We never know where life is going to take us or what challenges it brings. In January 2010 I was happy, so happy I wanted to stay that way for as long as I could. I realised that if Ali and I wanted a long and healthy life together, we had to change. I was clinically obese, had a bad back and my knees were feeling the strain. I had various health problems and I was ageing faster than my years. I looked ahead to a life I did not want. It was time to change. By the end of the year I had lost 4 stone - 56lbs. My confidence rocketed - I had taken control and it had worked. I was exercising, enjoying buying clothes, speaking up for myself.

I began to believe in myself again, I began to dream. For years I had watched marathons with admiration and a lump in my throat. In April 2013, I ran my first marathon.

This blog is about living life as a slim person, staying slim and fulfilling my dreams. Come and join me, support me, advise me!

Take care, Sue

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Who ate all the pasties? Or how not to stay slim on holidays and survive....

I love holidays. Holidays are a real highspot of my year. Best of all I get to spend most, if not all of my time with Ali, my most favourite human being in the whole world. It says a lot about our lives that many of us spend the least time with the people we love most.  Next I love the freedom of holidays - being able to do what I want when I want, no longer subject to the tyranny of the diary or the blackberry. 

On holiday I have the freedom to walk when the sun shines and lie in bed when it rains. I can get up when I want,  go to bed when I want. I don't have to worry about being too tired to stay awake through that meeting or writing that report. I am the mistress of my own destiny for those few precious days each year and life can be just how I want it.

Luckily we're simple souls, easily pleased. Bliss for Ali and me is walking near the sea, being outside as much as possible, ideally in warm and sunny weather (tho that's a bit of a luxury in the UK I know) with good food and quality sleep.  Like last year,  we headed south, this time by train, and rented cottages for two weeks in Cornwall and Devon.

We had a fantastic two weeks, blessed by warm and dry weather (including more sun than we'd expected) and we were out and about all day every day. We spent most of our time hiking along beautiful, rugged coastal paths.  We did marvellous walks (holiday blog special to follow) and visited lots of interesting and beautiful places.

One of the joys of travel for me is getting a taste of a place,  literally and metaphorically. How can you get to know and understand somewhere if you don't try their food? Cornwall and Devon are fantastic for quality local food and great cooking and baking. We were delighted by the diversity and freshness of the local fish and veg. Everywhere we went had some local treat to be tried. Fresh air, exercise, lovely healthy fresh good food, nom nom!

But not all local delicacies make good staple diet material, and we were in dangerous territory in counties that major on dairy. I resisted the clotted cream teas easily, but not the ice cream.  Ice cream is my downfall, I love it and I love to try different ones and compare them. As a purist, I rarely eat anything but vanilla. I ate ice cream in Zennor, Salcombe, St Ives, Padstow and beyond.  

I am also partial to cake and we ate far too many delicious home made scones and cakes and drank too many glasses of wine (Ali sampled local beers as befits his having a beard). We ate a sinful amount of new Cornish potatoes and hand cut perfectly cooked chips.  Twice I had the local cheese plate, and reader, I cleaned those plates.

So we were a little bit indulgent and I have returned 5lbs heavier than when I left two weeks ago. I know our coastal walks were the equivalent of several hours on the step machine (at least!) and we walked everyday for long periods, and of course muscle weighs more than fat.... but I have put on weight and I need to lose it -  those work clothes are going to be a tight fit. Oh B*gg*r!  It's the same old thing - how to get the balance right.

Last year's holiday was similar, if less strenuous, but I came back more or less the same weight I started out at. What was different this year? Well, this year we ate out more, every night except twice, and it is hard to control calories (and greed!) when you eat out, even if you do stick to the rules (ho, ho!). I ate chips -  a lot. I ate at least some cake every day, we had no 'normal' days this year, every day had some treat in it.

Of course Devon and Cornwall are quite foodie. West Sussex had good food, but great food is a big thing in Cornwall and Devon, with a focus on fresh, healthy and local.  Most of the food we ate was grown and made in beautiful places with clean air, and somehow that gets into the food. Much of what we ate had a strong and unique local identity, food was part of the places we walked through; and was often grown, caught, prepared and served by people we met.  This meant we did eat well and maybe a little more unwisely than we should.

But I didn't lose my self control completely; even though we ate more this year, we did not relapse into the old ways.  Because we were self catering there were no tempting cooked breakfasts that used to be the staple fare of our holidays (one scrambled egg and smoked salmon does not count). We could indulge our love of healthy fruity breakfasts and control what we ate better when we did it ourselves.

We shared a cake rather than have one each.  We drank a glass or two of wine, rather than glugging a bottle and didn't pig out on crisps and peanuts. We ate some big meals, but only twice, we didn't want big rich dinners or a pudding every night. Small but significant victories!

The biggest difference this year is what's in my head.  Last Summer I  was reaching the end of my weight loss programme and still losing weight. I was very much in diet mode as I struggled to lose the few final pounds. I was totally focussed and quite disciplined, even though I did allow myself to relax on the holiday, I kept control. This year I am trying to live normally, to maintain a healthy weight, but at the same time avoiding slipping back into bad habits. But I did let go a bit and as a result piled on the beef.

But as I sat on the train home and reflected on the holiday,  I don't regret any of the good food I ate. Surely it can't be right to leave Cornwall and Devon without sampling their superb cheeses and I will never regret having tasted the magnificent Moomaid ice cream from Zennor or the amazing meal we had at the Gurnards Head Hotel, two fields away from our Cornish cottage. The food we ate is as much a part of the holiday as the Lost Gardens of Heligan and  the herons on the River Dart boat trip.  The fresh ham baguette and shared scone at Olives's cafe in St Ives after the amazing cliff walk from Tween. The plaice in the Cricket Inn in Beesands after we walked from Torcross to Lannacome Bay and back.

Life is full of choices, but I want to have my cake and eat it, at least for those holiday weeks when I can be a bit more free and a bit less disciplined. My choice is to enjoy the taste of places, along with the sights and smells and experiences of being there. I want to indulge myself a bit on holiday, do things I enjoy, things I don't usually do, let go a bit. That includes eating differently.  A big part of me getting very fat was my 'out of control' holiday eating that I never compensated for. Each year I put on those extra holiday pounds and never shifted them, they stayed put.  I'm happy that my weight fluctuates, but it can't keep going up (or down), that's what I need to watch - the slow but steady upward drift.  Yes, it's the old refrain.

Now the holiday is over I have to get my weight back down again. Last year when my holiday ended, I immediately went back to losing weight mode - I'd started that diet so I was going to finish it, and I did. I barely missed a beat when I got home and I was soon at my target weight. This morning, I was straight back into my weight loss eating pattern and I will stay in it until I am back at my target weight. Already I can feel the benefit and it feels good. Somehow because I've put on so much I feel better about dieting, I can't pretend those extra pounds will just go on their own, the risk of getting very fat again seems quite real. I can feel that old determination to take control of this coming back and the food diary is back out. My fruit bowl is full.

So whatever you do for your holidays, make sure you savour the moments, they are precious days. Holidays are supposed to be special and different to normal, so make the most of them!