Get Forked!

It's all over, folks. The Summer of Fun has ended! Sniffle.

When we arrived home from Amsterdam yesterday I looked at the kitchen calendar and now it's all empty white boxes. The Edinburgh Festivals are over, the weekend trips have all been tripped, and now it's back to reality.

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The Search for Lycra

Edinburgh has many shops that claim to be Purveyors of Sporting Goods, but not many of them contain items suited for actual sporting purposes. There's football strips (soccer shirts) galore, endless tracksuits in unnatural fibres plus all manner of shiny white trainers. The sort of things people wear when sitting on their arses to watch other people do sporty things. Or this sort of thing:

Chav

Granted, it's the end of August and so it was quite possibly THE WORST time of year for me to go  looking for swimwear. But I swear, it's not just pool gear! You rarely see actual rackets or balls or bats or goggles in these so-called sporty shops. Last year I was desperate for a new pair of cross-trainer shoes for the gym, and every sales assistant I asked didn't know what a cross trainer was, or why a running shoe wasn't the same thing. Instead they offered me the latest trendy white trainer, saying there was a variety of coloured stripes to choose from. I ended up lugging back a new pair from our honeymoon in San Francisco. Americans! You know your sporty shoes.

Since then I have found some great specialist shops like Run And Become, but I had no idea where to go for a cossie. I tried three big department stores, but only found flimsy bikinis that are fine if you're just planning to lay very still for two weeks on a Spanish sunlounge with a Jilly Cooper novel. But no good if you actually need to MOVE.

By the time I'd been to seven different shops I was getting cranky. All I wanted was a plain, utilitarian swimsuit suitable for actual swimming. It made me think of Gareth's fantasy of living in a communist country so he'd never have to worry about what to wear. He could just rock up to the People's Warehouse once a year and say, "One set of Clothes please, size Medium". He'd be quite happy to don the same sombre uniform every day. I imagine the People's Swimsuit would look a lot like this:

Sovietsuit

My last resort was Marks and Spencer. That's where I'd bought my last swimsuit way back in 2003, a boring old size 20 tank, so I could go wallow in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland. I've since become such a penny-pinching Scot that I considered dusting them off for my Learn To Swim campaign. After all, I'd only worn them once!

But that was many kilos ago. Now the shoulder straps slip down and there's massive gaps at the hip/thigh intersection where blubber used to be. And the fabric stretches comically across the blank space between boobs and pubes, where my tummy rolls once protruded much further. I wondered in a particularly frugal moment, Maybe I could get them taken in? But what tailor would touch such a skanky, faintly sulphurous garment?

LagoonHello, my name is Pumpkin Head!

So I pressed on with the search.

Most of the summer stock was gone at M&S. There were a few stray bikinis with loud patterns, like they'd been used to mop up parrot roadkill. I found a single one-piece and tried it on out of desperation. What the bloody hell was I thinking? THE HORROR! Check out this picture – see how that models boobs just sit up perkily, beaming out at the world? When I put on that suit, there was a an unflattering flattening effect. My boobs were reduced to two wee deflated balloons, making  my stomach look enormous by contrast.

The only good thing about that moment was that I could laugh at my ridiculous reflection, as opposed to bawling. I've finally matured enough to realise that some styles just don't suit ya, so there's no need to plunge into weeks of self-loathing.

In the end I turned to my old friend The Internet. There's some brilliant online retailers in the UK. I ended up getting this plain and sporty number from Wiggle. I ordered it at lunchtime yesterday and it arrived this morning! Ziiing! The size 14 fit like a charm. I wished I'd asked the internet in the first place and saved the trauma. The internet always knows best.

So now I've got the gear I've got no excuses. We're away for the next couple of days but I've spoken to the Swimming Teacher Lady and she is going to get back to me with a time and date for Lesson One. Eeeeeeek!

The Deep End

I’m going to take swimming lessons!

In the last two years I have re-learned to run and re-learned to ride a bike, so now it’s time to face my ultimate fear and re-learn to swim.

Swimming is associated with so many traumatic memories and body image issues, not to mention the fact that I have always completely sucked at it! But I am just in a Fear Facing mood right now, so I want to conquer this one once and for all.

Also, winter is sneaking up again so I want a new exercise that will keep me motivated but won’t be murder on my knees. My father-in-law contacted his friend who’s a swimming teacher and she’s up for teaching me, so tonight I’m going to call her and then I’ll go forth and buy some swimmers and then I’ll get my chalky white arse back into the drink.

Consider this my public declaration of intent. Feel free to hunt me down and thrash me with a branch if I don’t follow it through.

Before long I will have the complete set of Triathlon skillz down pat! Of course, it would have to be a very special Triathlon for the Chronically Hopeless:

SWIM – Frenzied dog paddle across the council pool.
BIKE –  Ten minutes in a straight, flat line because I’m still scared of hills and corners.
RUN – Actually can we make that a walk, since my knees are cactus? A slow, shuffling walk.

Och, you gotta start somewhere.

Just to explain my current arse-kicking frame of mind. I had yet another revelation on Friday. In brief: I am chicken shit!

This was brought on by the whole Television Thing. When I was initially approached about the Sky News story I completely freaked out and said No! I had nightmare visions of my big mug on the telly and panicked. What if they made me climb into my fat jeans? What if I looked hideously fat and everyone laughed? What if what if what if?

I got off the phone and told my colleagues about it. They were amazed that I’d said no, saying it would have been a nice opportunity. But I came up with a dozen reasons why I shouldn’t do it, concluding with, "I’m too fat to be on television."

An hour or so later it all sank in and I thought, "Oh god, what have I done? That would have been a fab opportunity. You. Bloody. Moron!"

In the end, thanks to the lovely Emma Robertson (journalist extraordinaire who wrote The Scotsman article last week), I managed to get back in contact with Sky on Friday morning. They wanted to do the story straight away! FARK! Thanks to my faffing about the day before, there was no time to angst over wardrobe choices. Luckily I have the best colleagues in the world. Not only did my boss let me nick off for a couple of hours, my mate Alex drove me to the shops so I could get a top that didn’t have lunch stains on it, then drove me into town. What a legend. At the last minute I ran to the chemist and got some nail-polish remover and rubbed off two weeks of crusty, chipped nail polish, which was just as well since they did some close-up shots of me typing! Note to self: Be less slobby!

It was all over so quickly. I was so nervous I thought I’d throw up, but the Sky people were lovely. They just plonked me onto chair, asked me a few questions, had me do the pretend typing then I was all done! Cool.

On the way back to work I kept thinking about how much I have changed since the fat fighting started, but also how much I haven’t changed. My reaction to the whole media madness last week proved how in many ways, I am still holding on to my fat. I am still letting it hold me back, even though so much of it is physically gone. I am still using it as an excuse not to push myself. I am still scared.

I don’t want to be like this any more. I am tired of doubting myself and being timid. I know I have made real, albeit slow progress towards accepting that I’ve changed and declaring some ambitions (such as the book project). But sometimes I still feel like an Apologetic Fat Girl, afraid of making a noise and taking up space.

On Friday night I decided to write an entry for my other blog and finally "out" Dietgirl. I had a good cry as I wrote. It took me two more days to work up the nerve to post it. I barely slept all weekend, knowing I’d kept a massive external and internal transformation a total secret from some really brilliant friends around the world, for really demented reasons. But when I finally did it, it was like the last big cloud had been lifted.

So now I feel like I am finally being honest, to my friends and to myself. More accepting. No more hiding. It’s time to push forward and work harder. To live a little less in my head. To stop clinging to the old excuses and not be such a chicken.

And that’s when I figured I may as well learn how to swim again, while I’m on a roll!

Heavy Metal

Grunt! Urrgh! Mrrrgh! Oof! KAPOW!

I’ve been a complete stressmonkey this week, and had almost convinced myself that hit of Green & Blacks was the answer. But on Thursday night I spied my dumbell collection under the bed, all lined up in a neat silvery row. They were calling out, Remember us?

Weights are my favourite exercise when I’m crabbit. I like the routine of dragging out Reebok step, tying my greasy locks into ponytails, placing all the dumbells in numerical order, closing the blinds and cranking up the DVD on the laptop. All that organising has a soothing effect!

I’m still on my Cathe Friedrich kick. Since I hurt my knee I haven’t been able to do Body Pump classes at the gym, as squats and lunges are agony. So I stick to Cathe’s upper body DVD’s. The moves are gruelling, but her all-American winning smile never wavers. She’s motivating without being nauseating.

And just like my beloved Body Pump classes, Cathe bosses me around and tells me exactly what to do. I am lazy, people! All I have to do is Obey Cathe and I’m guaranteed to wind up in limb-trembling agony without any thought on my part.

I don’t even mind that I’ve done the tapes so many times that I know what’s coming. I still feel a wee internal woohoo every time she grins, "We’ve got a TOUGH workout ahead of us today, are you ready?".

Sometimes I’ll chirp back at the screen in an unconvincing American accent, "I’m TOTALLY ready Cathe!"

Thursday was Chest and Triceps. First up was the dreaded dropset of 72 pushups, which I am still doing wall-style (a tip from Marla!). After that it’s bench presses and flys. Then you remove the risers from one side of your step so you can do incline presses and flys.

The incline was when I became aware that all the stress had somehow evaporated from my body. All the crap I’d been panicking about all week suddenly seemed a lot less important. If I hadn’t been pinned down by 15 kilos of metal, I would have slid off the step in a blissful puddle. There’s something about the repetitve grunt of the movements that clears my mind; the simplicity of lifting those dinky dumbbells up and down. Many people complain weights are boring, but I like them because they’re boring. Once you know what you’re doing and what muscles are meant to be screaming, you can just switch off your brain. You are free to daydream of bunnies or shoes or sushi while your body sings along without you.

"You did a GREAT JOB!"  Cathe cheered, 45 minutes later. As she always does. "I’ll see you NEXT TIME!".

I felt completely relaxed and rebooted. Lately I’ve been distracted and antsy, so exercise had fallen by the wayside for almost two weeks. I’d almost forgotten I had a body; I was just a nervous, blobby brain floating round aimlessly. But now mind and body were hooked up again and I could get on with things. I love you, exercise. Let’s never fight again.

I emerged from the Bedroom Gym red-faced and stinky. Gareth enquired with a twang, "How was your TOUGH WORKOUT?"

"Cathe said I did a GREAT JOB!"

"Will she see you NEXT TIME?"

"Oh yes."

I’ll crack on with Back, Biceps and Shoulders today. Huzzah!

Hope you’re having a GREAT weekend. I’ll see you NEXT TIME.

The Fatbloggers Convention

Why hello! I’m crawling out from under my rock to tap out this wee missive.

It’s been a bizarre couple of days. Yesterday it was happy days with The Scotsman story coming out and having a hoot on radio. Then I discovered late in the afternoon that the story was to be reincarnated for another publication. Oh. That article came out today and it was cool, but the PHOTO. Oh lordy, the photo. It was another from the Scotsman session, and as I described to a friend, I look like a big blue lump in my stupid blue top. Mama Smurf! This is not exaggeration or self-deprecation or paranoia, I look awful. It’s not online but don’t ask me to scan it in coz it ain’t happening, kiddies. I care about your retinas.

There’s just rolls everywhere, fabric clinging in all the wrong places; windswept hair. And I’m squinting like a sailor searching for the shore. My husband is a kind-hearted diplomatic bloke who knows how to soothe the female ego, but even he actually did a double-take and admitted, "Whoa! That’s a shocker!".

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The Whole Bloody Thing

Today I fulfilled a lifelong dream of being on the radio and what did I do? I swore.

Well, bloody is hardly a proper swear word, is it? Especially if you’re Australian. Speaking of which, I sound painfully Oz in this interview. I spoke to Micky Gavin on Edinburgh’s Talk 107 about Dietgirl and my fat busting adventures. If I could lose a kilo for every time I said AWW YEAH in my booming drawl, I would be at goal by now. Or bordering on malnourished!

Gareth taped the interview off the radio using an ancient Ghettoblaster and a strange plastic thing called a "cassette". He then did some jiggerypokery in Garageband and iTunes and now you can click the little Flash player below to hear it all in newfangled MP3.

(A word of warning: the cassette was 15 years old and you can still hear traces of Gareth’s teenage RAWK band jamming in the background. A nice angsty soundtrack for talk of fat and chocolate.)

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The interview was sparked by this article in The Scotsman today. I look a bit cockeyed in the online version of the photo, but as Gareth said, "It never did Thom Yorke any harm".

(I promise I’ll stop being a media tart and get back to the fat in the next entry!)

Officially Half The Girl I Used To Be

Happy days, comrades! I lost 1.5 lb (0.68 kg) this week, which means I’m finally officially Livin’ in the Seventies! 79.6 kg! Everybody get down and boogie!

ah ha ha ha

(I am sure my mum must be thrilled that the fancy Electronic Publishing course she sent me on after university gave me nothing but the ability to Photoshop my head on to other people’s bodies. Still, wouldn’t it have been cool if there’d been a ginger Bee Gee?)

It has been a gruelling slog getting back to this most groovin’ of decades. I hadn’t been there since Year 9 in high school, fourteen years ago.

I had cruised into the 80s in February of last year and kept losing steadily for awhile there. I got halfway to the 70s but then I larded back up to 89.4kg in mid-December, after eating way too much during and after our holiday in Australia. So if you go from that point, it has taken a ridiculous 34 weeks to finally crawl under that 80 mark. I know one is not supposed to get hung up on the scale, but I have been SO bloody sick of seeing eighty-point-something that I almost ran over that digital beast with a truck. But better late than never, I suppose.

My current weight of 79.6 is also a nice wee milestone – I’m officially half the girl I used to be! I’ve lost 50% of my starting weight. How freaky is that!? It does make the stats on the sidebar look kinda cool.

Alas, there are many dietary dangers lurking in the week ahead! It’s going to be another busy set of seven, so I’m aiming to maintain and not go crazy. Stay calm! BREATHE!

But I’ve only just scraped into the 70s, so part of me worries it was just an illusion. Like when it’s a really hot day and you’re walking home from the train station and you think you see Johnny Depp waiting for you on the street corner brandishing a margarita, but when you get up close you realise it’s actually just a mailbox.

Minor Facelift

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