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!

35 thoughts on “The Deep End

  1. GIRL!!! you’re fantastic! You’ve conquered more than some people do in a lifetime. You have nothing to be ashamed about and nothing to be worried about. Chicken is the last thing in the world I’d ever think of when I think of you. So what if it took a long time to get to this point- the fact of the matter is you’ve done it and you keep on doing it and that’s just awesome.
    You just plain ROCK!!!

  2. <3 no "unsolved business" anymore then ey? :-) Swimming´s a super idea for the knees and all. Water is my favorite element; yesterday I called to an old friend and he took me kayaking to the sea. 13km and three hours later it was dark and I was sweaty and overwhelmed by happiness. Today my diving (into a pool u know, I do scuba too but this is the jumping thing) trainings continue after summer break... The water´s the name of the game!

  3. Yay for facing your fears! You’ve come so far that you’re bound to be an inspiration, and I’m glad you’ve embraced that fact! I watched the interview and thought you did fantastic, just so you know. Plus, it has to be just a wee bit fun to be a local celeb, no?

    I’m glad you are tackling swimming. I hope you learn to love it. There’s nowhere in this world that I’d rather be than in a pool. Nobody ever looks at me in my too tight skirted swimdress, and that’s a comforting fact. Then I can just enjoy myself.

  4. cheers guys!

    i meant to ask in the entry, all you water babes out there. do you wear goggles and swimming caps and the like? i don’t want to make my hair all skanky or get red eyes. any recommendations? not to mention the dreaded swimsuit shopping… nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

  5. I still haven’t come out about my fat blog on my LiveJournal. I’ve debated it a couple times, but *bawk, bawk, bawk* chicken out every time, for all the same reasons you listed. I don’t know if it matters that much since my LiveJournal has been collecting Internet mold since I’ve been devoting most of my time to the fat blog. And I think if I was ever asked to be on TV my first instinct would be to run the other direction too, but more because I like having control of a situation, which I have on my blog, but wouldn’t have on a TV segment. Not that anyone’s asked 🙂

  6. Do I visit your blog often or what?! 🙂 Anyway, on my behalf, I use goggles when swimming in a pool to protect my eyes (I also wear contact lenses) and I find them very comfy and important. Cap I´ve never used. I´m a blond and at least my hair hasn´t turned green after these five years of frequent pool life but I always get some note from my hairdresser about the dryness of my hair… It´s kinda due to the pool water chemicals. But it´s also me using only the cheapest market shampoos and conditioners so with quality hair products I suppose one could live without the hilarious cap. ;-D (Am I the only one finding it amusing?!?) Tho it DOES give you certain swimmer credibility. I´ll vote for goggles still. And a good quality one-piece swimming suit which is a bit too tight when dry –> therefore it stays on perfectly in water where it becomes more roomy. It NEEDS to feel uncomfy when dry! *several year´s experience* Anyway I´m all thumbs up and waiting to hear about your water world. 🙂

  7. BIG HUGS for being so brave DG.
    Swimming – googles are vital. The ones with the foam rubber around them don’t last as long but are more comfy while you get used to wearing them. The solid rubber seal ones aren’t quite as comfy but never wear out. A cap helps you refrain from throwing your head around to keep your hair out of your eyes. They look crap but help you swim better, what can I say?
    That ‘hopeless trialthlon” sounds a great idea – can I come?

  8. Swimming is fabulous for not only the exercise benefit but also it lets you do the exercise with basically no pressure on parts of your body – I have been swimming since I started my fat busting phase and you feel great when you get out of that pool. Sometimes there is nothing better than thinking about the world as you are following that black line.

    I would definitely recommend both goggles and a cap. I don’t wear a cap because of the effects of the chlorine on my hair but rather to keep the hair out of my face when I am swimming – it becomes annoying after a while !! As for the your cossie, I wear boardies with mine – just a bit of a modesty thing for me however I think in my mind that the more drag there is on my body as I am going down that lane, the more calories I am buring.

    Have fun DG!!


  9. Goodness me, you have absolutely no reason to feel timid!!! You’re talented and determined and articulate and funny and beautiful! And you sound really nice, too. (And no, this is not your mother writing.)

  10. BIG MARSHMALLOW HUGGIEZ for being so brave regarding outing yourself on WNP (I haven’t ‘outed myself on’ LP&BM, but I’ve got a link to my weight loss blog there. How clever. :-/) AND working up the courage to get back to Sky TV and get the interview done in such short time!

    And congrats on deciding to take up swimming! The last uncharted territory, jah? Swimming is so great for you – pity has been my fear of changing rooms that has kept me away from them in the past o_0

    I have to wear goggles when I swim because of the sensitivity of my eyes (ever since I had a major eye operation when I was young, I’ve had to do this), and the cap just keeps the hair out of my face when I’m swimming. As for swimsuits, I wear this funky number from Ezibuy; only thing I’m worried about is they don’t make it in any size smaller than a size 16, so what will I do when I’m small enough to need a new swimsuit??? Yikes!

  11. You go, girl! And I love your triathlon description… you laugh, though, I bet you could do one!

  12. when I was big, my life was small… and it has taken me the last year or so of maintenance to let go of my phantom fat and its limitations… but I am really cultivating a “bring it ON” attitude, that I would rather be in the mix than on the sidelines of my life. a few weekends ago I spazzed my way through an afro-funk dance workshop… and it was fun!

    go for it! the full catastrophe! bring it ON!

  13. Yay — I’m so glad you’re taking up swimming! I hope you enjoy it; I’ve had a blast with it this summer.

    I refuse to wear a bathing cap because I had to wear them at summer camp for five years and I hate the damn ugly things. But I did finally break down and get goggles. They’re not terribly comfortable, but the chlorine levels in our pool really burned my eyes and the goggles stop that from happening. They also help me to see better underwater, for whatever that’s worth.

    And good for you for “outing” yourself on WNP. I *still* haven’t publicly linked my blog at most of my other online haunts or told most of my RL friends about it, and I have no idea why I’m holding back now. It’s not like they don’t know that I was fat or that I’ve lost weight. I just can’t bring myself to do it for some strange reason. Weird.

  14. Nice going. At least you went through with it in the end. And go you with the swimming. I’m absolutely crap at swimming even though I grew up at the beach. I just can’t put my face underwater.

  15. Woo Shauna! I remained completely in the dark until your denouement – and all I have to say is…
    EXCELLENT WORK! (Not to mention that you look like a complete babe.) I’ve always loved the idea of the ‘other’ alter ego blog, and you’ve actually done it…

  16. Last year, I re-taught my mother (50+) to swim. She had lots of ear infections as a child and thus swam in this weird high-head arched-back doggy paddle thing, and could only do a couple of meters at a time.

    We had a jointly proud moment when she exclaimed “I can SWIM!” and did a whole lap.

  17. Wow! Swimming will be NOTHING after that outing bravery. I’m so glad I learned to swim as a tiny child; not that I’m good at it, but at least I’ve never been afraid of it, and I can completely understand how uncomfortable it must be as an adult. Submerging one’s self in the water? That’s crazy talk! I have no opinion on the cap and goggles issue; I’ve never worn either yet I can’t deny both sound like a good idea.

  18. GOOD FOR YOU!!!! I have only recently come to your blog and I am so amazed and inspired by your story. you should be proud to share it with all of your loyal friends and readers! (I have two blogs too, one diet and one for the everyday me)

  19. I’d get the goggles, definitely. Personally, I hate swimming caps; partly because I had to wear one at school, and partly because I have silly quantities of hair, so the cap made me look like an alien, was very uncomfy and would fall off halfway through as my hair fought back.

    Is your hair long enough to plait? That’s the best way of keeping it out of your face and ensuring it’s combable afterwards. If you soak it with water beforehand, it won’t be able to absorb so much chloriney water. Putting conditioner on it works even better, but might leave a greasy film on the water – your call!

    As for buying a swimsuit – if it’s a standard, practical one-piece you’re after, I’d go to a sports shop. Recently I wasted a lot of time on Princes St until it occurred to me to do that.

  20. How come your posts always seem so pertinent to my life? I’m going to a water aerobics class tonight at the gym… I’m terrified! I’m just hoping its a bunch of arthritic old ladies so I’ll not look so horrid!

  21. Don’t forget to de-fuzz, it would be awful if the uber-sexy new you was outshone by untamed body hair!

  22. Oh, I hope you like it once you get going. Swimming is my relax-the-body by making it work HARD type exercise. I just started swimming regularly again after a loooong haitus from any kind of regular exercise.

    I wear goggles and a nose plug, because I have a talent for snorting chlorinated water. My husband skips the nose plug, but uses ear plugs, because he has a talent for filling his ears with water. Try just goggles, and see if you want more hardware later.

    Speaking of hardware, I’ve seen people at my pool using all kinds of fabulous physiotherapy gadgets, one woman has “hydro boots” (I asked what they’re called) so she can “jog” on the spot in the deep end, she said it’s rehab for her crappy knees. They look like something a cartoon superhero would wear, plastic boots with fins on them to scoop the water. I want some.

    I second K’s vote for a boring sports onepiece, they’re the best for swimming anyway, fashionable type suits have a tendency to crap out faster, and they move about while you swim. Though M&S suits are also good (or they were 5 years ago).

  23. Hello,

    I just found your blog today and as I read through your archives, I feel like I could’ve written them, every last word, except I don’t have the courage you’ve had to lay it all out.

    Thank you so much for posting these; It was like finding a kindred spirit. I wish I could say I’ve lost as much weight as you have but I know I”m in progress!

  24. Wow. Just the other day I was telling my husband the main reason I wasn’t interested in kayaking wasn’t that I was too fat (that was the old reason) it was that I didn’t know if I could swim anymore. I told him that maybe I should take lessons – if such things were offered for previously pool-phobic adults. I’m with you re: the swimming associated trauma so thanks for making me think a little harder about taking the plunge, so to speak! And bravo to you for doing it!!!

  25. Just got onto your site thru Becks challenge and I can’t wait to read more!

    I Love a good motivational success story… and you are that! You go girl!

    Here’s hoping I get the courage to show myself… but can’t see it happening in the near future.


  26. Oh look! It’s my cousin (chunky2Spunky) Hi ‘h’!

    I absolutely ‘get’ you re” learning to swim. I can breaststroke (without putting my face underwater) but HATE freestlye because of the whole ‘putting my face underwater then trying to gulp air in a split second’ thing.

    Aquarobics is fantastic and HARD but amazing for toning.

    I’m with Rosemary Grace – I generally wet my hair in the changerooms, put a 20cent peice sized amount of conditioner in my hair then plait it. Before then, I wore a cap to keep the hair out of my eyes.

    Goggles I just couldnt get the hang of. They made me feel claustrophobic.

    Oh IDEA!!! Why not ask someone you know (work, gymetc) if they have some googles or a cap you can ‘test drive’. You dont need to tell them why – just say that you’re in the market for new ones and dont want to fork out the dosh until you’re sure….

    or something…

  27. Hey DG!
    Okay, the swimsuit – I would go with a racing suit, it’s a one-piece suit that has a “crossback”… that means there is an “X” across the back… this helps for a few reasons… #1, if you dive your suit doesn’t fall off… also, helps give you more support to “keep the girls in” so to speak. Plus, it makes you look like a professional swimmer, hehe… they aren’t usually much more expensive then the other suits but – by far, it’ll make you feel comfortable and helps keep the bits of skin in that you want to keep hidden, hehe… also, try to get a suit that has a bit of a shiney texture to it. (I can’t remember the name of the material) but – it’ll make your suit last longer… also, WASH your suit when you get out of the pool, to get rid of the chlorine. Can extend the life of your suit by up to two times. Chlorine eats away material very quickly….

    Second – a swim cap. My new pool doesn’t have it as a requirement but, I swear one anyways. Keeps the hair out of the eyes… I get a cloth one because, plastic ones can tear your hair/cause split ends… you can find one for about $5.

    And, goggles… I prefer one piece goggles. They are about $20 (canadian) dollars but – definitely worth it. THey don’t fog up as much and – they don’t “flip” back on your eyes when you are swimming. They are comfy and somewhat adjustable with the band.

    Hmmmmm, anything else? Oh yea, get yourself a pair of flip-flops for the pool, so you don’t get any warts/gross things from the pool. Sounds gross but – it’s a risk. Pool people don’t mind, as long as they are used only in the pool area (no dirt, etc.)…. wear ’em in the shower too!

    Hope that last part doens’t turn you off from swimming but – you will SO enjoy it…

    Private lessons are excellent ways to get over the phobias… trust your instructor, she’ll take care of you 🙂


  28. hellooooo! thanks for yoru ideas again, groovers. i had a freakin nightmare time trying to find a cossie, will write tomorrow. ended up getting one online which sounds like a ridiculous strategy for something as closefittin as a cossie… hehe


Comments are now closed on all Dietgirl posts. For fresh conversation please visit me at