Thursday, 6 March 2014

Losing Weight; my 30 day 'shred' and my run-in with carrots

I have put on weight recently.  I’m sick of people saying things like- “You look GREAT!” Because I already know that.  I just want to make sure I catch any weight gain or unhealthiness while I can still do something about it, and when you go from 9 and a half stone to 11 and a quarter in a year, it’s a sign you should make some changes.

In the past I have tried dieting.  I have tried a lot of diets, and not one of them has worked.  The only thing that ever did work was being on a Cruise ship for a month, but that’s another story.  Possibly the worst ‘diet’ I ever tried was throwing up everything I ate, and this had the added effect of making me constantly sore-throated, miserable and smelling of vomit as well as not losing any weight.  The trouble is, I know, in practice, how a person is meant to feed themselves, but I just don’t do that.  I’m far from lazy, and can make incredibly elaborate dishes when I want to, but other times I do unspeakably bizarre things with food and regret my decisions even while I’m making them, but some strange force compels me to continue.  Take Wednesday 26th February 2014, pour example:

7:15am Wake up
7:20am Make an omelette, serve omelette to Giraffe
7:30am Have Lemsip with honey to fight my never-ending cold
8:00am Have breakfast of a quorn fajita wrap, Satsuma and tea
10:00am Do 45 minute Yoga routine
2:00pm Decide to peel a 1kg bag of carrots
2:30pm Chopped carrots won’t fit in the giant roasting tin, so I juice the remainder and drink the juice.
3:00pm Carrots come out of the oven greasy and delicious.  I eat a sensible portion.
3:15pm I take an hour-long nap
4:30pm I decide to eat another portion of carrots
4:45pm I go out and run some errands
5:30pm I am compelled to have some more carrots
5:45 pm For reasons unknown to me, I continue eating the carrots until they are gone.  I’m not enjoying them anymore, but mysteriously their continued presence is bothersome to me and I will not be able to relax until they are eaten. 
6:00pm I feel EXTREMELY ill as I make my way to my friend’s house for a sleepover.
8:30pm My friend makes me a delicious risotto but I am unable to eat the chocolate eclairs she offers me afterwards.  We do, however, manage to force down two bottles of wine.
The next day: I experience intense physical discomfort and conclude that it is not particularly conducive to anything to eat a kilo of carrots in three hours.  To this day (even though this incident occurred only a week ago,) I cannot so much as look at a carrot without feeling a withering sense of despair and helplessness.


THUS, I have decided to complete this thing called a 30 day shred.  Will I be successful? I DON’T KNOW.

Day 1: Woke up feeling pumped.  Did Level one.  Thought- “hey, this isn’t so bad.” Didn’t have weights so used two water bottles.  Afterwards I felt ready to take on the world.

Day 2: Woke up in SEVERE PAIN.  Managed to do the workout; was fine.  FELT GREAT!

Day 3: Woke up in EVEN MORE SEVERE PAIN.  Workout was actually easier though.  Vaguely considered upgrading to Level 2.

Day 4: Woke up not in pain, and workout was almost too easy.  Thought to myself I may need heavier weights.  Attempted using wine bottles, but this didn’t end well.

Day 5: Drank a bottle of the wine last night, therefore working out felt like there were little people crawling inside my body and sticking pins in the backs of my eyes.  After the workout and the shower though, I felt a lot better, then I fell asleep on the train (for the very first time in my LIFE) and woke up at Cambridge covered in my own drool.

Day 6: Decided to upgrade to Level 2 under Foofy’s watchful gaze.  He kept telling me my ‘tush’ was too high in the planking moves.  I told him to fuck off.  I didn’t manage to do all of the moves properly due to feeling as if my lungs were about to explode.

Day 7: Stuck with Level 2 and it was SLIGHTLY easier.  Used baked bean cans as weights this time, but still couldn’t force my way through some of the moves.  Jillian Michaels a LIAR when she says some of these moves last 30 seconds when they clearly last 30 HOURS.  Have not sworn at a DVD so much since pointing out all the historical inaccuracies in Braveheart.

Day 8: This Level 2 workout was completed after approximately no hours sleep and miraculously made me feel 100% better.  Working out is fun! Back to the water bottles again.

Day 9: I almost skipped the workout today due to having an extremely busy morning and having to take a Valium meaning I was feeling all floopy, but I not only managed it at 6pm, but for the first time I did it all the way through without stopping! I must have been working very hard because when Foofy entered the room halfway through he paused, looked thoughtful for a moment, then said in a curious tone:

And left.

Day 10:  Foofy continues to watch me exercise, offering advice here and there.  He needs to stop this or we will be having words.

Day 11: This was the day Foofy joined in, but he only managed five minutes before complaining that his ‘shoulder hurt.’  He then had the cheek to blame me because I hadn’t given him enough space in the bed the previous night.  A bad workman always blames his tools.

Day 12: This was the first time I managed what I think are called ‘cheer squats with a V raise’ without screaming with rage.  I decided to engage my abs a bit and it totally helped.

Day 13: Again, this felt pretty good today- perhaps I should move onto level 3?

Day 14: Much easier because I was doing it with my best mate, who was the brainchild of THIS JOKE.  She was much better than I was at the beginning of Level 2 but she isn’t carrying around 2 stone of extra weight on her.

Day 15: Since starting this regime I have GAINED weight! WHAT?? I’m convinced it must be muscle because my arms look freaking amazing.  On the other hand, today was torture because I was hungover and it was very early.

Day 16:  Why is it getting harder? It shouldn’t be getting harder!!!!

Day 17: I can’t do some of these arm exercises- what the hell?!? They were fine at the start.  Considering taking a day off because my muscles are fatigued.

Day 18: I managed today- looked at the mirror while doing it to watch my tummy fat bouncing around.  I’m incredibly impatient.

Day 19: I’ve decided this will be my last day on Level 2.  Good riddance! I hate a lot of the moves- not because they’re too exhausting, but because they hurt my knees.  Now onto level 3!

Day 20: I HATE Jillian Michaels.  I HATE my body.  I HATE THE WORLD.  I HATE EVERYONE!!!! Now to do my daily workout.

This was actually- fun.  I mean, I had to take several ‘five second rests’ and one of the exercises I had to modify drastically because I am using water bottles instead of actual weights, (and what she was doing would have caused the bottles to burst.) but it was more varied and interesting and seemed to go past a lot more quickly.  Also, the exercises weren’t solely created in order to make my knees as sore as possible, like in Level 2.  All in all, I feel pretty good after that workout, but it may have been because I physically couldn’t do about a quarter of it and just stood there sweating and gaping at the screen like a deranged goldfish.

Day 21: I woke up today with my muscles screaming.  Apparently this is a good thing as it means that I’ve broken down muscles and my body is burning calories having to rebuild them.  I didn’t take any rests today but I’m still modifying some of the stuff.

Day 22: I woke up too late to do the shred today! Was probably good to get a day off to rest my muscles anyway…

Day 23: I’m really enjoying level 3- the only bit I really hate more than anything is the third strength circuit where I have to hold myself in the plank position and do various wiggly things for three whole minutes! Sometimes when Jillian tells me what to do and how I should feel I want to stab her in the face.

(On the off chance that Jillian Michaels sees this and worries for her safety, she should know that the second I turn the DVD off my intense hatred for her transforms into an unearthly, divine love.)

Day 24:  I’m just about getting the hang of the ‘mountain climber’ move but other bits are proving impossible still, like those bloody one-sided push-ups.  I was feeling confident enough today to upgrade my side plank so that both knees were off the ground, and I was feeling very good about myself before I over-balanced and went head-first into my waste-paper bin.  If that hadn’t been the last exercise of the work-out anyway I’d have given up there and then.

Day 25:  Something was niggling today.  It didn’t feel quite right- I managed everything with no rest, but there was this slight underlying giddiness that tainted the whole workout.  I felt better after my shower, then went to a rehearsal for a show, and spent the whole evening feeling…odd.

Day 26: DISASTER.  Today, I became sick.  I managed to stave off the worse of it until after I’d been in the MRI tube, but in the evening the sore throat came.  I decided to take a day off to rest.


I have finally finished the shred (managing to fit in the other 6 days), because that is how long my cold has lasted- what the frig?!? I hope I don’t have something awful wrong with me.  It is a shame I could not completely finish the shred in 30 days, but 24 out of 30 is not bad, and once I’m better I will start exercising again, and here is why:

All in all, I would say that doing the 30 day shred was only slightly less enjoyable than my most recent cervical screening test.  It’s horrible feeling like your innards are being roughly scraped with a jagged, rusty nail and slowly pulled out of your body, but then again cervical screening tests aren’t very nice either.

However, there is something to be said for an exercise regime that doesn’t make you lose any weight, but that makes you feel amazing anyway.  My aim was to lose weight, and over 26 days I actually gained it, but, boy, do I look and feel better! The most noticeable improvement is in my shoulders, sides, arms, bum and thighs, so pretty much everywhere apart from my tummy fat, which seems to be completely un-shiftable… for the first time in a long time I am wearing figure-hugging skirts and leggings without having, mysteriously, four buttocks, and my waist is even more pronounced than it was!  Another unexpected result of this regime was that it made me eat quite a bit less- when you spend a portion of your day feeling like you're killing yourself from the inside out only to burn about 400 calories, you start to think twice about everything you eat…is that Crunchie bar really worth negating the half-hour of hell I went through this morning? Of course, when it comes to Crunchie bars, the answer is ALWAYS yes, but hopefully I've made my point. 

I also can’t help but notice all the incredibly positive changes in my life since starting the shred:

·        I am finding it easier to focus on writing, and don’t have the same desire for spending hours randomly surfing the internet like I did before.
·        I am spending time every day practising my skills; I’m finding things like playing the piano fun again.
·        I have far, far more energy and have put it to very good use; I now have three new students and a job singing in a show in London.
·        I really, REALLY love my body now.  I’d love it more if my tummy was flatter, but it’s wonderful to feel comfortable in myself and not like a failure.
·        You get good at exercising really quickly, and it’s empowering to see how much you can improve at something in a short space of time. 
·        My confidence has increased ten-fold and I have made some wonderful new friends!

In conclusion:



  1. Yup, couldn't agree more. I always find it funny when people express sympathy when I talk about having been exercising. It may be hard going at times, but dang it feels good. Now I just need to be good and stick to it ...

    1. Stick at it! I'm about to do a yoga video now, which isn't so cardio-heavy so as not to damage my throat. It's bloody hard though...

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