Mints of Satan

Things I have learned this week:

1. SMINTS are evil
I thought I’d get a wee box of mints to distract my tastebuds between meals at work. I try to avoid them coz of all the weird ingredients but I was really horrified to read the label and see they contain hydrogenated vegetable oil! That evil gloop in something so tiny and innocent as mint? Is nothing sacred?

2. Don’t eat a whole tin of baked beans for lunch
Especially when you’re at work. We get our groceries delivered Monday afternoon so sometimes we’ve run out of stuff by Monday morning. The salad stuff had died so all I had was a wholemeal pita and one tin of beans. OH GOD. I had to keep running from the room to fart. Then I’d let one out now and then as I walked home. Luckily the streets were deserted, or had I just killed everyone with my vile fumes? Hmm.

3. My reading comprehension skills are shite
When I go running I write Julia’s instructions on a post-it note. Last Sunday’s schedule included 15 x run 2′ walk 1′. But I wrote down run 15 x 3′ walk 1′. So that adds up to an extra fifteen minutes, which may not sound like a lot but when you’re starting from absolute zero in terms of running fitness and slowly building up – this was huge. We’d also been on a two-hour hike earlier that day. I somehow managed to do it, plus the extra 1km straight run after that, but my legs were absolute jelly and I was so red-faced it lasted for hours and SC’s parents thought I had severe sunburn. I was hobbling around all week. Only the next day did I realise I’d written the instructions wrong. D’oh!

My right leg, particularly my knee and shin, has been giving me trouble ever since. It comes and goes but whenever I started to run, go up and down hills or stairs it would hurt. Felt sort of grindy and weird. I’ve had twinges there since I started this whole running thing, but I didn’t know (and still don’t) if it was classed as soreness, a slight ache or outright pain. I’ve never been good at judging pain. Growing up on a farm there was no place for wimps, so if I told Mum I had a sore leg she’d say, "Okay, I’ll cut it off for you!". She wouldn’t let us have a day off school unless we were, quote, "Dead or dying".

So I tend to ignore aches and pains, but this has backfired on me over the years. Like a few years ago ignored my aching shoulder and forearm to the point where I could not move my arm at all and I was bawling from pain. I didn’t want to wimp to my boss that the mouse and repetitive web work had struck me down but in the end I had to have time off work and months of physiotherapy for something that could have been okay if treated earlier. Sigh. So anyway now I am consulting with Julia and have rested the past two days except for a Pump class and today is Active Rest with a stint on the stationery bike. Hopefully I haven’t royally screwed things up.

4. Brown basmati rice rules!
I like zapping some leftover rice, then stirring in some extra-virgin olive oil, black pepper, lemon juice, Herbamare and a wee tin of tuna. For some reason that all goes together beautifully. I wish I could just live off dishes like that. You know, random things chucked in a pot.

5.  It’s time for new jeans
My jeans are sufficiently baggy to pass the Put Them On Without Needing To Undo The Zip And Button test. Woohoo! It has taken so long! I bought these stinking jeans in November 2003. I’ve decided to put off the purchase until July when my sister and friends will be visiting for the wedding party; that way I can shape up a bit more and buy the best fit possible. Huzzah!

. . .

So this week I’ve either lost 0.7 kilos if you go down from two weeks ago, or lost 2.3 kilos if you count it from the Freaky Bloatfest of last week. I put a fresh battery in the scale since it started flashing Lo! on Monday so it should be accurate. I am really happy with the result and just goes to show, if you don’t eat biscuits with your cup of tea IT ACTUALLY MAKES A DIFFERENCE! If I just stop before snacking and ask, "Do I need this? Could I choose something healthier?", it actually adds up to less calories consumed and better results. Well, derr!

Wednesday Weigh-In – Week Nineteen

last update: 25 May 2005

age: 27
height: 173cm (5’8")

original start weight: 159.2 kg (351 lb) on 17 Jan 2001
original start bmi: 53.4

fresh start weight: 95.9 kg (211.4 lb) on 12 Jan 2005
fresh start bmi: 32.2

current weight: 86.2 kg (190 lb)
current bmi: 28.9

result this week: -0.7 kg (1.5 lb)

loss in 2005: -9.7 kg (21.3 lb)
total loss since 2001: -73 kg (160.9 lb)

initial goal weight: 75 kg (165 lb)
distance to goal: 11.2 kg  (24.7 lb)

The Little Blog of Calm

Last Saturday afternoon I went to a gathering of Scottish bloggers. It was a ridiculously warm and sunny day in Edinburgh, why it may have even been twenty degrees. I rocked up to the pub with a friend and had a startling realisation that I wasn’t nervous.

A few years ago I’d never meet a bunch of strangers. Hell, I’d rarely meet my own friends at the pub. I used get so worked up for days beforehand, tears and tantrums at the thought of taking my fat out in public. What would I wear? Would I fit on the chairs? But now here I was strutting up to strangers, plonking down on a bench and introducing myself.

I’d soon knocked back a gin and tonic but the self-assurance was still there. It just hit me… I don’t care what these people think of me. I don’t care if they think I’m fat or badly dressed or unfunny or whatnot. I was happy to be me, so I didn’t need anyone else to be happy with me. It was such a rush to feel like this, just calm and comfortable; a million miles away from the girl who ran (waddled) away from her own graduation ball, told her friends she was "popping home for five minutes" then locked herself in her flat with the lights out and gorged on ice cream by the light of the television.

Last Monday night I got on the scales and they screamed 90.4 kilos! That’s a massive 3.5 kilos up from the last Wednesday Weigh-In. What the bloody hell? I re-weighed half a dozen times to be sure. I called in the Scottish Companion and got him to weigh himself in case the scales were wrong. He was 75kg as always. I thought of all the things I’d eaten last week, and there were a few dodgy bits. Two gin and tonics, a mozzarella and parma ham pannini, a buttered scone, plus an evil Chinese takeaway the night before. I’d got mine with boiled rice instead of fried; but it was white rice and knowing Scotland it was probably boiled in LARD.

"I still don’t see how that could make you gain eight pounds in 5 days! What about all your running?" SC protested, trying to reassure me; "Only newborn babies stack on weight that quick. Or whales, maybe."

What surprised him, and me too, was that I just laughed. No tears or tantrums. I knew it was impossible to gain 3.5 kilos of fat in five days. I knew I’d been exercising like a mofo and I’d eaten healthily apart from those social occasions. I knew I was on the right track.

"I’m not going to worry about it," I told him, "I probably just haven’t properly digested all that shite food yet. The only thing that annoys me is that I didn’t gain it eating something I really liked so it would almost be worthwhile! Like a honking huge block of chocolate!"

I’m really surprising myself lately at how sane and balanced I feel. About food, about exercise, about life in general. I am moving towards habits that are a lifestyle instead of my past extreme Feast Or Famine behaviour. I ate well during the week, but I went out for lunch with friends and enjoyed it, I had a takeaway with my hubby and enjoyed it, I had a couple drinks with the Blog Geeks and enjoyed it. And I exercised regularly. This is called living your life, folks.

I now realise this is the same approach I used earlier this year when trimming down for the wedding – I lost over 6 kilos in 6 weeks while still eating out at least once a week. At the time I thought I was being Hardcore™, but in reality I was just finally exercising regularly, being careful about what I ate without cutting out food groups or going to extremes. That way I never felt deprived or like I was missing out. After a year of yo-yoing the same five kilos, I finally got great results simply by taking a balanced approach.

And that’s what I’m doing now. By Wednesday Weigh-In the scales had calmed down to 88.4 – still 1.5 kilos up from the week before, but again I didn’t get hysterical. I resolved to make better food choices and to try looking at food as fuel rather than the centre of my universe. Example: I’d noticed my Wednesday night running sessions were always really rubbish, and realised I’d been eating extra on Wednesdays – like it "didn’t count" coz it was post-weigh in. I didn’t do that this week and the run felt so much better as a result.

Also, I need to remember that just because I trot around the park three times a week does not give me a licence to eat extra food. I’m not a bloody Olympic athlete, I’m not burning that many calories. So all week I’ve been ignoring the biscuit tin and the vending machine and feeling so much better for it.

Why the sudden zen calm on Planet Dietgirl? Why the sudden rush of self-esteem? The running has so much to do with it. It’s given me a newfound respect for my body and mind. I feel calm, in control and balanced. 5k may not seem a lot to some, but I can honestly say learning to run is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. Each session still sees me moaning and whining and aching and puffing but the sense of accomplishment at the end of the run is mindblowing. I am slow and awkward, and I know I’ll need to walk/run the 5k rather than run the whole way, but I know I’ll make it over the finish line somehow.

It amazes me how much things can change in two months. Despite my constant whinging I am proud of sticking to the lovely Mistress Julia’s training schedule (thankyou!). It’s something I thought I could never do but here I am doing it!

I am in awe of the ability of my mind and body to cope (eventually) with whatever challenges I throw at it. So how can I not feel good about that? Now I’m looking at other parts of my life in a more positive light, feeling better about being me and realising how much energy I used to waste worrying what strangers thought of me. No more.

Patience, Grasshopper

I’ve got no kids nor immediate plans to sprog up. Yet I’m always fretting about how I’d raise my non-existent brood to have healthy, non-screwy attitudes to food. Fig recently wrote a post called Young Hearts Be Free, (scroll down, it’s the 26 April entry) all about how she talks to her kids about fat and exercise and moderation. It is a bloody good read and a responsible approach. There is all this kerfuffle in the news here about the quality school dinners at the moment, but there’s plenty of other meals in the week aside from the school lunch.

What happens at home is so important in shaping attitudes. I remember my stepdad eating a white bread sandwich with margarine and CHOCOLATE FROGS inside it, and he’d say "Do as I say, not as I do." Yeah right, buddy! As soon as I’m outta here I’m eating all the chocolate frogs I want. But not in a sandwich because that’s just wrong! Anyway, Fig’s approach is a winner, I tells ya.

I have been thinking about Australia lately, feeling rather homesick. I can’t wait to visit in October. I’m in two minds about where I’d like to live, long-term. Then Kimba left a comment in the last entry to say she saw Green & Blacks chocolate in the Oxfam shop today. It was $11 for a 100g block. Bloody hell! So this either means a) I never move home coz the G&B’s is too expensive or b) I move home right away coz the G&B’s is too expensive therefore I can never guts out on it. Hmmmm.

. . .

Patience, grasshopper. Think of the long term picture. This is the sort of twaddle I mutter to myself when there’s weeks and weeks without significant changes in my bod or on the scale. It’s what I say to soothe my whiny soul after bitching yet again to the Scottish Companion that I am bored with calorie counting, macronutrients, sports bras, whole grains, downward dogs and running. But the trick is to just hang on through these sucky go-nowhere weeks – and keep up the exercise and healthy food. Even when you are literally yelling and stomping on the kitchen floor, "WHY DOES THIS SUCK SO MUCH?".

Why? Because when you least expect it, POW, you will notice a whole bunch of changes all at once. This happened to me this week.

  • Forced into the bowels of my wardrobe by a lack of clean clothes, I rediscovered some tops my sister had brought back from Australia in January. They were too tight then, but now they fit!
  • My boa-constrictive Enell sports bra suddenly does up with great ease instead of feeling like it will crack my ribcage open
  • After a year of little progress in these areas, I increased my tricep and bicep AND chest weights at Body Pump
  • On noticing my legs suddenly felt a lot stronger, I got out the stopwatch and found I’ve shaved three minutes off my Walk To Work time
  • On a grassy high school athletics track, I ran one kilometre as per Mistress Julia’s instruction and did it in 6:09, which ain’t Paul Radcliffe but it was well over a minute and a half faster than the last timed kilometre back in early April. Woo!
  • Today’s weigh-in saw a 0.6kg loss!

It’s weeks like these that keep me going. Sometimes it’s so tedious and boring but I know I have to be patient and consistent, and realise it takes time for the body and mind to find a rhythm. It’s weeks like these and I want to push my body harder and further than ever before. Just purely to see what it could do. Woohoo!

. . .

Wednesday Weigh-In – Week Seventeen

last update: 11 May 2005

age: 27
height: 173cm (5’8")

original start weight: 159.2 kg (351 lb) on 17 Jan 2001
original start bmi: 53.4

fresh start weight: 95.9 kg (211.4 lb) on 12 Jan 2005
fresh start bmi: 32.2

current weight: 86.9 kg (191.5 lb)
current bmi: 29.1

result this week: -0.6 kg (0.4 lb)

loss in 2005: -9.0 kg (19.8 lb)
total loss since 2001: -72.3 kg (159.3 lb)

initial goal weight: 75 kg (165 lb)
distance to goal: 11.9 kg (26.2 lb)

Highway to Hell

Let’s be honest about this whole Fat Blogging thing. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes it sucks. Sometimes you’re truly on fire and all you want to do is write about your fat and your amazing progress. Other days you’re just bloody sick of counting calories or fat or sheep or whatever and therefore cannot be arsed with blogging. Some days you are full of insight, wisdom and amazing moments of personal growth; other days you are deep in denial and/or a bucket of ice cream. Sometimes you will read a blog and feel empathy or inspired or humbled or teary; other days you will read a blog and think, would you just stop your whining and get on with it it!

The trick is to understand that we are all on different paths. And while all our paths are long and bumpy and go up and down, no one is on the same path at the same time. While you may feel on top of the world and focused and fired up, someone else is going through a downer, or just prioritising other things in life rather than fat busting.

What is the point of this little rant? I dunno. I guess when you’ve been writing about blubber and reading about blubber for a very long time you start to see patterns and cycles. I’ve seen a couple of bloggers writing about rough times lately and they’ve gotten some comments along the lines of "What’s with all your negativity?". Sometimes other bloggers have fallen off the wagon and felt reluctant to write about what they’re really feeling. But honest writing is the best writing. I guess I am just saying for the bloggers – let it all hang out. We love you whether you’re losing buckets of kilos or taking some time off. And to the readers – remember to put on your empathy hat. It’s a real person you’re reading about, and real people have ups and downs in life.

. . .

The Perfect Day went just perfectly, huzzah! Well, until 10pm when I made a batch of Anzac biscuits. SC has band practice on Friday nights and when the band comes over afterward, they sit around drinking tea and eating biscuits (cookies) – usually cheap, nasty ones make with hydrogenated vegetable oil -because they’re just so punk rock. I have been "educating" my husband (read: being bossy and righteous) about the perils of trans fats and told him if they’re going to eat cookies, why not have some nice homemade ones full of oats and really not that much butter and sugar. Well this batch was a different recipe – less butter and sugar, more oats – and worked out to be quite low in calories and fat. They looked awful though, like small, mean little rocks. So I decided to eat one to make sure they were edible. I was so bloody annoyed for ruining my perfect day! So annoyed that I ate two more. Ha ha ha! Luckily I only made a half batch so the guys ate the lot when they got home.

Och well. Apart from that I am feeling great this week, eating well and moving my lardy arse. I even Body Pumped at home on Saturday night. I really need to move some furniture around – the barbell is so long that I keep clonking it against chairs and windows. Either that or we need a bigger flat. Hmm… Someone asked if Body Pump is available on DVD. It’s only available in gyms that have the Les Mills range of fitness classes. The only reason I can do it at home is coz I’ve done the classes so many bloody times I am able to repeat the moves like a robot! It’s the easiest class in the world to do, especially if you’re new to exercise, so I can’t recommend it enough.

Has anyone cooked millet before? I bought a bag of it from the health food shop awhile back and have no idea what I am supposed to do with it. All suggestions welcome!

Perfect Day

I want to today to be Perfect, dammit. I am still using Weight Loss Resources to plan and track my food, and it tells me at 87.5 kilos wanting to lose at the rate of 0.75kg per week, I need to eat 1537 calories per day.

This didn’t happen yesterday, even though I ate exactly what I’d planned in the Food Planner. Except I added some leftover sandwiches at work, some globs of my homemade hummus and carrots, numerous nibbles while cooking tea and a huge bite of SC’s chocolate chip biscuit. That all adds up pretty quick.

So today I am publicly declaring my intention to have a Perfect Day and stick to my plan. Maybe this way I won’t have sneaky calories that may fool the world but not my hefty arse. As of lunch I’ve had 795, leaving 742 for the rest of the day. This is plenty for some fruit, a pre-run snack and my Mushroom Burger dinner. There is really no need for me to eat anything more than that. Ooh how nice it would be to say I actually stuck to the plan. I am determined, woo!

. . .

Tales from the Scale is now on Sale! (How Dr Suess is that sentence?)

It’s a real live book! It’s not in the UK til June, no idea about Australia; but in the States (and Canada, I believe) you’ll find it in all good bookshops and on Amazon. In case you missed me crapping on about this before, Tales is the creation of fitness blogging supremo, Erin Shea. Apart from her own delicious writing, the book also has contributions from a whole bunch of groovy blogging types, such as Mopie and Robyn. Robyn was the very first weight loss journal I’d ever read, way back in 2000. It was through her hilarious and insightful writing I finally began to believe it was possible to lose a megaload of weight. Needless to say I’m dead chuffed to be in such good company. I really enjoyed the read – the stories will make you laugh and cry and think and realise you’re not alone in this lard-busting caper.

I finally got hold of a copy last week and all I can say is… wheeeeeeeeeee! Seeing my name above my chapters in a real live book was the biggest thrill. I was trying to act all cool and nonchalant with SC, saying how I was just a few pages in amongst a whole lot of other pages in Erin’s book… but then the glee won out and I had to jump up and down for awhile. This is something I’ve dreamed of my whole freaking life. I remember being six years old when all my wee friends wanted to be firemen or teachers or astronauts, I’d always say "I want to be an author". I dunno where I heard the word but I liked the way it sounded; if you can imagine a tiny Aussie accent: OR-THA!. All I ever did was write and write and write. I’d go into my own little world and I was so happy there. I always had several plays and "novels" on the go, always stapling the pages together to "publish" them. The highlight of my year was summer holidays when Mum would bring home one of the computers from her school so I could write all day long and pretend I was a real Ortha.

Somehow in high school I lost that innocent love for writing; I was so sidetracked by homework and teen angst. It wasn’t until after university when I discovered blogs that I remembered how much writing used to thrill me, how it feels so natural and essential and right to me like water or chocolate. I know I must sound so terribly immodest but I just had to say how exciting it was to see that book. A dream come true. I feel teary now just thinking about it. Best of all my Mum doesn’t know anything about it yet – I sent her the book in the post for her birthday so it should be a great surprise for her.

So thank you Erin for letting me be part of the project amongst such esteemed company. Now you lot, why not go forth and buy the book? You won’t regret it.

Bon weekend!

DIY Body Pump

A piddling 0.2 kg loss this week. I was going to get all pouty that the scale isn't reflecting my efforts but then I realised my efforts weren't that great on some fronts. We went Up North for the weekend, stayed in a B&B and went out for dinner; then indulged in that grand tradition of the Full Scottish Breakfast (bacon, eggs, sausage, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms – but no black pudding for me). Then Monday night because we still had the hire car we drove out to Anstruther to reputedly the Best Fish And Chips in Scotland, and ate fish suppers by the seaside.

I don't feel one tinge of remorse for all that. Why? Because I just bloody felt like living life last week and not fretting over weight loss targets. There was sun in the sky for once, we had a car for once and neither of us were busy for once; so we took full advantage of it.

I still did all my exercise (walking to work, two Body Pumps, three running sessions and a yoga DVD) so I was at least keeping up the exercise. Last night I tried on my wedding dress since it was our Two Months Anniversary, and I am pleased to report that I can now zip it up ALL BY MYSELF! Two months ago it was a fifteen minute two-man job with lots of swearing and sucking in of stomachs. It fits so much better now, especially around the hips and thighs. Looks like Mistress Julia's running regime is helping with the lard removal!

There were so many trains of thought sparked by your reactions to last entry that I don't know where to begin. Thanks for your responses! Some of you were apologising for hijacking the comments or cluttering up my inbox; this is never the case. These kinds of discussions are invaluable. Not only do we get comfort from knowing we're not alone in feeling this way, it also helps us to see things in different ways and to consider other people's ideas. Then perhaps what you thought was an overwhelming or scary issue can seem a lot more managable.

I guess what I learned most from it all that it has taken time to change my body that it's only natural that the mind will take time to adjust. Best of all I feel like I am well on my way – it's just those PMS days that it can all seem too much.

Rosemary Grace asked if I thought it was harder to adjust to "normality" than it was to take on the journey to get there. In some ways I do, because this Adjustment Phase I'm in is all mental and emotional, whereas my focus in the Journey Phase was more physical.

If you think right back to before the Journey started, ie joining Weight Watchers in 2000, I'd just come through a few years of bad depression as well as some intense family dramas – a phase of life where it was all about emotional/mental work. So it was great to launch into WW and focus on a practical task. For the past four-and-a-bit years I've tinkered away at my health and fitness – changing the way I eat, learning to move my butt, buying skinner clothes, etc etc etc. It's been a very practical, absorbing project that required me to learn a new way of life.

That's not to say the Journey part hasn't brought emotional changes, lord knows I have written enough about that. But for the most part I've been able to put my brain on hold. And once I'd learned what to do with my food and exercise, my life got bloody busy with this crazy run of gigantic, life-altering changes – two years of travel, working two crazy jobs, falling in love, getting married in a big freaking hurry. Sooooooooo, for the first time in yonks I actually have time to reflect on what all this physical change has done to my head. Finally talking about this stuff to the Scottish Companion has dredged up the muck in my brain so now I think it's time to deal with it.

Anyway, that's enough Dr Phil for one day. What else has been happening? We bought a set of weights for home. Just some cheapie dumbbells and a barbell from Argos. There's only a couple of Body Pump classes per week that I can make at my new gym, and it's even more difficult with my running schedule. Plus I have been trying to sell SC on the amazing wonders of resistance training. He refused to try a Pump class with me, saying the music was too poncy. So the weights at home were the compromise.

Being a sad Body Pump geek, I came up with the ultra-geeky idea of downloading some BodyPump songs and putting them on my iPod Shuffle so I could make my own Body Pump class at home! I googled like mad til I found this blog that is actually devoted to Body Pump songs of yesteryear. Don't you just love the internet? It is a sanctuary for every kind of geek there is. So I spent HOURS there last Tuesday reading up on all the cheesy techno songs and cooing "oooh I remember that Lunge track! Sweeeeeet!". Then I went crazy on iTunes, downloading songs and assigning them categories (Abs, Shoulders, Chest, Squats, etc etc etc), then making playlists for my very own Pump class.

Thursday night I got out the weights and hung the Shuffle round my neck. It was simultaneously thrilling and Really Freaking Sad that I could remember the moves for an entire eleven-track "class". I just churned through like a robot, knowing exactly when to do single squats or bottom half or super slow; remember which triceps bits used the barbell and which bits were plates or pushups. And some of the songs were ancient, like from 2001 when I did my first Pump class as a 120 kilo lass. It was awkward maneuvering the barbell in our tiny bedroom, and I used a camping mat in lieu of a Reebok step for the chest and triceps. The only dodgy bit was during the Chest track, when I pushed the bar up for the Clean and Press, it got caught underneath the neckcord of the iPod, donking my forehead and flipping it up over my head, wrenching out the earphones. After that I put the iPod under my t-shirt so it couldn't move. Overall it was just as an effective workout than if I'd been at the gym, with a bonus geekgasm element.

UPDATE – October 2005 – Hello Google visitors and emaillers! Sadly there is no such thing as a Body Pump DVD. The only way to do Body Pump is to find a gym that holds the class. Check the Les Mills website to search in your area. If you read this entry you will see that I simply had downloaded some of the songs and did the moves from memory in my living room. This is in no way affilliated with Les Mills International.

There are many home fitness DVDs available that incorporate similiar resistance training into the workouts – try FitPrime, The Firm or Cathe.