Monday, 30 March 2009

Still alive - and not fat!

Hello. My name's Isabel and I used to write this blog.

Yes, I know, I know... it's been months since I've written in here - but that's partly been a conscious decision. I'm now firmly back in the world of eating and drinking like a normal person and my size 18 self is but a distant memory. Actually, perhaps that's not strictly true - every time I'm in the supermarket or in a restaurant, I have to think about the choices Isabel + 5 stone would make, and then do the opposite, and it's quite exhausting. However, I've been successfully maintaining my weight for the past few weeks but have still enjoyed myself, which is really good to know. In February, I gained a few pounds - but it was a whirlwind month of weddings, birthdays, holidays and other shenanigans, and I've since tried to balance it out in the way that someone who's never been overweight might. But I'm not going to pretend it's easy - for a start, my metabolism is still buggered from so many months of so few calories, so I'm more likely to gain weight than your average person. However, the effort is worth it, as I feel pretty great, if it's OK to say that without sounding like a wanker.

There's been a LOT going on - the biggest thing is definitely the fact that I have a new job, which I start in a couple of weeks. I've been at Heat for six years now and I am incredibly sad to be leaving, but it seems like the right time - and that's partly because of all this. I like the idea of going somewhere completely different where nobody knows the bigger me. I sometimes feel like the people I know now are just waiting for me to trip up and gain weight - although in reality I know that's probably just paranoia on my part, as nobody's that mean. Well, only one or two people anyway.

The love life relaunch has also been and continues to be... interesting. I'm not quite so much of an attention seeker that I'm going to divulge these things here, sorry. I wish I was that shameless, though, as my whole weight loss "journey" has led to some interesting boy-shaped developments, some good, some bad, and it would make for a really meaty and thought-provoking bloggy thing. Ooh, intriguing. But I can't go into it. Ha. Actually, I think some people might be quite relieved to hear that. La la la la la.

What else? I've covered food, work and romance - that's pretty much all there is to life, no? So, let's do some photos. I went to Spain last month, and happened to have my picture taken on the same beach as the last time I went, in March 2008. I'm even clutching the same flip-flops...

And then there was Raj and Tom's wedding a couple of weeks later, where I wore the best dress ever. I delved through the archives and found a photo of myself in a somewhat larger spotty dress back in November 2007. So you can literally spot the difference. Yeah, it's just the mouse ears really, isn't it?


For a while I felt a bit repulsed when I looked at old pictures, but that seems to have passed. When I study those two "before" photos, I don't think I looked that bad. I definitely prefer the way I look now, but I don't utterly hate myself in either of those. My good bits are still my good bits, and my bad bits are still my bad bits - they're just scaled-down versions of them.

I do think it's important to regularly remind myself how far I've come, as for the past couple of months I've been deliberately trying to put the whole diet thing behind me and move on, as if I've always been this weight, and I've even been a bit annoyed when anyone else brings it up. However, I need to keep myself in check by looking back from time to time, if that makes sense. While I've partly written this blog entry tonight to shut all the people up who've been nagging me about not updating it, I've mainly written it for my own benefit - it's a bit of a pat on the back for how well I've done, but it's also a kick up the bum to remind me to keep it up.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Christmas 2007 Vs Christmas 2008

When I was looking through some old Facebook pictures the other day, I remembered posing for a photo on Christmas Day last year in my mum and dad's kitchen. So, I thought I'd re-enact it exactly a year later. Even I can see that the difference is quite alarming - you can see much more of the jukebox in the 2008 shot! The thing that upsets me a bit is that I thought I looked nice at the time of the 2007 photo, but now I think I look horrible, and that everyone else must have thought so too. Oh well.

So, it's the first day of 2009, I've reached my goal weight and have started reintroducing normal food. Blimey. 2008 was a year of massive change, both inside and out, and I'm feeling excited and positive about the future. Last night, I went out and saw in 2009 with the wonderful Nicky Stocks, wore a lovely new dress (size 12!), some even lovelier new shoes (size 5 - I used to be a 6!) and had my first (and second, third, fourth and fifth...) alcoholic drinks in five months. I had a brilliant time and there was no hangover either - it all felt very teenaged. I definitely indulged, but I don't feel that I over-indulged (even though booze isn't strictly on the agenda for a few weeks), and it didn't make me want to stuff my face with fried chicken, chips and/or bacon sandwiches. Here are me and Nicky showing off our pretty dresses in the glamorous surroundings of the Islington Academy toilets:

I'm not sure if I'll carry on drinking regularly over the coming weeks or not. It probably helps that lots of people will be having a tee-total start to the year, so I might just go along with that for the next few weeks, until February when I'll have a big wedding to go to (my friends Raji and Tom), a holiday (I'm off to Spain for a few days with my parents and my friend Debbie) and my 28th birthday, and I don't intend to stay entirely sober for any of those.

My first proper meal since August was, as planned, at my work Christmas lunch on December 23rd. One thing I wasn't prepared for was how nervous and overwhelmed I would feel beforehand. When we waited outside the restaurant for our tables to be ready, I felt seriously panicky and it was actually quite scary. In hindsight, it was probably a bit silly for my debut eating experience to be in front of 30-odd workmates, as I suddenly felt really weird about it, which I hadn't anticipated at all. Once we were actually sitting down (and I made sure I surrounded myself with my closest friends from work, which helped - so thank you Cuckoo, Laura and Stef. You are my rocks, or something) it was all OK, but I think beforehand the magnitude of what I've done over the past few months really hit me for the first time. But, once I'd calmed down a bit, I happily and sensibly ate a mini Christmas dinner (well, just a couple of prawns, a bit of turkey, some green beans and a few sprouts - I've never liked sprouts before but I bloody love them now) and it was very nice indeed. But you can see the fear in my eyes here as I took my first mouthful...

I had two similar meals with my family over the Christmas period, but did also pick at a few less sensible things - a bit of chocolate and a few bites of carrot cake. However, both of them made me feel a bit sick, whereas I've been really enjoying the healthier stuff, so that's good to know for the future. When I got weighed on Tuesday, I was shocked to discover that, despite upping my calorie intake considerably on three days out of seven, I managed to lose an unexpected five pounds over the course of the week, taking my total weight loss to 5 stone, 3 lbs. Those of you who feared that I'd descend into anorexia will be pleased to hear that I'm not bothered about losing anymore weight - mainly because I don't want all my new clothes to be too big! I've never had any desire to be skinny (like Bridget Jones, "I'll always be just a little bit fat"!). Size 12 is what I wanted and size 12 is where I am in 80 per cent of clothes - I'm a size 10 in some tops, and a size 14 in some bottoms, all of which sounds pretty normal.

I also discovered over the Christmas period that exercise is now definitely a habit. Regular readers and real-life friends will know that I've been going to the gym twice a week for a couple of months. I couldn't go over Christmas as I was at my parents' house some 80 miles away, but I still felt that I wanted to be active, so I went for a nice run with my sister on Boxing Day and then by myself a couple of days later. And here's the proof!

It felt great so I know that exercise is a habit I'll keep up in 2009. I've never been able to say that confidently before.

Despite the fact that I wasn't over-indulging like I normally would at this time of year, I feel like I had one of the best Christmases in ages. I got some lovely new clothes (plus some money to buy even more!) and I felt happy and relaxed rather than bloated or hungover. My family all commented that I am a much easier person to be around since doing Lighter Life - I'm not sure if this is because I feel happier with myself, or if it's because my moods are more stable as I'm not going through the highs and lows of carbs, sugar and alcohol - perhaps a bit of both. I don't like the implication that I used to be difficult, but I can see where they're coming from.

While I was at home in the Fens, I also went for a night out with Sarah, my friend from school who I hadn't seen for a whopping nine years. In the past I've shied away from these kinds of reunions, as I've felt ashamed of the way I looked, although this is something I haven't put into words until now. But this time I felt happy to see old faces as I'm slimmer now than I ever was at school - I weigh the same as I did before puberty!

So anyway, now that Christmas is out of the way, I'm following the whole Route To Management thing much more strictly - today I've had a grilled chicken breast with some salad, plus three Lighter Life packs, and that will be pretty typical of the next couple of weeks, before more foods are introduced. I'm basically like a baby being weaned onto solids. After months of surviving on nothing but bland, synthetic shakes and soups, everything suddenly tastes so exotic, and I'm enjoying foods that I've never bothered with before (green ones, mainly). Hopefully I'll keep this up and successfully maintain my weight loss. I guess that's my new year's resolution. Last year's new year's resolution was to master the art of liquid eyeliner, and I managed that (oh, and I lost over five stone...) so I'd better jolly well succeed at this one too. It would be a big old waste of time if I didn't, wouldn't it?

It's now time for me to say HAPPY NEW YEAR and a big thank you for all your support over the past few months. You're ace. Especially YOU.

Monday, 15 December 2008

Oh no, I've lost an eight year old!

This weekend I had a few people over for festive nibbles (they nibbled, I wore a Santa hat), including my nephew Edward, who's eight. He decided to have a go on my new scales (which are, much like the rest of my flat, pink), and we discovered that he weighs just over four and a half stone. And how much have I lost in total? Just over four and a half stone (well, 4 stone, 11lbs as of tonight's weigh-in, actually). In other words, his weight = my loss. How weird is that?! I've lost a whole child! It only feels like a few weeks ago that I was counting up my weight loss in units of guinea pigs (1lb each) - now I've moved on to healthy growing boys! When we realised this, I thought I'd better get a picture so that I could try and make sense of it. Where the hell has all that flesh gone?

I got an incredible response to my last blog post (it's like fan mail and I can't keep up!) and I'm so touched by everyone's interest and support. I've realised more than ever recently that I know some extremely nice people. And I WILL get round to replying to everyone. God, who do I think I am - some kind of dieting celebrity?! Anyway, I've pretty much decided to start Route To Management on Tuesday 30th December. However, I'm going to eat a bit of protein at my work Christmas dinner and at my actual Christmas dinner with my parents in Chatteris. I'll be so close to the finish line that it seems silly not to. The booze, however, will remain untouched until the end of January when it's allowed. But I'm actually not that bothered. If you'd told me this time last year that I'd go without alcohol for five days, let alone five months, I would have laughed in your face (and you'd definitely smell a few vodka fumes...). So, the decision is pretty much made - I'm only a few pounds off my original target, and I'm feeling quite happy with myself. Even though I now have a pointy chin like Will Young.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Dilemma. Warning: you may find this boring.

I'm currently in a dilemma about when to go into Route To Management - for those of you not au fait with Lighter Life lingo, that's when to start reintroducing food. This process is a 12 week programme and is very gradual - in the first weeks I'll still be on two or three foodpacks a day, plus one or two meals (which will initially be mainly protein based - if you're really interested, you can read about it here: There's a lot of learning involved and everyone says it's the bit that's the real challenge. After four months of existing purely on Lighter Life foodpacks, I'm quite nervous - but also excited about learning how to maintain my weight and live a healthier life than I was pre-diet.

Anyway, these are the thoughts currently going through my head - they're a mixture of facts, figures, reasons for, reasons against, ifs and buts...

One of my original goals was to get into size 12 jeans - specifically, the £10 jeans from New Look which, in the past few months, I've owned and worn in a size 18, 16 and 14. I bought the 12s on Sunday without trying them on, thinking I had no chance of fitting into them just yet. I was wrong - they fit perfectly and I wore them to work yesterday. But are New Look generous with their sizes? Is it a fluke? I felt fraudulent when I was paying for them, as if the shop assistant was looking at me thinking "These won't fit you, fatty". But they do fit me. I should learn from this.

Since size 12 was easier than I thought, maybe I'd secretly like to get into a 10. This has just never seemed remotely achievable before. Now it is. So should I carry on? Or is this a slippery slope into OHMYGODTOOSKINNY hell?

My waist is now 28 inches (started out as 36, I think, possibly more) - and a person with a 28 inch waist is probably entitled to eat real food.

Hmm, I said "entitled" - interesting. I am definitely now feeling that it's a bit weird that a girl of my current size is not eating real food. But this is a structured diet that one should see through to the end.

Especially considering I am still a stone over my original goal weight.

But is my original goal weight achievable? Despite aforementioned size 12 victory, I'm still (according to the BMI scale), around two stone overweight. This is messing with my head - if I'm two stone overweight, I must still look pretty big, but that's not what people, or the labels on my clothes, are telling me. It's very confusing. On a good day, I think "Well, my bones are obviously heavy and there's absolutely nothing I can do about that", but on a bad day it makes me feel crap.

I've lost four and a half stone! That's amazing! Of course I should eat now!

I want to be a size 12. I am a size 12 in most things. But in some dresses I'm a 14. This is mainly to do with my boobs and, in some cases, the tops of my arms.

Would my boobs and the tops of my arms benefit more from exercise than any more weight loss?

Speaking of exercise: I'm enjoying going to the gym - in fact, I've just got back from there. Would eating some real food increase my strength, stamina and energy levels at the gym and make it even more enjoyable and effective? Probably.

As well as arms and boobs, my legs and tummy also need work, but again, this is a toning issue, not a weight loss one, I think... but I'm not sure.

If I complete RTM and still feel I have more weight to lose, I could do a couple of extra weeks of abstinence afterwards. But would going back to LL foodpacks be really, really hard after getting used to eating again? Would it feel like a step back?

I'm bored of some of the foodpacks, especially the savoury ones. I want to taste some different flavours.

If I started RTM now (well, next week), I could definitely eat something half-decent at Christmas.

I always said I didn't want to be in abstinence in 2009.

I'm not finding the weekly group sessions very helpful anymore. As our original group was down to just three people because so many had dropped out (pah!), we merged with another one. Apart from my lovely new friend Sam, the other women have quite a long way to go, so it feels more geared towards them than me. Also, some of them are quite negative and have lapsed a lot. I think this makes me feel a bit superior and also ready to move onto the next level and challenge myself all over again, when doing the foodpack thing is just second nature now. The RTM meetings will be on a different day, with a group of people who are all at that stage - including my other lovely new friend Donna, who made the transition last week.

And, perhaps the most significant thought of all:

I want to feel like a whole person again, not a work in progress/project. I don't want to be defined by this diet, which I very much feel like I am at the moment.

So, I think that's about it. I'm not expecting answers, but it's helpful to get all my thoughts down - although if you do have any wisdom for me, I would be very grateful. I know it must be hard for some people to relate to - you might be thinking "Just eat the bloody food and if you fuck it up, do some more dieting, you neurotic average-sized freak", but it's all a bit more complicated than that.

Sorry if I sound a bit bonkers and I'm also sorry for the lack of jokes and hilarious anecdotes in this blog-post. I'm even boring myself now.

PS. I would like to illustrate this post with a photo of me in the size 12 jeans, but I don't have one yet, and Delilah can't operate the camera (she is my cat. See, humour!).

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Wobbling no more

Oh dear, it seems that a few people were worried about me after reading my last entry. But don't panic, I seem to be over my mental blip and am now finding it easier to see that I have indeed lost a hell of a lot of weight. And that's down to a few things...

I had last week off work and my sister came to stay for a couple of days. Now, Michelle is a size 10-12 and has pretty much always been that way, so I've always felt like the fat sister. Our body shapes are quite different, in that she is an inch or two taller than me, and she's more pear-shaped (she's going to hate me for this!) when I'm more hourglassy, so we're not particularly comparable. However, when she came to visit, we did some comparing anyway, prancing around in our underwear (no, boys, there isn't a video), trying on clothes and measuring each other. She tried on quite a few of my new dresses and they all either fit her or were only a bit too big. We also discovered that my waist is only one inch bigger than hers and my hips are only two inches bigger than hers. This is NOT how things appear in my head so it was quite an eye opener and really cheered me up. The fact that we went to Bluewater the next day where she bought me a lovely dress (from H&M, not known for its generous sizing) helped too. So, thank you Michelle - you are ace (and still the thin sister, so don't worry!).

In my last entry, I also remarked that it might help if I saw some people who hadn't seen me since pre-diet. Well, on Friday I went to a birthday party in glamorous Peckham where I saw four or five people who I hadn't seen for at least six months. A couple of them knew about the diet and a couple of them didn't, but all of them were very vocal about how much I'd changed and it made me feel great. So, it seems my ego was definitely in need of a massage - or some "positive strokes" as they're called in our Lighter Life meetings. I also got some boy attention which, without wishing to sound like a pathetic needy girl, always helps too.

Aside from obviously looking and feeling healthier, it turns out there are lots of other little bonuses to losing weight too - things I hadn't even realised were a problem before. One of the ones I'm enjoying the most is my new ability to wear heels - I used to only wear them for big nights out (and even then I'd either end up dancing around them - classy - or have to go out armed with some flats stuffed into my bag) and hadn't realised that my feet ached any more than those of my slim friends. But bloody hell, they obviously did, because now I find that I can wear heels whenever I like for long periods of time and because of this, the way I dress day to day has changed completely, in a good way. In other shoe-related news, bizarrely I've also gone down a shoe size. I can't say I was particularly hung up about being a size six in the first place, but the fact that I now appear to be a five is a nice excuse to buy even more shoes.

Another bonus is hair-related (god, this is all so shallow isn't it? I will move on to some things that are more about my inner peace, promise). I've always had chubby cheeks (my ex-boyfriend used to squeeze them and say "a round face is a happy face". Hmm, not at all patronising...) and this meant I always looked better with my hair down. But now I can wear it up too without looking like a Cabbage Patch Doll. So, again, it means my "look" can be more varied.

On less of an appearance-based issue, I've also found that getting public transport is a much more pleasant experience - and again, I didn't realise that I was giving myself a raw deal before. The trains from Norwood Junction in the morning are pretty crowded, but there are usually one or two seats dotted around. However, they're usually the ones that involve wedging one's womanly form between two sprawled-out middle-aged businessmen wielding copies of the Financial Times, so attempting to squeeze my child-bearing hips into them used to feel like a bit of an imposition. Not so anymore - now that I am a normal-sized girl (it's official! I'm a normal-sized girl! I admitted it!), I don't take up any excess space, and I don't get any tuts or dirty looks (actually, I do - but that's usually because I'm playing Miley Cyrus too loudly on my iPod). I noticed the same thing when I went to the theatre and to a gig at the weekend, and I'd imagine I'll notice it quite dramatically when I fly to Spain on Easyjet in February.

More importantly, I'm also now a nicer, calmer, more grown-up and saner person. I'm not saying I was horrible, manic, immature and bonkers before, but something's definitely changed. I think it's partly because I feel in control of my life at the moment, but also because I'm exercising regularly (I'm successfully gymming two or three times a week and - get this - actually enjoying it) and not subjecting my body to the highs and lows that come from sugar, carbs and booze. So, it'll be interesting to see if this inner calm goes out of the window when I start eating normal stuff again. Which leads me nicely onto the next subject...

Food. I'm now only around a stone off my original target and, since I'm averaging a loss of around 3lbs a week (average being the operative word - this week I lost 5lbs, but last week I only lost 1 lb, despite doing absolutely nothing any differently - aside from that lone vodka and soda at Reading all those months ago, I still haven't lapsed at all), I should hit that around Christmas. And I'm still undecided about what to do about that. Going into Management at New Year seems like a good idea, but I'd quite like to eat something at Christmas too. And as for alcohol... I'm scared! I think it will end up being a last-minute decision, and I think that's OK. I remember months ago I wrote that I was definitely going to eat and drink at my friend Raji's hen night - well, that's now been and gone, and when the time came, I decided to stick to the diet and still had a brilliant time. So perhaps the same thing will happen when Christmas rolls around. Christmas Day itself isn't really the issue, as my family have said they don't mind either way, but all the festive merriment beforehand could be tricky. My work Christmas dinner won't be much fun if I'm just sitting there for hours watching everyone stuff their faces with food and wine, but I can't and don't want to miss it. Oh well, there's no point getting stressed about it - I've managed this for four months and have lost 4 stone 5 lbs in that time, so what's another month?

So, apparently you people want pictures. Well, first, here's a (hideous) shot of me two weeks before starting Lighter Life, wearing a size 18 dress. When I bought that dress, I had to get Nicky to adjust the lining with some cunning scissorwork so that my boobs would fit in. It's a different story now - I tried it on the other day and it looked like an actual tent, and it was particularly billowing around the chest. I've now got rid of it, along with all my "fat" clothes (some of which my aforementioned ace sister is selling for me on eBay!). Anyway, I then present you with a picture of me in a similar pose at the party I went to on Friday. Even I can see the difference - and really it's more about toning up (I. Hate. My. Arms!) than losing much more weight now - yay!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008


Most of my blog posts so far - in fact, all of them - have been very positive, but today I'm feeling a bit wobbly. Literally. I've lost four stone, I'm ahead of target as far as clothes sizes are concerned, I'm wearing things I actually like (well, not right now - I'm in my gym kit!), physically I feel really good and I'm getting compliments everywhere I go - but I feel a bit weird about it. We're warned on this diet that our brains might take a while to catch up with our bodies, meaning we'll find it hard to see that we've actually lost weight, but I thought I was a little more rational than that. Apparently not. When I look at photos of myself I can see a difference, but when I look in the mirror, I find it hard to see where that four stone has gone. I hope my brain catches up soon as it's making me feel very insecure and critical of myself. What can I do to help with this? It would be useful, perhaps, if I saw someone I hadn't seen since starting the diet, but I can't think of anyone. Also, I shouldn't have to rely on other people to hammer the point home - it ought to come from me. Perhaps I should also get back into the habit of having pictures taken every few weeks and posting them on Facebook. But again, that wouldn't just be for my own benefit - does that matter? What else would help... a giant cardboard cut-out of me pre-diet? Plastercasts of my body made every few weeks? A lobotomy? Aaargh, this is HARD!

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Boys, boys, boys

Over the past few weeks, I've been contemplating what losing weight might mean for my love life. When I started the diet (which is just over three months ago now, and it's flown by), I made a decision to remove myself from romantic entanglements too. This was partly for practical reasons - dating would be pretty tricky without food or drink being involved, unless I fancied explaining the whole thing to a new person or someone I didn't know very well. But it was also for more personal reasons - without wishing to sound like some kind of idiotic Californian, I guess I'm treating the last half of 2008 as a time of personal development and me-time and I consider myself to be a work in progress rather than a complete human being. This has been really positive, as it's allowed me to step back from all the dramarama of the pre-diet me, reflect on it and generally become more wise/pompous. So, I'll do a bit of that now, shall I?

Amusingly, in the last few weeks before I started Lighter Life (I made the decision to do it in early July, but had to wait a month or so before my group actually started), I was the most on fire I'd been in ages. I suppose every night out in that period had a ten to two quality to it, in that I knew the following few months wouldn't have such a sense of wild abandonment so I made the most of it. That makes it sound like I was slagging about a bit. I wasn't at all, but I was quite, um, popular. This leads me to an interesting point... I don't really feel that being a bit of a lard-arse has ever massively affected my pulling power. OK, so I've been officially single for much of the past four years but I don't think that's to do with my looks (or lack of…). When I told my parents I was doing Lighter Life, I got very, very annoyed when my mum’s instant reaction was "Oh yes, if you lose weight you might get a nice boyfriend". This makes my mum sound a bit horrid when she is in fact brilliant, and I know she was just trying to be encouraging, but it pissed me off at the time, for two reasons. The first is that I’m doing this diet for me and only me, and I genuinely mean that. I wouldn’t have been able to stick to it for so long if this wasn’t the case, and I think losing weight with the goal of getting a man would be pretty ill-advised and pathetic. The second thing that annoyed me about my mum’s reaction is the fact that I've got plenty of skinny friends with no boyfriends or not-nice boyfriends, and I've got plenty of non-skinny friends with nice boyfriends. Also, when I was at my heaviest, at the age of 21, I was in a happy long-term relationship. With an actual man, not with a Chinese takeaway menu, before you ask.

So, yes, basically it's all bollocks. Sorry Mum, but if anything's holding me back from having a "nice boyfriend" - and I don't even want one at the moment, thank you very much for asking - it's my personality! Any romantic failures I've had over the past few years - and believe me, there have been... several - haven't been about my level of physical attractiveness. In fact, the two men who've broken my heart the most in my life - one a long-term boyfriend, one a never-quite-anything - both seemed to think I was pretty hot. Unfortunately, they were evil. Sigh. Annoyingly, though, at the time of any romantic setback, I’ve often secretly and not-so secretly thought “Would this have happened if I was thinner?” but when I’ve reflected on it in hindsight, I’ve realised my weight had absolutely nothing to do with it. I think I’ve always been reasonably confident with my body in, um, intimate situations. I suppose I figured that if they’d got to that point with me, they knew what they were getting, and weirdly, I’ve always felt I look better in a state of undress than in clothes! This is to do with my body shape which has always been hourglassy - just different sizes of hourglass, I suppose - which is much easier to show off in, say, nice underwear than it is in the kind of generally uninspiring clothes that fit when you’re a size 16 or 18. I could say that I like me so much better when I’m naked but then I’d put a really annoying song in your heads and my dad might read it!

Contrary to everything I’ve said above, I am aware that being of a non plus-size variety might open up my options a bit. At least, one would assume so, since you only have to look at any internet dating site to see that the vast majority of men tick that they're looking for someone "slim, average or athletic", with far fewer of them also including "curvaceous" or whatever particular euphemism the website in question has gone for. Presumably, real-life men in real-life bars, nightclubs etc (um, where else do we meet people? I genuinely can't think of anywhere) have similar criteria but just don't get to spell it out quite so bluntly. Anyway, I haven't noticed if Isabel minus 3 stone 9lbs has been getting more male attention, as I haven't been looking, but when I relaunch myself in 2009, it will be interesting to observe.

But this all leads to a bit of a quandary - in fact, a series of quandaries - that I've analysed with various people, because I'm a girl, and that's what girls do. If, in 2009, I meet a whole new man who fancies the whole new me, do I have to explain that I'm four or five stone lighter than I used to be? Will he find this off-putting? Would it bother me that he probably wouldn't have liked me before I lost weight? And even if he didn't find it off-putting, would I constantly worry about putting on weight again and making myself less attractive in his (and my) eyes? Similarly, what if an existing man in my life who didn't fancy me before suddenly finds me attractive because I've lost weight? Would this be bad? One of my best friends thinks it would be bad, but I tend to disagree because the fact is, there are many men I find attractive, but I sure as hell wouldn't if they gained three or four stone. Shallow, but true. But that's not to say I wouldn't find it a bit difficult to deal with if this situation arose - again, the worries about me putting on weight (and they could be his worries, not mine) could rear their ugly fat heads. I'm interested to hear what other people think of all these issues, particularly men, so do let me know if you have any words of wisdom.

All of this is making me sound a bit neurotic, and I'm getting way ahead of myself since there is, for the first time in years, nobody at all on the scene (not that I'm aware of anyway - if you want a piece of me, do let me know and I'll book you in for 2009). Also, I've omitted a crucial detail - the change in me isn't simply physical. I feel like a different person, with more confidence, and confidence is way more desirable than slim thighs and sharp cheekbones, or so I've been lead to believe. I also feel much more in control than I've ever been before, and just generally more brilliant. Perhaps I'll actually become a total egomaniac and repel all human beings. But at least I'll be a slim egomaniac!