Wednesday, April 1, 2009

an army of me

I am in the process of losing weight. It's official.

It started with a conversation about self-esteem with a friend of mine, the wonderful Steve Hender, who is also one of the best motivational coaches I know. Ok, to be fair, he's one of the only motivational coaches I know, but I am minded that this does not detract from his inspirationability. Yes, I just made that up.

Steve himself lost about 5 stone over a period of some months (I'm a little sketchy on detail), and hanging out with him has led me to completely rethink my self-perceptions and capabilities - which has proved to be a good thing, both personally and professionally over the last few months. As a result, at our last meeting we got talking about losing weight.

"I'm struggling with the mirror thing," I told him as we sipped coffee - Steve's personal obsession after real ale - in my favourite writing haunt, the Greenhouse Kitchen.

"Hmmmm," he murmured, "Interesting."

He sent me an appraising look.

'The Mirror Thing' is an exercise in self-esteem where, every day, you have to stand in front of your mirror - completely naked - look at your body, and say, "Not bad." And you have to mean it. I've been doing the Mirror Thing every day since February and I really struggle to mean that Not Bad. Most often it comes out in an icy tone that positively drips sarcasm onto my bedroom carpet (where it sizzles nastily through my medium shag-pile - it's melted a small hole through to the floorboards).

I explain this to Steve.

"Why can't you mean it?" He asks.

"I don't know......" My eyes slide towards the window as my voice trails off into middle earth.

"But if you did know," he insists, "Why would it be?"

I laugh. I love it when he says this.

"I guess I've been wanting to lose some weight for ages, so every time I look in the mirror, I remember that I want to lose weight and I guess I feel dissatisfied."

(As I write this, a man walks past the Greenhouse Kitchen window in a tan suit and hat and brown and white spatz - he looks like Bugsy Malone with glasses. No word of a lie.)

"You've been wanting to lose weight for ages?" He repeats.


"So why don't you?" he asks.

I stare at him for a moment, "Erm......"

I start to smile.

"So, you want to?" Steve prompts.

"Yes!" I decide, feeling lighter already.

I haven't weighed myself since I was in my teens and I'm now 32 years old. Scales have not been my friend. But, following a prompt from Steve, the following Saturday, I set my internal GPS on a route to Knight and Lee and buy my first ever set of scales.

The following day I have a long bath in preparation for my first big weigh-in. As I step, shivering onto the scales (with cold, not anticipation - the Loft has no central heating) I'm nervous.

The silver dial sparkles as it informs me that I weigh 12 stone. According to the BMI charts on my kitchen noticeboard, this means I'm officially a porker (that's science speak, you might have to look it up).

So, here it is. The plan. Steve has reliably informed me that goals have to be SMART (I'm not going to jargonise you to death here, if you haven't heard of it look it up - or accept my word that it means you have to set very clear targets for yourself to maximise your chances of succeeding).

By 30th April, I want to weigh 10st 7lbs. There, I've said it. It's out there. It counts.

I want to lose a stone and a half, following which I will set another target, based on how well I did at achieving this one. I started to watch what I was eating following my first weigh-in, which was on the 15th March and am currently weighing in at 11st 7lbs.

My next step is serious exercise. It would be handy if I was dating as I always tend to exercise then, but as that kind of ride is out of the question, I'm looking for a cheap, second-hand bike. It's got be cheap because I'm still saving for Malaysia. First stop Freecycling - ptp.

So, wish me luck. Watch this space. Hopefully over the next few weeks, I'll be occupying less of it.

Monday, March 30, 2009

The hours are stretching like the sheets on the bed

William Blake, The Ancient of Days. 'Nuff said.

"We'll hunt for a third tiger now, but like the others this one too will be a form of what I dream, a structure of words, and not the flesh and bone tiger that beyond all myths paces the earth. I know these things quite well, yet nonetheless some force keeps driving me in this vague, unreasonable, and ancient quest, and I go on pursuing through the hours another tiger, the beast not found in verse." J.L. Borges, The Other Tiger, 1960.

There's something about this quote that captures my late night, wistful-at-the-edges state of mind.

I've taken Jimmy B's advice - just another on the list of things to thank him for, including for the oh-so-welcomed comments here - and invested in a bottle of Bells whisky (the sassenach takes note of her recent spelling lessons). If you've never dabbled in this sip of scottish heaven, do it now. It's the late night writer's best friend for a reason and my early hours cigarettes have been waiting on a glass of Bell's as company, I realise, since I first took nicotine to my lungs.

While on the subject of Jimmy - I've recommended him before and I'll do it again. Follow the link on the right and you'll understand why. His recent posts on his wife and father showcase perfectly what the blogosphere is for. Keep up the good work Jimmy. I'm sorry I don't have the chance to comment in your pages more often, but I continue to lurk silently in the shadows of your site, and besides, you have more than enough company on your comments page. In fact, if I wasn't so sweetly inebriated, I'd probably be jealous.

Now, back to my personal quest for the perfect punchbag, and I'm not talking about my ex's.