Some hard truths about weight loss

So I lost a lot of weight….so much and so quickly that people stopped and stared. “Wow you look great” they exclaimed and I luxuriated over the wonderful brilliantness of my newly acquired thinner body. As I showered, as I took countless progress photos and I was forced to endlessly purchase new clothes as my trousers fell down, I was amazed. I was empowered. I was emboldened. But, then I plateaued; losing any more weight required a level of calorie control I wasn’t quite ready to adhere to both as a daughter of a body obsessed mother and as an individual with a genuine love of food; I remained a stubborn and fixed size 12. So now the proverbial dust has settled, it’s time I laid down some home truths about weight loss. Because it’s so much more than the before and after pictures, the ones where my smile seems wider and my hair shinier, but is made up of a complex tangle of emotions, health and everything else you think, see and breathe. So for the record….

 

  1. Health

In general, losing weight is assumed to be good for your health. Obviously, this is not always the case – particularly when you start to consider the mental, as well as the physical repercussions. But, beyond this, losing weight puts the body under a huge amount of pressure. Take me for example…for one thing my periods stopped…. which for an individual who would some day like to have children is pretty terrifying. And, secondly, my stomach got so fucked up from the sudden change in diet that I was in agony for weeks, which reached a rousing crescendo one Saturday night when I lay writhing in pain as my stomach made clear its displeasure. It was remarkably unfun and painful. And was solved only by a nutritionist (costing £90 an hour) who helped realign my stomach with tablets. Which brings me nicely on to point number 2….

  1. Expensive

I don’t care, I really don’t care what the papers and magazines preach or even the occasional Instagram star will profoundly declare. Being healthy is more expensive. It just is. You know what’s cheap? Pasta, cake, biscuits. You know what isn’t? Fruit, vegetables, almond milk, chai seeds (need I go on…) And even if you don’t pay the extortionate amount of £200 a month for a gym, it is, without question, an additional expense. And if you really doubt me go into McDonalds after a drunk night out (not that I’ve ever visited the one on Tottenham Court Road next to the station) and be amazed about the cost of a Filet of Fish and chips…as I was the first time I crossed through it shiny arched doors.

  1. The male gaze

Oh I know…no one loses weight to impress the opposite sex, we all do it for ourselves. We do it so we can be proud of our bodies and satiated by our healthy and new found glee for doing 50 burpees or whatever the monstrosity that is Iron Man consists of.  Do me a fucking favour. We all lose weight because we care how we are viewed by others. And more than that by the opposite sex. Mainly because most of us like sex, and to be loved, and we figure that if we lose those few pounds or stones this is more likely.

And yes some people crave the toned, lean look of the Love Island gals, but trust me plenty don’t. Some people like their partners heavier, lighter and some, I swear to god, honestly don’t give a shit. It took me a long while and some personal experiences to appreciate just how true this is, but honestly losing weight for others is unnecessary. If for no other reason than even once it’s gone you will still have curly hair, fat arms but cracking legs, but more importantly you are still the same person.

  1. Success

Weight loss is easy at the beginning. Trust me, I know. It rolls right off and you are motivated, happy and can practically see those size 8 jeans. But, the thing is it gets difficult, life gets in the way, or you plateau or you put it back on….Because weight loss isn’t a linear process  – you don’t start and then 8 months later come out thin and happy. You go up, you go down, you get wider, you get narrower. Whatever happens, you are not a failure if it doesn’t go the way you wanted, you are just human.

Now, I know traditionally there are five points to these listicles, but I’m already closing in at 900 words, and more importantly, I have little left to say. Except for this: being healthy is grand and feeling confident in your body is glorious. But, neither of these necessarily mean you need to lose weight. And let me guarantee you: just like you won’t find happiness at the end of a spliff, line of coke, or injection of heroin, losing weight won’t make you happy. Because we are all so much more than the number on the scale.

 

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The Dating Horror Show

When I was a kid (well 15 or 16 years old) I used to stay up late and watch Sex and the City, and I would think, my god, it can’t really be like this…surely these dating stories must be exaggerated – no-one could possibly be this crazy. Sadly, it turns out I was wrong. To be honest, over the next 10 years or so I would find myself corrected on any number of issues, but they are, perhaps, slightly out of the remit of this article. So instead, we shall focus on some of my very favourite dating horror shows, a compilation of my friends’ very worst dating moments. Obviously, all names have been removed as I endeavour to be a decent human being, but I assure you they are all true.

Oh and by the way, they’re all about me. Obviously.

 

  1. The non-talker

There were two dates. Two pretty decent dates – perhaps some early warning signs, his inability to even purchase me a lime and lemonade, his visible intolerance towards children (one sneeze saw him grimace,) and of course there was his penchant for pot. But, nonetheless he had nice eyes, was pretty intelligent and, most poignantly, had a motorbike. You can see the attraction? So date 3 comes around and here we are off to our first meal together, except bike boy refuses to speak. Yep you read that right ladies and gents….he simply decided that words were not really his thing that night. When I finally built up the courage to ask him why, perchance, we were sitting in silence he responded with, “I have nothing to say, does that bother you?”

Yes, it most certainly fucking does. Saddest part is….I still messaged him to find out if perhaps he had suffered from some form of a dehabilitating aneurysm that perhaps created a void in his personality (although I didn’t quite word it that way)….His response: to block me.

  1. The Talker

The polar opposite to bike boy, film boy (who was an avid actor, director and screenwriter) didn’t stop talking, not for the entirety of our seven-hour date. At his insistence, we moved from a coffee shop to a restaurant to a bar where he waxed lyrically about his life, passions and how he would read my book, lend me some films and even take my advice on some cultural references. The date ended in a kiss and I was flying high, certain he would call. Because it was basically a done deal, right? Wrong. I guess he was a much better actor than he let on.

  1. The I’m not over my Ex

He pursued me, added me on LinkedIn, emailed me, whatsapped me daily. So I got excited because it’s nice to be liked. Friends read the conversations and we all agreed he was into me, the date was a done deal and all was well in the world. Except he went away for a weekend and after doing some serious soul searching decided that maybe he wasn’t quite ready to date, he wasn’t really over his ex. Apparantly it was “all a bit awkward for him,” which must be the poshest way I have ever been fobbed off. Thank goodness for that public school education, eh?

  1. The half-hearted one

We had a date. It was a little long for my liking, but it was an enjoyable evening. The conversation flowed and I even laughed on more than one occasion. I would have seen him again, but would not be heartbroken if he never messaged. And if truth be told I was mid messaging number 3 on this list, so was juggling a few eggs at the time. Eventually, he messaged two days later, I replied half a day later, and then he responded another full two days later to my question. Never, have I felt more special. Guys – you’re in or you’re out. For the love of god, I implore you to pick one.

  1. The blunt one

To be honest, I cannot fault this guy for his directness, even if I do feel it was perhaps a little much. We went out for dinner and clearly we were not a good match. When describing the type of guy I would never go for….this was it, wrapped up in male package. Don’t feel too sorry for him folks, because clearly he felt the same way. Which he made abundantly clear as we left the restaurant. When he turned to me, stared into my eyes and said those words every little girl dreams of hearing, “I think I’m gonna go home now.”

6. Silence of the Lambs

I know a listacle traditionally only has 5 points, but fuck it I’m a rebel. After having sent this blog to some of my friends I was reminded of, what must have quite possibly been my worst date, and I felt compelled to add it in, even if it does somewhat ruin the rhythm. Picture the scene….Hagen Dasz store, Leicester Square, two perfect strangers trying desperately to make conversation over frozen milk in the middle of a cold, and rainy winter. Both desperately searching for a bridge or strand of mutual thought, a noble effort that was stalling worse than my car in this ice. So as we got on the tube I was drained of all ability to speak, having worked tremendously hard for the past 3 hours. Rendered silent, my counterpart clearly felt the same and so we sat in absolute silence all the way to Brent Cross station. Longest. Tube. Ride. Ever.

It was at that very moment I couldn’t help but wonder if Carrie and her crew had it right all along?

What happens at the full moon party stays at the full moon party

Before I arrive in koh pangan – the island with the honour of hosting around 30,000 belligerent tourists once a month as they travel from around the world in a quest for utter nihilism. I would like to first touch upon Pattaya, a city two hours from Bangkok. Now, this city made the cut because I had a friend who wishes to remain unnamed, for fear it will sully his reputation as a decent human being, which will make a whole lot of sense shortly, who was staying there. And I thought I’d pop over to say hello. I guess my first clue that this city may not be for me was when each and every person I told of my next location looked at me in much the same way many regarded me when I told of my desire to travel Thailand alone. However, I must say this reaction was rather more justified. The powers that be in Pattaya have basically seen fit to remove all that is good and holy from Amsterdam, and leave only the red light district which has been pumped up and fleshed out to an obscene degree, it was Dam on steroids, where sex was ubiquitous, omniscient and blatant. Tourists of a certain gender and particular inclination come here in droves for a happy ending and even fairytale endings if they manage to nab themselves a Thai bride. And in Pattaya I am of the suspicion that if you will it, it is no dream. I wouldn’t say I was sad to leave this city, which as my friend commented will almost surely be the beginning of the end though certainly it was a fascinating experience.
Now, onto koh pangan, which absorbed what Pattaya rejected from our sinful European sister and then, thanks to the thai mafia who are handily able to circumvent actual laws, took it to the next level in the way only Asia could. For the right price there isn’t much you can’t get hold of here. We were even approached by a lovely British man offering us half price on pharmaceuticals – I’m embarrassed to say it took a little moment for the penny to drop. Basically, it’s the love child of Amsterdam and Magaluf – and you come here for one reason and one reason only.
Here, you learn to live a little like the characters on love island, by day you party and by night you talk about the events of the night before. It’s a somewhat bizzare existence, one I did rather enjoy, but also wondered at moments if my brain was shrinking ever so slightly. In the days leading up to the full moon there are parties every night, which meant, on beaches, in jungles there were lights, fires, illegal opiates and trance music and really what more could you want?
For me, the full moon party was a bit of a let down, if a fascinating experience. Walking along the beach front I could see droves of tourist lying on the sand tripping balls as well as others dragging themselves along the sand made heavy by alcohol and a lack of sleep. Obviously, there was also the mandatory dancing and general clubbing malarkey one could expect to find at this sort of event, with different stations featuring music from a range of genres. A style to suit every belligerent 20 year old trying to lose themselves. No Eminem though *sigh.*
I am currently on the way to Koa Toa and rather looking forward to some decent views (koh Pangan is a right shit hole, this picture is like the only nice view I took during a run away from my hostel) as well as some half way decent grub – if I have to eat any more sushi from 7/11 I fear I may turn into an actual piece of nigiri. It’s also the place I will be celebrating my birthday – the official mark of my quarter life crisis. Whoop.
So till next time folks. Keep it real.

 

Bangkok

I’d say it took me from around January (when I first booked the tickets) till I arrived at Heathrow for me to actually accept I was going travelling alone. However, given that I had around 20 hours on trains, planes and in airports I had plenty of time to emotionally prepare myself. So on arriving in Bangkok airport – a real shit hole. I felt ready, basically. My first stop was, my hotel, the D & D Inn on Koasan road, the main tourist area in Bangkok. I’m not really sure how to describe this unique blend of Asian kitsch and Western capitalism. I have never made it to Vegas, but from what I’ve seen on the Hangover, there are some similarities. Bar the gambling, though weirdly lots of laughing gas, not that I indulged. Drugs are bad kids.
Anyway on finally arriving at my hotel at around 8 am, the kind folk let me check in early and I promptly passed out.
On awakening I felt it was time to explore. Like any good tourist I avoided the local cuisine and had a sandwich for lunch before taking in some of the sights – which basically amounts to lots and lots of temples. I think one of my favourite aspects of Bangkok is that it really is so rich, just walking around and taking it all in was enough to keep this simple soul happy. It’s extremely chaotic, and away from the tourist area (which I’m pretty much convinced is run by Israeli expats) there’s a huge amount to see. I quickly learnt that Thai people like their food fried, and preferably on a stick. At cooking class I later learnt they also liberally douse most of it in sugar – in fact Thai tea (alas not to be confused with chai tea) is basically cold tea with condescend milk. As a nation I’m rather concerned about their risk of diabetes.
I also had, I now realise, a naïve presumption that they would all speak English, though I am happy to say that despacito has made it to Thailand, alongside, weirdly Tesco.

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Now, in England our monarchy has had something of a revival thanks to Wills & Kate, but we ain’t got nothing on the Thais and their love for the King. He is everywhere – on bank notes (apparently if you tear or stand on money you can be jailed), on street corners – the guy’s marketing is exceptional. Think chabad style rebbe loving. This was confirmed when I went to the Royal palace, which as well as offering a throwback to my Sem days with some pretty Mea Shearim style dress codes in place was exceptionally stunning. Take a look at google images for some more info – far better than anything I could hope to take. Thronging with Thais coming to pay their respect, many were dressed all in black (the old king died several months ago) for some sort of prayer service. This stretched out morning period seems pretty typical of the Thai people, who from what I’v gathered are a pretty intense nation, though that could just be a hugely insulting cultural stereotype.
Now to the nightlife, like I already mentioned I am essentially staying on the equivalent of the strip so finding bars didn’t prove too problematic, and neither did finding drinking buddies. I was soon invited in by Australian tourists whom with, I have to admit, I drank a little too much. With buckets costing 100 baht (Like £3) self restraint is rather challenging, although the next night I am proud to say I learnt, not impossible.
Like all good night outs, my second began with a funny story. After a long morning wandering around Bangkok I decided to do some sunbathing on my rooftop pool. On lying down I heard what, I was almost sure, was the unmistakable twang of a Northern Jew, although given my track record with accents – Irish and Scouse are similar, right? I wasn’t yet ready to interject. So whilst playing on my phone I listened in and waited for confirmation, hearing names like Ella, Alex and Elliot my confidence grew until I finally caught the word Israel. If I was a carton character, at this point I would have twirled round the room, but I’m not so instead, and pretending like I hadn’t been listening in on their convo, we got talking and it turns out they went to my school (although younger than me) and invited me to break the fast with them at chabad. Not only did I get fantastic pargiot, but we also met a group of Israelis.

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Thankfully, it was a pretty mellow evening – most Israelis travel for months and you can’t really spend half a year with a hangover. But, just to clear one concern up, given my deliberately provocative instapic of a number of arms alongside #sorrymum there has been some suspicions that I got a tattoo. I am happy to inform all those concerned that the tattoo is indeed real, made from the finest henna in all Thailand. And will disappear around the time I head back to the UK.

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I am now on the way to Pattaya having shared a taxi with an Israeli and two Germans – go figure. It is pouring, but given that I am on an air conditioned coach for the next two hours I’m not overly fussed. So I will sign out here because I have a rather delicate disposition when on moving vehicles. .
Thanks for reading, hope this isn’t overly gap-yah of me and don’t panic folks next instalment (after the Full Moon Party!) will be out next week.

Five ways to be the boss of your gym class

In a quest to become fitter, leaner and tougher I have been attending exercise classes since I was around 16 (although this is very much an on and off relationship – think Ross and Rachel.) Seeing as classes and I seem to be going steady I thought I would write a how-to guide to help those just starting out.

  1. Be on time

You may think being on time means arriving at the time the class is due to start, my child how wrong you are. If the class involves any sort of equipment (weights, bikes, steps), then being on time means being at least ten minutes early. And on a Sunday morning, when there are no excuses left to wangle your way out of attendance, meaning every gym member descends upon their chosen establishment you really need to be 20 minutes early. As my mother is wont to say, life: it just ain’t fair.

  1. Do not go on your mobile phone

There is nothing, and I mean literally nothing in this world that annoys gym instructors more than you going on your phone. Once spotted they will huff, make a face and then unleash the fury of a thousand suns. You will feel humiliated and spend the rest of class thanking the gods that it really isn’t possible to flush during an intense cardio workout. And whilst they may forgive you for this indiscretion exercise instructors will never really forget. Do yourself a favour – leave your phone at home and avoid any temptation.

  1. You get what you give

When I was younger there was a slogan prolific on T-shirts and other such merchandise, it read “dance like nobody’s watching.” I believe many of my peers felt this to be of immense significance and to be particular poignant. I’m not entirely sure the reasoning behind this given that most of their dancing was limited to clubs. And their grinding, swaying and gyrating was all done precisely in the hope that somebody would be watching. However, the one place this motto does work is in an exercise class. When I was younger I was nervous of seeming too enthusiastic, too energetic, and far too fearful of judgement. Now I realise nobody cares, everybody is just trying to get through the hour the best way they can. So jump, skip and grunt like no-one’s watching, because frankly they most certainly are not.

  1. Get the Kit

The more legit you look the more exercise ready you will feel. Coming equipped with a pair of converse, your ex-boyfriend’s old T-shirt, that you aren’t quite ready to let go of, and Topshop leggings is not going to motivate you in any way, shape or form. Frankly it’s far more likely to cause an injury. Invest in a decent pair of trainers, some sporting leggings and a breathable exercise top. However, men – I implore you not to buy sweatbands, there are just no words to describe the travesty that is this particular article of clothing.

  1. Channel your inner teenage angst 

Choose the best, most hard-core gym fanatic in the room and make her the epitome of every girl who made you cry and every boy who broke your heart. This girl is the cause of all your tutored, broken teenage angst. So your jumps must be more energetic, your knees higher and your kicks stronger. If that doesn’t make you sweat then nothing on this planet could.

Five very good reasons there needs to be Facepalm emoji.

     1.  What on God’s earth is your name? I have met you multiple times, at social events I was probably coerced into attending either out of guilt or a sense of obligation. I recognise your face, and I even remember what we spoke about- your university, current job, hopes and dreams for the future. But in the name of all that is holy, I cannot remember the very first thing you said on meeting me. If I think really, excruciatingly hard I can remember your arm outstretched, your welcoming gaze, but I have completely and utterly blanked on your name; instead all I hear is my panicking brain desperately searching for the information and myself say, incredibly awkwardly, and exceptionally pointedly- oh hey YOU, gosh it’s been so long.

  1. The Thing you knew that would happen  

Life is an unpredictable mess (well mine certainly) and we are basically just buzzing around trying to deal with the obstacles, frustrations and difficulties that make up our existence. However, there are moments when certain things happen in a friend’s life and you really could have placed bets on the conclusion. Given we are outside looking in we have a much clearer perspective. So whilst the breakup, to them, was a sharp, shocking stab to the heart, we all knew the writing was on the wall. And whilst being sacked, was for them, a monumental injustice we simply wonder how they lasted so long given, from what you could see, they spent most of their day on whatsapp. We obviously feel bad, but whilst the words coming out of our mouths connote shock, horror and disbelief- we really want to sit them down and draw a detailed table of the reasons this was really always going to happen.

  1. Shops not accepting your money

You get to the front of the queue, hand your credit card to the cashier for them to look you in the eye and say, “sorry we don’t take card under £5.” I’m sorry, am I hearing you correctly, you don’t want to accept my money? We live in the twenty-first century, who in this day and age carries cash with them? Don’t you understand that if I use my card it doesn’t feel like real money? And moreover, do I look like I want to trek down the road to the nearest cash machine? No, I want to purchase my Pepsi max and cereal bar and eat my breakfast in peace. Of course, for those establishments who want to charge me an additional 20p for the privilege of payment, they will find an abandoned Pepsi and a me shaped hole through their wall.

  1. The Emperor’s New Clothes

You have bought a new item of clothing, and this is it- this is the item that hides all bulges, lines and wobbles whilst simultaneously clinging to all the right places. You feel basically, like Naomi Campbell, and inspired by your latest purchase have decided to stop watching Netflix and venture outside of the comfort of your bedroom. You walk, no- you saunter to work, you glide onto the tube and stride into the office with all the confidence you can muster. And yet, no one comments, you get a few cursory nods and pathetic greetings, but that is it. If your life was a cartoon you would be drawn as a deflated balloon image of yourself. And that’s basically the day ruined.

  1. Saying No

You can feel it coming- the random Facebook message from someone you haven’t spoken to in years. Or the long rambling preamble which doesn’t really make sense, but which hints at an imminent favour whilst being littered with far too many conjunctions, hypotheticals and conditionals, “erm, so you really don’t have to….but if you wouldn’t mind lol, I obviously wouldn’t ask, but feel free to say no.” They then proceed to ask you a not completely ludicrous, but relatively annoying favour to which social nicety dictates you say yes. So whilst your brain screams no, no, no you don’t have time for this, you find your fingers typing, “yea sure babes,” with a smiley face- just so they can see how chilled you are. You then spend far too much time thinking of different ways you can get out of what you have already committed to, before finally acquiescing on the proviso that this time really is the last time you will be guilt tripped into this sort of ridiculous situation.Of course, the fact you made that internal promise countless times before is neither here nor there.

The Five People You Will Meet At The Gym

I go to the gym on a semi-regular basis, though the verb go doesn’t really do justice to the immense internal battle that forces me into my gym clothes, out of the house, and down the hill where my gym is conveniently located. It is so close I pass it on my daily commute to work- its towering presence a constant reminder of the £50 I lavish on this unfortunate and unenjoyable task.
The list of things I would do rather than go to the gym is honestly so long it could stretch from my flat in North West to London all the way to Australia (and probably swoop back and reach America.) Of course my primary alternative activity would be eating. Ideally something fried in oil, dripping in sauce and oozing with enough calories to triple my own body weight. And this is precisely the reason I force myself, by using similar methods as those used to assuage an unruly toddler. I essentially have to threat, bribe and plea with myself to go to the gym. I have also, given my rather poor excuse for a wage, started using guilt as a tactic. This sometimes works. Other times it just makes me feel even guiltier for having a piece of cake. Say what you want about Marie Antoinette, but the gal knew there really is nothing like a slice of rich, luxury decadence. In any case back to the matter at hand. On the occasion I am able to force myself to attend the gym (which in the summer has the unfortunate disadvantage of being extremely smelly) I have noticed some distinct categories of people. Which in my benevolence, and for your amusement, I shall review in the form of a list for your reading pleasure.
1. The Made up gym-goer
Now do not get me wrong. I am not a feminist warrior combat who feels the need to defy conventional norms and wear baggy, unflattering clothes. I like dressing up; I have a bulging bag of makeup, far too many dresses (and yet wear the same one on every date I have) and own numerous pairs of heels. However, there is a time and a place for all things and I can assure you when moving, sweating and grunting my way through exercise classes I feel no need to have glossy lips, bronzed cheeks or long lashes. And yet I see women looking as if they are going to rush straight from the gym to partake in Pimms with Princess Anne. When in reality, well if they are anything like me, they are going to jump in the shower and then sit on their bed in a towel for half an hour.
2. The Toned gym-goer
These women have my respect and admiration. They look fantastic and clearly work extremely hard to ensure their physiques. I see them giving it their all in classes, rising early and retiring late all to ensure they retain their enviable bodies. They are what I aspire to be like (note the use of the conditional verb to aspire.) I suppose it is good to have a dream…
3. The January gym-goer
Come January 1st the gym is packed with women who have suddenly decided this year is going to be the year they finally beat the battle of the bulge. So off they trot to their local exercise establishment with an intense passionate dedication. This annoyingly means that for the first two weeks of January accessing the treadmills is a game of luck and chance. Thankfully their fiery determination normally wanes by the 10th of January, returning only for a very brief moment in July as the bikini fear becomes real. They are, however, present a perfectly legitimate excuse not to go to the gym for a few days.
4. The doing it for love gym-goer
I have friends like this, they go to the gym because they genuinely love exercising. These woman also prefer eating healthier food options and rarely feel the need to gorge on obscene amounts of food. It goes without saying that I cannot even begin to understand the way their minds work, but I wish mine was just a little bit more like theirs.
5. My favourite ever gym-goer
There is a woman at my gym who is clearly pretty old, she could almost certainly have grandbabies. Yet, every morning at 6am she is at the gym pounding, pumping and punching. She does all this wearing a fanny pack. She is essentially my role model in life. I do not know why she feels the need to indulge in an early morning workout nor do I know what she puts in her fanny pack. However, I honestly believe she is just absolutely fabulous.