Friday, 31 August 2007

Still on the primrose path

This is the longest I have been continuously off-piste all year, without CoM, and knowing I'm not getting my 100%s, and having no idea of my calorie intake. Does this bother me? Well, yes, in that it's constantly nagging at the back of my mind that I am not being as disciplined as I might be and therefore there will be a price to be paid (or rather, being paid - I can see/feel already I am somewhat more padded than I was six weeks ago!); in another way, no, in that off piste for me means enjoying good food, mostly in the company of people I love, although sometimes alone, and that I have every intention of getting back onto the straight and narrow after this weekend - not much point in even attempting to do so with a friend's dinner party tonight, and dinner with the neighbours tomorrow.

It has, however, and in conjunction with April's post about lapsing and making excuses to oneself for that, whether I have the discipline to CRON long-term for longevity. Do I believe, I guess is the question. Do I believe that CRON will extend my lifespan? Do I believe that even if it does, that I will have access to advances in medical care that will extend it even further? Do I believe that CRON will take me to 120 (for want of a better lifespan to use) and keep me in the kind of physical condition that makes life worth living? And I don't know.

My concept of mortality is, to put it frankly, f*cked. Ever since I watched my father die, and indeed tacitly encouraged the doctors to prevent him suffering more than he needed to, I've felt every single day that I will be taken as quickly and without warning or chance for farewells and in complete and utter helplessness in the end as he was. In the beginning I tried to get counselling for this; now I accept it as part of my life and I live with it, although I hate feeling like it. So really, I should be grasping at the chance CRON offers (because I have no reason to doubt that the chance is there, even if I don't and never will understand the science behind it). I should be taking every single care in the world of my health and my body. I should be constantly vigilant, as Robin has it. And yes, this is why initially CRON appealed - that and, of course, consuming loads of veggies and monitoring calorie intake fits perfectly with a pattern of eating I've had for - well, over fifteen years now, perhaps longer.

But I am not constantly vigilant. I am not careful. I doubt. Alongside the fear of dying is the fear of not living. And that fear brings with it the f*ck it mentality that I was talking about in my previous post. This is what I need to get a handle on. I do not believe that, to use the analogy someone posited on April's blog, that my life will be whittled away french fry by french fry or, more appropriately for me (since I don't eat fries), sip of red wine by sip of red wine. In moderation, I believe everything is fine. But recently I've not been moderate in my sipping, and that is starting to worry me greatly. I need to find the will to tackle this. It should be so easy (so just stop) but it's not. There is always one more excuse.

I'm not sure where this post is going... :-) I guess we all have to live our lives in a way that suits us. Often this is going to include bad habits and all we can do is try and minimise the damage. There are too many variables, too much uncertainty, to place all ones eggs into a basket. I am 100% behind the principles of eating according to a CRON diet - I can't imagine not eating my piles of veggies every day, and I won't compromise on that and take the easier, more convenient options - not unless I am backed into a corner with hunger pangs akin to snarling wolves (ironic, isn't it, that even then I have to have P almost threatening divorce before I will eat some bread but when I am not hungry, a slice of toasted rye bread is almost irresistable?). But am I ever going to be a hard-core paragon of CR virtue? Am I ever going to do everything possible to maintain my health? No. I should, of course I should, because it is so foolish not to when the price to be paid is inevitable and it's only a question of when, not if, but I am too human. I cannot take the steep and thorny path. I just... don't want to, not all the time. And so be it, if this is weak.

Mary wrote in her blog that she wishes April a long, healthy, human life. And so do I, with all my heart. I wish it for all of us. And I wish for all of us to enjoy it for as long as we can enjoy it in ways that are particular and peculiar to each of us, without fear, or anxiety, or guilt.

And now I am really not sure what I've been blathering on about, but I'm going to hit publish post anyway. And then I am off to dally with a group of friends for dinner via a long walk along the Thames to break in my new and vertiginous shoes. There will be pain. :-)

Wednesday, 29 August 2007

Veggies for tea, salad for lunch

I had a terribly un-CRON pub lunch yesterday; I was on my own, I could have gone home and made a big salad or steamed some chard, but... no. I was in a bit of a f*ck it mood; I wanted something yummy and prepared by someone else for me. Gluttony left over from the bank holiday weekend, I guess. It's so easy to slip back into habits that aren't as good as they could be.

So I ate my little pot of chilli hummus, my 4 or so olives, my 3 tiny quail's eggs, my half apple, and my cheese and my (white! French!) bread in the sunshine and I enjoyed every bite, more or less. But I did keep thinking, I really shouldn't be doing this...

Last night I cooked for friends; we got the BBQ out again, and we grilled sweetcorn, and halloumi, and huge field mushrooms. I made a tomato salad with cinnamon basil, and a runner bean and leek salad with non-fat yoghurt and mint dressing, and picked lots of leaves from the allotment. Someone bought over a veggie pizza but it was easy enough to get away with just eating a small slice and it was thin-crusted, and I didn't eat any of the bread that the others were eating with their burgers - no burger either, obviously. One piece of halloumi, one mushroom, a whole ear of corn, and a lot of the salad for me. So a healthy veggie meal, if not CRON. And one with a very small footprint in terms of food miles, from metres (end of the garden) to one mile (the local farm shop) - oh, via Cyprus for the halloumi, I guess. Shame having the BBQ sort of cancelled out the eco-purity, but...

This morning I drove up to London and stopped off to fill P's fridge with veggies. I've had salad for lunch with cottage cheese, and lots of leaves, and tomatoes, and beetroot and lots of veggie goodness. I was still really craving bread to go with it though. :-(

Now I have to spend this afternoon writing the tasting list for tonight's wine tasting and drag 12 bottles of rose wine in a suitcase from East London to West. I'm not really looking forward to that bit. :-( At the tasting I will attempt to eat as little of the cheese I have instructed P to buy from Neal's Yard as I can, and hold out for steamed chard and broccoli when we get home. Unfortunately a bit of the f*ck it mentality is still lingering... if I can't CRON seriously, it does feel like deprivation (we all know how many piles of veggies it takes) and I think this has been my problem recently - not enough time to sit down and do it properly, so I have a bite of something here, a bite of something there, and before I know it I want a plate of cheese and bread for dinner and not my steamed greens and brewer's yeast.

EDIT. Oh bloody hell and buggeration. There is artisan cheese in P's fridge and I just absent-mindedly ate a (small) piece with the rest of the lunchtime salad greens. Dammit!

Saturday, 25 August 2007

Carby Carby

P is with me for the long weekend so there is bread in the house and guess what I just ate for breakfast? Yup, lovely healthy CR strawberries... and 2 slices of decidedly non-CR seedy bread with manuka honey. I'm hopeless! :-)

It was a stunning day here yesterday. A summer day at last! Clear blue skies, hot sun... Mmmm. P and I took a picnic up to White Sheet Hill (spinach salad, sundried tomatoes, fresh tomatoes, celery... er, goat's cheese and bread and some Corsican rose wine) and sat in the sunshine reading the papers and watching a farmer harvest hay in the fields below us. Then we did a mini-tour of some local vineyards before returning to sit in my garden for more paper reading, and a late supper of local roasted veggies and leaves picked from the allotment patch when it got too dark to read.

P is here until tomorrow, and then a friend and her son arrive for a visit, and then I have a wine-tasting and a couple of dinner parties in London. I'm taking the last of this year's leave from work (fortunately my leave year runs September-September) and I really would have loved to have gotten away somewhere completely different, but I will have to make do with being a tourist in town, or maybe driving myself somewhere for a day trip or two. Ooh, I just thought - if the weather remains fair, I could take myself to Brighton for the day. It's been ages since I've seen the sea... Ah, a plan. :-)

So it's likely to be a DTBIC week with CR at the very least. I've decided that discipline will return in full in September. New month, new start. I want to get my weight back down to 110-111lbs (currently a couple of lbs above that), and be very strict about knocking the bread and the non-low-fat dairy on the head. A nibble here and a mouthful there mounts up, and results in the lack of willpower that in turn results in a breakfast like this mornings. I'm also going to get back to the gym because this still hasn't happened, and while the light is still good in the evenings I am going to try to get at least one if not two long walks in a day when I am at home. All good intentions. Now let's see if I can get them to fruition, and not too too much damage in the meantime.

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Smoked Tofu and A Cup Of Coffee

Mmmmm, I think I am becoming addicted to smoked tofu. This has to be wrong somehow, but my is it delicious. I had approx 100g of it with my lunchtime salad today, and yum yum yum. My salad was also full of delicious vegetables courtesy of P and an evening spent in Wholefoods last night - I had yellow rainbow chard, and vine tomatoes, and mushrooms, and artichokes, and some olives, a scattering of pumpkin seeds and all dressed with lemon and black pepper. And then I ate a completely unnecessary fat-free vanilla yoghurt and two Victoria plums for dessert. Yes, it's a London day and I can't weigh or measure - hey ho.

Yesterday I was a complete and shameful carb fiend. When I left home I was on 830 calories courtesy of a craving for toasted pitta bread with honey, twice. And then I ate a slice of walnut and blue cheese bread for dinner. I just cannot have bread near me. I just eat it if it's there; it drains my willpower. :-) In my defence, I was very hungry; I had spent the evening watching P eat a platter of fruits de mer in the Wholefoods Food Hall, refusing to eat myself because for all the foodie deliciousness up there, there was actually nothing suitable for veggie CRON. In the end, alongside the piece of bread, my dinner when we got back home was a plate of steamed kale and chard, two heirloom tomatoes of the grown-in-gold-dust-by-rare-and-special-pixies variety (judging on price), and some slivers of cheese.

There was no excuse apart from gluttony for having a slice this morning as well though.

I've just bought a fabulous dress in H&M, the one on the right of this picture. It's so grey and miserable today in town that I felt in urgent need of retail therapy. Isn't it bright and cheerful? :-) I've also just had a very strong cup of coffee, so this post is brought to you courtesy of procrastination and caffeine.

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

On motivation, or lack thereof, and not about CRON

I commented on April's "5am Club" post yesterday to the effect that if I don't get up and go to the gym first thing in the morning, I never make it there. I missed it yesterday, and missed it again today despite being awake and breakfasted by 7am; I went back and hid in bed instead. Meh.

I've had real problems with motivating myself to get to the gym all this year. I should go each morning that I am at home - I can't afford to belong to a London gym as well - so I should be going at least 3 mornings a week if not 5. First it was balancing CRON and energy levels; I kept falling off the treadmill back in January as my body adjusted to fewer calories per day. But that quickly passed. Then I made the mistake of running in new trainers on the treadmill and being heavy-footed-stompy-me, I hurt my feet... and so gave it a miss for a few days. Then I think I got sick. And then, oh yes - the gym was closed for a few weeks with rain leaking through the roof (this still happens but now we all work out around buckets and dripping water and saturated towels). And then... well, it was more likely something else. Suffice it to say that my attendance this year has been abysmal and since the wedding, it's got even worse!

I really believe that getting to the gym is very important. CRON is all very well for keeping the weight down, but it does absolutely nothing for a girl's abs. I noticed this particularly last night when lying in bed; the muscle tone on my stomach is all but gone and (excuse me here), I could feel my digestive system working with the palm of my hand - urgh, and urgh. I've never felt that before (I assume) because there has been a layer of abdominal muscle there - I mean, I've never had rock-hard abs, but they were noticable. Now the mirror tells me they are not. Oh My God I am 35 and starting to sag. :-)

So, is this motivation enough to get me back to the gym tomorrow? Unfortunately I suspect not... the little demon voice in my head says to me, one day won't make any more difference and then you're back to London, so best start at the weekend... or maybe even the weekend after because then you've got a week off and can do a full five days and that will be so much better, so why bother with it now... If only my little demon voice would work to my good and say, Get up woman and shift your backside for 60 minutes; you know it will make you feel so much better in the end, and wouldn't it be nice to fit into the jeans you bought a couple of months ago but haven't yet worn because they are a very optimistic size with a nice flat belly?.

I find so many excuses to wallow, I really do. It's the same with the job. I spent a large part of yesterday in floods of tears of frustration (the indulgence of working at home) because I was attempting to do something I knew was incredibly simple (I mean, literally as simple as coding an xml declaration at the top of an SQLXML generated nodelist - and this is simple), and only managed it after several hours and then immediately hit yet another brick wall which I will have to break down today. That's the reason I wanted to go straight back to hide in bed this morning rather than facing the day bright and breezy with a run and some weights. But I can do something about this. I can find another job, something far more suited to me and my skills... But I have no idea what that might be.

Or I can work on swinging my mindset around and appreciating what I have now. I am so lucky. Why do I constantly carp and pine and want this nebulous more when really I have everything? Do I really want an easy nine-to-five job in an office? No. God, no. But I do need to get out of my current position - or change it.

I simply must get motivated to do things. It's scary.

One idea I have, that won't get me out of the job I'm in, but might open some doors, is to use all the vintage crockery I got from the wedding and set up a small company catering for tea parties - the whole works, cucumber sandwiches, fairy cakes, scones with jam and cream, slices of Victoria sponge (ok, so not CRON but I'm never going to be an ambassador for that), tea, champagne. Or at least hiring the stuff out. That is a small, achievable step and I Need To Do It. Maybe in conjunction with a friend who does reflexology. Girlie Pamper Parties, with tea and cake and fizz and foot massage. A niche, I wonder...

Er, yes. So this is really a post for me to read when I need a kick up the arse, or several kicks. No one is going to change my life for me. I need to motivate myself.

And I can start by getting to the gym tomorrow morning. :-)

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Two Posts in One Day, no less

Finally, finally, I have hit upon a perfect lunch combination for my London days that I probably won't get tired of eating, and is just perfect for CRON.

With WholeFoods just down the street from the office I have felt sort of obliged to buy my lunch there, even though it's fearfully expensive and I always come out with my salad box overloaded with treaty veggies (roasted asparagus, grilled artichokes, roasted peppers) and not enough leafy greens and then have to go to M&S to top up with spinach. More often than not I'd have grabbed something else I didn't need as well, such as this little bag of deliciousness, and I'd wander round in a daze hypnotised by the breads and cheeses and other gourmet delights, with a security guard in my wake, suspicious that I was a shoplifter. Sometimes Wholefoods is just too yummy for my peace of mind, and sanity. :-)

So... my new and perfect lunch which is not stocked by Wholefoods, more fool them, but by the small organic deli at the other end of the High, is a marinated tofu and raw energy salad - for 150 cals, I get 11g of protein, 6g of carb, and 9g of fat (which might be a bit high but I am pretty fat free elsewhere in my life) from Nigari Tofu, Chinese Leaf, Broccoli, Spinach, Green Peppers, Celery, Cherry Tomatoes, Radishes, Mung Sprouts, Pumpkin Seeds, Olive Oil, Orange Juice, Lemon Juice, Tamari, Garlic, Ginger, Mustard, Sage. It's not the first time I've eaten this, but I thought it was far more high calorie than it apparently is! I bought a 100g bag of spinach and tipped the lot on top of that and shook it up a bit (so that's 175 cal). And a 150g pot of plain, fat-free yoghurt, which wasn't necessary and has left me slightly stuffed but at least I shouldn't be hungry and wobbling at P later. I hope not, anyway.

The rest of my food on what is becoming a very long day indeed has been 71 cals of fat-free rhubarb flavoured yoghurt, 10g grapenuts, 5g pumpkin seeds, 5g gojis, 10g almonds at 2am; half a galia melon when I got to P's, and those steamed green beans and zucchini earlier.

A long day, but a good CRON day - and it really does lift my mood.

Shame about the work.

Seven Days Later

Well, I am fretting less. And there have been a couple of good CRON days recently - assisted by having to eat my way through the glut of green beans and zucchini from my veggie patch, my neighbour's veggie patch, my friend's garden and my mother's allotment. (In fact I am munching on cold steamed beans and zucchini with lemon juice and mint right now - given that I was up at 2.15 this morning to drive to London in time for a 9am start in the office this isn't so bizarre because my body thinks it's lunchtime.) I've also been eating piles of fresh spinach and some really delicious and tender rainbow chard, and despite one moment of gluttony when I ate a whole 200g pack of smoked tofu in one sitting, my weight is back down to 112lbs again, and I feel less bloated from bready carbs and teenage angst.

I always find the weeks between my birthday and the 13th of August tough to deal with - the 13th is the day my dad died suddenly five years ago, and my 30th birthday was the day he told me he suspected he was ill. Those days took on a nightmare quality then, and continue to do so now. I always feel as though I am waiting for something until the day is past. This might have been another reason why I felt so blah and angry with myself last week.

My mother and brother and I try to meet on the day to celebrate Dad's life and we usually do this with food, by eating out somewhere special and remembering him. Dad loved food; he was just learning to love good food, as opposed to commercial gak - he loved fish in particular. Unfortuately I am veggie and my mother loathes the stuff, so we never get to do the full on seafood fest I know Dad would have loved. I'll never forget him and P ordering a seafood platter in a pub one lunchtime to share, and being utterly defeated by it, yet ploughing on regardless - each one considering it somehow unmanly to give in before the other. :-)

But we always try to go somewhere he would have liked to go, and this time it was Michael Caines at The Royal Clarence in Exeter. (Actually this time I'm not sure he would have liked it; the service was simultaneously overly fussy and offhand, which would have wound him up, and the food, while delicious, was over-priced for what it was). But still, the thought was there, and spending time with my mother and brother was precious. Which is, after all, what it's all about.

So, another new start now. Less beating myself up this time. There are too many zucchini and beans to get through for that! And life to get on with. Yes, Miss M is completely right in her comment on my previous post.

Thursday, 9 August 2007

Dying in the valley of the immortals

An interesting and quite sad article.

Still not doing quite so good as I was pre-wedding, I am afraid to report. Not eating badly, as usual, but just have an overwhelming sense of lack of balance and feelings of anxiety around all kinds of foodie issues and am beating myself up about it. I just wrote a huge long post on it all and then deleted it because really, musings on my disordered thinking have nothing to do with CRON at all... quite the reverse actually, as we all know. So I'm here, I'm reading blogs, I've linked back to some of the blogs I'd lost track of (hello Christina, Nenette!) but until I have a damn good CRON week and stop fretting, I think I'll be pretty quiet here.

With luck, that won't be too long...

Friday, 3 August 2007


I still don't feel as though I have my CRON-groove back. Not that I am eating badly in any way at all, still lots and lots of veggies and green leafies and fruit and nuts and seeds and low-fat dairy, the usual Sara foods, but something feels a little off. I don't know what it is. Perhaps that I haven't really had a full week of measured CRON for a while now. Hmm.

After a rare flurry of activity at work the last couple of days (Fix this production problem Sara! On a system you've never seen before! Without the software you need to do it! Now!), it's all gone quiet in the office again so I've been spending some time browsing around blogs... mostly foodie blogs. It's fascinating how many interconnecting virtual communities there are - from CRON to raw to vegan to just pure gastronomic musings. And oh, the photos! Beautifully plated and presented meals; glossy veggies; such enthusiasm and passion for good food... Perhaps that's something I need to work on again, making my meals look attractive to me, rather than eating my spinach out of the bag or hastily shaken up in a tupperware. :-)

It's an incredibly gorgeous day today in London, so P and I are going to have a picnic before we get our train back home later on this evening. I'll be going to WholeFoods after work and bankrupting myself. I've already done a couple of reconnaisance trips while getting my morning pear-apple-cucumber-kiwi-spinach smoothie and my lunchtime salad... So I think I will be buying large tomatoes on the vine, flat peaches, buffalo mozzarella, good bread, salad leaves, grilled peppers, maybe some grilled artichokes, olives... The foodie p0rn on the various blogs I've been browsing has seeped into my head; I want a simple mediterranean-type feast in the evening sunshine... and leaves, leaves, leaves...