Nine Bananas

I’ve been reading up on the Core Plan as many people have suggested it could work for me. It’s a cracker of plan, hats off to the lab rats at WW! But I’m not sure the Core alone would suit me. My diet already consists of core foods – when we’re food shopping my sister and I have a Minimal Meddling policy, aiming to buy as many whole foods as possible with no interference from a factory. After that, I just try to limit processed foods to a couple instances a week (which would fall under the weekly non-core points allocated on WW).

So what’s my problem? It says to eat these core foods in reasonable amounts, when you’re hungry. I don’t trust myself to do that. It’s a fantastic list of delicious foods and I can think of a dozen recipes that I could technically eat as much as I like of. Lentils, couscous, pumpkin, chicken, oh my! There’s endless possibilities. Sure it would be healthy and wholesome but I know I’d end up eating too bloody much. Some people are smart enough to listen to their bodies and stop when they’re full, but I’d undoubtedly see it as my license to PORK OUT!

I will continue eating these Core-y foods but still track my calories so I don’t lose sight of how much I’m actually throwing down my gob. I’ve just finished my first week of WLR. In the end I decided to stick with the 1690 cals it recommended me, calculated by my current weight and activity level. I thought I’d try that awhile and see what happens. The 1500 recommended by Slimming magazine just didn’t feel like enough, especially when I exercised. I stayed within that limit all week, and if I went over it wasn’t horrendously so. I was chocolate free, all week long!

It does a nice wee report for the week, and if you look at the overall picture I was on target. It counts exercise calories, which I was very modest with coz I don’t want to go crazy eating just coz I did a workout. It also does a report of what your Favourite Foods are for that week. The winner was tea with semi-skimmed – 13 cups! Runner up was the humble banana – 9! Bloody hell, nine bananas? Brazil nuts took bronze with 6 serves of 3 nuts.

So it was an interesting exercise because I didn’t have to make any extreme changes. I was just more aware of what I ate – what had the fat, what had the calories – and made some subtle tweaks.

This week will be a toughie as I’m off to Spain on Thursday with the Scottish Companion. Usually I’d see a holiday as an open invitation to binge, but I am bloody determined to exercise restraint. Fair enough having a fancy meal out but my holiday downfall is eating chocolate bars and ice creams like they were fruit and vegies – at least 5 a day! I will enjoy the Valencian cuisine (it’s the home of paella, don’t you know) but I’m aiming to keep thinking before I eat and get as much walking in a possible. And unlike my previous trips this year, I’m not slacking off on the exercise. We fly out Thursday night so I have booked a Body Jam class for Thursday morning. We get back home Tuesday afternoon so I’ll book in a class for Tuesday night. It’s only five days away, so I’m putting plans in place to avoid floundering again.

Hey you groovy people… in all honesty, I just can’t bloody believe I made it through last week and didn’t give up. I didn’t scoff a chocolate, didn’t skip a class, didn’t eat a pile of buttery toast. I haven’t had a week this good since… well I can’t remember when. I’ve been completely terrifed that I couldn’t do this anymore, that I had forever lost my ability to focus and give anything more than a half-assed effort. I honestly thought I could never want it bad enough to get back into that groove. But I do want to change. I haven’t looked at the scale but I feel positive and starting to get some pride back. So here’s to another healthy week.

Temptation Island

I was surfing a random blog recently and an American girl wrote she had received some Rococo Artisan Bars for her birthday. They were hand-made organic chocolate infused with all sorts of wacky flavours like rosemary, basil & lime and orange & geranium, all delightfully wrapped in ye olde paper.

I was intrigued. I love love love posh chocolate bars. I feel so much better about scoffing chocs if it’s organic or fair trade or hiding under pretty wrapping or made by Belgian monks. So I hit the Goog and discovered this company was in London! And you could buy it off the internet! They were pricey buggers – £3.50 for a tiny wee 70g block – you can get a Mars Bar for a tenth of the price. But I felt like splashing out just this once and saw a variety I knew the Scottish Companion would love, so I ordered that and two others for my sister and I to share.

The goods arrived Saturday morning while SC and I were still snoring away. I’d taken him out for dinner the night before, why should men have to do all the wooing? Besides, you have to lead by example! I had intended to give him the posh chocolate before the Hot Date began but they obviously didn’t make it in time. So instead I chucked it at his head as he struggled to wake up.

"What’s this?"

"It’s for you. It’s 70% organic chocolate with chili pepper. I got it coz it reminded me of you. SWEET AND HOT!"

"Aww!"

Ahh blokes are so easy to please. Suckers.

I sent him off to band practice and my sister and I headed to the Farmer’s Market. We sat on the top deck of the bus and I snapped a chocolate block in half. I tell you, there is no greater sound than the crisp snap of a high quality chocolate bar. The only better sound would be Dido not singing, ever again.

"What’s this?" asked my sister as I handed her a square.

"It’s posh chocolate from the internet. NO DON’T CHEW IT! You have to SUCK! And SAVOUR!"

The first flavour was Rose. It was milk chocolate with a dash of rose oil. OH MY BLOODY GOD. It was so subtle, so divine. It was like a gentle Turkish Delight flavour without having to eat the rubbery goo that makes up Turkish Delight. Heaven. We sat there practically moaning.

After we got home from the market we opened the Coconut bar. Sweet lordy. Fresh coconut and milk chocolate. We agreed that is was pure magic.

But we also agreed it was a one-off experience that we could ill afford. £3.50 is a lot for a mere whisper of chocolate, and that doesn’t include postage and handling. We decided it would just join our archive of Great Meals Of Yesteryear to rehash at a later date. (We do this a lot. Many of our conversations go like, Remember the pannacotta from Linwood Cafe? What about that mushroom entree from Chairman and Yip? Remember that hamburger that one time in… We are sad, sad bastards.)

So I put it out of my mind until Wednesday night when I was prowling the streets in the name of exercise. I spotted a poster in the corner of my eye… Earl Grey Tea, Cardamon, Pink Pepper, Lavender. Dude! That’s those flavours of that chocolate!

Turns out a new shop had opened in my ‘hood. A chocolatier. I stood open-mouthed at the window. Stacks and stacks of Rococo chocolates. They also sold coffee and cakes and cookies. Nooo!

The bell above the door jangled in an old-school comforting manner as I went inside. I can barely remember what the shop looked like, all I recall is seeing slab upon slab of chocolates and a plate of rich, fudgy home-made brownies on the countertop.

"Hello!" the shop assistant was blonde and bubbly and Australian.

"Hello!" I squeaked. "I can’t believe you’re here!"

"Oh yes! We’ve only opened recently."

"I just bought all of this chocolate off the internet last week and now it’s here right near my house!"

"Oh we stock the full range. And I’ve just ordered in the Christmas varieties! There’s a frankinscene and myrr one, a cranberry one, and even a christmas pudding one!"

"God help me…"

I thanked her and skulked home without making a purchase. I had managed to stop thinking about the chocolate when I knew it was safely in London, but now it was five minutes away! Granted, I would have to walk up a hill, but would Laziness or Choco-Lust win the battle of wills? How was I meant to sleep at night?

Looking at the website now, I realise in my chocolate frenzy last week I never noticed the "Click here to find out where to buy Rococo near you" link, where I could have got it at half a dozen bloody places in Edinburgh. Oh well, it’s more exciting to buy things on the speccynet.

But I have to get this stuff out of my mind! It’s not something I can regularly afford, unless I want my mug in the newspapers, FIRST PERSON IN HISTORY TO BE BANKRUPTED BY CHOCOLATE HABIT!

The Devil’s Cheese

Yesterday I decided I needed to take my tracking more seriously. While I enjoy scribbling (bitching, ranting) in my food diary, I still have no real awareness of how much I’m actually consuming as I don’t count calories or points. I headed back to NutriDiary then remembered how it’s American-ness annoyed me. After poking round on the Goog I found Weight Loss Resources. It may not have a sexy name but it has a massive database of UK food products.

I’ve signed up for the three-day free trial (Try saying Three Day Free Trial three times without getting your tongue tangled). I’m pretty impressed thus far. The design and navigation are somewhat clunky but I think I’d be willing to put up with it and pay £9 month (£7 month if you sign up for six months) just to use the excellent tools. The database is tops, it had my Yeo Valley Yogurt, the Tesco Finest Mediterranean Chutney, the Cauldron Organic Mushroom Burgers. I can see why Americans go for FitDay and Aussies like Kimba go DietClub. It is so easy when you can find the local, specific brands and get accurate nutritional information. You can save your favourite foods and make ‘recipes’ of things you frequently eat together. I made one for my yogurt/muesli/seeds/banana combo that I have for brekkie and another for the basic salad I chop up for my lunch. Easy peasy.

So it does the usual stuff like tell you where your calories are from (fat, protein, carbs), lets you log your weight and measurements, sets your calorie level depending on how much you want to aim to lose each week. It also has a pretty nifty exercise log that links into the food log. I was impressed to find specific classes like Body Pump and Combat. No Body Jam though, I put that down as Intense Aerobic Dancing.

(Which was FREAKING intense last night I can tell you. I went to the Body Jam Clinic for half an hour before and Vanessa asked my sister and I did we want help with any particular moves. “All of them,” I said. “I am rubbish at ALL OF THEM!”. She cackled but did she not realise I was serious! She also broke down the technique for “chest pumps”, ie sticking your tits out and butt out and pumping your arms like you’re some little bikini-clad slut in a cage in an MTV video. She kept telling me I need to push my boobs out more. I COULDN’T! My bloody Enell sports bra had squashed the girls into submission!)

So I ate 1694 calories yesterday. This was an eye-opener like you would not believe. I had an extremely healthy eating day, but I was alarmed at where the calories added up. One little ounce of mild cheddar cheese was 115 cals, 9.6g fat. FARK! How many times over the past few months have I nibbled at the cheese block? No wonder I haven’t lost any weight. So with all the data laid out in front of me I quickly saw what was going on and how I could cut calories and fat. Rather than buy some shitey low fat cheese I’d rather skip it altogether or have it a couple times a week. That would bring the fat down heaps and leave just good fats like my walnuts, brazils and avocado – although now I know to just eat three brazils and not half the frigging packet.

Interesting stuff, I tells ya. While I have basically stuck to wholesome, non-processed foods lately, evidently my portions have let me down. And so have my nutty Bullshit Calories. It’s time for me to wake up and acknowledge what I am really eating and keep track of it in a solid, practical, mathematical way. I’m going to aim for around 1500 cals, which is what Slimming magazine recommends for someone who has between 1 and 3 stone to lose. I have just over 3 stone (about 20 kilos) to the top of my healthy range, so I’ll see how I go with that for starters.

Already I am thinking about things. It’s been ages since I felt such awareness. I’m thinking about everything I eat and wondering what effect it will have on my food diary. I’m thinking about how to fit in more exercise so I can log that. I’m thinking about pestering the Scottish Companion for Hot Action tonight coz I’m sure that burns off a lot. It’s rather sad to shag with Alan Titchmarsh on the telly hosting British Isles: A Natural History but that didn’t stop us last week. Ewww! That annoying bloke with the Lego Man hair is watching us!

Well my shoulders are so freaking sore from Body Jam last night that I am just too tired and moany to type any more! Ha! So stay tuned, groovers. Hope you’re all well, and as always, lovely to hear from you and hope your own weeks are going great guns!

I, Robot

Weight loss is easy. "Eat less, move more," says Dr John Smug MD from the University of Smugtown, "That's all there is to it!".

If you're a goddamn robot that is. I wish I was a robot, an automaton, a shiny box of metal with flashing lights and sproingy legs.

But I am not. And this is why it is never easy. Because I have this  brain constantly ticking away, constantly flipping through a rainbow of moods. Just think, if our bodies could be half as active as our brains, we'd be permanently sweaty, achy limbed, and very very skinny. Just flick back through my archives or anyone elses. It's all subject to change. I write reams about my thoughts and ideas on weight loss, and some days I come up with lightning bolt theories and explanations, but the next day I'll wake up in a different mood, circumstances will change or Venus is my 7th house, and I'll come up with a earth-shattering revelation that completely contradicts the last one.

My attitude to my body, my life, my health changes constantly. Here's a few thoughts I've had in the past month or so:

  • If he steals that last piece of chocolate I will hit him
  • I don't need that chocolate, I'm fine with this here apple
  • I am getting serious calf muscles from all that running
  • I am not doing enough running, I'm not making serious effort
  • It's so nice being able to buy a size 18 at a normal shop
  • I hate never finding anything to wear in a normal shop
  • I drank all my water and took the stairs today, that's a great start
  • I am kidding myself thinking water consumption is actual effort towards losing weight
  • I don't want to have sex because my stomach is so revolting flabby
  • My body is such a gloriously curved masterpiece that I think I will go have a wank

So what can you do with all this? How do you find a balance? How does anyone ever succeed? How can you bring some robot action into a creature full of contrast and contradiction?

I overanalysed the above then considered the wide range of lovely ideas/theories in the comments on the last entry. I wrote things on whiteboards, brewed up some blue liquid in a beaker, met with a crack team of dietitians and psychologists and came up with The Ultimate Theory* about my godawful Lard Busting Journey.

The only thing you can do when trying to lose weight, especially if it is a really fucking huge amount over an excruciatingly lengthy slab of time is:

  1. Be patient
  2. Accept that you will be a moody bastard some days, and just ride it out
  3. Try to limit the damage when faced with #2
  4. Choose the healthy option/action for the vast majority of the time

* Theory subject to change

. . .

How about I stop with the analysis and tell you what's been happening?

I got on the scale Tuesday night. I just wanted to see how things were going, I hadn't been on for over a month. Well, it wasn't good. I'm back up to 95 kilos (209lb). My lowest weight was 90.5 (199lb) in mid February. I've been fluctuating at around 91 – 94 kilos all year, but now it's crept up to 95 I can no longer kid myself that I am maintaining. I have gained weight. The scale isn't everything, but my clothes aren't getting any baggier. If I don't put in some serious effort a small gain could lead to some serious blubber.

My sister, on the other hand, had lost two kilos. I was happy for her but so burningly jealous I longed to kick her.

But let's look at the positives. I've gotten into a nice wee routine of doing cardio before my Thursday night Body Pump (weights) class. I say "routine" because it's happened three Thursdays in a row now so it seems more than accidental now, yes? So it's 20 minutes on the treadmill followed by 20 minutes on the elliptical.

The first week you may recall I ran a record 5 minutes on the treadmill, last week I bumped it up to 7.5 minutes. My legs felt like jelly when I hopped off. I quite enjoyed it though. Last night, after 5 minutes warm-up, I ran for ten whole minutes. TEN! I was so euphoric.

So I am just aiming to build on this. I am trying not to think about how freaking slow I am, rather build up my fitness and just go a little further each week. I am never going to win any races, folks – I looked down at the timer at 14 minutes and I'd only just clocked up a mile. The 14 Minute Mile! Mwahahhaa.

I increased some of my weights in the Pump class. I was feeling all very smug with my fitness efforts until the end of the class when everyone was putting their weights away. When I put my Reebok step back on the pile the entire stack collapsed and clattered all over the floor like giant dominoes. Everybody turned and stared.

"YES, THANK YOU! THANK YOU VERY MUCH!", I waved to the crowd and slinked out.

Well I Talk About It

So I had that caramel shortcake yesterday. I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. You know in those magazines, the Top Diet Tip articles? Right after they give you earth-shattering revelations like Drink Water and Do Not Eat Whole Blocks Of Butter, they always suggest you can avoid temptation from Foods of Satan™ by having alternative, healthy food on hand. So I’d armed myself against the Dark Prince with a banana and some walnuts, which are both delicious and healthy — even more delicious if you break off a chunk of nana and squish a walnut into it and enjoy the gooey nutty mess in one bite with a cup-of-tea chaser.

BUT as soon as 3 o’clock rolled round and I heard the pitter patter of cellophane ripping open, and noted that yes indeed it was THE Marks & Spencer Caramel Shortcake, well I just wandered over to the table, with the logic that, "Well how often does someone buy the quality M&S ones?". Ahh, so easily you can justify these things to yourself. It would have been reasonably reasonable thinking too,  if I had not done the same thing at the Cakes session the day before. With a three-Chocolate-Mini-Bites chaser.

But you gotta move on (on on on on) as Pseudo Echo said in their 1980s classic cover of ‘Funky Town’. I knew I had to move to a town that’s right for me, and keep and moving and grooving with some energy. So I went to my Body Jam class.

Ahh what a shmozzle. I couldn’t help sinking into a blue mood due to my continued inability to grasp the concept of "just this once". If you say "just this once" or "one won’t hurt" twelve times a week, that quickly adds up to added pounds. My dance moves were 100 times more crap than usual as I was trying to learn some very complex new steps while simultaneously trying to analyse my issues with food. It seemed so stupid to be flinging myself around the gym, my Enell sports bra all slick and icky with sweat, if I was just going to negate that effort by eating so much rubbish.

I have said this time and time again – my great periods of success have been when I went cold turkey on the crap. Not to long ago was on this streak of about two weeks sans junk food and had eradicated those wild sugar cravings when I thought, "Well I have been doing well, things are under control, and I am bored with fruit and seeds for my afternoon snack. I reckon I might buy a Fry’s Turkish Delight, it’s only 3 grams of fat" (or whatever it is). This would have been fine if it had not led to another chocolate and a pile of buttered toast that evening.

I am tired of writing the same entry over and bloody over again, but it’s been three and a half years, people! I am so sick of myself! I have changed a lot of things but I cannot seem to change this fundamental problem. IF I am not obsessing about being healthy (religious journalling, exercising, COMPLETELY banning cakes and choccies), I will just obsess about food instead. And not good food either. One bit of chocolate makes me think, righto chaps, where can I get my next bit? What shop will I go to? What magazine will I read while I mindlessly scoff?

It’s not as if I don’t have other things in my life, it’s not like food is the only thing I am passionate about.  It’s not like 1999 when I was alone, unemployed, sitting on the kitchen floor in a sobbing depressed heap, eating because I quite literally had nothing else to occupy me. Now I stuff my days with travel and work work work and friends and the gym and my sister and the Scottish Companion.

I just seem to have these slightly extreme tendencies whereby if I am not 110% cold turkey devoted to the Fat Fighting Cause, I will instead be heartily energetic about eating rubbish. This entry is not me moaning about that one wee caramel shortcake I ate yesterday. It’s just me trying to come to terms with a pattern of a lifetime. I’m confused, I tells ya.

Jealous Girl

There’s a guy at work who has lost a hefty slab of weight over the past year. He used to have one of those enormous beer bellies and quite the collection of chins. I am always stickybeaking at what people eat, and I remember noticing late last year that he’d stop buying hot chips and greasy curries from the staff canteen, instead he’d just have a bowl of soup and perhaps a couple of oatcakes, then two or three pieces of fruit. Then he stopped joining in with the staff Cakes.

TANGENT: We have a LOT of cakes in my department. When I first arrived I was baffled by this whole concept of Cakes. It’s not something really done in Australia, and not done as frequently in any other place I’ve worked in Scotland. There’s about 20 of us in our department, only one other female aside from me and she’s diabetic and never touches sugar. So it’s the boys who are Cake Crazy. Basically all they need is a flimsy premise – someone’s birthday, anniversary of their start date in the company, or to celebrate some project – they will head to the shops then fire out the email, "Cakes at 3, usual spot".

Cake to me used to mean a cake that someone baked, usually for a special occasion. But here ‘cake’ is the umbrella term for whatever shoddy baked good someone plucks from the supermarket shelf that day. There’s always caramel shortcakes (caramel slice in Oz), donuts and muffins. Sometimes there will be Marks & Spencer Extremely Chocolatey Mini Bites (which are EVIL as they’re so tiny and dainty lookin’ but about 6g fat each) or chocolate chip cookies or creamy chocolate eclairs. On the whole it’s crappy store-bought rubbish that goes down all too quick and leaves you full of remorse moments later. It’s stuff I never would have considered eating before, yet when it’s plonked on the table some days I struggle to resist. Especially if it’s M&S Caramel Shortcake, the most incredible Caramel Shortcake IN THE WORLD.

We had Cakes yesterday because it was someone’s birthday, and will have Cakes again this arvo as someone’s clocked up 5 years here. Last Friday afternoon everyone kicked in 50p and sent me over to the shops because it was Friday Afternoon and what better reason to have Cakes?

Anyway, this guy who lost all the weight did not partake in the Cake for quite awhile. Now that he’s all svelte, he’ll have one now and then. Today when he was swanning around, undoing his belt to show the office lads how baggy his trousers have become, I felt a great pang of jealousy. I wanted my trousers to be falling off. Maybe not in front of the lads, but still. I miss the days of "WHOA! Have you lost weight?!". Losing 60 kilos provided a few of those "WHOA" moments for awhile there, but since my loss has been so excruciatingly slow/ non-existent this past year I don’t get that anymore. Also, people in the UK have never known me as a Really Hefty Chick, so they’re never going to see any real startling difference.

I got an email from my bestest friend back in Oz, I haven’t seen her in 18 months (sniffle). She’d spotted a wee photo of me on Flickr and emailled to say she didn’t think she’d recognise me in the street now. I think that is a slight exaggeration on her part, but still, I got that RUSH of whatever you call it when someone notices a difference. I love that feeling, I love those compliments. Sure I’ve been doing this to get healthier and fitter, but I can’t deny the vanity factor. I really really miss that crazy blur of losing weight and cackling madly AAAAAAAAAHHAHHAHA as you look in the mirror to see your undies come up to your boobs coz they’ve gotten so big.

There’s another woman at work who was once overweight, now she looks like she’s lost 20 kilos or so. Apparently she took up running! Well, once again that has filled me with jealousy. I cannae help it, I’m a Scorpio, I am fuelled by jealousy and obsessiveness. So if this is what it takes to motivate me, why the hell not?

I have spent most of my life being completely invisible to the opposite sex, so I can’t help just aching to be a real foxypants now. I have hidden behind my clothes and endless stream of jokes for so freaking long, now I want to be oggled and complimented.

I have some elaborate fantasies about this. I daydream of going out on the town with my Scottish Companion and some random bloke checksme out and SC says, "That guy is checking you out!" and I reply, "DAMN RIGHT, buddy!" and then there’s a multiple choice ending –  a) SC punches the guy in the face and says "she’s MINE, ALL MINE" or since SC is a total pacifist who’d prefer to catch a wayward spider and release it back into a pretty meadow rather than mush it with a shoe (which is what I would do), the more likely conclusion is b) I tell SC that he better buy me a G&T then take me home STAT for some sweet lovin before some handsome devil steals me away from him.

Oh I could go on for hours with these scenarios. But the gist is, I just want to feel all va-va-voom. D’yknow what I mean?

So when the Caramel Shortcakes come out this afternoon, I will ask myself which I want more – the little square of chocolate caramel perfection or That Feeling of knowing your shape is changing and you’re looking good. I will report back tomorrow and promise I will actually report this time!

Saturday Night Fever

I am wild crazy partying fool, living life on the edge. This is why I spent my Saturday evening at the gym. Woo yeah! My sister came with me this time. We plugged our headphones into the machines and huffed and puffed along and watched the drivel that passes for Saturday night television.

The gym was practically empty so I had one of the treadmills where you can see yourself in the mirror. Well you can see your head and shoulders, and your legs, but your middle is concealed by the front of the treadmill. That suited me fine as my middle is the bit of my bod I find least pleasant to look at. Hehe.

It was strange being there, back on them cardio machines after all these years. When my sister and I started our weight loss campaigns way back in  2001 we’d head off to the gym at 7 o’clock most weeknights, as soon as Big Brother was finished. At first I could only walk 10 minutes on the treadmill then I’d plop down on the stationery bike and pedal for another ten minutes as I read Vogue or Cosmo so I could erode my self esteem while eroded my thighs.

I remember the first time I got on the elliptical machine, I was down to about 130 kilos (286lb) by then. I could barely manage five minutes. Puff puff puff. I looked across at the mirrors and saw my face glowing tomato red, my giant trackpants struggling to contain my voluminous arse. I just have this perfect picture in my mind of how I looked at that moment, more so how I felt. It was pure bloody hatred combined with overwhelming overwhelmed-ness about the enormity of trying to become less enormous. Yes, I know, me speak good English.

Anyway, I compared that memory to how I felt about what I saw now. I was thankful for the concealed stomach area but I was happy with what I saw. My face has a nice glow of sweat without being that special Call The Ambulance shade of red. Sure, it’s a body that could benefit from further weight loss and exercise, but I was more excited by the fact I was at the gym and making it RUN. Sure it was five minutes but I never, ever thought in a million years I could get this body to do that at all, let alone do it and enjoy it. I felt so proud, so fucking happy to be alive and active and not at home alone with 2 litres of ice cream and a spoon.

One thing I did notice, however, is that I run like a dickhead. I don’t know where my feet were going but it wasn’t one in front of the other in an orderly fashion, I was all over the shop! I took the opportunity to focus on my form, keeping my shoulders back and getting a decent stride going. Running on the treadmill isn’t ideal but I am glad I did it so I could see what I was doing. Now when I’m next out on the mean streets I can look less of a turkey. Maybe.

Back In MY Day

There was a cracker of an article the last Observer Food Monthly about food in the Olden Days. They interview some senior cits about their memories of food and eating over the years. It’s fascinating stuff. We take for granted the absolute abundance of food choices we have today. During the war years these people ate the likes of powedered eggs and Mock Apricot Flan (made with carrots and margarine). Mmm mmm.

A great quote from 91-year-old Bill Deedes:

I don’t think it is the food people eat today which makes them unhealthy. I can’t blame the supermarkets or fast food. I blame it on the ubiquitousness of the motor car. We really don’t eat much more than people did in the18th or 19th centuries, but we need to learn that if you do moderately frequent exercise you can eat more or less whatever you want. We mustn’t put too much emphasis on what is eaten, rather on what activities are done. I go for walks in the wood and I drive golf balls in a field near my house most days.

Marguerite Patten, 88 was a home economist to the Ministry of Food during World War II. She used to go about the country doing cooking demonstrations to how to make the most of their food rations. This part in particular was food for thought:

Today, I think that we are a divided nation when it comes to food. Half of us love food and cooking and the other half subsist on ready meals. I have nothing against ready meals per se… but it does make me angry that we worked so hard to keep people healthy during the war, with so little food, and, now we have an abundance, a great number of people are nowhere near as healthy as they should be.

You can read the full article here.

. . .

Most of my gym classes are at 6pm, and since the gym is next to my bus stop I usually go straight there after work than going home first. I arrived at 5pm yesterday and instead of curling up on the lovely leather couches for my usual catnap, I thought maybe I should actually use that time productively. So I ventured into the cardio theatre.

I have been at that gym for about 16 months now, and had only been on the machines twice before. It just intimidated the hell out me, that endless grind of treadmills and skinny people all slick and shiny with sweat. But today I thought to hell with em! I am paying just as bloody much, I have the right to gallumph on a treadmill. I did 20 minutes on an incline, including five whole minutes of running!  I never really timed how long my bursts of running were when outdoors, so I was well pleased to see I could keep going. That ain’t no marathon, so stop laughing – but I had to save some energy for my Body Pump class! Also I didn’t have my running shoes on, I didn’t want to wreck my legs. So I hopped off and did 15 minutes on the elliptical machine. Fark! I’d forgotten how evil they were! By the time I shuffled into my Pump class my legs were jelly.

Needless to say the class hammered me. I hadn’t been for five weeks. Ouch. And the instructor was Kiwi Vanessa, who is officially The Best Instructor In The Universe. I think I have one of those non-sexual crushes on her. She is so nice but so tough so I can’t drop my weights coz I want to impress her. Ha ha! Anyway, she is totally bossy and prowls around the class correcting people’s form. I didn’t get corrected once, woohoo!

I have been taking Pump classes for close to three years now and I managed to pick up tips from her last night. She has the most incredible way of describing how these exercises are supposed to feel, how you should be moving. For example, in the Back/Hamstring track when you do the clean and press move, most instructors break it down by saying you do an upright row then flip the bar under, then up into the shoulder press. Which is correct, but as Vanessa pointed out, a lot of people end up finding their shoulders are doing their work, not the legs. So she suggested you don’t do a complete upright row, maybe just halfway, then when you turn the bar over and catch it, you let your thighs take the impact. So you’re almost in a squat position. Then when you push up, make sure your legs and arms straighten simultaneously to make sure it’s your legs doing the work. It is impossible to describe this but just that subtle change of not doing a complete upright row really made me feel a difference.

Another tip she had was about tricep press-ups. Instructors always give an alternative for normal press-ups, ie. on your knees, but they aren’t as good telling you what to do if you’re too weak to do tricep pressups. Vanessa actually gave a beginners variation so you can FEEL SOMETHING even if you’re a spazz like me. I had been mucking it up all this time.

I felt so inspired and happy after the gym last night! So did my sister. And unlike Tuesday night, (Return to Body Jam) I didn’t make a dick of myself. Tuesday night Vanessa was getting us to practice a samba move, a backwards step, and I stepped back alright – straight into a pile of Reebok steps. It is very hard to hide quietly up the back of a class when 30 people turn around to look who’s making that bloody racket.