Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The hunger

I'm experiencing my first cold since leaving the world of contract employment and never-cleaned aircons. In this case the word "cold" is truly suitable since I got it from setting forth at night due to a nice touch of cabin fever. I agree with Agatha Christie (in the person of Hercule Poirot) who says that people tend to say they have flu when they only have a catarrhal cold since it is difficult to get the appropriate sympathy for a cold.

My quest for a great artefact to assist me in my goals has been achieved!
Grotty notebook
This notebook (not written in shorthand) contains the many notes I made for chapters, random ideas, etc. Careful observations of coffee stains, content and handwriting reveals that this is indeed that mystical item, the notebook containing my ground work for my Master's. Legends state that such an item can assist with memory and the completion of the dissertation.

Since I feared these notes to be lost to time (I put them in a "safe place") I don't know how much this will assist in the current chapter (new ideas), but we'll see.

Project 36: the hunger
As part of my last session with my dietician she warned me about "the hunger". Until now eating was a chore and by the end of the day I struggled to force myself to take in those last carb or protein portions (see the last post). Today I woke up hungry. I ate up a whole medium pizza by myself. (I have one free meal a week so it's not cheating on my eating plan.) Apparently this means that we might have awoken that slumbering beast, my metabolism. If the hunger continues this theory will be proven. Hold thumbs.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Driven to drink

When I started my eating plan I never thought that it would drive me to drink. Even less that I would struggle to get all my portions for the day in.

I'm discovering the joys of sipping at a glass of wine since I can't eat more. Reason? A glass of wine or a bottle of flavoured water can count as one carbohydrate portion.  So join me in lifting a glass to Easter!

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Three bricks of butter

I've been advised that it's not most brilliant idea to post the topic of an unfinished Master's on the internet in case another sneaky, power-hungry Master's student runs off with it and finishes writing before I do. So if anyone was wondering, perchance, that's why I just refer to it as the Master's. Most of the time.

I made a classic mistake when I started writing the dissertation. I changed my methods. Usually I have a techno peasant notebook in which I happily scribble while I read and then I pick out pieces when I write the chapter. I tried to go all electronic this time. Now I'm back to yea old pen and paper for planning. My eyes seem to like me a lot more suddenly.

Note to self (aka to any Master's readers): do not change what works. Especially not for a (silly) idea.

Project 36
went back to the dietician, Marthie Leach, today. I've been doing the eating plan (nothing that makes you eat that much can be called a diet) for a little less than a week. I'm very pleased with the results of the hobbit lifestyle.

I didn't lose any weight, but I did lose 1,5% body fat. This is apparently the equivalent of three bricks of butter!
Inspiration to keep going

I actually went to gym yesterday. I skipped my friend, the adducer machine, last time so this time I was drawn to its awkward embrace. To anyone that has the good fortune not to know what these are, a picture:
Thigh adducer

Unlike the exercise balls (Getting the (exercise) ball to stand still and the (metaphorical) ball rolling) there is no attempt to romanticise this particular exercise. It's embarrassing. My gym has the decency to at least have you facing the wall with a photo mounted on it so that you have something to look at while you struggle to bring your thighs together.

  1. Take one short lady (me).
  2. Select your punishment (resistance).
  3. Pull up the lever that brings the stirrups (what else can I call them?) close enough to swing your legs into them.
  4. Sit on the seat.
  5. Lift left leg up and swing it over and on to the stirrup.
  6. Wiggle the derrière and make circles in the air with the right leg until it is in the other stirrup.
  7. Brace yourself in the frog-on-its-back leg position.
  8. Lower the lever that stops the machine from moving.
  9. Slowly bring your knees closer to each other until you achieve the elusive mono thigh.
  10. Slowly relax legs.
  11. Repeat steps eight and nine 30 times in total.
  12. Pull the stirrup lever up.
  13. Elegantly swing a leg out of one stirrup.
  14. Straddle one leg of the machine and hop on one leg until you are free of the machine.
I missed the 30 reps since the machine only put the weight on one leg instead of both. How terrible.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Eat like a hobbit

Misery loves company as do struggling Master's students. (Is "struggling student" a tautology?) At any rate, my friend and fellow perseverer Anja started blogging again and says I inspired her to start up her blog, Coram publico, again.

It seems that I have finally relaxed and slept enough to start writing. I was starting to read Emma again when the whole of one chapter of my Master's flashed into my head. Parallel structures, parallel plots, love and marriage and structure cannot be two chapters! Luckily I have a MA notebook (the techno peasant version with a book and a pen) in which I noted my ideas so that they wouldn't go missing in the night. Hooray! It feels like I'm finally starting to get work done.

Project 36
My visit to the dietician went remarkably well. I do not feel that I will starve - instead I don't know how I'm going to eat so much. Apparently the way to lose weight and make the good old tum happy is to eat like a hobbit. Yep, my eating patterns were predicted by JRR Tolkien. Breakfast is to be eaten within an hour after surfacing from a night's sleep. Since I usually skip breakfast this is the worst part. Then follows elevenses, lunch, supper, dinner and a before-bed snack.

I've been attempting to do the portions a day. It's harder than I thought. Not because I feel that I'm being starved, but because I don't feel that I can eat as much and as often as expected. A few days of eating hobbit style have convinced me that the reason for eating as soon as possible after waking up is that it is the only way to eat so much in one day!

Incidentally, Marthie Leach, the head dietician at Litchi Living made my day. I've lost 2 kg since I stopped working and started sleeping (1.5 weeks). That's right, sleeping your eight hours a night (or a bit more in my case at the moment) will make you lose weight. This explains why the care bears and any other creatures that inhabited fluffy clouds in the eighties were just cuddly and not "overweight" or "fat".
See, cute and cuddly!

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we may diet

Over the weekend I read two books on comedy to jog my memory and tune in my mind.(I am aware that reading is not equal to writing, alas!)

I missed gym again. My excuse this time? Got stuck in traffic for 1.5 hours and finally couldn't get in since there was some inter-varsity sports thing going. It's a pity since I was looking forward to taking you through my next embarrassing exercise. I don't want to start writing about my exercises instead of doing them - so you'll have to wait to hear about more wonders of my exercise routine.

Project 36
The universe, in the form of a slightly  (she claims) inebriated mom at "the most wonderful party" is apparently guiding me to phone Litchi Living and make an appointment with one of their dieticians. Apparently while meandering her way through the Hazelwood food market (now in Menlopark) she spoke to the "nicest lady" who was, as I make it out, a family member of a friend or something of the sort. Naturally this recommendation needed verification so I visited their website.

I like their philosophy of eating well: "The good news is that the Litchi Living Lifestyle is easy, fun and dynamic; eat chocolate, ice-cream and sushi, drink wine AND loose [sic] weight."

I just happen to foresee a bout of depression in my future: "An individual consultation starts with an assessment of weight, height, fat percentage, recent blood tests, clinical signs of malnutrition, and normal dietary habits." I don't want to know what my fat percentage is!

My appointment is tomorrow at 11:30. We who are about to diet, salute you.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Ben Schoeman and Liszt

Yesterday, I went to listen to Ben Schoeman's performance as part of the promotion for his début CD release tour (at the Enoch Sontonga Conference Centre at Unisa). Should you find yourself close to one of his performances, do yourself a favour and go listen. Visit Ben's website to find out where he's performing next.

I've been following Ben Schoeman's career for a long time. I've known him for as long as I can remember - my mother and his mother were in high school together. Ben and I went to the same primary school and also had tennis lessons together (where neither of us showed much talent I'm afraid). I distinctly remember a scene that replayed itself many an afternoon. Ben would practise playing the piano while I sat close by and listened (usually with a book stashed away). In the great scheme of things not much has changed.

Ben's playing has gone from strength to strength. I can't give a technical description of the changes, but I can give my impression. When he came back from studying in Imola, Italy I heard a new depth of emotion in his playing. Now, in Ben's latest interpretation after studying in England, his playing still shows emotion, but the emotion is controlled.

I specifically enjoyed Ben's interpretation of of Liszt's Sonata in B minor, S. 178. The sonata balanced perfectly between the dramatic and the enchanted. As soon as the dramatic threatened to burst out of control and take over the piece, Ben controlled the moment and changed the direction of the music. When the sonata threatened to turn into a million specks of enchanted snowflakes, Ben once again showed his talent and solidified the sonata.

We were very lucky to have an encore where Ben played Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody number 12. I thoroughly enjoyed this - true to the spirit of the dance Ben released some of his masterful control and allowed the audience to hear the steps of the dancers. 

I look forward to listening to my copy of the CD.

Friday, 8 April 2011

I scream, you scream, we all scream for ice cream

Despite good intentions, despite the blog... I succumbed to the wonders of ice cream today. You see, I figured that eating a Magnum mini once in a while couldn't do any harm. After all, have you seen the advertisements ?

Eva Longoria - the face of Magnum
I'm just sure that she doesn't give in to temptation and munch three mini Magnums in one day. That only works out to 1.5 usual Magnums, but still not a good idea. The next enemy this Easter is Lindt chocolate bunnies. Chocolate is my borg. "We are the Chocolate. You will assimilate us. Resistance is futile. We will go straight to your hips."

On another note - the sleeping is still not stopping. I slowly wake up, roll over and look at my cellphone (who still owns a watch?) and realise that half of the day is gone. What am I recovering from? Am I catching up on a year of sleep? Perhaps it's combined with my desire for chocolate and indicates that I'm ready to go into hibernation. I have heard that bears lose a lot of weight while hibernating...

P.S. Shaved my legs today

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Getting the (exercise) ball to stand still and the (metaphorical) ball rolling

I went to see my angel of a supervisor yesterday. I originally wanted to do a chapter a month, but my supervisor agreed to a chapter every two months. I am allowed to hand in chapters quicker, but not after the two-month deadline. The due date for the final product is January. I've also been offered some nooks and crannies at Tuks to write in should I find my home environment too distracting.

I skipped gym yesterday for a crew meet, but went today (go me!). I love my gym - no-one there looks like an athlete, a poppie, or anything other than an ordinary person. The gym is good for my self-confidence since I'm usually one of the youngest people exercising there. Some of my fellow attendees are lecturers from Tuks, so I've gotten good advice about writing the Master's. Which doesn't help if I don't apply my derrière to a chair and write.

I have an exercise programme for my magnificent "sports injury" - aka my trick knee. The weak knee is a result of a lunge mishap in rapier class. When I finally saw the orthopaedic surgeon, he agreed, but also mentioned something in the line of "fat, inactive girls" and left out the "like you". Oh well.

Today at gym I rediscovered two things:
  • stretching reveals how necessary shaving legs regularly actually is, and
  • exercise balls were invented by a sadist.
Reverse back extension
Look at the nice clipart picture above. Look how serene the lady is and how elegant she looks. Do you know what it takes to get an ordinary human being on that ball?
  1. First, take one curvy lady (that would be me). 
  2. Hold the ball in front of you and squat like a frog. 
  3. Move your knees to be at the side of the small(er) exercise ball and use your hands to steady the blessed thing. 
  4. With grace, charm and elegance, roll yourself onto the ball.
  5. Roll back and readjust your pants to be comfortable. Repeat step 4.
  6. See your reflection in the gym mirror and evaluate how much cleavage is displayed when you balance yourself using your hands. Decide that it's too much effort to readjust.
  7.  Stop looking like a turtle sunbathing on it's shell and use your core muscles to lift your legs and look like the lady in the picture.
  8. Go back to the sunbathing turtle position.
  9. Do 20 reps of steps 7 and 8.
I've decided that on the cleavage-derrière scale, I prefer looking out the window with my legs facing the gym. It's less traumatic for me.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Embrace of Morpheus

Master's progress
I'm gathering my books and I've made an appointment with my supervisor.

Project 36
I missed gym today, but did some shopping, paid off my debts and helped to lug the new mini-oven around. I ordered something not really recommended for diets (a chicken pot pie) for brunch but I did manage to only eat until I was full instead of sitting down and devouring the entire plate. I also successfully resisted all the Easter chocolate displays.

Courtesy of a nice long discussion this weekend with friends, I've decided not to let weight feature here. After all, I'm trying to become a size 36. Since muscle apparently weighs more than fat, the exercise that I intend to do might make me miserable before I start seeing the real results. Despite the thrill of public pressure to lose weight and attain other goals, I'm also not going to post my vital statistics (although I will note them down and keep them in a secret, safe, hidden spot).
Morpheus, god of dreams and son of Sleep - Ovid

Thus far, my experience of being a full-time student is just that I sleep. A lot. Friday, 1 April, was spent sleeping. I woke up, moved around and got back into bed and slept. The same for the weekend and today. I feel like an Augustan débutante - I'm awake in the middle of the night (I'll leave you to imagine why and make my life more interesting) and sleep till noon. How long can this last?

Sunday, 3 April 2011

The photo

One part of the many-fold plan is to shape up and slim up. This is a common enough goal, but in my case I have a visual aid. The nymphette of the title appears below. I still have both garments so I know that here I was a perfect size 36. The goal - to wear that outfit again and look just as yummy!
The nymphette

Believe it or not, I used to be even skinnier. I think my minimum weight was about 47 kg. Doesn't look as good as the nymphette. I suspect part of my weight gain was due to starting to eat again after cutting down on food, regularly skipping meals and stressing about my matric year. Perhaps it was the Lamictin. Or, as my mom always insists, starting to eat junk food. She's probably right too.
"Te maer, te maer. Van jou sal ek maar sop moet maak" - die heks in Hansie en Grietjie*
*This quote is from the Storieman series which I listened to as a child. Loosely translated: "Too thin, to thin. I'll have to make soup of you" - the witch in Hansel and Grethel.