Saturday, 23 January 2010

Saturday morning.

Woke up with an appalling headache. Suspect it was caused by last night's Chinese takeaway. MSG always seems to do this to me, and we used a restaurant that didn't claim to be 'msg free' unlike our favourite one. Well, I can tick Chinese off the list of 'last meals' before the diet. Like many things you look forward to, it wasn't quite as good as I'd hoped. Plus I ate far too much and ended up feeling even more spherical than I did before eating. There's a lesson in there somewhere.

To spice the blog up. I'm going to drop in a few of my articles that have been recently published in our parish mag (where I seem to be a regular contributor), the local NCT mag and elsewhere. Here's the latest piece from Marksman on branding. Feel free to ignore the bit at the end about Christianity if it doesn't float your boat - it's a parish mag so I have to weave God in there somewhere!

Time for a rebrand?

There is, unsurprisingly, no definitive answer to the question of how many brands are we exposed to in an average day.  Some ‘experts’ say it is a few hundred while others assert it is closer to 5,500!  If we look around us, it’s not hard to see how the numbers add up. Brands are everywhere, from the logo on our shoes to all the food in our fridges. We see them in our high streets, hospitals, schools and even our churches.

This truly is the age of the consumer. This year, no sooner had we finished our Christmas dinner than we were visiting the sales via our computers. When the shops flung open their doors on Boxing Day, record numbers of people charged in to pick up bargains. The majority of those shoppers chose brands they recognised, because the companies behind those brands had spent vast sums of money in advertising them.

The more good things we are told about a brand, the more likely we are to believe it. However, this has to be matched by our experience, which explains why some of the nations’ favourite high street stores remain Britain’s most trusted brands, while the utility companies and train operators languish at the bottom of the list!  Some companies forget this valuable lesson and try to fool their customers by changing the brand name. Who can forget Royal Mail’s short-lived name change to Consignia in 2001? Universally lampooned, the company went back to Royal Mail barely a year later

But what does all this have to do with us as Christians? I think it serves to remind us that in spite of the huge number of messages that we are bombarded with each day, inviting us to part with our money, we need to make time to focus on that still, small voice within us. For God doesn’t need a rebrand every few years: his message is consistent and timeless. It is a message for everyone, and it doesn’t need to be sold to us through expensive advertisements. 

Friday, 22 January 2010

Friday afternoon.
I didn't think diets were supposed to go wrong before they started, but mine has! Went to Lighter Life HQ with my signed medical form yesterday evening, brimming with enthusiasm and ready to start next week, only to discover that the start date has been put back by a whole week. This is due to the fact that I AM the group. In other words, no-one else has signed up! And at £70 per week in the middle of a recession, I'm not bloody surprised. As a marketer (albeit a 'resting' one) I can't help but feel that they haven't got their marketing model right. Where are the new year discounts and incentives that other weight loss organisations offer? And as for their reticence to follow up their information sessions with a simple phone call - words fail me! They have a lead that's warm enough to attend a whole hour on a Saturday, then they let them slip through their fingers, surmising that if they don't come back of their own accord, then they're not keen enough! Feel tempted to offer them some marketing advice in return for a generous discount!
So now 4 February is D Day, which on the upside means I can enjoy the choir dinner without having to shovel it all into a napkin and stuff it into a vase. I can also plan a longer programme of 'final meals' - squeeze in an Indian takeaway and maybe a Chinese as well before they become off-limits.  I'm sure this is completely the wrong attitude but there you go.
Loved Tanya Gold's observation in today's Guardian that when you're fat, you can largely ignore fashion because they don't want you wearing their clothes and looking crap in them. I have discovered that very little fashion caters for the 'fuller figure', which is good for the bank balance if not the self-esteem. I am sick to death of wearing stretchy jersey skirts and tops. True, they have their advantage round the house: you can move quickly to rescue a toddler in distress and they are easily washable when covered in toddler meals.  But when I go out, I know I look a frump. Now I know this is Bromley, and all things are relative, but I come from a smart family. My father wore a suit and tie to do gardening! He didn't understand the concept of casual - or even "smart casual".  There was only "smart" in our family. And I feel as though I'm letting the side down big time.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

Thursday afternoon

It's hard to believe it, but in a little of a week's time I will be subjecting myself to the most extreme diet I have ever done. But as Guy Fawkes (may have) said: 'desperate deeds call for desperate measures' (or whatever). I am now heavier than I have ever been in my life and have decided that enough is enough. With 5 stones to shift, I have opted for the Lighter Life programme - a mixture of very low calorie food replacement packs and group  counselling. Even my doctor has agreed that, in the short term, it's for the best. So the goal is to lose at least 3 stone in 14 weeks, and then see what's best to do next. My first meeting is next Thursday evening, and then I have just under 100 days of living on little more than 500 calories a day. It sounds very little, and I'm sure my energy output is going to be correspondingly little, which is a slight worry with two two year old toddlers (twin boys). 

I feel rather like a prisoner condemned to death, being allowed to choose her last meal, this week. Of course, I have no idea at all what being on death row feels like but it's a handy analogy. The thought that if you had only one last meal, what would it be? I've already informed the masterchef that I'd like Roast Beef for supper on Sunday. We will no doubt have a haggis for Burns Night on Monday. Tuesday night is supper with a friend - must make sure it's a good one! But then, after Thursday all the choices go to be replaced with a truly uninspiring choice of soups, shakes and bars. Not food. Food packs. Fuel. Not something that you can enjoy with family and friends around the dinner table. For someone who loves their food, I know I will miss the sheer pleasure of eating. The 'mouth feel' of meals. The enjoyment of a good glass of red wine. But there we are. It's what got me into this mess (albeit partially - a dodgy thyroid and the hell of carrying twins were a contributing factor).  Let's hope that Lighter Life can help me get myself out of it.