Monday, 20 January 2014

January schmanuary…

January is, we’re told, the most depressing month of the year. People think it’s because it’s cold, dark and damp that we’re all so blue. And, of course, it doesn’t help that we’re all staring at huge debts and bellies after the Christmas splurge. But I think it’s got a lot more to do with the fact that we’re all trying to diet – and diets set us up to fail, and there’s nothing like failure to make us feel lousy.
I actually quite like January – it is the month of my birthday and my husband’s birthday, too. So there’s a lot of celebrating going on. I started a few days before mine, with lunch at Galvin at Windows (top floor of the London Hilton) with one of my best friends who also has a January birthday.
On the birthday itself Steve and I ate out at Gymkhana. Amazing! Go there - and eat the rose scented knicker bocker glory! I did. And then, a few days later, I ate the lion’s share of Indian sweets at another celebratory dinner with family.
After that, I decided drastic measures were needed. I’d missed a day of the 5:2 – a friend had come round with a bottle of Chablis and a box of chocolates and Steve had produced halibut with roasted vegetables followed by a stinky cheese platter.
So, this weekend, I thought I’d go back to trying the Harcombe Diet – which promises exponential weight loss, while NOT counting calories.
The catch is that you cannot eat any processed food, any fruit, cheese, milk, or any carbs (except for 50g raw weight of brown rice daily) for the first five days. Sometimes three days will be enough to kick start the regime. This baptism of fire phase is supposed to root out and eliminate issues like candida that cause us to crave all the foods to which we are addicted and which make us overweight.
It is an interesting diet. I managed days 1 and 2 without straying from the rules beyond a few (forbidden) salted almonds each day.
I was pleased with myself. Zoe Harcombe, author of the diet, says: “your body will come up with all sorts of excuses why you need to eat certain things – you don’t!” I ignored all those cravings. But it was hard. Amazingly, when carbs are this limited, I find myself stomach churningly hungry even after a massive chicken and ham omelette, or a lamb and pea keema.
So it was that, today, I slipped – and started thinking about those chocolates that Mary brought me. “Just one little chocolate” my cravings told me. “Just one little chocolate”.
Instead I had two ultra thin rice cakes with butter – not on the “allowed” list but not sugar either.
Then I had another one.
Then I ate the last two chocolate mint crisps from Christmas. And quickly shovelled one of Mary’s soft centres into my mouth for afters.
So – I have failed a diet that is extraordinarily hard not to fail.
And now I will feel like January is a depressing month. And I will have to do a 5:2 day or two so I can wear my favourite new clothes for our next blow out for Steve’s birthday next week…
Ho Hum...

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Peel the fear

In an excellent feature in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph – Short Cuts to Self Help – Victoria Lambert gave us a quick run through of the most enduring self help books on the market. I was pleased to see Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world was deemed the most helpful by psychologist Hilary Bruffell. I have been practising mindfulness meditation for a few weeks now and have mentioned on this blog before that meditation (albeit TM) is now recommended by the American Heart Association for bringing down blood pressure.
But also featured was Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway… which, as I tried to imagine applying this to one of my phobias - driving on the motorway - immediately had the effect of filling me with fear. Probably not a book I would want to read then.
But maybe we should all start by facing small fears first?
On Friday I picked up a wonderful looking recipe by Rachel Khoo for what she calls Crunchy Kale and Citrus Salad. What does this have to do with any of the above, you may well be wondering if indeed you are still reading. Well, quite a lot it turns out. Yes, it surprised me too. But, by yesterday evening, after I’d been thinking about Rachel’s recipe on and off for 24 hours, and had now read Victoria’s feature, I realised I was afraid of attempting it. The reason? She wants us to segment one grapefruit and one orange by cutting between the membranes. That shouldn’t be so hard. I know it’s the correct thing to do. But I have never attempted it. I have seen my husband do it – but have, I now realize, built up a fear of doing it myself. I am convinced I will end up with a bowl full of citrus pulp – and hands covered in squidge. So by last night I had decided the only way to make it without Steve’s help would be to invite a friend round to help me make the supper I was going to give her!
I have now found a way round this. I am going to buy some oranges and grapefruits and PRACTISE, blender at the ready in case they have to be turned into juice.
Long ago a friend said I should apply the same “start small” approach to motorway driving. Travel one junction, in the slow lane, for example. I still haven’t tried that.
This week I interviewed a life-long couch potato who took up running at the age of 40. She started with 30 seconds on, 30 seconds, off for just ten minutes. I could do that. And – if my 78 year old mother and disabled 70-something friend can fearlessly drive on the motorway – then surely I could do that too.
But I will start with the oranges and grapefruits.