Wednesday, November 30, 2005


At the weekend, the D. B. had a stinking cold, with sore throat, sneezing and blocked sinuses.

On Monday, I went to the gym as usual, where I did the worst workout I can remember, particularly the weights. It's not that normally my routine goes like clockwork: I'm still learning all the movements, so I tend to go slowly and carefully so I don't get sloppy and risk injury. But this was not good. Last Thursday, I was given some pointers regarding my deadlift form by a guy I've often seen in the free weights gym, usually acting as a trainer to a girl who I think rows for the University, which leads me to suspect he knows what he's talking about (I've also seen him lift, and he's very strong). It sounded sensible, and when I tried what he was showing me with light weights, it did feel more effective. Trouble is, I couldn't seem to make it work yesterday, and nor could I revert to the way I was doing it before – apparently I've forgotten how! Then my squats were rubbish too, mostly because the backs of my thighs felt "tight" and I couldn't get more than halfway down, which didn't feel like I was doing anything. I did my usual upper-body routine (bench press, tricep extensions, rows, dumbbell curls) but it took me longer than usual and the rhythm just wasn't there. I ended up very tired and frustrated.

Today, I have a sore throat, runny nose and blocked sinuses (though I'm not sneezing quite as dramatically as the boy was. He is now better). I'm hoping this is the explanation for the feeble workout.

I'm going to be journalling my food for the next week, to try to get some data on my average calories per day. so here we go. I probably won't keep this up longterm, as it will be boring.

Breakfast: oatmeal with 1 tbsp flaxseeds, 4 tbsp muesli, about 200ml skimmed milk. Coffee with skimmed milk.
Lunch: sandwich (2 slices wholegrain bread, about 60g cheddar, 2tsp Flora) and apple.
Cup of hot chocolate with skimmed milk (I was cold!).
Snack: 50g cheese, can of Diet C0ke.
Tea: about 1 cup macaroni cheese, 4tbsp ratatouille, 50g broccoli.

Breakfast as Monday (I have this every day, as I can't think in the morning). Cup of tea, skimmed milk.
Lunch: half egg sandwich, half cheese. About 175ml fresh orange juice. Small banana. 1 mini flapjack, one mini chocolate roll (this was a work buffet, and I think I was doing pretty well for me.)
Coffee with skimmed milk. Mince pie (last day of handwriting class - party), 50ml orange juice.
Tea: 1 cup cooked tagliatelle, 1 egg scrambled with 1tsp Flora and a mushroom, 15g cheese, 50g sprouts and sweetcorn. 1 cup fennel tea. 1 piece of shortbread.

I think today was quite high, calorie-wise, because of the unusual lunch and the mince pie, but we'll see. I will work out the calories on FitDay later, but wanted to get this down before I forget it.

Now I'm taking my cold to bed. Night night.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Where was I ? Oh, that's right... Barcelona!

Things I've Been Doing Which Explain If Not Excuse Lack Of Posting:

Wandering round town in the cold with the D. B. at lunchtime.
Playing with LiveJournal. (New toys are a bad idea.)
Going to my handwriting class.
Going out to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Going out with some friends for a drink (look! A social life!)
Trying to organise wedding invitations.
Watching Bleak House and Lost (and you probably don't know how unusual it is for me to watch more than one series at a time, or you'd be more surprised)
Reading Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and enjoying it really rather a lot. I'm sorry it's finished.

Thanks for all the encouraging comments! Eating has been going a lot better, despite its being very cold here, and I'm happy with my diet for the past week. I have been wondering, however, if I ought to get a bit more scientific about what I'm doing. The other day I worked out my basic metabolic rate, which was 1638.7. This is (if I've understood it right) the number of calories I'd need to maintain my weight if I didn't do any activity at all.

This seemed quite a high number. Then you need to decide what your activity level is, and multiply the BMR by the corresponding number, which is 1.55 for moderate sporting activity 3 to 5 days a week. I ended up with over 2500 calories to maintain, and about 2000 to lose weight, which sounds like an awful lot.

I tried again with "light activity" (1-3 days per week) and got 2253 to maintain weight, 1753 to lose. Again, I can't believe I eat that much.

Perhaps I should try to journal what I eat for a week, and see. This isn't the kind of thing I'm good at, not being particularly methodical, but I am sick of this plateau. I feel that I'm doing all the right things, exercise-wise, and not losing.

Otherwise I'm quite cheerful. One month to Christmas! When the decorations go up really early, I'm as cynical as anyone about it, but now I'm beginning to get in the mood. I love Christmas. We actually had snow this morning, which is almost unheard of, this early in the year. The way the flakes fall, that slow drift downwards - it's just magical. (Probably I'd feel differently if I had to drive in it, or if we had snow more often.)

This week sees the passing of Lose the Buddha, the second blog I ever read (the first was Pound!), one of the best blogs out there and one I'll always have fond memories of, as it helped me through some gloomy times. Undoubtedly I wouldn't have embarked on blogging if not for Erin, and she is the only possible reason that I imagine I'd like to do a triathlon at some point, as well as introducing me to the term "boy howdy" . I'm sorry LTB is going, but understand Erin's reasons for calling it a day - and I'm very glad that her regular blog will be continuing at

Oh, and if you can spot the connection between the title and anything else in this post, I'll be highly impressed.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Crisps and chocolate. Not both at once

What has been up with my eating this week?

While I don’t follow a strict diet (because, well, I’m not very good at it, which is probably also why I rarely write about food), I have some rules I try to follow. These are, roughly speaking:

1. Ideally, no snacks between meals.
2. If you must have a snack in the evening, have a bit of lowfat cheese, or fruit, rather than a biscuit or a piece of toast. (If you are not hungry for fruit… you’re probably, well, not hungry.)
3. Do not eat something just because it’s there.
4. One helping of anything is enough (with the exception of vegetables).

Mostly, what I eat is fairly healthy. I’m a vegetarian, so I have to be slightly careful about the ratio of protein to carbohydrate, and the amount of cheese I consume, but I don’t normally eat any fast food or even many ready meals. And although I don’t cut out treats completely, some of my eating habits have changed for the better. A few weeks ago, I was in a coffee shop and thought “I’m going to the gym and I won’t have dinner until later; I could have a cake now.” But when I looked at them, I just didn’t really want any. This would not have happened a year ago.

Since the D. B. moved up, we’ve both been bringing a sandwich from home, rather than buying one at lunchtime. Lunch used to be my Achilles heel, in that I would sometimes find my eyes were bigger than my stomach, so to speak. If I was really hungry, I’d buy something extra as well as a sandwich and fruit, eat it all too quickly, and then realise I was overfull. (This is a good reason to sit down and eat slowly.)

There wasn’t a good reason why I didn’t bring in my lunch before – mostly I just didn’t remember to. But it does save money (which, as we know, the D. B. is keen on) and if I don’t go into food shops, I’m not tempted by other things. Or at least that’s the theory.

Since Monday, the no-snacking principle has gone completely out of the window.

The worst case of this was undoubtedly yesterday, when there was a function at work in the late afternoon. Had it been at lunchtime, I’d probably have been OK. But as it was, I ate quite a few crisps and things, more or less because they were there, and free. As a result I felt dehydrated (probably the unaccustomed salt) and wasn’t really hungry for tea.

I’d feel better if I knew why I’m doing this. Nothing is wrong; I’m not under particular stress. I will let myself off for Wednesday (piece of pizza, Galaxy ice cream) in that I was grabbing something I could eat fast between work and going out to the Neil Gaiman booksigning, and given that I was going to be standing up for an unknown period, I wanted to have eaten something. But the rest of it? I think I’ve just lost concentration somehow.

Today there have been biscuits (free) and chocolate. Well, there we are. What I need to do now is focus, remember why I’m doing this, and remember that food is fuel. Sugar is not good fuel, and it won’t make me feel better for eating it.

Finally: I don’t know how this works, and I'm sure it's totally unscientific, but it’s weirdly accurate.

ColorQuiz.comkicking_k took the free personality test!

"Her need to feel more causative and to have a wide..."

Click here to read the rest of the results.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Eerie silence

It’s been a full kind of week, although, alas, we didn't do anything much for Hallowe'en. I had a yen to dress up, but nowhere to go to (maybe we'll organise a party ourselves next year). But I’ve been to the gym twice (and will go again on Saturday), I had my palaeography class on Tuesday night, and choir started up again on Wednesday. Funny how one can have what feels like a very quiet life, and simultaneously not have a free evening in which to write a blog entry.

This has also been made more difficult because my computer, which used to be quite well-behaved, has recently become slow and crash-prone. I think it doesn’t like its updated virus protection and anti-spyware program. Anyway, it takes ages to boot up, so you can’t just nip online for a quick browse and post. Luckily for me, I have a handy computer expert in the D. B., who had brought a new processor unit up with him with the idea of rebuilding the whole thing anyway and doing a clean reinstall. So that’s one thing we’ll be doing tomorrow.

It’s funny – I’m still in the process of adapting to life as one half of a couple. Although I live with my family, like them, and do a lot of stuff with them, I don’t necessarily dash home at the end of the day to be with them. I don’t have that feeling of conflicting desires when I’m off doing something on my own. For the past couple of years, the D. B. and I have either been visiting each other (so obviously, we spent all our time together) or a long way apart, so I’d sort of forgotten what it was like. I like singing, reading, doing my crafty things, and going to the gym, and I don’t want to do less of them, but it’s still such a novelty to have the D. B. around on a daily basis (and he’s so lovely) that I want to spend all my time with him too.

I did manage to find time to update the sidebar links here, which I’ve been meaning to do for ages. And I’ve finally succumbed to temptation, and made an online place to talk about books. I keep being tempted to post rambling accounts of what I’ve been reading here, and while that’s OK once in a while, it’s not really what this blog is for. I had a livejournal which was sitting empty, so it’s now become my book blog. If you’re interested you can find me at, or click on the link at the side. I’ll be doing the TIME reading list and reading my usual SF and fantasy as light relief.

Yesterday I had the best workout for ages. By the end, every muscle felt well-used, and I think the level of effort was about right. It hadn’t started out too propitiously: the cardio room was very busy. Usually I go on the treadmill for 20 minutes, then do weights, then use the elliptical cross-trainer for another 15 or 20 minutes. There wasn’t a single treadmill or cross-trainer unoccupied, which I’ve never seen since the renovations – there are a lot of machines. The StairMaster was the only thing available; I’ve never used it before, but nothing ventured…

I think I shall rename it the MoonWalker. It feels a bit like walking on a trampoline, or a giant squishy marshmallow, except that it’s easier to balance upright. The longer you stand still, the deeper your feet sink, so if you go slower you have to take bigger steps. I did the “fat-burning” interval course (well, it sounds good) for fifteen minutes and although I didn’t have to stop, it was hard work. I think it burned about the same number of calories as the equivalent run (about 150) but it was tiring in a completely different way. The hardest thing of all was pushing with my whole foot, rather than going up on my toes as if I was actually trying to climb up a step.

Weights went very well, although I had a long wait to use the Olympic platform and squat cage. I’ll be happy when they get round to building a third platform. I added a bit of weight to my deadlifts and squats. Last time I did squats, they made me feel sort of head-rushy and nauseous (they were at the end of the workout – the cage was busy then too) and I ended up skipping my second cardio, on grounds of not wanting to throw up. I know some people see throwing up as a sign that you’re working really hard, but I can’t help feeling it’s the body saying “You are not up to this.”

This time, although I was being cautious, the squats were fine. It’s actually easier to balance the bar if there’s some weight on the ends (we’re talking a measly 5kg here – don’t want to go mad, do we?) and also easier to keep my heels on the floor.

It’s the upper-body stuff which is a real challenge. I’m doing bench presses, dumbbell rows and hammer curls, and although I’m not using much weight yet, it’s always quite a challenge not to involve my back towards the end of a set. On the other hand, self-correcting is easy because it feels instantly wrong if the back is anything but neutral.

And finally, abandoning any pretence at a structure for this post:

In the gym a few days ago, I was getting changed next to a girl who was ready, waiting for her friend. She was tall, pretty and graceful-looking – I would like legs like hers in my next life, please – and since she was discussing philosophy animatedly with her friend, she clearly wasn’t dim either. Generally enviable. I was vaguely thinking, as you do, that here was a person who was far more together than me, who didn’t look as though she was stumbling through life in a shambolic and amateur manner like me, and sort-of wishing I could be like that.

Then I noticed she had her shorts on inside out.

(Yes, I did consider mentioning this to her, but she noticed before I had thought of a tactful way to do it. However, that made my evening.)