time but wasn’t exactly sustainable. I was crazier on it than off it. Although most people with Bi-polar I require medication to stabilise their moods, it’s not a given by any means…I’m really quite flattered that my GP has faith in me when no-one else in the medical profession ever has.

In addition *fingers crossed* I have managed to…uhh…manage my moods a little better of late. Whether it’s the added incentive of not wanting to resort to medication or the sudden decrease in stress from the reduced timetable at Uni I don’t know…but I also have a set of coping mechanisms now where as before I had none. I have learnt more about myself in the last few months than in over five years of sporadic ‘professional’ treatment. DBT is amazingly helpful and this, in conjunction with other realisations, should totally be credited to Katie’s help. Without her gradually making me work through my ‘issues’, I truly don’t know where I would be right now. Certainly not still at Uni. I would have buckled under the pressure of that first hellish month. I am so amazed that I got through it and…well, even a little proud. It’s not much of an achievement for most people but a huge one for me. Sure, the workload is still tough and I’ve only completed one 5000 word essay before I move on to the next one…and then the next, and then the presentations…but a certain level of acceptance when it comes to the way I am has meant that instead of wasting time bemoaning the fact that I’m, for want of a better phrase, screwed in the head, I can at least try to be proactive in fighting it at certain intervals, and letting it run its course (in a suitable setting) in others.

On the food front, I ate a Chocolatey Chocolate Chip Organic Food Bar after the stir-fry in my last post. I’m still trying to find a balance and it’s not easy. Over the last few days I have tried not to let my intake creep up to an emotional eating level again. However, I am the epitome of the all-or-nothing mentality. There have been times when I have been over-full, but thankfully not to the gut-busting, nausea-inducing levels of before. My times have improved again running and I’m not so shaky and weak. Wednesday’s half marathon was completed in 1:46:39, which is an improvement considering its a harder, hiller route than the one on which I set my PR. On the 2000 kcal level, I was creeping into the 1:49:30s on the easiest route, which obviously tells me that it wasn’t enough fuel. With every run I was getting slower and slower.

I’m also really enjoying my swimming: today I was up to 2500m (100 lengths. Woot!) and, in conjunction with 4.7 miles in 35 minutes on the treadmill, it was a great workout. Apart from the perennial terrors over putting on more weight, there isn’t much negative to say in this post. I think I’d better quit while I’m ahead!

As always, huge thanks to everyone who comments. They help me so much to combat the negative voices in my mind…it’s as if to ignore the lovely, kind things which are said would be a personal affront to the commenter and I’m such a stickler for rudeness that it seems ungrateful not to have just a smidge of self-belief, however fleeting.

Dinner (Tuesday):

Corn spaghetti & sun-dried tomatoes ~ really liked this, as the tomatoes coated the pasta in just a *little* oil without making it greasy. I hate it when you get a feeling of oil on your lips afterwards, and this didn’t produce that problem.
With peas and spinach

Wednesday’s lunch:

Carrot, grapes
Palm-sized sweet potatoes with PB&Co Crunch Time
Pink Lady Apple-y goodness

Dinner:

Brown rice, lentil & apricot bolognese, steamed courgettes & baby corn

Snack:

Mini hemp-shake (chocolate Nutiva hemp protein, rice milk, frozen banana)

I loved this…I think I prefer hemp shakes for snacks as opposed to breakfasts as to make them filling I have to add so much hemp protein that it makes my stomach go a little oogly (Misery reference, anyone?)

Today’s Breakfast:

Crunch Time PB & Blackcurrent Jam & Banana sandwich on GF bread.

PB & Co truly is the ambrosia of peanut butters. Why, oh why will they not make their flavours more widely available here? And when will the UK have Cinnamon Raisin Swirl and Mighty Maple? I love you PB & Co, but you tease me so.

The blackcurrent jam was a purchase of my Mum’s (she is making some strides with her own ED! I am so proud of her!) and I tried a bit. I still prefer strawberry (all the varieties are St. Dalfour, sugar-free and packed with fruit) as this was a little tart for me. However, the whole blackcurrents added some lovely texture to the jam. It was a nice change, but I’ll probably stick to my sweet strawberry from now on.

Today’s Lunch:

Yes, those are Whole Earth Soy Crisps with my chickpea salad and GF bread…I am happy to report that there were no adverse side-effects from said soy. I’m so relieved because they have a fair amount of protein and taste so much better than rice cakes.
Product Review: Whole Earth Salt & Vinegar Soy Crisps: Great stats and ingredients. When I was a kid, one of my favourite snacks were crisp sandwiches. On white bread with butter. Yeah, no wonder I was somewhat tubby and couldn’t run 100m without needing a break. Instead of using Walker’s greasy salt & vinegar (my preference then) I recreated a healthier version of my old childhood snack by sandwiching these soy crisps in between slices of my GF bread and having a nostalgic blast from the past. They’re really gorgeous: just a slight hint of vinegar, sour-sweet and melt-in the mouth fluffy in terms of texture. They’re not greasy at all and with nearly 9g of protein per bag I simply have to give these 10/10.

Does anyone else have a particularly cringe-making childhood snack habit? Any attempts to healthify it now?

And on that positive note, there endeth the post.

Have a fabulous Friday tomorrow everyone :)

*ETA* Blogger seems to be eating several of my comments at present so please don’t think that I haven’t read yours if it doesn’t appear here! I appreciate every single comment I receive and owe so much to the kindness and wisdom imparted via this medium that I wouldn’t want anyone to think that their input wasn’t important to me.

02/11/09~ Reviewing the Situation

It’s officially November. Woopee. November is not a favourite of mine in terms of months for many reasons. The only one I’ll go into is the fact that it, for me, marks the transition from autumn into winter: dark mornings, low temperatures and icy pavements. Unfortunately, my plans to take advantage of the possibility of being offered a free light-box on prescription (intended for people with SAD which I have to an extent, although given my bi-polar disorder it’s obviously more complicated than that) have been scuppered. My GP gave me the wonderful news that because of the severity of the migraines I have had in the past (fingers crossed they haven’t manifested themselves since April) and my photosensitivity I would not be able to receive one. Apparently, there’s a very high risk of seizure for me and it would be unconscionable to let me have one. The migraines used to be more prevalent than they are now…I was hospitalised once because a young and rather inexperienced doctor thought I was having a stroke. I suppose the symptoms are similar: numbness in the entire left side of the body, facial pins and needles, inability to speak without slurring or form coherent sentences and blinding pain. I can’t even begin to describe the level of pain we’re talking about here. I can put up with most things (and usually try to exercise through them…) but mingraines leave me totally wiped out for at least three days…and unable to leave a darkened room. Anyone who goes ‘ooh, I’ve got a migraine’ and then pops a pill for it and is fine doesn’t have one. They have a headache. No medication, not even the strongest cocktail of drugs available outside of morphine injections works…I know, I’ve tried them. Apparently it also rules me out of taking any kind of birth control pill but that’s not exactly a tragedy. Suits me fine…it’s not as though I’m ever going to be needing them ;) Actually I’d rather stick pins in my eyes then go anywhere near them…mostly due to the weight gain issue but also because none are vegan. I do have very wonky hormones and doctors wanted to put me on them (sorry if TMI but due to random issues I had to have an emergency operation and only have 1/4 of an ovary left. Again, suits me! I’ll take cats over kids any day) but I dug my heels in and when they discovered about my history of migraines and the fact that they’ve made me pass out they gave up. So see, there’s an up side to everything…silver linings I say.

One thing that doesn’t have a silver lining is my IBS/coeliac disease. The bowl of oats I had below were enough to send my system absolutely crazy. I know, I know. When will I ever learn? It’s just I get so frustrated with the limitations and restrictions I have to employ…I’d give anything for a normal digestive system. In fact, the only time it’s ever worked ‘properly’ was when I was restricting to a ridiculously low amount of calories so no food was going through it. When I was in that mindset it totally seemed to validate my decision. But cramping, bloating, dizziness, muscle weakness, irritability and hives aren’t fun. So I give in; no more oats for me in any form. I look at the wonderful creations of other bloggers and often think mine look so bland and boring by comparison: no soy, no onion, no garlic, no gluten, vegan (but that’s a good thing!!!) and relatively low-fibre. However, I tend to look to other bloggers’ meals because they seem to satisfy them and no food ever does that for me: whatever I make is never ‘good’ enough. I realise now that it’s not the food but the mentality: I’m looking for food to do more for me than it ever can, to heal me, to provide stability and answers where there are none. That’s where the dissatisfaction truly lies.

31/10/09~ Halloween

It’s officially the spookiest night of the year and also the one holiday I’m not totally cynical about. Perhaps it’s because it’s the one time of year people decorate their houses and dress the way I’d like the whole of humanity to all the time. I’ve mentioned it before but I went through a gothic phase in my teens (15-18) in terms of dress (and hair colouring! Never, ever dye your hair black if you’re not completely sure it will suit you because three years of growing it out is not fun…neither is trying to bleach it out until your hair goes pumpkin orange). I still adore anything black, emblazoned with skulls, studded with spikes or bordered with trails of fraying ebony lace. Given the choice, I’d still dress that way. The trouble was that there are other associations with that lifestyle, namely drinking, drug use and sexual aggressiveness. I’m certainly not saying that’s true for everyone, but the people I tried to connect with on a level of macabre interest and musical preference were very, very different from me in most other ways. I only had to go to three gigs to find out that I don’t belong anywhere near a mosh pit…not without a huge, burly boyfriend to protect me like the other girls had, anyway (this was in my ‘functioning’ year when I was 18)

That wasn’t the main reason I started dressing more ‘conventionally’ though: I finally had to accept that the look just didn’t suit me. Most people can carry it off…I just looked like an idiot. My chubby, baby face, inability to wear white foundation or black mascara/eyeliner meant that I looked like someone doing an immitation, someone who had fallen into another taller, more angular, sharper person’s wardrobe.

Nevertheless, I love halloween. I’ve never ‘celebrated’ it as such, but I don’t resent it as I do Christmas and Easter…and New Year…and my Birthday. Misery guts, that’s me. I’m a huge horror movie fan and if I had the choice I’d probably never read anything that isn’t by Stephen King or Edgar Allan Poe. I was going to write more extensively about my favourites and preferences, but the infinitely more erudite and famous VeggieGirl posted a video which completely sums up my attitude towards modern horror. She mentioned every one of my favourite films so posting about them seems a little redundant! If anyone hasn’t seen the post already, watch it! It’s incredibly sweet and funny…and I simply have to find a pair of those skull-motifed PJ pants. Not that I’d imagine anyone would come to my blog before her fantastic one though anyway!

So, I haven’t cracked yet. Still struggling with the feeling that it’s just marking time though. Today I probably got closer to 2200 kcals and, aside from a bit of a dizzy spell before lunch, haven’t felt as ravenous as previously…so I suppose that’s a start. Better news has come in the form of my rapidly depleting university timetable…it seems that many of the initial sessions were there to get us grounded in terms of theory and approach, then the attitude has altered to ‘bugger off and get on with it…you’re not undergraduates and we’re not here to spoon-feed you.’ Well, that suits me! I’ll deal with any amount of work if I can manage my own time…that’s why I’ve stayed in academia…being in an office 9-5 would kill me. Deadlines and pressure are difficult to manage and I do break down emotionally under stress, but anything, anything is preferable to confinement. I’m also most productive at about 2:00am…not great in terms of conventional employment schedules. Unfortunately I’m mired in essay writing right now so I’ll have to toddle off and do that…wishing everyone a happy and terrifying (oxymoron? Not necessarily) Halloween :)

Quick DVD Review: MTV Power YogaI had to include this in the post despite time pressures because I have fallen in love. Geri Body Yoga, move over…there’s a new yogini in town. This is everything I’ve ever wanted in a yoga routine…I could never understand how US bloggers could ever call Yoga a ‘workout’, given my experiences with the painfully slow-paced classes I’ve been to in the UK. My mind has been changed. I might be able to run 13.5 miles, but this still got my heart-rate up with some seriously challenging poses (err, I might have fallen over during Half-Moon) and endless chaturangas. The pace is fairly relentless for the first half of the DVD and then a little more sedate towards the end. I was thrilled and delighted that my favourite pose (wheel) made an appearance along with camel pose, which is fantastic for realigning my back. The soundtrack fits nicely with the flowing moves and I never found myself once clock-watching during the 50-minute routine. Although basic and intermediate options are shown, sometimes it’s hard to see exactly what the presenters are doing whilst dangling upside-down, and I feel that beginners would be completely lost. However, if you’re familiar with yoga and looking for a great routine with no annoying pauses between sequences, then this is an ideal DVD for you. 10/10 for me, 9.5 if I’m being truly objective and taking injury potential for beginners into account.

Snack (Thursday):
Chocolatey-Chocolate Chip Organic Food Bar

Breakfast (Friday):

Err..yeah. Wasn’t in a good place on Friday so ate Oatibix and Banana + Rice Milk after my 8 mile run to deliberately upset my stomach so I wouldn’t be hungry…and as a natural laxative. Not smart. I did this all through May and June and shouldn’t get back into that pattern again. Though I’m still giving oats a try tomorrow: I stupidly didn’t read the label on the Oatibix and they contain barley *slaps forehead*. So no wonder I didn’t have a problem with the savoury oats I had but ended up doubled-over from eating these (apparently some coeliacs can tolerate oats…only if they have very mild versions of the disease though). Seven hours later and a mad dash home my tummy had calmed down enough to eat:

Lunch:

Grapes + Carrot
Sweet Potato, Cinnamon & 2 tbsp Cashew Butter
The portion size of this depressed me. Why do all of my favourites have to be so calorific? Seriously, this thing was barely the size of my palm. I must have some serious portion distortion going on…still rather hungry (understatement) afterwards, which is odd considering my intestines were still squirming at the time (TMI!)

Snack:

Two plums, an apple & Outback Animals.
Getting to this snack without bingeing was one of the toughest things I’ve ever had to do in relation to food. I did feel quite proud for gritting my teeth and riding it out though.

Dinner:

More portion-controlled fun.
Chickpeas in tomato sauce with nut. yeast, polenta, tomatoes & peas

Snack:

Chocolate Coconut Organic Food Bar

More fun on Friday included a pilates class and some elliptical/bike/weights action in the gym.

Breakfast (Today):

I went on a 14 mile bike ride in the morning…the mist was extra-spooky ;) I love being outside at 6:00am when the world seems deserted. Breakfast wasn’t very scary but I suppose the strawberry jam in the almond butter sandwich is a little reminiscent of BLOOD *evil laughter*. Ahem. I was so hungry that I used the crust (heel?) of my gluten-free bread which is basically a doorstep. With a banana.

Tried out an hour of revolution (spinning) at the new gym which was…an experience. Basically there’s a projection screen with a DVD spin workout on it. I was the only one there and didn’t realise you had to start the program yourself…such a *doh* moment but eventually I managed to get the darn thing to work. It was surreal doing the workout in a huge studio all by myself though. I had some time to kill afterwards so ran 4.5 miles on the treadmill in 30 minutes and ellipticalled for 35.

Lunch (for which I was HANGRY):

Pepper ‘hearts’ (Bwahaahaaa!), Tomatoes, Plums, Roasted Beetroot (Beets)
The classic ‘Jessica’ salad: Brown Rice with Roasted Mushrooms & Carrots

Snack:

Dinner:
Peas & Watercress

Lentil, Carrot & Mushroom ‘Cottage Pie’ with Mashed Sweet Potato

29/10/2009~ Yesterday

Yesterday,
All my troubles seemed so far away,
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay,
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

The only Beatles song that I like perfectly sums up my current state of being. I really wish I’d had time to post before this morning because it would have been a first in the history of Beyond Bananas: a positive post. Yesterday, I felt totally in control of food, rather than food controlling me. I went to Uni and received some fantastic news: one of the lecture series has been moved online due to staff time constraints (there are only three of us who attend and one of the others is part-time) and low numbers. It means more work on the research assignment for that module but frees up two whole hours in which I have time to come home and eat lunch there. Sure, in addition to the half hour lunch break it means that I have to leg it to the station and back each time but to me it’s worth it not only for the extra movement but also because I get some ‘time out’ and breathing space that way. All through the day I was, in hindsight, probably in some kind of hypomania but I’m not used to my mania being productive and constructive. I was sociable, chatted with so many people in the group, didn’t have a single panic attack and was paid some beautiful compliments by two of the older history students about how intelligently I contributed to the discussion (apparently). I sorted out essay plans, read a book and a half (400+ pages) and actually made an effort with my appearance. In short, I felt like I did when I was eighteen. Alarm bells there: most of that year I was existing on about 1200 calories while exercising for at least 90 minutes in the gym every day. It felt like ‘starvation’ euphoria even though I’m eating more than enough for any normal person. Perhaps it was a result of my decision to run a half marathon in the morning (1:48:28…damn I’m getting slower) then try out a spin class at my new gym before heading off to Uni. In my defence, it was only 40 minutes and nowhere near as intense as the ones at the other gym…but no-one called me fat in some veiled way, so there are plus-points.

27/10/2009~The Big Red Button

I’m fairly drained from being at Uni so I think this post will mostly be eats from the past two days…to be honest I am still really struggling. I deleted some parts of my last post because, as I failed to realise myself, it’s possible for an astute reader to make the connection between what I wrote and the fact that I used to have a low BMI (not dangerously so enough to require IP or anything of that sort). Connecting the two, it’s clear that I was eulogising those days and (albeit unintentionally) endorsing undereating when it’s such an insidious disease that blights so many lives, lives of wonderful, smart, talented, sensitive people. It was wrong of me to pine for my old body in that way and for that I sincerely apologise.

However, it is so difficult to deal with because the alternative for me is being the way I am now. I never had a recovery ‘journey’, there was no self-discovery, no learning to love what my body can do for me. My weight ballooned but my mentality never changed and I didn’t choose to recover myself: I simply ‘snapped’ and swapped one set of disordered patterns for another in the form of bingeing. I gained two stone in two months with no ‘struggle’. Eventually, I ended up at my heighest ever weight and couldn’t fit in to a single thing in my wardrobe. So many people have to deal with far, far worse things but to me it was utterly heartbreaking. At the same time, I still can’t stop myself from lusting after body-types that are (naturally or otherwise) extremely thin. I would never advocate this for anyone else and I’m not sure why I look at very underweight people with such envy and (I know I’m a horrible person for admitting this) admiration. At the same time, food has so much emotional value and investment for me that cutting down on it is exhausting and I always get to a point where I can’t fight the urges any more. I’m most certainly not restricting, as is plain to see from what I ate below. How a person can still not be satisfied on what I’m having now I do not know. I’m fighting, fighting so hard but eventually there’s always a point where I give in because I don’t have the energy to keep it up any more. I barely contributed at Uni because I was so distracted by thoughts of food…and overeating is the only way to make the thoughts go away. So the choice is between overeating on the one hand, and bingeing on the other. Not much of a choice, is it? It’s analgous to a person being placed in a room with a huge red button marked ‘do NOT press’. Within hours they’ll be itching, itching to press that button. Fast-forward a couple of days and most people will have been driven insane.

Button-pressing compulsions aside, I did get out for my half marathon on Monday morning but only managed it in 1:48:08. Oh well, at least I got out at all. My tummy was grumbling the entire way round and I was just about ready to chew off my arm when I got home.


Mix of Nature’s Path Millet Rice Oat Bran Flakes and Whole Earth Cornflakes, Rice Milk, Banana

My Mum kindly hid the dried fruit so I can’t snaffle huge handfuls of it any more…

Due to yet another (mercifully) cancelled lecture I was able to have a bowl of savoury oats at home ~ it’s just a repeat of yesterday’s dinner but this time I added oregano to the mix and imagined I was eating pizza. I also finally got the dead, split ends cut off my hair…talk about using your extra time productively. I hate having anyone else touch my hair as I’m always worried that they’re disgusted by me. I wouldn’t want to touch my greasy skin, so why would anyone else? The small-talk also drives me insane being that I never ‘go out’ or go on holiday. Thankfully the hairdresser was a new one who barely said a word the whole time and just got on with cutting my hair, for which I was eternally grateful. She did point out how thin it is though…I really don’t like how frail my hair has always been. The minute I go below a BMI of 18.5 it falls out in clumps, which is ridiculous when many people a lot lower still retain beautiful, thick locks. If it wasn’t for the fact I’d look like a ten year old boy I’d just get it all cut off…nah, it’s too much of a security blanket for me actually.

With carrot and cherry tomatoes.
I’d give this Organic Food Bar Kids’ Chocolate Brownie Keerunch! 8/10 because the whole bar is infused with chocolate/cocoa flavour and chocolate chips, while retaining some textural interest with some flecks of crispy rice and pieces of cashew nut. The taste isn’t very strong or pronounced, but it’s still a nice snack for 150 ish calories and great for a sweet tooth. It’s accompanying a Jazz Apple.
Interesting dinner…Quinoa (the novelty of which is wearing thin) with roasted aubergene and pepper in a tomato/cumin/agave/paprika/ground coriander marinade and peas.


Pulsin’ Coffee Brownies don’t last long around me when I’m not extremely hungry, let alone when I am…
Today’s Breakfast:

Two Oatibix and a Banana.
After taking the picture I added copious amounts of rice milk.

Packed the Following for Uni:

Two Organic Food Bars ~ Cinnamon Raisin. I ate them both over the course of the day.
Chickpea and tomato salad

Leftovers from Monday ~ took the photo in the bowl to spare everyone the hideousness of my tupperware.

Dinner:
Mediterranean Stir-Fry with Quinoa ~ Broccoli, Carrot, Courgette & Sun-Dried Tomatoes

Plus more peas.


I went to a pilates class in the evening and managed to swim 2400m…new distance record in the water…too bad I am getting NO work done at the moment and am totally going to fail my Masters. Mum was so kind to me and let me have an extension to my gym membership so I could join the much smarter, cleaner, flashier gym that also has a pool on a student membership of £100 for the academic term. It was an early birthday present because she’s been so upset by seeing me come home from the gym I currently attend in tears because people there have been picking on me about my increase in weight. I just don’t deserve her…all of her help, all the times she’s rooted for me and stuck by me when no-one else would. Why can’t I get over this, if not for myself than for her? Failing myself is bad, failing her is a hundred times’ worse. I’ll leave Minnie to say goodnight…I’m a little preoccupied with trying to stop myself from raiding the fridge…

25/10/09 ~ Ch-Ch-Changes?

So, this morning I decided to try and break out of the overexercising/eating cycle. Well, actually that’s a lie: the scale decided for me. After putting on yet another pound I abandoned my half marthon first thing. In hindsight, I regret that now. I don’t regret coming home and then eating to the point of explosion afterwards so there are some plus-points to the day. Obviously my instant reaction was ‘cut down NOW’ and I totally panicked. This particular number is one that my old, thin self declared she would kill herself before she let herself get to it again. Melodramatic self-indulgence or what? But it is a number where I start to feel exceedingly uncomfortable and one which, given my child-like skeletal structure, I shouldn’t be at. I shouldn’t be at it because I never get there without something being very wrong. Naturally, I’m not this size without bingeing or consistently over-eating. The routine had to alter, partially just to show that I could alter it. Consequently, I did 85 minutes of my Basic Yoga for Dummies DVD and due to the lack of heating at the early hour I was practicing, shuffled into the kitchen a shivering mess to make some breakfast.


1/2 cup oats, 1 cup water, 1 cup pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, banana

Yes, the oats are back. My stomach has been so wrecked by the overeating that I thought a few oats couldn’t make it any worse. I haven’t reacted badly to them at all so I assume that it’s definitely an IBS-related wheat intolerance that I have and not coeliac disease. One thing I never get right is staying in tune with my hunger levels: I set a calorie-limit and that’s always it, but that just facilitates an all-or-nothing mentality. Obviously, without dried fruit or nut butter, this wasn’t too filling. Then again, I’d just putzed around with yoga instead of running 13.5 miles, so I figured that it balanced out. Cooking the oats in water actually made very little difference to the taste for me so until my weight gets under control I think I’ll keep doing it. I’m just glad to be able to eat them as the only way I could enjoy gluten-free porridge was to swamp it in nut butter.

I had an anxiety attack during the morning over not running. Basically I cried every time someone ran past the window. I could still have run, but I wanted to try something new…well, something I hadn’t done for a while. I went swimming, which was surprisingly enjoyable. I’ve never been a strong swimmer but I managed to do 1500m and five random lengths to make up the hour. The pool was busy, bustling, crowded…noisy…but I picked a relatively quiet lane (even though it was for faster swimmers…naughty, naughty) and just zoned out while concentrating on my breathing. Being in a swimming costume wasn’t the best experience in the world (I have a one-piece and you’ll never see me wear a bikini) but there were no serious freak-outs and it was nice to challenge myself to something that usually scares/intimidates me so much.

Once I’d returned home and showered, I was a hungry beast. It’s so hard to be intuitive: I’m always either ravenous or stuffed-to-the-gills full. There’s just no balance there!

Quinoa, carrot & mushroom salad

Unfortunately, this didn’t take the edge off my hunger even remotely. I’d done about an eighth of the exercise I usually do so this didn’t make a lot of sense. Enter thoughts of bingeing. I fought them off for long enough to drink a heck of a lot of water and go for a 35 minute walk; all the things they tell you do to to avoid binge-eating. This distraction tactic only goes so far though…when I couldn’t focus on my reading because I was shaking while holding the book, I had to get something else. Luckily, this didn’t turn into a ‘raid the cupboards, what’s the point!?’ episode. I knew I needed something filling so I went for:
70g Active Greens Organic Food Bar ~ All 320 kcals of it!

Yeah, it’s basically a meal-replacement bar and was meant to be paired with a banana for my November 8th 10K. I am happy to say that it was just the right amount to fill me up (finally!) without being too much, at least in terms of volume. Calorie-wise, I won’t be able to lose the excess pounds though. I used to be so good at losing weight…now I don’t understand how people have the mindset to do it. I barely did anything and was still a bottomless pit. I apologise for the way I write with regard to this: it’s just difficult when you’re in a community where the majority have the opposite issue to contend with. I really hope that what I write isn’t distressing for people recovering from anorexia or related disorders to read: I apply this logic based on the fact that I don’t want to be here, creeping towards the top of the BMI range for my height and consistently making myself feel ill with the amount I eat. Just the perspective I’m coming from, anyway.

Later I did some light weights for about half an hour and because I somehow managed to pull a muscle in my groin while swimming (clever, given that it was meant to be an ‘off’ day) I also did the 30-minute Pilates for Dummies DVD to stop it from seizing up entirely.

Then I had some yummy mango before going to my keyboard tutorial. I have come to the conclusion that my stomach handles fruit better when I eat it on its own…

Hangry again by dinner time I decided on a bowl of savoury oats inspired by Mitri and Caroline:
1/2 cup oats, 1 cup water, nutritional yeast
topped with…
‘Baked Beans’ ~ borlotti beans in tomato sauce/cinnamon/paprika


Side of roasted courgettes.

Hopefully that’s it for the night. Thankfully I did manage to get a reasonable amount of reading done and both of my essays were completed ahead of the deadline. The latest batch are even longer though, and there’s a presentation to work on too. I’m not a powerpoint fan.

So, I made changes in several small ways…and was very lucky to come out unscathed in terms of bingeing. I can’t deny that I have extreme guilt over not running and hopefully I’ll get out there tomorrow but without pigging out as soon as I get home. I have to work with the person I am now, with the course I’m on now and take baby steps in terms of change…I always want instant results and that’s rarely possible without some kind of backlash.

So, although I still want to run, I also need to switch things up occasionally and be more flexible. I hate spinning, legitimately hate it. So why do it? I rigidly stick to the same eating times, whether I’m hungry or not. That’s wrong: I only waited 1.5 hours between my lunch and my snack but even after finishing it I wasn’t anywhere near as horribly full as I usually am at that point in the day. I’m so scared of being hungry that my meals have become repetitive and boring…I think I’d like to go pack to posting everything consumed in the day partially to keep me accountable, but partially to ensure that I don’t get stuck in another food rut.

It’s odd…I used to be perfectly happy with my 10Ks until I started reading running blogs. First it was half marathons, then this morning I knew things were getting ridiculous when I began to beat myself up because others were training for marathons. That’s another thing that has to change: comparison…I need to compare with myself, and remember that three months ago I would never have dreamed of being able to do a half distance. I hope I can do one tomorrow!

Hope everyone had a lovely week-end

<3>

22/10/09~ Long and Narrow Road

A lovely person (she knows who she is) left me a message yesterday that perfectly captured how I’m feeling at the moment. She highlighted what I couldn’t see myself and made the percipient observation that I am desperate for change yet scared by change too. It’s so true. Right now I really do seem at rock bottom, trapped on a long and narrow road that leads inexorably towards I future I didn’t envision, didn’t plan for and don’t particularly want. Yet the road is a road, straight and predictable. Undesirable, but relatively safe. The hazards on either side of it are numerous. The cyclical rut of mind-bending academic research, overeating to compensate for a total lack of fulfilment anywhere else and exercising to the point of pain just to feel something physical to mediate the psychological pain. I used to enjoy some things…I used to laugh with Eddie Izzard and Monty Python, I used to look forward to clothes shopping or going to Alton Towers. Now I’m so numb and cynical that I haven’t genuinely laughed in over a year. Manic, hysteric laughter perhaps. That’s not to say that certain things don’t make me smile or touch me on a lighter level; Minnie, bloggers’ wonderful comments, the little time I have for painting. But on a deeper level, I’m totally empty. Perhaps that’s why I try to fill the void with food.

This week I have succumbed to ‘what’s the point’-ism on more than one occasion. What the endlessly anal inquiry and pretentious focus on theory actually achieves in the world I don’t know. I never wanted to be an academic and don’t consider myself one. I’m not at home in the world of dusty books and endless electronic databases. Yesterday I went so far as to investigate a course in animal care at my local college. The problem is wondering whether I’ll be jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire. I also don’t have any means to fund such a change. When so many things seem wrong, knowing where to start the change is difficult. Stepping off the road can mean falling into quicksand. I just have no idea what I want out of life. Helping animals would be so rewarding and I know it, but do I have the emotional strength to deal with it when I can’t save them? I couldn’t be a veterinary nurse due to the irregular hours: anything that messes with my fragile sleep patterns is a no-no because lack of sleep tends to set off manic cycles. Working in a kennel or cattery wouldn’t keep my brain occupied enough: I found that out through volunteering. There needs to be a balance of physical and psychological stimulation. It’s the same with food and exercise: upsetting the apple cart and the routine leads to panic, which usually leads to bingeing, which leads to a total breakdown and actions which I am not proud of and can’t really go into without intense embarrassment and shame.

All I know is, this road is totally draining. Trudging on down it without any hope or reason to live is becoming dangerous. Something has to change, but the terror of that change is too much to bear. I think functioning ‘normally’ when it comes to food and to life in general is like driving; something which comes so easily to most people but that just doesn’t compute with my ridiculous brain. At least this virus seems to be on its way out…I did do my run in the end on Wednesday, but in my worst time ever for a half marathon distance: 1:49:25. I wasn’t too pleased with that but at least I managed to do it at all I suppose.


Dinner (Wednesday)

Lentil Stew with Peas, Carrots, Watercress and Roasted Butternut Squash

I don’t know what possessed me to buy this ~ as I’ve mentioned before, I love chocolate as a part of something else (i.e choc chips in a bar) or as a predominant flavour component (for example, chocolate cereal or peanut butter) but I don’t actually like chocolate per se. Unfortunately, I was a child who’d always go for the nastiest, ‘junkiest’ chocolate that there was…Cadbury’s Milk variety generally. Dark chocolate and me don’t get along not because I don’t like the flavour, but because the texture just seems too hard and if there’s too much of a bitter edge I can’t tolerate it. For some reason, because other bloggers love, savour and enjoy dark chocolate I feel I should too. One bite of this and unfortunately I had to spit it out…just too darn bitter. I’ve since gone off crappy milk chocolate and any bar that attempts to immitate it in vegan form…why I keep trying to get myself to like the dark stuff I’ll never know…perhaps because it’s stereotypically a pleasure-giving food and dark chocolate is somehow approved of and ‘safe’. Personally, I’d much rather have a Pulsin Coffee Brownie or a Chocolatey Chocolate Chip Organic Food Bar. After this bar, I tried some Plamil Carob and didn’t like that either. I used to love 9 Bars when I was vegetarian (they have honey in them so aren’t vegan) and the carob topping on that was beautiful: silky smooth, just the right amount of sweetness…I’ve been searching for an equivalent in bar form for years but never found it. They’re always too bland, grainy, tasteless. The quest continues.



Product Review: Doves Farm Orange Hazelnut Gluten-Free CookiesWhile the texture of these biscuits was great (very much like that of a ginger snap but a little softer and more ‘buttery’) the flavour was way off for me. The orange element wasn’t strong but because they were so sweet, it interacted with the sugar to become both cloying and sickly. The coconut in them again enhanced the texture and the chunks of hazelnut were pleasant enough, but overall there was far too much sugar involved and they don’t come close to the Against the Grain range of cookies, which use similar ingredients.
4/10
If I go on much longer I’ll make the post into even more of a downer so I’d better not. I really need to do some serious thinking about where to go from here, because going on like every day is a chore and praying that you’ll just stay asleep forever is no way to live. It just seems like, no matter how much you’re told that it’s never too late, you get to a point where it feels like it really is. Trying to break out of routines, form new behaviours, build a new road…that’s the real challenge, one which I’ve never been up to.

Nighty night

xoxoxo

20/10/09~ Weakness

Sadly, Hell has not frozen over yet. I still can’t muster any positivity…at least, for now, my little enclave in North East England hasn’t frozen over yet either. It’s been dreary and wet, but mercifully absent of ice…thus far. Since the middle of last week I’ve been dealing with a virus that’s decided to manifest itself in its full glory. High temperature, fatigue, sore throat / palate, pressure behind the eyes, constant headaches…nah, I’m making it sound far worse than it is (trust me to be melodramatic) but it does feel like it’s getting worse and here to stick around. Running has been interesting as it feels like I’m wearing one of those ye olde metal diving suits the entire time and at the gym I’ve been alternating between being a sweaty mess and a shivering mess. Always a dizzy, faint mess though. I’m getting the sense that this might totally poleaxe me soon and to an extent perhaps I want it to. I can’t rest because, according to the mantra I’ve had for ten years ‘if you’re well enough to eat then you’re well enough to exercise.’ I know I’m probably heading for a fall but illness never stops me eating. Nothing does. Lord only knows the size I’d be if I continued with my current intake. This week I maintained my weight (only weigh once a week on Mondays now having gone from doing it twice a day, every day to not at all for a month, neither of which worked out…the former had me going insane over .5lb fluctuations and the latter resulted in huge anxiety and constant body checking…also trying on different clothes endlessly to see if they fitted differently which wasted a ridiculous amount of time). It’s a relief on one level after constant gains, but on another I’ve only achieved it by busting it to the point of near-collapse every day with my exercise outside of Uni hours. I am weak, mentally and physically. I doubt I can carry this on. I’m constantly in some kind of pain, either through exhaustion or being horribly overstuffed. I know I’m abusing my body both ways but can’t stop…until this virus stops me, that is. The prospect of doing another 13.1 miles tomorrow morning is not a pleasant one but I can’t see any alternative…other than caving, bingeing and staying in bed all day.

I should be able to cope with this. I can’t stand showing weakness, whether it’s not turning up to a lecture or acknowledging that I have to shift position/stand to alleviate my back pain or resting when I feel like Hell. Because I deserve the pain for, well, being so weak. Paradox? Nah, just greed. I often wonder if those with restrictive EDs find overeaters like me disgusting. I know my old self would be utterly abhorred by the creature I’ve become…my ‘normal’ days now are what I’d considered out of control binges three years ago. I see myriads of thin girls all the time in Newcastle, hundreds of them. I wonder, how do they all do it? Why, why can so many other people control themselves around food and live a life while still being thin and I can’t. Why am I weaker than them? Why is food the only thing which gets me through the day to the point where I can’t contemplate cutting back even when I know the damage it’s doing me? I can’t stop, I can’t rest because I will eat even to the point of sickness and be disappointed that my poor body can’t accommodate any more food. I’m worried that everything is becoming pointless again, that the front door is feeling like an insurmountable barrier, that I’ve wasted and am wasting my life.

If there’s one good thing about the week so far (and last week) it’s that the sessions at Uni don’t seem as compressed as they were. There are longer breaks and tonight we even finished half an hour earlier at 6:30pm as opposed to 7:00pm. This, combined with extra physiotherapy, has meant that I don’t have to rely on the horse-tranquiliser strength painkillers I have been prescribed and was seriously considering taking if things didn’t improve. They have gelatine shells so I swore never to take them. Now at least the pain is bearable…I suppose the physical niggle alleviates the aching sadness that I can’t seem to shake. These moods sometimes pass but this one appears to have legs…I looked like such a cliché, dressed all in black, weeping as I walked to the train station while blasting ‘Everybody Hurts’ into my ears with my iPod.


Minnie says hi…


Interesting fact: my Uncle (who is absolutely lovely but almost as idiosyncratic as me…he has mental health problems too and I don’t see him as much as I’d like) mentioned that cat’s feet smell like digestive biscuits (or Graham Crackers in the US lol). I didn’t believe him until I smelt Minnie’s tootsies…anyone with a cat who doesn’t mind, try it for yourself. I promise you won’t be dissappointed. Now my blog truly has reached new levels of weirdness.


Summery plate for the winter blues…

Tried a plum…twas lovely. I didn’t think I liked them that much but this Italian variety proved me wrong.




Product Review ~ Organic Food Bar: Chocolatey Chocolate ChipAny product with variations on the word ‘chocolate’ in its name is bound to be a hit with me: a great 8g of protein don’t go amiss either when I actually get very little (carbs and sugar are another matter…) The texture is soft and slightly gooey…softer than a Larabar and deliciously melt-in-the-mouth. Small chunks of cashew nut add a bit of texture and the bar is sweet without being sickly. The chocolate chips are liberally scattered throughout and although I’d have liked them to have a more prominent/less neutral flavour, this bar still tasted like such a decadent dessert (almost cake-cookie-like) and it’s only a minor complaint.
9.5/10




Product Review ~ Organic Food Bar: Chocolate CoconutThis bar is basically an exact replica of the chocolatey chocolate chip but with large shreds of coconut incorporated into the mix. This does mean that there is more fat and less protein to work with, and consequently the nutritional stats aren’t as great. The chocolate chips are so melty that they virtually melt away on contact with the skin, which is a good point for me as the only way I ever like pure chocolate is soft and melted. My Dad keeps his bars in the fridge. Sacrilege I say. I liked the contrast the coconut provided but couldn’t help feeling it was somewhat superfluous given the near-perfection of the CC Chip.
9/10

Breakfast (Today):
1/3 cup GF porridge, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, sultanas, banana, crumbled Organic Food Bar (Cinnamon Raisin)

Dinner (Today):

Pea/mint soup, jacket potatoes, roasted courgettes

17/10/09~ Slip Sliding Away

I should be amending essay drafts right now. Really, I should be doing a lot of things. Proactivity is not my forté.

Huge thanks to Mitri for passing this award on to me! Giving one-word answers to this should be excellent practice for chopping the word count on those essays. See, I can make an excuse for anything. My verbosity is legendary, so this shall be a real challenge…

1. Where is your cell phone? Buried

2. Your hair? Frail
3. Your mother? Selfless
4. Your father? Gruff
5. Your favorite food? Polenta
6. Your dream last night? Nightmare
7. Your favorite drink? Evian
8. Your dream/goal? Artist
9. What room are you in? Study
10. Your hobby? Running
11. Your fear? Death (not my own)
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? Marthonning
13. Where were you last night? Home
14. Something you aren’t? Stable
15. Muffins? Bleh.
16. Wish list item? Treadmill
17. Where did you grow up? North-East UK
18. Last thing you did? Walked
19. What are you wearing? ‘Comfies’
20. Your TV? Ancient
21. Your pets? Minnie
22. Your friends? Bloggers!!!
23. Your life? Uncertain
24. Your mood? Low
25. Missing someone? Nope
26. Vehicle? Pink / Silver Bicycle
27. Something you’re not wearing? Make-up
28. Your favorite store? Online!
29. Your favorite color? Black
30. When was the last time you laughed? Unsure
31. Last time you cried? Five minutes ago
32. Your best friend? Mum
33. One place that I go over and over? Gym
34. One person who emails me regularly? Uh…Mum
35. Favorite place to eat? Study (Home)

I’m sure that I’m supposed to forward this to at least six other bloggers but I’m totally confused as to who’s already received this award. Basically, I’m shirking my responsibilities by saying ‘if you haven’t been already, consider yourself awarded.’ The number of blogs that I’ve been reading recently has grown exponentially, and limiting myself seems impossible. One essay is still 700 words too long…both are full of passive sentence constructions…and still I type.

Lately I have felt powerless and helpless, among other distressing emotions. I’m starting to resent the start of every new day and, which is worse, I’m resenting any form of exercise or productive activity. Needless to say, the only times I don’t begrudge are times when I’m eating. The winter is always just one long major depressive episode. It might not seem that way, but in general I cope with the summer quite well, albeit with the occasional manic phase. Now I’m just slipping back into a place where everything is hopeless and pointless. If I really am bipolar I (and I still believe I’ve been misdiagnosed with that…if my illness is biological, then why can I fight it when I’m in public the majority of the time, barring occasional breakdowns and panic attacks? Why do DBT techniques often help when they’re an external tool? Why can I hold it together for hours and then collapse in tears or become utterly hyper when I’m at home? Why does it confuse the heck out of me some times more than others? Why am I still sitting here when apparently I should have either killed someone else or myself, or else had a complete nervous breakdown and been sectioned because I’m not, and won’t take medication?) then how does that translate into only looking forward to food because there’s nothing else to look forward to: surely EVERYTHING should seem equally bleak? I’ve done some ridiculous things during these phases before, the worst being to walk a mile from home in the dark in just my pyjamas and socks because I couldn’t take the urges to binge any more. I had to get as far away from food as possible. I’ve gained weight already and I’m doing nothing about it…ordinarily I’d have a plan, a strategy to reverse this disgusting process. Now I just don’t have the energy. It doesn’t help that I have a virus (cold?) that’s been sapping me totally but that’s no excuse.

12/10/09~A Dream or a Nightmare?

So…yes, today has been a day of extremes. Up and down like a big, bouncy yo-yo. There are so many analogies I could employ using antonyms, bizarre juxtapositions and antitheses but to be honest I’ll have to stick with the dream/nightmare cliché. Sorry about that…It’s as though something bad automatically follows something good in my life, or I deliberately (but subconsciously) engineer it that way. Case in point: Sunday I ran my fastest half marathon distance (13.1 miles) yet ~ 1:44:05 along an extremely hill-based, undulating route. I was elated to shave two whole minutes off my previous PR in training. So what did I do this morning? Weighed myself. Stupid, stupid decision. Yet another pound on. When will it end? My running leggings are stupidly tight and it’s sheer stubbornness combined with lack of money that’s forcing me to shoehorn myself into them. They were BAGGY on me last year when I bought four pairs of them. And yet I still don’t stop. I keep on eating and eating.

I can’t blame stress from my postgrad course ~ I was pressured during my undergraduate year and the staff were a lot less supportive then because I was still hiding my mental illness and had no notion that I was bi-polar. With my scoliosis preventing any distance over 4.0 miles being doable on a treadmill, in the frost and snow I’ll have no sense of achievement to mediate the fat thoughts, the self-loathing and worthlessness. Running gives me such a high, such an element of euphoria to counterbalance the hideous numbers I’m starting to see on the scale. At the same time, I view facets of my life as dreamlike for all of ten seconds before they turn into a nightmare and what was secure and familiar becomes warped and distorted into an Uncanny version of itself.

I had a serious depressive fit this morning for the first time in almost eight weeks. I couldn’t locate one of the books I needed for Wednesday because someone had taken it out of the library even though I was first on the reserve waiting list. It was just too much on top of the stress and feeling like a beached whale. Not that I did this in public…that’s what the library’s basement is for. It’s just a huge black room often used by performance and drama students which is marginally soundproofed and rarely used in the first semester because the modules are more theory based. I discovered it in my first year when I was still enrolled on the Drama and Scriptwriting course. I dread to think what would have happened had someone walked in on me though…pathetic, to be crying over a book. Pathetic, to be so distraught over gaining weight and then continuing to feed your face because you know that every time you try to stop the gain it goes awry and you end up gaining even more anyway.

A positive thing: Minnie. As per request, more pictures of The Divine One.


She started off like this, but as soon as I whipped out the camera this happened:

Show-off…
Incidentally, this is vastly superior to Meridian’s Almond Butter ~ far less skins, much smoother and creamier and more neutral as opposed to overtly savoury. Also twice as expensive.
Calorific, but delicious. I’d give it 9/10 because although it’s gorgeous, nothing can beat the Biona Cashew butter for sheer decadence. Shame about the price tag, really.
Oh yes, I did…

Sugar-city, needless to say. It’s much nicer than Alpro chocolate soy milk because, despite the appalling nutritional label, it isn’t sickly sweet. Unfortunately, while it’s simply divine with the cocoa balancing well with the vanilla-sweetness of the rice milk base (and I may have drunk a bit straight from the carton), it also makes your teeth feel as though they’re corroding / eroding for about an hour afterwards. I bought two cartons of this and will thoroughly enjoy giving my dentist a fit, but won’t be getting it again. I need my teeth thanks. On taste, I’d give it 9/10 but it loses a point for basically being junk with a healthy label, so overall an 8/10.

So far I’ve enjoyed it with porridge (including raisins and almond butter)

And this version with crumbled Pulsin’ Coffee Brownie and dates.

Erm, can’t think of a way to end the post really…perhaps ‘The End’ will suffice?

I’d also like to thank the wonderful people on my blogroll for providing me with a distraction in between seminars ~ we only get a five or ten minute break (apart from 30 minutes for lunch) so much movement is almost impossible. Resigned to this, I have taken to immersing myself in the beautiful world of stronger, brighter, more talented and gorgeous individuals than myself. I love to read and comment in these breaks…it calms me down and provides some much needed escapism (and also inspiration/wisdom). So thank you once again. I love you all <3.

10/10/09~ Information Overload

I have an absolutely ridiculous amount of ground to cover in this post ~ one of the many disadvantages of being so utterly enmeshed in a web of research related work is the fact that, by the time you do have a minute to breathe and blog, there are so many thoughts accreting in your mind that trying to get them all down without spending the entire night verbalising them (or should that be ‘putting them into words’?) seems like an insurmountable task. I’ve never been brilliant at expressing myself verbally (one of my tutors in the first year commented that my brain thinks too quickly for my mouth to catch up) and it takes me an inordinate amount of time to get a post together because I tend to fret over elements such as grammar, sentence structure and, most of all, whether my words could be misinterpreted or pulled apart later. It comes from being subjected to years of bullies deliberately confusing me and telling me I’d said things which I hadn’t, or bamboozling me into saying something which later turned out to contradict several other things I’d come out with under duress, consequently making me a liar. It bordered on psychological torture for someone with a tendency towards paranoia and social anxiety to start with. Therefore, apologies in advance if some (or none!) of this makes sense or is expressed particularly articulately.

Lets backtrack to Friday. In an attempt to stem the slow, creeping weight gain (which is obviously preferable to huge globs of weight gain but still unnecessary and undesirable for someone with no need to be any heavier) I’ve been attempting to make small adjustments which will save calories without me ‘noticing’ and going into binge-mode from a perceived sense of deprivation. However, Friday I made the mistake of thinking that I could shave about 300 calories off my breakfast by reverting to one of my old standbys from when I was thin (contrary to the impression I have given, for the first two years of my veganism I was still on the thin side, but I achieved it by living off of soy products…light milks, yoghurts, edamame, plain tofu) alongside huge quantities of vegetables. I fully believe that, having never had a problem with digesting soy before, eating such vast amounts of it produced a digestive intolerance from which my body has never fully recovered). Hence, I had this after running nine miles and before heading to the gym (yet another seminar session was cancelled due to staff illness…two in a week! I’m not complaining and I do hope the said staff member recovers…just quite slowly lol. It was blissful to have another morning off):


The last of my Nutiva Chocolate Hemp Shake, 250ml Rice Milk and a Frozen Banana


Sooo thick…I actually had to ditch the straw and use a spoon.

04/10/09~ Heavenly Forces

I should be writing my methodology essay now…but since I’ve finished my critical theory assignment I thought I’d procrastinate a little. Not that anything particularly eventful has happened…I had a bit of a tough day yesterday as there were gale force winds tearing branches off trees for most of the morning and afternoon, which made cycling the five miles to the gym and five miles back a living hell (in bike-related terms anyway). I was so scared the entire time that I was going to be flattened by a car as I struggled to keep my teeny-tiny bike straight (the frame is really flimsy and to be honest it’s too small even for me and my short, stubby legs) but thankfully I managed to get through it with only a shedload of grit in my eyes and a few grazes/bruises to show for it. I ranted at the heavens the entire way home though, when the wind was so brutal that it felt like being punched in the face/chest periodically. I know I should have just left it and accepted my Mum’s offer of a lift in the car but I’m stubborn…especially in this situation, for two reasons: 1.) I’m sick of being a bum who leeches off her parents and has almost no level of independence…and who just doesn’t want to drive no matter how much she says she does. I wish cars just didn’t exist and I could cycle everywhere but the main roads are just lethal. 2.) I’ll be damned if heavenly forces (weather, altered uni schedules, things I can’t control basically) are going to stop me from doing what I want to do. I’m fully aware that the weather is going to ruin my winter training like it did last year and make it too frosty/snowy to run any distance outside…so I just thought I’d like to give it a metaphorical smack in the face and illustrate that it wasn’t going to get the better of me. I even walked further than I normally would in the afternoon just to kick it while it was down. Yes, I personify the weather as some kind of enemy: it just stems from my instinctive belief that the entire world is against me. When my gears crashed on a dual carriageway yesterday, I rode the rest of the way home crying and shouting, ranting at the heavens as tree branches whipped at my cheeks. Thankfully, the gales drowned out most of the noise.

My moods are so weather-dependent. I suppose it’s because I’m usually only holding things together by the barest fraction of an inch and bad weather just tips me over the edge, be it rain, snow, gales or frost. It makes or breaks me. Most of my exercise is conducted outside because I love to feel the freedom of open spaces in general, and the rural scenery where I live is pretty nice…I also love the fresh air. My life has been characterised by manic summers and depressive episodes during the winter, with the usual element of rapid cycling between the two thrown in.

I’ve noticed that I cry a lot. I have no ability to hold my emotions in any more as I did when I controlled my food intake. The emotions were still there, but the safety of calorie-control allowed me to keep them down somehow. Now, it seems like the more I eat (and especially when I binge or overeat) they come tumbling out in mammoth weeping sessions. Perhaps it’s because all the times I wanted to (and was justified in) crying when I was a teenager never happened…my Dad would yell at me and tell me I was weak if I did so I just held it all in, all of the pain from being bullied every single day and not understanding what the hell was wrong with my head. That’s my excuse anyway…it’s emotional payback and that’s why I still cry for no conceivable reason. You’d think a year of it would have exorcised those emotions by now though.

I have to thank Laura for her musical recommendations on my last post! I now have a new band to love: Shinedown. I’d never come across them before (unsurprising, as I don’t really watch music channels or listen to the radio) but they’re definitely on my playlist now. It’s quite timely really, as my beloved Rammstein (who I’ve loved since I was twelve) have a new album out and, while initially I couldn’t contain my excitement, when I listened to the only available track my jaw dropped…and not in a good way. It’s a terrible song and if anyone looks them up on iTunes they’ll see what I’m talking about. I won’t go into it too much here but it’s no reflection of the dark, twisted genius they displayed in their earlier albums. This is just farcical, the aural equivalent of cheap pornography. They’ve always been an odd choice of band for me due to my asexuality and the fact that they’re blatantly one of the most oversexed groups out there…but because they sing in German the lyrics just seemed to work somehow…and they had some truly powerful songs that reflected none of the slightly perverse element of their nature. Sonne, Mutter, Herzeleid, Reise Reise, Ohne Dich; these were some of my favourites. Asche zu Asche was my go-to running song for as long as I can remember and I played it repeatedly when I won my first gym challenge (an organised race on the static bikes~ I was so elated to win it…it must have been five years ago and it seems like it was yesterday). Their albums have slowly become more misogynistic and that really bothers me…I suppose rock/metal generally is as a genre, but it’s just what my heart really wants to listen too…though I often choose to blank out the connotations of certain lyrics completely (as in the Foo Fighters’ All My Life and S.E.X by Nickelback) Sorry, this is such a selfish rant as I doubt anyone else knows what I’m talking about at all! I just have to say: Rammstein, you have let me down. You have no need to sing in English, particularly not immature, US frat-boy English.

Right, on to the food. This blog is meant to be about food, right?


Yesterday’s lunch (I was starving!) ~ GF bread/Pure Spread, Mini Rice Cakes and Chickpea/Tomato/Carrot Salad…
Involving Roasted Mushrooms…and what’s that lurking on the bottom?
Roasted Beetroot! A little balsamic vinegar and…ooh, it was just heavenly. I ate the lot.

Breakfast (today):

1/4 cup GF porridge, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, dates, 1 cup pumpkin, banana, smooth operator PB&Co. I was originally going to use Biona Hazelnut Butter but it was just vile…it tasted bitter and sour. I guess I just don’t like Hazelnuts (perhaps I might if they were roasted?). I just haven’t had much luck with nut butters recently. It’s a shame, as Biona’s Cashew Butter is divine.

Twas a great way to refuel after 13.1 miles (well, technically 13.4 but I count it as half-marathon distance). I’m getting a little frustrated that my times aren’t improving at this distance…I was only 7 seconds outside my PR but a full 2 minutes slower than that on Wednesday. And my PR was run when I was still in a heck of a lot of pain from doing Body Attack the day before on top of Spinning…I should be doing better than this. I also left the agave out of this bowl as it’s empty calories I really don’t need…and I get quite enough sugar as it is. Eh, I really must get back to my essay…happy Sunday all :)

02/10/09~ Fighter

In response to Ellie’s recent (and highly insightful) post regarding low-calorie alternatives for indulgent foods and Katie’s marvellous defence of carbohydrates, I thought I’d quickly elaborate on a recent experience I’ve had which has confirmed that ‘fake’ food never has and never will be an adequate substitute for the ‘real’ stuff. Given my recent anxiety regarding my weight gain since last year, it perhaps comes as no surprise that I tried to locate and eliminate the possible causes of said weight gain in my current diet; the main culprits being dried fruit and nut butters. Calorie-dense but so moreish and delicious, I thought all of my prayers had been answered when I saw that this website sold PB2 in the UK. A quarter of the calories of peanut butter per serving and slightly more protein? I thought What’s not to love? Well, a lot as it turns out. I meant to take a picture of the jars, mixing process and end product when they arrived but I’ve been so busy that unfortunately I didn’t get the chance to charge my camera battery until yesterday. It’s not a tragedy though: I honestly don’t understand how so many people love this product so vehemently. To me it tasted like dry, stale, watery peanuts no matter how much or how little liquid I mixed into it. I managed to ruin a sweet potato by dousing it in the insipid, slightly cheesy-tasting liquid and then had the foresight to try a little of the chocolate variety before applying it to my morning porridge. To be honset, I couldn’t discern much difference between it and the plain variety. I just felt cheated afterwards and ended up craving my beloved rich, thick, dense cashew butter with even greater ardence than before. If you like PB2, and I mean truly like it, then fantastic. However, I know myself that I spent ten years of my life trying to convince myself that I ‘liked’ light soy milk, diet bread, aspartame-laden desserts (when I was vegetarian / before I was vegan) when in reality my positive emotions were every bit as fake as the food itself. Given that I actually gagged on both flavours of fusty PB2 (it has its own distinctive flavour which barely resembles any peanut I’ve ever eaten) and no matter what I did to it the texture was grainy and downright unbearable, I had to give it 0/10 and throw both jars away. Obscene waste of money and food I know, and I felt terrible about it. I feel like a failure for not being able to be satisfied with diet products, like a total glutton who just has to have her ‘fix’ of the full-fat food no matter what she knows it will do to her. They are foods to be enjoyed, but it’s the fact that if I had to cut down on them, I couldn’t which bothers me. I see so many obese people on diets, desperately struggling and not losing weight very quickly, and they seem to have more resolve and willpower than me. If I put on weight, I don’t have the conviction to lose it…being obese seems inevitable in the long run because even though I’m not bingeing the weight gain is tearing me apart internally but despite this emotional distress I’m not doing anything about it. Oops, this was supposed to be a post about nourishing yourself with real food and it’s turned into yet another self-destructive rant. Doh.

Running has been going well *knocks on wood*. I’ve eliminated Body Combat for the time being as the impact was damaging my joints and subbed in more elliptical time. With these changes I should be looking at a 60-mile week *fingers crossed*. I’ve also finally had the gears fixed on the bike I’ve had since I was twelve (I haven’t grown since then! It’s pink and silver and doesn’t help with the common perception that I’m still a tweenager) so hopefully I’ll be able to cycle to the gym more often now rather than relying on my Mum to take me there by car like a spolit child.

I’m actually in desperate need of new running songs, so if anyone has any suggestions they would be gratefully received! They don’t have to be from runners necessarily…just a tune (or ten!) that really elevates you would be perfect. I love rock and metal and despise dance, hip-hop, rap and r n’ b but have been listening to *ahem* Christina Aguilera’s ‘Fighter’ a lot recently. The lyrics mean so much to me, not from the point of view of a lover (obviously!) but with regard to my bipolar disorder. There was a time when I’d never consider listening to her music but perhaps I’ve mellowed a little in my old age.

University work is piling up but thankfully I’m making some significant progress with regard to tackling it: getting the first sentence down is torture, but the following ones aren’t so bad. It’s just I have so many ideas and thoughts that colating them and forming them into a coherent argument or narrative through line has reduced me to tears more than once…it’s as if, if thoughts were ink, they dry up and the very moment that I need them…at 3:00am trying to get some semblance of sleep I’m a bloody genius, but the minute I need my brain to work it turns to mush and I have all the intellectual capacity of a cucumber. Yes, I do have a notebook beside my bed! I also managed to have my first panic attack of the new academic season / semester. Go me. I had to ask to leave an hour early because I was shaking and sweating so much. It came out of nowhere and I seriously thought I was going to faint…I could see the people in front of me but at the same time they seemed ephemeral, ghostly. It was as if, if I tried to touch them, my hands wouldn’t meet with anything solid. Then I sprinted to the bathroom (err…toilets…I’ve been reading too many US blogs!) to splash cold water on my face and became totally paranoid that I couldn’t see my reflection in the mirror and that meant that therefore I had died. How pathetic is that? I practically sprinted to the station and ate a Cocoa Molé Larabar on the train home, concealing it, Gollum-like from the other passengers. It helped a little…when my blood sugars dip all sorts of odd things can start happening and it eased the dizziness a little. It had been four hours since lunch and that’s about my limit…how I used to force myself to go for six or more I don’t know. My body isn’t the same as it used to be and I’d keel over if I tried that now.

I’m not going to let this crap get the better of me. I should be able to function better than this. I should be able to keep my weight in check and run and finish the four lengthy essays I have to do before the 20th November ahead of time. So far, I’ve only completed one. I want to be a fighter and I want to win…it’s just how to make it happen that’s the problem.

Today’s Packed Lunch:

Brown rice salad with a blogger-inspired twist ~ roasted carrots and mushrooms!

Carrot, tomato and chickpea salad

Roasted almonds…yes, that mountain of food was all mine for but one meal.

Stir-fry for dinner with chickpeas and…

Quinoa lurking under there! I used to love Quinoa until I tried the red version and my stomach reacted as if I’d eaten a basket full of chillis. Bad memories meant that I haven’t eaten it in a while but the regular version is fine. Clearly, I love my carbs…

Hope everyone has a great week-end ~ mine will be mostly essay-orientated! I also need to majorly re-organise my research…my room is a total mess of books and notes right now.

Memory Lane: Beyond Bananas (3)

26/09/09~The Good, The Bad & The Uncertain

If there’s one thing being back in a structured mode of education (i.e working to someone else’s timetable) does, it’s truly make you appreciate your days off…although they aren’t really ‘off’ as such because I’m still buried under an avalanche of reading. Not sure if books are really analgous to snow, but that’s how it feels.

Something my brain loves to do is appreciate a good situation for all of five seconds before it creatively finds a way to turn it into something bad. Case in point: today the sun was shining, the weather was beautiful in general, not a cloud in the sky…and 11 of my paintings sold at the craft fair where my Mum and I were exhibiting. I could’t have been happier: granted, I had to drop the price given the current enconomic climate, but with that little boost it means that my little art business is breaking even. And to think I was going to give up after the last time! Obviously being in profit would be lovely, but I obviously set my expectations too high in that regard…probably because I was desperate to find a way to be self-employed doing something I’m passionate about as quickly as possible so I wouldn’t have to do the MRes in English Literature. I’ve seen so many other bloggers make huge changes in their lives, chase their dreams and catch them faster than a cheetah…while I was very happy for them, I couldn’t help but succumb to the green-eyed monster (a lot less healthy than it’s eyeless chum) and feel a degree of chagrin that I was going nowhere and the likelihood of being plucked from obscurity for a book deal or securing employment writing freelance was as slim as it’s possible to be. That little ‘victory’ was uplifting for, as I say, five seconds.

Unfortunately, success always turns into failure somehow in my thoughts and I felt the most hideous sinking feeling of regret that I didn’t pursue my art in the academic sense and get a recognised qualification beyond A-Level. People say that you can retrain at any point, that it’s never too late in life…but education doesn’t come cheaply and due to my financial constraints I had one shot at a degree. I’m kicking myself for picking the wrong option and being trapped by a course that I care nothing for and am quite frankly just not bright enough to complete. The level of reading is high, the critical theory mind-boggling…and it doesn’t help that after 20 minutes or so I totally lose the through line of most of the authors’ arguments due to my obscene inability to focus. I’m trying my best but I am truly struggling. There’s just no sense of satisfaction in this endless analysis: I’m not helping anyone, producing anything original or creative…there’s no room for self-expression at all. The academic world hasn’t moved beyond its sterotype of being the organic, breathing equivalent of a dry, dusty, crumbling, ancient library with no windows or natural light. Melodrama alert, but I’m like a shoot of a plant wilting from lack of water, withering by being stuck in a minute pot from which its roots can’t grow so they tangle themselves up, intertwine so tightly that they can’t absorb any nutrients from the soil and the shoot pales before finally dying away.

I promised to highlight some of the thoughts that came up in comments and really touched me, so here they are:

L said:

’1) failing animals? i would rather that you were a vegetarian than give veganism a bad name. i hope this comes across how i intend but bear with me: people often think of vegans as weird or obsessive. i never wanted to perpetuate the idea that vegans were all anorexic or whatever so i told myself that i couldn’t be restrictive as a vegan, that i had to be healthy and balanced. i would rather that you were a vegetarian than a vegan in this current state because you would be hurting the cause. if you get my drift…? oh, i really hope this doesn’t offend you.’

Offend me? Heck no…give me a kick up the bum, yes. Something I’ve tried my best to do all through my short time blogging is to keep my two loves in life (veganism and running) totally separate from my weird, obsessive, disordered methods of thinking. Several recent posts, mostly where I’m struggling with thoughts of both restriction and bingeing, have crossed the line in terms of giving a terrible impression of what it means to be vegan and damaging what is, to me, a beautiful and worthwhile aim in life. I should never apply negative labels to vegan food, no matter how silly the portion size…I am admittedly extremely conscious that I don’t present a good example of veganism due to my psychological issues and appearance. I’m not the willowy, slender stereotype and I would be abhorred if I thought that anyone perceived veganism to be the root of my disordered eating habits. If anything, it’s the opposite. Believe it or not, I was far, far worse than I am now before I was vegan. As a vegetarian, I went through numerous binge/starve cycles and even ‘experimented’ with purging for a few months (never admitted this before to anyone, not even my Mum). I wanted to be vegan ever since I knew it was possible (at fourteen) but my disorder prevented me because I didn’t know what effect it would have and I was losing weight quickly with 0% fat dairy and skim milk. I worry that when people look at me and discover I’m vegan that I’ll put them off somehow, that they’ll think ‘God, I wouldn’t want to be vegan if that’s what it does to me.’ I want to represent the cause to the best of my ability…however, it’s difficult because I also don’t believe anyone should feel negatively about themselves or feel ‘barred’ from a lifestyle ~ people with EDs have every right to be vegan (as long as it’s not just another form of control) even if it might make people think all vegans are stick-thin and sickly, overweight people can be vegan despite the possibility of it making the lifestyle seem unhealthy. It’s difficult to reconcile my own desire to give a good impression of veganism with mt belief that it’s just not fair to expect vegans to be perfect by definition and to abandon the cause if they show the slightest hint of ‘weakness.’ Saving animals is the priority, and if people are doing that then it doesn’t matter to me what they look like or what else they do with their lives. In my opinion, veganism is a wonderful lifestyle choice no matter who makes it. I don’t know where representation stops and prejudice or judgement begins, but I do know that I need to stop making negative comments relating to food so often (or at least be less vituperative and glib in my choice of language) because as far as I’m concerned, veganism and being a higher weight is preferable to vegetarian restriction (for ME). I suppose that’s another frustration: not being able to do anything to actively help animals aside from donating money. I tried volunteering but quite honestly most of it seemed pointless: the cattery was so inundated with people that there was practically fisticuffs over who got to clean out a pen or play with a certain cat and collecting by rattling tins at people didn’t make sense when I could donate more than I’d make in two days’ worth of collecting. A job is what I’d be after, but in what capacity I just don’t know…I do support animal rights activists but I’m far too much of a coward to risk ending up in jail.

Myrte said:

‘The things you list as being ‘wrong’ and ‘horrible’ of you aren’t as bad when viewed through somebody else’s eyes. Would you shout at a friend when she eats dairy or gains 7 pounds in the hurtful way you are having a go at yourself?

Katie said:

‘I won’t say anything about whether I think veganism, vegetarianism, running a lot, not running at all or anything else is best for you because usually it’s not as simple as either/or and no one else has your mind and your body.

Both of these comments really resonated with me because I somehow see myself as separate from everyone else, lesser…for some reason I almost want to be hurt (pysically as well as verbally) because I don’t believe I deserve to be here. I have so many failings, am so far away from being an ‘acceptable’ person that the rules I apply to everyone else are ten times stricter with myself. I also look to others far too often to tell me what to do: making decisions is a waking nightmare and having to accept that no-one else does have my mind or body (and heaven help them if they did!) is difficult because I often look to other bloggers as a model for what I should do, want someone to make up my mind for me and say ‘eat this, exercise this much’ and everything will be okay in terms of fitness and weight. Sadly, I have to accept that I am ‘me’, not another person, and have to make my own decisions.

Huge thanks once again to everyone who commented on that post…which was so painful and difficult to write but more than worth it for the responses I received.

Just to round up, a small sample of some of the eats I’ve been enjoying recently:

Breakfast (Friday):


1/4 cup GF porridge, 1 cup rice milk, 1 cup pumpkin, cinnamon, agave, sultanas, banana, almond butter


Mmm, nice…but I think I prefer raisins when adding pumpkin to the mix…sultanas are a little too delicate in flavour and get lost amongst the sweet pumpkin/agave fusion.
Dinner (Thursday):
Baked Potato and Sweet Potato with Lentil & Apricot Bolognese + Stir-Fry Veggies

Breakfast (This Morning / Saturday):

Mesa Sunrise Cereal, Rice Milk, Dates, Banana

Dinner (Tonight / Saturday):


Chickpea, Sweet Potato & Chestnut Sofrito, Watercress (love watercress! Haven’t had it in far too long and it’s about the only ‘green’ I can digest…broccoli and I have had a little falling out…)

Been doing better with the portion sizes and not feeling too stuffed, plus hopefully I’m weighing out the right things without being obsessive…some things just have to be weighed so I can re-educate myself as to what a regular portion looks like. I was starting to weigh grapes earlier in the week though…luckily I caught myself doing that today and realised it was starting to become a little obsessive…no, I shouldn’t eat half a bunch at a time as I was doing, but putting six different combinations of grape on a scale to get exactly the desired weight to the gram isn’t right either!

Happy weekend to you all, and good luck to all those who are racing!

24/09/09~ Picture Post

Oy! I truly meant to post last night as I said I would, but then I was weighed down with a mountain of theory to read…theory which has no bearing whatsoever on my research and is extremely difficult to get to grips with given my ridiculously short concentration span. That’s the world of academia for you: pretentious and totally anal for the most part. Actually, I’ve been reading Angela’s posts and her experiences of grad school sound eerily similar to what I’m going through now…the feeling trapped, the hopelessness of realising that there just isn’t anything else out there, the obligation to do the damn course because it’s been offered, the negative impact on eating habits (except mine have gone in the opposite direction to hers) I just hope I can stay as strong as she did. If I was reading something relating to animal rights, fitness, art or nutrition I’d breeze through it but this stuff is just…I don’t know…unnecessary? I really don’t see how some of it benefits humanity at all, save to torture postgrad students…some might argue that’s a benefit, I suppose.

There will be a more insightful post soon (well, as insightful as I get anyway!) but first I need to ask everyone who commented on my ‘Voice 1 Won’ post if they mind at all if I quote directly from the comments, as I think some very important issues were raised and expressed far more effectively than I could ever have conveyed…but I wouldn’t want to do that without permission.

Just to clarify: I don’t consider 2100 kcals to be anywhere near my regular daily intake. It’s just that I’d set myself a ‘target’ of 1500 with exercise for that particular day in my deluded, stress and insomnia-induced meltdown so obviously that’s a lot by comparison and sometimes I feel as though the whole world exists on that intake or less. I don’t ordinarily count calories, but on the days where I was overstuffing myself to the point of nausea I was tallying about 3000. Yeah, it’s really that bad!

22/09/09~Voice 1…Err, Won

None of this post will make much sense unless the post explaining the many voices relating to food and weight that run through my head is read first…basically, I listened to voice 1. Monday morning I hadn’t slept at all because both my back, hips and stomach were acting up. The place where spine meets hip joint felt as though it had been crushed in a vice. My stomach was worse than when I was eating gluten, wheat and soy. I wanted to think my IBS wasn’t my fault, that I was somehow ‘special’ and had coeliac disease that hadn’t been picked up on when in fact I just couldn’t admit that my tummy troubles were down to one simple thing: over-eating. So, the combination of cramps and multiple trips to the bathroom weren’t a lot of fun. I was a zombie in Uni yesterday. The upshot of that was…I didn’t run. In fact, I barely did anything apart from a Geri Body Yoga DVD, walking to/from station and around Newcastle and Body Balance and Pilates in the evening, along with 10 solitary and pathetic minutes on the elliptical in between the two classes to kill time. I haven’t run today either…only Pilates for Dummies DVD and later on Body Attack followed by Body Balance.

I miss running already, but the simple fact was that running and over-eating seem to go hand-in-hand for me…as do over-eating and veganism. I wish I could be a better person; run and be vegan and keep my weight in check. But in trying to totally change my routine I’ve been a mere vegetarian for the past two days. I won’t try and make excuses for this or plead for forgiveness: I know I’ll lose almost everyone reader-wise and be hated for what I’ve done, and I’ve done it solely on the basis of wanting to lose the 7lbs in 8 weeks I found out I’d gained on Monday morning (having gone two months without weighing myself). If I don’t have everything totally pre-portioned beforehand I’ll over-eat. I can’t be trusted with vegan foods, which are too yummy, delicious and guilt-free to be sensible with…it’s almost as though I need the guilt of knowing how hideous the dairy industry is to reign in my food intake. But I’m slipping already…I’m typing here at Uni fighting every second with bingeing thoughts, of what I’ll do when I get home, of how I can carry this on. What I was doing before wasn’t working: I was making myself ill, screwing up my joints, sweating so much through exercise that my skin was just one huge rash and still gaining and gaining. Going back to a sensibly restrictive (i.e cutting down to a slow weight loss level, NOT a starvation level) calorie intake would help me if I could stick to it, but unless I’m feeling so full that I’m almost sick the bingeing thoughts just keep coming back…I wish there was a solution to this, but I just don’t see one. I’m not a runner anymore…I’m not a vegan any more. I have no identity and seriously don’t know why or how I’m existing.

I don’t know whether to continue the blog or not…this was the ‘space’ of one ‘Jessica’ and now she’s gone…the one that’s here now is even worse than she was, liable to binge and therefore put on even more weight and throw everything she worked so hard for away running-wise. It was the thought of the winter that put me over the edge, that and the hip/back pain. I have nothing right now. I am nothing.


This was Sunday’s Breakfast (I did to the 10.1 miles in the end):
1/3 cup GF Porridge, 1 cup pumpkin, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, agave, raisins, banana, tahini
Tahini=lovely combined with pumpkin or sweet potato. Otherwise = bleh.

Butternut Squash soup + GF bread & Pure Spread…I basically ate a whole huge squash on Sunday.

Sunday’s tea: Jacket Potatoes (I’ll stop trying to pretend that they’re ‘baby’ ones when a normal person would eat one as opposed to the three I had), peas, broccoli & lentil/apricot bolognese. And I wonder why my stomach died…

Beautiful running shoes that I bought on Sunday morning…these were the wet weather-gripping pair…my Mum very kindly offered to pay for a new pair after she saw the abysmal state of my old running shoes (the sole was coming loose…I wore them out in 3 months!) I had £50 from my race placing and paid for this pair as they were on sale and I couldn’t resist.

These were the dry weather pair that Mum bought me. Both of them will need to be returned now, as I obviously have no use for them any more.

So I don’t know where to go from here. I can’t read all of the blogs involving the amazing ladies out there who run. There aren’t any other words and I don’t know if anyone would want to see vegetarian food here…just reading my old blog description makes me want to batter my head against a wall. Why I have to be such an abysmal excuse for a person I just don’t know. I’ve failed animals, myself, the blog world. If I don’t binge today it will be a miracle and then I’ll have failed at that too, sacrificed ethics and fitness for weight and got my just desserts…weight gain.

19/09/09~Stuffed

Have I used this post title before? Probably, given that it seems to describe my permanent state of being. Three times today I’ve eaten to the point of feeling nauseous and just plain sick…not a good coping mechanism for dealing with stress. It happens every time: I know darn well that a certain size bowl of cereal will make me totally over-full, I know that eating bananas at lunch time or too many in one day will give me stomach cramps, and yet I still do it. Do I want to be in pain? Do I want to give myself yet another excuse to loathe the psyche I have? Because, after so many years of hating my body, I’m starting to realise that it’s my mind that deserves a kick in the hypothetical teeth. My body doesn’t ask to have ridiculous amounts of food shovelled into it, and naturally isn’t built to be huge (very small frame / bone structure). It’s only my ridiculous, compulsive brain that can turn me into the total blimp I feel I’m becoming.

Week-ends are a little odd…after being out of the standard ‘zone’ Mon-Fri it’s weird to be back in the regular routine; like snapping out of a daydream. Accordingly, I had the usual DVD/spin/elliptical/weights/walk/more weights/yoga version of Saturday. Next week it’s another craft fair (ugh, I really didn’t want to do this one as I can’t bear the embarassment of not selling anything again…but my Mum persuaded me not to give up) so I’d like to try cycling to the gym and back and also taking a Body Attack class after spin. I used to really like it until my knees started to object, but hopefully doing just the one-off class won’t bother them too much. The impact involved seems to be far greater than when running (many twists, turns and jumps…the impact of running is more consistent and I have managed to find grassier routes recently) and more akin to tennis, another sport I loved but had to give up due to the huge stress it put on my back…it was about the only form of exercise I got during my early teens!

My race number for the ten miler in November came today, which made me both excited and scared. Of late, voice 1 has been at the forefront of my mind, not least because everything is so tight on me and I can’t seem to stop the overeating. I don’t know if a drastic change in routine might help…I just know that when your underwear starts cutting into you like cheese wire it’s enough to make you worry that you won’t be able to waddle over the line, let alone run the race.

At least I’ve been quite productive work-wise and am ahead of where I need to be thus far ~ tasks for Tuesday and Wednesday are done and I’ve organised the bibliography so far for my dissertation…I forget just how much I’ve read already. It’s nearly as long as the one for my undergraduate piece and I’ve only been working on it for 8 weeks…quality over quantity though: reading widely and writing something decent are two wildly different things.

Lastly, I have to apologise so much if I offended anyone with my last post ~ I certainly did not intend to come across as attacking or de-valuing people who do have desk jobs, and work damn hard at them. I just meant that, for me, they’re not a preference and I really wanted something more creative or self-directed, personally. I’ve often thought about working with animals, but I’m not sure what capacity would be appropriate as I’m useless with disciplining them (can’t bear to sound cruel! Minnie walks all over me) and turn into a blubbering wreck with any poor creatures that have been abused.

18/09/09~Hope(less)

If there’s one thing I’ve learnt today, it’s that tahini, cinnamon and banana sandwiches do not travel well. Tahini is so much runnier than nut butter that the result is two slices of mildly coated bread and the surrounding silver foil saturated with tahini. Cue much licking of said foil and then much tongue-slicing on the sharp edges. At least on Thursdays I get to have my lunch at home. Actually, my one respite of the week was almost under threat until my supervisor very kindly allowed me to alter my tutorial time…it means staying later, but I’d rather get the chance to actually enjoy my lunch as opposed to scarfing it down as quickly as possible because I still hate eating in public.

Never has the phrase ‘TFI friday’ seemed more appropriate. It’ll be even worse next week though: at least this week I had Monday morning off due to the fact that it was technically ‘induction’ week. I wish I could find a synonym for ‘week’. As several people mentioned it, I know that many individuals have desk jobs and manage to stay thin and in control of their weight. I didn’t mean to insinuate that I thought 90% of the working population were obese due to a sedentary job. What I meant was that one has to be totally in control of one’s caloric intake with a job of that nature, and I don’t have that control. I’ve been used to stuffing in as much as I like while working furiously to burn it off: now that I don’t have as much ‘burn’ time, I have to accept that I need less calories. But it’s not that simple: the minute I try to measure or count again the bingeing thoughts multiply exponentially. It’s a far cry from three years ago, when I would stick rigidly to a limit and freak out if I ate a sliver of cucumber too much. I’m not saying that’s a good thing, but it seems preferable to where I’m at now. I already feel so much bigger, though I’m aware that this may be partially psychological. I wish I could get back in control, but I just don’t know how. I also don’t know where to even set my limit at…I’ve gone almost a year without counting calories and to be honest I have no idea how many I need…none of my recipes are even measured; they’re mostly ‘eyeball’ creations of my own. Sigh. Everything seems so much more manageable when my weight’s under control…all of the crap in my head doesn’t bother me so much…when I’m gaining weight, everything seems so black. It’s the pivot on which things turn from being bearable to being soul-destroying. It’s all very well to say that I should just let it go, but the people who tell me that are generally thin themselves and have never had to struggle with their weight. Of course weight doesn’t matter to someone who’s naturally a desirable size or maintains it with ease.

I think the primary reason that I’ve totally lost control over my food is that it’s the only thing I look forward to every day…and in life in general, really. Before, I had hope in one form or another, hope that I could make something of myself. My novels were my ticket out of here, the books that would take me away from the clock-punching eight hours of hell that most people have to endure every day. My fantasy trilogy was something that I clung to: if only I could complete it, everything would change. I would have enough money to work from home, complete film scripts for versions of the stories, be appreciated, cheat the world out of forcing me into the hideous boxes of conformity and drudgery associated with work. I was stupidly arrogant and naive to believe that they would be published or even picked up on by an agent, but given my natural pessimism they were the one thing I allowed myself to feel even vaguely optimistic about. After I completed them and they were rejected, I slid downhill. My last ditch attempt to escape the cell of inopporunity being prepared for me was my attempt to set up a business with my acrylic paintings, which fell flat on its face. The reality is that now I’m doing a course because I have nothing else, and I’ll end up doing a mundane job for the same reason. Life has bullied me and backed me into a corner, pathetic as that sounds. Perhaps I should have been less ambitious, hoped for less. Perhaps then the resignation to being just another cog in the wheel wouldn’t have hit me so hard. I wanted a job that I enjoyed…I suppose the ability to cope with employment that’s undesirable hinges on outside interests, of which I have none besides running, my crutch. When I was younger, there was still time, still the vague glimmer of possibility for something to make life more exciting. Now I’m 23, everything seems like such a waste and there’s no escape from mundane, desk-bound boredom and an ever-expanding waistline. I wish I wasn’t so afraid of death…it terrifies me though, when you’d think I’d welcome it. Every fluttering heartbeat drenches me in cold sweat from the terror that it’s a heart attack. Why the hell do I even care?

Despite the university situation I’m looking at 50 running miles this week if I stick to the planned 10 miler on Sunday, plus 4 random ones on the treadmill that I completed on Thursday. It’s only half many people’s mileage but quite an…erm, milestone for me. I was contemplating shooting for 13 in honour of the many people doing the Great North Run half marathon on Sunday morning, but thought better of increasing distance too quickly. The last thing I need right now is to injure myself…that really would be the last straw. When the frost of winter sets in, I’m royally screwed. The only times I have to run are early in the morning (like, before 6:00am) and late in the evening (post 7:00pm), and at both times the pavements will be more like an ice rink. While I don’t dislike treadmill running, I can’t go for more than five miles tops without a case of the dreaded dead-leg. Everything is conspiring to make me even more of a whale and I’m powerless to stop it. What really fries me is that I didn’t sign up for this: none of the lessons were meant to be more than 1.5 hours long and in the course outline there weren’t anywhere near as many hours on campus as there are now. One a**hole of a lecturer even extended Wednesday’s classes by 1.5 hours, totally wrecking any chance I had of making it to pilates in the evening. He said that ‘no-one is to leave until I tell them to,’ reminding me of school. Christ, why doesn’t he just install a bell and then when it rings force everyone to sit back down again with the admonition ‘that bell is for me and not for you’?

The worst thing (well, one of them) is the reslessness, irritability, hyperactivity and waves of anger that I usually deal with, magnified by being stuck on my backside with no outlet for them. My racing thoughts translate into ridiculously fast speech, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by those around me.

I’ll stop the self-indulgent moping here. At least breakfast this morning was sun-drenched…


1/3 cup rice/buckwheat porridge, 1 cup rice milk, 1 cup pumpkin, cinnamon, agave, sultanas, banana, crumbled Cocoa Molé Larabar.

17/09/09~ The Good News or the Bad News?

Firstly, I’ve missed posting so much. I’ve missed the sense of connection with people who I actually admire, respect and trust, I’ve missed being able to catch up on and respond to the challenges everyone else is facing and, for the majority, overcoming. Most of all, I’ve missed the sense that there are some individuals out there who give me hope that there is a point to life after all.

I’ll deal with the good news first, as if I start with the bad by the time I’ve finished I’ll have forgotten that there was any good news at all:

  1. I’ve managed to get through the first week without having another ‘episode’, making a complete fool out of myself or breaking down in public completely. I have managed this largely by being utterly silent.
  2. I recieved £50 for my placement in the Middlesbrough Tees Pride 10K! This made me so incredibly happy, genuinely, truly happy…something I haven’t felt in years (literally) It was worth more to me than a £4100 scholarship, which, when I was told I’d been awarded, I met with a melange of dread and numbness. From coming last in every cross country run, from being constantly told that I was fat, unathletic, useless at sports and always would be, it feels like I have actually achieved something relating to a sport I love.
  3. One of my old tutors e-mailed me about some volunteering opportunities with New Writing North, one of which is a web writer and researcher. The post involves working from home (perfect for me!) with only the odd occasional meeting in Newcastle and the opportunity to write for the website in a professional capacity, opening up all sorts of opportunities for paid work. It is on a voluntary basis, but is a case of ‘you need us more than we need you’ and thus is highly sought-after and the application process is consequently highly competitive. It’s also only open to students, which brings me to…

The bad news (well, not so much ‘news’ but anyway)

  1. I think this MRes is going to break me. So far I have spent every evening in tears…no, howling and wailing like a banshee. I’ve backslid straight back into total despair and covered myself in bruises, something I haven’t done since I finished my undergraduate degree in May. Several times, I’ve totally lost touch with reality and scared the living daylights out of my poor, overworked Mum.
  2. I cannot stand sitting for this long. The pain in my back had disappeared until I started this damn postgrad course and now it’s back in full force. It’s hard to even walk with all of the grinding, cracking noises coming from my spine and the muscle spasms which accompany it. My Dad has gone back to his usual charming self and told me to take painkillers and ‘get on with it’, to stop being self-indulgent even though I haven’t said a word ~ those sentences were in response to a particularly loud and nasty crunching sound that my hip made when I pulled off one of my boots. On the other hand, I have my Mum being oversympathetic and telling me constantly to quit this course. I’d love to, if only there were an alternative. I can’t spend any more time in the house with my Dad, having no focus and just vegetating, rotting away. I wish there was something, anything else that I could do. But how many jobs are there out there that don’t involve sitting or standing in one place for long periods of time?
  3. The lack of activity is driving me insane. Fine, I manage to fit most things in by sacrificing sleep (which I wasn’t getting much of anyway) but being in agony from sitting for hours and hours sucks the fun out of everything I used to enjoy. I never used to be able to run as far as I can now and I’m starting to remember why. This course is going to strip away everything that matters to me, everything I’ve worked so hard to achieve. Exercise, but particularly running, was my main enjoyment in life (sad, but I don’t care) and if I don’t even have that then what do I have to get up for? More hours spent staring at a computer screen or sitting on my backside listening to information I can’t even take in because my legs have gone totally numb? If life is meant for living and every day should be lived as though it was your last, I’m certain that I don’t want to spend those days being sedentary for hours on end.
  4. The only thing I have in common with anyone on this course seems to be a tendency towards bingeing / compulsively overeating. I don’t mean for this to sound rude (but it will, there’s no avoiding it) but of the eleven other students seven are obese or morbidly obese. Two girls are ‘normal’ size but part of the 1200-calorie brigade (they witter on about it constantly), one girl is very thin but clearly replaces meals with cigarettes and the same goes for the other male member of the group. All I see is a huge floating neon sign above me in an arrow shape, pointing to the hugely overweight people and flashing ‘this is your destiny’, because regardless of activity if I try to cut calories I binge. I’ve forgotten how to adhere to portion sizes, how to count calories. I hated doing it and don’t want to go back to that binge/starve/diet cycle…but the alternative is weight gain and ending up like them.
  5. Artificial strip lighting is hideous. Those buildings, interior rooms with no windows and poor ventilation, could suck the life out of Roadrunner and make Mr. Happy suicidal. I hate being indoors, I crave the fresh air, I need movement.

    13/09/09~ Extremes / 10.1

    If there’s ever a day which exemplified the mood swings that I go through periodically it’s today…ordinarily, I don’t go through rapid cycling, the process whereby there are multiple swings between mania and depression. Days tend to be either one or the other, or I hover somewhere in between with mild highs and lows of mood but nothing too extreme. I think what caused this was the sudden change in routine and going back to having lots going on as opposed to the set schedule I’ve been used to. I wasn’t dreading a little change, as I’ve been going a bit stir crazy being stuck in the same rut…I’ve also felt as though my brain has been totally eroding over the summer. However, I have to remember that I don’t deal with lots of ‘excitement’ and external stimulii the same way as other people ~ more on that to follow.

    Firstly, I ran my furthest ever distance this morning ~ 10.1 miles. I was so, so elated to finally break into double digits, particularly when I was told aged eleven that I’d be lucky to run 5K with scoliosis like mine in addition to hypermobile joints. I was feeling strong, the weather was cool and cloudy (while I adore the sun, I don’t function brilliantly in the heat) and despite the early hour I pushed for the extra mileage. I loved the fact that it was so quiet ~ at that time on a Sunday morning everywhere is practically deserted…I think I saw two cyclists the entire hour and a half that I was outside. While 1:30:00 is a reasonable time, I was pacing quite slowly and hopefully I can go faster in the future. What made me happiest was that I didn’t feel like death when I stopped…I could have carried on had time not pressured me into returning home and my legs still felt pretty fresh. I know better than to increase mileage too quickly though…it certainly wouldn’t do my spine and joints any favours to suddenly attempt half marathon distance on a whim.

    Breakfast (earlier than usual despite the long run):


    1/3 cup rice/buckwheat porridge, 1 cup rice milk, 1 cup pumpkin, cinnamon, sultanas, agave, banana, PB & Co Crunch Time (last of the jar…I may or may not have used my finger to root out the last remnants and then licked it. Twas a clean finger though, I can assure you.)

    Mmm, almost as good as my coffee experiment! This was the perfect, decadent breakfast to re-fuel with and I’m so glad that I dragged myself out of bed extra-early so that I’d have time to enjoy a proper breakfast before heading off to enrolment at uni…for the past three years during term time I’ve had to slam down a Trek Bar and a banana on a crowded, noisy, stuffy train every weekday morning so I’d really rather avoid having to do that again (this was before I discovered my sensitivity to soy). All of my other meals and snacks I’m quite flexible with, but breakfast is different…I get really upset if I can’t take the time to really enjoy it and savour it. Due to the longer run I had to eat my porridge a little more quickly than I’d have liked, but it still didn’t spoil the experience of coming in from a run ravenously hungry, then sitting down quietly and calmly and totally indulging in a bowl of warm porridge. It still took me a good 25 minutes to eat! Oh, and eating cereal, porridge and soup with a teaspoon is totally necessary…you just don’t appreciate it on the same level otherwise!

    After breakfast, still on a high, I bundled myself out of the door to go to Uni and enrol…well, I’d already enrolled online and it was just going to be a simple process of picking up my Smart Card and showing the people from Finance my studentship confirmation letter. Or so I thought. When my Mum and I arrived there, there was a queue comprising of hudreds of people stretching almost a mile out of the building. We joined the line to patiently wait in the cold, wet weather that had descended. After 45 minutes I started to feel…odd, twitchy, slightly separate from the events going on around me. All of the noise, chatter and crowds weren’t bothering me in the way that they usually do. I was chatting away to my Mum, talking extremely quickly so that it almost seemed garbled, smiling and laughing loudly, bouncing around in a manner that barely resembles my default personality. I was so energetic that Mum basically had to tell me to be quiet and wait patiently as if I was an excitable toddler. She kept asking if I was okay and I couldn’t understand why…there was nothing wrong with me! I was invincible; none of the people scared me at all. Then, just before we got into the building, twitchiness and anxiety layered themselves on top of the surges of energy I was experiencing. I started to worry and to ‘see’ shadows of people that when I turned around weren’t there. By the time that we came to pick up the Smart Card, we’d been immersed in the crowds for well over an hour, only to then be told that we’d have to join another line to see the people from Finance. This line was LONGER than the first one. The light in the building seemed odd and there were more of the strange ‘shadow-people’ lurking near the second line. I don’t know what happened next but for some reason I was crying and hyperventilating, being led out of the building by my Mum. The scariest thing was that I had no clue where I was: I’d seriously lost all sense of orientation and become terrified that the room was shrinking and those shadows were going to follow me out. It took me ages to walk back to the car, still dazed and confused. I should have recognised the signs earlier, realised that rapid speech and such a huge energy peak wasn’t normal and got out of the situation more quickly, perhaps asked Mum to save a space in the queue for me so I could get out of there and calm down. But no, I had to make a complete idiot out of myself. I could have controlled it, I know I could have. Last week I got the news that it’s been recommended that Lithium would be the best option for me in terms of controlling my moods, but I want to work with the bipolar element of myself, not drug it into submission. I know it’s an issue that I have with wanting to control myself through willpower, which is why I have such a distorted relationship with food and covet restrictive behaviors. I have had complete breakdowns in public before, embarassing though they are, but I did think that I’d begun to feel more stable in that respect. I don’t want to give up yet though…the increased self-awareness derived from reading extensively about my condition has brought me so close to being able to manage it…I’m going to give it a month (or until Halloween, which seems appropriate!) and if I’ve still made no more progress then I’ll take the damn stuff…but only as a last resort.

    After some seriously deep breathing and being locked in the car for half an hour, I managed to come back to reality. Typing this has been difficult, particularly admitting about the prescription…it’s the final nail in the ‘yes, you are a total nutcase’ coffin for me, the confirmation that unless you pop a certain pill you’re likely to become totally hostile and paranoid. For the entire journey home I felt so lethargic and achey. I just wanted to go to bed and sleep until the apocalypse. I was such a failure, so worthless, so pathetic for not even being able to stay to get my finances sorted. Mum offered to phone the finance department and get my studenship sorted that way but that wasn’t the point. I’d gone from a massive high to a devestating low. Once home, I came out from under my tear-tainted duvet for 80 minutes to do a Nell McAndrew Peak Energy DVD.

    Lunch was a repeat of yesterday, and in the afternoon I snacked on an apple and a Cocoa Orange Nakd Bar after my walk. I also managed to burst into tears again over the cost of my course books, of which the library has one copy of each which are already on loan. I need so many for my research too, and none of the regional libraries has them available. Therefore, I’ve had to spend £300 on Amazon buying them second hand (would have been more like £500 new!) The last of my saved money has now gone…I had some left over from my performance-based grants that I received over the past two years and more from the two separate years (at 18 and 20) where I was a ‘functional restricter’ and worked three jobs simultaneously while using starvation to numb and dull my emotions and thought patterns until my body crashed and gave in both times ~ once to chickenpox and once to total exhaustion. Then my Dad offered to pay for any further materials for the course, as I was worrying like Hell about the books for next semester. Needless to say, that made me feel like the worst human being in the world. He has been kinder since my diagnosis, and Mum observed that he’s trying to make up for all the years of dealing with my illness with aggression and derision. I really am such an awful person…he offers to do something so nice for me and yet I still find it so difficult to forgive him.

    I did 20 Minutes of Tae-Bo (the supposedly-8-minute workout DVD) 45 minutes of my Pilates Conditioning for Weight Loss DVD and then we were off to my keyboard lesson. I snacked on a Cocoa Molé Larabar on the way there in the car, and actually really enjoyed it! Perhaps they’re growing on me…they do say that you have to try a food twenty or so times before you can assimilate the taste and that’s why fussy toddlers take so much persuading…maybe I’ve altered my palate a little? Keyboard went really well: my sight reading and scales have improved immensely…but I was conscious of more racing thoughts starting to creep in again. Keeping a lid on them was extremely difficult and the entire way home I just lay back in the car seat and shut my eyes, trying to use the darkness as a means of calming myself down again.

    (Very Late) Dinner:

    Baby Jacket Potatoes, Lentil & Date Bolognese, Peas

    I had to wait until my heart had stopped racing and I could think coherently again before cooking or eating. Now I’m excessively tired and low again…I seriously pray for more stability tomorrow. I hope this wasn’t too strange a post…I’ve been hesitant to write about these episodes because they’re not exactly part of ‘civilised’ society’s definition of what’s acceptable. I’ll leave you with a review, as they’re probably the most sane part of this blog at the moment:

    Product Review: PB & Co Crunch Time
    I have never been a great fan of crunchy peanut butter. A smooth girl at heart and highly sensitive to texture, I always found that the chunks of peanut detracted from the velvety, decadent, rich texture of the smooth variety…if you wanted whole nuts, why not just go and eat a handful of them? But PB & Co’s nut butters surpass UK brands by such a huge margin that when Tescos were out of the Smooth Operator, I happily resorted to the Crunch Time variety. Aside from the incredibly messy process of stirring in the oil, there isn’t much negative to say about PB & Co. However, the sharp chunks of peanut do tend to stick in the throat a little and to me the extra textural layer is unnecessary in what is, after all, a nut BUTTER. I don’t think I’ll ever ‘get’ chunky PB and on occasions the shards of peanut have been difficult to digest, resulting in acid reflux. Nevertheless, the taste is intensely peanutty and the lack of palm oil used to amalgamate the bland, globby UK PBs mean that it’s still a cut above the rest.
    7.5/10

    12/09/09~Cinnamon Overload

    Huge thanks for all of the amazingly sweet comments I received in response to my last post ~ I was a little worried after my Mum read it at work (yes, she is a workaholic) and said it sounded like I was begging for attention, the kind where people call themselves fat or ugly perennially just to hear other people say ‘no, of COURSE you’re not!’ and they don’t really believe that they are either fat or ugly in the first place: they just want to hear others validate their looks (or intelligence, or athletic ability…you get the idea). That wasn’t my intention at all and never has been…to be honest every time I do post pictures I’m worried that I’ll have a barrage of negative comments so thank you again. It seems we have all concluded that the majority of teenage boys are missing several (million) brain cells. Not all though, there is hope out there!

    Oh, and to Charlotte (I would comment or contact you personally but obviously you have a private profile), nothing you said sounded shallow at all! Just because I may moan on in a particular post, doesn’t mean that you can’t make a light-hearted comment in response : ) Actually, the Body Combat release you mentioned is one of my all-time favourites and I most certainly sang along to the Status Quo track. Actually, the coach always used to encourage us to sing and throw our arms in the air during the chorus of ‘I am the One and Only’.

    Snackie (last night):


    Nope, still haven’t cleaned the paint off my desk. I do spray it with anti-bacterial spray and wipe it several times in a day though, so it’s not totally unhygenic!

    10/09/09~In Two (Hundred) Minds

    I still can’t believe some of the things I wrote in yesterday’s post. Quite honestly it makes me cringe to re-read it. The trouble is that for the entire day (and, latterly, night) I have multiple perspectives and competiting voices constantly running through my head, hence my inability to either sleep or concentrate. I wonder at what point the human body begins to break down from consecutively poor rest conditions? Anyhow, the repeating dialogue I’ve had going on for most of my adult life runs something like this (I’m giving all of the elements of my brain a chance to air their views, in the hope that this might exorcise some of them!):

    Voice 1 (in full flow yesterday):
    *If you were vegetarian you could portion-control everything.
    *You eat far too much sugar: the blog world has universally condemed sugar recently.
    *Certain influential blogs have highlighted the fact that it’s better to watch your diet like a hawk than to exercise and then eat more. You’d be thinner if you did less and ate less.
    *Fage 0% fills you up like a brick: you’d be so, so wonderfully thin if you ate it because it would make cutting calories so much easier.
    *There are loads of vegetarian options when eating out at chains that you can look up online in terms of nutritional information. You could go out and look ‘normal’ while still losing weight.
    *You’re a slob. You sweat so much through exercise that your hair’s a mess constantly, you don’t follow fashion or bother with make-up. No wonder people think you’re ugly.
    *Less exercise+ready meals instead of cooking=more time and less stress. You could learn to drive.
    *You won’t have to freak out in the winter if you stick to strenuous classes or worry about dead-leg on the treadmill and gaining weight.

    Voice 2:
    *What’s the point of portion control if you know fine well that it will leave you hungry, miserable and liable to bingeing? You’ve been down that road before. Happiness does not lie at the end of it. Someone who has 1/4 cup of oats for breakfast is no better than you for having 1/2 cup and toppings. They’re just different.
    *Since when did you blindly follow the crowd? You’re totally anti-conformity and those posts were so sanctimonious that you nearly spat at the screen reading them. Let others vilify sugar if they want to. Do your own damn thing.
    *See above. Bugger what others tell you to do and good for them if they want to bash running and cardio because they don’t bother to do it themselves. Running has given you self-esteem and made you strong, and let’s not forget that you can’t sit still for more than an hour anyway. Scoliosis and inactivity are not friends.
    *You might be thinner but you’d also be a stinking hyprocrite who puts vanity before the suffering of innocent animals. You’d be no better than someone who fronts a PETA campaign and then models fur on the catwalk. Thinness is no reason to abandon your beliefs.
    *I wear what I’m comfortable in. If people think I’m a slob for keeping my clothes until they either don’t fit or fall apart, then they’re too materialistic to be worth knowing. Some people are stylish and follow fashion and yes, they look great. But it’s just not YOU…YOU don’t enjoy clothes shopping or getting ‘dressed up’.
    *Semester two is two hours shorter than semester one. Most people have one two-hour driving lesson a week. You do the maths. And ready meals are no substitute for home cooking, particularly not when they have ingredients that you know damn well will screw up your stomach.
    *Do as much as you possibly can in the winter. No, some days will not be suitable for running outside. No, you don’t like running on the treadmill, but suck it up and get on with it. It’s necessary for your training. Just cut back *a little* to compensate.

    There are also two subdivisions of these voices:
    Voice 3: Cutting calories to a highly restrictive level on a vegetarian intake that’s predominantly protein and doing only yoga, pilates and walking to achieve the lean, frail limbs I crave as opposed to being overly muscular.
    Voice 4: Ditto above, but going raw or using an online calorie counter to work out a calorie-restricted vegan diet.

    In addition, there are my two most hated voices, the two that seem most engrained and hardest to silence:
    Voice 5: Bingeing on vegan food to numb the pain and uncertainty of life (hey, at least you’re not harming anything but yourself)
    Voice 6: Bingeing on anything, animal, vegetable, mineral or toothpaste. You’re a worthless tub of lard who doesn’t deserve to have morals. You fear being obese and I’ll do that to you. I’ll break your heart and turn you into everything you abhor.

    I really hate that last voice…the one that controlled me totally when I was sixteen and made me gain 20lbs in three months. They’re more discordant than a choir full of X-Factor rejects once they all get going together. Last night and the night before I vascillated between voices 1 through 5 over twenty times in six hours, only for voice 1 (who I like to see as the voice of reason) winning out and persuading me to get my arse out of bed. When unanticipated stress is placed upon me (as with my uni schedule) I have serious trouble in deciding or realising which voice is truly ‘me’: I become so confused and my sense of self starts to break down, to the point where I’ll jump from a moving vehicle in the hope that I’ll land on my head and they’ll shut up for good. I’ve seen quite a few bloggers wondering whether blogging is inherently vain and/or egotistical, and if that’s the case then I’m afraid I might win first prize for being the worst (best?) example of this. One day I would like to write something beautiful that helps people or changes the world, but at the moment I suppose I’m compiling the equivalent of a public diary. I just hope it’s not too excessively self-orientated to read…

    60 minutes of Tae-Bo DVD

    Breakfast:Whole Earth Organic Maple Frosted Flakes, Rice Milk, Banana

    While gorgeous, these do go soggy and lose some of their flavour a little more quickly than I’d like…I love me some crispy, crunchy cereal. The puddle of maple syrup-infused milk left at the end more than compensated for that, though. Now, if only they’d make maple-frosted Doves’ Farm Cornflakes…

    Spinning, 40 minutes on the elliptical, 7.2K in 35 minutes on the treadmill (30 running, 5 walking), stretching. I then spent the rest of the morning desperately trying to sort out the IT problems relating to my re-enrolment for postgrad at uni…apparently they have me registered as a first year undergraduate. Because they can’t be bothered to update the system regularly, I’ll have to wait until tomorrow to check that it’s *finally* sorted out.

    Lunch:

    Usual Carrot/Nectarine/Grape Mountain (unpictured ~ we all know what it looks like!)
    Home-made Hummus Sandwich with Agave Roasted Aubergene (Eggplant) and MORE Hummus on the side

    The hummus was just chickpeas, parsley, olive oil, tahini and a squeeze of lemon. Oh, and some of the ‘juice’ from the chickpea can. No garlic for me. I was craving the store-bought version but I knew my tummy would punish me for consuming that amount of garlic. This turned out quite well, though a little bland (even for me) and thick…I suppose it was more like a chickpea ‘paste’. I have more left for tomorrow though so perhaps the flavour will improve with time. It paired nicely with the sweetness of the aubergene though.

    Walky McWalks and a lot of reading later…

    Afternoon Snacks ~ not all at once!
    (we’ve seen them all before too):

    Pink Lady Apple
    Cocoa Orange Nakd Bar
    Cocoa Molé Larabar…they’re growing on me, I think? The annoying thing is that the texture is just perfect and one gets the sense that it would be bloody gorgeous if they’d just had the sense NOT to put chilli in the darn thing.

    Pilates for Dummies DVD and then Body Jam preceeded…

    Dinner:


    Chickpeas & Roasted Veggies in Tomato Sauce with Roasted Butternut Squash
    Peas (just for you Aisha)

    As I mentioned in my ‘clarification’ post below, the only two aspects of my life I’ve managed not to sully or taint with my OE behaviors are running and veganism. These are the cornerstones of my existence, the only facets of my day which give me any sense of achievement or self-esteem. Therefore, they will stay. I want to keep as active as possible, but I’ll just have to become accustomed to working things around seminars / lectures instead of the other way round. I’ve done it for three years and I can do it again…it’s just the panic reaction that I always have when I’m thrust out of my comfort zone, to desperately try to lose weight because somehow that will make everything okay and I’ll be able to cope if I’m ‘thin’ because that was the case before. What I conveniently forget is that the coping was only temporary and soon everything collapsed around me: the reassurance of controlling once’s weight can only take you so far, and I really need to devise some healthier coping mechanisms so that the next time something unexpected is sprung upon me I won’t nearly do something I later regret. Believe it or not, I am a lot better than I used to be since blogging: I can now recognise negative thoughts and actively fight them instead of being overwhelmed by them…I am also more flexible with food and exercise in general and better at altering the times at which I eat to accommodate external circumstances, probably directly because I’m not ravenous with hunger the entire time. I have made some progress, and my stomach seems to be settled again today…perhaps yesterday’s issues were due to stress? It’s just so confusing because most of the time I do eat when I’m hungry and not stuff in too much, but I forget that on the days when my stomach plays up because I feel like I don’t have a ‘right’ to eat at all and most people would just go without for the day. On those days, eating on the basis of appetite would leave me not eating at all, and psychologically I can’t cope with that…I don’t know how to deal with those days and they still get to me because I hate eating when I’m not hungry, but still can’t go for more than five hours without food. I would use the word ‘paradox’ but I think it’s becoming my blog’s trademark so I’d better not ; )

    Nighty Night

    xxx

    ~Clarification~

    Sorry, this is just a short note more to myself than anything ~ proper post will come tonight and yet again I have a lot to say! I just had to renounce some of the ridiculous things I typed in my last post: that was not ‘me’, that was the result of three consecutive nights of total insomnia and a psyche cracking under the pressure of my new schedule. I have been seduced by the voice that wrote that post before, tempted by the prospect of controlling calories and existing on pre-packaged, portioned ready meals and 0% greek yoghurt because it sits in my stomach like a brick and gives me an illusion of fullness with minimal ‘damage’. The order and stability of counting and losing weight is the only coping mechanism I’ve ever had aside from bingeing (paradoxical, I know) and my instictive reaction when something stressful is thrown at me is to retreat into one behavior or the other. Well, nuts to that. I won’t give in this time, not to either of them. Being thin at the expense of one’s ethics and morals is deplorable and I won’t do it. Running and veganism are the only two things that truly matter to me, the only two things totally separate from my obsession with food and weight (i.e losing it). Running may be an addiction, but it’s the best damn addiction in the universe to have…I wasn’t considering stopping due to its addictive nature, I was considering stopping because it makes me eat more, both psychologically and physically. I totally respect the dietary choices of others, but although I may find the idea of lacto-vegetarianism palatable (taste and fullness wise), there is no possibility that I will ever consider the consumption of such products either natural (I only used the word ‘natural’ in my last post with respect to dairy by way of comparing it with protein powders and bars: obviously the most natural protein sources are, in my opinion, beans, nuts and pulses) or ethical. Coming up to my fifth year of veganism (aside from three borderline psychosis-induced ‘slips’ along the way), I can honestly say that the weight gain has been worth it. I hate the fact that for some reason veganism and calorie-counting just do not compute for me, but they don’t. Perhaps it’s one restriction too many, or perhaps it’s the fact that most low-calorie vegan foods are packed with fibre or are based on soy. Perhaps it’s because portioned vegan foods are stuffed with onion, garlic or are based on gluten/wheat. Agonizing stomach pain, anyone? The point is that the most delicious foods in the world are vegan, but they aren’t always low-calorie or the most filling…the three ‘episodes’ where I binged for a day (or, in the most recent aberration, a week) on foods that weren’t vegan were a direct result of trying to restrict calories over a long period of time. But bugger it, I always come back to veganism because being vegan is the only non-selfish thing I think I’ve ever done in my life and though sometimes I find it hard with the other dietary restrictions I have, it’s bloody well worth it. I will run that ten miler in November, and I’ll do it using the legs that yesterday’s voice deemed chunky, hideous and fat. If that voice was a person, I’d poke it’s eyes out.

    *This merely represents my view on the best lifestyle choices for ME: I am in no way ‘attacking’ anyone who isn’t vegan. I love and respect many bloggers out there, vegans, veggie and omnis alike*

    09/09/09~Tumbling

    So it appears that the calendar on my computer has been set a day ahead for lord knows how long and every post has been dated 24 hours in advance of where it should have been. How embarassing. It just goes to show how out of touch I am, but the days all blur together so much at the moment that I really have no idea about what’s going on in my external surroundings: I’m so caught up and trapped in my head that it’s taken me weeks to realise that the dates are a mistake. Was everyone just too polite to say anything? Such a glaringly obvious error just points to my continually decreasing ability to function. Well, no matter: I stated yesterday that repetitve dates numerically (I wish I could say palindromic but they’re not…darn) mess with my psyche and today has been such a doozy that my theory still stands.

    09/09/09~Excessive Repetition Makes My Head Hurt

    Sorry Jessica had her moaning hat on last night ~ I read and appreciated every comment I received so huge thanks to everyone who did say a few words, particularly those who chose to de-lurk and support me : ) This morning I received the timetable for the MREs and it turns out that we’re required to attend many more (and longer at a time) hours than was originally stated…basically I’m going to have an extremely full schedule after next week and the course seems extremely intense. Fitting in keyboard (exam in December…eek!) and exercise is going to be tricky, and unfortunately I have to at least attempt to sleep too. Though I don’t want to leave the blog world, it’s unlikely that I’ll have time to post with any particular frequency…which at least means everyone will get a much needed break from me berating myself at every opportunity. I will try my best to keep reading and commenting, but if I seem absent it’s not because I don’t care or want to reciprocate with the help and love that I have been privileged to receive myself. I’ll just say sorry and apologise in advance, both for the projected leave of absence and the brevity of this post: trying to work out how I’m going to organise everything is making me extremely unfocused and I really need to write everything down to stop it repeating over and over in my mind. For some reason dates like today’s annoy me too…they seem to symetrical and ‘perfect’ that it renders the current chaos of my life almost inappropriate.

    Last night I tried the other flavour of Pack Tunch bar for a snack:



    Product Review: Lemon & Lime Pack Tunch BarWhen I opened the wrapper of this bar, the smell was promising: it was reminiscent of lemon meringue pie. I am really not a big fan of citrus flavours at all (unless it’s chocolate/orange) so I was a little hesitant to try this bar and, unfortunately, I wasn’t a fan. It was somewhat bitter and sickly, and I struggled to finish it. Sadly I’d already taken too many bites to have something else so I ate the rest anyway, but I definitely didn’t like the combination of flavours at all…dried apricots combined with lime just seems wrong. I don’t rate Pack Tunch bars very highly ~ Nakd and Pulsin’ make much nicer variations on the ‘raw/date/nut orientated’ snack theme, but sadly none of them can compare to the dearly departed Larabar (in the UK) for sheer variation of flavours and general consistency of deliciousness (Cherry Pie and Ginger Snap aside!)
    2/10 (at least the aroma was nice!)

    Today’s Run: 9.36 miles
    Today’s Breakfast:


    Best porridge combination I’ve ever made…it might sound disgusting but bear with me. After seeing all of the variations on coffee oats in the blog world, I paid homage to the concept with: 1/2 cup rice/buckwheat porridge, 1 cup rice milk, 1tsp decaf coffee (the real stuff sends me haywire) raisins, agave, cinnamon, banana and a chopped Pulsin’ Coffee Brownie. I placed half of the brownie pieces at the bottom of the bowl, then poured the porridge on top…and finally threw on the rest of the brownie. Oh Lordy, the brownie pieces melted into the most divine goo and infused the oats with their rich sweetness. This was so much more like an indulgent dessert than a breakfast (and probably had more calories than an indulgent dessert but what the hey)

    1 Hour Tae-Bo Get-Ripped
    Lunch:
    PB&Co Crunch Time & Banana Sandwich plus other nana half & PB
    Grape/Carrot/Nectarine plate

    PB Goodness

    Walk + Panicking about MREs timetable…sooo many 3 hour lectures : (
    Snack:


    Jazz Apple, TWO Cocoa Orange Nakd Bars (stress+I was acutally hungry for a change)

    45 Minutes Body Jam
    1 hour Body Balance (definitely needed that!)

    Dinner:


    Sweet Potato with Baked Beans, stir-fry veggies
    Ugh, was a smaller potato than I’m used to and I’m worried I’ll be too hungry/weak-willed and bail on my run tomorrow or binge. Must end post now before another negative rant ensues. Night all.

    *ETA: Just realised this is my 100th post…what an anticlimax!*

    08/09/09~Yo-Yo

    Mondays after race days are destined to be difficult: I came to that conclusion after waking up this morning in a thoroughly foul mood. Everything felt so draining and pointless, and the sensible, measured Jessica of the previous day was just a distant memory. Sniffling and weeping while you’re stretching and getting dressed without knowing why is just irritating…I don’t know if it’s the fallout of adrenaline/cortisol levels peaking during the excitement and element of stress involved in racing or just my usual lurches in mood. I’m always euphoric in the hours immediately succeeding a race, then everything takes a downward spiral either in the evening or during the following morning (or both!) It’s not psychosomatic or a self-fulfilling prophecy (whereby I become tense/anxious simply by anticipating a downturn in mood), so I’m at a loss as to what causes it. Nevertheless, the weather was decent and my hip / hamstrings felt as good as they ever have post-race so I went out for a 9.65 mile run (loving the fact that I can be precise with distances now), taking it easy in terms of pace.

    Breakfast:


    1/3 cup rice/buckwheat porridge, 1 cup rice milk, 1 cup pumpkin, agave, cinnamon, dates banana, tahini drizzle and the last tsp of sunbutter. If that sounds like a lot it’s because it was. I must have eaten about ten more dates in addition to this and was spectacularly full afterwards…I have a real problem with overdoing it at breakfast, probably because it’s my faourite meal / contains my favourite tastes, textures and food combinations. That’s no excuse though.

    The aforementioned Sunflower Seed Butter

    To me, that’s a near-empty jar. Too bad it was a 330g jar and therefore not large enough to fit my mammoth serving of porridge in.

    Product Review: Monki Sunflower Seed ButterI have mentioned this before but never given it a full review. When I initially tried a tentative teaspoon of this, I really wasn’t sure that I was going to like it. Reluctant to throw it away and waste it as I’d ordered it online out of curiosity, I resolved to use it in my morning porridge. My mind was instantly changed: it has a very ‘savoury’ taste with a slight hint of bitterness from the sunflower seeds (which are the only ingredient) but when paired with something sweet the flavour truly comes alive and compliments sweet potatoes fabulously. The texture is thick and smooth with an element of bite, as the seeds are ground into a fine paste with only a touch of graininess. It’s an acquired product and not as universally appealing as PB (or as diverse in uses), but I love it nonetheless.
    8.5/10

    Being so stuffed after breakfast induced major feelings of guilt and self-disgust. I hate being so full, but only because it means that it’ll be ages before I can eat again without it being purely for emotional reasons. I think that I want to change so badly, that I can follow this ‘x-calorie’ plan or the other but the truth of the matter is I’m too scared to try and to be without the comfort that food provides, the sense that there’s actually something to look forward to in the day. Having tried every scheme, club and social activity under the Sun and concluded that life essentially, for want of a better word, sucks, food really is all I have. I’ve gone from one extreme to the other: before the satisfaction and security came from not eating it but now I can’t live without it…the only way I can stop myself from bingeing is by being constantly in a state of fullness. I stopped counting calories because it was worstening the urge to binge, but at a rough estimate I must get through 3000 plus and that’s just obscene ( I do post or mention everything I eat…well, apart from the two cups of tea or decaf coffee with rice milk I have in the morning and afternoon )

    I’m so scared that in the future I won’t be able to maintain the level of activity I do now…Christ, I’m terrified about what impact sitting for so long once University starts again will have as before I’ve either been restricting calories or deliberately eating foods which aggravate or ‘purge’ my digestive system so most of what was eaten wasn’t absorbed. I’ve trapped myself in a cycle whereby I don’t have the ability any more to eat less to compensate for lack of exercise (or just less exercise) and every time I see an obese person I just think that they’re the logical extension of the situation I’m in now. I don’t want to end up like them, horrible though it sounds. I would rather be dead.

    Reading blogs this morning actually upset me even more, because I started comparing my pictures to another post involving a full-length shot and feeling totally revolted by the size of my legs by comparison to another blogger who also runs. She’s much thinner than me, eats a totally portion-controlled and healthy diet, takes care of herself, gets amazing grades, lives away from home in college…she literally has it all, obviously never has to worry about overeating and I just feel so horribly inadequate and such a big fat failure by comparison. When I was thin I used to validate myself and my screwed up psyche by having the reassurance that had something which was desirable: I was underweight (which to most women in our society is something to be envied), then I validated my overeating through the fact that I ran and exercised enough to somehow have a right to stuff my face. I always get the sense that I have to choose between life and thinness, and right now I have neither. I’m not even a particularly good runner when I read the times for last year’s Thirsk 10 miler: many of the women are finishing the race around the 1 hour mark, which is insanely fast compared to me. It’s making me wonder if I’d come last if I ran it…
    Body Combat is, luckily, good for channelling anger and despair. I did 30 minutes of weights beforehand and then another 15 with stretching afterwards. I still wasn’t that hungry afterwards but unsuprisingly ate anyway.

    Lunch:

    Mango, Nectarine and Carrot…I was so lazy that I ate it out of the plastic container that the prepared mango came in.

    Home-made Baked Beans (just haricot beans, creamed tomatoes, tomato purée, cinnamon and paprika all reduced down so that the ‘sauce’ thickens), GF bread with Pure Spread.

    Just the usual walking, keyboard playing and research in the afternoon. I’ve almost exhausted my current supply of books and information so will have to wait until enrolment this Sunday before I can rob the library of every book it has relating to Early Modern Literature and Cultural Materialism once I have my updated library card. Still not particularly hungry, I had a snack of a Ginger Bread Nakd bar and a Pink Lady Apple. I don’t know why I liked the ginger flavour so much when I first tried it…it seems so dry and almost acidic now.

    Thankfully, after pilates at the gym I actually had a genuine appetite for:

    Dinner:

    Broccoli, peas, chickpeas in tomato sauce.

    Polenta & nutritional yeast…repetitive but so delicious.

    07/09/09~Chocolate Covered Sunday aka Middlesbrough Tees Pride 10K Race Recap

    Welcome to a hazy recap of today’s race; hazy because I can hardly keep my eyes open. Three words: Jessica…very…sleepy. Before the eventfulness of the race (and particularly the start!) I have a product review of the Larabar I ended up having for last night’s snack:


    I really should get round to cleaning all of that acrylic paint off my desk…


    Bar interior. The ingredients are simply almonds, dates and unsweetened dried bananas.

    Product Review: Banana Cookie Larabar
    Now THIS is what a banana-based bar should taste like. After the sickly, artifical abomination that was the Banana Bread Nakd Bar, this was a welcome relief and couldn’t have been more of a contrast. It genuinely tasted like the banana cake my Mum used to make that I loved as a child and had a virtually identical texture. There was a perfect balance of savouryness from the almonds and sweetness from the banana/dates, and because, unlike other Laras, almonds were the top ingredient, the bar was firm and dense. It wasn’t remotely oily, and of the flavours seemed the most satisfying in terms of hunger.
    8/10

    I never do particularly well in terms of sleep before races, but last night was one of the worst. It’s the combination of nerves, excitement, reluctance (in relation to disruption of routine…and having to ‘wait’ before I can run!) and anxiety that never fails to keep me awake. When my alarm went off this morning I literally had to drag my limbs out of bed (torso following close behind) so I’d have time to stretch, get ready and do an hour of Davina McCall’s DVD (abs and boxing) to fully limber up before the car journey to the race. It only took 50 minutes but by the time we got there my back was in spasms and my hip was aching badly…makes me remember exactly why I need to keep moving and active, particularly in the morning. Sitting for that long without sufficient exertion just isn’t worth the pain. I felt a little cold, shivery and nauseaous and worried that I wouldn’t make it to the start line, let alone the finish. I put off eating breakfast until the last minute before I dug in to my Organic Food Bar: Active Greens with Chocolate and an unpictured banana…suitably ripe and spotty, just the way I like them.


    Jiggly leg shot. I reviewed this bar properly / more extensively in this post but neglected to take any pictures of it…hence the photo gallery now.


    Pretty darn calorie dense, but great pre-race fuel.

    Funky but natural ingredients…fortunately my tum was okay with the soya lecthin this time round.

    Reasonably appetising shot…

    Uber-appetising shot! Observe the chocolate chips, my favourite part of the bar.

    After this breakfast I felt a lot better and more energetic. I think the combination of the early car journey and huge gap between waking and eating (longer than when I do my early morning runs) were the main contributors to my shakiness and weakness. In the car on the way there the light-headed, empty feeling reminded me of when I used to skip breakfast and live on diet soft drinks until dinner in my late teens. For about ten minutes I was fantasising over how wonderful it was to not eat again, to feel that slight sense of euphoria and purity that I never experience now. Thankfully I snapped out of it and realised that subsisting on such an intake wouldn’t get me through 1k, let alone 10. I might have been thin during my very first period of restriction, but I wasn’t particularly fit.

    Despite leaving early we were slightly tight on time, but not so much so that I couldn’t stretch again and then do a few laps around a nearby football pitch to warm up. I then made for the start, where there were all sorts of shenanigans relating to running order. For the first time, the event organisers had follwed the example of the Bupa Great North 10K (recap here) and arranged the runners in colour coded time zones based on previous PBs at this distance. My yellow number put me at the front of the field (at least in theory) but the sheer scale of the event meant that the area leading up to the start line was far too narrow, resulting in a bottleneck whereby many runners couldn’t even get into the cordoned off area that led to the start and had to crowd around the edges of the barriers. I managed to hop over one of them (a barrier, not a runner!) and wheedle my way forward, about the only advantage of being so short (i.e no-one notices you!) At first I totally panicked at the prospect of being stuck at the back and was on the verge of tears, but then my Mum buoyed me up and told me to push my way forward, no matter what. I took her advice and could just about see the line when the gun went off.

    For such an absymally organised start, there was little pushing and shoving: people were generally nice and this is the first race I have run where I have been neither tripped, elbowed nor stood on. The race etiquette was gold standard, no thanks to the organisers. For the first 6K I stayed with a girl who I had earmarked as my pacemaker. I felt amazingly strong considering the sickness earlier, but I had already resolved beforehand not to push it too hard due to the tenderness in my hip…the last thing I want is to snap a hip flexor. However, at the 6.5K mark I found myself doing something I rarely manage (and certainly not at this early stage!): PASSING my pacemaker. I had made the mistake of picking her because she was the thinnest, skinniest, slightly sickly-looking club runner nearest to me at the start. Sadly, I always pick on the basis of size as I have a chip on my shoulder about not being as thin as the club runners and want to beat them on the basis that it somehow validates my own size. Ordinarily I’m proved right and they wipe the floor with me, but this time I found myself at 7K at with no other women in sight. I was a little lost, and ended up tagging on to a tatooed man who looked as though he should have been running an army assault course. I did have a nice view of all of his rippling muscles, though…that made the race infinitely more pleasant ; )

    Unfortunately, at the 8K point my hip reminded me of why I was concerned about running 3 races in 6 weeks. It twinged quite badly and I had to slow down, adopting a slight limp in my gait. The pain lessened at 9K when I heard an interesting crunching crack from the joint above the sound of my iPod music. I then kicked for the finish. My Mum was standing right by the barriers and got the following shot of me sprinting for the line:


    Doesn’t really look as though I’m moving at all, does it? Bizarre shot, even more bizarre expression on my face. I finished in 40:53 according to my chip, 146th out of 2628 runners, 6th female and 1st non club runner. The winner finished in 35 minutes and the results can be found here. No, I didn’t break the elusive 40 minutes this year. What was far more important was that, for the first time since Raby back in June, I really, really enjoyed my run. The atmosphere was faboulous and there was not one negative thought during the entire race. I may not have pushed myself to the limit, but for the sake of 30 seconds it just wasn’t worth it. This is my last race until November 8th and I wanted it to be memorable for the right reasons, so I resolved to just relax and remember why I started to race in the first place: to take my love for running into a more social setting. There is no other scenario in the world where I would be so at ease amongst that many people, where I could stand in the middle of thousands of other men and women without fear or a panic attack. I was letting my own dissatisfaction with myself get in the way of relishing the experience itself and in doing so almost lost the will to race at all. I’m still competitive, I still want to place, but not at the expense of my love for the sport.

    Something that has made a huge difference to my post-race recovery is stretching. Yes, more stretching. My stretching sequence is over fifteen minutes long, and while I was in the process of doing it my Mum caught me unawares several times with the camera!

    Hamstring…I can actually reach the heel of my shoe but it was so incredibly muddy that I opted to just grab my ankle.
    Quad stretch…

    My favourite…dancer’s pose. By this point I’d cottoned on that she was taking pictures and my facial expression is a combination of laughter and trying not to fall over.


    Race medal and my number. We also got goodie bags containing a t-shirt, two drinks containers and a Chunky Kitkat (why!? They may as well have given us a voucher for McDonalds…doesn’t seem like the most appropriate post-race fuel!) which my Dad gratefully inhaled.


    As for me, I ate this Cocoa Molé Larabar as soon as we got home so I could do 45 minutes of Tae-Bo: Cardio to prevent myself from stiffening up and my muscles from getting too sore.

    Lunch:


    Sweet potato with cinnamon, agave and tahini (2 tbsp?) plus an unpictured carrot/nectarine/grape plate.

    In the afternoon I walked for just over an hour…I didn’t mean to go so far, but it was deserted outside and I didn’t pass a single soul until I was almost home. I love it when I can walk or run and imagine that there’s no-one there, no-one else in the world for those few minutes, only the peace and beauty of the animals hiding in the swaying grass and trees. It felt so calming and centring that until it started to rain I just didn’t want to come home.

    Snack:


    Tentation Apple & Cocoa Orange Nakd Bar. Barely three hours after lunch! I am exceptionally hungry on race days…I may run further at home but I suppose I’m not working particularly hard when I train by comparison. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it. I did 90 minutes of Geri Body Yoga for a final stretch out (I have my race days down to a fine art hehe, the routines are always the same!)

    Dinner:


    Lentil, carrot, watercress and pea stew with roasted butternut squash.

    Overall, today was such a positive experience that I’m pining for more races before November. I think I may change my goals slightly, as I originally went for 10Ks as a distance challenge in May last year when I hadn’t run more than five miles at a time. Now I’m into the 9s, I always feel sad when the 10Ks are over because it doesn’t feel as though I’ve really gotten into my stride. I’m still going to chase the sub-40 finish, but I also want to focus on distance…specifically the Thirsk 10 miles on November 29th and eventually a half marathon next year, presuming my head doesn’t get the better of me and the winter isn’t too hideous to get in any serious training. And with that, I’m going to have a long soak in a warm bath before eating a Pulsin’ Coffee Brownie…four chocolate related foods in one day? You’d better believe it!

    Love to you all

    xoxxoxox

    06/09/09~Butterflies

    Before I get to today, I’ll backtrack to last night’s snack. Since I wasn’t particularly hungry but more ‘feeling’ snacky, I decided to try one of my lighter bars and went for the disc-like Pack Tunch Apple & Cinnamon flavour from Aisha.


    Ze back (please excuse the hideous lighting):

    Ingredients which you may be able to see if you detach your retinas:

    In its full glory:

    05/09/09~Panic Buying / Denial / My Bowl Runneth Over

    The multiple post titles are reflective of the fact that there are so many issues I want to address/dicuss that I really don’t know where to begin. I think I’ll start with the ‘denial’ section of the title. Basically, I hadn’t expected yesterday’s diagnosis at all. I think I was ‘holding out’ for not being bi-polar at all, or having bi-polar II (which some people seem to refer to as ‘bi-polar lite’, something I’m not sure whether I approve of or not). When people think of bi-polar II or cyclothymia, they usually associate it with the likes of Stephen Fry or other such ‘acceptable’ people with mental illness. I’m immensely grateful for all of the work Fry has done in getting bi-polar disorder to be more widely recognised, but I still felt highly uncomfortable with being categorized with the more volatile and ‘dangerous’ form of the disorder. Reactions from obvious sources at home come under the umbrella of ‘great, now all you need to do is take a mood stabiliser and it’ll fix you’ combined with ‘see, I told you I was right when I said she should be sectioned’. It does explain why I reacted so violently and unpleasantly when I was wrongly prescribed prozac ~ anti-depressents are notorious for setting off terrible manic episodes. However, I can’t stand the notion that I’m not fit to be part of society without medication. It’s something I’m so set against that it’s imbued into the fabric of my soul: I don’t want a pill to alter who I am, particularly not when it’s basically a glorified sedative. I’d rather feel things too intensely than not feel at all. I know it’s a chemical imbalance and someone with a heart condition wouldn’t think twice about taking their meds, or a diabetic person wouldn’t forego their insulin, but for me it’s just not the same. I don’t want to change who I am or somehow subdue my thought processes, however painful they might be. I want to find a way to live with them, to use them for something positive, to channel them somehow. I don’t want to be dependent on a drug that’s been tested on animals which have suffered horribly before it got to me ~ I know that sounds harsh and extreme, but it’s how I feel. Yes, I’d take medication IF there was no alternative and I’d die without it, but the guilt and nightmares and hideous numbness just aren’t worth it in this case. I will literally try anything before I’ll take meds, which is why I’m still trying to pursue some kind of DBT therapy for myself. Sadly the mental health service isn’t playing ball: apparently they can’t authorise any more therapy because I removed myself from their books after being recommened a third round of CBT with a male pyschologist (I specifically asked to only be referred to women). Because I refused it, they won’t grant me further treatment…honestly, did they really think that a third round would help when two previous attempts at using CBT techniques had proved utterly useless? I’m still in denial over the whole thing…I had never expected this, but apparently I mistook manic episodes for depressive ones because I failed to realise that irritability, rage, anger and distractedness are actually symptoms of mania ~ I considered somehow altering the letter to include an extra ‘I’ before letting anyone else see it. Hell, this morning I even wrote a post saying that I’d made a mistake and mistyped ‘I’ when it should have said ‘II’ because I was worried what people would think…that post was up for all of 6 minutes before I deleted it. My aim for blogging was to be completely honest, and lying about the condition made me utterly ashamed of myself…at least I came to my senses in the end.

    Next on the agenda is how on earth someone can have such a huge drama over their breakfast. I awoke this morning to wind and rain thrashing at my window. We’re positioned at a reasonable altitude where I live, so winds are usually gale force. I had to drag myself out of the door and all through the run I was debating back and forth what to eat for breakfast; I’d planned to use a Cocoa Molé Larabar (which I should have mentioned in my review is incredibly rich) in my porridge but wanted to have PB instead. I’m slightly upset that I stupidly spent so much on a whole case of this flavour, knowing perfectly well that I might not like it. Now I have fifteen to use up and for some stupid reason I invest a lot of emotion in whether I have a satisfying snack, or particularly, breakfast…I suppose it’s a ‘reward’ for running, which makes me sick because running is a reward in itself. The indecision was driving me mad and by the time I got home soaked, freezing (even though it wasn’t that cold) and tired I just stared into the open kitchen cupboard and cried. Utterly, utterly pathetic.

    Breakfast:

    1/2 cup rice/buckwheat porridge, 1 cup rice milk, 1 cup pumpkin, raisins, banana, cinnamon, agave, crumbled Cocoa Molé Larabar

    Yeah, this is what happens when you’re cold and sniffling and fighting like Hell not to break something. This humungous bowl was totally excessive…it’s as if when I’m so focused on keeping a lid on my emotions I don’t have the energy left to resist the impulse to overeat. I went with the Larabar in the end, simply because it was the option that would ‘bug’ me the least and have the fewest recriminations…it actually tasted okay, but if anyone out there likes the Cocoa Molé flavour and wants to trade or swap for something else (doesn’t have to be equivalent value), I have fourteen more of the darn things to use up. I was totally stuffed afterwards.

    Behold, the aforementioned kitchen cupboard. My latest online shopping spree has produced a case each of the infamous Cocoa Molé Larabars, Banana Cookie Larabars, Cocoa Orange Nakd Bars, a mixed case of GF Nakd Bars, Whole Earth Maple Frosted Flakes and on the bottom left is a plastic box full of Pulsin’ Coffee Brownies. I tend to panic buy, particularly when I become obsessed with a particular food. The notion of not being able to find it sends me into an anxiety attack, shameful though it is to admit. The gradual disappearance of Larabars has only worstened this tendency to the point where I’m buying flavours that aren’t even my preference, just because they’re soon going to be unavailable. Unfortunately, I’ve always had this gluttenous hoarding / obsessive mentality with food. I go through phases where the same meal repeats over and over again (see tonight’s dinner for a classic example!) : when I was seven I lived for tuna & pasta bake and Pizzaland (former rival of Pizza Hut)’s kids thin crust margherita pizza with extra cheese, followed by orange sorbet (such a paradigm of health, I know. No wonder I was tubby). I cried in the middle of the restaurant when Pizza Hut took them over and they no longer did the sorbet. Then I became vegetarian and lived on Southern Style Quorn Burgers, Lasagne made with Quorn Mince and Heinz Cream of Tomato soup with white pasta and mozarella cheese melted in (always had the obligatory side of peas though. That’s one obsession which has never changed). In my first year of veganism, I ate the world’s supply of Kumara Sweet Potatoes until Sainsburies stopped stocking them. Then more recently I went crazy for Sun Warrior rice protein powder and had three tubs (two chocolate, one vanilla) shipped over from the USA at exorbitant shipping rates that I could only afford because it was my birthday present. Yes, I had protein powder for my 23rd birthday. Stupidly, protein bars/powders don’t agree with me at all: my system can’t handle concentrated forms of protein, the one food group no-one criticises. I don’t know where I’m going with this, only that I wish I’d had some other obsession, something less associated with greed and weakness, and I wish I spent my money on something other than food. It would also be nice to stop resenting the range of vegan products available in the USA as fierely as I resent the British foreign policy in the Middle East.

    At least racing thoughts make 100 minute DVDs go by quite quickly, as was the case with the Nell McAndrew Ultimate Challenge I did a couple of hours after my 9 mile run. No Body Combat today, as I think it was the high impact class which resulted in my hip injury during the last 10K…I don’t want to take any chances on Sunday.

    Lunch:
    Repeat of yesterday, only with a Pink Lady apple as we were out of Nectarines (Nooo!)
    Last of the PB Jar…


    I know it must seem hypocritical to refuse medication and moan constantly the way I do, but most of the afternoon was spent trying to hold myself together and not do anything rash or stupid. I had the same snack as my first one yesterday: a cocoa orange Nakd Bar and another Pink Lady apple…I seem to have spent the whole day overeating. Also went for a walk and dusted the house uhh, obsessively. Then I did my Geri Body Yoga DVD.

    Dinner:


    Usual Polenta/Nut.yeast, chickpea love with stir-fry veggies

    No doubt there will also be a snack later on too…no suprises there either. Hopefully no-one will be scared away and see me in the same light as Billy from Six Feet Under (because that’s the character that popped into my head when I was given the diagnosis…unsuprising since it’s my favourite television show ever made)…I get the feeling that I’m going to be badgered about the mood stablisers 24/7 from now on at home…

    04/09/09~ Saboteur

    Non-running (well, not running outside) days are always a bit ‘flat’ for me. I always feel like I’m dragging, like it’s a struggle to get anything done. I’m sure it’s not psychosomatic because when I first started running outside (after a year of being treadmill-bound because I was too scared to venture beyond the confines of my front door) I was doing it primarily for weight loss reasons and intended to intersperse it with multiple spin-classes, during which I burn more calories than when I run. Gradually though, running became about so much more than that and I wanted to run outside every single day irrespective of how many calories I was burning. I noticed that my mood dipped significantly doing any other form of exercise, even when I used to cycle out of doors. It must be the combination of the fresh air and the constant endorphin boost, but no other workout is the same. So I knew today would be a struggle, but at least I was forewarned. So many of the coping stragies I’ve been given involve blocking feelings out or blanking them somehow and to me these techniques suggest that negative moods are something to be ashamed of. When you have bi-polar disorder (which I finally have a diagnosis for from a psychiatrist I saw back in MAY…she certainly took her time to say ‘yep, you’re Bi-Polar I’ in written form) ignoring or squashing negative emotions isn’t an option. It leads (in my case) to panic, feelings of worthlessness, weakness and makes the depressive episodes far worse than when I just acknowledge that the feelings are there and try to deal with it, to wait for the clouds to pass because, however long it takes, they eventually do. Routine helps with this, particularly in cases like today where the episode was (is) mixed, combining a perception of fatigue with insomnia, irritability and racing thoughts. Part of the reason it took so long to diagnose me was the fact that I exercise through these episodes, aside from the major depressive ones which completely poleaxe me and I fear like nothing else…it must seem odd that I need a serious level of exertion to banish fatigue, but it’s true.

    But I digress: I did an hour of Tae-Bo Basic Bootcamp at 6:30am but it wasn’t enough to have the same mood stabilising effects as a good run. Damn you joints!

    Breakfast:


    Alara GF Organic Muesli, rice milk, sultanas, banana

    Spinning was good but not great, as usual…I’d enjoy it a lot more if I wasn’t taking a shower in my own sweat by the end, despite not feeling strained exertion wise in the least. I then did 35 minutes on the elliptical, a random 9 minutes on the stepper while waiting for an elliptical and 35 minutes on the treadmill (7.3K…7K in 30 minutes and then the .3 walking to cool down) which, while not as high impact as pavement running, just ain’t the same.

    Lunch:

    03/09/09~All On My Lonesome

    Another uneventful day today…perhaps I’m just winding down before the chaos of returning to University for Postgrad study starts. I’ve just been oddly quiet and chilled, even dozey, where as normally my nerves are constantly on a knifedge and the slightest thing can set me off like a bomb…said nerves feel slightly more whole, and slightly less frayed. Makes for a slightly dull post though. I think the fact that I had the house to myself for the afternoon helped: Dad was out playing golf and it really makes me realise how much even his presence seems to tear at my psyche, because I know that even if I wanted to have a meltdown I couldn’t because it would result in another shouting/shaking episode and I refuse to be blamed for someone else’s blood-pressure related illness or death. Basically I stay completely silent now when we’re in the house together…if anything happens to the man it’ll be no-one’s fault but his own and the cholesterol-ridden bucketload of animal products he likes to eat. I know this sounds terrible, but we’ve never been close and I just don’t feel any connection to him at all…I find it hard to believe we’re even related and I don’t really subscribe to the whole ‘blood is thicker than water’ philosophy. Perhaps it’s because I had little to no contact with him until he retired when I was fifteen: prior to that he was always at work and whenever he was at home he’d just yell at me anyway. He was also the one who didn’t take what happened at school seriously and told me to ‘suck it up and get on with it instead of being a self-pitying bore’…his ethos my entire life has been that it doesn’t matter how I feel or what’s happening to me, as long as he doesn’t have to be bothered by or hear about it. He’s always there whenever I achieve something with some kind of ‘my progeny did that’ smug expression but as soon as anything bad happens *poof*…he reverts to being angry, vindictive and callous. Therefore excuse me if I care more for Minnie than I do him.

    *oops* Minor rant there. Because I was alone and knew that I *could* behave in any way that felt natural, that I could release my emotions if the need arose, the panic and anxiety of worrying that I might break down was absent, and therefore said breakdown never manifested itself. I’ve heard quite a few people recently say that they feel better and more at one with themselves when they’re around other people, but for me the opposite is true: I’m constantly on edge, scared that I’ll say or do something wildly inappropriate. Even though I’m totally ‘myself’ with people I don’t give a fig about in terms of their opinions, if I was to ever socialise with a prospective friend my throat would close up and I’d, well, clam up myself. The only time I ever truly feel like ‘me’ is when I’m alone, because my thoughts and actions aren’t mediated with a heightened level of self-awareness. I often experience a sense of floating outside of myself, trying to take an objective view of how I am being perceived by others, and this leads me to either panic and blurt out the most idiotic statements, lie because I’m so petrified by the situation that I forget what’s truth and what’s fiction or become unable to talk at all. The paradox is that TOO much time alone makes me paranoid, lonely and at the mercy of my thoughts…I need someone I trust implicitly to talk things through with. At the moment, that person is my Mum and I was extremely happy to see her when she came home from work.

    My relationship with my Mum couldn’t be more different than with my Dad: for the first six years of my life she gave up her job to look after me, and I appreciate the sacrifice she made more than I can articulate in mere words. Despite her ED, we are close, I tell her everything and no topic is off limits/embarassing. I love and care about her more than anyone else in the world and would gladly take a bullet for her. I’m fiercely protective of her as she’s so incredibly sensitive and takes the weight of the world on her shoulders. For her, perfection isn’t enough and she’s incredibly self-critical. If I knew I’d have her forever, I wouldn’t be worried about the future but sadly that isn’t the case. I have a huge level of separation anxiety from her…if she’s even a minute late home the most horrible scenarios start running through my head, and the ravages her ED has wrought on her body mean that I have good reason to be concerned about her health. Although I like to be alone, without her life wouldn’t be worth living. How on Earth I go about finding a person who I can trust as implicitly as her I do not know. Right now I don’t trust anyone at all, and my overriding emotion when meeting new people is cold, hard fear.

    On to more active matters…this morning I ran 9.5 miles. Oh yes, I did! Mapping out the distance on mapmyrun.com afterwards, I could have jumped for joy when the result came up. I hadn’t planned on a particularly long run but I kept adding extras on to the route and before I nknew it I was home. I also printed out the finishing times from last year’s Thirsk 10 Miles and thankfully not everyone who runs it is semi-elite. There were a few 1:50:00+ finishers, so hopefully my terror of coming last will be without reason…I had enough of that aged 5-16…there’s no way I’d be able to deal with finishing towards the back of the field again, too many bad memories of being totally unfit. Apparently it’s an easy course that’s ideal for a newbie to distance running such as myself, so I’m pretty much set on entering (it’s the day after my birthday so I’ll need something to cheer my up after turning 24 *shudders*)

    Breakfast:

    1/2 Cup Rice/Buckwheat Porridge, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, sultanas, banana, crumbled Apple Pie Larabar and a puddle of agave nectar.

    After that run I actually felt less tired than usual and had a great time at the gym: the cooler temperatures and abundance of fans made cross-training so much easier. I did 30 minutes on the elliptical, 18 on the stepper and 17 on the recumbant bike (random I know, but it’s what I felt like doing) followed by some weights and stretching.

    Lunch:


    Standard fruit plate/chickpea salad/GF bread with Pure Spread

    While I was out walking this afternoon THREE packages came. One of them had been left by the back door and another with a neighbour, but my precious order of Larabars (from the last UK website I can find which sells them!) went to the post office and isn’t available for collection until tomorrow : ( Oh well, at least I have my favourite brand of gluten-free porridge and a truckload of GF Nakd Bars to tide me over. The people at Nakd also very kindly included to free packets of Raisins with my order…sadly the orange flavour had to go in the bin (see my review of them for why!) but I’m looking forward to having the cherry ones in some porridge at some point. I did a few weights and then ate this:

    Snack:


    Double Banana Soft Serve…is it just me, or has this gone out of fashion in the blog world recently?

    Post-Pilates Dinner:


    My absolute favourite meal at the moment: chickpeas in tomato sauce, peas, roasted courgettes and polenta made with rice milk & nutritional yeast.

    I’ll delve into my package from Aisha and have a Chocolate Coconut Chew Larabar in a minute…it’s been far too long since I’ve had anything chocolatey (well, by my standards anyway). Have a great Wednesday (what’s left of it!) everyone : )

    02/09/09~ Accentuate the Positive (?)

    As a contrast to the recent list I posted of ventures in my life that have proved a spectacular failure (and what a pity party that turned out to be) I thought I would take a leaf out of Katie’s book (blog?) and compile a similar one chronicling the positive things that have happened today. A reasonable number of occurrences today have merited the coveted ‘made Jessica smile’ tag and therefore tonight seemed like an appropriate time to remind myself of them…I know I’m going to sound like I’m moping when I say this (because, quite clearly, I am) but the majority of the time I can’t find one positive thing about the day, unless it’s a running day of course!

  6. Running seems like a good place to start: it was unbelievably warm again but this morning the sun graced me with its presence…and I wore a crop top to run in, which I never dare wear outside of race environments where many other people are wearing them. I’ve always been scared that someone’s going to jump out of a hedge and shout ‘fatso’ at me or something similar. Thankfully, that fear proved baseless. 8.3 miles (loving mapmyrun.com!) in the sun is enough to put a smile on my face on even the worst days. I felt really strong and powered up the mile-long hill towards the end (and believe me, it truly is one heck of a hill…actually looks a lot like Murder Hill, but longer)
  7. I was starting to panic that I was running out of bars…after breakfast my normally overflowing ‘bar box’ looked so sad and bare: it contained but one solitary Apple Pie Larabar and an Active Greens Organic Food Bar for breakfast before my 10K race on Sunday. Enter a lovely package from the wonderful Aisha:
  • 3 Chocolate Coconut Chew & 2 Cinnamon Roll Larabars, 1 Lemon & Lime and 1 Apple Cinnamon Pack Tunch Bars…Aisha, you seriously spoil me. These were my package in a swap for 4 Cocoa Orange Nakd Bars and some 90% Lindt Chocolate I sent in return…I can’t wait to try those Pack Tunch bars, as I’ve been searching for them for what seems like forever! Thank you, thank you, thank you Aisha!
  • My concentration is operating on an improved level again today…therefore, progress made in the research area.
  • It turns out that the letter sent to me was a mistake and was intended for Undergraduates: I don’t have to attend any ‘events’ at all for the MREs English Literature course in enrolment week other than one introductory session, and the enrolment process isn’t 9:00am-10:30am ~ they’re the hours in which I can ‘drop in’ and all I have to do is provide documentation of my studentship then receive my student Smart Card. So it’ll be a 6:30am start as opposed to 5:30 ~ certainly preferable! My mum also very kindly offered me a lift in on the Sunday morning so I don’t have to worry about the hassle of buses. I was so grateful!
  • The IT department sorted out my online enrolment so I don’t have to agonize over that any more.
  • The official certificate for my degree came this morning. It’s so uplifting to finally have the true ‘proof’ of having a BA (Hons) in English & Creative Writing.

This last one was both a positive and a slight downer ~ included with the certificate is breakdown of all of my marks in each individual unit over the past two years (the first year’s marks don’t count for some unfathomable reason in the British University System) and every time I look at them I can’t help but be reminded of how much better I do academically when my weight is lower. For example **numbers coming up so look away if triggered by such things*** And this won’t mean much to anyone unfamiliar with the Uni’s marking system…basically any mark over 70 is a First, the highest category of grade.

Year 1 (I can remember my marks for this year. I was doing a Drama & Scriptwriting degree course at the time, having been misinformed that it involved no practical acting)
BMI: 15.9Critical Studies: 76
Making Theatre (Drama-based unit, so no wonder I did so badly!): 63
Dramatic Story: 78
Writers’ Theatre: 80
Approaches to Performance: 80
Guidance Unit: 80

Year 2:BMI: 16.2
Identity & Writing: 84
Textual Studies: 80
Poetry and its Forms: 80
Studies in Short Fiction: 80
Film Writing: 80
Modernism and Modernity (this was where I started gaining weight):73

Year 3:
BMI: Uhh, too ashamed to post it. A lot higher than the previous two figures and roughly where I’m at now.
Advanced Creative Writing: 70 (I was heartbroken/disappointed with this)
English Dissertation: 78
Alternative Worlds: Utopian Dreams & Dystopian Nightmares: 78
Staging the City: Shakespeare, Jonson, Middleton: 77
The Working Writer: 73
The exact same pattern occurred when I was in restrictive phases at ages 15 and 18 (BMI 14.6 on both occasions). I aced every test, but as soon as I ‘snapped’ in both cases in turned to overeating as my weight went up my marks went down. They were still high marks, but not at the level I reached at a low BMI. This is something I will never be able to understand: the brain is made up primarily of fat, so the opposite should have been true. I’ve heard of mood improving (or giving the illusion of improving) at low weights but never cognitive function improving. I only noticed this issue earlier this year after I dug out all of my old papers and exam results…and it’s not as if I put any less effort in at higher weights or study less and I doubt that feeling more confident in one’s body can affect academic performance. It’s very odd, and only fuels my regret at ‘losing it’ in my second year, because at that point I actually ended up at that BMI almost by ‘accident’. I wasn’t restricting badly as in the other instances and could exercise at a good level. I felt fit and strong, and was eating along the lines of Gillian McKeith’s health plan, adapted to be vegan. Then for some reason my stomach started reacting to all of the fibre and I had a meltdown, going up to roughly the weight I am now (roughly because the scales are still locked away). I thought I had everything in balance, but now I’m left still struggling to accept myself aesthetically and worried that I can’t function academically without losing weight. I hope that I don’t sound arrogant by posting these…the marks are there to show the basis behind my theory, and really aren’t that brilliant anyway, aside from the 84 which I was elated with.

Breakfast:

1/2 cup rice/buckwheat porridge, cinnamon, raisins, 1 cup rice milk, banana, crumbled Apple Pie Larabar…I think I’ve finally got the hang of cooking the Sainsburies brand of gluten-free porridge…it needs to be incinerated beyond boiling point, then cooled and allowed to thicken while adding a splash more rice milk. Hallelujah. It’s a tough wait during the longer cooking process while I’m about to chew off my arm after running, but it’s more than worth it. My tum/digestion just can’t face food first thing in the morning (it’s always been that way: I was one of those lamentable teenagers who skipped breakfast and filled up on crap mid-morning…pre-disordered eating patterns that is, although I’d call not eating breakfast pretty disordered now!) and my hunger doesn’t kick in until the last mile or so of my run (I have to wait a while on days where I do DVDs first thing) but when it does, boy does it kick in!

I spent the morning reading and playing keyboard, then did an hour of Tae Bo: Everybody Get Ripped.
Lunch:
Nectarines are coming to the end of their season so there will be some different pics soon, promise!
Baby Sweet Potatoes (palm-size) with PB & Co Crunch Time. I meant to add cinnamon to this but had inhaled it before I could remember. There are no words to describe this combination…let’s just say there were more smiles involved and some eye-closing ‘I need to devote all of my senses to this’ action.

Afternoon= walking, frenzied house cleaning and more of the delightful research. When Mum came home she bought me Holland & Barratt’s ‘Healthy’ magazine to read…it’s the only ‘women’s’ mag I can stand because it actually takes a reasonable approach to weight and fitness…yeah, this distracted me from my research nicely ; )

Snack:

GF Bread with Pure Spread & Agave, Jazz Apple

Dinner (hangry after 2 hours of Body Jam & Body Balance):

31/08/09~Autumn Already?

I wish I could be more original but I have to add my name to the list of bloggers who are lamenting the end of summer, the freedom from academic responsibility (although it’s somewhat ridiculous of me to consider that a burden, seeing as I have less than a tenth of the pressures on me than most people do) and the ability to wake up in the morning without having a minor panic attack over whether the roads are too frosty to run. Today has been your classic English Bank Holiday: wet, rainy and dull. It was also unbelievably humid this morning on my run…it felt like I was jogging through one gargantuan greenhouse and I came back so desperate for water that I chugged over a litre in about five minutes. Due to my current obsession with the Thirsk 10 miles in November, I decided to go further than I ever have before *insert dramatic sound effects here*. On a blog recently (can’t remember which one, but may have been ‘Oh She Glows’), I noticed a mention of www.mapmyrun.com. I’d assumed that it only mapped US/Canadian routes, but out of intrigue I logged on this morning and found that it included maps of the UK! I was ludicrously happy at this and hastily logged in the four routes which I take on a rotating basis (one is particularly short that I use pre-gym)…I have to say that I love this site! It’s saved me £200 on a Garmin which I would have primarily purchased to log distances. I was pleased to find that the route I’d estimated as 8 miles was actually 8.45, making my run this morning the big 9! Yes, I know that to many that’s a stroll in the park but for me it was fantastic and I now have the confidence to enter the Thirsk race. I have no idea what time I should aim for, though…perhaps 1:30:00? Or maybe that’s a little overambitious…either way there was minimal joint pain / hamstring issues, so fingers crossed I should be okay with the full 10. Mind you, if anyone thinks I’m an active person then check out this amazing lady. She is officially superwoman.

Breakfast:
Possibly the most delicious porridge combo I have ever made…or perhaps it tasted particularly divine due to the lateness and hangry state in which I ate it!

1/3 cup rice/buckwheat porridge, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, sultanas, 1 cup pumpkin, banana, tonnes of sunbutter.

Ah, the sweetness of the sultanas combined with the smooth, velvety pumpkin and the savoury crunch of the sunbutter. Twas heaven in a bowl.

After the ‘drama’ of the past few days it was nice to have a quiet day with minimal intrusive thoughts so that I could actually concentrate on my research (*ahem* whilst watching the athletics live from Gateshead on the television and coveting the talent of the runners!). Because the gym was shut today (boo! All of the leisure centres I go to are council run…the fancy schmancy private gyms were open today but I don’t have the resources to go there!) I made do with 80 minutes of Nell McAndrew’s Peak Energy DVD…missed Body Combat like crazy though.

Lunch:


Usual chickpea salad/fruit plate/GF bread & Pure Spread…I’m a naughty girl who eats lunch while at her laptop, reading blogs about other people eating lunch ; )

More of the research/athletics combination in the afternoon, plus a walk in which I got absolutely soaked. There was a plus side though: elderly stalkers are notably absent in monsoon conditions. I also did 25 minutes of weights to allevaite the twitchiness I get from sitting for more than an hour.
Snack:

Pink Lady Apple, last of the Outback Animals Cookies

Then I did 90 minutes of Yogalates:Energizer before the disaster that was dinner. Let’s just say that trying to make a lentil lasagne with rice milk as the base for bechamel sauce is not a good idea: the lack of protein made the sauce watery and insipid when heated, and the entire venture had to be abandoned. Thankfully I managed not to cry and go into a negative spiral over the ‘failure’ (I was very hungry, I hate wasting food and I had been looking forward to making something different…but hey, I need to learn that in the scheme of things getting so upset over it is just idiotic) and threw together some veggies and corn spaghetti, then dug out a portion of lentil/date bolognese that was in the freezer and microwaved it for a couple of minutes.

Dinner:


Later I will grieve for my last Cashew Cookie Larabar…while chomping on its sweet, nutty goodness (my innuendos just get worse and worse) A very uneventful post for me…it seems that I come out with much more interesting content when I’m in the depths of a black or manic day…hopefully I’m not too much like the artists/poets of yester year who could only produce their greatest work when high, addled by opiates or deeply depressed…not that I compare to their creative genius of course!

Love to everyone reading and especially those who commented on my last couple of posts: you ladies (and guys!) really do brighten my day.

xoxoxox

30/08/09~Comfortably Numb

Okay, so after my last post I was worried that I would have no readers left. Thankfully, it seems that I didn’t scare everyone away with all the melodrama of yesterday…I’m so used to people ditching me because reading about/listening to all of my ‘issues’ is almost as frustrating/monotonous as living through them that it never ceases to amaze me how understanding the blog world is. From the bottom of my heart, thank you. It’s so sad that in life more people can’t stick by others when times are tough…fine, nobody likes a Negative Nancy but true friends keep supporting each other no matter how difficult things are, though obviously it needs to be on a reciprocal basis. Plus, if poor Negative Nancy is feeling down, ignoring her or pretending that she doesn’t exist is only going to worsten her mood, creating a paradoxical circle of isolation that only serves to exacerbate the pain she is experiencing.

After ‘episodes’ like the one yesterday, I’m generally too burnt out to feel anything. I’ve just drifted through today on zilcho sleep, operating robotically. It seems that I actually get more done that way though. Completely frazzled nerves at least give me some kind of relief from the thoughts that usually race through my head far too quickly for me to even acknowledge whether they’re coming from ‘Jessica’ or some other hideously disordered place. One of the tutors at Uni once remarked that I ‘thought too fast’ in relation to my talking in an absolute torrent of words which meant that very few people could understand me or keep up: the ideas were bombarding me at a pace that my voice/mouth connection couldn’t keep up with, resulting in some kind of bizarre gabbling. The problem is that most of the time these thoughts aren’t academic in any way, but a stream of fears, anxieties and self-criticism…thinking too fast (or quickly? Not sure if he was being grammatically correct…tsk, tsk English lecturer) isn’t a sign of intelligence (as my Mum likes to flatter me by saying)…it actually prevents me from focusing. It’s the reason I fear having to take a mundane job, because it makes boredom worse than physical torture. Without some kind of distraction, the thoughts become like a video on ‘fast forward’ or a broken record, distorting into disturbingly high tones and whirling around with such a speed that I have on occasions ended up banging my head against a wall to get them to stop (don’t try it: it doesn’t work!) I can’t do only one task at once: I’ll blog whilst listening to music, read while watching television, paint while appreciating a play on the radio. At school, this worked in my favour because we’d never spend more than an hour or two on one subject without having a break, and then moving on to something else. With work (or the jobs I fear anyway) it’s the same routine over and over again, never really learning or branching out or doing anything new.

When I was younger if lessons were moving too slowly I’d cry with frustration or burst out laughing (not in a good way…more in a ‘this is a demon child’ kind of hysteric way) and even at Uni when a three hour guest lecture became repetitive and looked like overrunning I had to leave the room to stop the same thing happening. It’s really pretty frightening. ADD wasn’t really a common dignosis in the early 90s and it was something of a taboo ~ I think the word used to describe my behavioural patterns was ‘overstimulated’. Exercise doesn’t work on the same level, perhaps because of the endorphins, perhaps because I’m ‘zoning out’ or because the physical stimulus compensates for the lack of mental stimulation (no jokes please). So, what I need is employment that constantly provides new challenges, involves something I’m naturally interested in and doesn’t involve being at a desk/sedentary/sitting for any long period of time. Oh dear…

So I basically floated through the day in a haze, numb to almost everything. The only thing that used to produce this effect was some kind of restrictive high (and, temporarily, overeating…but that always had the side-effect of the feelings/guilt rushing back ten times’ worse than they were before once the food was gone) and the sense that at least I’d ‘succeeded’ or ‘achieved’ something by being thin. Somehow, that made the uncertainty of the future seem manageable. Needless to say that malevolent voice managed to add ‘being thin’ to my list of failures yesterday before it finally shut up.

Seeing as the only way to achieve some kind of peace seems to be to burn myself out mentally and physically, I threw myself into my Davina McCall DVD this morning (aerobics & boxing), then reached for the cereal box…

28/08/09~Amazing Grass

No, not that kind: the day I’m able to find the brand that has swept the blog world will be the day that Hell freezes over. On another subject, you’re all far too kind to me: the comments on my last post really made me blush. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to attribute the term ‘pretty’ to myself though…I’m still working towards ‘acceptable.’ For the duration of my run this morning I managed to stay almost exclusively on grass, which may have helped my hip in the long run (haha). For someone who’s accustomed to running on road, I have to say that grass-based workouts really take their toll on your leg muscles! Perhaps it’s partially due to the fact that I have to struggle to keep my balance half the time, as the grassy areas near my house are about as even as Gordon Ramsey’s temper. Seriously, there are huge great potholes and mole hills peppering every patch of grass. It was a great challenge though, and provided 8 miles of great cardio with minimal joint stress/impact.

Breakfast:
1/2 cup Rice/Millet Porridge, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, agave, dates, banana, crumbled Cashew Cookie Larabar

Of the Cashew Cookie/porridge combinations I’ve tried, I think it paired best with the subtler flavour of sultanas. Apple Pie’s best friends, on the other hand, are definitely raisins…there’s something about the strong cinnamon/apple/raisin melange that’s just mouth-watering.

The lack of productivity continues…where the morning went I don’t know but before I knew it I was at my lunchtime 1 hr Body Combat class. The only downside to this class (I love the coach and the people who attend it are actually nice, as opposed to the vicious witches in the gym and at spinning) is that it’s in a studio, facing a mirrored wall. Yeah, my worst nightmare (well, one of many)…basically I was standing next to a girl who wasn’t huge, but certainly wasn’t tiny either and we looked the same size in the reflection (aside from her being a good three inches taller than me) She suited her shape due to her height, but it really made me feel disgusted at myself if I have the same size legs as that in real life, not just in the reflection.

At least I had something else to bother me and take the place of the endless ‘fat thoughts’: there’s a creepy guy who works on the reception at this gym (he used to work at another one near me which I also attended, and partially left because he was freaking the living daylights out of me) who keeps asking me when I’m going ‘back to college’ and what I’m doing there during the day. For a start, I’m at University Postgrad, not college. And in any case what business is it of his? In the end I just blurted out a load of lies about the term starting but having Fridays off. I’ll be darned if I’m going to reveal any personal information to him, no matter how many times he asks. What is it with me and attracting 50 year-old weirdos? I seem to have a collection of them.

Lunch:

Butternut Squash, Carrot & Coriander Soup, GF Bread with Pure Spread

Which turned into this…

There was also an unpictured exact replica of the fruit/carrot plate I had yesterday (and almost every other day!) I’m nearly out of my Pure Sunflower Spread and was wondering if anyone knew of another (UK) vegan margarine that was also soy free? Not that you’d realise it by the amount I spread on, but I actually find Pure spread a little bland. I know there are some ‘specialist’ vegan spreads made by Biona but I can’t find those where I live (big surprise) so I thought there might be some more generic brands that I don’t know about or are ‘accidentally’ vegan?

I finally finished a particular book that has been taking me forever to read in relation to my research (I scheduled myself to finish it on Sunday!) in the afternoon, then went for a walk in an attempt to ‘digest’ what I’d read. I think I may have managed to absorb at least a little of the theories presented but I won’t bore everyone with the details. Thankfully my MREs supervisor had replied to me, but the e-mail hadn’t come through due to technical difficulties with the university’s internal server. There are still so many unanswered questions and worries when it comes to my 25,000 word dissertation but I think I’m trying to get too far ahead of myself…it’s not due until this time next year (Sept. 2010) and my desperate need to ‘tick boxes’ and get things finished is, for the first time, proving counterproductive. I can’t stand having things hanging over my head and always finish projects way before the deadline just because I can’t take the pressure and anxiety of not having something completed. My undergraduate dissertation was completed over three months early, but with a project of this depth I simply can’t rush it, contrary to my personality though it may be.

Snack:

Tentation Apple, Vanilla/Chocolate Outback Animals GF Cookies

This was followed by my Geri Body Yoga DVD. I really, really need to find another challenging Yoga DVD so I don’t get hideously bored by this one! I also ordered more bars, as unbelievably my monumental stash is starting to wane. I know I really should have fruit/dried fruit or nuts for snacks, or probably not snack at all. My bars are such a huge expense, particularly the postage…damn the unenlightened shops in my area. I did try making my own snacks, but the results were, well, less than appetising. It’s ironic that I’m utterly useless at baking or making sweet things when I basically have the sweetest tooth in existence outside of Homer Simpson’s love for doughnuts. I love Pulsin’s website though…they have free delivery! But another part of my guilt around food is related the fact that I’m so expensive to feed, and the fact that I spend more on food than I do on clothes…or anything else for that matter : (

Dinner:


Adapted version of ‘Gingery Rice with Sweet Potato & Peas’ from ‘Vegan Express’, roasted courgette, green beans

I purchased ‘Vegan Express’ by Nava Atlas a while ago online while I was still firmly entrenched in calorie counting, attracted only by the fact that it was a vegan cookbook that included a full nutritional breakdown for every recipe. Little did I know at the time that almost all of them were based on 6-10 servings and scaling them down to 1-2 was an almost impossible task: 1/16th cup of rice anyone? I like leftovers, but I don’t want to be eating them for almost a week. This is the first recipe that I’ve ever made from it (heavily altered of course: no curry powder, onions or spring onions for me!) and I basically ignored all of the proportions suggested, using only the concept as a basis for the dish. It worked quite well, but was lacking a certain something which I can’t quite put my finger on…not a disaster but nowhere near the level of the deliciouness that is chickpeas in tomato sauce and nutritional yeast/rice milk polenta. Argh, I want some now ; ) I’ll settle for a Pulsin’ Coffee Brownie instead (my last one! Gah, I hope the others come soon)

Hmm, today has been quite even in terms of mood. I wish I could bottle whatever’s causing it and save it for the days fraught with manic/depressive swings. Never mind, I’ll take the good days where I can find them…

27/08/09~Behind Blue Eyes

I think the only compliment I’ve ever received from someone of the opposite sex was that I had ‘lovely eyes’, which is generally what men say when they can’t think of anything else that isn’t truly hideous about you. Other than that, I’ve been either completely ignored or victimised by the male species for my entire life…first with my Dad, then all the bullies at primary school were boys, and some of the most hurtful psychological abuse (and burning a huge chunk of my hair off with a soldering iron in an electronics lesson) was perpetrated by boys while at Secondary school. I suppose it’s not surprising that until my first year at University I was legitimately terrified by boys and would break out in a cold sweat if one came too near to me. Sorry, that sounds as if I’m alienating men and characterising them as a different species! It’s just I had no idea how to act around them. While I was out walking this afternoon, a seriously attractive runner jogged past me with a gorgeous black labrador at his heels. Runner? Check. Animal lover? Check. Face/body reminiscent of a black-haired Christan Bale? Oh yeah. What I couldn’t believe was that he both noticed me, flashed a dazzling smile at me and greeted me before sailing off into the distance. Yep, that sounds totally pathetic but being that I usually walk with my head down and firmly looking at the ground…and that I wanted to stick a paper bag over my head when I saw how good-looking he was (adoni like that should not have to look upon such gargoyles), it really cheered me up. The few guys at Uni who didn’t ignore me treated me like an androgynous hermaphrodite, which I always thought I was okay with…flirting always scared the crap out of me because I have no idea how not to make a complete idiot out of oneself while doing it, and because it implied a deeper relationship that I knew could never happen. When it comes to asexuality, the odds are stacked against me in terms of finding a man…the vast majority of asexuals are women (perhaps due to biology/hormones) and it seems that so many girls will do anything to please their boyfriends because they’re scared of ending up alone. I’m scared of that too, and I could never imagine broaching the subject with someone…either you blurt it out after you’ve only known them for five minutes and come across as horribly inappropriate, or you wait and then get accused of being deceptive/weird/holding something back. The threat of rejection is what prevents me from trying to make a meaningful connection with anyone on a romantic level (a level at which I ‘feel’ very deeply) and also what led to me desperately trying to cultivate a body that was either childlike (and therefore sexually forbidden) or androgynous. I couldn’t help but feel a stab of envy when the other girls received so much attention, though…validation my men is about the only thing that would convince me that I’m not some huge waddling troll, paradoxical though that may sound.

I know that food-related anxiety stems from the fact that I place so much emphasis on thinness: being fat(ter) is the worst thing I can imagine, and melodramatic though it is I would honestly rather face death than gain 30 pounds. I know it isn’t right, and would never judge someone who was 30lbs heavier than me if they felt happy and comfortable in their bodies, which is what matters. But I don’t feel comfortable in mine and only feel covetous towards those with slimmer shapes than my own…to my knowledge I’ve seen things this way ever since I became aware of weight it general: it’s instinctive and engrained. Telling me to change these thought patterns is like telling someone whose favourite colour is black to change it to yellow: they can try to convince themselves all they like that their favourite colour is yellow but deep down they know their preference is for black. Another analogy would be asking a gay man to marry a woman: it’s denial on that kind of deep psychological level. Not being the size I crave is like living in a yellow house with yellow walls and yellow furnishings, and unlike most people with EDs, I did reach a point where I was happy. Fine, it was vastly underweight, but I finally stopped seeing myself as fat. This post is taking on the tone of Fred Durst’s song ‘Behind Blue Eyes’, which I have on my iPod even though I can’t stand the man…it’s basically him moaning that no-one understands him in various permutations :P

Last night I went for a Pulsin’ Coffee Brownie as a snack even though I’d ‘planned’ an Apple Pie Larabar, because it’s what I truly wanted. Fine it was 40 odd calories more, but screw the plan…and I wasn’t bothered about the caffeine because I was already so wired that it couldn’t make it any worse. Ironically, I did actually manage to sleep a little (I really don’t need much anyway but can’t function very well during the night because unless I at least lie down with my eyes shut in the dark for a while I always develop a migraine…as I found out when I tried to work through the night at Uni when I wasn’t tired) which always makes the day seem brighter.

After waking up and doing an hour of Tae-Bo I had the following…

Breakfast:


Last of the Doves Farm Cornflakes with rice milk & banana. I’ll have to wait until Mum or I goes to Newcastle to get any more *sob*

26/08/09~Nothing to Declare

No, seriously. Today has been as dull as the weather; grey, rainy, damp, uninspiring. Plus the slightly bright yet overcast nature of the sky has resulted in a headache which keeps teetering on the edge of turning into a migraine. It would help if my eyes weren’t so tired and I could actually sleep. Le sigh. If I wasn’t so skeptical about such products, I’d blame the Pulsin’ Energy Bomb for living up to its name too well: I certainly didn’t fatigue at the end of two hours of Body Jam/Balance like I sometimes do. It’s a trend with me recently, though: feel drained all day then suddenly become hyperactive at night. Plus, even when I manage to come within an inch of relaxing it feels like my heart is racing and beating too fast…then I sit bolt upright terrified that I’m going to die. This runs on a repeating cycle and in the end I just give up and resign myself to another night staring at the ceiling. This hasn’t happened since I was sixteen/seventeen, and usually occurs due to stress and anxiety. Sleeping tablets have an absolutely hideous effect on me and so the only answer would be to eliminate the source of the stress, but how you go about that when everything in life is threatening to wash over me in a tsunami of self-induced panic I don’t know. To an external observer it must seem ridiculous, but just existing without completely breaking down is becoming a monumental effort. I’d give anything for my mind to just shut up, just for a brief moment to not be calculating numbers and constructing diet plans and agonizing over my lack of concentration/ability to take in or make any progress with the reading I actually manage to get done (i.e not much) and freaking out over this damn hip which just won’t stop hurting and wondering what the Hell I’ve done with my life and where in God’s name it’s going.

I know I should rest, but then I’d be sitting on my backside all day with no focus and still eating the same amount, or worse, bingeing because I don’t have any coping mechanism to block the thoughts out and it’s always either exercise or food that does just that. I’ve achieved precisely nothing today. I was on the verge of just chucking out some of my canvases because what I’d painted was so mediocre, something that I’ve never done (because frankly, I can’t afford to be wasting them). Every day just seems to morph into one mass of nonentity with no end. It turns out that the driving instructor I was going to have lessons with doesn’t work weekends (even though the company she works for expressly told me she did), so I’ll have to wait until I have the MREs timetable before I can book (I don’t want to have a lesson on the same day as a lecture, both for social and ‘sitting-time’ reasons) and even then I don’t know how I’ll fit in learning the theory, which I have no ability to absorb at all. My lack of concentration is really scaring me, the possibility of being injured is scaring me…I think I’m stuck in some kind of cortisol-induced fight or flight anxiety mechanism the whole time.

I kept on the grass wherever possible for my 5 miles this morning. It took me far longer than usual because increased pace seems to aggravate the hip/spine pain. Sadly this meant that I was even more drenched than I would have been because the persistent drizzle turned into a downpour ten minutes away from home.

Breakfast:

1/2 cup rice/millet porridge, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, agave, sultanas, banana, crumbled Cashew Cookie Larabar. This combination was a vast improvement on yesterday’s breakfast…I think breaking the bar into larger pieces helped to sustain the flavour so it didn’t get subsumed by all the other elements.

Something is really wrong when even a run doesn’t improve my mood. I spent the morning trying to read, then giving up because I realised that I’d scanned over numerous pages and couldn’t remember a single thing that had featured in them. Then I looked up a 10-mile run in November and printed off the entry form. Wishful thinking, you know? I pretty much wanted to curl up in a ball, cry and just ditch the gym but thankfully my Mum was there to talk some sense into me. I actually felt less tired when I came out than I did when I went in, which is always the case. I managed to get in 30 minutes on the elliptical, 20 on the stepper, 15 on the static bike, about 10 of weights and a further 5 of stretching. It’s bizarre that I’ve now started to hate the muscles on my arms as well as everything from the chest down. I started lifting light weights in the hope of balancing out my twiggy arms and tree-trunk esque legs, but now I realise that I liked my arms because they were the only ‘skinny’ part of me. Gah, I’m such an idiot.

Lunch:

Fruit Plate (grapes, nectarine, Pink Lady apple), chickpea/carrot/tomato salad, GF bread with Pure Spread

I had this so late that all I had time to do in the afternoon was a little internet research, go for a walk and lift some more weights at home…and of course snack.

Snack:

Ginger Bread Nakd Bar, Jazz Apple

Then I went to pilates which did help my back/hip a little. I was going to ask the coach about what I could do to help it but she’d probably say ‘don’t run on it’ which wouldn’t help me much at all.
Dinner:

Corn spaghetti, lentil/date bolognese & peas

I’ll get an Apple Pie Larabar later. Apologies and I understand if people are getting totally sick of my posts. They’re nothing new or enlightening really. It would help if I could keep my eyes open while I type. I just wish there was some magic solution out there to all of this, that someone would tell me ‘eat this, do this, no more, no less’ and I wouldn’t have to worry about weight any more…it takes up every waking minute of my day (which right now is a lot of minutes) and no matter how many times I read that apparently it ‘doesn’t matter’, I can never believe that because deep down in the core of my very being, it does. It matters more than anything else and has done ever since I became aware of my size. Magic wands and solutions don’t exist, and I really don’t see any other method of making it all go away.

25/08/09~Jumbled Thoughts

Last night I was really struggling. My dinner wasn’t very filling at all (why!? It would fill most people up so much that they wouldn’t even be able to manage breakfast) so all through the evening my mind kept wandering to what was in the cupboards. I had one huge serving of Doves Farm cornflakes left in the box and was going to have that with rice milk for a ‘snack’. I even got as far as pouring them into the bowl, which was overflowing. Thankfully, I managed to persude myself that it was a totally excessive amount for a breakfast, let alone a snack. My Mum said I did well as she thought it was a bit much, and I don’t usually recognise that…or if I do, the desperate sadness and desire to stuff my face is so strong that once the food’s in front of me I don’t have the resolve to put it back. I went for a Pulsin’ Coffee Brownie instead, which was just enough to hold me over through the night and for the duration of my morning 8.5 mile run. I was starving as usual when I got back though. I know comparison isn’t constructive, but I don’t know how some other bloggers manage to control themselves when they run further than me in the morning having had no night-time snack and only have a smoothie or something small for breakfast. Somehow exercise slightly legitimised the amount I eat and now I see people running further than me and eating so little by comparison. Now I don’t even have the ‘I’m active so need calories’ excuse and it just comes down to weakness of will.

I really wish I could envision some outcome for my life that doesn’t end in weight gain. How to reverse the process is just lost on me right now…it’s like I can remember how to maintain or even *gasp* lose, but it feels like it happened to a different person. I feel like a psychological rubber band has been snapped, not just stretched, and it’s impossible to repair it. All morning my Dad was moaning about how he’s gained weight and asking me the calorie content of Eat Natural bars in each individual flavour. He knows I’m a walking calculator and at least he didn’t ask Mum, which would have been a thousand times’ worse, but he’s really overweight and I just see so much of myself in his behaviours. I don’t want to end up like him, but we have the exact same psychology when it comes to food (other than that he consumes enough animal products and animal parts to give anyone a heart attack) and I just don’t know how to break it. I suppose I expended my limited amount of energy with teenage restriction and weight loss/gain yo-yos. The same problems feed into my disillusionment with running 10K races: to be truly successful as an athlete you have to be willing to push through pain, to run so far to your limits that you’re almost vomiting with the effort. I’ve been coseted far too much for that, and can’t take the sheer force of will required to bulldoze past conventional pain limits.

Also, something that’s always been an issue for me is what normal eating and exercise patterns are anyway. Normality is generally defined by the actions of the individual corresponding to those of wider society, but in an era when huge proportions of society are overweight or obese, ‘normality’ clearly isn’t a positive way to go. From my own initial resentment of the raw food diet, I found that those who object to a certain lifestyle generally do so because it threatens them or they resent the fact that they can’t follow it themselves…jealousy and guilt are horribly powerful motivators. Expectation and occasions are a huge bugbear of mine: in a scenario of, say, a birthday party where there is cake, people are generally divided into five camps:
1.) Those who want cake but are worried about what others will think and are too guilt-ridden to eat any. Or who eat a piece but restrict / binge for the rest of the day because they can’t handle said guilt.
2.) Those who eat some, feel crap about it and then pressure others to do so: those who need validation that the fact they ate some is ‘okay’ and what to stuff others to alleviate the guilt.
3.) Those who genuinely don’t like cake, are vegan/raw/whatever or aren’t hungry but feel they have to eat some because it’s expected of them, or because they’re bullied into it by the no.2s (pun fully intended)
4.) Those who loudly inform everyone else in the room about how they’d really love cake but are being ‘good’/are on a diet/have lost ‘x’ pounds by avoiding cake/give everyone else in the room a full nutritional breakdown of what’s in the cake/announce how they’re going to spend six hours in the gym working off said cake. Generally, smug gits.
5.) The small minority who eat the damn cake, enjoy it and move on. Generally men.

4/5ths of the attitudes are skewed. Technically, there is a sixth group who don’t want cake and stand up for themselves / refuse to eat any, but they’re generally ostracised and characterised as being the most disordered of all when really they’re doing what’s best for themselves. Yes, it might sound selfish but each mind is individual, and stuffing in cake just to please others isn’t emotionally constructive in my opinion. Our society isn’t the best model of what’s right and we have to figure out for ourselves what works and what doesn’t. Personally, I’m the worst example of this out there and would dearly love to be one of those strong people who are both in control and at peace with themselves. Trouble is, I have no idea who to look to for a model of how to do this, and looking within isn’t providing any answers. A bit of abnormality is great, but not when it’s counterproductive. This is starting not to make sense. Argh, I wish I could articulate what I mean more effectively!

After my run this morning I tried out a new combination for breakfast.

Breakfast:


1/2 cup rice/millet porridge, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, agave, raisins, banana, crumbled Cashew Cookie Larabar. Hmm, this didn’t work as well as the Apple Pie version, or even when I tried crumbling a Pecan Pie bar on top of porridge: the flavour of the Cashew Cookie is just too subtle and was overwhelmed by all of the other strong tastes/textures. I’ve got it in my head that I want to try this with other dried fruits though, so I suspect a repeat version may (okay, will) appear tomorrow. Perhaps sultanas would work better?

Lunch (after 60 mins Nell McAndrew Cardio, Core & Stretch DVD):


Usual arrangement of carrot, a spectacularly sweet and juicy white nectarine and special Jessica size (i.e ginormous) grapes.


PB & Co Crunch Time & Banana sandwich on GF Bread, other half of banana sliced with a ridiculously excessive amount more PB.

Snack (After some walking & cleaning):

Lovely & sweet Jazz apple, Pulsin’ Energy Bomb

Hopefully the nutrition/ingredients are vaguely legible…white text on a green background isn’t the best combination when attempting to avoid eye strain.


Looks promising…


Check out the teeth marks…

Review: Pulsin’ Energy BombConsidering this is the third Pulsin’ product I’ve tried, it seems fitting that it sits somewhere between the sinful decadence of the Coffee Brownie and the bitter abomination that was the (Goji) Berry Burst. My pet peeve and paradoxically greatest love about these discs is that they’re simply too chewy and sticky to break apart, which means I have to *gasp* bite into them instead of merely snapping a piece off and then savouring it. However, it’s this texture which makes them so mouth-watering, presuming the taste is pleasant enough. They’re so moist and juicy that they really do have the texture of sticky, drool-inducing toffee, and this version tasted like a densely dark chocolate version of the Thornton’s special toffee I used to down in obscene amounts as a child. The distinct earthiness of the cacao flavour paired well with the crunch of the small pieces of sunflower seed, and this disc definitely grew on me as I ate it…initially I thought it was too bland and was on the verge of reaching for an Apple Pie Larabar, but then the flavour truly came through and my mind was changed. These discs might look small, but take quite a while to eat due to aforementioned stickiness and are surprisingly filling for a 50g serving. 8/10
Dinner (after Body Jam & Body Balance at the gym):


Baby Jacket Potatoes, Lentil & Apricot Bolognese, leftover stir-fry veggies

At least by the end of the day my research is finally all organised and co-ordinated into a reasonable filing system. If only my mind was as easy to sort out…

Memory Lane: Beyond Bananas (2)

23/08/09~Ray Harrison Memorial 10K Race Recap


Cashew Cookie Larabar from last night. Is there any better way to commence a post?

I really, really shall try to be brief, as for some reason the race today has taken a lot out of me and I’m struggling to keep my eyes open. It really was tough: the heavy, achy-limbed feeling lingered over from yesterday and when the race started at 11:00am, it was 24C / 75F and extremely humid. Storm clouds were gathering in the distance though the sun was blazing down on us, but thankfully there was a slight breeze to cut through the stale air. To any international readers those kind of temperatures must seem a little pathetic, but I really don’t tolerate the heat well at all. The Chevrolet run was 19C/66F, which for me was a perfect temperature.

The day started at 7am with a pre-race warm up of Davina McCalls DVD (Abs and Boxing) As I’ve mentioned on previous recaps, I have to get in an hour of activity and stretching beforehand to funtion optimally in race conditions…or even to be able to run at all. Sitting in the car after lying down all night is a recipe for disaster in terms of stiffening up and joint/back pain.

Breakfast:

Organic Food Bar Omega 3 Flax, Banana


Review: Organic Food Bar Omega 3 FlaxThis bar is essentially for functional purposes only. It takes a lot for me to eat something just for fuel with no emotional attachment whatsoever, and I thought this bar would be a good challenge in that respect. I knew I’d savour the Active Greens with Chocolate more, but just for once I didn’t want that kind of indulgence…I wanted to eat something just ‘average’ and then get on with the task in hand, rather than reminiscing endlessly about how lovely a bar was and how I’d rather have another one than run like I did at the Chevrolet (even though ‘I’ would rather run any time…it’s the OE voice that wants me to be a great blubbery couch potato) Anyway, I hadn’t tried this bar before but didn’t anticipate that it would be anything special. It wasn’t. It had the slightly odd initial taste that all these bars have…sort of sweet and ‘grassy’, and the occasional chwey crunch of the flax seeds was a little offputting / unpleasant. The texture was nicely soft though, and the raisins added a nice contrast which really saved the day. The bar was a little rich and greasy, and to be honest 321 kcal for 70g of bar is slightly disturbing when 68g Nakd Bars only have 220 ish. I suppose it’s the equivalent of a Larabar in the same size though! I wouldn’t buy this flavour again, but it served its purpose in terms of being filling enough to last four hours through the journey/race/aftermath but light enough not to upset my stomach. 5/10
Although I met the challenge of eating the bar, its less than stellar taste put me in a bad mood. The presence of my Dad huffing and puffing all the way to the race and shouting (incorrect) directions at my Mum didn’t help. However, once we got to the race I bounded away from him to go and warm up by jogging round the running track at Billingham Marsh Harriers’ club ground/stadium. The atmosphere was warm, informal and very friendly. I felt comfortable and more at ease than at any of the bigger, more pretentious events. Everyone from the club seemed so nice and it did make me re-evaluate my view of running clubs that has been in place ever since a bad experience with a few sessions at Durham RC. I think in future I’ll veer more towards these smaller events, if the welcome of this one was anything to go by. I did have a minor panic attack at the revelation that we’d be running on LIVE roads (i.e they weren’t shut!) and briefly considered backing out, but then shut the negative voice up and left my Mum with the camera so I could line up at the start.

And here I am…the happy little dwarf in the black baseball cap. Yep, told you I was a midget. I always feel like Gulliver in Brobdingnag at these starts.

Another plus point for this run = no ridiculous warm-up led by some lycra-clad idiot (Bupa Run) and no long preamble (Chevrolet). Actually, the starter set us off two minutes early with no warning whatsoever. He caught me by suprise and I feebly fumbled for my iPod to start the custom playlist I made while being jostled by runners a foot taller than me from behind. Right at the start I picked a lady who I knew paces at around 39 minutes dead and managed to stick with her right up until the 5K drinks station. It was, as I said, tough. She seemed to be breezing effortlessly along and it took all of the dwindling strength in my stubby legs to keep up. I thought I could tail her…but it seems that having mastered the art of drinking on the move from a bottle I still have to learn how to do so from a plastic cup. I inhaled the water and, coughing and spluttering, almost had to stop. After that I lost her and there was no catching up. The negativity from the Chevrolet 10K wasn’t as pronounced, but after that I was struggling not to cry from the 6K mark onwards. I kept slowing and slowing and it was obvious I’d been overambitious in tailing her: I’d gone off too fast, something I’ve never done before.

At the 9K mark, it was as if someone had waved a magic wand: my energy came back! I tried to power through that final kilometre, despite brushing past a huge patch of stinging nettles (youch!) and being elbowed by some great bully of a man onto the pavement. There wasn’t much space on the road and some of the race etiquette wasn’t fantastic (come on, elbowing and bulldozing past a short, wheezing girl isn’t very gentlemanly). I did move aside to let some faster runners past…but probably wouldn’t have done had they been female ; ) I do have some competitive edge. As I kicked for the finish I was determined to beat that bully of a man. Hence the shot my Mum took of me…it really needs enlarging for the full effect.

Yes, that’s me about to overtake him! It’s nice to charge someone down at the end instead of it being the other way round.

And I’m a sweaty mess by the finish. Ye Gods, why are all of these post-race pics so fugly? I really shouldn’t smile…

In the end I finished in a time of 40:45, 64th overall out of 370, 6th female and 1st unattached. The club’s website has the full results list under ‘Race entry forms and recent results,’ NOT the results tab on the top bar of the screen. No prizes for me though (aside from a t-shirt). I always feel so disillusioned when I read all of the US blogs where bloggers place in almost every race. I’ve only ever come 3rd once in a 5K Race For Life last year, and there was no acknowledgement or trophy : ( I think my time for that one was 20:15…but 5Ks really aren’t long enough and are an irritating distance for me so I’m giving them a miss this time round. Meh, mixed feelings about that one…conditions weren’t great and it was more undulating/hilly than the Chevrolet, but I still wish I’d done better.

I had an Apple Pie Larabar in the car on the way home to distract me from the hip, knee and back pain I was experiencing…and because after the race nausea wore off I was ravenous. My body wasn’t happy about this race at all, even though it was fine all the way around the course and I warmed down with some circuits of a nearby field and tonnes of stretching. Sitting down at all was horrible, let alone being in a car for 50 minutes. I knew if I sat for much longer at home I’d be in agony, so I did 45 minutes of Tae-Bo Cardio (DVD) as soon as I got in the door. This loosened things up nicely and I began to feel a little better.

Lunch:
The usual…lusciously juicy white nectarine this time!
Baked sweet potato with cinnamon & sunbutter. It wasn’t very sweet at all and a bit ‘meh’ tasting, so because I was just too hungry to wait for another one I added a little agave which improved things greatly.

In the afternoon I went for a walk (3 miles?) to keep things moving, then reached for a snack.

Snack:

Tentation Apple, Outback Animals Vanilla & Chocolate Cookies

Then I did 90 minutes of my Geri Body Yoga DVD to stretch out, as it seemed to help the last time I raced. Dinner was a repeat of last night, sans roasted pepper. I had planned something else, but the polenta was so delicious that I threw the plans out of the window (v.difficult for me!) and made what I truly wanted, savouring every gorgeous bite. Later I’ll have a Pulsin Coffee Brownie for a snack…I’ve been saving one for tonight as they’re pretty expensive and I can only order them online…well, that’s the case with all of my snack foods! Darn my digestive system and useless food outlets where I live. I thought I’d appreciate it more if I didn’t have one for a few days, though.

Overall, a decidedly mixed day. I managed to ignore my Dad’s sarastic comments and just get on with it without being provoked into an argument, which was a plus. I still feel somewhat jaded towards racing despite the lovely people at the club though. No matter how far I push myself I’m so far behind the winners it’s a joke (1st place=36:00…Aly didn’t run this one!) and I don’t know what I’m doing wrong. I just want to be able to see inside their heads and find out how they eat/train…it doesn’t help that all 5 of the faster women were thinner than me, which just feeds into the ‘you’re useless because you’re fat’ mentality. I seem to be dreading races rather than looking forward to them because of the expectations I set for myself. I only have one chance to break 40 minutes and that’s on September 6th for the Middlesbrough Tees Pride 10K…it’s unlikely, as it starts at 9:30am so an early car journey will equal feeling dizzy and nauseaous for at least the first 3K. Still, as I said, I have my dream…

Hope everyone had a great, relaxing Sunday : )

22/08/09~Quaking in My Trainers

For anyone who’s curious as to the nature of SuperTed, the cartoon character who leant his name and brand to the vitamins I used to eat like sweets as a child, click here ; ) I loved that cartoon so much and I think it was one of the biggest influences on my formative years aged two to five. I even had a little red cape that I wore to jump off the side of the couch and pretend I could fly. Ah, memories. Actually I haven’t grown up much, because I still look forward to taking my chewable vegan calcium supplements every day. They taste like crunchy vanilla sweets…yep, I’m that sad and food obsessed that chewable vitamins brighten my day.

Excuse the frazzled nerves: I’m terrified about the race tomorrow. You’d think that after a certain number of them the night before and the preamble would get easier, but sadly not. I might have run a personal best last time but mentally I was all over the place and deserved to finish a good twenty minutes behind where I did. I’ve noticed that my pyschological state has deteriorated over the course of the last two races and can’t put my finger on why: it’s like I’ve lost my joy, or that my ‘race face’ has been stripped away, leaving only the negativity and self-doubt that seems to form the core of my being. I have never wanted to just stop running more times than during the last race. Perhaps it’s because I pushed it to the limit, but it didn’t feel that way…I slowed far too markedly in the final 500m and just felt…apathetic? lethargic? Probably both of these things, and around the 3K and 6K marks I actually felt downright depressed, something that never happened until the Bupa Great North 10K earlier in the summer (July). I’m so scared that these thoughts are going to overwhelm me tomorrow and I actually will stop, not because I want to, but because emotionally and phsyically I’m pretty exhausted. I really do believe that 70% of running is down to postitive psychology, so if I can’t give my head a darn good talking to before tomorrow then I’m doomed. On the plus side, my new iPod shuffle (aka my best friend and running buddy) now has a playlist I’ve compiled with a view to a sub-40 finish (I can dream, right?), so at least I won’t have to keep skipping over songs I don’t like and losing my focus like I did last time.

Also, my Dad is coming to the run. Yippee. I’ll just have to try to ignore him and get on with what I have to do. I’d really rather he wasn’t there but apparently I have no say in the matter…perhaps I can just imagine I’m running away from him and then I’ll go that much faster. Okay, I’m aware that I really do sound like a three year-old now.

Evening Snack (last night ~ 21/08)


Apple Pie Larabar ~ as if there weren’t enough pictures of these on the blog already.

21/08/09~Inner Child

Reading back through my last post made me realise that I come across as an arrogant, conceited little madam. I’m so sorry if my talking about my exam results came across as showing off, because I most certainly have nothing to brag about in my life whatsoever. I only mentioned it because the shock of the mistake in terms of taking the ‘wrong’ test paper seemed so incongruous with the result. Such garbage comes out of my mouth in social situations because I’m horribly nervous but on a blog there really is no excuse. Anyway, the point was to emphasise how much of an achievement it is to get through such exams, particularly with the grace not to broadcast it to everyone when I took the dreaded things four years ago.

Today has been another one of those ‘panic attack because my clothes feel too tight’ days. I have certain ‘safe’ items that as long as they fit, I don’t feel the compulsion to jump on the scales that I used to. Not weighing has been such a difficult task, particularly when up until a couple of months ago I’d be hopping on the scales at least three times’ a day. But what do I expect? Tight clothes certainly don’t equal weight loss and seeing some hideous number will only distress me further. Nothing is achieved by using scales, nothing (at least not in my case: when weight gain is necessary for recovery from a restrictive eating disorder there obviously is a very real ‘point’ to weighing at designated intervals) except the misery of a gain or the creepingly addictive nature of a loss.

The problem is that I just do not trust myself. At a psychological assessment I was once told that the reason I covet thin bodies and yearn for an underweight appearance is because I’m trying to retreat from the responsibilities of adulthood and want to look like a child. I think that’s a bit of a cliché and a reductive assessment too often levelled at people with disordered eating. I already had a pudgy, baby face. I am 5ft 3. I already look many years younger than I am. People still take me for 13, not 23. Why, if I wanted to be a child, did I also want to grow 7 inches? Adulthood still scares the living daylights out of me 5 years into my numerical ‘coming of age’, but I have absolutely no desire to go back to my childhood. I had problems with food even then…I don’t think my relationship with it has ever been ‘normal.’ My earliest memory in this respect was when I was five, and I ate an entire bottle of SuperTed orange vitamins because they tasted like sweets. I wasn’t one of those idiot children that drink bleach because they think it’s blue Cola: I knew that they were vitamins, but because my Mum had rationed and/or removed all the sweet things in the house (to stop me from rotting my baby teeth) I ‘binged’ on the only thing that was in my reach: vitamins which in excessive consumption, certainly did produce a laxative effect. Later, at seven, I burst into floods of tears in the lunch queue and started shouting and screaming because the teacher I had at the time always let the class out late for lunch and I knew I’d have to eat disgusting Spam fritters and wobbly Angel Delight instead of the tuna & pasta bake and meringue with spray whipped cream that I wanted (because my tastes were that sophisticated at seven). None of the other children cared about food this much, only me. It seems engrained into my consciousness to be obsessed with food, not something that only developed when I became unable to deal with my phsyical ‘development’ at eleven and desperately wanted to lose weight at the expense of everything else. The lunch problem was solved when I became vegetarian soon after and started taking packed lunches, but the food issue remained.

I was always an ‘old’ child…I wanted to converse with the adults instead of being left with the other sticky, noisy children. I made up fantasies that at some points became reality for me, and became a source of trouble at school because I couldn’t socialise on any level with almost anyone. I was withdrawn, listless and cried a ridiculous amount. It’s an odd paradox that I desperately loathed having no independence or responsibility then, and when I was offered with it I couldn’t deal with it. Today perhaps people might accept that a child of five could be depressed and suffer from anxiety, but then neither teachers nor pupils did anything constructive at all, and both were equally cruel. So would I want to be some Peter Pan perpetually stuck in childhood? No. I crave thinness because somehow it looks ‘right’ to me and I feel comfortable with that kind of body type (well, ‘felt’, as I certainly don’t have that now)…perhaps it’s because it looks androgynous, I don’t know for sure. The point is that I don’t trust myself or my body because my notion of ‘normal’ eating is so skewed that it’s never been present at all, and tight clothes merely reinforce the horror that I’m moving further and further away from a comfortable body type for me.

Blah, apologies for the repetitive nature of my musings…I wish I could make some sense of this and move on. Anyway, at least my run this morning was a speedy 8 miles mercifully free of hip pain.

Breakfast:

1/2 cup rice/millet porridge, 1 cup rice milk, 1 cup pumpkin, cinnamon, agave, raisins, banana, sunbutter swirl…plus three huge handfuls of raisins while I was waiting for it to cook on the stove. Hunger once again got the better of me.

I finished reading my Henry James collection of short stories and practiced keyboard for a while in the morning. Also, I scratched several huge marks into the skin on my face. Every day I do this…it’s been a problem since I was eleven and it’s usually a reaction to stress and the self-loathing of having overeaten (not that I was too full, but raisins are incredibly calorie-dense so I wouldn’t be) It’s such a destructive behaviour and one I’d dearly like to kick: not only does it wreck my skin (and I’m allergic to make-up so I’d get some lovely eczema if I tried to cover the spots/scars up) but it also wastes time…I get stressed about being unproductive and the sheer amount of research that I have to do, then waste 30 minutes picking at my face. Counterproductivity at its finest. Perhaps I should wear mittens all day.

Body Combat was a great break and stress-reliever. One of those horrible women (these are the same gang/clique who take the bikes by the window at spinning) who make weight-related comments was hogging the space in front of me in a crowded room of twenty people (it’s a TINY studio)…if she’d just moved a foot to the left or right then some of the people in the back row could have actually done the class properly instead of almost kicking each other in the face. I had enough space in the middle row, but in an attempt to give the poor souls at the back more room I shifted forwards and in the process very nearly punched her in the back of the head. Ohh, if I’d only been a few inches further to the front…

Lunch:

Repeat of Wednesday: chickpea/carrot/tomato salad, fruit plate (nectarine, apple, grapes), GF bread with Pure Spread

Usual walkies and manic house cleaning in the afternoon, followed by a side of research. Ye Gods, this is getting so repetitive. At least any insomniacs out there who are reading must be thoroughly cured.

Snack:

Apple & Outback Animals Vanilla & Chocolate…with a side of ‘Devil Bones’, the new book I’m reading. I don’t usually buy this kind of thing (it’s a forensic thriller) but it was free in Waterstones with my Henry James book and ‘The Shack’, which I finished a while ago and I’m not one to pass up free reading material in the current economic climate.

Then I did my standard 90 minutes of Geri Body Yoga and heated up some leftovers for dinner.

Dinner:


Another repeat: Sofrito & Peas

At least there’s something new on the horizon: I’m looking into booking some driving lessons for next week, as I’ve finally found a female instructor with a Vauxhall Corsa (the type of car we have) who will do two 1 hr lessons instead of only being able to teach in blocks of two hours, which is too painful for my back. I’m excited and nervous all at the same time: the problems with my Dad have given me a thirst for independence but I’m so scared of driving…I had a bad experience when I was 17 when I was nearly hit head-on by an articulated truck on my third lesson and haven’t been near a steering wheel since.

20/08/09~ Dripping

Firstly, congratulations to all those UK bloggers who received their A and AS-Level results today! I certainly wouldn’t want to revist that experience again…not that I wasn’t pleased with my results, but the trepidation and horror while waiting to open the envelope was probably one of the most emotionally draining moments of my life. GCSEs and AS-Levels were the worst, because I’d taught myself both sets of exam syllabuses and had no idea how effective my ‘teaching’ methods were…plus I was entered for the wrong paper on the wrong day for one of the AS English Literature papers, so I had to quickly wing something about the Taming of the Shrew having only read it in passing. For some unknown reason I got 100/100 for that exam, a few marks higher than the ones I actually revised for…I still think there was some kind of mix up and some poor genius ended up with a D or something similar.

Secondly, I was bowled over by the support and understanding I received in response to my last post. I wish that moving out was an option, I truly do…but I’m neither financially nor psychologically stable enough to consider living alone. My Mum has been so sympathetic and understanding too. My parents have always had a slightly turbulent relationship, and I think if it wasn’t for our issues with money they might have split quite a while ago. Basically, my Dad has total financial power and control and sometimes I think he likes to wield that as some kind of weapon or chain. His response to my Mum’s ED is little better than his approach to my bipolarity, social anxiety and OE: he basically treats her like a naughty child that won’t eat it’s tea and tries to blackmail her into eating, which is singularly unhelpful. Apoligies if going into so much detail seems inappropriate…I know most bloggers are a lot more private than I am, but I just don’t have anyone to talk this through with in the outside world and typing it out is quite cathartic, like an exorcism of all of the worries that I’m holding inside.

Today was hot, sticky and dull. These type of days are usually migraine triggers, so I tried to be particularly mindful of what I was doing in terms of not spending too much time reading or by the computer…difficult when you’re drowning in a sea of research. I took it easy with one of my less challenging DVDs: Tae-Bo Cardio Circuit 2, before getting ready for spinning.

Breakfast:

Doves Farm Cornflakes, Sultanas, Rice Dream, Banana

I didn’t deal with the heat too well at the gym and was a dizzy pool of sweat by the end of spinning. I just don’t understand why amount of sweat>amount of effort, calorie burn and cardiovascular strain for me…I’m dripping like a hefty great bodybuilder even when I’m not particularly exerting myself and the other women are bone dry, despite wearing double the amount of clothes that I do. At least I’ve had the sense to suck up my fears and wear a crop top and shorts instead of bundling up in tracksuit bottoms and a thick top then almost fainting with heat exhaustion. I still hate exposing so much skin though, not only due to self-consciousness but also because the women at the gym notice every single minor fluctation in weight of everyone who attends the classes (and even some people who don’t, and keep their workouts for the actual gym equipment). Wearing so little leaves me particularly open to their scrutiny, and although I know I shouldn’t care what they think, no-one likes to be told they’re putting on weight (I love the way they say it as if the poor person they’re taunting doesn’t KNOW that it’s the case. Ugh, I can’t stand how so many females of the species are so poisonous and linguisticallyh toxic). Thank goodness there were multiple fans going upstairs, because there certainly wasn’t much air to be had in the clammy humidity outside. I managed 35 minutes on the elliptical (sandwiched in between TWO fans. Score!) but only 7.2K in 35 minutes on the treadmill as opposed to my usual 7.5. Meh, doesn’t bode too well for Sunday’s race.

19/08/09~Ghost Town

I’m so happy that Minnie’s post was well-received; I passed all of the complimentary comments on to her and needless to say she’s now strutting around the house as if she owns the place, which of course she does. The reason I called her ‘Minnie’ was primarily due to needing a variation on her old name, which she’d learnt to respond to…but I didn’t want to keep something that someone who’d treated her so badly had bestowed upon her. ‘Minnie’ reflected her petite frame and large ears, which at the time reminded me of Minnie Mouse. Now her face has filled out a bit they aren’t as prominent, and she suits the moniker ‘Chickpea’ (my first choice) better in my opinion. Ah well.

Seriously, the internet seems to be hemorrhaging blogs with every passing second. Is there something rotten in the State of Blogland that I’m missing? How many more blogs will bite the dust? How many times can I use the word ‘blog’ in one paragraph? It’s becoming like the online version of a Wild West deserted village. All we need now is some digital tumbleweed.

Last Night’s Snack:

Was supposed to be Pulsin’s Berry Burst ‘Bar’ (well, disc)

Hmm, looks a little diseased, no? Like it has a case of goji berry measles.

Product Review: Pulsin’ Berry Burst
Shortest review ever: it’s the texture of plasticine and tastes like Play-Doh. I actually had to spit out the bite I took, and that’s saying something. It was bland, almost tasteless and the little flavour there was came from the horribly bitter berries. Superfood or not, I am never going near anything Goji-based again. Thankfully, the Coffee Brownie version of Pulsin’s discs was there to save the day and I had that instead. 0/10 ~ simply inedible.

Another day, another wonderfully sunny morning today. I’ve been so spoilt with the weather recently…I’m dreading the winter, which always equals heightened levels of depression and usually weight gain. Rain I can cope with, frost…not so much, and the anxiety of not being able to run at the crack of dawn always gets my day off to a bad start. I’m savouring every day of summer while I still can. Twas an easy 5 miles, after which I found a use for the very unexciting Pecan Pie Larabar still in my possession…and dated August 09.
Breakfast:


Pecan Pie Porridge: 1/2 cup rice/millet porridge, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, agave, dates, banana, crumbled Pecan Pie Larabar.

I spent the entire morning going through the University’s online catalogue and maxing out my loan limit reserving books for my MREs dissertation. Sadly, the one text, the key text that I desperately need seems to be unavailable at every library in the region…my options are to plead for an inter-library loan or to spend £135 on my own copy on Amazon…which I don’t have. Ah, the joys of research. Luckily my Mum very kindly offered to pick up the books which do exist when she’s in Newcastle on work-related business, so it saves me lugging them all home on the train. They know her at the Uni anyway, because she basically communicated for me for the entire first and second years of my degree when I didn’t say a word unless an academic question was asked of me. I suppose sometimes I need to recognise how far I’ve come in that respect instead of focusing on how far away I still am from being ‘normal’.

The stress of trying to locate the elusive Christopher Marlowe: A Critical History (1995 edition…the library had the 1973 version but it’s been updated since then to include more contemporary thought and most of the critical views in the 1973 text are outdated. Argh!) needed some serious venting at the gym. A sweaty hour of cardio on the elliptical, stepper & bike and some weights/stretching later, I was feeling much calmer…and hungrier.

Lunch:

Chickpea, carrot & tomato salad, Fruit plate (nectarine, apple, grapes) & two unpictured slices of GF bread with Pure Spread.

Walking on my own in the afternoon, I started to experience a level of anxiety and sadness that I haven’t had in quite some time. My Dad and I haven’t been on speaking terms for over a week, when he said that he’d be perfectly justified in hitting me if I cried in front of him ever again or put his blood pressure up on the basis that I need to learn some self-control and shutting me up is preferable to me ‘killing’ him through stress. He has shaken me and thrown me around before when I’ve been in one of my howling/sobbing moods and has never once apologised or accepted that his reaction is disproportionate, hurtful and inappropriate. So I decided not to stand for it any more and told my Mum about what’s been going on for…oh, ten years? Then he accused me of lying and trying to drive a wedge between them when really he’s bullied my Mum for even longer and there’s a big enough wedge there anyway to hold open the door of Westminster Abbey. Anyway, the upshot is that I now stay away from him as much as possible and get out of the house whenever I can. I really don’t want to be alone with him any more.

At least this has forced me to face me fears and walk through ‘rough’ areas of my area alone…living in a rural setting, they’re also quite isolated. Listening to my iPod, I was scared not only of being jumped on, mugged or beaten up by random people but also, inexplicably, of bullies from my past suddenly popping up. I still sometimes see them, or think I do, when I’m out alone…then I panic, hyperventilate and exhaust myself emotionally while running as quickly as I can for some kind of safe spot. It’s bloody embarrassing when it happens in the middle of New Look…anyway, I know that however much I like to tell myself that if I saw them again I’d perform the verbal equivalent of impaling them with a rusty spear, in reality I’m still a victim and they’d just walk all over me like they did all through primary and secondary school. Then my iPod reminded me why I never invest in people emotionally any more with Metallica’s Nothing Else Matters, which never fails to make me cry. It’s fortunate that I don’t feel anything for most people and am generally misanthropic, because when I do I become so completely absorbed and head-over-heels for that person that I not only make an idiot out of myself but also feel heartbroken about it five years later. The person I’m referring to used to play that song on his classical guitar…I never used to have a ‘type’ but now I basically judge everyone (male!) on the basis of how much they look like him. Yes, I really am that much of a cliché.

Morose Jessica= comfort food, shameful though it may be. After I’d done another 25 minutes of weights I munched my way through this:

Snack:


Last few scrapings of the Hazelnut Raisin Butter (literally like a teaspoon left), Banana

Product Review: Monki Hazelnut Raisin ButterI love the fact that there are only two ingredients in this: hazelnuts and raisins : ) I was hoping for some kind of equivalent to PB&Co’s Cinnamon Raisin Swirl, which I have seen (and lusted after) on US blogs and clearly has whole raisins in it. Sadly, this nut butter did not: the raisins are blended in with the nuts to form a sweet, soft yet crunchy paste. I felt that the taste of this was a little watery and insipid, and verging on the sickly in nature. I would have liked the hazelnut flavour to be stronger and I’ll always prefer smooth nut butters to crunchy…and if there are ‘bits’ in it then they need to be actual chunks of nut, not little semi-ground pieces. This sounds quite harsh considering it’s actually quite a pleasant novelty and great if you have a sweet tooth…I just wouldn’t buy it again. 6/10

Then I went to an hour of Pilates at the gym to rectify the pain in my back from tripping over a pavement edge while freaking out that bullies might be hiding around corners.

Dinner:

Stir-Fry Veggies, Sushi Rice, soy sauce/agave

This is the wheat/gluten free soy sauce I use…technically I’m intolerant to soy and shouldn’t have this, but my tum will let me get away with it as long as it’s only once or twice in a week.

Off now to scrounge an Apple Pie Larabar and catch up on the wonderful blogs that do still exist. I hope you’re all still there tomorrow!

18/08/09~ A Minnie Post

Greetings, human readers. Today Beyond Bananas has a new face (and paws) behind the keyboard: me, Minnie, Jess’ one and only pet. I’ve hijacked the blog to let you all know that there is something in the world that Jessica adores more than Larabars…me! Originally she wanted to call me Chickpea, but I responded better to something that sounded like my old name. I’m the love of her life, the reason that she’s here today. I’ve pulled her through some of her darkest times and put up with her relentless whining (seriously, why are your species so down on yourselves?) when no-one else would. She’s been trying to photograph me since she started the blog, but although I’m gorgeous, I am also camera-shy. New objects and noises terrify me for reasons I’ll elaborate on later, so it took her a while to allow me to become accustomed to the whirring of her Sony Cybershot. I’m a very active feline and hate to sit still, so getting a shot of me has been proving quite difficult. Jess and I have so much in common: we both love to run outside in the sunshine and turn into moody, depressed souls when we can’t, we both have histories that have had negative impacts on our respective psyches, we’re both shorties (I’m really the size of a large kitten) and we both wear ou hearts on our sleeves…if I had sleeves.

My day typically starts thusly:


Yes, I sleep on Jess’ old duvet. She adopted me from the Cats’ Protection League ten years ago when I was only five months old. I had already been signed over to them by the person who owned my mother…she didn’t want me or my brothers and sisters. We were called Eeenie, Meenie (my original name), Miny (ie?) and Mo. I was re-homed first (because I was the most spectacularly beautiful, of course) but the lady who took me was a nurse and didn’t have time for me at all. I was left alone all day and never fed. No-one paid any attention to me and I was victimised by the other cats in the house because I was so small. Eventually, the lady returned me, along with all her other pets. I was malnourished, scared, cold and psychologically traumatised by the whole experience. I didn’t think I deserved love or kindess. The only people I’d ever known had both rejected me. If Jess hadn’t come for me, I don’t think anyone else would have: I was terrified both of people and of other cats. At first, I’d hide for hours in the corners of her house, I’d snap, hiss at and bite anyone who came near me. Slowly but surely, I came to see that she wasn’t going to abandon me as the others had. She loved me for who I was, stunted growth, high level of anxiety and all. She didn’t care that I wasn’t affectionate and wanted to be out of the house on my own most of the time. Eventually, I settled down and we became the best of friends. I was there for her all through the worst times in her life, and I know she feels terrible for worrying me with all her noisy crying and tear-filled hugs…but we got through it together. I’m still very anxious, although I’ve mellowed a little with age (ssh, I’m nearly eleven!)


Yeah, here’s a ‘moody’ shot of me. I hate other cats, dogs and strangers. I don’t like noises or crowds either. That’s another thing we share…we’re both highly antisocial ; ) I spend most of my day outside, playing and roaming my territory.

I’m ready for my close-up…I wouldn’t get too close to me, though…I’m a killing machine. I took down a blackbird once, and also I’ve presented Jess with countless mice and fledgelings…oh, and also a shrew…and a baby stoat! I wonder why she didn’t look too pleased? Unlike her, I’m no vegan and I’m a parsimonious eater. Most of the time she has to coax me with plates of food delicately arranged around the house. Oh, and I only drink Evian water out of a glass. Spoilt, me? Not at all.


Ahh, I love my scratching post…


I’m also a contortionist but have very weak bones (seriously, Jess and I are twins…only she’s the ugly one! We even share the same missing left front tooth. I didn’t get a nice implant to replace mine though. So unfair.) due to malnutrition as a kitten. I have arthritis in both hips, but I don’t let it stop me from climbing trees and chasing ickle birdies…

In the evening I like to wind down by watching my homosapien friend blog.
And by making her laugh with all of my crazy poses.

Now that you know a little about me, I’ll leave you with a recap of Jessica’s day. She was up at the same time as me and running out of the door before I could say hello…how rude! After her 8.5 miles she came back and greeted me with a big hug (about time! I hate to be left alone as I still have abandonment issues) and then made herself breakfast:

Breakfast:

1/3 cup Rice/Millet Porridge, 1 cup rice milk, 1 cup pumpkin, cinnamon, agave, raisins, banana, hazelnut raisin butter

I consoled her most of the morning when she discovered that her favourite athlete, Yelena Isinbayeva, finish outside the medals for the first time in over six years. I also watched her ploughing through hours and hours of research, before I found the tedium of it unbearable and went outside to kill some wildlife…I mean frolic amongst the daisies. I love living out in the country! When I returned to my domain Jess was jumping about like a maniac, jiggling along to 60 Minutes of her Tae-Bo Advanced DVD. I’m still more active than her, though…and infinitely better looking :P

She fed me (though I was still full of mouse) and then heated up some munchables for herself.

Lunch:


How she doesn’t get bored with this grape/nectarine/carrot combination I’ll never know…

17/08/09~Short and Sweet / Little Parcels

Firstly, thanks to everyone who gave me advice about the social situation, both empathetic and kick-in the rear in nature. It’s so beneficial to have many, many bright, vivacious, quiet and introverted people to reach out to and just proves that there’s a place in life for everyone, every unique and gorgeous individual out there (because I know full well you all are). Really, the anxiety, pressure and feeling of expectation heaped upon my shoulders were once again produced by myself. It has no bearing on my academic ability whether I go to an enforced social event or not: it’s not part of a course to foist intermingling on students and I don’t think that was the intention of the course leader anyway. Typically, I interpreted it in the worst way possible and misconstrued it as something that should worry me greatly. I will be practicing saying ‘no’ to random reflections of myself though (it’s certainly worth a try, so thank you Kate!) just so that my Mum doesn’t have to phone the university and say that ‘Jessica can’t come out tonight’ ; )

I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve been glued to the coverage of the World Athletics Championchips…when the Olympics were on last year I barely slept, or even blinked as I witnessed the greatest resurgence in British althletics since the days of Linford Christie (erm, disgraced as he is now!), Roger Black and Sally Gunnell. I used to watch them as a child and dream of being able to achieve at the level they did, to excel to the point of worldwide recognition. At the time I was definitely an armchair sportswoman, but now that I run myself (albeit at a highly amateur level!) I can appreciate even more the lengths that these athletes go to to reach new heights and pursue their dreams all the way to that gold medal. For example, the winner of the 10,000m finished her 10K a full 10 minutes faster than my personal best…and that was a ‘slow’ race. It just makes me realise how awe-inspiring these women (and men!) are. The highlight for me came yesterday when I watched Jessica Ennis win the heptathlon. Eighteen months ago I watched a documentary about British athletes training for the Bejiing olympics and saw her terrible foot fracture and the ensuing pain caught on film. Injuries are my greatest fear in the world, and to see such pain and agony manifest themselves in a beautiful woman whose entire life was shattered at the same time as three tiny bones actually made me pretty tearful at the time. I’ve been following her progress ever since not only because of that incident and the fact that we share the same name, but because she is an exception among her competitors in the respect that she stands at just 5ft 4ins. Granted, that’s still an inch taller than me, but commentators never fail to point out how ‘short’ she is, and in a field where most of the women are 5ft 8 plus she certainly stands out. She’s also very slight and lightly built, yet can throw a shot with the best of them. My own height is something I really, truly loathe (particularly since, due to scoiosis, I’m likely to lose several inches as I age beyond forty) and I often think that life would be very different with four extra inches to my name (no dirty jokes, please). I feel so childlike and intimidated being such a shortie and I really think it contributes to my inability to assert myself…not that it stops many other little people: several of the tiniest individuals I’ve ever known had enormous personalities to compensate, I’m just saying that, for me, being short has held me back. My Mum, bless her, always points out that, Aly aside (she’s 5ft 1!!!), everyone who finishes ahead of me in races is far taller than me…I think her words were ‘they have longer legs…it’s an unfair advantage!’ I couldn’t help but laugh at that, as it was so sweet. But seeing Jess Ennis win proved to me that height is no barrier to athletic excellence, and I’ve been using it as an excuse for my failings for far too long. I did cry this time when I saw her being presented with her medal…I’m not overly enamoured with our national anthem but in this particular context it was just so stirring and poignant.

Back to my own more humble exercise goals, I equalled my longest distance run this morning at a little over 8.5 miles. The sun even peeped out for a while and honoured me with its presence (is the sun genderless? People always seem to personify it as male…) By the time I returned home I was…ravenous, just for a change.

Breakfast:
Doves Farm Cornflakes, Banana, Rice Milk, Dates

I received the most wonderfully helpful e-mail from my research supervisor in the morning, so I was able to really make some headway with that. It’s so hard to get anything significant done when you have to get up and stretch every half an hour though…darn you scoliosis. I also continued reading The Turn of the Screw for a bit of light relief. I’m enjoying this story so much: it far surpasses the dire television adaptation my Dad insisted that I watch last year. I think it may even surpass some of my beloved Poe tales…Henry James truly is a master of the novella-length tale, where as Poe, in my view, couldn’t sustain the dizzying terror of his works beyond the stereotypical boundaries of the short story. The creeping malevolence, suspense and chilling turn of phrase, repressed within the clipped, rigid tone of his era truly makes Turn of the Screw an elegant, sophisticated tale that the writers of today’s gore-fest horror movies could learn a lot from.

I lifted a few weights at home…then Body Combat at the gym was enjoyable as always : ) Then I was back home for a lot of blog reading and a little (NOT!) lunch.

Lunch:
A very overripe mango and carrot in all of their orange glory

Hazelnut Raisin Butter and Banana Sandwich on GF bread, rest of banana with more HB on the side.

My stomach really objected to eating a mango that ripe. I think the fermenting sugars resulted in the unpleasant cramping which followed. It took quite a while to settle down, but I was able to walk off the spasms and continue with my research. If there was an allergy or intolerance involved, the reaction would have been far more severe. When it did eventually calm down I quickly ate a snack before my evening gym classes, as I knew it would have to last me 3.5 hours until dinner.

Snack:
Jazz Apple, Chocolate Coconut Chew Larabar
Yep, it’s calorie dense. But oh so tasty!

And healthy: Dates, almonds, walnuts, unsweetened cocoa powder, unsweetened coconut. That’s it.

Review: Chocolate Coconut Chew LarabarA thousand thank-yous to Aisha for sending me this bar! I haven’t had one in over a year since I couldn’t find them online and have never been able to locate them where I live. Anyone who’s been reading for any length of time will know that if something is based around chocolate, then I’ll generally like it…oddly enough, I don’t like actual chocolate (unless it’s melted) as the texture and sticky feeling around the teeth and gums is…offputting for me. Cold, hard chocolate is even worse because it just doesn’t taste of anything in particular…my preference is for soft textures, and this bar fulfills every one of those preferences. It’s not quite up there with the cocoa-based Nakd Bars: the deep cocoa flavour doesn’t hit you straight away, and it comes through as more of an aftertaste/afterthought. Initially, I was disappointed with the lack of cocoa ‘punch’ and could predominantly taste dates and almonds, but this bar truly does build in terms of flavour with every bite. The coconut adds a wonderful moistness, and there’s no greasy or sticky fingers to deal with…only deep, sumptuous chocolatey goodness. I actually like these even more than I remember, because I used to freak out over the fact that they were the highest calorie Larabar…because 41 calories more than the Apple Pie version is really significant and will make such a difference *rolls eyes*. I really didn’t want this bar to end and savoured it for a good ten minutes as it’s probably the last one of this variety I’ll ever have! It’s moved up the rankings to push Cashew Cookie down into fourth…only Peanut Butter Cookie and Coconut Cream Pie can better it. 9.5/10
The Larabar/apple combo held me reasonably well through two hours of Pilates and Body Balance and a little weight training, but by the time I was home I was a hungry beast again (what’s new?)

Dinner:

Roasted Courgettes…regular old supermarket ones this time, but still lovely.
Baby sweet potatoes, lentil/date bolognese (SO delicious!) and peas

I think that tomorrow’s post may center around a certain furry member of my family…I’ve finally got a shot of her in all her gorgeous glory and I’m hoping to take a few more if she’ll allow me ; )

Nighty night

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

16/08/09~Life’s Playlist

My last post was a little…aggressive in tone! I didn’t mean it to be that way, but I suppose after so many years of being a doormat I’ve taken the standing up for myself issue a little too far and turned into a snorting, steam-spewing black bull. Perhaps I was reacting against the pressure to go out because I know deep down that it’s my most epic failure as a person: going out makes me miserable, but so does staying in. When I’m alone I feel guilty and like I should be with people, but when I’m with people all I want is a nice, long stretch of quiet solitude. As I have mentioned before, I have tried to enjoy socialising. Heck, for a year a accepted every single invitation and opportunity to go out. Trying isn’t my problem: I volunteered for a local Wildlife Trust, an RSPCA cattery and for the League Against Cruel Sports…oh, and Friends of the Earth. I went to life drawing classes, German classes, even an amateur dramatics group (suggested by a psychologist who thought it would ‘bring me out of my shell’…uhh, never mind my complete inability to act…then again, neither could anyone else in that particular group :P) I did all of the things you’re ‘supposed’ to do aside from drinking (too many reasons to list for why I don’t but the main one is that my body essentially rejects alcohol. One tiny sip or trace and it’s like the projectile vomiting scene from The Exorcist). Just ‘going out for a drink’ with people never works because I won’t drink fruit juice (acid=tooth erosion, empty calories & upset stomach) or diet coke (bad memories of this being a ‘meal’) so I have water…which some smarty pants always either comments about or, in one instance, spiked with vodka. I never enjoyed a single moment. That’s what I meant in terms of not being able to measure progression: although ostensibly I was a ‘normal’ girl at that point and had progressed, I had not progressed progressed…even after close to eighteen months of pretending I still hated and dreaded every minute of it. I enjoyed the voluntary work I was doing but just couldn’t stand the people I was with. The lack of time for exercise took its toll on my back and also my weight. Therefore, I’m damned if I do and damned if I don’t: I can either be alone, desperately wanting that one person to understand me (because all I need is one) and heavier than I want to be, or out and about faking it and never making it and ending up WAY heavier than I want to be. I think the vehemence of the post was mostly borne from frustration at myself, and I’m amazed at how restrained and understanding many of the comments were. I wouldn’t have been surprised if you’d given me a typographical poke in the eye.

I had a fantastic run this morning (8 miles)…I finally caved and downloaded ‘Stronger’ to my iPod…along with ‘Everybody (Backstreet’s Back). No shame I tell you, none at all. But my eclectic tastes do include the occasional bit of manufactured pop and utter cheese. It was interesting to listen to Britney Spears followed by Cradle of Filth, then the Backstreet Boys preceeding Metallica and Marilyn Manson. Life doesn’t just have to be defined by one ‘sound’ though! I also have bands such as Nickelback, Nirvana and Bon Jovi who sit somewhere in the middle. Just because a person is primarily a metal fan at heart, doesn’t mean there isn’t room for a little unoriginal tat for some light and shade. Bad news came in the form of my poor iPod shuffle finally ‘shuffling’ off this mortal coil. Well, it has been through years of getting drenched either by rain or sweat.

15/08/09~Progression Not Perfection?

The title of this post derives from a statement uttered by the coach on my Geri Body Yoga DVD. Profound, huh? It actually never fails to elicit a snort of derision from me, but it did get me thinking yesterday about how one measures ‘progression’ anyway? Perfection is, for me, easier to define in the sense of representing the ultimate form of satisfaction either with oneself or a specific achievement. The individual definitions of perfection may be subjective, but we generally know for ourselves when we have come close to it…though it’s clearly impossible to achieve it short of a 100% exam mark. Life isn’t an exam, and so perfection enters a blurry area. However, we generally have a definite idea of what form it takes, whether it’s in relation to body image or a piece of art. Progression, not so much. I hope I don’t come across as a failure, but I’m not like the other bloggers that I see making huge strides all at once and forcing themselves to get out and stop ‘isolating’. If I did go out to this pub social after the MREs induction, I’d be forcing myself to because I feel pressure to emulate the steps taken by others. Where is the progression: in the going out or in the enjoying the experience? If one has to force oneself to socialise in the first place, it’s not true progression…that would manifest itself in the form of accepting one’s natural personality and dislike for certain social environments rather than socialising to conform because clubbing/partying is what is expected of a young woman/man according to this society’s expectations and ideology. If you’re a natural extrovert, great…but why isn’t there a place in the world for introverts and individualism? Progression might just be following your natural instincts, regardless of what others think. I’m not saying we should all live in a cave and never see anyone, but at the same time pressure to get out and socialise simply for the sake of socialising to me seems counterproductive to progress in terms of self-acceptance.

I really need to start sleeping more. Ah, if only I could. Still, I managed to drag myself out of bed at 6:45 for the usual Davina McCall (Aerobics & Pump sections) DVD. As usual, once I got moving I was fine. Sitting around in the morning only makes me even more lethargic…tis why I like to mobilise my body as soon as possible. Luckily, binge was averted last night by some serious deep breathing and reading a nice, disturbing Henry James ghost story. Works like a charm. I did have an Apple Pie Larabar though. I’m making it my mission to eat as many as possible before they disappear forever. General Mills basically fobbed me off with an automated reply to my e-mail asking/pleading/begging them to reconsider their decision or at least allow UK Lara lovers some kind of online ordering system, so it looks like no more Laras for me as soon as the supply runs out *shakes fist at huge business conglomorates*

Breakfast:

Alara Gluten-Free Muesli with raisins, rice milk & banana…I still have another darn box of this to use up. It’s not horrible enough to waste, but not tasty enough to really enjoy. Grr.

I think today was the single sweatiest experience at spinning and the gym that I’ve ever had. While I was on the elliptical after the spin class one of the guys who works there complimented me on my ‘six pack’ (yeah, right. But the compliment was nice!) and then proceeded to follow me into the weights room and say I was their ‘fittest customer’. Umm, has he forgotten about the semi-pro atheletes who train there four hours a day? One of the women I know has become a spin/Body Pump/Body Attack coach and she is the most obsessive person about exercise I’ve ever seen (yes, you did hear me say that) She’s taken on so many classes that she now teaches for four hours straight in the evening (5:30-9:30pm) and also gets up at 5am to run. Yes, I can’t compete with that. Actually, many of the other coaches are worried about her because she’s gone from being ‘ripped’ (no fat, toned muscle) to…well, wasted…no fat or muscle to speak of. Plus, she’s always going on and on about how much she eats in terms of saying she eats a TONNE of food at every opportunity. Hmm, I honestly don’t believe that. It does make me feel pretty, well, inferior. She has a job as an engineering lecturer too and it’s so irritating to see someone with a ‘functional’ ED who can live a life, have a job, have a fiancé, go on holiday and still maintain total control. Did my best to ignore such thoughts though.

Snack:


Cocoa Orange GF Nakd Bar. I decided that, still feeling a little down from yesterday, mindfully eating some of my favourite ‘comfort’ foods when hungry (which you’d better believe I was!) would be a more positive pick-me-up than feeling ashamed that food has this kind of emotional influence and then bingeing. Hence, a few bites of utter perfection. Heaven in a bar.

Lunch:


Fruity plate…except for some reason that white Nectarine was hideously bitter. The grapes made up for it.


Sweet Potato with Hazelnut Raisin butter.

I was going to use Sunflower Seed butter but upon trying it…well, I wasn’t sure. It has a very savoury taste, far denser and more pronounced than peanut butter. My Mum was about to throw it away, as she knows if I feel obliged to eat something I don’t really like it’s a recipe for trouble in terms of OE. I know she’s trying to do what’s best, but I sometimes wish she had a little more faith in me in that respect…but caution is key with my bingeing tendencies. I managed to save it from the bin though, and actually regretted not having it: sweet nut butter and sweet potato is a little overwhelming even for me! I might try the Sunflower Seed on my porride tomorrow.

Walkies (on which the heavens decided to open and drench me) and a little (well, 90 minutes) of Yogalates later…(oh, and a lot of researching and pestering tutors via e-mail):

Snack:


Pink Lady apple (I don’t believe I used to dislike these!), Vanilla Rice & Rice dessert which I meant to warm in the microwave and add cinnamon to but in the end I was just too lazy :P

Then I read for a little while (The Turn of the Screw), did yet more research, played keyboard, lifted weights for about half an hour and…then it was dinner time.

Dinner:

The ubiquitous roasted courgettes…I just told my Mum’s friend to keep ‘em coming.

Chickpea, carrot, date & tomato tagine, brown rice, peas.

Yep, I’ll be having an Apple Pie Larabar later on too. I only have six left…out of a box of twenty.

Nighty night

xxxxx

14/08/09~Ups and DOWNS

One of the perils of having bi-polar disorder / clinical depression, which are entirely different and separate illnesses with vastly different symptoms but for some reason may both apply to me depending on which psychologist (or psychiatrist, as one of them was) you believe, is the way a day can swing from being full of sunshine and rainbows to being suffused with sulphur and hellfire. Case in point: today. I woke up and it took me quite a while to get moving, where as usually a bit of stretching and I’m ready to go. On my run, everything suddenly kicked into gear and I bounded across the grass and over the pavements with what I’m sure was one of the most ridiculous grins you’re ever likely to see. Once home, I ate breakfast, played keyboard, researched, toddled off to Body Combat, still smiling inwardly. For no reason, everything seemed ‘right’ despite the atmosphere in the house and the ear-splittingly loud cry of the television downstairs…my Dad has hearing issues but refuses to wear an aid, so it’s a little difficult to concentrate with the constant sound of horse racing blaring in your ears (don’t even get me started on that: it’s on a par with fox hunting to me in terms of perpetuating greed and sheer mindless cruelty. I absolutely abhor it).

Once home from Body Combat, after lunch…something just sank, like a water wing that had been popped or a deflated hot-air balloon. And what I can’t understand is the relationship between internal and external triggers for such a nosedive, because I still can’t recognise which preceeds the other. Initially, I was doing a reasonable job of holding off the ‘you’re a waddling hippo, go on
*insert diet / restricted amount of calories here* to fix it’ thoughts, but then other worries started to creep in: what am I going to do for money / a job, even if I do get driving lessons, there won’t be enough money to buy my own car, how the Hell am I going to cope with this MREs, why am I so tired all of a sudden? Because I am tired, and that’s worrying me. This kind of exhaustion usually happens before a meltdown…a Jessica-style meltdown involves doing virtually no exercise and stuffing her face until she wants to throw up…and then carries on eating more anyway. They come on and seem to just ‘happen’, until a few days and several pounds heavier I suddenly snap out of them and think ‘dear Lord, what have I done to myself?’ The last one several months ago ended up with me eating both dairy products and fish, breaking my years of veganism (and half a lifetime of vegetarianism) and leaving me so guilty that I wanted to scratch out my own eyes. I neither wanted nor craved these foods, but I didn’t feel in control of my own body and that scares the living daylights out of me. This episode followed a three-day long period of mania, where I was high as a kite and felt like I could do anything: I wrote thousands of words of my newest novel (which is now on hold due to the worst case of writers’ block I’ve ever experienced), painted for hours, ran faster and further, stayed up for hours through the night. I don’t want a repeat of last time…not exercising is never the answer to anything, and why my reaction to these mood swings has to always centre around food I do not know.

The point is that I don’t know what came first: the sudden change in tone from gold to grey or the negative thoughts themselves…and then external factors came into play with more detailed timetable information for the MREs. The first session for enrolment is a Wednesday, 4-6pm…this cuts across a pilates class, which is the most rational of all my exercise-related dependencies. My physio ‘prescribed’ at least two taught classes a week (not DVDs) and they’ve been so incredibly helpful with my scoliosis. I don’t want the agonizing back pain to come back…it only disappeared when I started these classes and left University, where I had been sitting for far too long at a time. Also, after the induction, apparently everyone is reconvening at a local pub. Aside from not drinking, pub environments really are a step too far. If the meeting was during the day, in a coffee shop, fine. Noisy, crowded pubs in the evening absolutely terrify me. They’re not an environment I’d choose to go anywhere near even outside of my social anxiety disorder-created problems. I hate small talk and just get downright bored. So consequently, I have the choice of once again marking myself out as the antisocial freak, or going, hating the whole experience and then coming home late, tired and miserable (which I will: every time I’ve challenged myself in this kind of way I’ve always been proved right and loathed every minute of it…also, after the train home at 6:20pm, there isn’t another one until 9:30pm…which means I’d be walking home through a pretty unsafe area in the dark).

I desperately want my independence but I’ve no idea how I’m going to fit in driving lessons as well as keyboard and the MREs sessions, particularly if they insist on a load of mindless socialising…yes, I’m aware that I sound like a misery but life is totally overwhelming me right now.

12/08/09~Stronger (Than Yesterday)

I’m no Britney Spears fan but I’ve had her song ‘Stronger’ stuck in my head all day, partially because it seems to play on some kind of endless loop at the gym but also because something happened yesterday evening which really did make me feel more empowered as a person. I don’t discuss everything that goes on at home on the blog (although I’m sure it must seem that way most of the time!) but there are some issues that really needed to be addressed. When you’re treated a certain way for your entire life, you come to accept that it’s the norm, that certain behaviours are acceptable because you’ve never known any differently. I never had a very wide social circle, not even as a child, so I wasn’t shown any other parental relationships in any great detail. I’ve been a victim my whole life, first at home, then at school, then of my own head. I’ve never stood up for myself in any of the aforementioned situations. The second one is in the past, and cannot be rectified. The last is a work in progress. The first is something that has been like a lead weight bearing down on me, making me smaller and smaller in terms of confidence and self-belief. The only way I can describe it is as the psychological equivalent of the medieval torture method whereby a criminal or witch would be placed under a heavy wooden door, their spine resting on a pointed stone underneath. Rocks were then placed on top of the door, until their weight either forced the individual to confess or they were crushed to death. I’d listened to all of the negative, cruel, hurtful things that were said about me for so long that I’d come to believe them myself. I’d accepted the situation, even though it was, I now realise, unacceptable. Implied violence is unacceptable. Repeated verbal abuse is unacceptable. Blaming a person for having a clinically diagnosed mental illness is unacceptable. But I didn’t have the courage to speak out about what was going on, what’s gone on since I was old enough to comprehend language because it involved standing up for myself, doing something that was potentially explosive and that could uproot the established routine and equilibrium of my life. Believe it or not, despite the nature of my last few posts, blogging has given me the greatest self-esteem boost I’ve ever experienced. I’ve realised that I don’t have to be a victim any more, not of myself and certainly not of others. I won’t go into exact details, but things are now very much up in the air, now that certain facts have been laid out in the open. Without the love and support that you have all shown me, I would still be a victim, accepting that I’m worthless, believing that I deserve the vituperation and vilification of others. Without blogging, I don’t think I ever would have had the courage to stand up and speak out against what, until today, was happening. The instant that I did, the cloud of self-loathing lifted, just a little. I realise that this may seem odd on a blog that is primarily related to food and exercise but the comments that I have received have helped me immeasurably with so much more than that…

Making peace with myself is difficult, but the cathartic effect of yesterday evening made me realise that, even though I’d like to tell my body to take a running jump for ‘wanting’ to be at a weight I’m not happy with, I can’t let my dissatisfaction with it completely rule my life. I’ll fight against it’s natural tendencies, whatever they are and I won’t accept that I’m simply ‘meant’ to be a certain shape, but the unchangeable aspects, such as my height, aren’t worth berating myself over. I received the kindest, most understanding reply imaginable to my e-mail to the course leader for the Masters Research Degree in English Literature, and I feel so relieved that they still want me on a scholarship basis and are willing to work with me on situations that I find overwhelming or intimidating. I’m still terrified that I’ve ‘lost it’ academically over the holidays and I’m not up to the demands of the course…and that I’ll disappoint them, but all I can do is try my best to take advantage of the opportunities, both academic and social, that this degree presents.

I apologise sincerely if some of what I said in my last post was upsetting or insulting: I can see that some of my views were both controversial and immature, and I did not mean to imply that I value other people on the basis of their weight. I would never, ever judge someone else for their size, aside from some element of jealousy if they were extremely slim. I really only apply those judgements to myself, because of how uncomfortable and disgusting weight gain makes me feel and for a long time I’ve been told I have no right to feel that way by people who have never had weight problems in their life and are never likely to, so they don’t know how it is because they’ve never experienced it themselves. I hate the way society condemns a slight hint of cellulite but praises jutting collar and hip bones, and I hate that I can’t stop buying into it. All we can each do is to try and feel comfortable in ourselves, and that struggle often seems overwhelming.

Aside from the constant arguing and trying to work things out at home (which was necessary: things could not and should not have remained the way they were), I managed to fit in an easy 5 mile run, gym (45 minutes elliptical, 10 rowing machine as the stepper was broken and I figured that a little rowing wouldn’t be too detrimental, and 10 minutes on the exercise bike plus some weights and stretching), a longish walk on my own, some weights at home and a lovely, calming pilates class.

**Blogger currently hates me and is refusing to upload any pictures, so I’ll post a recap of the day’s eats with images as soon as possible**

*UPDATE: We have pictures : )*

Breakfast:

Apple Pie Porridge Mark 3: 1/2 cup Rice/Buckwheat Porridge, cinnamon, 1 cup rice milk, agave, sultanas, banana, crumbled Apple Pie Larabar
Package from http://www.veganstore.co.uk: Organic Food Bars (Active Greens with Chocolate and Omega 3 Flax) as pre-race breakfasts for my remaining 10Ks in August & September, 5 Nakd Cocoa Orange GF bars, 4 Gingerbread Nakd GF Bars, One Pecan Pie Nakd GF Bar, 5 Pulsin’ Coffee Brownies, One Pulsin’ Energy Bomb and One Pulsin’ Berry Burst. That’s a nice chunk of the money I was owed gone…ah well.

Lunch: was an exact repeat of yesterday, only with a Pink Lady Apple instead of Jazz.

Snack:

Chocolate Rice & Rice Dessert Pot, Jazz Apple

Dinner:Chickpea stir-fry with brown rice
Distance shot with more gorgeous roasted courgettes

Once again, I can’t thank you all enough for making such a huge difference to my life.

11/08/09~Against the Tide

I know I always say this, but it really is going to be an uber-brief post. I just feel utterly drained and I wish I could write something more provocative and inspiring. I feel like I’m trapped in a paradox whereby whatever I do, the only outcomes are negative. I can feel weight gain on every part of my bod, particularly my legs. When I look in the mirror, they’re creeping closer and closer together to the point where soon there will be no gap between them at all. I don’t need to gain weight, I don’t want to gain weight. Medically, no doctor would ever tell me to: my BMI is not even in the ‘underweight’ category. I haven’t been near the scales in weeks, so lord knows what it’s up to now. Yet I continue to eat enough to gain, despite my level of exercise. I’m not stuffing myself to the point of being overfull, but I can’t trust any hunger signals that I might have. It feels as though my greatest fear is inevitable and there’s just nothing I can do about it. It’s killing me. And I can never break out of my routine because then I’ll gain even more…a layer of fat on top of the huge quads I’ve overdeveloped in the past two years of upping the running mileage will just look terrible, creating to great tree trunks with cellulite six inches thick. I don’t know how to go about shrinking muscles, or if it’s even possible without some kind of drastic muscle-wasting illness. Even if I did have friends, even if I wanted to do the MRes, I couldn’t because I need to stay constantly active, and even then I’m still getting bigger. I have to choose between having a ‘life’ and being fat, or being stuck where I am for the next twenty-three years and being slightly less fat: that’s no choice at all. How I can trust my body when this is happening to me I don’t know: naturally thin people and people in recovery with hypermetabolism can work towards building a normal relationship with food because they don’t have to worry about it. They can afford to be normal and will still end up with a 17.5 BMI at the most. Anyone who says that weight doesn’t matter and / or define you as a person…well, it tends to be people who have never had to struggle with a body that constantly wants to gain who say that. I’d like to see them preaching the same thing if they suddenly gained 20lbs ~ would they still love their bodies so much then? I can’t trust my body or myself. I want this to stop, I want to take back control, but my strength has just evaporated. Most people could just cut their intake to compensate for any missed exercise, but not me. I don’t know where this is going to end and I’m scared as Hell.

I managed a distance record for me this morning…I’m estimating just over 8.5 miles.

Breakfast:


Doves Farm Cornflakes, Rice Milk, Raisins, Banana

Painting and keyboard in the morning…the usual, basically. Also an hour of Tae-Bo: Everybody Get Ripped.

Lunch:

09/08/09~Running Through My Head

Does anyone from the UK (or the US for that matter) remember a ‘band’ called Tatu? They were a pair of Russian girls that traded on the gimick of kissing each other on the premise of being gay, something the media latched on to in the sickening way that they do. They had but two songs in the charts, one of the lines from which forms the title of this post. It’s my ‘guilty pleasure’ track amongst the many bands on my iPod that have actual talent. The point is, as this song streamed into my ears approaching the 1K marker today, I realised that the biggest battle I would have to fight during this race was with my mind. I haven’t been enjoying my races this year nearly as much as I would like (Raby Castle 10K being the exception) due to the constant plague of negative thoughts which my brain likes to subject me to. To break things down:

Start to 3K: I managed to push myself only four rows back from the start line. I only saw two other women so far forward, both of whom were over 5ft 8ins and uber-skinny. Most of my mental energy was expended trying to fend off the desire to curl up in a ball and cover my legs, which were exposed in gratuitously short shorts (practically hot pants) due to the 23 degree (celcius) heat and blazing sunshine. The promised breeze never manifested itself! The first 3K were tough, mentally and physically. My breath kept catching in my chest and for a while I kept coughing. I had a metallic taste in my mouth and was terrified that it was from blood. I wasn’t sure what was going on but I ignored it and managed to latch on to a tall, tanned, bald man who was going a little faster than my ideal pace. Both of the thin girls breezed past me, which didn’t do much for my morale.

4K-6K: Things settled down a bit as my body got into its stride. It was lovely to be able to breathe again! Plus, this section of the course was mostly in residential streets with a little shade from tree-coverage. My mind still wasn’t in the right place…the race is run twice around a course/loop and even the usual ’5K down, 5 to go~ you’ve already run the route so you can kill the last half!’ mantra wasn’t working. I felt tired, despondent and worthless. Another very slim girl passed me. By this point shutting out the voice questioning why I was running the race in the first place was becoming almost impossible. It was contantly telling me to give up, that even with pushing myself to the limit I’d never look like those girls and all running was doing for me was bulking my huge thighs up even more. Thank God I had my iPod to distract me.

7K-9K: I was still going strong with my bald companion, and the negativity was starting to wain as the finish became a closer prospect. I was starting to overheat a little (okay, a LOT) and my pace slowed. Each kilometre seemed longer than the last. I was flagging.

9K-Finish: Turning into the home straight I saw the huge digital race clock broadcasting ’39:54′. I was astounded. I thought that my time was going to be terrible, and the relief that it wasn’t spurred me on a little. However, once Mr.Bald sprinted for home and I thought no-one else was close enough to catch me, I did something I’ve never done: I eased up, thinking that because it wasn’t possible to break 40 minutes, a few seconds wouldn’t make a difference. This pathetic, quitter attitude is something I haven’t had since I was a teenager. As it turned out, a young man finished so strongly that he overtook me and I dervingly lost a place. I was furious with myself. Needless to say, I didn’t see Aly for dust. She won the race of course, in a stellar (but slow for her!) time of 34 minutes. My provisional time was 40:40, but I’ll post a link to the official (chip) times once they’re up…which could take a while, as last year they weren’t exactly prompt in releasing them.

My Mum and Dad came to cheer me on and although they were proud of me, I had mixed feelings about the race and my inability to solve my attitude problem. Mum would have had a picture of me running for the finish, but my lack of spine meant that the young man ran right in front of the shot and you can’t even see me (well, apart from my legs). There are a couple of shots right after I finished, but I’m only posting one:

Excuse the bra straps going south from under my crop top. I really don’t take a good picture, do I? So unphotogenic, and this was the best of them! Now, I should be a good blogger and say how grateful I am to my legs for being strong and carrying me so far to a personal best time. On one level, the sane level, I am…but I am truly ashamed of this picture. I can’t stand how bulky my legs are. I’ve always had a complex about them ever since I was nicknamed thunderthighs all through secondary school and subjected to ‘Jessica’s arse is wider than a…(insert huge object here)’ games every break time for two years until they eventually got bored with it and switched to asking me if I got friction burn every time my thighs chaffed together walking. I hate them, and I feel so huge compared to all of the other tall, slender bloggers out there. I’m sure I need a slap round the face ~ I know I should be grateful to have legs at all, to be able to run at all! It’s just this damn negative voice will not shut up. I don’t think my vision is distorted, because when I was underweight I did not think I was fat ~ I was actually proud of my legs, because for the first time ever they ‘matched’ my top half. Ugh, why do these thoughts have to spoil every achievement I should have?

Mum had packed my camera away, so I don’t have shots of breakfast or my post-race snack. I was up at 6:45am to do the Abs and Boxing Sections of Davina McCall’s DVD to stretch out before the race: sitting in the car is terrible for my muscles and joints and I wanted to be sure that I was properly warmed up.

For breakfast I’ve concluded that anything more than a bar and a banana is too much for my stomach to handle pre-race, but since cutting out oats my digestive system has been so settled that I didn’t want to risk a regular Nakd Bar. Larabars aren’t sustaining enough, so I went for the Active Greens With Chocolate Organic Food Bar that Veganstore mistakenly sent me. I know, when I reviewed this bar before I hated it so much that I threw it away. However, I’m so pleased that I gave it a second chance on the basis of needing fuel, not something tasty, because it WAS tasty! The small bite I took of the first bar had no chocolate chips in it, and they make all the difference in transforming the bar into a decadent treat! In fact it was so rich and dense that it became a little sickly by the end. I can’t fault it for disgestibility (although my stomach did ‘bubble’ for a little while due to the soy lecthin in the chocolate chips…odd for a bar that proclaims ‘soy free’ on the front!!!) and it seemed to infuse me with energy ~ perhaps there’s something to these greens after all. It was very energy dense at 320 kcals, 13g of protein and 13g of healthy fat per 70g bar, but I’m definitely ordering more for breakfast before future races. I’d give it 8.5/10. I’m not a fan of protein-stuffed bars any more, which is why I probably won’t be eating them outside of race scenarios ~ I think protein is over-emphasised and can become quite an obsessive issue, as I found out when I used to live on Trek Bars and went into a panic attack because I didn’t have the funds to purchase any more Sun Warrior.

Post-race food was provided by Subway…who gave finishers greasy chocolate and white choc chip cookies. No thank you ~ I always feel nauseous for a good hour after a race anyway and these most certainly weren’t vegan. I don’t think I saw a single woman eat one, while the men chowed down happily with huge, goofy, chocolate-stained grins. If there’s ever a moment that epitomises the disparity between how the sexes approach weight/food/exercise, this was it. After we walked back to the car and I’d stretched I ate an Apple Pie Larabar on the way home while my Dad demolished the cookie.

Lunch:


Fruit Plate: White Nectarine (disappointingly under-ripe), Tentation Apple, Grapes

Monki Hazelnut & Raisin Butter and banana sandwich on GF Bread, rest of banana with a huge scoop of more Hazelnut Butter. (review to come once I finish the jar)

You’d think that logially I’d eat less after feeling so huge, but I tend to do the opposite now. I really shouldn’t moan unless I intend to do something about it: the amount I get through is obviously obscene, otherwise why am I this size when I exercise the way I do? I really have no right to complain.

In the afternoon I went for a walk and kept moving with a 40 minute Tae-Bo Cardio DVD to make sure that I didn’t stiffen up. Minor argument with my Dad, but it was quickly resolved by some serious communication and clarification: neither of us are great and saying what we really mean and phrasing things appropriately, which often means that my poor Mum ends up playing referee. Thankfully we understand each other better than we used to so conflicts don’t stretch over days or even weeks any more! Well, rarely anyway…

Snack:

Two bananas’ worth of soft serve, lifted by cinnamon and vanilla essence. Texture is spot-on, but I’m still looking for a way to mask that slightly bitter ‘freezer burnt’ banana taste. Still lovely though.

Finally, to completely stretch out I did 90 minutes of Geri Body Yoga. Keeping moving really helps with stiff, aching muscles so hopefully I won’t be too sore tomorrow.

Dinner:

Mushroom and Chestnut risotto with brown rice, peas and carrots.

So sorry to love you and leave you, but I can’t stand looking at that picture any longer. I’m off to get a cashew cookie Larabar and then do some reading…I just realised I ate 4 bananas today. Way to live up to my blog’s name.

09/08/09~ 10 Honest Things and So Near, But Yet So Far…

Hello! Hope you’re all having a delightful Sunday : ) I’ve just returned from the Chevrolet Darlington 10K and my time…well, according to the clock it was 40:40, and I hardly took any time at all to cross the start line so I’d assume that’s pretty accurate. I’ll post the chip time as soon as I get it. When I turned into the finishing straight I saw a huge ’39:54′ above me and I was both elated and a little frustrated at the same time. I’ve knocked about 90 seconds off my personal best, but I couldn’t help thinking if I’d pushed just that little bit harder that sub-40 minute time would have been mine, mine I tell you! Never mind…Aly finished a minute SLOWER than last year in about 34 minutes…and she was disappointed. Yeesh. What I find incredible is that she’s 5ft 1ins and beats 6ft plus men into the dust…she’s a little powerhouse! Will be back later with a full race recap, including a pleasant surprise for breakfast involving a product whose review will certainly need adjusting.

Anyway, here are my 10 honest facts:

1.) I am an only child. Big surprise, isn’t it? People always, always guess that I don’t have any brothers or sisters, and I worry that I come across as spolit or attention-seeking as a result. When I was younger I thought being alone was fabulous, but in recent years I miss the companionship and bond that so many people share with their siblings. Granted, I wouldn’t wish living with me on anyone and I’d feel sorry for any poor soul who had to endure my huge mood swings, but I do sometimes pine for an older brother specifically: someone who can protect me from the world and loves me for who I am. A sister would have been a nightmare though: too much comparison on the basis of appearance…I can forsee that there would have been a lot of fighting and jealousy. As one lady I know so tactlessly put it: the curse of the only child is having to bury both parents alone.
2.) I have only been abroad once. It was a school trip to France and I was violently sick on the ferry over there. I had a migraine for the entire week and it was not an experience I’d like to repeat…plus it gave the people who bullied me yet more ammunition. I’d love to travel though, but I’m utterly terrified of planes and flying. If I could get over this phobia (unlikely!), I’d love to ski on snow, visit the USA (New York! Florida! Boston! Chicago!) and see the spectacular scenery of Canada.
3.) I went through a Gothic phase when I was fifteen where I dyed my hair black. Yes, black. It took two years to grow and bleach the dye out and completely wrecked the condition as a result. It’s the only time I’ve died my hair (it was originally intended to be red…as in, crimson, but the dye faded too quickly and the black was intended to cover it) and I will never do it again: I’ll stick with my natural colour thank you! Dressing in black, wearing New Rock boots and spiked collars, it was a reflection both of my love for rock/metal music and a desperate desire for people to ‘see’ how psychologically I was in a huge amount of pain. It’s the same reason why I craved a desperately underweight body: if you look ‘healthy’, people expect things of you, responsibilities are foisted upon you…it’s just not something I could handle. Plus, I was trying to conform and fit in with people who shared my outcast status…bit of an oxymoron but there you go!
4.) My childhood ambitions career-wise run as follows: Fireman at five, vet from ages 7-14 (found out it would break my heart if anything died and I would blame myself!), graphic designer at 15-18, writer from 19-22, back to artist at 23! The vet-related decision decided to tie in with my vegetarianism, then a later transition to veganism occurred at 19 to the present (exempting three OE/ED-enduced screw-ups along the way)
5.) I was a total tomboy all through my childhood…but still loved to play with My Little Ponies and Puppy in my Pockets. Really I defied all gender stereotypes and the reason (one of many) I couldn’t fit in was the fact that I’d be just as happy with a Hot Wheels set as a Barbie. The fact that I was so androgynous and dressed in boys’ clothes but still hated getting ‘mucky’ and couldn’t play football to save my life meant that I was rejected by both sets of children. I only had one friend, who was a boy, and both pupils and teachers used to make inappropriate comments about it, sexualising our friendship at the age of eight. Even now it disgusts me that grown adults could act in such a way.
6.) I dropped out of school and taught myself for the duration of year 11 (GCSE year 15-16) due to the fact that I was suicidal by that point and liable to walk in front of a car without people watching me. The Local Education Authority kicked up an enormous fuss about it but I was still able to take the exams and achieved 5 A*s, 4 As and one B. I have the testimony of my psychiatrist at the time to thank for that: it’s the only time I’ve ever felt supported or grateful to anyone in the mental health system. If I’d had to stay at school I wouldn’t have any qualifications at all, let alone A-Levels, Advanced Extensions and a Degree. Hell, I wouldn’t even be alive.
7.) I used to be a serial ‘giver-upper’ of hobbies. These included: judo, skiing (stuck with for five years), trampoling (loved it but gave up due to bullying), playing the clarinet, tae-kwon-do and many more.

08/08/09~Jitterbug

I apologise in advance for the potential brevity of this post, but I have a serious case of the pre-race jitters and can barely string two words together coherently. Also, I have a lot of elements to cover in this post so my usual verbosity may be temporarily absent. I’m sure it will make a return tomorrow ; ) The aforementioned nerves are worse than before other recent races, as I’ve run this course before, it’s more or less completely flat and the weather forecast is ideal…20 degrees celcius with a light breeze. Consequently, there’s no excuse for me not to run well. One of my tutors at University once said that my biggest fault was my crippling self-doubt. I could run a list off of ten thousand worse faults of mine, but I sometimes wonder if he has a point. I spend so long worrying about everything and have such a huge, overwhelming fear of failure that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and I set myself up to fail through anxiety alone. Will try to breathe deeply and embrace tomorrow no matter what it brings…in terms of racing anyway!

Firstly, I was elated to be given this award by both Jemima and Katie. I could go into a long, tearful Oscar-style speech about how much this means to me, but I don’t want to induce any waves of nausea into the blogging world. However, I simply have to say that it isn’t just the award that touched me so deeply, but the fact that I admire and respect both of the beautiful girls who gave it to me beyond almost anyone else in my life. I’ve been reading their blogs since their very first posts in November 2008 and February 2009 respectively, and was always too timid and shy to even comment. Eventually the warmth and strength that shone through their posts encouraged me to tentatively comment, then inspire me to blog myself. Blogging has given me so much that to think that anything I say might be well-received is just such an amazing feeling, and I can’t think of a better boost for my morale tomorrow than this award.

The conditions of the award are as follows:
‘This award is bestowed on a fellow blogger whose blog content or design is, in the giver’s opinion, brilliant. This award is about bloggers who post from their heart, who often in times put their heart on display as they write from the depths of their soul.
There are three rules that need to be followed on accepting this award:
1. Brag about it!
2. Select seven blogs you find brilliant and link back to them.
3. List ten honest things about yourself.’

There are so many amazing ladies out there who I would love to pass this on to, but thankfully my task has been made a little easier by the fact that quite a few of them have received it already : ) Therefore, my seven bloggers are:

1.) Lauren of Rediscovering Lauren, for her love of running and Nakd Bars, but also for her ability to know when to rest and her maturity in dealing both with recovery and with her recent hip injury. She has a wise, sage head on young shoulders and I am constantly learning from her approach to life.
2.) Aisha of Bambi’s Fat Loss, for her unwavering honesty with her struggles with food and the related guilt and for proving that it’s possible to lose weight in a healthy and balanced manner. Oh, and for her wonderful variations on banana soft-serve. She’s on holiday right now and probably won’t get the chance to read this, but I still love her too much not to pass the award on.
3.) Jaime of Fearless, Fabulous and Full of Life for being everything that her blog title says and more. She’s one vivacious lady with the most inspiring attitude and stellar sense of style.
4.) Edie of Gypsy Moth. Although she’s so new to the blogging world, her posts have such a high level of searing integrity that she is totally deserving of this award. Plus, she takes the time to write such amazingly heartfelt, poignant comments that she has more than compensated for her lack of quantity (time-wise) with the quality of her writing.
5.) Laura of Laura’s Worthless Words, for sticking with recovery through everything and for recently turning a corner in overcoming her disordered thoughts.
6.) Ellie of Inside I’m Still Dancing, for her wonderful personality, thoughtful considerations, brilliant ‘what I’ve learned this week’ feature and for maintaining a positive outlook despite having some heartbreaking news in her life recently.
7.) L. of WWLD, for her funky, individual style of expression, effortless style and challenging herself on so many levels every single day.

The 10 things may have to wait until tomorrow or the day after, depending on how long my race recap is! However, I have thought of ten things to share so they will definitely make an appearance at some point. I feel so flattered by this award…but I’m not sure I deserve it! On the basis of this post probably not ~ I wish I had something more thoughtful or poignant to say….

Well, it was just your typical Saturday for me: an hour of Davina McCall’s DVD (aerobics and pump sections) followed by a new breakfast:

Breakfast:


Alara Gluten-Free Muesli, rice milk, sultanas, banana


Review: Alara Gluten-Free MuesliHmm, I really should take better pictures of my cereal so that you can see what it actually looks like! This muesli was, well, average. It’s difficult to say much about it because nothing really stood out as being either good or bad…I just felt indifferent while eating it. The rice puffs and corn flakes seem to have the same texture, odd though that may be, and there’s just a hint of flavour from the hazelnuts and sunflower seeds that I expected to really ‘pop’ out and take the muesli to the next level. There is plenty of fruit in it and the nutritional stats are excellent for a gluten-free product, but it’s just not ‘special’ enough for me to purchase again. It’s light yet quite filling, so despite the blandness it’ll make a good pre-spin breakfast for the next few weeks. 6/10I then headed off to a sauna…I mean spin class and stayed to do 40 minutes on the elliptical and a few weights afterwards. It was such a shame to be indoors when the sun was shining so brightly, but I knew it was necessary to give impact exercise a break before racing.

The muesli held me over reasonably, but by 11.30 my tummy was most definitely rumbling. The relief of true hunger and being able to satisfy it was so refreshing.

Snack:

Apple Pie Larabar

I painted for a while (the next fair is at the end of August and I have a lot of requests to do!) and then compiled an e-mail to send to the head of the MRes course, who has no idea about my problems. I’m trying to be more proactive in fixing potentially damaging situations before they arise, rather than reacting to them (or over-reacting to them) once it’s too late to change them or do anything about it. During the interview her and her colleague (who runs the history equivalent) bombarded me with so much information and worrying possibilities (travelling up and down the country with one of the lecturers, attending numerous conferences, organising events unsupervised with fellow students) that I basically went into a blind panic and nearly turned down the opportunity to do the course. I feel it’s only fair to let them know about my mental health issues, and then if they still want me on a scholarship basis we can work together to resolve them. I would feel terrible if I couldn’t take the pace and someone else could have had the opportunity instead of me. Just knowing that people may understand if I suddenly have to leave a room makes a panic attack less likely to happen, rather than trying to appear ‘perfect’ and then making a complete fool of myself by bursting into tears in front of everyone like I did in my first year.

By the time I was done it was past lunch time!

Lunch:

Dark Chocolate Dreams & Banana Sandwich on GF Bread.

Fruity Plate
Last of the DCD jar and the rest of the banana ~ not as much as it looks (I know the jar still seems half-full but even I’m not that bad!)

Review: PB & Co Dark Chocolate DreamsThanks to Aisha, I was finally able to try this product after salivating after it on many US bloggers’ daily eats for so long. I generally review a product as soon as I try it, but with nut butters I wait until the end of the jar as, unless they’re truly disgusting or utterly delicious, my opinion can change from multiple servings and I need to know that it’ll have ‘staying power’; that I won’t get bored and still have half a jar to use up. Initially, I was a little disappointed with this, as the chocolate flavour just wasn’t rich, dark or prominent enough for me. It was peanut butter with a lot of sweetness and a vague aftertaste of chocolate. I suppose I was blinded by childhood memories of Nutella, which I was obsessed with before I became vegan. However, I forget that my tastes have changed. This did grow on me, and was particularly delicious melted on top of pumpkin oats for a little savoury contrast, but I’m still not sold on the ‘coated’ feeling it gives your teeth afterwards, as if there’s a fine veneer of sugar covering them. I suppose I believed the hype too readily…it’s still very nice, put I prefer my cashew butter and regular PB (PB & Co brand only, of course! English PBs with palm oil added are vile!)
7/10

Some gentle walking and weights later, I was ready for another snack…I’ve certainly been snacky McSnackerton today. It’s for the race, I swear ; )

Snack:
Pink Lady Apple, Two Against the Grain GF Choc Chip Cookies

Review: Against the Grain Chocolate Chip & Hazelnut CookiesTwo words: utterly gorgeous. These cookies are quite large, very crumbly (only one out of the entire packet wasn’t broken! Boo) and fragile, but melt-in-the-mouth divine. Again, I couldn’t believe they were gluten-free. The hazelnut came through as an aftertaste but the texture seemed slightly coconutty for some reason, not that I’m complaining because it made them ultra-moist. The chocolate was nice and dark, slightly bitter and contrasted wonderfully with the sweetness of the biscuits. Ingredients and nutrition be damned, I can’t wait to try these dunked in tea : )
10/10


90 minutes of Basic Yoga For Dummies later (as a final stretch-out)…

Dinner:

Mushrooms and chestnuts in gravy, parsley mashed potatoes, peas, roasted red pepper half (that looks like a dismembered heart…)

I also see another Apple Pie Larabar in my near future. Yes, I am addicted. Right, I’d better try to get some sleep before the race (yeah, right!) Night everyone and hopefully I’ll be back with a better, more inspiring post tomorrow!

07/08/09~Technology, Why Do You Hate Me?

Once again, huge hugs to everyone who comments! And one mass hug for all of the new people who have de-lurked. I love receiving comments from everyone, new readers or ‘old’ (old being relative of course) and if anyone else wants to poke their head in and say hello, they’re more than welcome : ) It’s odd to think how far I’ve come in this respect: six months ago I’d been reading blogs since their inception however many years ago that was, but was still too terrified to even comment, let alone start my own. I couldn’t even e-mail anyone without writing it, re-writing it five times and then deleting it because I was so scared of saying something offensive inadvertantly or being rejected outright. I’m still suffering from severe social anxiety disorder in the ‘outside’ world, but online I’m making a lot of progress and actually love experiencing interaction with people I don’t know…I appreciate it’s not much and still a ‘solitary’ activity, but it’s a start!

On the subject of comments, it appears that blogspot and Google hate me. Every time I try to view my blog (not post, just view or look at my comments) I get a page saying that my computer is sending out ‘automated messages’, which obviously relates to spyware. I am still trying to fix this, but coming from a family that shuns technology (my Mum and Dad are complete technophobes and won’t even come near my laptop) and being somewhat dense in this respect myself, it may take a while. I’m not sure if the problem extends to commenting on WordPress, but all Blogspot blogs seem to be blocked at the moment, so massive apologies! I really, really want to comment and reply to all of the lovely messages I received, and will do so as soon as humanly possible. I haven’t forgotten anyone and feel totally awful about the situation and my inability to resolve it.

When I was younger, I was a total technology geek and understood everything, but in recent years I’ve fallen out of touch with so much and now feel so isolated and backward compared to everyone else my age. I don’t know how to use HTML, I have no idea about all the gadgets and gizmos on expensive mobile phones, I love my iPod Nano but can’t fathom out how to use the Touch version (I won one in an article-writing competition but sold it because it confused me so much), I’ve never even held a Blackberry and I do not understand the current fascination with Facebook at all, though I would like to. The games consoles I used to spend hours on have gone far beyond my capacity to play, and quite honestly I feel as though I’m a generation behind where I should be. Being a ludite isn’t much fun, particularly when you’re looking to move forward with your life.

However, not spending hours every day frying your brain and getting repetitive strain injury in your thumbs playing Sonic the Hedgehog has its advantages, like being able to savour a sunny morning with a great 8 mile run. I’ve decided to keep exercise as a feature of the blog, as I enjoy it so much that I really wouldn’t be ‘me’ as a whole without it and I really want to keep things as honest and ‘real’ as possible.

For breakfast I tried to create an apple pie-esque experience. Apples always make my porridge very watery and alter the texture in a negative way for me, and there’s no way I could have a breakast that doesn’t feature banana. Therefore, only the Larabar, raisins and cinnamon were representing the orignal concept, but it was a spectacularly tasty bowl nonetheless: the addition of agave really kicked it up a notch in terms of flavour.


Breakfast:

‘Apple Pie’ Porridge (1/2 cup Rice/Buckwheat Porridge, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, agave, raisins, Apple Pie Larabar crumbled on top, banana

Because of the upcoming run this Sunday, I decided to give Body Combat a miss and do a Nell McAndrew Ultimate Challenge DVD instead. The current routine for Body Combat is very high impact, with a lot of jumping in the air and smashing your feet on the floor, and I didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks with my mercurial, capricious little madam of a left hip. More progress! I never, ever like to make concessions with exercise because I feel weak if I do, and negative thoughts come crowding in calling me lazy, worthless, blah blah blah. No more. I did feel guilty about it, but there’s no point in potentially jeopordizing a run that has huge potential for a personal best (course is almost completely flat) because I just HAVE to do Body Combat on a Friday on the basis that it’s what I normally do as part of my ‘routine.’ Nope, nope, nope. I squashed the guilty voice and got on with the DVD.

I wish I could be this rational about running, but I suppose it’s because it’s so freeing and wonderful for me to be out in the open air, flying along without a care in the world for an hour or so. I wish I wasn’t having nightmares already about the winter, when the pavements are frozen and it’s impossible to run outside first thing when the sun comes up. Personally, I don’t mind running on a treadmill but it’s just not the same, and over the 30 min mark at the speed I usually run I start to get a ‘dead leg’ on the right hand side. I’ve no idea what causes it and neither does my physio. It just goes weak, floppy, completely unable to support my weight. This only happens on a treadmill. Last winter was one of the worst ever for me in terms of depression, not only due to SAD which I get every winter but due to the extreme weather conditions in the UK. I had horrible runs on the treadmill, terrified of falling off every step and dragging my right leg along in the final stages…but not running would have been even worse. I don’t know why having to wait affects me so badly, but the longer I have to go before I can run, the worse I feel. Just doing a DVD first thing doesn’t seem to have the same effect, and it got to the point in December where I would wake up and cry every time the pavement was coated with ice. I know it’s pathetic, but it just emphasises how much running is my therapy…I can cope with one or two rest days involving cross-training, but for someone who suffers from claustrophobia not being able to be outside in the open, travelling long distances under your own steam, it’s a major cause of anxiety. Plus at Christmas the gyms are shut so I might not be able to run at all…funny how one tiny negative thought spirals into a huge tirade. I have a case both of verbal vomit and emotional bulimia. The trouble is I always gain weight in the winter so that contributes to the anxiety ~ I know I should just eat less to compensate for the possibility of doing less exercise but unfortunately with me, it doesn’t work that way and it lays me open to breaking down and bingeing. The strategy backfires. I suppose that’s my worry with the MRes, because rationally a little less exercise shouldn’t make a difference, but with my metabolism, it does. I wish I could trust my body more…I suppose we both abuse each other’s trust in a sense.

Anyway, after some more keyboard practice I was *genuinely* hungry for a change. Hallelujah!

Lunch:

Usual fruity goodness…well, technically carrot doesn’t count but it was so sweet and delicious that today I declare it an honorary fruit.
Microwaved Sweet Potato, Smooth Operator PB & Co, Cinnamon

After my last success with sweet potato and almond butter, I decided that it was far too long since I’d had this decadent combination. The addition of cinnamon put it into the stratosphere: it was too delicious for words.

After some blogging (when times were good and Google was actually working!), walking and cleaning, I settled down for a snack.

Snack:

DVD Review~Tae-Bo:Get Ripped, Leah Bracknall:Yoga & You, Gaim AM & PM Yoga, Tae:Bo:Ultimate Boot Camp

Tae-Bo:Everybody Get Ripped & Leah Bracknall: Yoga & You

Tae-Bo:Get Ripped is a DVD I’ve owned for five years, and it’s still part of my regular rotation. It contains a basic workout, 8-minute workout (the same one featured on the later release ‘Everybody Get Ripped’), instructional workout and advanced workout. The standard choreography is present, with the basic workout introducing the staples of the front kick, roundhouse kick and extended roundhouse kick, as well as more familiar aerobic moves and punches, uppercuts, etc. Obviously, it’s not particularly challenging but I’d rate it as the best basic workout in terms of improving technique. If you’re really new to Tae-Bo, the instructional workout runs through the moves at an even slower pace, breaking them down individually (all Tae-Bo DVDs include some variation on this feature). The advanced workout builds on what you’ve learnt in the basic version but at double the pace. It’s not quite the sweat-fest of ‘Everybody Get Ripped’ but that may be because I’ve become so accustomed to it over the years. It’s still a great low-intensity cardio session and it took me quite a while to master some of the moves with *correct* technique, so there is a level of challenge there. As ever the crew are bright and ebullient, and if staring at Shelley’s amazing abs for an hour isn’t a motivation to exercise, I don’t know what is. 7.5/10

From one end of the spectrum to the other, we have Leah Bracknall’s ‘Yoga & You’. I must admit, I would not have purchased this DVD had I known that its creator is a proponent of Hatha Yoga (aka yawn yoga), which is far too gentle for me and I never feel as if I’ve achieved any more benefit than if I had simply lain on the floor for an hour. I shoved the DVD in fairly resentfully, expecting to be bored senseless. Well, I wasn’t bored but it certainly wasn’t my beloved Ashtanga practice (some of which is featured in Geri Body Yoga) Fine, there was downward dog, some bridge poses, a few lunges, triangle and forward bends, but there was also a heck of a lot of mountain poses and lying down. I really should have read the details on Amazon more clearly. It’s very relaxing and good for stretching muscles, but it’s not really what I’m looking for from my Yoga practice. I’ll be saving it for days when I’m just too frazzled to do anything else.
9/10 if you want a relaxing DVD.
5/10 in terms of challenge.

Gaim: AM & PM Yoga

For something which has Rodney Yee on the front, this DVD is seriously unimpressive. I would hesitate to even call it yoga, as downward dog is basically the only recognisable pose featured. I feel very cheated by this DVD, as it proclaims that the running time is 1hr 30 minutes odd, but the a.m workout (the idea is to wake up and be invigorated in the morning and then wind down in the evening with the p.m section) is 15 minutes long and the p.m is only 20 minutes. Where the other hour went I don’t know (apart from the redundant ‘how to use props’ section. I know how to use a mat, belt and blocks thank you very much. Even ‘Basic Yoga for Dummies’ didn’t patronise me on that level!) There really isn’t anything new or challenging here at all and unless you haven’t moved from the couch all day for over a year you’ll find this DVD both monotonous and bland in its style of presentation. Shame on you Rodney Yee and Patricia Cornwell. 2/10

Tae-Bo: Ultimate Boot Camp

Having already reviewed the basic version of this DVD, there really isn’t much to add here other than to say that I don’t notice much difference between the two in terms of difficulty. It’s still a great circuit featuring extensive use of the infamous ‘Billy Bands’ (modified resistance bands that loop around each shoe) and a killer sequence of abs that really makes you feel as though you’ve worked them the day after. A good, solid DVD. 8/10

06/07/09~In a Bubble

I appreciated every single comment I received in response to last night’s post. They helped me to appreciate that, despite my initial impressions, there is no typical ‘case’ to use a reference for disordered eating. There are only people, and the pain such disorders cause on an individual basis. I was so scared and worried that I didn’t ‘fit in’ and people would only accept me on the basis of conforming to the ‘recovery’ blog template, and I was upset that yet again I seemed to have given the impression that my problems were that of the restrictive nature, of the fear and loathing of food. Thank you so much for accepting me, whining self-loathing rants and all. Sometimes I wonder if I go on these self-destructive kicks in reponse to something good happening, or because I actually feel a connection to so many of the lovely ladies out there who blog (you all know who you are)…pathetic though it may seem, I trust you more than anyone in my life apart from my parents. I haven’t been able to do that for…well, ever. And then I get a nasty, nagging little voice saying ‘this isn’t how things are supposed to go. You’re disgusting, people hate you. They always have, they always will.’ I’ve never been in a scenario where I haven’t been rejected on one level or another, and I can’t articulate in words how much that means to me.

Still, I wonder about the direction and nature of this blog…I’m sure my life must seem extremely boring, monotonous, sad and ruled by routine. I do hope it’s not too boring to read about…and I’m not sure if continually posting about exercise is a good idea. Perhaps it doesn’t seem right the amount that I do, and on the surface it might look obsessive…but it gives me so much and it’s the only thing that makes life worth living for me at the moment. I don’t post to show off or brag and I would be horrified if someone felt guilty about their own fitness regime (or lack of one) because of me. I just thought that showing exactly how much food I get through would balance it out, because I experience the same feelings of inferiority reading blogs of those who might work out less than me, but also eat a heck of a lot less. If I left out talking about running or gym or classes then I’m not sure what would be left…it’s something I’m really passionate about and really, it’s my life. I’m a little torn about it to be honest. It obviously seems excessive but I’ve never viewed it as overexercising because mentally and physically it makes me feel good, where as cutting down even a little wreaks havoc not only on my mind but also my body, which becomes tired (odd, I know), achey and stiff. It just no-one’s ever picked me up on it before and at the gym I’m surrounded by so many women who are semi-pros, training four or five hours a day on top of their jobs, that I suppose I don’t have the same perspective on it that other people do. The only time I don’t want to do something is when I’m in the deepest depths of depression, and then nothing can reach me. I always, always regret missing out on a run or a class, but never once have I regretted going. However, if it’s irritating to read about then I’ll have to think again. If blogging’s given me anything, it’s a view outside my bubble, the little world I’m used to living in. I really am drifting at the moment, not completely taking everything in, seeing the world through some sort of warped haze…

Rewind to last night. I did have a snack, and enjoyed every bite.

Snack (05/07/09):

Pulsin’ Coffee Brownie

05/07/09~Daily Eats

Today hasn’t been a great one. I’ll separate the issue I’ve been wanting to discuss from the main post, as it doesn’t sit well with pictures of food…the combination seems somewhat of an oxymoron and horribly ironic. I headed out for a 5 mile run this morning with hideous ‘what’s the point’ thoughts running through my mind. These only occur when I’m in a black phase, which almost always follows a manic mindset like the one I had yesterday. ‘What’s the point in exercising?’ ‘What’s the point in getting out of bed?’ ‘What’s the point in doing anything other than eating?’ Thankfully I did see the point in running, and the sunshine was simply beautiful.

Breakfast:1/3 cup Rice & Buckwheat Porridge, 1 cup pumpkin, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, agave, raisins, banana, Smooth Operator PB & Co

Morning consisted of catching up on blogs and playing keyboard. Mid-morning, a letter came with written confirmation of my place on the MRes degree with a full scholarship fee waiver. I should have been happy, but all I could think about was how on earth I’d fit my exercise in, how I’d find time to run and gym and blog and paint and learn piano and go to classes. I wished I could just go back to the time when I was strong and could cope with the 8 hour days of my first year without eating. I worried about how I’d cope in the winter, about whether the induction week would involve long days or 9am starts when I’d have to be up at 5am to run (which I enjoy, but takes its toll physically) I can’t do less, because I can’t stop eating. I took out my anxiety at the gym with 30 minutes elliptical, 18 minutes stepper and 15 minutes on the recumbant bike, then finished with some weights and stretching.
Lunch:

Home-made baked beans (haricot beans, creamed tomatoes, tomato purée, cinnamon, paprika)
GF Bread w/pure


Standard grape, carrot, nectarine fruit plate

Walked and lifted weights in the afternoon. Nothing exciting really.

Snack:

Jazz apple, chocolate Rice&Rice dessert pot.

Review: Rice & Rice Dessert ~ Chocolate
At 155 kcal per 100g pot, these are certainly more calorie dense than their Alpro Soya counterparts. However, they are vastly superior in terms of taste and texture. The chocolate variety is rich, creamy and velvety, with none of the gelatinous ‘wobble’ that accompanies the Alpro versions and no aftertaste of plastic or soya ‘beaniness’. It’s like a decadent chocolate mousse combined with the inside of a chocolate fondant. It’s so sweet and sinfully rich that the tiny pot is a perfect serving size. It truly does taste like liquid, molten chocolate chilled slightly, and although corn syrup is so high on the ingredients list and it’s essentially nutritionally void, this was a truly delicious and lovely treat (although my ‘treats’ seem to have become daily occurrences)

9/10 (8 if counting nutritional value)One pilates class later and it was time for dinner.

Dinner:

Roasted veggies in tomato sauce, corn spaghetti, peas

And although I won’t be hungry I’ll still be having a snack later because I really am that vile and greedy. God, even when I measure things in cups it’s always on the ‘heaped’ side.

Night all
xxx

04/07/09~Disappointment

Don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a weepy, negative post despite the title. Basically I just needed to clarify that when I referred to the relationship between the media and eating disorders in my previous post, I don’t believe that I presented my views correctly or articulated what I wanted to say very well at all. Also, I’m just speaking from my own experience and certainly didn’t mean to generalise or suggest that I regard the perceptions of eating disorder sufferers as some kind of collective consciousness or conglomorate mass. Unfortunately I think my brain was utterly frazzled at the time of writing from expending so much mental energy on fighting with the voices in my mind that I did not concentrate fully on what I was typing, which is inexcusable. Many apologies of the poor quality of the post. To be clear: I never, ever believe or have believed that what caused my descent into ED thoughts and behaviours was media-orientated, nor do I aspire to look like a particular ‘celebrity’. I hate the whole celebrity culture and couldn’t care less what Victoria Beckham is wearing or what diet she’s on. In fact, I find people in reality far more aspirational in ED’s eyes because they’ve achieved their look themselves, with no airbrushing or personal trainers or chefs. Katie voiced what I’m struggling to say far more eloquently than I ever could:

I am all about control, whether food, body, mind, academia, relationships, the dishwasher (seriously!). That feeds into academic stuff because I feel I have to obsessively study and hand coursework in a month before it’s due!

Issues behind EDs are immensely complex but I identified with this comment so much: I too want control over anything and everything in life. Uncertainty terrifies me, but once I have a concrete ‘plan’ set in my mind I tend to cope with things quite well within my own anxious sphere. I handed in my dissertation three months before it was due and technically had it completed at Christmas when the hand-in date was in May. I nearly killed myself doing it and yet there were other students who received equally high marks who just sauntered in the day before the deadline and plopped their work on the desk at the School of Arts & Social Sciences office. I completely lose my mind when the television doesn’t work or the internet won’t connect for no reason ~ if a certain error message comes up, I can take steps to fix the problem. When it’s unknown, I’m powerless. I rebelled against my body when it went into adolescence because the changes were (in my eyes) negative and beyond my control unless I restricted my food to compensate. I can’t deal with relationships or even friendships because I can’t tell what the other person is thinking and I can’t control it…and I’m also paranoid that they hate me and think I’m not worth their time. Nothing in life gives instant gratification, but at least there is some certainty in watching a number fall, because at least then I’m not disappointed in myself, in life in general. What I was trying to suggest is that somewhere along the line, something has hardwired our brains into using food and thinness specifically to cope

01/07/09&02/07/09~Pic-Filled Post & Product Reviews

So good to be back : ) Thankfully a good night of sleep (5 hours is exceptionally good for me) seems to have cured the looming migraine so I can finally post about the gorgeous eats I enjoyed yesterday and this morning.

I really enjoyed hearing all of the different perspectives on raw food resentment/anxiety and I think one of the few positive effects of having an ED is that it really forces you to analyse the motivation behind your thoughts. I used to just accept negative, or even aggressive feelings without stopping to think where they were coming from or why exactly what someone else was putting in their mouth was evoking such a disproportionately strong response. I think we’re a very self-aware and analytical bunch, which is why therapy can have mixed results ~ therapists/psychologists are used to helping people understand why they act the way they do, but not so proficient at successfully identifying how to stop the negative behaviours and silence destructive thought processes (CBT didn’t help me in the least). I don’t think I’ll ever be able to read a ‘I’m converting to high-raw’ post without a stab of jealousy and resentment, but I can at least remember the reasoning that has led to these feelings and try my best to feel comfortable in myself, no matter how many remarks I get about what (or the amount) I eat. I think part of the appeal of raw food is the mixture of control and balance, and the envy it provokes in others through the illusion of perfection. That said, I really did love the banana soft serve (which is actually Jemima’s idea! She posted about it months ago before it even hit the blog world ‘mainstream’…give the lady the credit she deserves lol) and it was surprisingly filling: I actually had to wait and have my dinner at a later time because I wasn’t hungry…I am becoming more open minded and willing to try some raw recipes, but I think it says it all that the ones I’m most intrigued by are all desserts ; )

Yesterday morning I bounced out of bed to do an hour of Davina McCall’s DVD (aerobics & pump) and then ate this:

Breakfast:


Mesa Sunrise Cereal Flakes, rice milk, raisins, banana

Spinning was fabulous ~ there was yet another new instructor covering (well, not ‘new’ exactly but I’ve only seen him once before) and guess which song he played as the final track? Yep, ‘It’s My Life!’ I nearly burst out laughing and couldn’t resist singing along, despite my out of tune voice and the gang who like to comment on my (and everyone else’s) weight staring at me. I was just too energized by the song to care. Then I followed this up with 40 minutes on the elliptical, some weights and stretching. Sadly when I was moving one of the bikes nearer the open window (I sweat like a pig, seriously…there’s another lady who complains that the room is ‘freezing’ and always wears a jacket and long tracksuit trousers) I pulled something in my shoulder. It doesn’t hurt when I actually exert it, but it’s a killer to type with…bizarre. I always seem to injure myself on my left hand side.

When I came home I wanted lunch, but there were some meaty aromas coming out of the kitchen, so I didn’t want to go anywhere near there until they’d dissipated. Consequently, I was in dire need of a snack:

Snack:

I couldn’t wait any longer…

Stellar ingredients list…


Pretty good nutritionally…not much protein & very sugary…but the fats are all healthy ones and to be honest I didn’t care…I just wanted to eat it!
Look at it…I’m salivating just uploading this picture.

Review: Cocoa Orange Nakd Bar (Gluten Free)
Oh. My. Goodness. I am SO elated that I was kindly given free samples of these before their official release because they are indescribably delicious. If they were liquid, they would be ambrosia. This surpasses the Coco Loco Nakd Bar in every imaginable respect. The texture is smooth and velvety, with just a little bit of occasional soft crunch from the nuts. It breaks apart perfectly, with none of the greasyness that sometimes accompanies Larabars. The flavour is so, so rich and decadent, with the slight bitterness of the cocoa pairing perfectly with the sweet dates and raisins and a perfect amount of subtle orange coming through at the very end. It tastes so much like a Terry’s Chocolate Orange, without the sticky sweetness. I found myself inhaling the aroma from the wrapper afterwards. Words cannot articulate how much I enjoyed this bar. If I had two in my possession, I would have devoured another one, although the small size of the bar is probably appropriate because they are so beautifully rich. I will put that theory to the test at the first opportunity when they’re available to order online. I may go through a box within a week. The demise of Larabars is still fresh in my mind, but my lament to them may be a little less intense now that I know Nakd have produced what is, in my opinion, a superior product. Gluten-free and vegan, it’s fabulous that almost everyone can enjoy this bar (huge hugs to any nut allergy sufferers!) 15/10 : It’s impossible to express numerically exactly how utterly divine this bar is.

I then meandered around for a while before deciding to play keyboard, as the kitchen was still occupied. I played for two hours! I went into a ‘zone’ with it where everything was going well and I really invested emotionally in the music. By the time I snapped out of it, it was way past my normal lunch time and I hadn’t thought about food or hunger once! I made up for it later in the day, but just to have that time where something mattered to me more than food was so precious…it’s huge for me, and I haven’t had that happen in…perhaps eight years, aside from when I’m running or in a particularly taxing exam. When I did get round to making lunch I was ravenous though ~ I really needed two of those bars ; )

Lunch:


Pear, Nectarine, Grapes

Second half of my carrot / almond soup from yesterday
Usual GF Bread with Pure Spread

In the afternoon I walked in the sunshine with my Dad, did some more weights and painted like there was no tomorrow. I love productive days like this one! I thought I’d post the treat my Mum picked me up from Sainsburies:

The last Larabars they had! She actually asked someone to check in the stock room and then bought me the whole box! Good thing Apple Pie is my 5th favourite flavour (after PB Cookie, Cashew Cookie, Coconut Cream Pie and Chocolate Coconut Chew). Honestly, her kindness and generosity astounds me…I just wish she could be so loving towards herself. I also feel a little guilty that she buys me so many things because she hates herself for ‘inflicting’ (her words, not mine!) her ED on my Dad and I, and I’ve told her to actually treat herself for a change but she never listens. She only seems to be happy when she sees me smile…
Eek, I hope I get through all of these ~ there’s 20 in that box!

I resolved to make the GF Nakd Bars last, but after the sheer decadence of the Cocoa Orange flavour my resolve cracked at approximately 5:15pm.

Snack:
Tentation Apple, Ginger Bread GF Nakd Bar



Review: GF Nakd Bar ~ Ginger BreadThis bar had a lot to live up to. I was very hesitant to try it, as there are two flavours of Larabar I dislike to the point where I’ve been forced to throw them away: Cocoa Mole (chilli+chocoalte=why!?) and Ginger Snap (so bitter, such an overwhelming flavour of cloves, so many almond skins trying to choke me). All of my fears were baseless: this bar is simply delicious. It’s not of the calibre of the Cocoa Orange, but it’s very, very moreish nonetheless. The texture is smooth and sticky, just like authentic gingerbread. The balance of spices is perfect, and the warm, comforting aroma of ginger hits you the instant you break the wrapping. The nuts mimic the texture of cake perfectly, slightly reminiscent of crumbs and the bar has a wonderful sweet savouriness to it that I find hugely appealing. Anyone from the UK (Yorkshire in particular), this is so much like Parkin it’s unreal. I want another one!

9/10 (point off for lingering bad memories of the Ginger Snap Larabar!)
I then stretched and relaxed using my Geri Body Yoga DVD for 90 minutes ~ this is by far and away my favourite yoga DVD…why aren’t there classes like this where I live *sigh* ?

Dinner:
Peppers stuffed with rice, tomatoes, pinto beans, sweetcorn (tinned, not raw lol), tomatoes, parsley and almonds. Peas (lots!)

Then I sat and continued with my research…for too long. How anyone can stare at a computer screen for more than an hour without keeling over is beyond me.

Snack:

After Friday’s oats bender my tummy wasn’t happy with me, so before breakfast tomorrow I decided to give the Rice & Buckwheat Porridge I purchased from Sainsburies ‘Free From’ a trial run because it’s not a good idea to try a new product for the first time when you’re ready to chew your arm off with hunger, as it’s difficult to be objective and/or cope with the situation if it’s inedible. Thankfully, this was lovely ~ I cooked it for far longer than instructed (chewy rice flakes? No thank you, I don’t like my porridge al dente) and used more rice milk than the package stated, but it produced something akin to a hybrid of rice pudding and oatmeal. It doesn’t have quite the texture or nuttiness of oats, but it’s nice enough in its own right and I don’t mind having it as a replacement at all. Blood test is arranged for Monday…not tomorrow, the week after, and it’s technically the doctor’s appointment but they’ll take the blood then and there if if the GP ‘agrees’ (the NHS actually works!) so the results should come back soon. Until then, I’m just going to avoid oats for the short-term. I put a huge squirt of agave on my porridge (1/3 cup GF mix, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon) and went to bed with a huge, satisfied smile on my face (after trying and failing to post…difficult to smile through a potential migraine but I managed) Oh my…I’ve just realised that my ‘snacks’ are the size of most people’s breakfasts…

Today the migraine failed to materialise (thus far!) and I went for a glorious 8.3 mile run in the most wonderful weather conditions ~ not too warm, lots of sunshine, a strong, cool breeze. There was no hip pain and even my shoulders felt a little better. I couldn’t wait to dig into my rice/buckwheat (which is inappropriately named as it contains no wheat whatsoever) porridge.

Breakfast (02/07/09)

1/2 cup Rice/Buckwheat mix, 1 cup rice milk, 1/2 cup water, sultanas, cinnamon, banana, 2 tbsp Dark Chocolate Dreams PB

Why ED thoughts crept in here I don’t know…I was so anxious about the extra calories the larger amount of liquid might add that I used water to replace the 1/2 cup rice milk excess, and it didn’t taste as good as it would have otherwise. With the amount I get through, since when will a dribble of rice milk make any difference? Honestly. Still, I really enjoyed it and you can’t go wrong with melted DCD.

So far today I’ve done a Nell McAndrew Maximum Impact DVD, eaten lunch, tried to catch up on comments (getting there!), walked and will soon be leaving for keyboard tuition. There are never enough hours in the day, and I get to manage my own time!

Wishing everyone a sunshine-filled Sunday

xoxoxoxo

01/08/09~We Interrupt this Blog…

To announce that we are experiencing some technical difficulties. I wanted so desperately to respond to all of the wonderful replies I received yesterday and also to get today’s post together, but I’m afraid my eyes are coming out on stalks, they need scaffolding to hold them up and other such metaphors. It’s my own fault for spending the entire evening reading 17th, 18th and 19th century British newspapers online for my research (MRes dissertation)…and I’m still only 1/5th of the way through the University’s online archive! Huge, huge thanks to you all and I’m so sorry not to be able to respond more quickly, but I’m having trouble focusing and if I spend much longer staring at the screen I’m worried it’ll turn into a migraine. Normal service will resume tomorrow and I promise I’ll get round to commenting first thing in the morning.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s recap of today (odd grammar?) which will include reviews of two flavours of Gluten-free Nakd Bar…let’s just say that Coco Loco may just have lost his crown. Which flavour usurped him? Ah, now that would be telling ; )

31/07/09~Raw Emotion…or Raw Ambition?

Friday again? Honestly, the days are just whizzing by at the moment in a blur of paint and 19th century newspapers and periodicals, which are absolutely ruining my eyes. Well, they’re deteriorating more than they do anyway: I’m too short sighted not to wear glasses but not short-sighted enough to wear them. Perhaps the itty bitty Victorian text will tip me over the edge? More huge hugs need to go out to everyone for such magnificent advice about the situation with my Mum and for the sheer kindness with which both recent posts have been received. I know I sound like a long playing record but I really do mean it every time and it’s so hard to verbalise the gratitude I feel: usually these emotions just stay in my head and fester until they manifest themselves negatively either through disordered thoughts around food or through episodes of mania and depression, but being able to express and ‘talk’ about them is so, so cathartic. So thanks for letting me waffle on ; )

My 8 mile run this morning was fabulous ~ beautiful, sunny and cool again and the extra stretches from the physio seem to be working wonders on my hip *everything crossed!* There was only mild stiffness afterwards, although my speed was a little slower than usual…I blame the desire to soak up the scenery and indulge myself in the sunshine. Luckily that shouldn’t be a problem in the race as it’s a road race through residential streets and last year it poured with rain! Sadly today’s breakfast creation wasn’t as wonderful as my surroundings :

DVD Review~Tae Bo 5 – Active & Tae-Bo – Energize

Tae-Bo 5 – Active

I think I’ve owned this DVD for five years…that makes me feel so incredibly old :P I’ve grouped these two DVDs together because they are essentially exactly the same: the only difference is that ‘Energize’ has an extra 8-minute workout on it (slightly shorter and easier than the one on ‘Everybody Get Ripped’) I wasn’t a happy bunny when I purchased ‘Energize’ only to discover that it wasn’t any different from ‘Active 5′ and I think it’s very misleading to package it as a completely new programme, complete with different pictures of the workout on the back to those featured in ‘Active 5′. However, this gripe aside the basic workout is well-choreographed and provides a mild range of exercises to work muscles in both the arms and legs (particularly glutes) and also a mild cardio challenge. The advanced workout isn’t fantastic, as in my opinion it spends too much time on the floor doing fairly easy ab work and there just isn’t enough fast-paced movement to justify the true cardiovascular workout claim that features on the back of the DVD case. However, if you’re having an ‘off’ day but still want to get moving, it’s great in terms of motivating yourself to get up and go because you know it’ll go easy on you and once you’re into it, you may feel able to do more afterwards. Both DVDs = 7/10

Tae-Bo Energize

28/07/09~It’s My Life

And it’s now or never…I ain’t gonna live forever. I would post more lyrics but I don’t want to be sued (not sure about the copyright regulations on these!) but I’m addicted to this song. All through my 8.2 miles this morning I was running along mouthing (and sometimes singing…or what passes for singing with me!) the lyrics to the chorus of Bon Jovi’s It’s My Life and doing random actions that seemed to correlate with the mood and essence of the song, an example being throwing my arms out wide at the line ‘I ain’t gonna live forever’ in a ‘come and get me / bring it on / do your worst’ gesture…probably not a good idea when crossing a main road. I did listen to other songs, but this is the one that has truly captivated me at the moment and when I like something, I listen to it constantly until I’m so sick of it that the thought of hearing it again is like exquisite torture, so it’ll be alternating with Nickelback’s Burn it to the Ground and Nymphetamine by Cradle of Filth for a while longer (the last song is still going strong from a year ago!) The left hip started acting up again halfway, but managed to sort itself out by about mile 6…the physio reckons it’s just a trapped nerve caused by my scoliosis so I have even MORE stretches to do…the series I have to do every morning is already twenty minutes long! Joints and muscles tend to stiffen up while stationary or lying in bed so it’s really essential to stretch them…people at Uni thought it was bizarre when I’d randomly stand up to stretch in lectures or seminars (was tempted to once in an exam, but didn’t want to risk it) but it’s just not worth the pain to continue sitting for too long without some relief.

I’m not the greatest fan of Bon Jovi’s music (can we say cheesy?) but the lyrics really speak to me and are so motivating not only for running but also for life in general. It’s made me think about what I want, how I want to live and how it doesn’t correspond to the general consensus on what constitutes a ‘life’. I don’t want children, EVER. I’m quite happy with cats, thank you very much, and if I ever managed to own a dog I’d imagine it would be more than enough for me in terms of responsibility (it’s not an option now as poor Minnie is terrified of them) Do I want to ‘go out’ and have that kind of social life? No. If that makes me sad or a freak, then fine. Living life is so subjective and although I’m sure most people would find my dreams unfulfilling, that’s their perogative. I dream of expanding creative horizons, knowing as much as it’s possible for me to know, achieving as much as I can athletically, never settling or accepting anything when I know it’s possible to do better and ultimately making a living that challenges every part of me creatively, in whatever capacity that may be. I don’t need lots of people around me, but I do need one, just to keep me sane. Finding that one person may be hard, but it’s an attainable goal, however impossible that may seem right now in the dark moments where I visualise myself with my parents gone and being left completely and utterly alone.

DVD Review~Tae-Bo Advanced & Nell McAndrew Peak Energy

Tae-Bo Advanced

This is the original Tae-Bo workout and one of the earliest to be released on DVD. I originally had this on video, back in the days when I’d struggle to do one measly roundhouse kick without falling over, and it’s been so much fun to really ‘grow into’ the workout. It’s not at the intensity of Everybody Get Ripped but I’d say it comes a close second and some of the strength and balancing work in the final fifteen minutes is still quite challenging. Also, there are some fast sequences of roundhouse and side-kicks that really do tax the hamstrings, quads and glutes. Finally, a reasonable proportion of the 60 minute workout is spent moving, whether punching, kicking or in aerobic sequences, which is infinitely preferable to the endless ‘marching/walking it out’ of the later DVD releases. 7.5/10

Nell McAndrew ~ Peak Energy

This was the first Nell McAndrew DVD I purchased (three years ago I think?) and it’s still one of the toughest, if not the toughest workout DVDs on this planet…if I had the privilege of travelling to other galaxies to provide some basis for comparison, I would declare it the toughest in the Universe. The first time I placed the disc in the player was straight after a spinning class, with literally ten minutes between finishing the class and arriving home. Still drenched in sweat but eager to try it out, I was expecting a moderate workout in terms of pace and perhaps even an easy rise, as I’d always been suspicious of ‘celebrity’ workouts and previously stuck religiously to the Tae-Bo DVDs. I only bought this one on a whim because it was on sale for £5 and I thought I had nothing to lose. By the end of the 80 minute running time I was ready to pass out on the floor: I can say without hyperbole that this DVD kicked my butt. I would have been in a better position to do it had I not just come out of a spin class, but it’s still a toughie even now and it took me several months before I could get through the weights section without taking a rest (the lightest weights I have are 3lb-ers and to be fair the ones Nell and the crew are using look lighter than that). After the warm-up you’re thrown into 40 minutes of almost constant running, squats, star jumps, knee-lifts and generally jumping about at a very fast pace. I feel ambivalent about the bar along the bottom of the screen that’s divided into teeny-tiny notches which turn green as the workout progresses, showing the percentage you’ve got through so far. On the one hand, it’s encouraging…on the other, when you’re not in the best of moods the notches seem to go green at a snail’s pace / painfully slowly. I am a bit of a clock-watcher on the treadmill and can’t understand why people place towels over the screen so they don’t have any measure of their progress, so I suppose the bar is a good thing. However, it may be telling that it’s not re-used in subsequent DVDs and the later Nell releases are easier than this one (even the mammoth Ultimate Challenge, while longer, isn’t as intense) Many people seem to have a problem with the distinctly un-aesthetic setting of an old aircraft hanger, but I’m really not bothered as long as I get a no-frills, no-nonsense, grit your teeth and get on with it workout. Nell is a participant and leaves the talking to her boot-camp coach, as always. The 20 minutes of weights and 15 minutes of core work and stretching are challenging, and I’d defy anything in the ubiquitous Shred to compete with them (disclaimer: haven’t tried the Shred, would love to if it was released over here, but it would have to be exceptionally tough to compete with this) Brilliant DVD, just a little repetitive in terms of choreography and exhausting after spinning beforehand! 9/10

25/07/09~ Feeling Crafty

Well, it’s over. My Mum returned home three hours ago and the feedback from the craft fair where we were exhibiting and selling my paintings was positive. There were lots of lovely comments and compliments, and even though only two paintings were sold, the organiser told me not to be discouraged and we would be welcome back next month. My work was placed at the top end of the price range for what is typically sold there (handmade cards and jewellery mostly, but a lot of the stalls are actually franchise as opposed to individual artists) so overall it went reasonably well. Children in particular seem to love them (I suspect it’s because they’re miniatures) and a lot more would have been sold if pester power had won their parents’ over! However, I have received many requests for commissions and people enquiring as to whether we’ll be returning to the fair, as due to the price they wished to have time to consider and think about it before purchasing. So many people asked if I had a website that I really need to look into setting one up, but I’ve no idea how to do that! I’d be looking to establish something similar to Angela’s Oh She Glows Bakery, but selling artwork as opposed to Glo Bars obviously (not that I wouldn’t love to try a Glo Bar!)

Mum had my camera for the day so no food pics apart from dinner, but she did manage to snap a few shots of the table set-up and how my artwork was displayed (the fair is basically in a huge village hall and our table was placed right in front of the stage):

If you squint I’m sure you can see a few of them in detail ; )

24/07/09~We Have No Bananas…(Today)

Well, not really. You didn’t think I could go a day without eating at least one banana, did you? The title refers to a less than stellar banana-related experience which I will elaborate upon later in the post. I wish I had something exciting to report but days are so quiet at the moment…which worries me a little because I’ve settled into a nice routine of exercising, blogging, researching, painting, practicing keyboard and reading…and not much else.

It’s difficult to be more social when you don’t have any friends to start with (no need to bring out the violins ~ I’m pretty much a loner anyway!) and never have. I’ve been to numerous activities and clubs in the past but never connected with anyone…I’m most definitely not a person who needs other people to validate their own sense of selfhood, but being completely alone scares the daylights out of me and although I have my parents now, they aren’t going to be around forever. At University, I could get on with most people on an ‘acquaintance’ basis, but social situations tended to revolve around nightclubs, bars and drinking (at University? Shock! Horror!), none of which interest me remotely. Alcohol triggers migraines and I’d be no fun or use to anyone blacked out in a corner after one sip, and whatever anyone says, you’re always excluded if you go out and don’t drink (I tried this in college and don’t recommed it!) Obviously people did other things too but if you didn’t want to go on ‘nights out’ you were automatically considered weird and/or stuck up and precluded from anything else. Two psychologists have tried to force me to ‘challenge’ myself and go out anyway, pretend to be normal and alter my personality to try to fit in. I tried to fake who I was for three years as a teenager and it nearly killed me, or led me to endanger my own life. What is ‘normality’ anyway? Normal is such a subjective concept that the mind boggles as to why psychologists feel they have the right to define it: the activities of the masses define what is acceptable behaviour and, as George Orwell rightly put it, ‘Madness is simply being in the minority of one.’ Forcing onself to do something that one clearly doesn’t enjoy and that causes anxiety and misery is, in my opinion, counterproductive to emotional healing. However, that still doesn’t solve the problem of emotional connection…I just wish I had some long-term friends to rely on, friends from as far back as primary school like most people seem to have. Right, enough of the pity party. This rant ends here.

Routines are notoriously difficult for me to break, but if all goes well then I should have some new challenges with the MRes in September anyway. However, I still haven’t received written confirmation of my place so now I’m terrified that they’ve changed their minds and don’t want me. This is what too much time to think does to me: it manifests itself via anxiety over anything and everything. My concentration is and always has been terrible: I’ll paint while watching television, read while listening to music, split a film into three parts because I can’t pay attention to anything for more than 45 minutes. It takes a huge amount to keep my mind occupied and focused, which isn’t great when negative thoughts start creeping in.

Thankfully this also translates into the ability to zone out while I run! The pain in my left hip, while still present, lessened during my 7.5 miles in the sunshine and I came home feeling refreshed and ready for some fuel.

Breakfast:
1/2 cup oats, 1 cup rice milk, raisins, cinnamon, 2 tbsp Dark Chocolate Dreams, banana

Now this is the way to enjoy DCD ~ I should have known that I’d love this combination as I adore chocolate raisins and I always liked my chocolate slightly warm or melted, never room temperature or *gasp* straight out of the fridge (my Dad does this with his chocolate ~ for me it just ruins the taste! I’m not mad about ice cream, vegan or otherwise, for the same reason. It just tastes bland to me, as if the cool temperature has somehow dulled the intensity of the flavour) When the DCD melted onto the raisins it was like taking little bites of heaven.

Lunch (After 60 sweaty minutes of Body Combat):

Lentil & Apricot Sauce with Buckwheat Udon Noodles (I dug some to the top just to prove that there were some under there!)

Also a nectarine, grapes and cherry tomatoes that I ate too quickly to take a picture of :P

I just walked into town and back, did a Tae-Bo 8 Minute (20 minute!) workout DVD and read blogs for the rest of the afternoon! How extremely productive. Things didn’t improve much when I felt peckish and reached for…

Snack:

Jazz Apple, Banana Bread Nakd Bar

Ingredients:


Nutritional stats:

Bar shot:

Review: Banana Bread Nakd BarI’m so, so sorry Nakd, but this is without hyperbole the worst bar I have ever tasted, and I’ve eaten chocolate covered Turkish Delight (vegan version, but still disgusting). I’ve eaten this once before and came back determined not to waste anything from my sample box. I couldn’t believe there was something made by Nakd that I didn’t like, but it’s no use living in denial. The characteristic texture of the Nakd bar is still there, but it smells so sweet, sickly and artificial that I was hesitant to take even one bite. There are no nasties in the ingredients list, but it tastes like synthetic banana (anyone remember those foam banana-shaped sweets from when they were a kid? This tastes just like those) mixed with the bitter aftertaste of Stevia. I seriously had to choke it down, then just gave up. I never throw bars away, ever, but this one just got the better of me. It may just be my aversion to cooked banana (ew! I’ll never understand why people like to mash their banana and cook it in with their oatmeal!) but I don’t think anyone could stomach the sheer overwhelming sweetness of this bar. Let me know if you can and I’ll send you a medal for bravery. 1/10 (because it was still breakable and mercifully only comes in the mini 30g size!)

After such an unsatisfying snack I was rather hungry for dinner, which came after 90 minutes of Basic Yoga for Dummies DVD (so appropriate for me). Case in-point: even Yoga doesn’t relax me and I stress constantly over getting the poses perfect / not being bendy or flexible enough. Don’t even get me started on meditation.

Dinner:

Another modified version of ‘Summer Stew’ from Vegan Cooking for One:
Red lentils, carrots, spinach, peas, oats

Snack later will be a 68g Coco Loco Nakd Bar…yes, I am a complete creature of habit. It will also help me to forgive Nakd for the travesty that is the Banana Bread bar. Hopefully my life will go somewhere one day ~ I haven’t heard anything from the children’s literary agents I marketed my novel to about a month ago and I’ve already been rejected by all of the adult ones. I’m just desperate for my paintings to sell well tomorrow…

Oh, and I may put some images of them up at some point when I’ve sorted out the issues surrounding artistic copyright. I’m hoping to eventually start an online business with them and I’m paranoid about internet fraud…that and I’m scared everyone will think they’re terrible and I have no talent whatsoever….

Hope everyone has an exciting weekend : )

23/07/09~ Raring to Go…

Okay, firstly: the Trek Protein Flapjack giveaway is open until Sunday. All entries still gratefully received and very much welcome. N.B I have decided to nix the extra entry for outside linking rule, after it was brought to my attention that such rules encourage blogs to be created solely for the purpose of linking to giveaways and also discriminate against non-bloggers. Many apologies to those who have already linked! This is my first giveaway and I will endeavour to manage them more efficiently in the future : )

Everything is in a bit of a whirl now getting ready for Saturday’s fair. I have everything in place; flyers, business cards, stands, the table arrangement…basically I’m doing everything that doesn’t involve interaction with anyone and then Mum is taking over! She’s much more of a ‘people person’ than I am and brilliant at selling things, so she jumped at the chance to man the stall with my paintings and I’m so grateful to her for agreeing to do it. I’d probably scare any potential customers away…

Aside from craft-fair preparations, there was much sketching and researching yesterday, as well as a Tae-Bo Basic Boot Camp DVD at 6:45am. Then I dashed into the kitchen for some breakfast.

Breakfast:
Doves Farm Chocolate Cavities (Stars), sultanas, rice milk, banana

Close-up

Then I went to the gym for a spin class, follwed by 7km on the treadmill in 35 minutes and 35 minutes on the elliptical. The left hip twinged a little but overall I think my body coped well with the workout and I was sure to send it positive thoughts, and also thank it for taking me through the session almost pain-free! I then caught up on some blogs and threw together some more food.

Lunch:


Carrot, Nectarine, Grapes: the usual suspects

22/07/09~Tropical Storms

Another quiet post for Wednesday ~ it’s a hump day for many (argh ~ hate that phrase! I may have to poke myself in the eye for using it) but I always find it a lull in the week. If things are going to go wrong, it’s usually on a Wednesday. I have no idea why. Not wanting to push my luck after my longer run on Tuesday, I settled for a nice easy 4.5 miles (which took me 45 minutes, just to illustrate HOW easy I took it). The weather was nice and sunny at that point, so I was in the mood to try out one of my new Nakd products in the form of:

Breakfast:
Tropical Oats ~ 3/4 cup oats, 1 1/2 cups rice milk, cinnamon (not so tropical! But you can’t have oats without cinnamon; it simply isn’t allowed), Nakd Pineapple Raisins x2, 1/2 Oskiri Coconut Bar crumbled on top, banana. If that’s a long description it’s because the bowl of oats was HUGE. I never learn.


Close-up of the raisin oasis (if bananas can count as palm trees?)
I had mixed feelings about this bowl ~ I suppose I prefer autumn (fall?) and winter flavours as opposed to fruity/citrus tastes. The star of the bowl was actually the cocount bar! After moaning that it wasn’t sweet enough it’s really grown on me and counteracted the extreme sugaryness (it’s a word…I think) of the raisins. I ate the lot but probably should have used 1/2 cup oats…oy.

Product Review: Nakd Raisins ~ Pineapple Flavour

Ingredients list: I’m intrigued to know how it’s possible to ‘bake’ raisins! Also, I’m not particularly enamoured about the inclusion of citric acid in the ingredients and I’d like to know where those ‘natural flavours’ come from.

Blimey, that’s a lot of sugar. I think I meet the RDA for sugar in a day from my dried fruit and banana consumption alone….

Front of the packet shot. When I opened these the first thing that struck me was the offputting scent. It smelled like a My Little Pony. I was almost too scared to use these but in the interests of being professional in my approach to reviews I hesistantly nibbled one before additing them to my oats. It wasn’t bad! They didn’t taste anywhere near as strange as the smell would indicate but they certainly didn’t seem ‘natural’ to me. There was a hint of pineapple going on but primarily they tasted like marzipan, more cherry-like than the essence of pineapple I was expecting. They also leave your teeth feeling sugar-coated, which is never desirable, and the sickly flavour threatened to overwhelm my bowl of oats so much that I ended up eating round them. They’re quite a fun product and it’s always good to sample new things but really they’re a little artificial for me and probably better in small doses. That said, I have some ideas for how to use the other flavours: Chocolate Orange Oats, Lemon Pie Oats and Berry Cherry Oats may soon be on the menu. 5/10

Review: Oskiri Coconut Bar
As I have previously mentioned, on first opening the bar the most immediately noticable quality was how the coconut is an odd mixture of sticky and crumbly. Breaking it into pieces small enough for maximum meltage into oats is quite difficult, and despite the rice syrup which holds it together the bar is quite dry and has the tendency to stick in the throat that puts me off most coconut related products. Obviously the saturated fat content is quite high, but there has been research done to suggest that plant-based saturates are nowhere near as damaging as those from animal products and don’t have the same cholesterol-raising properties, so this doesn’t worry me greatly. Due to the aforementioned dryness and slightly bland flavour (I was expecting sweet coconut ice!) I wouldn’t eat this bar by itself, but once it melts into oats it takes on a wonderful, creamy texture that’s perfect when paired with either agave or dried fruit.

On its own: 4/10
As a topping for oatmeal: 7.5/10After a session at the gym (30 minutes elliptical, 18 minutes stepper, 15 minutes recumbant bike, weights & stretching) my mammoth bowl of oats was starting to wear off. I couldn’t wait to try my Dark Chocolate Dreams in sandwich form.

Lunch:


Grapes, Nectarine, Carrot

Dark Choc Dreams & Banana toasted sandwich on GF Bread, rest of banana with more DCD. Yum! Although my poor teeth weren’t too happy…I wanted to brush them again! For me the flavour of the DCD is a little too subtle and I’d like something more intensely chocolatey. It’s still lovely though, just not quite as to-die-for as my Biona Cashew Butter.

Snack:
Jazz Apple, Two Mejool Dates, Almonds

The afternoon was spent with my Mum in town, sorting out my finances in a bank. After the never-ending plethora of forms was filled in and filed (I swear they try to catch the numerically challenged such as myself out with these forms!) Mum had more errands to run so I just walked the three-ish miles home (luckily dodging the rain that was forecast), did some weight training and ate the snack pictured above. Then it was off to pilates and home for dinner.

Dinner:Corn Spaghetti with roasted veggies (carrot, red pepper, courgette) in tomato & oregano sauce, peas

Before I went to bed I had my go-to comfort snack: a Coco Loco Nakd Bar, which I did take a picture of but I’m saving it for the full bar review. Okay, here’s where the ‘storm’ part comes in: I have a pretty good idea of when I’m truly losing my grip on my depression. I can feel the clouds gathering, anticipate the breakdown to come. One of the worst parts is anxiously waiting for the eventual ‘snap’ to occur. It’s a frightening experience, becuase I truly feel like someone else has taken over my body, an out-of-body experience in the sense that I seem to externalise the rational ‘me’, the ‘me’ that is floating somewhere near the ceiling, watching the manic demon below behave like a rabid dog, or certainly something sub-human. Screaming, wailing, crying, breaking things, beating the floor, bouncing off the walls, tearing out hair, pummelling itself in the legs until they’re covered with bruises…actually it sounds more like a two year-old mid-tantrum. These incidents were once a daily occurrence and I swear I don’t know how my parents didn’t throw me out of the house. Now, because I know (most of the time) when they’re coming, I can throw myself into bed, bury myself under the covers and lie still in the darkness until ‘I’ can return…sometimes three minutes later, sometimes three hours or more. 90% of the time these episodes are triggered by the perception that I’ve gained weight and the horror and anxiety that comes with it. No amount of affirmations or rationalizing can get rid of the feeling that everything you put on is too tight, that your backside resembles two inflated watermelons, that your thighs are touching and chafing together. The downside of not weighing myself is that I don’t have any security, any concrete number to confirm that I haven’t turned obese overnight. This results in constant body-checking, making six different ‘diet’ plans and far too much time wasted in front of the mirror. I broke down this morning and dug out the scales. The result wasn’t as bad as I had feared, but what’s upsetting is that, had the number been higher, the ‘temper tantrum’ would have manifested itself at it’s worst. As it was, my mood lifted significantly. I apologise if any of this was triggering, but I needed to get it out there and admit that I’m not sure I’ll ever see a time when my happiness is not intrinsically linked to my weight…I can’t separate the depression from the disordered eating and as a result I feel like a fraud on both counts. If the depression comes from a chemical / hormonal imbalance then why is it so profoundly affected by an external influence such as a scale number? If I have an eating disorder that makes me desperate to lose weight, then why do I eat so much? Do I want to be a self-fulfilling prophecy, to turn myself into the fat whale I believe I am because deep down I hate myself and want an excuse to be the failure I fear that I’m destined to become?

In other news, what set my mind racing in the first place was the fact that I’ve been experiencing pain in my left hip. It’s nothing severe, but injuries are my worst fear (literally) and although a sensible person would rest it or reduce activity, I don’t want to because then I’ll lose the freedom of eating intuitively…hungry Jessica=bingeing Jessica. My appetite doesn’t decrease with less exercise and I’m useless at sticking to lower intakes now anyway. It scares the hell out of me that if I ever do break a bone, or suffer stress fractures, I don’t have the willpower anymore to consume less to reflect a reduced activity level. It’s a catch 22: I either rest and gain weight short term, or push through and risk gaining weight long-term. Other people have dealt with reduced cardio levels by reducing their food intake and claiming it’s appetite related but I really don’t believe that: the food intake has been reduced to compensate for the reduced exercise. I’ve seen some big blogging role models do this and although either no-one will read this or I’ll be shot down in flames, but I’m sure that when exercise increases, everyone feels ‘allowed’ to eat more.

Right, none of this is even making sense now so I think I’ll stick to reviewing my favourite bar and calling it a day before I get myself in even more trouble…

~Giveaway!~


I’m sure you saw this coming but I now have some wonderful Trek products to give away. I’d be snaffling these myself in the blink of an eye if I didn’t have such a sensitivity to soy, but there’s no way I’m letting them go to waste and I’d love to share them with the blogging world.

I used to eat Trek bars every day for breakfast when I was at University…I practically lived on them in the first year (I think my record was four in a day!) before I discovered that soy was part of my tummy troubles. Although I haven’t had one in a while, I remember the taste distinctly and my favourite was always the Peanut & Oat flavour, which tastes like a moist, dense, non-greasy peanut butter cookie and for me infinitely surpasses the Larabar version (9/10). Next came the Cocoa Brownie ~ not quite as delicious as my beloved Coco Loco Nakd Bar, but still rich and decadent with a lovely crunchy, biscuity element from the soy protein crispies ~ reminded me of a healthy Boost bar if any UK people have had them (8.5/10). I really liked the Mixed Berry flavour too but I’m not wild about fruity bars compard to PB or chocolate and it is an incredibly sweet flavour. However, the berry element is very natural in taste, which is something that most bars fail to achieve, and it’s just as filling as the other flavours but the lowest in calories for 203kcal as opposed to 239kcal for the Peanut (7.5/10) Overall I think Trek Bars are great and extremely sustaining (2.5 hours is a record for me with any bar!) Sadly I’ve never tried the flapjacks but I’d love to hear the opinion of whoever wins!

How to Enter: Just leave a comment on this post ~ you could answer the question ‘what’s your all-time favourite bar?’ but you don’t have to : )

21/07/09~The Postman Always Rings Twice / Sunshine & Showers

It’s Wednesday already? Time must fly when you’re doing nothing. Well, not nothing exactly but working to your own schedule. Thanks so much for all the supportive comments on my last post ~ I didn’t weigh myself in the end and hopefully I don’t plan to. The numbers just mess with my mood too much and I don’t need any help in turning a good day into a manic, disordered thoughts-orientated one. Recently I’ve noticed my mood swinging to extremes more than it used to within the course of a day; it’s always vascillated wildly from postive and productive to dispondent and tearful but for the past week it’s seemed to shift every couple of hours or so. I think it’s to do with the fact that I’ve been trying to follow all of the wonderful advice I’ve received about challenging negative thoughts: before, if I started crying at 10am I wouldn’t stop until 11pm (well, obviously there would be lulls in it but the depression would still be there). Now, from taking active steps to override the darkness which seems to close in at certain times of the day, I can hold it together for an hour or two before it gets the better of me…then I’ll pull myself out of it again and the cycle continues. It’s exhausting, but hopefully I’ll get to the stage eventually where the light outweighs the darkness. I genuinely think there’s something to the self-aware approach which advocates challenging negative thought processes and interrupting them before they take over: I’d never have considered this before entering the blog world and sometimes I think there are certain ladies out there online who have more wisdom in their minds than all of the world’s therapists put together. If you’re not going through the same processes, or have been through similar problems, I don’t think you’re in as strong a position to help and many therapists and psychologists come at it from an outsider’s perspective: they’re too pragmatic. It’s like an actor who has to feign an emotion he’s never experienced: his performance will never be as ‘true’ as the performance of a person who has deeply felt the emotions he’s trying to portray in real life. I hope that makes sense!

I was full and happy all through my lengthy keyboard practice from my gorgeous breakfast, and after a couple of hours I decided to do my Tae-Bo Advanced DVD to keep my muscles from stiffening up after my run. Actually, they seem to have dealt with it quite well and there was only a slight twinge in my left hip and hamstring which appears to have disappeared this morning. Fingers crossed!

Lunch:
Chickpea, carrot & tomato salad
Roasted Butternut Squash. It tastes better slightly charred, honest!
Grapes and a Nectarine

In the afternoon it decided to rain again. The weather in this country is like my mood: capricious. One minute it’s sunny, then showers, then sun again. My Dad still wanted a walk so we went about 2.5 miles anyway and came back utterly soaked. I ended up sitting by the computer reading blogs and researching whilst drying my legs off with a hairdryer. Still, it really makes you appreciate being warm and dry! I love to get out in the winter when it’s freezing cold, as it heightens the pleasure of being snuggled up next to a radiator or cuddling a hot water bottle to warm up again. Sadly, the weather really does affect how I feel and the rain literally put a dampener on the day…until…

What could this be?

That’s one heck of a promise. What could possibly make such a claim?

Ahhh! Sorry to be so inarticulate but for the second time in two days the arrival of the postman (or DHL courier in this case!) completely put the spring back in my step. Naomi of Natural Balance Foods, the company who make my beloved Nakd Bars, send a double-decker sample case of products after I enquired as to whether the new gluten-free line would be available in a mixed case. I can’t wait to do a full review on all of the Nakd Bars and raisins and you’d better believe that when the gluten-free bars do come out I’ll be writing a dissertation on each of them! I can’t believe how kind and generous the company were in sending me this and I just have to say THANK YOU so, so much Naomi for giving me the opportunity to review so many delicious and healthy bars.

However, unfortunately for me the Trek Protein Bars contain soya protein, and the flapjacks have both soy protein and soy flour. Given my reaction to the now infamous Nana’s Cookie, I’m just not willing to risk tasting the Trek lines despite my eagerness to sample the flapjacks, which look so indredibly appetising! Stay tuned for a surpise relating to these in my next post (well, I’m sure you can guess what it is!) I am incredibly grateful to have received these but my tummy is just starting to truly settle and I don’t want to aggrivate it again ~ a little soy sauce every now and then is all I can get away with and even that’s sometimes pushing my luck.

All of the excitement relating to this package meant that I found myself running late for my Body Jam and Body Balance classes so I had to slam this down far quicker than I would have liked (and I forgot to take a picture until I’d eaten most of the apple!)

Snack:
Jazz Apple (or what’s left of it) and two pieces of GF toast with agave (which all ran to the bottom slice) and Pure Spread

Dinner (post Jam & Balance)


Two Baby Potatoes, Lentil Bolognese, Green Beans & Peas

Oh, I can’t wait…I’m going to get the next post up straight away!

20/07/09 and 21/07/09~It Begins…

Morning all : ) Yesterday was ‘research day’ and I’m actually quite pleased with the amount I got done ~ I’m terrible for procrastinating but once I get started with something I’m generally okay…the first sentence is definitely always the hardest. It’s a miracle that I achieved anything though because after ‘cookiegate’ I was feeling extremely down in the dumps and just generally ‘blah’…or ‘bleh’…really a mixture of both. What really annoys me about myself is that as soon as a hint of appetite comes back I’ll gobble up a full meal and even when my tummy feels ‘off’ I carry on eating reagardles. Damn my emotional reliance on food. I’ve also gone a week without weighing myself (longest time in forever) and now I’m too scared to go anywhere near the scales becuase I feel so incredibly huge. I don’t know whether this is true or not but it still doesn’t stop me from eating…in fact I don’t think anything does. Anyone else would have barely touched a scrap when they were dosed up on nausea-inducing antibiotics but I barely reduced my intake at all. I’ve been a good 25lbs heavier than I am now (or was when I last weighed myself) and I really, really can’t face going back there again. Unfortunately these thoughts were with me most of the morning, lessened in the afternoon/evening and are back with me now. I wonder why they tend to be at their worst after breakfast?

Breakfast (delicious despite the guilt):


1/2 cup oats, 1 cup rice milk, cinnamon, 1 chopped mejool date, banana, two more dates with 2 tbsp cashew butter on top. Simply decadent.

I was still moping around sniffling and staring at the walls (okay, and body-checking) when this package arrived and cheered me up considerably:

DVD Review ~ Yoglates Fit, Firm & Flexible, Yogalates Engergizer and Nell McAndrew’s Ultimate Challenge

This DVD features my fitness nemesis: resistance bands. These bands are somewhat wider than the Tae-Bo version and smell like a helium balloon. The DVD was *supposed* to come with bands to use as part of the workout but they were sadly lacking in my order (thanks Amazon!) so I had to buy some separately. Because my legs are so much stronger than my arms, I have to use the lightest ‘strength’ of band which results in a killer burn for my biceps and triceps but very little work on my legs. Sadly, the exercises are intertwined so that it’s impossible to change band mid-flow and certain sequences are drawn out for so long that I’ve twanged (it is a word, I swear) myself in the leg or (in lying poses) face several times. Band-pinging aside, there are some wonderful stretches in this DVD which are mostly conducted in the supine position (i.e lying on the floor). There’s no prone work and only minimal standing, so the workout is by no means strenuous. I would debate the ‘fit’ and ‘firm’ elements of the title but this DVD will definitely improve flexibility and the guided relaxation at the end is one of the most calming and quieting that I have experienced, whether via DVD or in a class. My main issue with most yoga DVDs is that they’re just too long: I’m going to be more pressed for time soon and I really need a DVD that incorporates a full workout into 60 minutes or less, hence my preference for the Pilates Conditioning for Weight Loss and the Pilates For Dummies DVD, which are both 40-45 minutes long, where as all of the Yogalates series are 90 minutes and Geri Body Yoga is 95 minutes ~ I’d rather do a full programme than just a few sections of a DVD, as I never feel ‘compltete’ or satisfied if I do that. 5/10
Yogalates Energizer

I basically covered almost everything there is to say about this series when I reviewed the Weight Loss Yogalates DVD, but I would like to add that I feel that this edition is a more worthy programme in terms of bearing the title ‘Yogalates’. Nevertheless, I find that name deeply irritating and detrimental to the perception of both disciplines. Despite my reservations about the name, this DVD provides 90 minutes of gentle yoga and pilates exercises with a good balance between the two. There are three sections, one concentrating on abs, one on legs and one with standing postures. The latter is the section I enjoy the most because it gives me a chance to work on the technique and positioning of my warrior poses without having them part of a flowing or complicated sequence. Once again, this is primarily a relaxation and stretching DVD and those looking for a challenge should probably steer clear, but I really enjoy some of the seated balancing poses and genuinely felt that my limbs had been lengthened and my posture improved afterwards. 6/10

Nell McAndrew ~ Ultimate Challenge

Talk about going from the sublime to the ridiculous: this DVD is as intense as a home workout can get (without cheating by using gym equipment lol). It’s the antithesis of the Yogalates DVD’s in the respect that it’s fast, furious and set to pumping dance music (which I’m not a fan of, but you can’t have everything). This truly is an ultimate challenge and at a whopping 105 minutes in length (including the extra workout at the end) I don’t recommend this DVD if you have a short attention span! Actually, the choreography is so simple that I just zone out a lot of the time and let my body get on with the routine. As always, there’s a lot of repetition involving jogging, running, star jumps and enough squats to turn your legs to steel (I wish!) The weights section is of medium intensity and functions best for me if I use 2.5lb weights, and the abs workout is tough without being excruciating. The ‘extras’ are a bit of a gimmick, as they basically consist of a one-minute elbow plank, sit-ups and eight minutes of stretching, but after the rest of the DVD an eight minute stretch is actually a blessing. Nell’s trainer is verbose as always (not! But I still like the guy’s Boot Camp attitude) and the DVD seems to be located in an industrial warehouse, but it’s still a lot of fun. I don’t do it too often as the sheer length of it can sometimes be a drag, but it’s still worth a look. 8/10

19/7/09 ~ Some Kind of Monster

Any Metallica fans out there get the title reference? I’m a dedicated follower of the band and love to run to their music…even though I’m slightly ambivalent about how I feel towards them as the guy who introduced me to them hurt me quite badly (in an emotional sense!) and I’m still not ‘over’ him. Actually, 95% of the music I listen to is either rock or some metal sub-genre but then my ears decide to have a complete aberration and I start bopping along to Elton John like an embarassing Dad in a disco. My musical tastes are eclectic to say the least…I’m Still Standing is a fabulous running song!

Apologies if this is a dull post but yesterday was a pretty uneventful day and I’m really trying to finish as many paintings as possible for the fair next Saturday, plus I really need to get started on some preliminary research so I don’t look like a *complete* idiot when I get to meet my supervisor for the MRes.

The weather was beautiful on Sunday morning and I was happy to take advantage of it with a wonderful 7.5 mile run in my best training time so far…well under an hour.

Breakfast:

The pumpkin oats are back! The fibre in the pumpkin was a suspect for bothering my stomach, but since discovering the culprit was actually soy (I’ve known about the wheat/most gluten issue for years) pumpkin has come back into my life and I couldn’t be happier!

1/3 cup oats, 1 cup rice milk, 1 cup pumpkin, cinnamon, raisins, 2tbsp cashew butter, banana

Then I spent the morning doing the activities mentioned above, practicing keyboard (I’m improving…very…slowly), blogging and cooking another cauldron full of lentil bolognese, this time with apricots. Meh, it didn’t turn out how I wanted: I think I took it off the heat too soon and the lentils didn’t break down properly. Oh well, only eight portions to use up before I can make some more *sigh*

Then before lunch I decided to do Nell McAndrew’s Ultimate Challenge DVD. Ultimate Challenge is right ~ it’s 1hr 45 minutes in length!

18/7/09~Please Yourself

Firstly, I want to thank everyone so much for your wise words, congratulations, advice and support regarding the MRes: I’m incredibly blessed to have such wonderful people to reach out to at times like this and I can honestly say that without some of the comments I received I would never have been able to take a deep breath and consider this rationally. It’s a wonderful opportunity and I can’t let my tendency to panic and attempt to finish the final research project (that’s due a year from now!) before I go back in September. Heck, I haven’t even met one of my supervisors yet! I think I’m putting too much pressure on myself too early: if I try to complete a 25,000 word research dissertation in two months of course I won’t have time for anything else! I just need to manage my day more efficiently. However, I also think I should make the programme leaders aware of my problems: I hid all of my psychological and physical issues until the third year (although in the first year I had a lot of comments regarding my frail appearance, when I was in a bit of a relapse) when I finally had to explain some of my actions to my old guidance tutor, who was incredibly kind and understanding. I need to ask some serious questions about this symposium (it really is physically impossible for me to sit for eight hours with only a few opportunities to get up without being dosed up on ridiculous amounts of Ibuprofen) and also inquire as to whether the full range of periodicals are available online (thank you so much Marty for giving me hope with this!), in which case I could conduct the bulk of my research from home.

Also I received an amazing piece of advice from a very special lady about my attitude towards life:

‘If you constantly allow yourself to find something wrong or bad about every little situation then how could you possibly ever be happy. I think that if you were to just TRY to sqaush a negative thought with a positive thought that maybe you would see a difference. My mom is a big believe that a great life and happiness are achieved by choice. If you CHOOSE to live in an unhappy world then so be it but if you find that you are dealing with some problems then you need to find the remedy so that you can get out of it. Life just isn’t worth it when its filled with self deprication, sadness, and no fun.

This touched me more than anyone could ever know: the only thoughts that came into my head about this Masters were of the things I couldn’t do. I imagined every negative scenario I possibly could and did nothing to actively rectify the contributors to these scenarios. I only saw problems: not solutions. I do genuinely try not to let these thoughts affect me but often I simply don’t persevere…sometimes I wonder if I wallow in my misery to much and actually start enjoying it, bizarre though that may sound. I can make this degree work. There, I said it. Just because I’m doing this doesn’t mean I have to get a desk job at the end of it but I’d be throwing away an opportunity people would kill for and could come out with a great qualification at the end of it. I also need to stop being a people pleaser and putting up a facade of perfection until I crack and have to admit my problems because I’ve pushed myself to the brink. I’ve always been this way: turning up for every lecture, getting projects in months in advance…when I was five I admitted to stealing some sweets (which I hadn’t taken!) because the teacher threatened to punish the whole class unless somebody owned up…it’s a silly example but it just shows how I’m a sucker for saying ‘yes’ to everything and taking the fall for everyone else. I’m not perfect. Nobody is. I need to stop trying to convince people that I am and stop worrying about what will happen if they ‘find out’ that I’m not. I’ve been inspired by so many people to squash these ridiculous thoughts and without the blog world I would have been overwhelmed and quit before I’d even started due to my crippling fear of failure. THANK YOU ALL! We can do all the things we dream of, it’s just so important to have some self-belief. Right, corny rant from me over.

Also, I just realised I was too busy moaning about how hungry I was to review the buckwheat noodles I tried yesterday for dinner, so:

Review: Clearspring Organic Buckwheat Noodles.

I absolutely loved these, although my Mum hated them and said they tasted bitter (mind you, she says that about most things!) I’ve been looking for a wheat/gluten-free alternative to regular soba noodles for a while now: rice noodles are lovely but are so incredibly light that they have no substance to them and don’t really ‘fill out’ a meal based primarily on veggies, which my stir-fries are. The soba noodles are thick, dense and more wholesome than their rice-based counterparts and don’t stick together during cooking. They need a good ten minutes to get as soft as I like them (i.e like mush) but once they’re done they have a beautiful, nutty, prominent yet delicate flavour and pair wonderfully with chickpeas and soy sauce, but I’m sure they’d be perfect with tofu or a satay-style sauce as well. My only gripe is that they still aren’t filling enough and, for a volume eater such as myself, I would prefer the bulk of brown rice: 7/10

Yesterday I was up bright and early at 6:45 for some of Davina McCall’s Aerobics and Pump..DVD style.

Saturday Breakfast:

Tooth rotting cereal…I mean cavity central…I mean Doves Farm Chocolate Stars with rice milk, banana and a chopped mejool date.

A more angular view…

Because one mejool date is never enough…

I was worried this would be too much (the two mejool dates’ extra threatened to push me over the edge in terms of pre-spin fullness) but actually the breakfast fuelled me perfectly through another sweaty 50 minute spin class followed by 40 minutes on the elliptical and a few weights/stretching. I was dripping in sweat by the end though: the class is held in a tiny room with only a few windows and they somehow manage to fit fifteen bikes in there. Fifteen sweaty people + one buff male instructor + tiny room= sweat city. Plus there are a gang of people who hog the bikes by the windows and don’t work as hard as the rest of the people in the class. They also make snide comments about people’s weight, both to their face and behind their back. I almost became too afraid to come to the class because I was scared of what they’d say about me for gaining back 10lbs last year that I’d lost (unhealthily) in the first year of University. I turned up for the class half an hour early and they were STILL there! Seriously, I think they take up residence in the gym overnight. They’re the sort of people who stay for four classes in a row, then drive to another sports centre and take more. They also love to brag about how little they eat. Ugh. Anyway, there was a spare bike by the window but one of the women had stuck a towel on the seat to ‘reserve’ it for her friend, so I was banished back to the hottest corner of the room as usual. It was still a great class, though.

When I got home I was peckish, but not that hungry. However, there were still two hours to go before I could get into the kitchen for lunch (my Mum was in there cooking meat for my Dad and the smell / sight of the stuff makes me feel sick, so I just avoid the area whenever it’s going on) so I reached for a Nakd bar. Then I realised I really should try some of the new snacks I’d purchased.

Snack:

Doves Farm Tropical Oat Cereal Bar
Review: I was incredibly disappointed in this bar. The texture was so solid and chewy that I could hardly break it (I’m a bar breaker and have to separate them into bitesize pieces or it’s just not the same!) and the flavour was just non-existent. It was so bland and uninspiring. I couldn’t even taste the coconut or pineapple that’s meant to be included in there and the occasional bite of synthetic-tasting dried banana only worstened the experience. Nakd bars have an appetising aroma but this had no scent at all, and the chunks of tasteless dried mango did nothing to heighten the experience. The only highlight was the occasional bite of brazil nut and for 196kcal this bar was not worth it in any respect. I finished it all because I’d eaten too much of it by the time I discovered it wasn’t going to grow on me to get anything else, but it was no more filling than a piece of fruit and to be honest, the nutritional stats are pretty damning: 2.6g protein, 15.5g sugar and 2.6g saturated fat? No thank you! I will definitely not purchase this bar again: 2/10 (because technically it wasn’t inedible)

Sadly I was starving by the time lunch came round so I dove into my stash of nut butter. Another fail then ensued: I really don’t like what Meridian have done with their hazelnut and cashew butters. There used to be oil on top that would require stirring in but since they’ve amalgamated it into no-stir nut butters the flavour has been sacrificed and all of them have an incredibly sour, ‘off’ aftertaste. I just couldn’t stomach it so my Mum took it off my hands to eat half a teaspoon at a time (I think it took her a year to get through the last jar of this) *rolls eyes*

Thankfully Biona‘s Cashew Butter saved the day ~ incredibly expensive, but worth every rich, creamy, roasted bite.

Lunch:


Nectarine, carrot, cherry tomatoes


Cashew Butter & Banana sandwich, banana with more CB!
In the afternoon I just walked, practised keyboard, read up on some musical theory, blogged and did some weight training and finished up with a Yogalates Energizer DVD for 9o minutes. I also snacked on a Jazz apple and some (okay, LOTS of) grapes.

Dinner:
Lentil, mushroom and carrot bake with mashed sweet potato


Left-over stir-fry veggies that wouldn’t fit on the other plate.

I really tried to relax and have a positive evening. I spent many hours painting and was pretty satisfied with the results: the first craft fair where they’ll be sold is next Saturday so I’m really trying to produce as many as possible without sacrificing the quality of my work. Then I laughed my socks off at Dara O’Brien and Frankie Boyle on Live at the Apollo while eating a 68g Apple Pie Nakd Bar (to make up for earlier!!!) and eventually went to bed…where I actually managed to sleep a little : )

Happy Sunday all!

xoxoxoxox

17/7/09~Why does it Always Rain on Me?

It’s Saturday! Although since I graduated University time has been relative for me and the week-ends don’t mean as much any more. I still look forward to them though and I love having my mum home for two days ~ she’s a workaholic so I basically don’t see her a lot during the week.

The rest of yesterday was really quiet ~ I was so distracted by the scholarship issue that I barely noticed what I was even playing on keyboard and constantly misred the choreography in Body Combat. It was nice to beat the living daylights out of some imaginary opponents though. I always visulise…myself when I’m punching or kicking, or rather the negative elements of myself. I love body combat and the chance to release the aggressive elemnent of my tension, yet I also cherish the inner peace that comes from yoga, Body Balance and Pilates. I think the two provide a great balance, it’s just a shame there’s no exercise class for decision making.

After Body Combat I had a rather unusual lunch:


Gluten-free bread with Pure spread


Lentil bolognese (I needed something warm! I was still chilly after this morning’s run)


Nectarine and a Forelle Pear

The monsoon continued all day and my poor cat Minnie was going stir-crazy being stuck indoors. She’s a very active cat and hates the rain, so she decided to deal with her cabin fever by attacking my legs at every opportunity. Poor girl was abused and neglected as a kitten so she’s a little eccentric (aren’t we all!?) and certainly unlike any other cat I’ve ever met. She’s highly strung, independent and not particularly affectionate but I love her to pieces anyway. It makes earning her trust all the more rewarding and the occasions when she does purr or go to sleep on your lap really worth the wait. We’ve had her for ten years (since she was six months old) and it took her so long just to stop hiding behind curtains or in boxes at every opportunity. It breaks my heart to think about what happened to her…the lack of nourishment stunted her growth so she’s about half the size of a normal cat, hence her name. I keep trying to get a picture of her but a) she won’t sit still for more than ten seconds and b) she’s scared of the camera so I’m not going to keep traumatising her unnecessarily. If she becomes more comfortable with it then perhaps I’ll take one eventually when she’s asleep.

Since it was impossible to walk in the afternoon (half the streets were flooded!) I just did the legs and abs section of Davina McCall’s DVD and then had a snackie around 5:00pm

Snack:


Apple and a Doves Farm Apple & Sultana Flapjack

I tried one of my ‘scary’ foods, although it was so hard not to just grab a Nakd bar. Nakd bars are something I rely on so much becuase they’re not only delicious and healthy but also extremely filling. I’m so scared of being hungry and bingeing that I’m a total volume eater and hate small bars with higher calorie values and/or ‘suspect’ ingredients. This flapjack had no nasties in it but the nutritionals weren’t great and I seriously debated whether to eat it. I’m glad I did!

Review: The flapjack was perfectly sweet and nowhere near as greasy as most bought flapjacks. The texture was soft and chewy, and the plump sultanas combined with the pieces of dried apple still made the bar taste ‘healthy’ while being decadent at the same time. However, it was NOT filling and for 176kcal for a 40g bar I still would have enjoyed a Nakd bar more. Nevertheless, I have another one in the cupboard and I will eat it. I would buy these again in terms of taste, but I’m not sure I’m comfortable with them in terms of satiety.

I didn’t want to spoil my dinner though so even though I was quite peckish after the flapjack I decided to do the Geribody yoga DVD to stretch out my back. By the time dinner was done I was starving!

Dinner:


Chickpea stir-fry with buckwheat noodles and soy sauce
And I was *still* hungry after this! Argh! I really don’t understand how that’s possible but I wanted to wait a while to make sure I wasn’t just sulking becuase I hadn’t had my usual size of snack. Once I got into my painting I became less aware of the ‘hunger’ and two hours of acrylic mess later the feelings had dissipated significantly. Lesson for Jessica: often your ‘hunger’ is all in your head. I revised a little music theory and then decided I was truly hungry enough for my favourite snack in the world:

15/07/09~Choose Wisely?

Phew! I’m back from shopping and I certainly managed to buy enough bars to last more for…a couple of days maybe ; ) My Mum was so kind and allowed me to basically get whatever I wanted ~ when I started to put some items back she said I should keep them as her treat and we actually managed to spend an entire afternoon almost comment-free. Usually when we go out it’s like a contest to see who can read the most labels and agonize over calories for the longest duration of time but thankfully there was only one remark about the amount of sugar in my diet (yes, I know I get too much) and that was the end of it. Other than that, it was a bright, sunny day and I actually made an effort with my appearance for the first time in months, which made me feel a little better when strolling through a town where 80% of the female population seems to be vastly underweight and almost 6ft tall. Perhaps I have ‘thin-goggles’ on and only see the emaciated people but it’s like I’m drawn to them, wondering how they do it and going from being quite comfortable in my own skin to wanting to curl up in a ball and hide in a dark corner. What I don’t understand is why their hair isn’t shedding in clumps and their skin is blemish free. How do they get away with it? I end up envying their self-discipline and feeling weak and useless, measuring my self-worth by the size of my thighs all over again. Right, I’m squashing those thoughts now before they turn this into a downbeat post. Aside from the body image issues, it was an enjoyable afternoon.

Lunch (packed up and eaten in the car):


In that vast array of boxes we have:
  • Diced mango
  • Grapes and leftover roasted aubergene
  • Chickpea, tomato, carrot & pepper salad (so huge it needed two containers)
  • Two slices of GF bread with Pure margarine
Getting something vegan to eat out in Newcastle is pretty much impossible and with my list of intolerances it would be a nightmare (the options are: hummus sandwich on wheat bread or something stuffed with enough onion, garlic and chilli to rip my insides out for a week). Plus my Mum hates eating anything she hasn’t prepared herself so it would just cause undue stress for both of us. After strolling around Marks and Spencer, Holland & Barratt, Waitrose and Almonds & Raisins (wonderful little out-of the-way health food store) I came home with the following haul:

(L-R and back to front):
  • Libby’s canned pumpkin (I’ve been missing my pumpkin oats!)
  • Biona Cashew Butter (had a bad experience with Meridian brand CB, whose Almond Butter I love, and hope this one is better and doesn’t taste like bitter sawdust)
  • Meridian Hazelnut Butter (new product, can’t wait to try!)
  • Doves Farm Tropical Oat Bar
  • Doves Farm Low-Fat Fruity Oat Cereal Bar
  • 68g Berry Cheeky Nakd Bar
  • Doves Farm Apple & Sultana Flapjackx2
  • Oskiri Coconut Bar (should be delicious on oats á la the Inside I’m Still Dancing blog)
  • Nanas Wheat-Free Choc-Chip Cookie x2
  • Nanas Gluten-Free Chocolate Cookie
  • Buckwheat Soba Noodles (been wanting to use these in stir-fries for ages)
  • Doves Farm Choc Chip Rice Cereal Bar x2
  • Pitted Mejool Dates (my favourite!)
  • 68g Coco Loco Nakd Bar x2 (seriously, you didn’t think I’d go an entire trip without buying some?)
  • 68g Apple Pie Nakd Bar x3
The Nakd Bars were buy one get one half-price so I went a little crazy. Big surprise there! Getting all of this food was a personal challenge of mine: Jaime posted a couple of days’ back about the practice of indulging mindfully. I have NEVER been able to do this, not even as a child. I am an all or nothing person and am actually terrified of having these foods around (aside from the Nakd bars, pumpkin and noodles) in case I go mad and binge on them as I have in the past. Too much choice generally puts my brain on overload and I want to try everything at once, overeat horribly and then try to restrict afterwards when I see the results on the scales. It’s not usually safe for me to have one type of nut butter in the house, for example. I also have a ‘rule’ about finishing what I’ve bought in one round of shopping before I can purchase any more. In the past I’ve resorted to my Mum rationing everything I have and hiding the food or taking it to work with her. This not only sets up a negative power relationship between us but also heightens my lack of faith and self-disgust. I want to achieve a balance so badly, I want to have the foods I love in the house and not binge on them, I want to ENJOY them as opposed to shovelling them in in secret. For a long time I have just not bought the food because it scares me so much but I need to take control in a positive way. Fine, I’ll probably eat the whole one of those giant 100g cookies but that’s not a reason to beat myself up and as long as I’m hungry for it and enjoy it, that’s what matters. I just hope to God I don’t go completely out of control. Wish me luck, I’m going to need it!

When we returned home I did a quick 30 minutes of weights using 3lb, 5lb and 10lb dumbells and my weights bar. Then I had a quick snack before pilates:

Snack:

Two 30g mini Berry Cheeky Nakd Bars ~ I have another two left in the pack and would feel more comfortable eating them up before I move on to the ‘scary’ foods.

Post-pilates Dinner:


Moroccan vegetable tagine (chickpeas, tomatoes, cinnamon, cumon, carrot, apricots) with brown rice and the ubiquitous, omnipresent peas.

I’m incredibly tired right now so I’ll just get some commenting and blog reading done and then I think another snackie might be in order. Will probably be the last two of those Nakd bars but will update if it’s anything different. No sleep for me tonight…interview nerves….my other choice today is to allow my ear piercings to close up. I never want to go through another experience with them getting infected again and I only got them pierced in the first place due to peer pressure before I realised that fitting in wasn’t the most important thing in life (and to be honest I was fighting a losing battle with that anyway!)

Wishing everyone a lovely day and a relaxing evening

<3

xoxoxoxox

14/07/09 & 15/07/09~Calm Before the Storm

I decided to combine Tuesday and Wednesday’s posts owing to the fact that they’re both likely to be pretty uneventful apart from the last stretch of frantic revising for the dreaded interview. Yes, after tomorrow you’ll never have to hear me moaning about it again…until I find out whether I got the scholarship placement or not. In other news the dressing is gone! And no more antibiotics to take, so I’m a very happy camper right now. Yesterday I cycled down to the surgery so the Nurse could change the dressing on my ear and it’s finally stopped bleeding so I was able to wash my hair for the first time in a week…it wasn’t a pretty sight. After I’d washed it it seemed a lot thicker and fuller than usual though, so perhaps it likes seven days of being a greasy mess. Basically what happened was one of the piercings in my ear had been flaring up with infections since I had it done (err, ten years’ ago!) and about ten days’ ago it got really out of hand, resulting in an excruciating two hours spent in A&E with doctors fretting about my temperature. My ear swelled up like a balloon and turned purple, which was certainly an interesting experience. I didn’t sleep at all and the painkillers made me feel horribly drowzy and lethargic so I’m very relieved to get them out of my system.

Luckily this morning my 7.5 miles was completed without event or any deviation from one of my normal routes. Now that the antibiotics have worn off I’m even hungrier than usual though!

DVD Review ~ Basic Yoga for Dummies & Billy Blanks’ Tae-Bo: Cardio

Billy Blanks’ Tae Bo Cardio

I don’t have much to say about this DVD other than I doubt it would provide any element of a cardio workout unless you were seriously unfit to start with. It’s only 44 minutes in length and spends a lot of time at the end on stretching, which is a plus if you’re using it to unwind from a run as I was. I believe that this has potential as a toning DVD, and the slower pace of the exercises compared to the older Tae Bo workouts allows you to really work on technique and balance for some of the more complicated roundhouse and side kicks. It’s a nice enough addition to the series, but I do still yearn for the fast-paced, heart pumping element of ‘Everybody Get Ripped’ and other earlier releases.

Basic Yoga for Dummies

Okay, so the title of this DVD is highly accurate: it’s so basic that even a yoga novice such as myself would find the lengthy explantation given to the core ‘daily dozen’ poses a little excessive. Nevertheless, the poses are held for a sufficient length of time to provide an excellent deep stretch and it’s great for the purposes of unwinding without having to stress about keeping your eye on the screen and watching for quick shifts between poses. I mainly use this DVD for the extra 25 minute intermediate sun salutation at the end, which is slightly more challenging and provides an excellent, flowing yoga sequence once all of the individual components are built in and put together. I love Sarah Ivanhoe’s sunny, warm manner and although some of the explanations may seem patronising, she appears to be genuine, sincere and not too ‘stiff’ (verbally and facially) in front of the camera. A good DVD to start with if you literally know nothing about yoga and are desperate to ease yourself in to the discipline. The ubiquitous ‘for Dummies’ graphics and fun facts are still present, and I believe that this series is great value for money compared to some far pricier DVDs.

12/07/09~ 42:07 – Race Recap; Great North 10K

Well, the official chip time is in at 42:07…so close to breaking that 42 minute barrier but yet so far! Given the circumstances, I’m still reasonably happy with the time (although my ultimate aim is to break 40 minutes so it’s hard not to be a little disappointed) and I placed 4th female out of 5000 runners, which is my highest placing so far. Results are here if anyone’s interested (my number is 1769). I was particularly pleased with my 3K split, which is bizarrely fast considering how terrible I felt for those first couple of miles.

The day started out at 6:30 with a quick 8-min Tae-Bo work-out to stretch out my body (it might seem odd to do this before a race but I find I stiffen up very quickly if I don’t do something first thing and the car journey plays havoc with the scoliosis in my back, which is worstened by sitting down for any length of time). The race started at 9:45 and I needed to get to the start line by 9:30, so I quickly did some more stretching and headed out the door with my Mum and Dad. They love to come and watch me race ~ I suppose it’s the only setting where they can see me being ‘normal!’ I always want to do well for them and I cherish their love and support so much.

By the time that we got to Sunderland I wasn’t feeling well at all: the antibiotics I’m on induce nausea, particularly in the mornings. Luckily I only I have one day of them left to take and then I can get the dressing removed from my butchered ear. Yay! Anyway, after the warm-up I really, really thought I was going to throw up. I’d eaten a Coco Nakd Bar and a banana just before the warm-up and I truly believe that I’ve I’d had anything else I wouldn’t have been able to keep it down. As it happened, this light breakfast (well, for me!) was the perfect fuel for the race so another big thank you to the Nakd company ~ the mixture of slow-release carbs from the oats in the bar, protein and fat from the nuts and the simple sugars of the banana held me over very well until I got home for lunch at 12:15. I went off as quickly as I could but by mile three the sickness was getting worse. I just pushed ahead and relished the cushioning my recently purchased Asics Gel Nimbus shoes were giving my joints (I wore my poor New Balances out in three months!) By mile four the nausea finally wore off and I was able to up the pace again ~ at this point there was also a wonderful station / booth on the road that was an option to run under, which would shower you with cold water. It wasn’t a hot day but I seem to have an internal furnace which flares up like a volcano when I run so I was more than grateful for the makeshift waterfall. The last two miles were tough but as I mentioned, I pumped my body full of positive thoughts, targeted several people ahead of me to catch and sprinted for the finish. I managed to pass all but one of them who was a club runner and just too good for me.

At the finish we were given goodie bags and drinks (water or Powerade ~ I chose water!) and directed back through to the family meeting area. I enjoyed the race so much and it was a real victory in terms of squashing my negative thoughts ~ I had a fair few in the early stages, thinking I was too fat to run any more, that I felt sick becuase I’d eaten too much, that everyone was looking at me and being disgusted by my body, that I should just give up…but they all disappeared the minute I crossed that finish line. The race was so well-organised and the freebies they gave us were actually very good. Sadly the bars weren’t vegan but my Dad was happy to demolish all three samples in the car on the way home. I was particularly impressed by the staggering at the start line, with runners arranged with colour co-ordinated numbers according to previous personal best times. There was a bit of bottlenecking and burly men shoving me (I’m only 5″3 so I tend to get squished easily) but nothing anywhere near as bad as other races I’ve attended. My pilates teacher finished in 46:04 and my Mum’s friend from work in 49 minutes, so it was nice to see other people in a vaguely social setting and connect on a fitness level. Roll on Darlington Chevrolet 10K!

Here I am at the finish (looking slightly pained!) Please forgive my pallour…I only wear so little because I get really hot and do feel incredibly self-conscious in such a skimpy outfit!


And then later at home (just to prove that I do smile!)


The remains of the free samples…why couldn’t they have given us Nakd or Larabars!?


Lunch (sickness gone and hunger in full force!):


Almond butter & banana sandwich (GF bread as usual), other half of banana with more AB
Gorgeous Nectarine, carrot and grapes

I caught up on blogs, walked around and did some easy Tae-Bo and Yoga DVDs in the afternoon so my legs didn’t seize up. Then before I knew it it was time for a snack:


Jazz apple and a Pecan Pie Larabar (sniff, I’m going to miss these so much!)

Dinner (doesn’t look appetising but I promise it was!)


Leftover mushrooms and chestnuts with parsley mashed potatoes, carrots and peas.

Snack (after keyboard / piano lesson which didn’t go too well…but that’s negative so it’s not going to make it into this post!):

Last of my Lizi’s granola with rice milk and sultanas

By midnight I was tuckered out so I stopped desperately reading about Christopher Marlowe, Cultural Materialism and the Messianic percetpion (for my interview) and promptly crashed into bed. Hope everyone else had a great week-end and here’s to a positive week : )