Thursday, 17 January 2008

My twisted anatomy

Thursday 17th January

I have just finished day four of my new health kick. I have been so, so good. I have really made an effort to eat all those yucky vegetables and the smoothies have been a lovely thing indeed. I have been eating on average, nine portions of fruit and veg a day, taking all my vitamins and drinking plenty of water. I even did some yoga. And you know what? I feel terrible. I feel bloated, constipated and sick. I have spots, greasy hair and bloodshot eyes. What went wrong?

The quest continues...

Wednesday 16th January

This is what I ate today.

Special K
Ham, lettuce and wholemeal bread sandwich
Pro-biotic fig yoghurt
Slice of fruit cake
Smoothie – one banana, one apple, lots of strawberries, blueberries and orange juice
Veggie dish – secret family recipe, but one that involves peppers, mushrooms, celery, onions and wholewheat breadcrumbs.
A portion of baked beans
Well over 2 litres of water, 3 herbal teas and 2 normal teas.
Vitmins – cod liver oil, starflower oil, aloe vera

If I am not mistaken that makes for at least 8 or 9 portions of fruit and veg. Yay me.

Purest Green

Friday 11th January ‘08

Last night I watched the last half of Morgan Spurlock’s ‘Supersize Me’ on channel four. I had seen it twice before, but had reached that stage in the evening when the idea of actually getting up off of the sofa to go to bed just seems like so much effort that you will take any excuse to remain seated for another half hour. I watched as he talked about how, on his McDonalds diet, he felt depressed, ill and lethargic all of the time due to the lack of nutrients he was receiving, the only brief respite being found in the sugar rush of his next hamburger.

It occurred to me that the symptoms he described were pretty much how I feel all of the time. Now, I don’t think that I eat that badly at all. I certainly never eat fast food, unless you count the occasional fish and chips. But I will admit to eating hardly any fresh fruit or vegetables in the average day, let alone the recommended five, or even nine portions. Aside from a Satsuma and fruit smoothie for lunch and the inevitable potatoes with dinner, it’s a wonder I haven’t got scurvy. Much as pictures of shiny, glistening vegetables on television and in recipe books look appetising, I can’t say I really enjoy them in real life. (Although this is probably more due to my usual cooking method of boiling the hell out of anything green, then wandering off and forgetting about it until it is nearly cold, than any real dislike) Anyway, my point is, I refuse to go on living my life feeling the way I do – which is tired and cross most of the time – if it could all be cured by something as simple as a few vegetables. So I am resolved to eat more things that are green.

I also recently watched a Jamie Oliver program on what food does to your insides. I had always considered myself as being quite well informed, if not well behaved, on the issue of nutrition, but one thing Mr Oliver showed really stuck in my mind. He told us that bowl cancer is the second most common cancer in the UK, but up to 80% of the cases of bowl cancer could have been avoided altogether by better diet and exercise. He also said that if you eat only one or two portions of fruit and veg per day (As I usually do) you are asking for trouble.

For Christmas my Mother has bought me a smoothie maker. “This smoothie maker” I said, “will change my life. It will change my life because I have decided that it will.”

Even though I eat little or no fruit, I love smoothies and spend a fortune on them. It’s not that I don’t like fruit – I love it, it’s just that I always seem to forget to eat the damn stuff. The fruit I really like is the exotic stuff which is so expensive, and somehow when faced with an apple or a packet of crisps, I always choose the latter. Smoothies, it seems could be the answer to all my problems. I could pack in four or five portions of fruit a day without even noticing.

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Girls In Pearls

Monday 7th January 2008. 69kg (Stomach bug - Hurrah!)

On Boxing Day this year, as is my usual custom, I went to visit my paternal uncle, aunt and cousins at their house near Guildford in Surrey. The mechanics of this event cannot, I fear, be properly explained without a little prior knowledge of my family, but as I have little wish to discuss such tedious matters and I suspect you have as little wish to hear them, we will just have to make do and take it as read.

Upon arriving at the usual Christmas chaos of my Uncle’s house, standard procedure is (After greeting everyone) to sink into the nearest available chair and have a drink, which I got stuck into with gusto. Do you ever have those moments, when you are suddenly and unexpectedly afforded a moment of striking clarity? When, through no fault of your own, you undergo a brief out of body experience, and look down upon yourself as though you were a small insect clinging to the ceiling? Well I did just then, and what I observed in those brief seconds afforded to me was truly terrifying.

I saw myself, dressed in a sensible, flattering classic grey wool dress and pearls from House of Frasier, chatting amiably about London house prices with my Step-mother and her sister who were both wearing nearly identical dresses to me, but in black. We all had nice, shiny, brushed hair, opaque tights on and glasses of moderately expensive champagne in our hands, as we affectionately watched their children and my cousins play with a new Nintendo Wii. Somehow, overnight without realising it I had become a suburban housewife. And what’s more, I was enjoying it. Me, who has always lived in horror of such a fate, had mocked these sorts of women and gone out of my way to avoid becoming anything like them. What happened? I have rebelled, for god’s sake. Over the years I have gone to art school in Birmingham, worn a range of ridiculous and scruffy clothing, painted my nails black, been a goth, a punk, and a vegetarian, smoked pot, got a tattoo, and still managed to turn into my parents without even noticing it.

It started off so innocently: a love of vintage clothing and dissatisfaction with looking so unkempt all the time. I started the project and soon discovered that it was difficult to look authentically vintage while wearing jeans and trainers constantly. After uni ended and jeans were no longer strictly necessary, I took the opportunity to invest in some new clothes: my first real trousers, sensible shoes to match, a few silk blouses and some soft sweaters to complete the new casual, forties look I was experimenting with. I love the relaxed woollens and layers involved in this style. I don’t know whether it belongs to the forties, twenties or even to no specific era at all, but think Enid Blyton, bracing walks in the sea air, adventures and afternoon tea, and you are just about there. This was precisely how I eventually arrived at the grey woollen dress and pearls.

The trouble is with a lot of clothes from the twenties to the fifties, is that most of the everyday outfits, when it comes down to it, are just what you might call ‘simple and classic.’ It is really only the hair and accessories that distinguish them from present day clothing. This means that ball gowns and poodle skirts aside, you do not always need to buy the real thing to get the look. Unless you care about precise historical accuracy (And lets face it, who really does?) it is perfectly possible to put together a full vintage style outfit entirely from Debenhams. (And unless you have a very understanding employer and/or a lot of time and money on your hands it is usually appropriate to tone down the historical re-enactment on a day-to-day basis anyway). There, of course, lies the danger. On it’s own, without hats and gloves and lacquered curls, the same forties outfit that looked so lovely in a period film can look merely boring and frumpy in a suburban living room, and before you know it, you turn up somewhere to find out you are wearing the same thing as your Nan.

But never mind. I am young and this is one of the few times in my life when I will be able to get away with dressing like an old woman. At the moment dressing like I am sixty merely serves to highlight my youth, in the same way that wearing huge men’s shirts always make women look delicate and feminine. The minute I turn thirty I will no longer be able to do it as those sorts of clothes will just make me look older. I will have to spend hours getting outfits just right so that they neither make me look like a frump or mutton dressed as lamb. So I am going to enjoy it while I can. Rather severe, plain clothes have always suited me anyway. Due to the ‘bigness’ (See Mon 28th May) of my face and figure I have never really been one to carry off layers and ruffles and patterns.

So what should I have been wearing, if I was to be true to my age? Thinking about it, suitable options seem remarkably thin on the ground. I can’t honestly say I know what is fashionable at the moment, I suppose it’s probably some complicated creation involving leggings and neon. Most people I know seem to dress pretty normally on a day-to-day basis. If I asked what to wear they would probably just advise jeans and a pretty top, which is all very nice, but not exactly me. No, I will just have to accept my fate and resign myself to attempting to be the very chicest suburban yuppie I can be.

And What Have We Learnt?

Monday 31st December 2007

Hello there. How are you dear reader? It really does seem an age since I last wrote here. I almost think I have forgotten how. I will explain, in my own sweet, sweet time I promise. So ends another year. And this project as a matter of fact, in its current form at least. I think I have just about exhausted the limited subject matter available to me, and frankly I’m bored of talking about fat all the time. There really are more important things in life. And what then, have I learnt during this project? Not much really. I have learnt that no matter what the incentive, I will probably never get around to losing those two stones, and even if I did, I don’t think it would necessarily make me any happier. I have learnt not to be too envious of others, as they probably feel just the same as I do about their bodies, and no matter how perfect someone may seem on the surface, there is no such thing as a perfect life.

I have learnt the importance of smoke and mirrors – that all is never as it seems and therein lies the attraction. Lies are fascinating things. Illusion, mythology, and magic – they all serve to make the world a more charming place to live in. It is important to believe in the glossy magazine mythology of perfection, but not too deeply. Personally, I still like to imagine a world inhabited by beautiful, hedonistic models and rock stars, where champagne flows from the taps and the food is encrusted with diamonds because it is a pleasant fantasy. It lifts you up from the grime and the misery of daily life, and gives you something to dream about. It is only when you start believing in it utterly and coveting a life (and a body) that doesn’t exist that the dream can turn nasty.

And what of Kate? What of my dreams of a better life? One thing I find interesting in retrospect is the fact that I found it necessary to give the vision of a ‘perfect me’ a separate name and identity. It was almost as if my young brain could not conceive of me ever being pretty or successful, so I just imagined someone else’s life instead. The existence of Kate as a definite entity meant that instead of working to improve my own life, and becoming happy with myself, I just ended up trying to run away – trying to transform myself into someone else, convinced that if I could just become this other person, then everything else would magically fall into place as well. Because Kate was thin, I should be thin, and if I could look like Kate, then maybe I would become her - a bad way to live if you ask me.

That is probably why the fantasy person Kate always remained so two-dimensional in my mind. Because perfection is an illusion, once you see past the magic spell it is shattered. In order for Kate to develop a personality she would have to have flaws, that is what would make her human and lovable. And therein lies the irony. I wanted to be perfect, probably if I’m honest, so that people would like me. But who could ever love a truly perfect person? As Elizabeth Bennet remarks in the film of Pride and Prejudice, a truly accomplished (Read: perfect) woman would be “a fearsome thing to behold.” Maybe I have learnt something after all.

So an end, an end to all this madness! And a new start for the New Year. I have decided to remain posting on this blog even though the giant quest for perfection is, for now, over. I will continue to write as I always have, only now I will no longer be restricting myself to the narrow parameters defined by myself at the beginning of this project. I shall disgorge all the sugar-fuelled ravings of my vile and lovely little mind and continue posting them up for all to see. Won’t that be nice?