There Will Be Spreadsheets

Happy new year comrades! Hope your 2011 is off to a cracking start.

Things were rather crapful, healthwise, in the last six weeks of 2010. I was about as mindful as bulldozer! While there was some brilliant bits (good times with friends and family, progress on a groovy new web project) but there were also very messy bits – workplace madness, my 6th major cold of the year and the re-emergence of that old self-destructive streak. I dropped the ball completely and just did not have any interest in looking after myself. I took to hiding in the bath tub with the bubbles a foot high so I could pretend I didn't have a body. Next thing my rubbish bin was jangling with the sound of foil wrappers from chocolate coins and the size 18 dress I reluctantly wore for a summer wedding was now too tight to wear to a party. D'oh.

Strategy I've come out the other side now after a couple of weeks off work and some time to rest and think. I learned so much in 2010 with the shrink visits and mindfulness stuff – many lightbulbs went off. But I wasn't able to translate those lightbulbs into meaningful, lasting changes.

The missing element was a plan. It's not enough to realise you have work to do – you have to figure out how the hell you're going to do it. Otherwise I could see myself muddling on forever, slightly more aware of why I do the things I do, but still bloody doing them!

So it was time for action. I spent Boxing Day mapping out a wee strategy. I thought I'd talk about the lard-related bits of it on here…

Food Diary
Yeah, that old chestnut! But it works for me. When I acknowledge and document what I eat, I'm thoughtful with my choices and more likely to tune into hunger signals. When I don't, I do okay for a while but then I get sloppy with portion sizes, then unhealthy choices creep in, then it's "quick, noone's looking!" mode, then the slide into all-out denial.

All year the shrink tried to get me to fill in a diary and I never stuck with it. I don't know if it was because a) I didn't want her to see how bad my "mistakes" could be (interesting to seek the approval of someone you're paying), or b) I didn't want to acknowledge what I was eating, because it might mean giving up the fleeting diversion of eating rubbish. Maybe both?

I've realised since, that I just have to buckle down and DO IT, but in a way that suits me. Which leads us to…

The Spreadsheet
The food diary is a Google Docs spreadsheet. It's inspired by the paper Food/Mood journal the shrink gave me, but I'm finding it so much easier to update on the computer or phone. One row per day with columns for meals and observations. The document is shared with a good friend who's on a similar path – we have a tab each and check in on the other's progress daily so theres no scope for slacking off. And so on to…

Accountability & Real World Support
Getting help from a professional is great but in many ways it's an expensive way of talking to yourself. You can dump all your woes in the session, walk out of the office and kind of leave it there and not really do anything with it back in the "real world".

I've always been most successful when I'm open about my eating struggles with those closest to me. My recent strategy of trying to fix things myself and pretending all was okay did not work, and was no doubt unconvincing for my loved ones as I slowly inflated before their very eyes.

So I've had some conversations with my nearest and dearest along the lines of, "Well, obviously I've been struggling a wee bit here. This is what I'm planning to do about it. Do you reckon you might like to buddy up on a food diary/go somewhere healthier for lunch/eat at the table instead of on the couch/etc etc etc?". Simple things, low key support, but for someone who has not wanted to acknowledge what was really going on to herself, let alone out loud to others, it was huge step forward. It had been very lonely on Planet Denial.

Planning
I'm back to the good old weekly meal planning. There's a spreadsheet for that too! Healthier meals but not boring, single spear of asparagus and a glass of air diet food. Normal, everyday food but remembering I don't need a mountain of rice and that toast doesn't have to come in pairs. This is becoming less of a drama each day now that I'm getting back to…

Mindfulness
The mindful eating tools and techniques I'd adopted last year were really helpful. I'd just stopped using them! So it's back to things like: tuning in to hunger levels before and during eating, putting my food on a plate and sitting down to eat it, exercising for enjoyment not punishment, etc etc etc.

Committment
I've got a combination of practical and mindful tactics, accountability measures and support. I'm ready to tackle this now. The black dog is back in his kennel! Unlike a year ago, addressing my eating now is not a diversion – the "designated issue" as Martha Beck calls it – because I've worked on the bigger issues.

That's enough baby steps for now, I reckon. Are you still awake?

Disclaimer: My pal Lainey is always bemused when I put disclaimers on my blog but I should show her the emails I get from folks insisting, "you're doing it wrong". So I'm disclaiming that this is the plan of action I have come up with based on what worked in the past combined with what I've learned since about my wily ways. I'm giving it a red hot go (one week down) and will reassess at the end of the month. Yee-ha!

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I’ll huff and I’ll puff

Man, it truly sucks not being as a fit as you once were. When I was on my way down from 350 pounds, I'd only ever known being unfit. I graduated from last place in school running races to later wheezing up staircases and needing a rest after hanging out the washing. So when I lost weight and walked further and lifted heavier weights, it was all new ground! I'd created a version of myself that hadn't existed before. Shauna Version 2.0 was so bloody amazing compared to the creaky, red-faced model I'd always known.

But now I'm in this new situation where I am looking back longingly at this previous, speedier version. Shauna Version 3.0 is just not there right now.

I'm talking pure physical fitness here – pleeeease don't write to tell me I'm putting myself down. Let me explain.

At the moment I am working on making exercise a healthy, regular habit again. As I said in the podcast on Monday my kickboxing attendence has been very shoddy this year. Partially because of my Zumba love affair but mainly because I was traumatised by my 120 seconds of competition fighting last November. I never managed to fashion that hilarious humiliation into a blog entry.

But anyway! After that girl clobbered me I was terrified of kickboxing for a long while. I felt ill every time a punching glove was waved in my direction. I literally ran away every time Coach said it was time for sparring. Up the stairs and away home, as fast as my trembling legs could carry me!

Months passed and I was down to one or two classes a month. But I was really missing my comrades and punching things. Pads, kick shields, speed balls. Not people, you see. It occurred to me that HEY maybe I could just go to the classes for the friends and fitness and learning new moves… and just not do the fighting part at the end? Why throw the baby out with the bathwater?

(Funny how hard it was to admit that the fighting wasn't for me. You'd think wanting to vomit every time I faced an opponent would have been a clue. Hmm!)

So I was really chuffed about this revelation and rocked up back to class ready for action… only to find that holy crap, I have lost a lot of fitness. Gaining weight has not helped… everything wobbles when I do jumping jacks; a most unpleasant sensation. And I don't have the stamina in my shoulders for long periods of punching. I can't kick nearly as high. My push-ups are wimpy. My once infatigable abs give out after 10 reps.

What is amusing stroke ego-crushing is that in my MIND (o'erbrimming with Comeback Enthusiasm) I expected to proceed as before! I would throw myself into a move and then be stunned (and whining in agony) when BODY SAYS NO. You are not Version 2.0 anymore!

I will admit, there have been some classes where I am fighting not to sob all over my gloves, feeling so angry at myself letting it get this bad. It was hard enough getting fit from a place of complete unfitness, but trying to get fit knowing you once were pretty fit but you cocked it all up? That is hard to swallow!

Especially when your team mates, who were already way fitter than you even when you were fit-ish, have been attending angellically all year and are now even fitter than they were last year which makes your current unfitness even more unfit! Does that even make any sense?

But dudes. I am being very zen about this. I do love kickboxing – I really missed it and I love being back there. When I think about exercise now I am thinking about the habits I want to carry into old age, and punching things is part of that plan. So for now I am just gritting my teeth and getting on with it. Okay I am not really gritting my teeth because I am too busy gasping for breath… but I am sticking with it.

And on that note must nick off for tonight's class :)

UPDATE: I said in the comments below that I had a déjà vu re the "previous versions" of oneself and thought PastaQueen had said something similar before. Turns out she had… whoops! Here is the entry in question.

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Scott the Strawberry

These past few months have been rather batty. Stuff that is too personal or awkward to write about in real time. Also, stuff that is too personal and bloody tedious to subject you to.

Scott the Strawberry
A healthy eating poster at the local primary school

Basically I took myself off to a shrink. After a year or more of saying I should be able to fix this on my own I thought I'd try talking to an objective person about things.

It was very fruitless to begin with, because I was being very half-arsed about it. There were many conflicting voices:

  • Shame and Fraudulent: I'm wasting her time, I should be able to fix things on my own.
  • Denial: There's nothing wrong with you; harden the f*ck up whinge bag!
  • Hopeless: You've cocked up so badly you're beyond help
  • Blogging Out Loud: telling "hilarious" stories and not being honest about how crappy things were, in case she didn't believe me and/or thought I was pathetic.

It was three expensive months of not much progress and soooooo much denial. I bawled and/or binged and binged and binged after every session. I was tempted to churn out a few of my "I'm doing great now!" blog posts even when I wasn't, because I felt like I should have been doing better.

But slowly, slowly… light bulbs started going off. The energy saving kind that take awhile to warm up, but still, progress.

Recently I got home from work and went to get changed for a workout. I saw my favourite winter coat in the wardrobe and for some reason decided to try it on. It was so tight that I couldn't get it over my shoulders. I looked in the mirror and the bullshit and denial just fell away. I plonked on the bedroom floor and had a cry for twenty minutes.

Then I thought, Righto, ENOUGH. I got up, put on my gym clothes and did a Cathe weights DVD. I started sniffling again halfway through because I couldn't lift as heavy as I used to, but it still felt like a minor triumph over the "you suck, you're doomed!" voice.

"What has changed?" the shrink asked in our next session. What's changed is that I finally accept that I have work to do. I accept that I need to change the way I think and I accept that this takes hard work. I accept I need to communicate properly with my loved ones and not hide or deny problems.

I accept that I need to build a healthy relationship with food that will sustain me for the rest of my life. I had to buy size 18 jeans recently. I want to get back into my 14s but my approach is different now. It can't be about losing weight so I'll fit into a wedding dress, or have an ending for a book, or look acceptable to promote a book, or to live up to the expectations of certain people. It will never stick until deep down, I want to live a healthy life just for me.

I finally see how damaging the language of shoulds, musts and have tos has been. I see how needlessly worrying about what other people think has steered my actions. I see how hiding my problems has made them worse. Man, it's really embarrassing to realise how you've let things go to pot. Even more embarrassing to see how powerful the LA LA LA EVERYTHING'S FINE denial has been.

But I am writing this with a dopey grin on my face because I feel alive and clear-headed and unburdened. I've just spewed this entry straight from the guts today and feel like a complete WANKER for all the psychobabbly dullness but thought an update was overdue. It's been a very insular, delicate, roller coaster process that leaves you feeling very raw and haggard at times, so hopefully you can understand why the blogging has been sparse. I hope you're well and dandy and thank you, as always, for sticking around!

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Happy Snaps

I was thinking about happiness after rediscovering a ranty pants entry from 2006:

For me happiness is sifting through the shitty bits of life and looking for the good things to latch onto. And always making sure you have something to look forward to, whether that's a weekly choccie bar, an episode of The Avengers or an island holiday. Anything will do…

… I have to work as hard at staying happy as I do at getting to the gym or making sure my guts don't explode out of my trousers. It's a habit that I had to learn. You just have to work on it, every single day.

The only thing more annoying than a smug, happy person is when the smug, happy person is yourself.

Begrudgingly I must agree with Me of 2006. My brain finds it hard to hold on to optimism and cheeriness unless I consciously work at 'em.

My personal formula for happiness:

  1. Making time for small, everyday feelgood stuff (e.g.: kickboxing, recent gardening addiction)
  2. Having an overall bigass goal to sink my teeth into. A purpose!

Without the above I get all reclusive and maudlin. I used to blame this tendency on my weight, but now I know that I can be happy or miserable at any size!

While I was back in Oz in April, I found some old photos from 2001 – the first year of lardbusting. I was amazed at how cheery I looked. But I remembered the moments the pics were taken and realised why I felt so bloody brilliant back then and why I hadn't been feeling so good these past few months. Back then I was living the formula, baby… big goals; simple pleasures.

NB: The captions on these pics say 2000 but it should be 2001. I can't find the originals now, d'oh!

In this pic I was dead pleased with myself as I was down 40 pounds and for the first time in years I'd managed to keep up with my friends on a walk to this park. All the leaves were broon and Harry the Dog was being his usual demented self.

April2000

I think I was another ten pounds down here and taking a progress photo. The dopey grin was coz I fitted into a new size 24 jumper. I was pretty freakin' determined.


June2000

And six months later, this is when I got my hair chopped off and felt rather foxy. I'd also been swimming and went to a pub, tackling two big fat girl fears. I'd finally realised that I didn't have to let my weight hold me back. That was a gobsmacking revelation. I was pretty much delirious back then!

December2000

It's now actually a month since I started this entry and I can't really remember why I started it and now it's nearly midnight (curfew fail!). Sorry this is not much of a weight loss blog in the traditional sense these days; it's more about happiness gain. I'm latching on to the good things and trying to savour them right as they're happening. Yeehah.

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The First Taste

I'm lucky enough to have a photograph of the precise moment when I realised I was falling in lurve.

There's a bit in the Dietgirl book in which Gareth is the only non-Aussie at a tea party and bravely volunteers join in a Vegemite Taste Test (page 201, UK ed.). Our friends Jane and Rory wanted to see if I could tell the difference between Australia and New Zealand-manufactured Vegemite so they made up some sample sandwiches.

  • Frame 1 – Tentative sniffing of the samples.
  • Frame 2 – Shauna takes the exercise very seriously while Gareth seems nervous to dive in.
  • Frame 3 – Gareth is a blur of shock and awe as he takes his first bite.
  • Frame 4 – Shauna is triumphant after correctly identifying the Kiwi Vegemite, while Gareth reels from the flava.

I felt stupidly happy throughout the whole exercise, marveling at how the seating-arrangements gods had conspired to let Gareth sit next to me that afternoon when there was at least one other chair and a whole floor he could have sat on instead. I stole little glances at his lovely forearms, tried to understand his accent and wondered if it meant something that I didn't want to be anywhere else.

That was August 2003. Little did we know that just a month later Gareth would be a Vegemite addict and eat nothing but Vegemite on toast for a whole week after his PhD grant ran out. Little did we know that 18 months later we'd be married. SUCKAS!

Today is our fourth wedding anniversary and Dr G will no doubt spew at the cheese level of this post but… I still don't want to be anywhere else. And furthermore, Vegemite RULES and is an excellent source of Vitamin B. Hurrah!

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How DietGirl Became Not-On-A-Diet-Girl

You may have noticed that I've not really updated the weight stats on my sidebar in a long long time. I keep meaning to explain why, but all I had to show you is fifteen abandoned drafts. The truth is, everything has changed this year; my attitude to this diet stuff. I needed to pull back from the scales and think long and hard about things. There's been so many incidents that screamed to me that after six and a bit years, I had to change my approach to my health and weight.

It wasn't until the lovely Sarah invited me to write a guest post for Elastic Waist that I actually sat down and put the massive changes in my head down on paper. The post is up today. Thanks all you lovely EW folks for having me over.

Update: I've archived the full post below for posterity.

I’d been on a diet for 333 weeks when the pickled ginger stepped in and saved my sanity.

Earlier this year I was on a spring-cleaning rampage when I came across the long-forgotten package. Instead of the usual pale pink, my ginger had turned into a swampish, scummy brown from sitting on the pantry shelf for so long. I’d bought wasabi, rice and seaweed too, with the intention of making homemade sushi, but for a whole year I’d been putting it off.

I’ve got to lose those last ten pounds first, I kept telling myself. If I make sushi now I’ll get bloated and it’ll show up on the scales! I can’t ruin my diet with a carb fest!

But when I found that dust-covered package I sat down on the kitchen floor and actually said out loud, “ARE YOU INSANE?”

After a lifetime of angst-ing about my weight, I finally saw how ridiculous it had all become. I was almost 30 years old, and I’d been dieting on and off through my entire 20s. My weeks revolved around my Monday weigh-in—what to eat, when to eat it, how it would affect my date with the scale. And it wasn’t just the pickled ginger; I had a whole drawer of wacky ingredients and a shelf crammed with untouched cookbooks, waiting for the day I gave myself permission to cook from them. After 333 weeks I knew I had to move on—before it became 666 weeks.

* * *

Way back in January 2001, I weighed 351 pounds. My weight-loss journey began with very negative motivations—I was depressed, angry and so full of loathing that I wanted to hack off my belly rolls with a knife. Even as I made changes to my lifestyle I never believed they’d stick; I didn’t think I deserved any better.

But surprisingly, my self-perception swiftly changed. The more I treated my body kindly with good food and gentle exercise, the more I positive I felt. At first I could only manage a walk around the block or 10 minutes on the elliptical, but I began to appreciate my size 26 body for what it could do, instead of what it looked like. For the first time I looked in the mirror and saw a worthy human being, not just a collection of flaws.

By August 2006, after 291 long slow weeks, I’d lost 175.5 pounds and weighed 175.5 pounds; I’d shed precisely half my body weight. I had the healthy lifestyle down pat, too. I loved my exercise and instead of binging or dieting I finally had a balanced relationship with food. When I took some progress photos in my new size 12 jeans I loved what I saw. I felt confident, healthy, sexy and content. I felt done.

But how could I be done? I still had 10 pounds to lose before I stopped being fat in the eyes of the Body Mass Index overlords. Surely my happiness wasn’t really valid unless I reached that number?

So for the next year that package of pickled ginger rotted away in the pantry while I became obsessed with my goal weight. But the harder I tried the more the scale refused to budge. I grew panicky and impatient, and instead of keeping faith in my tried-and-true formula of sensible eating and exercise, I scoured my old diet books looking for answers.

Finally in Week 333, I stopped and asked myself, What the hell am I doing? Haven’t I learned anything? Why am I torturing myself?

For six years I’d battled to achieve a balanced approach but now I’d fallen back into my old, obsessive ways. And what for? I was fit and healthy. I liked my body. I finally liked being me. But my weight fixation was making me lose sight of all those positives.

So the moment I tossed that rotten ginger into the trash I tossed my diet mentality too. No more number crunching, no more ritual weigh-ins and no more Last Ten Pounds. I decided to just let go and decided to see where my instincts took me.

Part of me worried what would happen if I didn’t obsess about my weight. How would I stay healthy without all that angst? Without the fear of a weekly weigh-in, would I go wild and wake up in a sea of candy wrappers with chocolate smeared across my gob?

But I didn’t. Instead life got a helluva lot more interesting once I ditched the scales and dieting. I carried on being healthy. I started yoga classes, something I’d yearned to do for years but had put off in favor of workouts that burned more calories. I went for long hikes in the Scottish Highlands with my husband. He’d been asking me to join him for ages but I’d turned him down because he always took sandwiches to eat on the summits and I fretted that bread would screw up my weigh-ins.

These days I’m not afraid of a sandwich. And I exercise purely for the joy of it, not to make my body more pleasant to the masses. Instead of thinking, “These are things I must do to lose weight,” I now believe, “This is just how I live my life.”

I don’t know where the scale will end up, but after 333 weeks I’m not wasting another minute worrying about it. I always thought the prize would be seeing that magic number, but now I appreciate that it was never about the scales or the size of my jeans. The true reward was finding peace and acceptance and embracing my own skin, with all its lumps and bumps. It's getting out there and diving into life, instead of sitting around getting old and moldy like that pickled ginger!

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You’ve Got To Hide Your Lard Away

I had this brainwave to make a wee photo album for my sister of all travels. We came to Scotland together in 2003 on a working holiday visa, where the idea is to work work work then see as much of Europe as you can before your visa and/or money runs out.

I poked through a gazillion folders trying to find pictures of us in front of famous landmarks but it was slim pickings, folks. Take the first ever trip we did, a long weekend in Paris. I was so excited to finally be off the couch and seeing the world, but wasn't bold enough to want photographic evidence of this newfound adventurousness. Every time I got the camera out I'd think, My hair sucks. I need a new bra. My head is enormous. My body is revolting. And it was hot and my face was red so I told myself, I'll just come back here some day when I'm smaller and better dressed.

So all I have are a few dodgy shots with my noggin lurking in a corner.

Paris

Even as I lost more weight I still kept hiding. On the rare occasions I let Rhiannon take my picture, I'd bark orders, "Make sure I'm just in the corner! Don't go below the waist! Actually, don't go below the chin!" Or I'd try to hide my body behind statues or trees or sunglasses or hats.

We went on a tour of Russia and Scandinavia in 2004 and I nearly keeled over from Photophobia. Every seven seconds in front of another church or museum someone would shout, "GROUP SHOT!" I'd fight my way to the back row and hide behind the tallest bloke. So despite having been desperate to see Russia my whole life, I only have two fuzzy, barely-recognisable pieces of photographic evidence that I ever went there.

Hiding

I would love to go back in time and kick my own arse. DUDE! Why didn't you just GET IN THE STINKING PICTURES!? These were once in a lifetime experiences! Sure I looked like hell while travelling, but most people do, especially when you're on a budget.

I know I have the memories in my head, but there's something special about having a souvenir photo on your desktop or mantelpiece. I'd kill to have a decent shot of Rhiannon and I together in Red Square or Reykjavik. We worked long and hard to afford those trips so it's sad not have captured the euphoria and relief on our faces when we finally got there. But at the time it didn't feel like I'd be collecting memories, I just thought I'd be documenting FAT FAT FAT!

My favourite picture from our travels is this one from Estonia in 2004, that Rhiannon took without my knowledge. I look like a clown but I'm clearly not thinking about the fact my jeans were a snug size 18. I'm just thinking, "WOOHOO. Life is a hoot."

Every time I look at it, my resolve is strengthened to just jump into photos then laugh if they turn out dodgy. I'd rather have a dodgy photo of a happy moment than no photo at all. Half the joy is looking back and sniggering at your bad haircuts and questionable taste in fashion. I no longer say "I'll come back another day when I'm skinny", because the moment is already happening… right then and there!

So this is a call to any fellow Photophobes out there. Don't scream! Don't hide! Don't put yourself in a  corner! After all, you don't have to post the pictures on the bloody internet. They can gather dust on your hard drive, ready to make you smile and spark your memory when you're old and grey.

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Freaky Friday

Thanks so much for your rockin’ comments and emails, groovers! You have no bloody idea how much I appreciated every single word. I’ve sent my visa application back with a metric tonne of extra evidence, so now we play the waiting game. Cross your fingers and toes and eyes that they’ll be satisfied this time! :)

Okay, life is generally a wee bit batshit crazy right now. I had a slight freakout in the gym this morning, swooshing away on the Arc trainer, "What am I doing here? I don’t have time to be here! There’s too much to do!", rah rah rah. Exercise is not having a soothing effect lately, it just seems to wind me tighter and tighter. So I am going to do more soothing stuff, like yoga and outdoor walks.

It’s interesting to really listen to your body and give in to its demands, instead of trying to bully it into doing what your brain wants it to do. Which has long been my problem. The body is saying, "Dude, be gentle with me" so I am trying to listen. And it’s also saying, "Don’t fill me full of chocolate, dammit. You think you want it but you dinnae need it, hen."

I am so freaking proud of myself for not using food as a coping mechanism. When I got off the train in London last week having just found out about the stinking Visa Situation, my brain was screaming "CHOCCCCOLATE! GIMME CHOOCCCOLATE!". But my sister was there and we got on another train to our Indulgent Spa Hotel. We shared a Berry Cheeky Nakd Bar and I talked about my worries instead of burying them in cocoa.

Remember when Rhi and I went to Lisbon last year? I gained 6.5 pounds due to my pre-holiday, holiday and post-holiday feasting. Last year I had resigned myself that this would always be the case on holiday, there was no way I’d miss out on yummy different foods. But now I see it doesn’t have to be that way. This time I was more choosy about what I ate, often sharing things with my sister so I’d get the idea of a dish without needing to eat the whole thing. I got the thrill of something new without the remorse.

I was pretty damn gobsmacked by how well I handled things, considering I was a total stressmonkey. And this week is going well too. Was gagging for a giant block of Green & Blacks for lunch yesterday but had a mega bowl of stir-fried vegies and tofu instead and it was strangely delicious. I’m not even trying to lose weight at the moment, I really don’t give a shit… I’m just trying to do enough good things to make me feel healthy and happy. But I can tell from mirrors and clothes that I’m holding steady. Exxxcellent.

It’s finally coming together, people, after all these years. I am learning the fine art of moderation. I am dealing with my problems instead of distracting myself with a good old binge. The urge is just not there anymore. I can tell you it really sucks to actually feel shitty feelings instead of masking them with chocolate, and I’m sure I’ve been a total whiny weepy biaaatch to live with. But life sometimes features raw edges and rough spots and crappy days and you just have to embrace it all. I’d much rather a little stress than return to the bad old days of sitting numbly on the couch with half a kilo of cooking chocolate.

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Lumps and Bumps

Hidey ho, old chaps! I’m on the train back to bonny Scotland after my couple of days in the ye olde English countryside. I’ve been massaged and manicured and now I’m ready to get back to reality.

Have to admit I’m feeling a wee bit fragile right now. I don’t know if many of you read my non-fat blog, but we found out on Wednesday that my permanent residency application has been denied. Basically when you marry a Brit you get a two-year temporary visa then after that time you have to prove you’re still a red hot legitimate married couple so you can stay together forever and ever in your British love nest. If they don’t think you’ve proved it, you’re oot, baby!

And whaddya know? The Home Office thinks me and the good Doctor G ain’t the real deal.

I have been through all the emotions over the past few days. First the knee-jerk reaction on my blog and generally feeling sick to the stomach that anyone could question our lovely wee relationship. Then anger because I know we filled out that goddamn tedious form properly and sent the correct documents. Then came a hysterical kind of bemusement because the rejection is just plain absurd and there is absolutely no logic behind it.

This was followed by my old friend PANIC, because this really could not have happened at worse bloody time. Like there is a good time for these things, but anyway. Everything is happening all at once and the pressure is a wee bit overwhelming.

You know those moments where everything builds up and you have to decide whether to sink or swim? Well, I allowed myself to splash around in the panic pool for awhile but now I’ve calmed down. I refuse to fall in a heap. I’ve got my lists and plans and thought out how to deal with everything logically. And I know me and my Scottish Companion are the real deal, thank you very much; so we will get this sorted.

. . .

The massage was nice, by the way. No paper pants, just strategically placed towels!  I was too chicken to take off my undies but there were no major Fat Girl Freakouts.

It was bizarre how knotted my body was. There were great lumps of tension in my shoulders and arms and even in the palms of my hands. When she kneaded my back it felt like there were marbles under my skin. She even said my scalp was all stiff. Urrgh. Rather painful at times but still enjoyable!

I couldn’t seem to switch my brain off. This may sound bizarre but the whole thing made me extremely emotional. I kept thinking of my Skinny List and how I felt about my body way back when I wrote it in 2001. I always try and downplay how much the lard-busting process has changed me, I don’t know why. Perhaps a little embarrassment that I got so big in the first place, or defensiveness coz I’m "still the same person". But with a strangers hands poking and prodding the body that I used to feel so ashamed of, I couldn’t deny how much has changed. It was a strangely powerful moment, like the past six years rolled past my eyes in a Rocky-esque montage…

Shit shit shit. I dunno what’s wrong with me at the moment, I keep getting teary at inappropriate moments and the dude sitting opposite is looking at me funny. So I will sign off and gawk out the window instead. And I hope this entry doesn’t come across as self-pitying in any way. I am slightly scared but quietly determined. Keep calm and carry on, as they say. Hope you are all well :)

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All Change

Dudes! I'm almost to scared to admit this, but I am kicking arse at the moment. Shhh. Don't tell.

Late last year I was banging on about my impatience to get to 75 kilos so I could say I was Done then just get on with the maintaining:

"… after that… I refuse to expend any more energy on numbers… Once I hit 75kg I am going to make my goals entirely about fitness, and if they result in the the scale going down that will be a happy accident… I will let it settle where it wants to and let the fit of my jeans be the measure of what shape I'm in.

I just want my goals to be completely removed from the scales. It will be about building muscle and getting stronger and leaner and healthier. I want to learn to ride my bike without wobbles and take up yoga and get to a point where I can swim laps for half an hour. I just want to get on with it, continuing my healthy lifestyle. I want to take it further and push harder… because that's how I live my life… not because I'm trying to lose weight."

Rant rant rant. I basically concluded that all that would have to wait… until I got to the elusive 75 kilos.

But then the lovely Beckie left a very thought-provoking comment which you can read here. This sentence grabbed me:

"You said you wanted to change over to just fitness goals. Is this after the finish line? Why not help it get you to the finish line?"

Oooh, indeed! Why wait for the finish line? The fitness stuff is what I like and what makes me feel challenged and productive. So when I wrote out my goals for 2007, Get To 75kg was at the top of the list but the rest of it was about shifting my lardy arse. I have changed my focus to fitness NOW instead of waiting until goal.

Even though exercise has long been a big part of my lard busting efforts, the main theme has been the weekly weigh-in and reporting the results of said weigh-in to the blog. It was starting to drive me MENTAL. I was putting all this pressure on myself to "get results" each week so I'd have some good numbers to report. I was getting impatient that it was taking so long. As much as I was enjoying my exercise, there was an underlying feeling of "wonder if this will help my weigh-in this week?". Because as much as I talked about inches lost or push-ups pushed, it somehow didn't seem quite as valid as pounds down.

Finally I asked myself, Why am I going mental over this stupid number? I was starting to see 75's in my dreams! You know, like a 7 and a 5, walking hand-in-hand through a meadow. Don't get me wrong, I can't wait to hit the number, just so I can say gleefully, "Finiiiished!". But getting impatient and stressed about it was actually counter-productive — I seemed to be getting further AWAY from goal.

So that's why I made so many fitness goals for 2007, because the sweaty stuff makes me happy. I was really inspired by fitness bloggers like the amazing Kek and her supreme buffness. She has given me so much advice and inspiration to change my focus. All my efforts are now with improving fitness in mind, not weight loss. It's early days, but already feels much more satisfying and positive than focusing on a weekly scale result. Instead I'm obssessed with doing those stinkin' pikes or going up a level on that awful Arc trainer machine at the gym.

You have noticed the weekly exercise plans there in the sidebar. I've now followed them faithfully for a month! I've not missed a single session – no excuses, no half-arsedness! Lots of hard work and stinky gym clothes. I feel more determined and my eating is settling down into something sane and sensible. And sustainable.

I am still weighing myself daily. It was fluctuating wildly for a couple of weeks there and I was getting angsty, as though the numbers cancelled out all the goodness of my eating and fitness efforts. But now I am learning to see the scale as just another tool in my belt – a general indicator of a trend as opposed to a machine that dictates my mood for the day!

So basically what I daydreamed about doing when I hit goal, I am doing right now. Living like a boring old healthy person, getting fitter and letting the scale do what it wants. And whaddya know…. enough, simply by not focusing on getting to goal, I am actually inching closer to it! The scales are creeping down, my jeans have eased their death grip on my thighs, inches have been lost… and I feel a helluva lot more sane.

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