The Brilliant Light You Saw

Suicide Prevention Week will touch the hearts of many.  And none more so than my friend Marie who lost her Sister earlier this year.

It is only now that she feels able to talk about it but it is still a painful and difficult concept to express.

She asked if I would help her to write about it and, using her emotions, I wrote this poem “The Brilliant Light You Saw”.  Marie knows she is not alone in dealing with the loss of a loved one in such sad circumstances – and she hopes that others will read this, recognise it and hopefully find some comfort in it.  It helps to share – so please do!

The 6 Week Body Challenge Part 5 – What The F*ck?

The Six Week Body Challenge Part Five – What The F*ck?

Treading Water

It is now Week Five of the Six Week Body Challenge and the finishing line should be in sight. I feel like a winner in many ways, but this week has brought a few ‘What the F*ck’ moments. Forgive the somewhat impolite title of this week’s blog – but you will hopefully understand when you read of my plight.

You’ll remember, dear reader, that we parted company last week when I had just completed a 14 mile bike ride and a 10 mile walk. My motivation for this long overdue physical activity was that I wanted to knock myself off the 12 stone plateau that I had been on for two weeks. And before everyone starts shrieking that it’s not about weight; that it’s about body shape, tone and whether our clothes fit, let me share something with you.

Eyes Wide Shut

Until recently, I had not possessed a set of scales in the house for ten years. As a result, I had no idea that I was slowly creeping up from ten stone to thirteen stone. I kinda suspected that I was a tad rounder than I had once been, but three stone rounder? What the F*ck!?

And how did I find out about this slovenly weight gain? I’ll tell you. It was because my Mum moved in with us and brought her bathroom scales. This, on the same day that I purchased new industrial scales for my business. I haven’t been off them since!

I still flinch when I recall the night that my ‘weight problem’ was cruelly revealed to me. With curiosity getting the better of me, I rose from my armchair and stepped onto those new scales. While the figure totalled up on the screen, I declared to everyone in the living room that I would “f*cking die” if I was any more than 70kg.

I was 83kg.

Whilst others snittered (knowingly) at my shocking discovery, I reeled back onto the sofa and wailed. Feebly, I reached for my phone and tapped through to a weight conversion website. At 83kg, I was officially 13 stone. What the F*ck?!

In truth I had secretly suspected that all was not well on my forty-plus body. Bits of cellulite have been sneaking on here and there; I started buying more size 14 instead of size 12 – and then, just before Christmas, I bought a load of size 14 clothes in FatFace (oh the irony) at Glasgow Airport, without trying them on – only to discover that I did not fit into ANY of them once I got to Lanzarote! Oh yes – and what about all those subtle attempts to make sure I only appear in the middle of photographs where my expanding waistline is harder to spot! The signs were there for sure. I should have been acting long before now, but it was the scales that finally screamed ‘What the F*ck!?” right to my face.

So yes, I can’t help but use the scales as an indicator – we all do it, even though we shouldn’t.

Weight For It

Anyway – are you all on tenterhooks about whether my hard-core walking and cycling weekend got me off the 12 stone weight plateau? If you are, then it can be nothing compared to how excited I was. I returned home from my ‘activity weekend’ and, no sooner was I in the door than I leapt onto the scales.

“Tada!” said the screen.  For the fifteenth day running it gave me a reading of  12 stone . I was furious.  Of course, it is madness to think that a bit of weekend activity will affect your weight that quickly but this was at the end of a long two weeks.  I had attended all my classes and more;  I was sticking 95% to the meal plan.  I felt more than entitled to scream “What the F*ck?’”

When my other half asked what I was grumping about, I showed him the scales and wistfully asked if he thought there was something wrong with them (maybe a stuck dial inside?). He said that there was nothing wrong with the scales and, like our coaches Robert and Lou, he rightly suggested that I stop obsessing over my weight and concentrate on my body shape and clothes size instead.

Well he sure did regret saying that, because I got my four ‘once a week’ photographs out and, in smart arse tones, asked him to put them in date order. Now bear in mind that these photographs have been taken on the same day of the week, and at the same time.  I have stood in the same position with the same clothes on. Soooooo – if body shape is more noticeable than weight, surely he would be able to line the pictures up accurately –  with my tubbiest photo appearing first and my svelte ‘Week 4 photo’ appearing last.

Now it was his turn to sweat.  I detected a little bit of back tracking on his part. He said that one week intervals were far too short a timescale to spot changes in a body shape, but I hissed at him again. “Put. Them. In. The. Correct. Date. Order”

So, he stared at them for a long time and then?………… put them in all the wrong order.  He accurately selected my tubbiest photo as ‘week one’ (and believe me, that one was not hard to spot) but he thought I looked at my second most heavy in the photograph we had just taken an hour earlier. The nail in his coffin was when he said I looked slimmest in the week two photograph. What the F*ck!!

Down The Rabbit Hole

Fear not for I continued to be sensible. I have reminded myself that changing our body shape cannot be a regimented event. I am not Alice in Wonderland, supping from the ‘Drink Me’ bottle. I am not going to shrink in my exact proportions and, in fact, if I do not follow the proper plan I may well end up looking like a crushed milk carton.

When all is said and done, I do still have a happy ending to report. For the last few days I have been weighing in at 11st 12. A new low! Since starting the challenge, I have also lost three inches off my waist and one to two 2 inches from my hips. Clothes are looser and I feel good.

In fact, I felt so good, that, for a crazy moment, I wondered how close I was to fitting into this gorgeous dress that I last wore two hundred years ago as a size 10.  I’ve never had the heart to throw it out! But as for fitting into it? I’m afraid there is a long way to go on that front. I pulled it over my head and half got into it – but it got stuck at every junction and trying to prise it back off again was no mean feat. When my other half came into the room and found me on the floor, trying to get out of it, like Houdini, he said …… you’ve guessed it ………

“What the F*ck?”

The 6 Week Body Challenge Part 4 – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Well folks, things are heating up in the Six Week Body Challenge. Week Four has just been completed and it has been hot and heavy. It’s great to have such good weather but its torture to be in a full sweat BEFORE starting your workout. I have never used the crushed ice maker in my fridge before, but I have certainly used it this week!

So, did this extra heat help me to burn calories and get in shape a bit quicker? HmmmmI’m not sure! In terms of progress with the challenge, this week has seen ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’. Let me share the details with you!

The Good

  • My waist measurement is down from 35 inches to 32.5 inches!
  • I am out of size 16 and back into size 14!
  • I have taken part in all my classes, a 14 mile bike ride and a 10 mile walk!

The Bad

  • I drank some beer (man it was good, but it definitely isn’t on my meal plan!)
  • I put on three irritating pounds for no reason – surely not the beer?!
  • During one class, I pretended to tie my lace instead of doing burpees

The Ugly

  • I tried to catch the bus half way through my ten-mile walk!
  • I flew into a rage when my other half ate a pizza in front of me!
  • I behaved pathetically on the steps into my house after a rough class!

The Reality

Joking aside though, the high point of this last week has been the fact that I went out cycling and did a proper long walk. It is a long time since I did either because I haven’t felt fit or motivated enough to just get out there.

If I’m truthful, it was sheer panic that encouraged me to have this active weekend. The three pounds of weight gain preyed heavily on my mind; it left me wondering if I had reached my limits. I tried to turn to the well-worn comfort excuse that ‘muscle weighs heavier than fat’ – but I still had way more fat than muscle as far as I could see! And so, with my other half in tow, and a Tesco bag full of fat free cottage cheese, spinach and prawns, we booked into a lodge and planned a day of cycling on Saturday and a long walk on the Sunday.

Saturday dawned. The weather was glorious, and my heart sang as we set off from Glentrool on our hired mountain bikes. Unfortunately, within two minutes, my heart was no longer singing. My legs started burning instead. Soon, I was huffing, puffing and pushing the bike beside me. I tried not to feel too pissed off with myself because pushing a mountain bike up a hill is still exercise – and there would be the reward of coming back down.

Once at the top we high fived each other and then leapt back on the bikes. With a grand Woo Hoo, we free wheeled our way all the way to the bottom; legs sticking out, wind in our hair and midges in our eyes. It was exhilarating! Until we realised that we had not come to the end of the seven mile trail – but to a dead end instead. Yes, we had missed the turning for the trail and free wheeled down the other side of the hill. I can assure you that there was no ‘Woo Hooing’ while pushing our bikes all the way back up again. Not to be thwarted, we did the trail a second time and felt much better about it. All in all, it was a great day but we still have very tender butt cheeks to remember it by.

Sunday brought more brilliant weather and so we headed off for a walk to St Ninians Cave and then across the cliffs to Burrow Head and onwards to Isle of Whithorn. It seems that not many people do this walk. How do I know this? Because the grass and shrubs are often up to your eyes and, in places, the path takes you only a couple of feet from a sheer cliff face. It was impossible to walk fast but sheer terror about the prospect of falling made sure my heart rate stayed high.

Within an hour of walking, we spotted a few roof tops and were relieved to think that civilisation was in sight again. Then we realised that this was not Isle of Whithorn ahead, but some eerie buildings close to the spot where they filmed the terrible ending of The Wicker Man film. I swear that even the birds fell silent in this strange part of the land and our pace certainly quickened until we were past it.

It was a LONG five miles and by the time we reached Isle of Whithorn we were roasted by the sun and clueless about how to get back to our vehicle. No way were we walking back across those cliff edges and freaky Wicker Man scene. Cackling in delight we realised that there was a bus due any time that would drop us only a mile from our vehicle. Sadly, the Six Week Body Challenge Gods were having none of that and, while we were faffing over the timetable, the bus drove past us and disappeared out of sight. We finished our weekend, crawling along the road for miles until we found our vehicle.

So, there you have it – another fun filled stage to the Six Week Body Challenge! I’m not sure what the next week will bring but, by the time I write my next blog, I hope to have pushed past this unmoveable goddam 12 stone plateau that I’m sitting at!  

I can do this!!