Beating the Binge

Britain is well known for it’s binging culture. Mostly for the binge drinking of alcohol, which I think is a misnomer, because “binge” suggests a period of not partaking followed by complete gluttony, and generally I think Britain is a regular excess drinker. But the binge that I’m talking about today is not booze. It’s my own personal struggle against decadence until I want to vomit: sugar. Continue reading

Early days

I moved to a new country on Wednesday. It is now Saturday, and I have spent the last two days cleaning my house, stocking up my cupboards at Costco, befriending the kitten (including believing I had lost the kitten out of a window, crying in the garden thinking I would be dumped for being a negligent girlfriend, finding said kitten inside the house after all – hiding in the recliner), and attempting to get my head around the gargantuan to-do list. It’s early days in the New Life.

I have also succeeded in eating badly, sleeping badly, overreacting, panicking, and my personal favourite: sitting in a stupor.

Cowboy is hiding from me this morning, while I scowl at the computer. Who knew it would be so difficult to find affordable, relatively nice furniture in an actual shop where I could go in and just get the furniture? I didn’t realise how important it would be to me to have furniture. I’ve been living out of a suitcase for weeks now. It was fine while I was waiting to move, but now I’m here, I want to plunge some roots down and feel like I have a home.

It’s becoming an ordeal. If I could hide from myself, I would.

On the flip side, things that I thought would be horrible, terrible, insurmountable issues as part of the move have turned out to be nothings, and the relief is overwhelming.

Yesterday I played with the horses in the rain, and began to see how good life is going to be. If I could only get some furniture…

Last minute

It is rapidly becoming the last minute. I am down to last minute meetings, last minute socialising, last minute packing, last minute shopping, last minute panicking, etc etc.

Today has mostly been about last minute hair dye, as I realised it must be almost a year since my mother slapped henna (I use Caca Rouge from Lush, and have done so for over ten years) all over my head and I propped myself up for several hours while the mud did its miracle thing on my hair.

With what feels like several tonnes of goop and clingfilm on my head at the moment, my neck is rather sore. That may have something to do with the killer upper body workout that Mark the Magician made me do this morning. His trainers matched the walls of the gym today. I was rather impressed, but I don’t think it was intentional.

“Rather than mess about with more reps,” he said, as I sipped water in a recovery break between push presses, “how about we just build up this weight to about that of a saddle?” This man has paid close attention to my goals, and I love him for it.

If I can now push 60lbs over my head three times, without dying immediately, hopefully I can avoid the shame of flinging Cowboy’s saddle, forcefully and enthusiastically, into the side of my horse instead of over her back.

I’ve also ended up doing some last minute bonding with this little monster, who has spent the last nine months completely ignoring me.

She has finally realised that I will scratch her ears, rub her belly and bump heads with her at her every whim.

I’ll even feed her. I’m that kind of cat person.



I think she might be a little sad when I leave, if she even notices, of course.

MarmiteI’m not really going to miss her needle sharp claws being dug (with love) into my legs, arms, neck, feet, fingers, etc.

She can be a little over zealous with her affection.

She also likes to dribble on me when she’s really enjoying the bonding session. Then she likes to shake her head and spray the dribble all over me, and whatever it is I’ve been doing whilst petting her. Thanks, Marmite…

You love her or you hate her. Her name really is appropriate.

The Release

Holy Nancy Spumoni Snow Boots… (spot that reference)

It’s often said that you never know how much pressure you can handle until you’re under pressure. I’d actually go a step further – you never know how much pressure you’ve been under until that pressure lifts.

Yesterday was a big day. On the face of it, the pivotal moment was a little over an hour spent at the US Embassy in London, and most of that was sitting and waiting. It wasn’t exactly strenuous or difficult.

The relief, and the release, that came with that magical little word, “approved,” was like a bulldozer. I feel totally drained. I expected to feel exhilarated, thrilled, excited, uplifted, enthused.

All I want to do is sleep. My muscles ache, my joints are sore, and this is not the usual post-gym fatigue. As the tide of adrenaline washes away, I am aware of just how much tension I was holding. It’s a wonder I’ve been getting anything done at all.

I am taking a couple of days to sit with this new development in life. Moving to another country, another name, another way of life is a lot to get my head around. My decision to go ahead with this is being met with mixed emotions from different people. I’m sure there are doubters, but I’m trusting my gut on this one.

Now I think I’m going to go back to bed.

The Last Hurrah

The end of my feeble, wasted, lazy existence is nigh.

On Monday morning, I slithered into my running lycras and went to meet Mark. Mark, a personal trainer, owns a little outfit in Oxford called StudioPT, and I have asked him to fix me.

I did my best to put him off working with me. “My fitness is terrible. I am a walking disaster. I am riddled with old injuries.” He was undeterred, and unfortunately I had to show up at his private gym and feign enthusiasm.

The studio is well equipped, bright and airy, and has a banging soundtrack. After a quick sit down to discuss my situation, Mark put me through my paces as an assessment session.

He is tall, lean, and oozes power. He demonstrated each exercise with little to no effort, and corrected my wavering form as I tried not to shake too obviously in the press ups. This was nothing like my usual visits to the gym.

Mark is going to whip my butt into shape, starting tomorrow morning. He says he has a plan. I’m slightly terrified.

I’m preparing the best way I can think of, with one last rebellion – sitting on the sofa watching the Food Network, eating a bacon sandwich, and binging on cake.

The first run

I went for a “run” today. I’m going to use that term loosely. Let’s remember that I haven’t run anywhere since last March. A long and complicated combination of sheer laziness, preoccupation with exams/studies/horse riding, injury, illness, travel, new injuries, more illness, more travel, and yet more illness meant that I didn’t really run in the last year.

Today’s effort was a start on a long road. I downloaded a “Couch to 5k” app on my phone, made sure I had some appropriate funky house to run to, and peeled myself into my running clothes. I laced on my trainers. Then I made myself look in the mirror. If I didn’t go and run now, I was just an idiot wearing running clothes in the house.

I strapped on my heart rate monitor and my GPS watch, items I purchased in a rash of enthusiasm a few years ago. I really only love them for the calorie burn calculation that they produce.

The first episode of this Couch to 5k programme was mostly walking. There were eight runs of one minute each. I don’t know what was more depressing: that the runs were only a minute long, or that I was wheezing and coughing my way to the end of each minute with barely another step left in me. I am horrifically unfit, to a degree that I don’t recall for many years. My dance fitness came on so gradually, I didn’t appreciate how in shape I was when I took up running the first time. This is a firm slap in the face. I need to put in work.

First run

Luckily, it was a beautiful day, and I only got chased by a dog once, so it was a nice outing. I also got to see frogs in the village pond, and I do love seeing frogs.

It's a little hard to tell but the filth pit that is the village pond is now stuffed with frogs and frogspawn. At last that solitary goldfish has some company! Spring is here!

By the time I got home, 32 minutes after I’d left, I had burned 240 calories, most likely through panic that I was about to die of heart failure. The lady on my app congratulated me heartily on completing the first session. I felt pretty pleased. The next run will be on Monday. Let’s hope it’s less gaspy and a bit more springy. I expect I will be stiff tomorrow. I’ll deal with that when it happens.

Back to the books

I’ve been back home in the UK for a couple of days now. I’m so jet-lagged, I could vomit. The weather was kind enough to be that glorious March sunshine that makes the rolling clouds look wonderful when I landed, but now it’s gone back to the dreary grey.

My month in Washington went far too quickly for me to understand. We lost several days, snowed in, and a good deal more time travelling up and down the state. I spent a small fortune.

I spoiled Cowboy on Valentine’s Day, buying him a leather splitter and a pattern for him to make his own spur straps. I know, I can hear you thinking it. He’s the luckiest man alive, with romantic gestures like that. His gift to me was driving me to Seattle more times than he’d care to mention, and with only minimal complaining.

Who says romance is dead?

Now that I’m home, it’s time to get on with boring tasks like doing the company accounts, realising I need to stop spending so much money on Cowboy, and hoping like heck that I can get the right paperwork together for the school in Seattle to accept me into their programme as of May. I don’t particularly want to have to wait until September.

Although Cowboy said it was a good thing I was leaving for a bit, as Sunshine was getting kind of smart-arse about things and he needs some time to put her back to work. I didn’t think we looked too bad.

"You’re a dancer? You must be really flexible…"

So, perhaps my plans are about to be wiped out. Perhaps my best intentions are taking me along the road to hell. Perhaps my flexibility is about to be tested, pushed to its limits. It’s bend or break time.

I’ve been in Washington for just over a week now, enjoying the crisp, clear winter weather (and the less crisp, less clear rain which is more typical), and hanging out with Blue Dog.
He had a bath yesterday, against his will. He smells so good now.

Then reality hit hard this afternoon. Plans about massage school got shaken, vigorously, by the discovery of some terrible internet reviews of my chosen school. I began to question my judgement. Some hyperventilation occurred.

Cowboy hugged me and said “It’ll be fine, babe.”

So, I took a deep breath. I sent emails to other schools. I reminded myself that I have more time than I think. I considered the possibility of living with my parents for longer than I planned. I considered the upsides to being in the UK for longer than I had intended – more horseback archery… Hmm. Not so bad.

Then I sent Cowboy to make me a cup of tea. I’m already feeling better.

If I had a pound for every time things didn’t go to plan, I’d be a rich person. Better than being rich, I’m still surviving, so obviously it isn’t the end of the world if plans change. Quite the opposite.

Therefore the stiff and unbending is the disciple of death.
The gentle and yielding is the disciple of life.
Lao Tzu (c.604 – 531 B.C.)


Tomorrow, I head off to Terminal 5 at Heathrow for my flight to the US. I have packed my suitcase with determined efficiency, using a new packing technique (new to me, at least), and I have crammed in a huge amount of stuff into one suitcase and one cabin bag.
Sadly, there wasn’t really enough space for this monster. She tried.

It is at about this point, when the trip looks very real and inevitable, that I get some nerves. I look at my packed bags and feel certain that I am forgetting something utterly vital and irreplaceable.

I also have to tidy up my bedroom before I leave. Something about coming home to a chaotic room is very unsavoury to me. I’ll have to hoover and put everything away before going to bed tonight, and in the morning I will probably change my bed sheets so that when I get back, a month from now, everything will be ready.

A fair amount hinges on this trip. Life could be extremely different in just a few short weeks.