Come Ride With Me

Righto then. In attempt to keep myself accountable I hereby declare my intention this week to go an RPM class. On Friday. At 5.15pm. These classes are mega popular so I’ve booked in, there’s really no excuse.

Arrrrrrgh! Arrrrrrrrgh! Arrrrrrrrrrgh!

I did one Spinning class approximately two years ago, when I first moved to Scotland. And I hated it! It was like someone was assaulting my nether regions with a sledgehammer. The bike seats were not forgiving. Then I walked like a crippled cowboy for the next three days. Needless to say I never went back. But now I need to find a low impact exercise and swimming is not my forte and I bored of pedalling away or elliptical-ling away in the stinky gym. Not only is it dull as dog shit but I don’t get the same level of knackeredness. I keep seeing people post-RPM looking red-faced and sweaty so I need to get me some of tha action. Plus I like an instructor to boss me around.

But crikey, I really don’t wanna go. I feel so nervous about it that I want to spew, and it’s only Wednesday afternoon.

. . .

A wee gain of 0.2kg this week. I have learned enough about my fluctuating weight patterns not to freak out about it. It always seems to go: wee gain, wee gain, MEGA LOSS or similiar, so I find it better to look back over a four-week period and see how I went. Onward and downward, groovy people.

. . .

I got my knickers in a twist about some of the smug, classist comments accompanying this recent Skinny Daily Post which basically posed the question, "Do Americans need to be loaded in order to be healthy?".

I was all set to sprout off about it but Magnificent Meg has already done so brilliantly. In case you haven’t noticed Meg is my Blogcrush Du Jour. It’s a totally platonic thing, Meg, so don’t worry – I am not boiling bunnies (lean, trimmed of fat) on the stove! She is just one feisty and articulate chick and if you’re not reading her yet then get your ass over there.

Anyway, there’s similar issues here in Britain. From what I have observed in Scotland it is far, far cheaper to by poorer-quality food. You can rock on down to Iceland or Farmfoods, purveyors of all things frozen, and buy bags of chips and fatty lasagnas and dodgy "burgers" and megabuckets of icecream for just Β£1 or Β£2. Or you can go to the chippie and have chips and a deep fried black pudding for a couple of quid.

Yet venture into the supermarket and it is bloody pricey. My sister and I basically bought the same sorta groceries each week as we did in Oz, and it was around 1.5 to 2 times more expensive. This while both working two jobs that paid just a pound or two above minimum wage. It took months and months of hard graft to figure out how to forge a healthy lifestyle in our adopted country.

Now I am not comparing our plight to low income families. Please do not get me wrong. We worked two jobs so we could afford luxuries like travel and going to the gym, and of course we didn’t have kiddies. However, the experience really shocked us as to how expensive it was to be healthier. I couldn’t imagine how it must be for those with genuine low incomes plus a tribe of kidlets. Especially in the depths of the dark and shithouse Scottish winter. I consider myself to be educated about food and nutrition, but in miserable February I often struggled to ignore the siren song of convenience food! So I dunno how someone juggling jobs and kids manages to come home and find the energy make something healthy.

So some of those comments really got on my goat. Especially the implication that these po’ people just ain’t trying hard enough. A higher income gives you, as Meg says, "a bad-ass safety net" when it comes to losing weight. You can afford more tools to help in the lard busting process. I made room for a £35 Enell sports bra to squish my gelatinous boobs down, I juggled expenses to afford a fancy gym and running shoes. I have a cruisy job that allows me to research health and nutrition ideas.

This was especially important at the beginning, being morbidly obese and scared shitless – I could afford to have my hand held. Weight Watchers classes, personal fitness assessments at the gym, healthy cookbooks, etc etc. Yes, there’s no reason why you can’t lose a tonne of weight without forking out megabucks. HOWEVER when you’re starting out and it’s overwhelming and confusing and really fucking exhausting it sure is nice to have advice and guidance.

I dunno what the answers are here. I am not saying a healthier lifestyle is beyond the reach of some sectors of society – I am just saying, try and put yourself in someone else’s shoes for a bit.

. . .

Behold the wonder of Zara! She just kicked arse in her first 5k race. She too loathed running but came to like it. Huzzah!

. . .

I had the most freaky week last week, folks. Unfortunately I can’t tell you about it for a wee while but it was simultaneously exciting and crazy and traumatic and soul-destroying. And mega busy! So I still haven’t taken those bloody photos. Next time, Gadget. Next time!

25 thoughts on “Come Ride With Me

  1. Excellent writing as usual. I understand about eating healthy being more expensive. I live in the USA and I went to the grocery store a couple of days ago. I mostly picked fresh, healthier items and my basket was maybe half full at best and I spent over $100 dollars easy. I was shocked at the cost since I did not feel like I had a ton of items. I will have to really plan my meals well and only get the items I absolutely need from now on because I just cannot spare spending the extra money. Good luck in the RPM class. I know you are nervous about it now but I am sure that you will love it and leave there feeling awesome and wanting more! Take care and keep smiling! πŸ™‚

  2. I love you back, dollbaby. Let’s leave our husbands and run away together! No, wait, I keep forgetting I’m straight. Damn. Perhaps we should just plot to meet for coffee on the off chance that one of us can afford airfare to cross the Atlantic…

    Seriously, this stuff blows my mind. When my Hub and I started living together, our grocery shopping was easy: we ordered $100 worth of crap from an online grocer every two weeks, because that would definitely do us. Then I went all healthy and all of a sudden half my personal money for the paycheck would be blown on produce. It’s still like that, and I’ve been beating my brains out trying to keep the costs down– planning meals for the week, buying most of our vegetables out of the frozen foods aisle, sticking almost exclusively to apples and frozen fruit all winter, growing our own herbs (I swear, if we had a house with garden space outside, I would have so much stuff out there it’s not funny). I try and try and try and it’s STILL EXPENSIVE, and it frustrates me so much because dammit, I want to spend money on other things besides FOOD– our household budget is geared to throw the maximum amount toward debt and savings, so our personal allowances are low to begin with, and this leaves me having to choose between replacing my disintegrating shoes and being able to eat properly for the week. ARRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRGH.

    I think I need to update my rant. I have more rant built up in me now. Grrr.

  3. Hi there, DietGirl,

    Newish reader and poster…I love your site! Just wanted to sound a note of encouragement on your RPM/spinning class. I started Spinning about 18 months ago (I’d gone a year before that, but was scared off after one class). The seat issue DOES get better after a few classes. Meantime, if you can find a gel seat cover and/or padded bike shorts, they can help a bit, too. I totally agree with you about needing an instructor to shout at you! I definitely work harder when forced. πŸ™‚

    Also, totally agree with you on the SkinnyDaily commenters. Over here (I’m in the States–NYC, actually) the guy who did the film “Super Size Me” has just started a TV show called “30 Days” in which he or someone else tries to adopt a different lifestyle for a month. In the first episode, he and his girlfriend agreed to live for one month on minimum-wage jobs. It was shockingly hard. Worthwhile viewing if you get the chance.

  4. i love my spinning class – but the butt/nether regions pain was bad at first. it really does lesson after the first few classes – but i also invested in some padded bike shorts to wear that help a TON (i guess fully supporting the idea that rich people lose better. heh.) and i’m about the same size as you (184 lbs) so i think your bottom should respond the same way as mine did, and be happy for the shorts.

  5. I’m not absolutely sure that spinning is so good if you have problem with your knee. At least not if you stand up. Try, but be careful.

  6. I did my first spinning class yesterday. I wouldnt say it was fun but I survived and it was ok. it was not as tiering as I thought I would be. I will do it again cause it was good training. you will manage fine on your class. My gym dont have that rpm-class so you have to tell me about it *s*

    I would say that here it is cheaper to eat healthy but it also take more planing but the situation that poor people are more unhealthy then rich people is the same all over the world. it is a problem we have to solve I think cause it is just widening the gap

  7. It is immensely easier to lose weight in the beginning if you’ve got the money to throw at things like prepared meals and personal fitness instruction. I’ve taken advantage of both and am fairly certain that I wouldn’t have been able to do it otherwise. I think I’ve also read that the grocery stores in lower income neighborhoods tend to have lesser quality stock as well – more fatty meats, nasty produce, etc – which can’t help, either.

  8. As one of the aforementioned peoples who is working, has tribe of kidlets, and is on the weight loss treadmill, I agree with you. Our grocery bill each week does seem to be a lot higher than it was went we were eating crap. However, the one thing I have noticed is that I don’t buy any food at work. Everything is brought in at the beginning of the week, and it lasts a whole week. No more danish and hot chocolate for breakfast, chinese for lunch, and pizza for dinner.

    I am extremely fortunate that I have the funds that allow me to buy healthy, join a gym (A$10/wk), and still manage to have a life.

    I loved this post. You are a great writer and your links send me off in lots of different directions, to get a whole new perspective on things.

    Have a great day πŸ™‚

  9. Not only classism, but intellectual snobbery. That comment about it being superior education that keeps richer people thinner – that just made my blood boil. That is just so insulting. I would admit to being something of an intellectual snob myself if pushed, but I do NOT think that level of income correlates with level of intelligence.

    You do not need a degree to understand the way nutrition and exercise work enough to make a difference to your life (I’m not talking writing a scientific study here, just what most of us are trying to do). Understanding it is the easy bit, it’s managing to reconcile it with the rest of life.

    In fact, studying is probably more detrimental to diet and exercise than beneficial, at least in the short term: during my final year at university, because I needed the time for my studies I stopped playing football, didn’t go on nearly as many bike rides, and incidentally ate all kinds of sugary rubbish for the short-term energy boost. A year later, an attempt to do something about this took up time that I should have been spending on my Master’s thesis. If I hadn’t spent so much time (and money) on educating myself, I might be a sylph at this moment!

    In “Nature via Nurture” by Matt Ridley (which I wholeheartedly recommend), the author suggests that in a society which perceives itself as a meritocracy – such as the USA – there is a flipside to the idea that anyone from any background can succeed: it’s implied that those who aren’t so successful are to blame for their situation. Hence the fallacy that “rich people make their health a priority, while poor people are too ignorant/lazy to bother.” The rich may have stressful and busy lives, but it is optional stress and busyness – they can downsize if they really want to. If you’re on a low income you do not have this flexibility.

    Of course, no society is a true meritocracy. Socioeconomic factors will probably always create inequalities to some degree – although they can be lessened, and should be.

    As for me, I’m definitely not dumb, nor am I poverty-stricken, but I still find fitness-related things expensive. You don’t have to join a gym to lose weight – fair enough – but I’ve never managed to do so without going to one. You need training shoes that aren’t cheap market-stall knockoffs; sports bras, as D-girl says, don’t come cheap (I haven’t fitted the Enell into my budget yet). Good lean protein is expensive, and so is fruit. Really, it is. It doesn’t do any good denying it!

  10. Sorry about the monster comment.

    I also meant to say that, in general, good, natural food doesn’t keep so well as processed convenience food, which is why groceries in deprived areas carry more of the processed stuff. The owners can’t afford to throw away food that doesn’t sell (and even in upscale groceries, there will always be leftover produce) so they have to choose the products with the longest shelf life. It’s all down to economics.

  11. perhaps I need to read this a third time till i am ready to comment. Meg’s post too. Skinny Daily too. Or I should simply shut my mouth. In the meantime, expect a reminder on Friday for your RPM class ;o)

  12. I haven’t had the chance to read through the all of the posts and comments that you’re talking about, but back when I was teaching a “Life Skills” class for a local social services agency, some of the programmed course units on shopping and budgeting we were supposed to teach were clearly written by people who had never actually lived at the economic level of their target students. Admonishing people to “invest” in the largest size possible of laundry detergent is all well and good, but when they already don’t have enough money to feed themselves and their kids it’s ludicrous. I’d like to see the authors explain to their child why said child’s going to bed hungry so that they could get the best possible unit cost on soap… Oh, and the authors should have had to take that giant jug of detergent on the city bus with a couple of hungry, tired kids in tow to boot. Poverty is a vicious cycle that is very, very difficult to break and it’s very difficult to make people who have never been poor to understand that.

  13. As I commented on Meg’s site:

    I had only just had a whinge about this exact same thing in my blog the day previous. Having just had sproglet #3, and being no longer of the employed ranks, I have had to struggle every fortnight to try and come up with nutritious yet healthy meals on the tight budget we are on. We are lucky in the fact that we live in New Zealand where there is a shitload of fresh produce to choose from. But, the fact still remains, governments spends too much money on advertising and promoting healthy living and not enough on actually putting it into play. It is all very well and good to say one thing and act another. I can buy a huge bottle of Fanta for a quarter of the cost of the same size bottle of milk. There are plenty of f’n cows in this country being milked every day!!! Sigh!! ……….. could rant for ever on this subject but instead I had better go to 5 different shops trying to get the best price on everything on my shopping list!

  14. I know how you feel about the RPM class – I used to be like that about Pump classes. The fears I’d built up in my head were far worse than the actual class.

    After reading all this stuff about trying to eat healthy on a low income, boy am I glad I live in Australia. I was bitching about spending $AUD50 on 2 weeks fruit, veg and meat (plus some homemade pasta – yum) at the market last weekend.

    I was reading the other day that the Australian government spends a massive amount 100’s of millions I think on subsidising cholestrol reducing medication compared to some measily fee on public education. It is so stupid. Not that education is really the issue, I mean most people are not so stupid to think that a Maccas burger is better, health-wise than fresh food. It’s just that our society makes it so much easier to eat bad and to be unhealthy.

    I don’t know how we can change this but it is just so wrong.

  15. its always pissed me off the way 125g of fresh blueberries is 2.99 euros while i can get a 2kg bag of ovenfrites for 1.99. guess its time to make clients pay double πŸ™‚
    well said DG.

  16. Good luck for the RPM class this afternoon. I’ll be going tomorrow morning after watching the All Blacks beat the Lions…
    I’ve been trying to start my training for the next 5km run (on 4 September). I walked last weekend but want to run the next one. The only problem is this bleeping hot weather. I was rather enjoying it until yesterday. It’s very humid as well at the moment. It reminds me of NZ summers where you would be continually covered in a sheen of sweat – even after showering. Anyway, am going window shopping for some running shoes tomorrow and hope to start my programme next week.

  17. Kirsten = highly inciteful.

    She just put into words something I’ve been noticing since living in the US: the implication that since ANYONE can become rich and successful….those who don’t are ignorant and lazy. I wil also add immoral to the accusations I hear thrown around. The US is extremely keen on making all poverty-related issues come down to morality, thus absolving the government and society in general from any obligation to try to DO anything about poverty.

    Overweight, undereducated teen mothers (and the like) are inherantly sinful bad lazy people, therefore they deserve no help. I hear this all the time, even from supposedly liberal poeple.

    I think I am extremely lucky to live in southern California, where the climate makes produce readily available and cheap, especially if you go to a farmers market and buy whatever fruit and veg are on special (10c for oranges anyone?).

  18. I’m somewhat reassured that Rosemary Grace thinks my huge comment wasn’t too far off-mark. It wasn’t really my insight but Matt Ridley’s, although it seemed to me to make sense.

    I should maybe say that I’ve never lived in the USA, and was certainly not pointing an accusatory finger at any specific Americans! I just picked it as an example of a society where the idea that anyone can succeed is built into the culture – which I’d say is still not entirely the case in Britain, although we have been moving that way for a couple of centuries…

    And I don’t normally post rants like that in other people’s comments. But I was strongly moved.

  19. Hmmm. You know I just scooted over and left a message a Meg’s site too. *kudos Meg*

    Having read everything now, perhaps what I should have said is “No wonder Australia is called – The Lucky Country-, I’m really glad I live here now”.

    I am gonna throw an apple into the pears here and say ever since starting my wieght loss challenge I have CONSTANTLY heard people saying “Cooking from scratch takes longer than convenience food” “cooking from scratch is soo much more expensive”

    I’m talking about the people I have met in my travels, here in Australia from rich and poor families…… it was about education and thought processes. When I had friends over for dinner, cooked from scratch, with cheap all natural produce in a matter of 15minutes after preparation, they were amazed.

    Seriously, in my area of the world, healthier was SHITLOADS cheaper and heaps quicker. We like to complicate things though.

    For those of you who are subjected to high priced supermarkets, I wish I could click my heels together and bring those prices down for you. For you, I have no answer.

    For those living in Australia. Get out and into the fresh food markets and see how much $20 worth will let you walk away with.

    This is part of my comment on Meg’s site.

    ” My sister at that stage had two little girls (3&5) and cried poor every day of the week. When health related problems constantly remained in their lives I suggested cutting all the processed foods and having fresh vegetables and fruit for the children and her.

    Her reaction – “No way, no one can afford to eat healthy, its too bloody expensive!”

    I took her shopping and bought a weeks worth of groceries (a fridge full of food) for $52. That covered everyones meals. Gave them all slow release energy foods (not big sugar hits!)

    In one week their girls behaviour and health improved dramatically and in that same week my sister changed her views on ‘eating healthy’.

    Since then I have had the opportunity of speaking to many families and mothers who are struggling to make ends meet AND eat healthy AND lose weight AND keep the family happy.”

    Great topic. I feel a rant on my own blog coming on. Thanks Meg, Thans SDP and thanks DG.

  20. It’s much easier for those of us who live in places with farmers markets or the like, and if you are flexible enough to walk through the veggie section and buy what’s cheapest that week, then figure out later how to cook it all.

    I lived on the border between a commercial area and a lower income area in London for a year, and always found the grocery store on the lower income side of the tracks to be low on variety and veggies, and high on store-brand white bread and baked beans. The grocery store where the office workers went on their way home from work in the commercial district was way swankier, with prewashed salad greens, a large produce department, a deli counter and exciting things like hummus. They were only 10 minutes walk apart, but the shops were in completely different worlds.

  21. all I have to say, is that when I was at university I gain a bunch of weight had no money and walked around more then ever. But I lived off of ramen noodles….10 packs for 1 dollar!
    I would have that with veggies and chicken breast peices every night for at least a year….it was dirt cheap and it filled me up and out!

  22. I have been a long time reader but have commented very little. you are a wonderful writer, you really are.

    I have been in my own fat fight for a long while now, i lost alot of weight but since last summer have slowly been letting it slip, i have now put on a bit more than a stone – i am so annoyed with myself but seems i am just nopt ready to lose any more but also not ready to give up the fight, reading your posts always help me to think about why i have not yet been ready to stop gaining weight and progress again so i would like to thank you for that.
    Maybe when i am ready, hopefully in the next month!, i will blog about it too!

    Abs x

  23. Sorry to be off the main topic, here, but selfish me wants to know how the spinning class went! I visited our “new” gym last night and lo! They have a spinning class now! So of course I am dying to know how you liked it! πŸ™‚

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