Downhill XTREME!

We’re almost one-sixth of the way through 2007 so it’s high time I checked in on some of my goals for the year.

7. Learn to ride my bike down a hill!!!

Ooh, three exclamation marks. You know that means business.

I finally got back on Valentino on Tuesday. He’d been gathering cobwebs for six months or so due to knee-hab and crappy weather.

I did my usual I don’t wanna whinging as we got ready to go out. Why does cycling involve so much bloody gear? The tiny shorts with the padded crotch, the leggings, the top, the lurid jacket, the dinky skullcap so my ears don’t freeze off, the helmet, the gloves. When I was a kid, all you needed was bare feet, shorts n t-shirt and the spirit of youth!

Out on the street, I was still too chicken to ride on the Big Road down to the cycle track, so I pedaled timidly and illegally on the footpath. I felt so much more comfortable on the bike than before, but I still don’t have the skills to release the handlebar death-grip in order to make a hand signal!

Once on the path it felt brilliant straight away. My legs (and knee) were so much stronger. The breeze was icy and my fingers were numb but it was great to be outside, dodging horse shit and twigs and trying to remember what all the levers do. We went a leisurely 3.5 miles before I had to stop to dig out a wedgie. Stupid tiny bike shorts.

I was all set to turn around and head for home when Gareth pointed to a quiet country road leading off the path.

"Fancy riding down the hill?" he asked.

"No!"

"But what about your New Year’s Resolution? You said you wanted to go down hills!"

"Yeah but. Isn’t it enough that I came out at all? I mean, that’s excellent progress."

"Nup. Come on. It’s only a wee hill."

"It’s HUGE! And there could be a car."

"There’s been two cars on this road in the past month!"

"With my luck, I’ll get mowed down!"

"C’mon!"

"ALRIGHT ALRIGHT!"

The top of the hill looked too steep so I kinda half-dismounted and shuffled a few metres down to a less scary starting point. I pushed off and… wheeeeeeee!

Okay. I braked the whole way down.

And then I couldn’t bloody get back up the hill! I had forgotten how to work the gears!

"Which one makes it easier to pedal!?" I screamed to Gareth. "Left or right!?". In the end I had to push the bike up the hill.

"Just great," I said, "I have issues going down AND up hills! Right. Let’s go home."

"Home?" said Gareth. "Aren’t you going to give it another go?"

"No way! That’s enough for one day."

"Awww! One more go?"

"NOOOOUUUUEEE!" Why is it the more juvenile I behave, the more vowels I pack in to a word?

"NOOOOUUUUUEE!" Gareth mimicked in his increasingly convincing Australian accent. "What about your resolution?"

"That was just an idle promise, you pushy bastard."

He’s really not pushy at all; I think that’s what makes me so cranky. If he was being a real bully I could have just told him to bugger off. But when he is being so patient and encouraging, well.

You know what else was so bloody infuriating? Realising that I was experiencing a genuine (albeit irrational) fear. And I couldn’t use my fat to avoid it anymore. I have lost my all-purpose excuse.

Before I would never have even bought a bike in the first place because I’d have said, "I can’t, I’m too fat!". But now if don’t want to do something, it’s because I’m scared or lazy or afraid of failing or looking stupid. It’s no doubt been like that all along, but the fat was an excellent excuse. It was such an obvious, visible physical barrier; whereas to just admit to myself that I was scared of a gently undulating slope? It’s confronting and bloody embarrassing. I’ve known for years I can no longer play the I’m Too Fat card, but every now and then I miss it.

"Alright then," I hissed. "I’ll do it."

"Woohoo!" said Gareth. "See if you can get halfway down before you put on the brakes!"

I have to admit the second time was almost enjoyable. It was bloody fast but I didn’t brake until 3/4 down. I almost crapped myself when a car came along but I managed to pull over in time without falling into the ditch. And I managed to pedal 3/4 back up the hill, huffing and cursing, until I totally ran out of gears! My legs circled madly going nowhere, like a cartoon character going over a cliff.

So obviously I have much to learn. But I had fun and felt quite at home on the bike. I was really chuffed when Gareth told me later I looked really natural and comfortable on the bike, as opposed to my previous grim expression and stiff limbs. Woohoo!

I took a picture of The Hill on the cameraphone and couldn’t believe how pathetic it looked like on the screen! The perspective is distorted or something. But I SWEAR, it’s steeper than it looks. It’s really scary! Honest. Yeah.

Hill

In Other News

I’ve added a contact page which spells out my stance on emails, comments, advertising and blog content. It may sound wanky to have an official policy on these things, but it’s got to the point where I need to explain how things work so people don’t think I am being obnoxious.

I love getting emails from readers, but I’ve been getting behind on replies as I’m spending far too much time sifting through all the non-reader emails. Like folk asking me to review their weirdo diet products or to casually mention their book or to run adverts for their miracle fat vanish creme.

I like to keep this site completely non-commercial. While I appreciate the PR folk are just doing their jobs, I’d prefer to spend my time replying to emails from readers. I’m catching up but apologies if you’ve written recently and I’ve not replied yet.

And now here’s the book meme that Sandra tagged me for last week!

Continue reading

All Change

Dudes! I'm almost to scared to admit this, but I am kicking arse at the moment. Shhh. Don't tell.

Late last year I was banging on about my impatience to get to 75 kilos so I could say I was Done then just get on with the maintaining:

"… after that… I refuse to expend any more energy on numbers… Once I hit 75kg I am going to make my goals entirely about fitness, and if they result in the the scale going down that will be a happy accident… I will let it settle where it wants to and let the fit of my jeans be the measure of what shape I'm in.

I just want my goals to be completely removed from the scales. It will be about building muscle and getting stronger and leaner and healthier. I want to learn to ride my bike without wobbles and take up yoga and get to a point where I can swim laps for half an hour. I just want to get on with it, continuing my healthy lifestyle. I want to take it further and push harder… because that's how I live my life… not because I'm trying to lose weight."

Rant rant rant. I basically concluded that all that would have to wait… until I got to the elusive 75 kilos.

But then the lovely Beckie left a very thought-provoking comment which you can read here. This sentence grabbed me:

"You said you wanted to change over to just fitness goals. Is this after the finish line? Why not help it get you to the finish line?"

Oooh, indeed! Why wait for the finish line? The fitness stuff is what I like and what makes me feel challenged and productive. So when I wrote out my goals for 2007, Get To 75kg was at the top of the list but the rest of it was about shifting my lardy arse. I have changed my focus to fitness NOW instead of waiting until goal.

Even though exercise has long been a big part of my lard busting efforts, the main theme has been the weekly weigh-in and reporting the results of said weigh-in to the blog. It was starting to drive me MENTAL. I was putting all this pressure on myself to "get results" each week so I'd have some good numbers to report. I was getting impatient that it was taking so long. As much as I was enjoying my exercise, there was an underlying feeling of "wonder if this will help my weigh-in this week?". Because as much as I talked about inches lost or push-ups pushed, it somehow didn't seem quite as valid as pounds down.

Finally I asked myself, Why am I going mental over this stupid number? I was starting to see 75's in my dreams! You know, like a 7 and a 5, walking hand-in-hand through a meadow. Don't get me wrong, I can't wait to hit the number, just so I can say gleefully, "Finiiiished!". But getting impatient and stressed about it was actually counter-productive — I seemed to be getting further AWAY from goal.

So that's why I made so many fitness goals for 2007, because the sweaty stuff makes me happy. I was really inspired by fitness bloggers like the amazing Kek and her supreme buffness. She has given me so much advice and inspiration to change my focus. All my efforts are now with improving fitness in mind, not weight loss. It's early days, but already feels much more satisfying and positive than focusing on a weekly scale result. Instead I'm obssessed with doing those stinkin' pikes or going up a level on that awful Arc trainer machine at the gym.

You have noticed the weekly exercise plans there in the sidebar. I've now followed them faithfully for a month! I've not missed a single session – no excuses, no half-arsedness! Lots of hard work and stinky gym clothes. I feel more determined and my eating is settling down into something sane and sensible. And sustainable.

I am still weighing myself daily. It was fluctuating wildly for a couple of weeks there and I was getting angsty, as though the numbers cancelled out all the goodness of my eating and fitness efforts. But now I am learning to see the scale as just another tool in my belt – a general indicator of a trend as opposed to a machine that dictates my mood for the day!

So basically what I daydreamed about doing when I hit goal, I am doing right now. Living like a boring old healthy person, getting fitter and letting the scale do what it wants. And whaddya know…. enough, simply by not focusing on getting to goal, I am actually inching closer to it! The scales are creeping down, my jeans have eased their death grip on my thighs, inches have been lost… and I feel a helluva lot more sane.

Gone Fishin’

I was discussing Listen To Your Guts Week with my sister the other day and she was having a thematic set of seven herself: Don’t Eat Standing Up Week. She’d read somewhere about the perils of vertical grazing and realised she does this quite a bit, so she’s trying to get into the habit of putting food on a plate and sitting down to savour it. We have the same Danger Time – those wily hours between arriving home from work and eating dinner.

"Sometimes I just dump my bag and walk straight into the kitchen and open the fridge," she said. "And then I just start rustling around. What do we have here, what do we have here."

"Oh yeah, I do that."

"I even get a fork out of the drawer before I open the fridge! I go hunting. STAB! An olive. STAB! A sundried tomato straight from the jar. I’m like those dudes on the boats with the spears."

"Spearfishing!"

Bwahhaa.

This weight loss caper is so often about the small stuff. The days of me baking a cake and eating it all on my own are long gone, so I have to look for the less obvious things. Losing blubber now is a matter of being aware of any little habits I’ve cultivated and making a few tweaks. These seemingly innocent things are so easily ignored, but can now make the difference between a loss or maintaining yet-a-bloody-gain.

Spearfishing

Did you know that Cherry Ripe bars count as part of your Five A Day? No? Well if you can count a bloody can of baked beans full of salt and sugar, as they proudly declare on the tin, then surely I can include a Cherry Ripe? Or a Terry’s Chocolate Orange? It’s shaped like a real orange.

Choc

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to post this link for ages, yet again from Kathryn’s Limes & Lycopene blog – What actually is five serves? What does a serve of vegies look like? Pretty bloody small! It’s not half as daunting as you may think. The post is an brilliant visual guide and really brings things into perspective. I know you guys are a healthy bunch, so you may only want to check it out in order to feel a satisfying sense of smugness that you’re actually packing away ten serves a day and your risk of scurvy is minimal.

Keep Calm And Carry On

I’m hardly going to help diffuse this blog’s alleged reputation for frank language when I say I’ve had stinky bastard of a week. But things are somewhat challenging at the moment and I’ve been stalking through the days all tense and angsty. Nothing major, but you know those moments when you temporarily forget your usual optimism and just let things completely overwhelm you?

Thankfully I’ve not sought solace in a tub of mashed potatoes. My declaration of Listen To Your Guts week turned out to be timely. A simple equation kept popping into my simple mind:

Stress = Eat!

During one moment of frustration I found myself walking to the kitchen like a zombie. A dull chant rang in my ears, food food food!

But I remembered just in time that I was supposed to be remembering to listen to my guts. I had an apple instead. Green. Granny Smith. Crunchy!

There was a great post on Angry Fat Girlz yesterday that asked, what do we substitute for food? The diet gurus have helpful suggestions like, "Take a bubble bath!". Aye right. It takes our bath half an hour to fill. Do you think I am going to just stand there patiently saying, "Dude, just you wait til I jump into you. I shall be A BEACON OF CALM!". Besides, we’re in a drought and I don’t want to waste water. I do realise the drought is in Australia and I am actually in Scotland now, but still.

They also suggest to write down your feelings in a journal or blog. I don’t mind doing this after I’ve simmered down a bit, but I’m talking about what to do in the actual moment, you know when your hand is poised over the bread bag. If I wrote en blog in the midst of an angstypants session, I’d have no visitors left or at the very least The Mothership would disown me for foul language.

So this week my substitutions for mindless eating were: ranting phone call to sister, ranting to Gareth and kicking a door frame.

For a more long-term tactic I have just hung up this inspirational poster! I’ve always hated fluffy motivational items with cheesy poems and proverbs and daffodils and kittens, but via Ed I found this bloody brilliant reproduction of a World War II poster. Elegant simplicity in a glorious shade of resilient red. Just one look at that noble font and soothing words makes me sit up straighter and say "Chin up old chap!" in my worst English accent.

Calm

So carry on then, chums! Enjoy the rest of your weekend. I know we’ll meet again, some sunny day.

The Doctor Is Out

I’m obsessed with stability ball pikes, or rather my complete inability to do them! Check out this handy video to see what I’m on about.

That nubile wench Cathe Friedrich manages to get into a completely vertical position, toes on the ball and butt in line with the hands. Then does twenty perfect repetitions. Me? I can just manage to pull my ankles onto the ball before dive-bombing onto my nose.

The whole move feels totally wrong, but I think that’s what I like about it. I like feeling awkward and clumsy. I spent so many years trying to keep my large body as still as possible, so not to disturb anyone with my wobbly presence. Shuffling from the fridge to the couch to the bed to car to the job to the drive-thru — that was about the extent of my movements. These days I want to make up for lost time and arrange my body into complicated positions (stop snickering). Upside down, underwater, backwards, sideways, one hand, no hands.

I used to stay still because I didn’t want to look ridiculous but now I just want to move, and the more ridiculous it looks the better.

. . .

Watch Your Portions Week went well! There was an initial mourning period as to just how puny a proper portion of rice looks, but I’m used it now. Sniff.

This week is Listen To Your Guts Week, in which I aim to teach myself to Stop Look And Listen before eating. Am I actually hungry or just bored or cranky? You’d think I’d have mastered all these basic concepts by now, but I reckon everyone can do with a refresher course now and then.

. . .

For the dear soul who came here searching for "dr gillian mckeith perfect poo chart", I urge you to check out this cracking article in today’s Guardian: "Doctor" Gillian McKeith – A Menace To Science. Thanks everyone who pointed it out!

Bigger

DesktopToday I’m dreaming of puddings. Specifically, that pudding I made at Christmas with the sticky toffee sauce. I took a photo of it at the time and right now it’s dished up as my desktop wallpaper (click the pic for closeup). I can see the dense crumbs, I can even make out individual chunks of carrot. There’s a pool of toffee sauce and melted ice cream and I wish I could dive right in. You can even see the wee flecks of vanilla in the ice cream! Just staring at the picture is almost as satisfying as the real thing.

Aye, right!

. . .

Someone arrived here today from Google with a very precise search string: Dietgirl, the Amazing Adventures of. Like it was in a catalogue or something! For some demented reason, that comma made my day.

There are a lot of new people coming by lately so why not say hello? I don’t bite! I am not that hungry.

. . .

The Mothership sent me a card in the post this week. Inside was an old photo she’d found, taken the day I left Australia. On 27 March 2003 I was about 110 kilos (250lb) and a size 20/22.

I gawked at that photo in complete disbelief, barely recognising myself. Which is strange because at the time I’d felt so tiny, having spend the previous two years busting down from 350lb, as you know.

I remember that final morning in Oz – frantically stuffing things into my suitcase, sneaking online one last time to type goodbye to friends, and The Mothership fretting we’d get SARS in Singapore or shot down over Iraq. Now I look at my eternally chubby cheeks in the photo and think, Dude, if only you knew all the crazy shit that’s going to happen once you get on that plane. Woohoo!

Sometimes I have trouble remembering how things used to be. When I came to the UK it was almost like wiping the slate clean. The first two years of lard busting had changed me, but the real changes began once we arrived in Edinburgh. I really had to leave the fat girl insecurities and fears at the airport, coz we had to find a job and somewhere to live quick smart. There was no time to be shy and scared of strangers.

These days I am so used to feeling comfortable in my own skin that I almost forget that it used to be very different, and that it was a real stinking struggle to reach this point.

. . .

I was getting a haircut the other day and my beloved hairdresser was chatting away about Dr Gillian McKeith’s new show, in which she gets the fatties to live in her house for eight weeks so she can torture them at closer proximity and examine their poos at any hour she chooses. My hairdresser found out about my weight loss so she often talks about That Sort Of Thing with me.

Another stylist overheard us and asked what she was on about. My gal explained, "Well, Shauna used to be… bigger."

I cracked up laughing but then the inevitable questions came. How much bigger? She’s lost 12 stone. No way! I know, you’d never know would you? It’s amazing! How did you do it!?

"I dunno really," I mumbled, "I ate less and did a lot of exercise!"

You know, I’m bloody proud of myself for turning my life around and I’ve never been at all ashamed or contemptuous of my former heavier self. Sometimes I do wonder why on earth I made my past so bloody public. It’s really unsettling to have someone staring at you, knowing they’re trying to picture an extra 70 kilos on your frame.

Just as when you’re morbidly obese you want people to see you as more than your fat, when you’re smaller you want people to see you for more than the fat that used to be there.

I know people wouldn’t really do that, but it’s more of a reminder to myself that there’s more to me — to all of us — than the size of our pants. Past or present!

Raising Hell

My fellow Americans! Or rather, people who read this site who are Americans!

I stayed up late last night watching your Superbowl thingy, in an attempt at cross-cultural understanding. I must say I am more baffled than ever. There seems to be ten dozen people on the field at once, and they only jig about for a minute before everything stops again. I calculated at that rate of action half time would be about 3AM my time. So I had to go to bed. I only just found out that Prince was the half-time spectacle. PRINCE! With a cleaning lady headscarf! I’m gutted to have missed that.

Meanwhile in the UK the Six Nations has started, with not a shoulder pad nor a Billy Joel in sight. Just poor Scotland being destroyed by England, no thanks to the return of that that prodigious bastard Jonny Wilkinson. As he kicked goal after goal, all I could do was bitch at the telly, "Why’s he doing that crouching-toilet-praying-yoga pose? STAND UP STRAIGHT, dammit!".

Wilko_1

No doubt I was just cranky as it was the third day in a row that I, coincidentally, could not stand up straight. Earlier in the week I’d done a killer lower body workout that included calf raises. It sounded innocent enough – standing on the step on my tippy-toes and going up and down 100000 times. The next day I rolled out of bed and discovered a world of pain. My calves were mooing, as Maggie would say. I could not straighten my legs. I had to stagger around the house in the above Jonny Wilkinson semi-squat, with Gareth behind me cackling, "Get a move on, Granny!".

It was a full five minutes before I could rise to my full height. Ahh the agony. The sweet, delicious muscular agony! Those calf raises better have done good things for my chubby legs or ELSE. Today’s the first day I’ve been able to rise from a chair at normal speed!

You know, I’m sorry these entries have been so breezy lately. So flippant; so What I Ate For Breakfast, if you will. I do have more profound and thoughtful things to say but haven’t sat down to write them out properly as I’ve been a wee bit busy. I’ll get onto it quick sticks.

Apart from the screaming calves, I’ve been enjoying that Arc Trainer thingy (thanks for your thoughts on that one, by the way) and enjoying long winter walks in the great outdoors (thanks Global Warming!).  I’m also celebrating the return of the kohlrabi to the vegie box delivery, and the mysterious disappearance of AN INCH from each hip, waist and bust in the past two weeks. HURRAH! My jeans are no longer strangling my internal organs! I call that progress.

O Radiant Coupon

I was sitting on the couch yesterday morning with a cup of tea, unwashed and resplendent in baggy tracksuit pants and an old grey XXL hoodie.

Suddenly Gareth peered at me in a thoughtful manner and said, "You have a real glow today."

"Get out!" I snorted. He isn’t normally so… poetic.

"No really, you’re looking good! Your coupon is radiant!"

Scottish word of the day, folks: COUPON. It’s your face. You’ve got to pronounce like the Scots do; it’s not like those things you clip out of the newspapers for discounts. It sounds like coo’pn.

Anyway, I was chuffed that Gareth said I had a radiant coupon because I have been feeling rather radiant on the inside and it is nice that someone thinks it shows on the outside. I feel calm and focused; quietly determined and productive. I am faithfully following my exercise plan and feel stronger and fitter already. My eating has been the height of wholesomeness. So there.

Yesterday I rode a new beast at the gym called an Arc Trainer. Is anyone familiar with these? I thought it was going to be like a normal old cross-trainer machine but my thighs were burning! The resistance seemed much more gruelling. It almost felt like trudging up a hill and skiing at the same time. Normally I avoid cross trainers because they irritate my knee, but this one didn’t seem to be a problem. Score!

And finally, has anyone in the UK seen that godawful new Weight Watchers ad? They have all these people talking about an unseen woman and how FABULOUS she is now that she’s lost the pork with the Points. Her husband, her neice, etc. But then they show her beautician, who is wielding a wax strip as she says, "It takes half the time to do her legs now."

ARRRRRGH!

I have to admit, I now shave my legs in half the time it took in 2001. But still, I wonder how many people will see that ad and spring up from the couch, "Righto, that’s it! If I can get my legs waxed in half the time then I shall join the Twin Dubyas NOW!". I just hope they realise that just coz your legs are smaller doesn’t mean the Waxtress will charge you any less.