As you’ve probably guessed from the title, January has not kicked off the year in the way I’d hoped. There I was last month all full of the joys of spring (bit early but you know what I mean) with the optimism that a new year brings. I published last month’s blog post the day before my appointment at the gender clinic which was a really big appointment for me, my second surgical referral. This would have opened the door to referral for surgery at some point this year and then my life could really have been complete. Having gone to the Daventry hospital with the expectation for a psychological battle of wits with a very qualified clinical psychologist, what I actually got was five minutes with a consultant who barely looked at me and seemed to portray zero interest in my wellbeing, progress in my transition and whether I had any questions or concerns. As it turns out I did, so I made a point of raising them. I won’t bore you with the details but the main issue I had was with my HRT (hormone replacement therapy). 18 months ago I was told that oral oestrogen was the best option for me despite my age (the risks increase significantly after 40). I explained this and the consultant didn’t raise any objection to my concerns and he swiftly provided me with a GP request for them to switch me to patches. Job done on that front, things are going well I thought.
At this point he asked me the question I had been dreading, “so how much do you weigh?” I’m so glad I don’t have talking scales because they’d say something between “one at a time please” and “no coach parties.” Out came the calculator and while chewing the top of his pen and making involuntary humming noises he looked up and uttered the words I’d been dreading - “I’m sorry your BMI (body mass index) is 30.4. We need you to be below 28 at a minimum. I cannot refer you for surgery this time. I will make you a new appointment for three to four months from now.” I don’t think the gravity of his words really impacted on me at that point, I just let them wash over me. I responded politely and before I knew it I was in the corridor facing the exit to the car park. As I sat in my car processing what just happened I felt very angry with myself for allowing this to happen and not taking control of my weight and diet etc. I had a choice, give up and be a victim or kick some ass. So as I fastened my seatbelt I began to plan operation fat fighter. By my crude but effective calculations I have around two stone to lose. I have worked out an exercise and eating plan and I am working my way through it.
Weight loss after two weeks - six pounds.
One thing I have definitely ruled out is a faddy diet. I have looked at the options, the maple syrup diet, the cucumber diet, 5:2, the Himalayan starvation diet (I made that one up). It seems there are so many crazy diets out there if you’re prepared to go to extremes. I’m not keen on eating dust and drinking my own urine to lose weight so I have adopted the ‘stop eating crap diet’. Yes it sounds simple, and it is. I used to eat pizza, McDonald’s curries, chips, ice cream far too often and in portion sizes that were far bigger than the recommended amount. Now I eat smaller portions, I eat reduced carbs later in the evening unless I’m exercising and I’ve drastically reduced my sugar intake. White bread, white pasta and white rice have all been swapped for wholegrain and alcohol is now at a bare minimum. I am eating food with colour, lots of veggies and fruit, nuts etc. I have reduced my meat intake and I’m eating more fish. I have also reduced my dairy intake to a minimum. Exercise is back on the agenda and as well as my usual power walks I am now boxing and doing cardio in the evenings and I have also rekindled my yoga practice. I hope that next month I will be able to report even more weight loss as I work towards my goal.
Kat Von D
Anyone who knows me will know that I have an unhealthy obsession with Kat Von D, particularly her brand of cruelty free Vegan makeup. Sadly it is only sold through Debenhams here in the UK and only larger flagship stores. My nearest are Birmingham Bullring or Oxford street London. My best friend Serena had recently suggested a girls day out so we could have a mooch around Birmingham and get a makeup tutorial at the Kat Von D counter. So on the 26th Jan off we went on our girl’s road trip. First stop was the VW store to say hi and check out the new Polo and T-Roc. Then we went straight to Debenhams to get our faces sorted (Serena’s is fine, mine needs so much work I’ve had to apply for planning permission). We were greeted by the beautiful Wes, my crush on him is becoming unhealthy and I must exorcize this demon swiftly. He is so gorgeous though, mixed race, smooth skin shaved head and a little facial hair neatly trimmed. Beautiful eyes, perfectly shaped lips and killer dress sense. Yes you guessed it, he is gay. Bloody typical, all the hot guys are gay. Joking aside he is a super cool guy and knows his stuff so I always leave the store knowing a new tip or trick. If anyone is wondering whether to try Kat Von D makeup I would highly recommend it. My favourites are the Lock-it foundation, Everlasting liquid lipstick and Tattoo eye liner.
After this we had lunch then headed to Birmingham resort world at the NEC for afternoon tea and a bit more shopping. We both came home with full tummies and new outfits from Bench.
Inspiring Healthy Choices
I recently posted about a person who has touched my life in an incredibly positive way, Kelly, who runs a not for profit company called Inspiring Healthy Choices. Kelly and I spent a day at her home working on trans awareness training and looking at how we can get more work and expand the types of training and sectors it can be offered to. It was a great day and as well as my excitement to be working in this field I’m even more excited to call her my friend. You can find a link to the IHC website in the links section of this blog. Kelly will be coming to stay at my place at the end of February to do some more work on our collaboration and also to hang out and have some girlie time. I can’t wait.
I have written about the losses that I’ve experienced since starting my transition nearly two years ago, two of my best friends from school, my brothers and my sister. I have a distant relationship with my daughter which I hope will change sooner rather than later and I’ve drifted away from my old life in Leicester entirely. Part of that old life was my passion for motorcycles. Some years ago I had the pleasure to work with a person who made going to work so much fun. We had the same wicked sense of humour and would play practical jokes on other members of staff any chance we got. Steve and I got into more mischief at that job than should be allowed. We then got made redundant and ended up working together at another company where the shenanigans continued. He and his partner Carrie were also into motorcycles and we started to hang out at weekends and stuff when we were free. Carrie sold me my last motorcycle as she used to work for Triumph, where Steve and I would hang out drinking coffee and talking nonsense on the odd Saturday morning.
I hadn’t seen them for at least three or four years due to one reason or another but I took the opportunity to see Carrie after spending the day with Kelly (they live fairly close to one another). It was so lovely to see her again and to sit and chat, have a hug and meet their wonderful children. It was the first time Carrie had met me as Amy and she said she had been nervous but actually it felt really natural. Steve was away in Spain so I’m hoping that next time I visit we can have a proper catch up too. I have to admit when I left I had a little cry because it felt so good to have rekindled that friendship and I know we will spend more time together when we can.
Kelly - “I have a proposition for you, how do you fancy three days at a mind spa with me?”
Me - “let me move some stuff in my diary and I’m in.”
We met at the venue on Monday morning 29th Jan at an equestrian centre in Onley, Warwickshire. It is a lovely venue in the Warwickshire countryside not too far from the M45 and only an hour from Milton Keynes where I live. We were greeted by two facilitators called Jacqueline and Paul. I’m not going to give any details about them or their company because I’m about to tell you honestly about my experience of attending a mind spa.
The course began around 10.00am on Monday morning with Richard & Judy (I have affectionately renamed Paul and Jacqueline), sitting in high chairs smiling widely out at the room as if to spread warmth and wellbeing. So far so good, I’m sitting in a comfy chair, I have coffee and the room is nice and quiet despite the 30 or so delegates. I am a trainer/facilitator by trade with 17 years of experience so when they announced that there was to be no presentation, no activities, no learning, and no agenda even; I was shocked but at the same time intrigued. How did they plan to get away with this I thought, maybe I will learn some amazing new delivery style which spiked my interest even more. As it turns out there was no hidden secret, no Jedi mind tricks, nothing. What actually happened was that Richard & Judy basically sat at the front of the room, mostly in silence while we all sat in awkward silence staring at our feet so that we didn’t have to make eye contact. Once in a while a topic of discussion would be raised or perhaps a question would be asked by a member of the group. This would break the silence for a while and allow the nervous to sneak out to the toilet almost unnoticed. The course consisted of intentionally long coffee breaks (up to 45 minutes), two hour lunches which Kelly, Caroline and I used to our advantage by going to the pub, and 4.00pm early finishes. As training goes, Richard & Judy had got it made, nice work if you can get it.
The first and second days were finished off with the group sitting in our comfy chairs wrapped in blankets (because it was sub-arctic in the room), while listening to a recording of a mindfulness seminar for half an hour. At this point Richard & Judy had sloped off to the cafeteria (no doubt to count their pot of gold for duping us into thinking this was in any way value for money.) Needless to say, the course had no impact on my thoughts or feelings but it was still worth the journey every day and the time commitment because I got to spend three days with Kelly and I met one of her directors Caroline who is a great person and made the experience even more fun.
All in all January has been an up and down month. The gender clinic didn’t go well but spending quality time with Serena, Carrie and Kelly throughout the month was priceless. My friends are so wonderful, all of them and they lift my mood so much when I’m feeling down. Thanks to Kelly and Caroline I have learned some new and interesting facts about Cucumbers and Toblerone. I’m hoping that my weight loss and HRT patches will sort themselves out over the next month putting me in a better position mentally and physically.
So as I suspect you’ve guessed, the posts will be coming once a month and will focus on the month just passed. January’s post is published early February and so on. February is a fairly quiet month looking at my diary but I do want to discuss surgery options with you next time as I have recently read some very interesting research and this has led me to question my own options regarding gender reassignment surgery. I have also taken up a new hobby, RC helicopters. I am now a fully-fledged helicopterist so I imagine next month I will be telling you all about my numerous crashes and the amount of repairs I’ve had to make. Until then, happy February everyone. See ya soon.
Thanks for reading.
Amy Kate xx.