An Interview with PastaQueen

It’s 8PM, the official hour on New Year’s Eve when you try to persuade yourself to go out in the rain to a party instead of PJs, bottle of port and crappy Year In Review programs.

To all those down South – way way down South – who are already in 2008: Happy New Year! To everyone else, party on and see you next year!

. . .

In book news: On Saturday I had a fireside chat with the famous Jennette Fulda, a.k.a. PastaQueen of Half of Me. Except there was no actual fire, just Instant Messenger and talk of writing books and weight loss. Nevertheless I had a rockin’ good time and PastaQueen asked fabulous questions. Check it out noo!

It was also kindly brought to my attention that you can order the goods from Amazon Canada. Which means cheaper postage for all you lovely North Americans, woohoo! Except for those who already ordered it from the UK, please don’t hit me!

2008: Rhymes With Great

At a party on New Years Eve 2006, I was watching the clock through a red wine haze and eating posh crisps with a poncy name. Caramelised Shallot And Taw Valley Cheddar, as I recall… in other words, cheese and onion!

It was 11.45 PM and I was thinking, As soon as the clock strikes midnight that is it. I hereby resolve to cut all the crap in 2007!

Then at 11.59 PM somebody cracked open a tub of Marks & Spencer Extremely Chocolatey Mini Bites.

I revised my strategy. Righto. Make that 1AM. After that I’m going STRAIGHT, darnit.

A few days later I emerged from my sugar ‘n’ lard coma and realised that making grand, lofty plans that lacked focus and relied on brain/willpower for success was not the best approach to New Years Resolutions.

So I made a new list. It was more goals than resolutions, specific and realistic ones. Cheesy SMART goals like they make you do on tedious corporate training days! Breaking down the huge and impossible into  digestible chunks.

It turned out a pretty good year. It still amazes me when that Baby Step stuff actually works. I had a blast trying out all those new activities – canoeing, kayaking, kickboxing, plus revisiting hill walking and yoga. My Flaming Knee Of Pain finally calmed down and I was more consistent with exercise. I didn’t hit 75 kilos – all those sporty moments and various epiphanies led to me letting go of that scale fixation once and for all. And though that was never on any list, it turned out to be the most satisfying moment of this whole lard-busting caper.

All that said, the last few months of 2007 have been chaotic with the new job etc etc. I’ve been bumbling along, up and down. I’m like a crappy old computer — you know when you have too many programs open and it’s running so slow and sluggishly that you can practically see smoke rising? And then you push it harder and try to open PhotoShop. So it’s clearly time for a reboot.

The merits of New Years Resolutions are oft-debated, but January 1 feels so crisp and clean, perfect for refocusing and thinking about what’s next. Plus I like making lists. There’s no greater nerdly pleasure than ticking stuff off from lists!

Two posts have really got me fired up for a fresh start: Sarah at Pink of Perfection and Erin at Angry Fat Girlz.

I still haven’t quite figured out my own goals for 2008. I just know I want them to be about fun and fitness and feeling good about the ol’ bod. Not numbers and angst. Nor midnight Mini Bite moratoriums!

Dietgirl Extract in the Mail on Sunday

You can read an extract of Dietgirl in today's issue of You magazine, the Mail on Sunday's glossy supplement. It features the memorable headline, "The sight of my monster pants made me realise I had to lose weight".

Gareth and I went up the high street this morning for milk and bread and I tried to "forget" to buy the Mail on Sunday but Gareth wasn't having any of that. There is nothing more terrifying than the Moment of Newspaper Purchase when you know your gurning gob is going to be inside. What's the picture going to look like? Was I having a good hair day? Was I having a good flab day?

The photos were taken way back in November so the suspense had been building for some time. They're nae bad; but I do look a wee bit scared and stunned. The backdrop for the photo is my friend Vicki's living room wall, recently painted in Magnolia. My flat just ain't photogenic so Vicki kindly allowed me to borrow her "studio" around the corner!

» Click here to read the extract in You magazine.

You

Minty Fresh

Hello groovers. Did you enjoy your festivities? Are you throwing rocks at your telly at all those Slim Fast commercials?

You know those dreams where you go to school in your pyjamas? That happened to me tonight fer real except it was at kickboxing. That’s what you get for packing your gym bag in the dark. Luckily it was only PJ bottoms, navy blue. But they were too tight and the navy blue t-shirt I’d packed was too short so I looked like a navy blue Tellytubby.

It was a mixed ability class tonight, due to a revised Christmas schedule. And whaddya know, I was the sole representative from the Beginners group. All the rest were Advanced, in their matching official Team Scary satin trousers that they wear when they officially clobber people for trophies.

I nearly ran out the door but I’d paid my 3 quid and didn’t want them to think I was a wimp. Because I’m sure they wouldn’t have figured that out from the way I wobbled with fear and cocked up every move. The indignity of it all. I don’t mind looking stupid in the beginners class, in fact I quite enjoy it. But in front of those feisty scrapping machines was something else altogether. Confidence is entirely contextual, you see; it’s no fun when you can’t share around the ineptitude!

. . .

It’s good to be back in the saddle after Christmas. It was a low key couple of days, and I frolicked in the strange and delicious sensation of not being stressed about whether I was eating too much and if my world would collapse if I ate a dozen After Eight mints. World still seems to be intact and breath is minty fresh!

Gareth the Wholesome went cycling on Christmas Day. Christmas Eve, too. Rhiannon and I sat on the couch a lot, chatting and making plans and setting goals for fancy new exercise regimes and schedules but the closest we got to actual exercise was walking to the shops to buy pedometers then giving up when we saw the queues, so we went back home and resumed our perch.

. . .

Have any of you Scavenger Hunt winners received the goods yet? I sent the Mothership a copy of DG on Friday (December 21), and would you believe she got it yesterday? Five days to Australia, with Christmas and everything!

Mary, my Mothership-in-law, phoned tonight to say she’s about 100 pages in. My guts are churning thinking of all the upcoming swear words and the boom-chicka-wow-wow bits involving her son. Why did this not occur to me before? That people might read it and not just shove it on the shelf between a crumbly pair of Agatha Christies?

Also, many of my kindly work colleagues have copies. So instead of being That Chick That Swears At Her Computer, I will soon be… That Chick Of Whom We Know Far Too Much Information.

But it’s exciting, comrades! I had the first official sighting on December 23, nine days early at our local WH Smith. Then yesterday I saw a dude unpacking copies at Waterstones in Edinburgh, and Rhiannon and I jumped up and down discreetly.

Here it is at WH Smith, snuggled up next to Gordon Ramsay. Woohoo!

True Stories

‘Tis The Season To Be Slobby

Festive exercise thus far has consisted of lugging a six-kilogram cast iron casserole dish from the shops to our flat. It’s one of those things when you think, "Six kilos, I laugh in the face of six kilos!" but after five minutes I thought my biceps would explode. Since then it’s all been cooking and eating and sitting about on my arse.

Have a great day folks, whether it’s Crimbo or just a plain ol Tuesday. Thanks for tuning in this year and here’s to an adventuresome 2008. My gift to you is this ye olde inspirational poster from the Health Education Board of Scotland, spotted at the local hospital.

Healthy

American Cycle

Gareth has decided that he prefers to remain an enigma, so I'm afraid it's back to verbose ol' me again!

My gut was sore from laughing at his entry; it took him all of twenty seconds to tap out yet he'd managed to distill seven years of public babbling and a lifetime of lard-related angst.

I'd been feeling self-conscious as it is lately, doing press for the book and sometimes being struck mute mid-interview thinking, What a ridiculous thing, to spend so much time going on about the size of ones arse.

But I'll keep on anyway, because I've been meaning to tell you about what was quite possibly The Greatest Day of My Life. Woohoo!

(Warning: I'm really knackered therefore beware of rambling and excess exclamation!)

You may recall my road cycling debut of mid-October – tears and trembling and brown underpants. It was a crash course of sorts, because the following week we were off to New York and I'd booked us on a cycling tour.

At first it seemed like a crafty way of disposing of Gareth for a few hours so I could do some shopping, but then I decided I wanted in, too. Sure I have no peripheral vision and I cannae hand signal but I've done twenty minutes on a Scottish country road… LET THE MUPPET TAKE MANHATTAN!

We assembled at a bike shop near Union Square – me and Gareth, three chicks from Kansas and a Melbourne lad with wholesome soap star looks. The two tour guides helped us chose a bike. I'd hoped they'd all be pretty pink ones with baskets on the front, but it was a random tangle of scary Sporty Ones. Where was the BELL? How would I cry for help?! My beast had a terrifying 21" frame with a really high crossbar. I called it the Crotch Masher 2000.

There were two guides. They were former couriers, with that lean sculpted-calf appearance that, if a pathetic amateur, might leave you intimidated and tugging at your husband's sleeve, "If you ride off on me, I'll KILL YOU!"

We were told to keep in line behind the front guide and he'd make hand signals telling us when to go or stop or slow down. Nae bother. As we set off I kept my eyes glued to the guide in front and totally blocked out the fact I was in New York otherwise I would have vomited. I couldn't look anywhere but straight ahead and I couldn't change gears because they were twist grip gears and I never knew there was another kind of gear!?

But after five or ten minutes I calmed down. I looked up at a street sign and it said 5th Avenue and I thought Hee hee heeee I'm riding down 5th Avenue! Then a bus whooshed up beside me and I could feel my ribs rattle. The adrenaline kicked in and I spent the next five hours in a state of joy and delirium!

Some highlights:

  • Brush with death in the West Village! As we approached an intersection I caught sight of a pet shop with a windowful of tiny yapping dogs. "GARETH, LOOK AT THE DOGS!" I yelled and sailed on towards them, at the same time Gareth yelled, "SHAUNA, LOOK AT THE TRUCK!" Luckily the truck had good brakes and the information is now branded on my brain: Americans drive on the right.
  • Bruising my lady parts every time I dismounted gigantic bicycle to take another squinty Holding Camera At Arms Length Shot
    Squint
  • Bruising lady parts due to inability to ride in anything other than a straight line therefore barreling through every pothole in the Meatpacking District
  • Powering along the Hudson River Greenway – sweet merciful taxi-less bus-less cycle path!
  • WALL STREET!
    Wall
  • Riding across the Brooklyn Bridge as the sun was setting and laughing in deranged manner, I can't belieeeeeve I'm on the Brooklyn Briiiiiidge on a biiiiike!
  • Dismounting on Bridge then looking back to see the skyline lit up and falling in love with New York for the 457th time that week
    Brooklyn
  • Zooming past the Supreme Court building and making the DUN DUN! noise from Law and Order
  • Weaving in and out of traffic in Chinatown, teeth chattering in terror, completely overwhelmed by all the crazy honking and colours and chickens but loving it!
  • Scoffing dumplings and sesame pancakes at a nice hole-in-the-wall type of place
  • Riding down a grotty little street that could have been anywhere in the world then looking up to see the Empire State glowing in the distance!

So this happened two months ago and only now can I talk about it without getting teary and/or giggling hysterically. I know people ride bikes in cities all the time; my Amazing Adventures may be your tedious commute. But I had never felt so deliriously happy in all my life…

(even during the last half hour of the tour, when the guide that was supposed to stay at the back of the group drifted forward, leaving me and the Old Lady of Kansas to swear and scream and dither when the lights went amber, as to whether to stop and get left behind or go forth and pedal to our deaths)

… I suppose on some cheesy level it was a bit of a Wow I used to be welded to the couch now look at me moment but more it was so deliciously surreal to see places that you've only known from the telly, while on a bicycle, when you used to ride over sheep poo in Australia. It just makes my mind explode sometimes, life and all its possibilities. Now I wish I could go back to every city I've ever visited and see it again from a two-wheeled perspective.

I Can Make You Win

Hello good citizens of UK and Ireland! If you thought my Grand Prize wasn’t all that grand, check out my publisher Transworld’s Advent Calendar where you can witness my cartoon likeness jumping out of a box. For today only, you could win a 2 night spa break at a Champneys Health Resort AND a copy of Dietgirl to read while you’re being pampered.

Well, that’s me and my wee contest thoroughly upstaged!

Dietgirl Contest: The Winners

Can I just say I am having a dirty cow of a week. I would like to know what are you supposed to do when you feel ultra-stressed that doesn’t involve diving face-first into a vat of Smarties or buying stuff. I went out at lunch today and the brain was racing: CHOCOLATE no don’t need any more chocolate STUFF no don’t need any more stuff OK THEN WHAT ABOUT A MAGAZINE coz that’s not edible.

So I stood in the queue at Marks and Spencer and by the time it was my turn I realised the magazine was a bit shit. January issues of magazines are always so skimpy. Anyway, I skulked back to the office and wondered if my head would explode.

This never really gets any easier, does it? Stress is always going to come along and my reaction is always going to be: how can we instantly soothe this uncomfortable sensation? You can’t Take A Bubble Bath or Phone An Understanding Friend when you’re in the office at 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

In the end I went to the gym after work. Franz Ferdinand’s first album is like purpose-built interval training. So many handy changes of tempo! After 40 minutes of that I felt alright. Better-ish. It’s just annoying sometimes, how you never get to stop dealing with this stuff. It’s always there. Stress. The siren song of the vending machine.

. . .

DG: I can’t make up my miiiind!
Dr G: Well, you’re f*cked then.
DG: They’re all too goooood!
Dr G: That’s you being Australian with your egalitarian outlook.

I’ve been angsting for three hours and wanted to pick three Grand Prize winners for the Scavenger Hunt, but UN Ambassdor Gareth said that changing the rules would be unfair and devalue the competition. Then there’s that whole issue of not actually having three Grand Prizes.

It also would have been easier had I made the contest totally random, instead of 9/10ths random, and just said, "leave a comment if you want to win a book". That way maybe bazillions of people would have entered and I wouldn’t be feeling so angsty about the winner:non-winner ratio we have now.

But I wanted to have a contest with a bit more fun and interaction, and it’s been great to gawking at such imagination, humour and resourcefulness. THANK YOU for all your time and effort! If I had 35 copies I’d send you one each, honest guv.

But ten is all I quite literally have. It went down to the wire, but the Grand Prize goes to Anji of Operation 100. I loved her canine Elvis and her Greek Citizen yogurt. She showed great inventiveness and style and really got into the spirit things.

Next up, merciful RANDOMNESS! I wrote all remaining entry numbers on little squares of paper (as determined by order of receipt, see bedazzling official list) and chucked em in a Cadbury Roses tin then thoroughly shoogled it about. Gareth reached in and drew out nine numbers, while simultaneously watching a documentary about Pink Floyd. This is your guarantee that the numbers were not peeked at! Here’s what came out:

30. Piabella
4. Lucinda
12. Sillymonkey
14. Marla
33. Tanya
11. Heather
23. Mel
19. Sara
28. Stephanie

I’ll be contacting the winners soon to get your postal details sorted.

Be sure to check out the entry list to see just how good these entries were and how torturous my decision was 🙂 THANKS AGAIN everyone for playing along and hope you had a hoot!

Winners

Dietgirl Contest: Behold Your Collective Brilliance

In order of receipt, here’s all the fanbloodybrilliant entries in Dietgirl’s Amazing Scavenger Hunt:

  1. Rosemary GracePainfully Fluffy
  2. Tigerlilly – Where is Tigerlilly
  3. Lynda – A Change of Life
  4. Lucinda – The Fat Assassin
  5. Anji – Operation 100
  6. Farmer
  7. Donna – Can You Hear Me Now? [plus bonus entries!]
  8. Lee-Ann McKenzie
  9. Tonia
  10. Narelle
  11. Heather
  12. Sillymonkey
  13. Erin – Lose the Buddha
  14. Marla – Someday is Now
  15. Queen B and King Harley – Not Your Mama’s Diet
  16. Brandi – My Journey to Weight Loss and Health
  17. Lauren
  18. Annie – Goddess in Training
  19. Sara – Sanaworld
  20. Kek – Kek’s BFL Thing
  21. Dark Faith – Size 22 to Size 12
  22. Marshmallow – Do You Have An Extra Large In This?
  23. Mel – Adventures Travelling Around The World
  24. Anna – Blogged by Anna
  25. Gloria
  26. Lily – Lily Loss Lbs
  27. Argy – Transitivity
  28. Stephanie
  29. Mrs Lard – The Lard Arms
  30. Piabella – Love the String
  31. JaykayAre We Nearly There Yet?
  32. Sarah – Living To Feel Good
  33. Tanya
  34. Sweet Southern Belle
  35. Alice
  36. The B – The Wanderings of the B (slightly late but bloody great)

Please let me know if I’ve accidentally mucked up your link! It’s been a long day. Now I better hurry up and draw the winners! 🙂