Wednesday, 10 October 2012

My daily walk of shame

From Monday to Friday each week, I accompany Guthlac on his five-minute walk to school, where he is currently in 'Foundation 2' (or 'Reception' as it was until recently. Or 'infants' as it was back in my day.) I then depart for work.

Guthlac and his classmates are not allowed to bring toys into school. However, they all interpret this rule to mean that they can bring toys to the playground and then hand them over to their accompanying parent or carer when summoned inside.

Thus it is that from Monday to Friday each week, I am compelled to walk though the streets of my neighbourhood, a solitary middle-aged man dressed more-or-less respectably for work, trying to look normal while carrying in his hand a bizarre toy of some description. As many of those who will see me are similarly encumbered parents I know I have some degree of understanding. But there are always non-parents about who will notice and start constructing narratives inside their own heads as to how this state of affairs has come to pass. I imagine, in my more paranoid moments, that many of these narratives feature phrases like "care in the community" or "predatory".

I now have, in my head, an elaborate hieararchy of toys categorised by public shame coefficient, running something like this:

Category one: Small transformers, toy cars, superhero figurines: Fine for cold weather as they can be concealed inside a coat pocket. In warm weather, can be largely hidden with sleight of hand.

Category two: Scooter or bicycle. Awkward to carry and impossible to conceal about one's person, but obviously the burden of a school run and therefore no cause for public shame.

Category three: Marvel comics. Hard to conceal other than during overcoat weather, and open to non-school run interpretations from passers-by including sad geek's reading material and child-molestor's conversation starter.

Category four: Light-sabres, game consoles etc. Too large to conceal, too embarrassing to carry openly, these are the stuff of overly self-conscious adult nightmares. Only this morning, a request to take one of these and the inevitable response led to a toddler-like temper tantrum, with screams, flailing fists and hot salty tears. But after a while I calmed down and took Guthlac to school anyway.

Monday, 1 October 2012

Weightloss - a dull, self-obsessed post for fellow losers

Having promised, a post or two ago, never to comment on the subject again I find that a commenter (somebody who reads this blog, and must therefore have petals strewn at her feet and have every whim catered for) has asked for more. So Melissa (on the assumption anyone else will have bailed out by now) - a few random and slightly more positive thoughts about weightloss:

1) Knowing your BMI is brilliant, because it shocked me into action in the first place and gives useful waymarks as to how one is doing, plus a wise and reasonable target weight at which you can level out. Trust me, I was fat for years and made every excuse in the book (including "I'm big-boned" and "muscle weighs more than fat" and "I'm a bit plump but not actually obese" and "I don't really eat that much"). All of these are untrue for *any* overweight person, btw. I finally worked out my BMI in the expectation it would come out as "pleasantly cuddly but nothing to worry about" and found I was clinically obese at a health-threatening level. I then made targets out of each full point of BMI I dropped (from well over 30 to 24, where I am now). This was helpful as it kept giving me small victories rather than having me chase a seemingly unobtainable big target.

2) Diets don't work. I dropped 4 stone (56 lbs if you're American, 27 kg if you live in the metric world) without going on "a diet", or giving anything up. Habit-changing was what worked for me. For example, I used to drink too much coffee, and every cup I had contained about 3-4 tsp of sugar. One day I actually put my daily intake of sugar from coffee along into a bowl and looked at it. It horrified me. I retrained my tastebuds to like black coffee without sugar and also cut down the number of cups per day I was drinking, and in a negligible amount of time had cut several hundred calories a day out of my regular intake without really noticing. If you are overweight, there will be 'savings' like that in your in your daily intake you can make. I did similar things with chocolate, snacks and meat (meat especially is key - be a vegetarian at least 6 days a week and you'll be amazed by the difference it makes). Replacing cakes, biscuits and chocolate with dried fruit or seeds is great as well.

 3) More exercise is good. When you are overweight it's gruelling and painful on the joints and tires you out. When you get down to the right weight it energises you. And you don't feel nearly so self-conscious at the swimming pool or out jogging.

 4) When you reach your target weight, buy new clothes and send the tents to charity shops. You look better, feel better and don't have the option of your weight going back up again. Hope this is of some interest. Please feel free to share your experiences knowing that I will take an intelligent interest...