Category Archives: Operation Chrysalis

Operation Chrysalis… is at an end…

I think it is now official.  Not only have I put away the old winter clothes and done a serious wardrobe clear out (3 large black bin liners are heading to a charity shop of my choosing!)  I have also revealed to people outside my family what my body looks like following my weight loss campaign.


Please do not get me wrong.  I have not finished the weight loss attempt.  I have plenty of weight left to get rid of, but I think it might be time to start revealing the new me, which is what Operation Chrysalis was all about after all.

So what decided me to start to reveal my changing shape?  A few things really.  I have been struggling to stick to the eating plan I am on, and I thought it might keep me “honest” if I told myself that I would be wearing a new dress soon.  I think it has worked this week, but to be honest, I need to wait until Wednesday, which is slimming club weigh day!

summer clothes

I think summer clothes also encourage revealing the body more than winter shrouds to.  I do not mean wearing bikini tops to do the shopping (the natives are far too skittish for that, and quite frankly, I would be arrested if I attempted it!) but rather an ankle here or there and wearing T shirts instead of thick heavy jumpers and coats.   I know the prevailing wisdom in these parts is “Cast nary a clout till May is out” which means to keep the woollies to hand until the end of May, but I was getting really bored of wearing the same old stuff.  It was getting depressing.  So a couple of weeks ago, I got all of my clothes out, both summer and winter and did a HUGE purge of them.  Then I put the winter stuff into storage (the loft!) and hung up all the lovely summer stuff.  Of course, then the weather decided to put a nip in the air, but I always knew that could happen.  Which is why I kept some woollies back from storage!  I am not entirely insane!


Also, as part of my frugal living endeavours, I have been relearning how to make clothes.  I had been sewing a dress for some time.  I was a bit scared of making a terrible mistake, so I did one seam, then left it for a week or two, and then did another seam when I was brave enough.  This weekend, I decided I couldn’t make any more excuses and I finished it.  I actually finished it at 4pm on Saturday and wore it that evening to a concert my husband and I were attending.  I saw a lot of people I knew from when I was singing in the choir that was performing and I received a lot of compliments.  I think the fact that these people haven’t seen me day after day and a lot of them commented on my appearance (and the spanking new dress too!) really bought it home to me.  Yes.  This weight loss thing has worked.

weighing scales

Now, I am not going to give up on the weight loss.  The scales are oscillating at the moment, but I have lost the equivalent weight of a bag of cat litter.  Those things are HEAVY!  It must be making a difference, but to be honest, I can’t really feel any difference.  I need to lose another 3 of those bags of cat litter, and I will be and exceedingly happy person.  Even at that point, the doctors will say I am still overweight and probably still obese, but I am beyond caring what they all say.

Have I learnt anything from Operation Chrysalis?  Weighing yourself every day is a short cut to insanity; once a week is fine.  Weight loss is not linear; the weeks you think you have done really well tend to be the weeks that the weight goes up.  Bingeing behaviours are really hard to break; and I am still working on that one, though things are better now than they were.  Making clothes is really satisfying, as is seeing the look on people’s faces when you tell them “Oh yes.  I made this dress.”

Operation Chrysalis

Butterflies totally have the right idea.  Hide yourself away and then reveal.  It is a great feeling!  Here’s to the next transformation!


Operation Chrysalis Update…

As many of my readers already know, I have embarked on a course of healthy eating and exercise over winter in an effort to emerge in spring time significantly thinner and more glamorous.  Today’s blog is an update on that process, which I christened Operation Chrysalis.


Wednesday was weigh in day at the slimming class I attend.  It was not good news.  It was like every week in January really.  I have either put weight on, or I have maintained the weight loss.  Okay, it was a pound that I put on, and in the grand scheme of things, it could have been much, much worse.  But, I have given myself a target to reach for my second stone coming off, and that date is fast approaching.  I can feel things slipping away from me, and I am DAMNED if it is going to happen to me this time.

My body is doing what it always does.  I lose a stone and then it decides it is going to creep back up again.  And yes, I am still following the diet and no, I haven’t gone back to bad eating habits.  But something isn’t going right.  Now, the old me would have decided to say “to hell with it” and go and eat junk food – not entirely sure why, because I don’t like it and it makes me feel decidedly icky.  But not this time.  No, this time, the new me, has decided to arrest the downward slide and get back on the path of righteousness… or at least the path of losing weight.


My group leader has given me a pep talk, and suggested I go back to basics.  On this diet plan I am on that means writing EVERYTHING down.  If it passes my lips it goes on the sheet.  I have just done the food I have eaten so far today, and I know I am on the right lines today.  The thing is, I need to do this for all my food over the next week.  It takes commitment, but it will be worth it, I know it will, so I just need to keep it up.  I am trying to jazz up the process by using a funky coloured pen.  It is bright pink ink.  So far, its working!  I am willing to try anything!

If the weight gain has been because of food choices, the food diary will show it.  If however, my body is doing its thing of holding on to weight because I am stressed… well, I need to find some way of reducing the cortisol flying about my body.  My track record of finding positive ways of reducing stress is not great – my previous favourite way of letting off steam was to go out on the tiles and get drunk.  No… not a good way of doing things.  Alcohol has a HEAP of calories in it anyway.  No, there has to be a better way.

Exercise DVD

I have therefore decided to use some of those old exercise DVDs which have been lying around the place gathering dust.  I actually mean this literally and not figuratively… some have never even seen the light of day!!  So… I am going to put them to one side, set up the DVD player and when I feel like I am going to pop with the stress, then I am going to burn through some workouts.  Hopefully it will help both the cortisol levels AND the weight loss.

Stay tuned, to see if it works!

An update on Operation Chrysalis…

“Operation what?” cry my new readers.


Let me fill you in.  Basically, back in September, I began to feel like a big fat caterpillar.  I had put the weight on that I had fought to take off in the previous 6 months and I decided to start again and to lose all the weight that I want to lose.  Initially I tried to do it on my own, using my own knowledge of nutrition and what worked and what didn’t for my own body.  The plan was to use the winter as my form of cocoon (they are also called Chrysalises, hence the title!).  The idea is that come the spring, when the summer wardrobe is back out from the loft and everyone want to looks awesome in shorts, I shall take off the winter layers and reveal my new butterfly me.  Or if not the entire transformation, certainly a good way towards it.

Operation Chrysalis

The first two months of Operation Chrysalis did not go well.  I discovered, week after week, the weight was going back on again.  So, I decided to take the bit between my teeth and head for a local slimming class.

It so happened that I got a text message from one of the leaders I used to go to slimming class with, and as I do not believe in co-incidences, I decided to go along.  So… I did.  In the 8 weeks since I have been going (even with Christmas and New Year festivities in the way) I have lost 15 and half pounds.  This is really, really good for me, because with my PCOS and Insulin resistance, losing weight is incredibly difficult for me.  I have great support at home, which is crucial, and I must say, it is rather pleasant to have people from Church come up to me and tell me how good I am looking, and have I lost weight.  It is massive boost to the morale, and makes you want to keep going.

tape measure

I have also taken my measurements.  Those inches are really beginning to show.  I have to wear a belt with all my jeans now.  Some of my skirts are too loose on me.  I am actually looking to take some of them in.  This is, let me tell you, a FABULOUS feeling.

Seeing as it is a New Year I have committed to a new start on the diet front as well.  I lost 1.5 pounds this week, but I am going back to basics on the eating plan.  I am going to write down everything I eat (“write as you bite” is the phrase I am taking away from today’s class!) and hopefully I shall come away with a good weight loss next week too.

If any of you are undertaking your own “Operation Chrysalis”, how are you getting on?

How to stay happy through the gloom…

In the UK, we have just moved our clocks back and we are once again on Greenwich Mean Time.  It means, of course, darker mornings, the evenings drawing in, the cold months of the year are here in some parts and on the way in others.  For some people, it also heralds the onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD.

clocks changing

SAD is more than just feeling a little gloomy when the days are short.  It is actually a recognised depressive illness.  If you feel you have the symptoms of depression, which have started since the clocks went back then I would urge you to get in touch with your health professional and get some help.  In the meantime, if you think it is merely low mood you are suffering, I might be able to provide some help for you with this blog post.

Yesterday I ventured into a local health food shop.  I don’t do this very often because invariably I walk out with lots of stuff.  It was no different yesterday and I came out with some Light Tahini Paste (my home made hummus is going to taste AWESOME), two boxes of herbal tea (Echinacea and Cranberry and Apple and Cinnamon), two bottles of Bach Rescue Remedy Night (I need something to help me sleep through) and a copy of the Health Food Chain’s Magazine.  In that, I noted an article about how to “Stay Summer Happy”.  Before I tell you about it, I want you to know that this is NOT going to be a cure for SAD if that is what you have.  But if you are feeling glum, lethargic and a little blue, then these tips might just help you.


The basic gist of the article is that although everyone feels better in the summer than they do in the autumn and winter, everyone’s mood takes a bit of a dip at this time of year.  It is fine for that to happen.  In fact, it is natural to happen.  If you think about it, a tree losing its leaves is a change, and that happens naturally at this time of year.  However, instead of resigning ourselves to feeling morose from October to March, it is important to inject some joy into the darker months of the year.  We need to make a conscious decision to get into the swing of the new season.  The article quotes Psychologist Ingrid Collins, who says;

“Autumn is a time to review and reflect: to build on the work you have done so far this year, now that you’re recharged after a summer break; and to plan for the coming year”


Now, that struck a chord with me.  This is what I am doing with planning the garden and with Operation Chrysalis as well.  The article goes on to give 5 tips to embrace year round well being.

The first is exercise outdoors.  Luckily, I have a dog who needs walks, and a big garden to attend to (with lots of work to do in it into the bargain), so that isn’t so hard for me.  Even if you just take a quick promenade round the block, getting out of the centrally heated house will help you feel invigorated.  Exposure to sunlight, even through cloud, is better than being stuck in an artificially lighted environment.  30 minutes per day is ideal, but start small and build it up if you can.

Taking a vitamin D supplement might also help matters.  The body requires sunshine to make vitamin D, and if the weather is awful, then taking a supplement might help you improve your mood.

staying social

Another mood lightener is staying social.  Plan getting together with friends and family (if you get on with them), hunt out a book club, join a crafting circle, go for coffee with a good friend.  In some ways it is easier to be social in these months than it is to be social at any other time of the year.  Holidays are great, but they can totally mess with the schedule!  Don’t forget exercise classes.  You will have a social experiences, and will feel better from the endorphins into the bargain.

If you are suffering from SAD, you might need to use a Light Box.  It mimics sunlight and has been shown to be effective in relieving symptoms in 85% of sufferers.  You need one of 5000 lux (which is a unit of illuminance apparently) and ideally, it needs to be used for an hour a day.

Their final tip was to set goals.  You can use getting to the goal as a kind of marker for getting through the season and if gives you a focus for the period of the year as well.  My goals are to be nifty and thrifty for Christmas this year, and of course, Operation Chrysalis as well.

I hope these help you… but please, please remember… if your mood is lower than “just a bit glum”, please go and seek help from your preferred medical professional.

Failing to plan is planning to fail…

And I really do not want to fail again.


I have often muttered to people that diets and eating plans and lifestyle changes always fail me.  The actual fact of the matter is that I fail them.  After so many years of attempting to lose weight and inches, I continually fail at them.  I am really good at failing at them actually.  It is a talent.  But it stops now.

Today is the first day of Operation Chrysalis.  I woke up this morning, weighed myself, measured my salient dimensions (nearly died of horror as I took those numbers down) and I have decided that these numbers are the worst numbers that are going in the little book we now have in the bathroom.  I am going to reduce those numbers, and I am going to lose weight and inches. There is no point weighing and measuring every day because our weight and size oscillates quite regularly, and it is quite a soul destroying process to monitor that daily, so it is going to be a weekly thing instead.


I have to run my Mother to the hospital to an outpatient clinic this morning.  But when I get home, I need to sort out my plan of attack.  Butterflies do not need to plan, but I am a caterpillar right now and caterpillars definitely need to plan.

I know two things right now.  I am going to self sabotage the eating side of things because I always do, and at some point my body will stop co-operating and will increase the weight or the inches somehow and I will get all dramatic and throw up my arms and wail and gnash my teeth and throw myself dramatically over the furniture proclaiming how unfair it all is.  So, I need to have a plan in place so I can counteract both of these things.  I guess the one benefit of being on a diet of one sort of another over 35 years is that you know your faults and foibles.

But I also need to have a plan so that I can fit in everything I think is necessary to the success of Operation Chrysalis.  The food side, the exercise side, the “I have nothing to wear because my clothes are hanging off me” side (I will get there. I will).  If I write it down then I have something to refer to when the attack of the drama queen vapours takes over – and please, feel free to kick me in the bahookie if you see this sort of behaviour as well as remind me that my plans have been written down and really ought to be used.  Thank you.

Now, the other thing I am implementing in Operation Chrysalis is that we must all look our best.  By this I mean we must all brush our hair, wear clean clothes every day (unless you are painting or doing mucky jobs in the garden… we need to be realistic here people!) and make ourselves feel good.  I actually do feel better when I have my hair done, or when I put make up on, and when I make an effort with what I wear.  I know this doesn’t happen for everyone.  But do whatever it is that makes you feel good.  It is powerful medicine for the head stuff.

self love

I think the biggest part of planning in Operation Chrysalis is changing our collective head stuff.  So here is my starter for 10.  If you hate yourself when you are big, then getting skinny is not going to change anything.  You will still hate yourself.   That mind set has to change before anything else does.

So I will be planning for that as well.  Any ideas gratefully received!!

It might be Autumn… but I am thinking of butterflies…

Every self respecting butterfly will have headed for warmer climes by now, I am sure.  In the UK, it is cold, damp and pretty miserable today, and I am not sure about everyone else, but my summer wardrobe has been retired until sometime next year.  My autumn/winter “Let’s wear layers” wardrobe is out and now heavily in use.  Yet I am still thinking about butterflies.


Here’s why.  After my self administered bahookie kicking on Friday, I took a critical look at my eating of late and I was not that impressed.  In fact, it would be safe to say that I was much less than impressed and I know my eating habits need an overhaul.  This is not unusual.  Every 6 to 7 months, I need to check out what I am eating, appraise it and then tweak it to make sure I am getting the nutrients I need and I am not snarfing too much. Also, I don’t know about you, but after holidays, I find the relaxed eating patterns often stay around a little too often.  I need to get back on track.

Then I looked at the amount of exercise I take.  I am much, much better now than I was when I was stranded in an office for 10 hours a day… but I know I can squeeze more exercise into my life somewhere, somehow.

And then, in the shower this morning, the idea came unbidden into my head.  Operation Chrysalis.

You know that the life cycle of the caterpillar culminates in the Chrysalis, right before it transforms into a butterfly?  Well, that is what I want to do over autumn and winter.  After being wrapped up in layers and woollies for 6 or 7 months, I want to reveal myself in spring/summer as a butterfly.  Rather than the big hungry caterpillar.  Again.


So how am I going to do it?  Faddy diets?  No. They wind me up and are rarely effective. Never eating anything?  No.  Not sustainable, and very, very bad for you, plus I am not good at depriving myself of food.  In fact I suck at it.  So, the only way is to be sensible.

I hereby commit to eating only food my grandmother and great grandmother would recognise.  I also commit to eating slightly less of them, because I need to retrain my body to recognise when I have had enough.  Also, I am going to let myself eat what I want on Sundays.  This has to be sustainable, and being incredibly virtuous for 7 days a week is not just impossible, it is impractical.  I am also going to avoid artificial sweeteners and lots of fats.  I will still use fats, because you need them for proper nutrition, but not loads of them, because that is bad for you.  If I want biscuits, or ice cream, or cake, then I will make some.  If I go off the idea because I have to expend the energy of actually going and making it then I wasn’t that committed to the cause in the first place, was I?

ggrandmother food

I also commit to drinking no diet soft drinks.  If I really want a soft drink then I will drink the full sugar variety.  As I don’t like the taste of most full sugar varieties, it will mean I will drink more water, which has to be a good thing.  Despite my protestations to the contrary, I do not drink vast quantities of coffee, so I will keep my coffee intake the same, and instead drink more fruit and spice infusions and proper tea.  I would say I will drink green tea, but I can’t stand the taste, so I am not going to do that.  This is about enjoyment as well.

And finally, I commit to doing more exercise.  I have MASSES to do in the garden over the winter to get it ready for the growing season next year, so that will definitely add to the exercise regime.  Add to that the housework and all the painting and stuff I want to do in the house and that is quite a bit already.  But if this caterpillar wants to be a butterfly then I am going to need to step it up a bit more.  So, I have exercise DVDs that need to be used.  There is also the Wii Fit Plus.  I need to work out a plan of using them.

weighing scales

Of course, one thing I haven’t mentioned is how I am going to track my progress.  Generally speaking I am anti scales and weighing, though that is a handy way of doing things.  So, instead, I am going to measure my body as well as weigh it.  I think weigh in day will be Wednesday and I shall measure myself at the same time.

Who else wants to play along?