Lumps and Bumps

Hidey ho, old chaps! I’m on the train back to bonny Scotland after my couple of days in the ye olde English countryside. I’ve been massaged and manicured and now I’m ready to get back to reality.

Have to admit I’m feeling a wee bit fragile right now. I don’t know if many of you read my non-fat blog, but we found out on Wednesday that my permanent residency application has been denied. Basically when you marry a Brit you get a two-year temporary visa then after that time you have to prove you’re still a red hot legitimate married couple so you can stay together forever and ever in your British love nest. If they don’t think you’ve proved it, you’re oot, baby!

And whaddya know? The Home Office thinks me and the good Doctor G ain’t the real deal.

I have been through all the emotions over the past few days. First the knee-jerk reaction on my blog and generally feeling sick to the stomach that anyone could question our lovely wee relationship. Then anger because I know we filled out that goddamn tedious form properly and sent the correct documents. Then came a hysterical kind of bemusement because the rejection is just plain absurd and there is absolutely no logic behind it.

This was followed by my old friend PANIC, because this really could not have happened at worse bloody time. Like there is a good time for these things, but anyway. Everything is happening all at once and the pressure is a wee bit overwhelming.

You know those moments where everything builds up and you have to decide whether to sink or swim? Well, I allowed myself to splash around in the panic pool for awhile but now I’ve calmed down. I refuse to fall in a heap. I’ve got my lists and plans and thought out how to deal with everything logically. And I know me and my Scottish Companion are the real deal, thank you very much; so we will get this sorted.

. . .

The massage was nice, by the way. No paper pants, just strategically placed towels!  I was too chicken to take off my undies but there were no major Fat Girl Freakouts.

It was bizarre how knotted my body was. There were great lumps of tension in my shoulders and arms and even in the palms of my hands. When she kneaded my back it felt like there were marbles under my skin. She even said my scalp was all stiff. Urrgh. Rather painful at times but still enjoyable!

I couldn’t seem to switch my brain off. This may sound bizarre but the whole thing made me extremely emotional. I kept thinking of my Skinny List and how I felt about my body way back when I wrote it in 2001. I always try and downplay how much the lard-busting process has changed me, I don’t know why. Perhaps a little embarrassment that I got so big in the first place, or defensiveness coz I’m "still the same person". But with a strangers hands poking and prodding the body that I used to feel so ashamed of, I couldn’t deny how much has changed. It was a strangely powerful moment, like the past six years rolled past my eyes in a Rocky-esque montage…

Shit shit shit. I dunno what’s wrong with me at the moment, I keep getting teary at inappropriate moments and the dude sitting opposite is looking at me funny. So I will sign off and gawk out the window instead. And I hope this entry doesn’t come across as self-pitying in any way. I am slightly scared but quietly determined. Keep calm and carry on, as they say. Hope you are all well 🙂

Full Bodied

Ooh things rather busy and stressful at the mo so will spare you the usual epic ramblings.

I’m having a full body massage on Friday! It’s my very first. Way back in 2001 I wrote a list called "Random list of things I wanna do when I’m smaller" and that was one of the things I put down.

I thought a spa day would be a fab Getting To Goal treat but then my sister scored a free night’s accommodation and half price treatments through her work if she could go in April. So I thought… goal schmoal, why the hell not?

I’m a little nervous about the whole caper. I haven’t been sleeping well and I’m wound up tighter than a Scotsman’s purse strings so I’m hoping I can relax enough for a massage. Ha ha.

Then Sandra was writing about massages recently and she had to strip off and wear paper undies! Lordy. What are you supposed to do in readiness for a stranger prodding your bod? Brush teeth, shave legs, landscape nether regions?

Anyway I’m sure it will be lovely. This is going to be a real test of just how comfortable I really am in my skin. It’s easy enough to be happy with clothes on but how will I feel in paper knickers? Anyone want to place bets on a Fat Girl FreakoutTM?

For the curious here is the infamous Random List I made back in 2001, with my current thoughts in italics.

  • run (done!)

  • get a tattoo (wtf? i really have no desire to do that)

  • wear dainty, strappy little shoes (currently would make me look like a drag queen with my pudgy ankles and feet) (still look ridiculous in dainty shoes. some things never change)

  • go on roller coasters (though I may fit in the seats now, not really interested. losing a few kilos doesn’t make you any less of a chicken 🙂

  • walk up to a guy that catches my eye and say hello (done! no longer scared of boys! just in time to be married, d’oh!)

  • go swimming (done!)

  • get a full body massage (like i’d let anyone look at me right now!) (shall do on Friday!)

  • have proper photos taken of me (but no cheesy soft-focus glamour shots! cack!) (I reckon the Grazia shoot covers that)

  • learn to rollerblade (oooh still fancy trying this one)

  • get some sexy leather pants. rrrowr. (again i say, WTF? why did i think that was a good idea? was i going through another Doors phase in 2001? i am not Jim bloody Morrison and unless Gareth convinces me to go pillion on his motorcycle i shall never don leather dacks)

Six years later, the list makes me cringe a wee bit with it’s supreme dorkiness. But I’m happy that I’ve done so many of those things, and didn’t wait around to be skinny either.

Frump-o-Rama

I am feeling reasonably foxy these days. Let’s not even mention the stinking scale, because everything else is trundling along. Inches melting, muscles appearing, fitness increasing, skin a-glowing, blah blah blah.

So with this in mind I went for a wander round the shops the other day. Just to check out the new summer stock, I said. But really more to check out myself in a range of different mirrors. Mwahaha.

It started out well — I tried on a nice flippy skirt (size 12!) and some nice linen trousers (size 12! (only if I sucked in my guts!)). But when I tried to find a top it all became completely rubbish.

I don’t know what it’s like anywhere else in the world right now, but over here it’s all these voluminous, floaty, 60s-inspired smocks. The fashion mags are crowing how they hide a multitude of sins — perfect for summer holidays as you can stuff your gob without worrying about a bloated tummy. Hurrah!

Well they just ain’t working for me. First there’s these dinky little puff sleeves which hit my arms at the most unflattering point, so they look all strung up and strangled like a leg of lamb. Then the fabric just spews down straight from the shoulders, or somewhat less ghastly from under the bust, completely covering the waist and hips.

Perhaps this flattering for some body shapes but it is completely hideous on me. I’ve always had wide shoulders, but if I wear more fitted tops that come in at the waist, everything more or less balances out with my hips. But this smock-o-rama shite hides my decent bits and points red flaming arrows to my worst. I look either 8 months pregnant or like a big brute of a rugby player, all lardy shoulders and meaty thighs.

And I’m sure the lurid 60s patterns look beguiling and Twiggy-esque on less sturdy lasses, but on me it just adds to the over all dumpy old granny effect. It’s worse than the dreaded Peasant Hooker Shit debacle of 2002.

YOOHOO, fitted tops! Are you out there? Somewhere? Anywhere? Make yourselves known, or I shall have to waddle the streets looking like this:

Frumpy

The onslaught of spring also brings the annual shoe dilemma. I seek pretty summer shoes that can be walked in for miles and miles. I need decent support and a good sole due to honking huge feet and a dodgy knee. Last year I found a nice pair of mules that felt dead comfy in the shop, but I think I need a shoe that is actually strapped to my foot. All those slip-on-y shoes that you have to kind of work to keep on your foot end up killing me. Ballet flats don’t work either, I need a wee heel otherwise I look like a drag queen.

Does such a shoe exist? Supportive yet stylish? Or should I just go straight out and buy some orthopedic clonkers that will work a treat with my matronly smock? Bah.

Paddle Your Own

Woohoo! I did another New Activity yesterday… CANOEING!

On the weekend we stayed with some friends and their three crazy kids. We all went to a nice wee loch suitable for unskilled morons, nothing to be scared of. But as soon as the canoe came off the car roof and I got strapped into a lifejacket I froze.

It was only for a second but it was there, automatic and insistent, that old voice in my ear. You’re fat and you’re crap and you’re going to suck at this.

I looked at the little kiddies kayaking and the old dudes fishing; so many potential witnesses to my incompetence. I started stammering my excuses but Gareth is used to the Fat Girl Freakouts now. He said very kindly and firmly, "You’re going to be fine."

And of course I bloody was. Canoeing RULES. And I did not suck. First I went out with Dave and he explained the strokes and I made an arse of my left and right as usual. But then I got the hang of it and went out again with Gareth. And then I got in the back seat and learned how to steer. Which was difficult but still enjoyable. I paddled and paddled til my shoulders ached and today I can yell out like Ringo Starr at the end of Helter Skelter, I’ve got blisters on my fingers! I feel rather proud of them.

Today I am still on some sort of bizarre post-canoe high. I loved being out on the water, stabbing away at it with my paddle. It was so serene and almost hyponotic. Maybe I’ll go all Ray Mears now and cruise down some rivers, or carve my own boat out of a tree trunk with my bare teeth. I just know that I want to do it again. Agaaaaaain!

Now I just have to think of something for New Activity #3.

To Fetch A Pail of Water

I did two scary things this weekend!

1. Held A Tiny Baby
When I wasn't scoffing hot cross buns on Good Friday baby and meI got to cuddle my friends brand new bairn. I am rubbish with babies; I'm terrified of breaking them. But this little fella was gorgeous, and it warmed my crusty heart to see the parents so completely besotted by their new creation. I also felt an attack of the warm fuzzies to see Gareth holding him baby and Dr G somewhat nervously but overall my overwhelming feeling was, "Lovely, but not for me." Not for now, anyway.

All of a sudden I have reached an age where people ask about my breeding intentions. Wasn't it only yesterday they were asking what I want to do when I finish high school? I haven't even figured that one out yet!

Just the other night I was out with friends and one of them said, "So when's the baby due?". I got all huffy, "Are you saying I look lardy? I have been BUSTING MY ARSE at the gym!". But he said no, it was because I looked happy and I'd only been drinking pints of water all night. Ahh, nice logic.

Anyway. Babies. It would be great if we could have a wee family in a few years, but right now I'm not interested. I have only just started to look after myself properly, let alone a screaming child. I spent so many years all surly and depressed, merely enduring life and just dragging my lardy arse through the days. But now that I'm finally fully present and participating, I'd like to enjoy my delayed youth for a bit longer.

2. Climbed Up A Big Hill
Gareth is mad into hillwalking at the moment. His fitness level makes me spew with jealousy – not only does he cycle a casual 80+ miles per week, he also wanders in the hills for hours on end.

Anyway, the other day he was heading out to Dumyat, a small hill of 418 metres (1,373 ft), and asked did I want to tag along. He assured me it was a quick and easy walk, popular with old grannies and small children.

"And you could add hillwalking to your New Activities list!" he said.

I was not sold. It wouldn't really count as I used to walk up Mount Ainslie back in Canberra. Not as high but felt bloody grueling back in 2002. People run up that hill in 10 minutes, but it used take me nearly an hour!

But then he told me he'd packed sandwiches and a thermos of tea, so my stomach led the way.

There is a very straightforward, gradual path to the top but of course Gareth likes to be different and took us on a much steeper cross-country route.

I have to admit I got shitscared. And really puffed. And cranky, because Gareth was barely breaking a sweat.

Why do hills have to be so… hilly? I don't trust my balance. I seem to believe that my body will somehow defy gravity and I'll fall off the hill and break all my bones.

My first worry is the ol' knee. Not the pain, but the fear of pain. Almost two years since I first hurt it, I am terrified of hurting it again. So I am really awkward and tentative on my feet.

The second problem is my former belly. For many years I couldn't see my feet because of my huge stomach, and I was always worried I'd lose my balance and fall down stairs/escalators/ravines etc. And even though the stomach isn't there anymore, I'm still nervous in descent mode. It's irrational and highly annoying. So I couldn't let myself enjoy the climb because I was too busy worrying about how I'd get back down again.

My tactic was to haul myself up the hill like a demented gorilla. Back hunched over, arms outstretched, fingertips grazing the ground, ready to catch myself if I started to fall. Not the most efficient technique, I tells ya.

But the view form the top was Image053amazing. Bloody windy Image056though. Our tracky-dacks billowed in the breeze in a satisfying MC Hammer style.

The world was beautifully silent and peaceful, far away from our neighbours and their squeaky tumble dryer, far away from work worries. I could finally understand why Gareth enjoys it so much. It puts the world into perspective. Plus if you've been puffing uphill for an hour you can totally justify a big sandwich.

Our descent was painfully slow and took even longer than the climb, no thanks to my Baby Learning How To Walk technique. Tiny, lurching steps with arms waving in the air and lots of screaming. But it was satisfying in the end, looking back at how far we'd shuffled.

My muscles were deliciously hurty the next day, but my knee felt fine and I was feeling rather smug about the whole thing. I realised again that my fitness level is quite good these days, it's just my silly fears that keep slowing me down. So I will keep working on that.

Of course Gareth had to go out-smug me yesterday by climbing another hill with his mate while I was still whimpering about my tired legs. It was four times higher and involved rocks and extreme steepness and scrambling on hands and knees. But I guess one man's Everest is another man's stroll in the park, so I will stop comparing our feats all the time. The sporty git.

Then I’ll Have Me Fish

Tomorrow is Good Friday! WOOHOO!

I’m not really a religious sort but Good Friday has special significance to me. My stomach, specifically. My friend Jane makes the most incredible hot cross buns on the planet and for the past three Easters we’ve got an email a few days beforehand inviting us over for Annual Bun Day.

I think her trusty recipe comes from an Australian Women’s Weekly cookbook. Each year I look forward to that moment when I walk into her flat and get smacked in the nose by that cinnamon fug. And there they are, fat and shiny and snug in a heavy old cake tin. There’s always heaps of butter and endless pots of Earl Grey Tea. I think I ate a good half dozen buns last year.

I thought there wouldn’t be an Annual Bun Day this year as Jane gave birth to a handsome baby boy just ten days ago. But yesterday we got The Email. It’s ON, baby! I couldn’t believe it! Baking would be the last thing on my mind if I had just popped out a sprog. I’m awe of my friends and their commitment to Easter traditions.

Good Friday is also about fish. I have many miserable memories of Good Friday, sitting at the dinner table long after everyone else had finished, whinging and stabbing at congealed fish with a fork. You’d think if we had to pretend to be good Christians once a year, we could have had fish fingers or something easy to digest. Why did it always have to be sensible fish with bones and stuff? Wah.

But I discovered a whole new level of piscine loathing on Good Friday 1999 when I was working in the fish and chip shop. Good Friday is the busiest day on the takeaway calendar, naturally. I had been promoted to Chief Fryer and fried 480 pieces of fish that day. We kept a tally on a chalkboard, smeared with flour and grease. It was 35 degrees inside the shop and a good ten degrees higher over the gurgling oil. And I was a hefty lass by then, so you can imagine how bloody exhausting it was. I never wanted to see another piece of fish again. But somehow I managed to fit in two pieces of fish and extra large chips for my dinner, being a good Catholic and all!

Speaking of fish, I have to tell you about Danny. He was a supremely buff bloke featured on Baby-Faced Bodybuilders the other night. Yes, the wacky dudes at BBC Three again. At the tender age of seventeen Danny managed fourth place in the Mr Universe competition. It involved a helluva lot of hard work, sacrifice, fake tan and FISH.

If you have a spare minute or two, please go to the website and click on the link in the top right-hand corner that says Watch Clips – Baby-Faced Bodybuilders. A wee video player will pop up so you can witness Danny, deep in thought as he outlines his daily meal schedule while he’s preparing for competition. It’s the most unintentionally hilarious thing I’ve ever seen. Gareth and I cackled when we saw it on the telly and have watched it a dozen times since and I love it more every time. Or maybe there is something wrong with me. Oh well.

Ricecake

Whether you’re into Easter or not, have a great weekend everyone! See you on the other side of my carbohydrate coma.

Girth On Film

Where would television be without fat people? How did they fill all those hours on air before they cottoned on to us?

Here in the UK  the evil godmother of the genre was Crackpot McKeith, but now the schedule bursts at the seams with shows about fat people. We’ve had Celebrity Fit Club and The Biggest Loser and casual lipo on  Ten Years Younger. There’s even been Serious Documentaries like World’s Biggest Boy and The 34-Stone Teenager (476lb/216kg).

But now they’re getting truly nutty. On Fat Men Can’t Hunt a bunch of large folk were dumped in the desert with some Kalahari Bushmen. They were filmed all red-faced and grumbling and trying to hunt lions and useless tiny birds. From the website: Isolated in one of the world’s harshest environments, will our brave volunteers adapt to their new lifestyle or end up begging to be airlifted to the nearest kebab shop?

They’ve even diversified into the canine world. Help! My Dog’s As Fat As Me takes fat dogs and fat owners and puts them through their paces to see who can lose the most lard and win the prestigious Golden Collar award.

And this week there’s a new series starting on Five brilliantly titled, I Know What You Ate Last Summer. It follows six obese British teenagers as they spend two months at a Californian adventure camp.

I have mixed feelings about all this Lard TV. Some of it is really well done, like BBC Three’s Freaky Eaters series. I had a really good honkin’ cry after an episode about a girl who binged on chocolate. She really turned around her thinking with the help of a therapist and the nutritionist. It was a great show with sound, sensitive and sensible advice. I meant to write about it at the time – it touched a nerve and I learned a lot and wanted to pass it on. Hopefully I’ll catch a repeat.

But on the other hand, I want to throw things at my telly with the more ridiculous shows, the ones that pull out all the horrid obvious stereotypes. Whiny, lazy, argumentative fatties. Lingering shots of triple chins and wobbly bellies and thighs clashing together. Smug and smarmy voiceovers. I don’t know anyone that wouldn’t be grumpy if they were stuck in the Kalahari with only a sparrow for breakfast, but no doubt some folk watching would have thought, "Lookit them stupid lard-arses."

Why do I watch these shows anyway? It’s a strange compulsion. I do steer clear of the gameshow-y ones, but I admit I scan the TV guide looking for them coz I can’t help laughing at the names. I’m more a fool for the shows where you feel like the fat person on the show is actually getting something from the experience. Sometimes I learn something new. Or sometimes I just find it comforting to see people on telly struggling with the same things I struggle with.

I don’t know. I feel like such a sucker; I’m so easily emotionally manipulated. I get angry and I want to kick people on the screen, or sometimes I just get teary and want to dive into the telly and say, Dude! I know how you feel! Let’s go eat cakes together! Actually, maybe we should just go for a walk.

So yeah. There’s a lot of fat on the box these days. Some of it’s shite and some is pretty good. But this week I shall widen my horizons and tune in to F*** Off, I’m Ginger, which explores perils of being a redhead. Indeed!

. . .

Things are going great guns with my own flab fighting efforts. It’s not dramatic but it’s steady and consistent. I’ve obediently followed my exercise plan and kept track of my food for ten weeks in a row now. Woohoo!

A couple of people wrote to ask why I’ve not been posting my weigh-ins. As I’ve mentioned before it was messing with my head – six years of telling a whole bunch of people what I weighed.

Somehow when I don’t write about my weigh-ins I don’t fuss over them. I just jump on the scale and interpret the numbers in a cool, logical and honest manner. But when I had to sit down to write about it, I’d started to lose my perspective. I was too emotional and put too much stock in the numbers. If it was a bad week I felt like I had to come up with a justification for the result. It was like being back at Weight Watchers, yapping excuses to the weigh lady about fluid retention.

A good week was just as bad. If people congratulated me and said, "You’re so close to goal!" I’d panic and worry I’d  screw up in the following week, then feel like an idiot because I’d have to blog about a gain. And the more I worried the more I’d tend to go off the rails – my traditional all-or-nothing approach.

Just so you understand, this pressure was coming entirely from myself, not from you lovely folk. And the closer I got to goal, the more pressure I piled on.

So I had to step back and sort my relationship with that stupid machine, once and for all. I’m doing all those positive things I talked about in February – takings things slow and steady, making sure what I do is sustainable and enjoyable in the long term. And it’s still working – I’m still shrinking. Slowly but surely.

I know it’s all a bit dull and wishy-washy without cold hard statistics, but bear with me for a wee bit longer. I’m really trying to figure things out and make sure that the phrase "lifestyle change" isn’t just lip service. This time I need to believe it and live it.