Life's a bastard...but sometimes it lets up

The life and times of an ordinary Dublin girl. Follow her journey as she finds out working from home really ISN'T about watching Oprah all day and that perhaps men aren't really all bastards.

Friday, October 21, 2005

You choose to lose!

AND with the immortal words "you choose to lose" ringing in my ears, I left my first ever WeightWatchers meeting on Thursday night, almost bent double with the amount of leaflets, booklets and money off low-fat cheese coupons they bestowed upon me.

It was scary, but I did it. I stood on a scales in front of a roomful of strangers and let a woman I'd never seen before read my weight and the sky didn't fall in. Nobody laughed. Nobody pointed. The leader told me that I'd never be that weight again, that's what the class is all about. It felt good.

I'll be following a points system, where I'm allocated a certain number of points a day (25 in my case) and once I stick within that, I should lose weight. The book says I "WILL" lose weight, but being the cynical hack that I am, I'll 'weight' and see. Sorry, couldn't resist the pun there!

There was a 30-minute weigh-in and then a 30 minute talk with information about food that's really low-fat and rogue food that's not low-fat at all. (Beware the word 'lite' cos half the time the product isn't 'lite' at all. Just a little pearl of wisdom for you!) It was interesting stuff and I'm sure I'll have loads of questions next week.

Off I tottered to the supermarket this afternoon to stock up on some more fruit and veg as well as low-fat butter and cheese, low-fat wraps, turkey rashers, ham, chicken and WeightWatchers ready meals. I also bought WW chocolate chip cookies, chocolate mousse and low-fat crisps [only two points a bag!] so I'm not being totally deprived of sweets and snacks. The great thing about the programme I'm following is that if I choose to blow my entire 25 points on a greasy Chinese meal, then I can. I just know that if I want to lose weight, I can't have anything else to eat that day. I choose not to do this, I'd rather eat several meals than just one big one, but at least I know the choice is there.

That's what bugged me about other diets I tried, the fact that I was limited in what I could eat or I had to cut out a certain food group (I lasted three days on the Atkins Diet before diving literally head first into the Gotham Cafe and hollering 'pasta pesto, large, now, with garlic bread and a side order of potatoes...and rice...nooooowwww!). This way I can have bread and cereal and pasta and noodles and sausages and sweets and cakes and biscuits and milk and, God, everything! I just have to count the value of what I eat and drink and make sure not to go over my points limit.

It took me a while to do my shopping because I had to work out the points value of everything, but as I get used to the system, I'll whizz around no problem. WW also advocates a 'switch' mentality whereby you switch the full-fat version of something for the low-fat version - makes sense to me. So far I've switched to low-fat milk, cheese, bread and butter and it's amazing how many points you save and being really honest the only difference I've noticed is the just doesn't taste the same. But it's a sacrifice I'm willing to make. (I know, I'm practically a saint, I'm thinking of writing to the Vatican and seeing if I can get myself beatified!)

You also can earn bonus points by exercising and cos I walked for 20 minutes today I earned myself another point, which I can eat today or save for the weekend. (Possibly for a nice vodka..mmmm!)

Just to give you a little taste (groan Kaz, another pun) of my diet, so far today I've eaten: a bowl of cornflakes with low-fat milk and a glass of orange juice; a wrap with chicken, tomato and cucumber and a bottle of water; a WW ready meal of Special Chow Mein; two chocolate chip cookies, a chocolate mousse and a cup of tea. That comes to 16 and a half points and I intend to have an apple later (half a point) and some crisp breads/crackers with cheese, tomato and cucumber (about three/four points I think) as well before I go to bed. Meaning I'll stay UNDER my 25 points and can carry the remainder over to tomorrow (again will probably save them to have a drink in the evening!) Not bad don't you think? I know it's not "full Irish breakfast followed by a McDonald's and then duck in plum sauce with egg fried rice along with crisps, chocolate and coke" but it was all tasty enough, I got to eat biscuits and chocolate and I feel like I've been eating all day.

So that's about it. It's only been one day but I've stuck to it and I think I'll continue to be able to stick to it. I'm already excited about next week's meeting, to see how much I've lost. I'm hoping it'll be 3lbs, but that might be overly ambitious, as they say you'll probably lose 1-2lbs a week. But I'm hoping for the magic three. So keep your fingers crossed readers, and remember don't feed the elephant!

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Mammy Dunne and the gas man

I'M updating my blog a little earlier today because I have been banned from mooching around the kitchen, due to the arrival of the gas man. Those of you who read my earlier post about Mammy Dunne's obsession with being fully washed and dressed in preparation for the arrival of the revered gas man will realise what a momentous occasion this is.

Lo for he has-eth arrived. Yonder gas man with his bag of tools to service the boiler, thus ensuring we don't all die of carbon monoxide poisoning as happened to poor Rita Fairclough in Coronation Street. Yea though we walk in the valley of an old boiler, we shall fear no death, for the gas man is with us. For he is wise and certified by Bord Gais.

When our dodgy bell chimed it's off-tune 'dong-dong' to announce his arrival, I was the recipient of an almighty slap across my night-dressed legs and Mammy Dunne hissed "get up them stairs and cover yourself, it's the Gas Man." Note the use of capital letters.

As soon as I was up on the landing, she flung open the door all warm smiles and twinkling eyes, ushering him in, laughing off his apologies for being late with a fake "ah sure you're grand, we had nothing else to do today anyway". This despite the fact that she had spent the whole morning peering out the window looking for him muttering things like "I haven't all day you know" and "Sacred Heart of Jesus get a move on". Apparently it's ok to take the Lord's name in vain when you're waiting for the Gas Man. Sure even the Pope himself couldn't fault her for that, it was practically a hobby of the late JP II, she says.

No sooner than the poor chap was in the door however, did she abandon him to Daddy Dunne and scuttle upstairs to see what I was up to. "Sure that's man's work so it is. I wouldn't have a clue about boilers so I wouldn't." Er and Daddy Dunne does? I can hear him now nervously rubbing his hands together and stammering "it eh, needs a new part does it? Right, well we're a bit short of cash so maybe......oh, it'll explode without this part will it? Right. 80 euro you say? Well, I suppose that's reasonable....." while all the time thinking "shag it, I wanted to go for a pint tonight and all". Plus he'll have to put up with Mammy Dunne saying incredulously (once the Gas Man has gone of course) "you paid him WHAT?" and then not speaking to him for the rest of the evening, apart from a snide "fools and their money" "...need new curtains but oh no, HE gives it to the Gas Man" "sure any fool could see that fella was a chancer" every now and again.

Thankfully I'm well out of it, ensconced up here with my lovely broadband and my blog, waffling on for what must seem like hours to my poor readers. It's a little trick I'd advise you all to take as your own: when any electricians/plumbers/gas men call to your door to do repairs/drink your tea get a random male friend to stay downstairs with them, while you escape to your room and watch tv. It's easier all round!

After all the commotion and blasphemy, the Gas Man left after a mere 30 minutes with a cheerful "see you next year" and you'll be pleased to know it turned out the boiler didn't need a new part in the end, so Daddy Dunne was allowed to go for his pint after all.

Now what's this Mammy Dunne's muttering about having the carpets cleaned.....? Saints preserve us!

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Please do not feed the elephant!

AFTER many years of struggling with my weight I have finally decided to do something about it. I am joining my local branch of WeightWatchers with my friend tomorrow night (Thursday) and hopefully the group atmosphere and support of my friend will motivate me to stick to the programme and lose some much needed pounds and indeed stones.

I can't really pinpoint when I started putting on weight but I think it was in my teenage years, because any photos of me from my youth are of a skinny blonde thing, so I guess it was when I started babysitting regularly and got a part-time job in a shop at 15 or so that my problems started. Having my own money meant I didn't have to wait for Mammy Dunne to give me pocket money each week to buy sweets or chocolate and the walk and bus ride home from my part-time job was made much easier by the addition of a big greasy bag of chips! (Er and a battered sausage or two.) Alright alright, plus a Mars bar.

Luckily I was never bullied or teased at school because of my weight and so it never really bothered me in that sense. And when I got to college there were people there of all shapes and sizes so again, I put it to the back of my mind. It was only when I started working full-time in an office that I realised I'd quite like to wear snazzy black trousers and crisp white shirts and little suits like the other girls. Instead of baggy shapeless trousers and tent-like shirts. The only thing crisp about me was the packet of Tayto I carried in my bag at all times.

But still I did nothing about it for years and years, just kept clamping down on that little voice inside me that told me I was unhappy with how I looked. Then in 2002 I was diagnosed with a serious illness (more on that perhaps another time) and in a very short space of time lost about four stone (about 50-55lb for any trans-Atlantic visitors who may be reading). Although I was chronically sick I couldn't help but guiltily marvel at how good I looked! I took to looking at myself in every available shiny surface and trying on clothes in shops at least five sizes smaller than I normally wore, at every opportunity. Even if I couldn't afford them. Even if I was actually supposed to be on my way to a meeting, NOT browsing in the shops. And the little voice inside me was back, only louder this time, telling me that I WAS happier, being thinner. I WAS happier to be able to shop in normal stores. I WAS happier not sweating all the time. It took a horrible illness for me to realise this and I swore after all that pain and suffereing, I wouldn't go back to the fat me.

However, I am ashamed to admit it, but even with all the weight I lost while I was ill, I am still overweight. I currently wear a size 16 [US 12] (down from a 26, so not too bad I guess) but in recent months some of the weight I lost has started to creep back on and in fact a lot of my clothes are now a size 18. While I don't aspire to being a stick insect size eight, I would like to fit into a size 12, hence joining Weight Watchers. I've never had any will power so I really need the motivation of both WW and my friend to help me along the way. I hope to lose between two to three stone (one of those by Christmas) and then the final two by next summer and this time I intend to keep it off.

So keep your fingers crossed for me dear readers, I'm going to need all the support I can get. I'll update you each week on my progress (don't worry I'll keep it short, you won't be bored!) and I might even post a picture in the New Year of the svelter me!

And remember, if you meet me in the street and I get down on my knees and beg you for just one square of your chocolate, don't give it to me!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Things I hate versus things I love, humour me!

THINGS I hate:

1. When people stand in the narrow aisle at the back of the bus when it's crowded, instead of the wider space near the centre doors which is PROVIDED FOR THAT VERY REASON!

2. Being watched by someone in a cafe while I devour a BLT, only for them to smugly indicate their own black sugarless coffee and trim midriff.

3. Having an itchy bum while walking down the street, miles from any convenient pub/loo/changing room/area not in public view. (In this situation one is consigned to doing the Quick Walk of the Poker Up the Arse variety while shiftily trying to scratch through ones jeans.)

4. Snotty waitresses who sigh loudly when you ask for another minute to decide what you want to order. (I'm not being condescending cos you work as a waitress love, I just want another 60 seconds.)

5. People who stare at you quizzically in the street but then scuttle on without alerting you to the fact that you have wildly windswept hair/dirt on your cheek/a booger.

6. Men who smirk knowingly when you ask for a light outside a pub. (It's not a pick up line, I just want a fag, ok?)

7. Spitting.

8. Loud nose blowing.

9. Men who shout "cheer up love, it might never happen" at you while you walk down the street minding your own business. That'll be the one that'll make me go postal one of these days.

10. Being trapped for anything up to 45 minutes in a car with the most scary of mammals - a Dublin taxi driver.

THINGS I love:

1. Autumn days when it's not warm, but not cold either. October truly is the month of new boots and coats.

2. Watching the above snotty waitress struggling to add up how much a coffee and cake costs when her till breaks down. Not so high and mighty now are we love?

3. Watching the above snotty waitress's boss bawl her out two minutes later cos the till is broken and she can't add.

4. Walking up to the bus stop just as your bus arrives.

5. Finding twenty quid in your jeans pocket when you're Stoneybatter broke.

6. Logging on and finding someone has left a comment on my blog (a cheap sympathy shot I know but had to be done!)

7. M&S chocolate chip cookies. How do they get them to stay so gooey?!

8. The fact that I've finally found a pair of jeans that encompass my ass.

9. Watching a couple row in the street. A guilty pleasure I know, but something we've all done.

10. Knowing that the above item (number 9) is called schadenfreude, a German word for taking pleasure in others' misfortune. How brainy am I?!

It's broadband, but not as you know it...

AND so it has come to pass. KnackeredKaz has finally managed to activate her broadband account. But it wasn't easy, oh no, that'd be too simple. I signed up to eircom broadband more than two weeks ago and since then the Gods of the Internet have thwarted me at every turn, putting obstacles in my path, determined that I should be confined to dial up for ever.

"Waaatch" they laughed "as KnackeredKaz spends ages cooing over her brand new modem that arrived promptly in the post, only to discover the line won't be active for a week".

"Looook" they howled "as the line is finally activated and she attempts to set it up...only to find she doesn't have a wireless card on her laptop".

"Looook" they shrieked "as she has a brainwave and decides to connect using the Ethernet port, even though it's not ideal, only to discover that the port is not enabled on her laptop and her warranty has run out and PC World can't help her".

"Waaaatch" they gasped "as she goes back to PC World and buys a wireless card and assorted paraphenalia, only to discover there's some other configuration problem that has her onto the Eircom man for half an hour sweating like a pig."

"Follow her" they snigger "as she discovers that the assorted paraphenalia she bought not an hour earlier, such as an extension cord for the phone, is not needed because she has WIRELESS broadband now thanks to the Eircom man, and she's spent a fortune for nothing."

Oh I could go on and on. Anyway, the upshot of it is, thanks to the Eircom man I'm now mobile and am currently in my office/bedroom typing away, while my lovely little modem sits snugly beside the phone downstairs. This 'always on' business is a larff isn't it? I keep expecting Daddy Dunne to come thundering through the door shouting "get off the shagging phone" but that's not the case anymore, I can surf to my heart's content now. So expect more posts people, I'm *armed and dangerous!

*I don't mean armed as in a gun, I mean as in broadband. Just thought I'd clear that up before one of you rings the law and I have a SWAT situation on my hands!

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