Saturday, March 26, 2005


Hello Little Bites! (waves)

This week my dear boyfriend is up visiting, so I don't know how much I'll be able to post, as I haven't told him about this blog yet. (He's asleep right now.) Also it seems a bit silly to spend the one week he is here messing about on the computer.

Things are a little out of whack today, as the gym was closed yesterday for Good Friday. I'm off work for Easter, so I spent the morning making a large chocolate Easter egg for the aforementioned d.b. This is most uncharacteristically domestic-goddess like for me, but it turned out quite well. However, I did lick quite a bit of melted chocolate off my fingers.

But the gym is open today and I'm just about to go.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Mixed feelings...

On the one hand, the numbers on the Nautilus weights are still, on the whole, going up; I haven't strained anything yet (I am remarkably good at doing this); and on Sunday I wore a skirt that's been in the cupboard for a couple of weeks, and it was looser in the waistband than before.

On the other, the numbers on the scale haven't moved appreciably (this is the first time I've weighed myself since The First Time). Maybe I need to ratchet the healthy eating up a notch.

OK, I know that if you're exercising, you might gain muscle which would hide any loss of fat. But I don't believe that muscle would show up after what is still really only two weeks of exercising. Come to that, I'm not sure I believe the numbers on the scale are going to move. Motivation is not at its highest.

On the other hand, it must have been higher this morning, when I rashly sent an e-mail saying I'd do the Race for Life 5K as part of a team from work.

What was I thinking of? It's in eleven weeks, and I am really not a runner. Never have been.

Over the years, at one time or another I've regularly danced, ridden horses, cycled, dry-skied, played tennis and badminton and football - but none of these has required distance running. Maybe I'll have to give the treadmill a go on Wednesday.

Still, I now know that Dietgirl is doing it too... and it's all for a good cause.

On the non-exercise side, this weekend I rediscovered (after 10 years) Ursula Le Guin's Earthsea novels, and enjoyed them very much - probably more than I did when I was younger. I must be tougher though, because I remember finding "The Farthest Shore" very frightening indeed. Back then "The Tombs of Atuan" was my favourite, but now it's probably "Tehanu", which was written about twenty years after the others. I think it's a very fine novel, which transcends genres; but I didn't have sufficient experience of life when I first read it to appreciate all its nuances. I may write at more length about it later, when I've reread them all again.

I feel it makes a wonderful conclusion to the story, but I'll have to get hold of "The Other Wind" now, which I haven't read before, just to see where it goes from there.

I also managed to find an hour this evening to listen to Neil Gaiman's radio play, Mr Punch, and enjoyed it very much indeed. So now I'll have to seek out the graphic novel. Sometimes it seems that everything I read (or in this case hear) just leads me on to another book. Which is lucky for me...

Am going to bed now, to read "The Stainless Steel Rat", which I can guarantee won't lead anywhere but sleep.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

If I move, this could die...

I've now been back to the gym five times, and am enjoying it so far. It's already beginning to feel like a routine. I have so far managed not to forget to take any vital bits of kit to work with me, although on Wednesday I did manage to forget the card I write the machines' settings on. Doh. I had to make a bit of a guess at the weight levels (I had a tentative lift before doing my 12 reps) and wrote them down in my notebook, but was surprised to find when I compared that they were all either exactly the same or slightly higher than before, which is how I'd have had them if I'd remembered my list. Obviously I'm a better guesser than I thought. However, I'm hoping to find a way to make a table on this blog - so if I forget the card again, I can print out a copy from work. Cunning, eh? Or it will be once I do it.

Things I've learned since I started:

You can read a book while on a stationary cycle. Most of the people at this gym are students, and it's quite sweet the way they all have books propped up on the readout bits of the cardio machines. I tried today and got on quite well - I'd thought I might get distracted and slow down, but I didn't.

Franz Ferdinand is good energetic music to work out to, especially "Take Me Out".

If you plait your long hair, and then absentmindedly squash the plait between your back and the backrest on the Incline Press machine, it doesn't half dig into your back! And you get a mini-bruise from the elastic band on the end. (I put it in a ponytail today and had no problems, however.)

The levers for adjusting the seats of machines are always on the other side from the one you look first.
I've also done quite a lot of walking this week, especially on Tuesday, when I had to walk to the Music department at the University after work to take part in a recording of a scene from Othello. A girl I know is setting incidental music to the Willow Scene for her finals projects, so she wanted a couple of people, and I know the play well and love taking part in readings so I volunteered to read Emilia, who has a great speech saying that it's men's fault if women cheat on them.

Not a sentiment I would endorse (nor the other way about, for that matter) but it was fun to read - if slightly surreal. The girl playing Desdemona and I ended up being recorded seperately because otherwise we got picked up on each other's microphones (apparently, this is bad). So I just had to say my lines one after the other, without any cues - more difficult than it sounds. It'll be interesting to hear what it sounds like cut together, and with the music.

I probably won't go to the gym at the weekend because my sister is home from university and I want to spend time with her - but hopefully I'll get some exercise out in the fresh air.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Rage against the machines?

Last Wednesday, having paid over my money, I went for an induction at the gym.

I really don't like communal changing rooms, but fortunately I could still remember the art, well-honed at school, of getting changed without actually flashing anything better left unrevealed. Once changed, I headed for the lobby to find only one other person waiting. A boy. A thin, runnerish-looking boy. Not that I have anything against thin boys who run - I'm very fond of one in particular - but honestly I'd have preferred another girl, preferably not too athletic-looking.

The instructor was also a guy, who was cheery and very fit-looking but a couple of inches shorter than me, which had the unfortunate effect of making me feel like a huge, looming, cumbersome person. At this point, I quite fancied making a quick exit, but all my street clothes, handbag etc were locked in the changing room, behind various turnstiles and barriers. I could just about have vaulted over them, but I might have looked a little conspicuous.

We were going to be told how to use the Nautilus weight machines. I'd never used weights before, but was well aware of the reasons why I probably should - bone density, avoidance of back problems in later life, building of muscle in order to raise metabolic rate and so on. A while ago I came across Krista's website ( which has inspired me to at least give the machines a go, if not to start in with free weights, which she prefers, right away. Oddly enough I actually quite enjoy, say, heaving heavy boxes about, and I have had various jobs (bookseller, waitress) which involved lifting heavy objects.

I am slightly put off by the thought of my muscles becoming chunkier, but:
a) I'm chunky now. Frankly, toned muscle would be preferable to flab;
b) Most girls don't experience that effect anyway;
c) If I don't like the effect, I can always slow it down or stop;
d) What am I saying? I haven't even started and I'm already worrying about effects which won't have a chance of happening unless I pay attention and work out how you use these machines...

All the machines looked pretty much identical: an arrangement of tubular steel and blue padded bits. Most of them were occupied by men in shorts with varying degrees of musculature; there was only one girl.

We were given cards on which to record our progress. The machines are arranged in a circuit and you only do up to 12 reps on each one, adding a little bit when you can do 12 without too much trouble. I'd expected to be embarrassingly weedy on every machine, but in fact the only really, really hard ones are the Incline Press (which works the triceps) and the Bicep Curl. Which doesn't come as a vast surprise, since I appear to have no detectable muscles in my upper arms at all. I mean, something must enable me to raise my arm, but you can't feel anything but squish up there...

The runner-looking boy didn't try out very many of the machines - he said he had done it before (although I do wonder why he was doing the induction if so. Maybe he was feeling shy too, but that didn't occur to me at the time). I tried them all out - I was certainly not going to do it for the first time with nobody to help me out. It did feel a bit like a performance. It was pretty embarrassing to get on the couple of machines that have seatbelts after the instructor had been showing us how they worked, and have to make the seatbelt longer to go around me with both of them watching. But in general, it seem to be true what they say: nobody looks at you in the gym. Really not. None of the other people there took any notice of us.

I've been back twice, and have managed to use all the machines and to up the weights a little the second time, as it says on the card. Time will tell whether I'll be able to keep doing this, or whether I've started with relatively light weights and will hit a wall soon. The only problem I've had has been with the Bicep Curl machine, which I can't quite get the hang of: it's got these weird wobbly handles which work independently, and somehow I just seem to lose the flow, even with the lightest weight on. However, I got an instructor to troubleshoot and I hope to get on better next time.

I've had a go on the cardio machines as well, but have only really used the stationary bikes. The elliptical, when I tried it, seemed to be trying to run away with me unless I slowed down, in which case it stopped. I think there must be a knack to it. The only snag with the bikes is that using the horizontal kind (there must be a word for this sort, but I don't know what it is) I have a slight tendency to knee myself in the breasts. I'll just have to learn to aim more carefully...

Monday, March 14, 2005

Nervously clears throat

Hello. I'm K. Welcome to my blog.

I would like to be able to say that this is a weight-loss blog. However, there's a reason that it's called Square One.

Unlike many of the other people who write on this topic, I'm not an ex-yo-yo dieter. I don't have a long history of losing some weight and then putting it back on again. As far as I am aware, I've never lost a significant amount of weight at all (that isn't to say I haven't tried to). After obsessing about my weight aged 13 or so, I had decided that it was healthier not to pay any attention to it - so I didn't weigh myself for about 12 years. Some might call this denial.

I'm female, 25 years old, and I have thought I was a bit overweight for about as long as I can remember. Photographic evidence suggests this was only actually true after puberty hit (age eleven or so) and my energy levels went down to almost nothing for the next five or six years. I don't really know why this happened, although I had reached my full height by age thirteen and had "growing pains", which can't have helped. However, I now think I was maybe suffering from low-level depression, disguised as adolescent gloom. I can remember feeling that I was deeply unfanciable, and that losing weight would be impossible, so I didn't put much effort into it. Also, I have to admit that I'm not at all good at resisting nice food.

So, you ask, are you still in thrall to low self esteem? Is that why you want to lose weight?

No, I'm not, and no, it's not. Even back then I was able to recognise that I had good bits. I'm an hourglass shape, so my waist is relatively small, and I don't gain weight in my face. My upper arms and legs are pretty chunky, but I know what clothes suit me, and most of the time I think I look OK.

I've looked pretty much the same since I stopped looking like a child, and by now I'm used to it. I never was a size 12, which is probably my ideal; I skipped straight from the kiddy sizes into UK size 14 (American 10/12, I think). I've been a size 16 in most things for about the past seven or eight years. For six of those years I've had a serious boyfriend who thinks I look beautiful just as I am, so there's no pressure there.

So why is this state of affairs suddenly unacceptable, you ask?

It's not that sudden. I am very good at putting things off - even things that I want to do. If procrastination was an Olympic event, I wouldn't get around to registering to take part.

I did make a concerted effort to lose weight and get fit two years ago, for several months. It had taken me a good long while to work up to doing that. But because I didn't have a scale at that time, I don't really know whether I got any results; it can't have been more than ten pounds or so, although I felt a lot more energetic. For a number of reasons, my life then became very stressful for a long period, and I pretty much dropped the ball. I moved back home, wasn't earning much money, didn't get around to joining a gym and generally felt guilty about everything.

A month or so back, I started a new job which allows me a discount on gym membership, less than five minutes' walk from my work. So I joined it last week. For me, that's decisive action. I also weighed myself and am pretty well horrified to find out that I weigh almost exactly 14 stone (196 pounds). I wouldn't have been surprised by 180 pounds, but that came as something of a shock.

I have been trying to lose weight in a rather half-hearted way since September because back then my dear boyfriend asked me to marry him.

I would really rather not admit that I am partly doing this because I want to look good in a wedding dress. I'm a feminist and I tend to get a bit worked up when it appears to me that other women are being inveigled into altering their appearance because of the dictates of the media, etc. On the other hand – I want to do this anyway. I'm just using the wedding as a motivational tool.

My main aim is to get fit. I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to be slenderer too, but I'd rather have it as a by-product of being able to match my boyfriend climbing hills and cycling than by some regime of shakes and so on that will not, permanently, work. (Also I hate milkshakes.)

A lot of my experience will have been covered by other blogs, and I'll link to my favourites as soon as I work out how you do that. However, I've not yet read a weight-loss blog by another vegetarian, or by someone who's living with their parents, so I hope I'll have something reasonably original to say about those aspects of the process.

I reserve the right to post things which are off-topic if I feel like it, if only to indicate that I have a life which is not of the body.