Dip Dip

I have a burning ambition to do a tricep push up. Also known as a close-grip push up and probably seventy five other names, but it’s the one that looks like this.

I cannot do ’em for the life of me – I barely manage a standard push up! For years I’ve jealously watched people churn them out at Body Pump classes while I slumped on my mat. There is a strange beauty in that neat up and down action… it’s like the human equivalent of a collapsing ironing board!

Board

I figure this time last year I couldn’t do tricep dips and now I finally can, so maybe in another years time I can do the pushup. At this rate I reckon could work up to a pullup in approximately 75 years!

Dietgirl on The Daily Special

Today I had the honour of being the first international caller on the famous yellow phone of The Daily Special. It was a hoot to be able talk to foxy Kim and her comrades, as I'm a huge fan of Elastic Waist. Check out the hott 3D action right heeeere!

(If I sound rather huffed and puffed it is because I sprinted up the road from work back home to take the call. My secretary Doctor G had to answer because I didn't make it on time. Obviously I have room for improvement in the cardio department!)

» Click here to watch the show.

My Day In Elle

When it comes to confidence it’s all about context. For a long while now I’ve claimed to be totally cool with all my wobbly bits, as I stomped up hills or paddled canoes or dashed to the hardware shop in a tracksuit encrusted with paint and yesterday’s Weetbix. But back in November I had a real test of those convictions: a photo shoot for ELLE magazine!

I was so excited when they asked me to write about how I came to a place of bodily peace, lurve and understanding. But when it came to the accompanying photo shoot, you might say I had an old-fashioned Fat Girl Freakout. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and I’d written 1500… so wasn’t a picture and a half enough?

"I’m not Elleworthy," is what I whimpered to everyone who said I was being ridiculous. I thought they’d have to amend the slogan on the spine: The World’s Biggest Selling Fashion Magazine: Now Contains Morons!

I’d had my photo taken before under less daunting circumstances: just me in my own clothes with freelance stylists and photographers. This time it was in London in a posh studio with Real Magazine People, and they were supplying the clothes! I couldn’t sleep for a week beforehand. Despite giving them my measurements I feared they’d not find anything to fit me. I had visions of seams bursting; of buttons flying off and blinding nubile assistants.

I woke at 6AM on the day of the shoot to wash my hair. I dried it at 7AM. At 8AM I became convinced it looked greasy.

Shauna: Does my hair look greasy? I think it looks greasy.
Rhiannon: It doesn’t look greasy.
S: But I think it does, I used too much of your hair stuff. It’s more powerful than my hair stuff.
R: Is it?
S: Why didn’t I use my own? Why did I risk New Hair Stuff today of all days?
R: It doesn’t look greasy!
S: I think I better wash it again. Do you think I should wash it again?
R:   . . .
S: I don’t know. I can’t decide.
R: Well you better hurry up and decide. You only have two hours.
S: Oh my god what do I doooo?

Not only does my nervousness cause loss of appetite, there’s also severe indecision and paranoia. In the end I listened to the voice of reason that is my sister and did not re-wash my locks.

We met the lovely Sam and Anna from my publisher outside the studio and together we entered the temple o’ glamour. It was all high ceilings and huge windows and yawning white spaces. We sat on a plush couch and were offered refreshments, but I declined because my teeth were chattering so wildly that I feared I might bite a hunk out of a teacup.

The Elle People trickled in, and they were very nice and chatty. I began to relax. Then the hair and makeup artist got to work. She did a great job at disguising all those sleepless nights! Then she bouffed up my hair and pulled fancy moves with the straighteners. All I could do was gawk in amazement. Make up artist? Make up magician more like! Woohoo!

Next I met Bonnie the Stylist and she was gorgeous. She took me off to a dressing room with a rack of clothes and a neat row of swanky looking shoes all waiting to be caressed by my size eight hoof. She explained we’d be doing a series of portraits with a soft, elegant look. I nearly snorted because I saw myself as more suited to a rustic farm girl look.

She pulled a shirt off the rack and it looked impossibly dainty and pretty. Thankfully it fitted. The trousers did not. I couldn’t get them past my knees and I mumbled, Sorry! Sorry! I’m sorry.

I was so irritated that I’d said that out loud. What happened to the Happy Just Being Me stuff? I felt crushed and pathetic, but Bonnie was like a reassuring old Aunt trapped in the body of an elegant, tiny young woman. She told me not to worry about sizes and labels, and besides, she had plenty more trousers to try on. Soon I was clothed and climbing into a pair of high heels.

Dudes. Nobody warned me about high heels. I mean really high ones. I started to walk back into the studio expecting my legs to just, you know… walk? But instead I staggered like I’d been thrown out of a moving car. How do people wear those things all day? I was mortified by that entrance and the fact that I was clearly the elephant in the room… yet all this fuss was due to My Amazing Weight Loss?

It was one of those moments when I could stand outside myself and listen to the wild screaming match between my Old Thinking and New Thinking. Who will be the victor today? I hope you can understand how everything I’d learned over the past seven years could temporarily desert me. It was the context – a room full of glossy magazine people, cameras, bright lights, high-heeled clomping. I’d never felt like such a big fat fish out of water. My mind raced as I took my place on the wee set, Who have I been kidding? I should lose another ten kilos. Maybe twenty. Why did I eat so many bloody bagels in New York?

But then thankfully the New Thinking took over. The moment the photographer smiled and lifted the camera to her eye, I felt a massive rush of adrenaline and glee. I’m in London! In a studio! With fancy hair! And crazy shoes! Gettin’ me photie taken! For ELLE! This isn’t awful, it’s pretty much the coolest thing ever.

I remembered my favourite Flight of the Conchords episode with Jemaine’s heartfelt speech about racism: "I’m a person. You’re a person. That person over there is a person. And every person… deserves to be treated like a person."  All the people in the room were persons, and they were treating me like a person. So I should remember to treat myself like a person, and not a lardy freak!

The camera was hooked up to a computer so the photos instantly popped up onscreen. That could have been daunting, especially when people were clustered around it with serious expressions, pointing to blown-up eyebrows, teeth and jawlines. But somehow once we were in the swing of things I could look at the images with a pleasant objectivity. It was fun doing all the poses too. At first I couldn’t stop laughing, so there were dozens of giant gummy grin shots. Then the photographer said, Look sad! So I looked out the window and saw an old lady shuffling towards a mailbox. I pictured a Royal Mail van burning around the corner and mowing her down. I think I even summoned a wee tear. Then she said, Pretend your secret crush has just walked into the room. Oooh. Cue demure blush. At one point I had to toss my hair around, like I’d just stepped out of the salon. Fun and games!

We had a lunch break. There was table full of freshly-cooked gourmet treats but I picked at a tiny wedge of quiche. Not because I’d gone all Starving Model but I didn’t want to get anything stuck in my fangs! I thought about models and how its no wonder they snort things and live on cigarettes and have tortured love lives. I can’t imagine anything worse than your career being based entirely on the way you look. How do they not explode from the constant scrutiny?

There was a basket of miniature bars of Green and Blacks chocolate. In all the flavours! OH I trembled with joy, or it may have been high heel instability. I grabbed one, clopped back to the dressing room and nestled it beside my Spare Bra. I had to bring two along – one black, one flesh coloured.

The rest of the shoot passed without incident, except for when my arms got STUCK inside a shirt! It was outfit change no. 5 methinks. The top was carefully placed over my head and outstretched arms, but when they pulled downward they couldn’t get very far. I felt like a right goose, trapped in designer cotton with my arms glued to my ears, but at least I laughed instead of apologising!

Afterwards, I changed into my civvies and was just about to head out when I remember my choccie. They were packing up the clothes in the dressing room. The stylist’s glamourous assistant smiled and scooped up the goods from the table.

"Here’s your bra and your chocolate!" she said.

She had the chocolate bar in one hand and my giant, ultra supportive bra in the other. She could have worn one cup as a hat, I swear. It was hilarious.

. . .

So the story is in this month’s issue of Elle, but it’s only this month’s issue for another half hour as the new issue comes out on the 30th. How’s that for timely blogging? Anyway, I’ve done a dodgy scan if you fancy  a peek. Gareth and I keep cackling over one frame in particular because it’s like the opening credits of Kath & Kim:

Over the shoulder
There’s always a joker in the pack.
Bwaaaaaaahhahahaa!
(apologies if you’ve never seen K&K!)

click for larger mugs
(click for larger)
Full story: page 1, page 2

The Long and Whining Road

Gareth told me that after one of my radio interviews a lady phoned in and said, "It’s all very well this girl writing about losing loads of weight, but we all know it’s just calories in, calories out."

Oh reaaaaally, I longed to hiss at Mrs Gloria Smug of Tunbridge Wells or wherever, IS THAT RIGHT?!

Technically she may be correct. And I know some annoying folk like Gareth, for example, just cut down on beer and cheese if their jeans feel snug. But since I’ve been crapping on about this stuff for seven years, I feel the need to splutter defensively as a representative of those who find it more complex.

This Body Stuff is very complicated. I won’t just say Weight Loss Stuff, because personally it has always come down to how I felt about my body. At first I was too busy point countin’ to realise this, but what I really wanted was simply to feel alright to be me. To look in the mirror and not bawl, regardless of my knicker size. THAT, dear comrades, was and still can be the hard part.

I hate to use the cheesy J word… *choke*… JOURNEY! Because it makes me think of John Denver or sunsets or a soft focus montage or this delightfully crusty book of Gareth’s –

Worst

How about the word process? Wendy used it in a comment on this most excellent Big Fat Deal entry last week and I like it.

SO… I started out swimming in self-loathing but ended up somewhere rather healthy and peaceful, where mirrors are my friend and the streets are paved with quinoa. But getting there was a slow process. I had to figure out how the hell to move on from years of believing FAT was my most defining characteristic. It took soul-searching and mistake-making and blog blurting. There was certainly more to it than bloody calories in and out!

I’ve been guilty of over-simplifying things myself. Sometimes a journalist will ask, How Did You Do It? and my mouth flaps open and shut like a goldfish, because I just can’t remember. I’ll look at the book cover and think, Who? Wha? Me? How?! And I’ll hear myself say, "I started out with a walk to the end of the block" or I chucked out all the biscuits or I frantically peed before Weight Watchers meetings, momentarily forgetting how scary and difficult it was; how long it took to look beyond the scales.

Anyway, my point is… if you happen to find it all more complicated than calories in and calories out, and someone keeps telling you that it’s not more complicated than calories in and calories out… well why not just go ahead and punch them in the gob? You might even burn some calories!

. . .

Dublin was ACE! All hail the mighty Irish and their sexy accents! I had a great ol time, guzzled a 20th of a pint of Guinness and chatted to journalists and radio folk. The Ray D’arcy Show was fun, Ray and his gang were hilarious and friendly. It was my first time live in a studio so I was a bit shell-shocked and rubbish in the first segment. Arrgh! But there were texts and emails flying in from the listeners – including a few asking about loose skin. That old chestnut! No folks, you don’t have to look like a shar-pei! My favourite text was, Does she look as good as she sounds? Woohoo!

This week the book officially comes out in Canada, New Zealand and Australia! I’ll be on Radio 2CC in Canberra on Friday morning and the Body+Soul show on Mix FM (Syd, Melb, Brisbane, Adelaide) on Sunday, both Oz time. Also a chat with the rockin’ Roisin Ingle on Newstalk in Ireland will air on Saturday morning GMT. See my author page on Good Reads if you’d like more details of the book pimping activity!

Every Body Needs Somebody

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a lady in possession of a few unwanted pounds must be in want of a buddy.

Well, it is true in the case of lovely Piabella of The Belly Experience. She wrote recently:

"I need a buddy. Someone to encourage me and keep me going and let me bitch to them about the bad times and celebrate the good times, and I could do the same for them."

How does one find a lard-busting companion?  We have blogs and online forums, but a one-on-one comrade can be invaluable. Someone to check in with over a morning email. Someone to yap to about the nitty gritty of your lunch, your exercise plans, your urge to bury your head in a bag of Doritos. This kind of everyday communication is great for accountability, ideas and a mutal cheer squad!

Yet it can be hard to find such a person in the Offline World – not everyone knows someone who can truly relate to their plight. What we really need is a Match.com for lard-busting. Like romance and dating, we all have a vaguely common goal – instead of Getting Laid, it’s Getting Healthy.

But while we’re all in the same general lardy boat, different people are looking for different things in their companion, depending on where they’re at in the process. For example, this might have been my Personal ad in 2001:

23

But now it would be more like:

30

Which brings me back to our Piabelly. Could you be her perfect email buddy?

Piabella is 28 years old and lives in Australia. She would like to lose around 30 kilos (66lb). She is currently trying for a baby. She is moving to New Zealand soon. She is not fussy about where her buddy comes from, the magic of email means we can be flexible. She writes a cracking blog and has recently joined a gym. Here’s a wee bit from our chat:

"I guess what I’m looking for is someone who has just started a weight loss thing, cos then they’ll be in a similar boat to me, someone who wants a bit of encouragement and is willing to give a bit back, willing to rant about food and exercise and listen to rants, and listen to me talk about how proud I am that I’ve managed to drink more than one 600ml bottle of water in a day. They can also brag about their water drinking capabilities if they wish!"

Does this sound like you? Do you need a buddy? Be bold and brave and drop our lady a line – piabelly at gmail.com!

Dietgirl on BBC Radio London

Two cracking new reviews today:

  • A five out of five review on the fabulous chick-lit blog Trashionista
  • Marshmallow's comprehensive review begins: "When a package arrived at my office earlier in the week, I let out the biggest squeal ever… it was so loud, that some of my work colleagues who were in an audioconference were left to explain to potential customers in Australia the apparent sound of a pig being slaughtered outside the meeting room"

I was also on BBC Radio London last night prattling on to Jumoké Fashola. I have to say female interviewers ask the best questions – they tend to go deeper than the Whoa What Did You Eat When You Were HUGE type of questions 🙂

I'll be in Dublin on Thursday for some interviews, including Ray Darcy Show on Today FM at 11.20AM. My first ever jaunt to Ireland will only be for about ten hours, but I cannae wait. I just hope I can understand those foxy accents!

Goals Goals Goals 2008

Righto. 2008 Goals! It’s been a little weird this year because losing weight is no longer the mission. So where do we go from here?

Considerations

  1. I am done bloody done with obsessing about weight, eating and exercise.
    HOWEVER…
  2. My flesh really needs to stay within the confines of my clothes, due to the financial/social implications of bursting out of them.
    AND…
  3. Given my long and colourful relationship with food, a certain watchfulness is required!

Because it never ends. There’s never a moment when you lunge across the finish line and get a medal and a marching band plays a jaunty tune. But hopefully staying in my jeans won’t have to be a dull and dirty task. I struggled in the latter half of 2007 when life got ultra-stressful, but I’m slowly getting it together again. For the first time in living memory I got through Christmas without gaining weight. It was odd but pleasant to start the new year without the usual bloated panic.

So my goals this year revolve around exercise. When I do the exercise, I feel happy in my skin. If I feel happy in my skin, I don’t feel the desperate need to get lost in the biscuit tin. The goals incorporate a few things that really float my boat:

  1. Cardio with Pals – cardio basically bores the shit out of me so involving friends makes it a social appointment instead of a chore
  2. Physical and Mental Challenge – I feel wracked with Calvinist guilt if I rest on my laurels. I have to push on to new frontiers, especially frontiers that fill me with fear and dread… otherwise a piano will fall on my head for being idle and complacent!
  3. Structure and Purpose – I’ve never felt so healthy and positive as during my 5K training back in 2005. I liked the schedule, the challenge, the inching towards a goal. I ate healthily because it made me run better, not because I was freaking over the scales. I want that feeling back again!

So my exercise goals are:

  1. Keep on kickboxing – social and violent, how can you go wrong? I am determined to nail the spin kick without feeling the need to vomit.
  2. Lift weights twice a week – CONSISTENCY, dammit! I was so stop-start last year that my overall strength didn’t increase much. This year shall be different!
  3. Stretchy stuff once a week – in previous years I always vowed to do it twice or more but it never happened. Time to be realistic. So one yoga or pilates DVD or a class if feeling adventurous.

And the big ones… fun fun fun…

  1. Train for and complete the Edinburgh Moonwalk – a marathon-distance charity walk in June. Basically you start at midnight and pace 26.2 miles through the streets of Edinburgh in your bra (and shorts or trousers, naturally). Over ten thousand lassies doing it all for cancer research! We’ve got a wee team happening at work and I am dead excited – time for a new challenge. It will be long and tough but I will geek out with the training schedule!
     
  2. Do the Sea to Sea cycle route – this is a popular 140 mile jaunt right across the north of England — from Whitehaven on the Cumbrian coast to Tynemouth on the North Sea coast. Dr G did it last year and had a grand ol time, despite the big bad hill in the middle. I stupidly agreed to give it a crack in 2008. To be honest, I’m not sure about it at all. It’s a truly laughable idea right now. I’ll have some really bloody serious work to do, given my current Absolute Beginner status; the fear of going down hills and inability to pedal up them. Let alone cycling for a few days in a row. Hmmm. We’re planning our trip for early September. Hmm hmm hmm. But it’s ON THE LIST and out there baby, so I’ll give it a red hot go!

Somewhere Over the Radio

Yesterday was rockin’ and rather surreal. It was seven years to the day since Dietgirl started with that first sobbing-on-the-scales moment back in sunny Oz. And somehow I’d wound up at the BBC in London, rabbitting on the radio about everything that’s happened in between.

I woke up ready to spew from fear, so could only nibble a toast corner and three grapes for brekkie. Nervousness remains the only emotion that kills my appetite. Soon enough I was in a tiny soundproof booth with headphones on, chatting to presenters all around England. Some asked very sensitive and probing questions, some asked about What I Used To Eat. Chips ahoy!

Comrades. Thank you so much for all your kind responses to the wee book – all the comments and emails and Facebook messages and photos. I’ve been reduced to honking snotty tears on many ocassions. My reply time is molasses right now due to book and workplace busyness, but I didn’t want anyone thinking I’m a total snobbyarse. Thank you everyone who has taken to the time to blog about it or write a review on Amazon or tell your next-door neighbour. You have no idea how helpful your words can be. I’m in the process of pulling them all together in one entry, so if I end up missing yours, just hunt me down with a big stick and I’ll get it sorted.

This all feels so unreal sometimes. I started writing in 2001 because I felt like the most lonely, lardy, hopeless lass on earth. If I could travel back in time I’d say, "Look around, you goose!" There is no need to feel lonely. We’ve all been in this lardy boat together. Rock n roll.

So, I did five interviews and I don’t think I swore once! Although I did talk about poo one time. And of course that would be the interview that Dr G recorded for you all. It also makes me laff  because we get interrupted with the breaking news that the Bristol Rovers vs Fulham match has been CANCELLED due to a flooded pitch… And now back to Dietgirl!

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Return to Fancy Gym

Excitement! Sweat! Nostalgia! The lovely Lainey gave me a guest pass for Fancy Gym, the temple of fitness that used to be my second home before I moved across the Forth for love. We went along to Body Pump, hosted by Kiwi Vanessa, a.k.a the best instructor in the universe.

Last time I was in her buff and bossy presence was January 2005, during Operation Wedding Dress. She was as fit and strong as ever; I think I counted 50 kilos on her bar for the squats. She corrected my form during that track – my wonky knee wasn’t tracking properly. I can’t believe she noticed me. Woohoo!

I’ve missed Body Pump so much. The plastic clickity-clack of the weights, the ridiculous sense of anticipation during the Warm-up, the mutual nods of agony with your neighbour when the evil Chest track is over. Without thinking I set up my step at my old spot up the back on the left-hand side, right next to the mirror. During 2003 and 2004, most Mondays and Thursdays, I’d keep one eye glued to my reflection, searching for signs of shrinkage.

But most of all I’d missed the motivational banter, and Vanessa did not disappoint.

"PAIN IS TEMPORARY!" she bellowed as we grunted through the Shoulder track, "BUT FAILURE IS FOREVER!"

Modus Operandi

Oooh I’ve nearly finished my 2008 goals list so am feeling excited and purposeful. About bloody time.

The Mothership reports that Dietgirl got a great mention in Ray Chesterton’s column in the Aussie Daily Telegraph today:

"With the issue of obesity in the news in Australia, a new book is a timely release. ‘The Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl’ by Shauna Reid details in an intimate and often hilarious style her personal battle of the bulge to cut her weight in half from 159.5 kg to 79.8 kg from 2001-07. There are no recipes: weight was shed via a controlled diet using food from a commercial weight-loss company."

It could have been quite a different book had I actually spent six whole years on a Jenny Craig-esque regime:

Day 1: Chicken cacciatore. Yum!

Day 7: Chicken cacciatore. Joy!

Day 976: Chicken caccaitore. KILL ME!

Then the whole moving-to-Scotland-finds-love sub-plot would never have happened by virtue of being too darn bankrupt to go travelling.

For the record, it will be seven years next week since it all kicked off and it’s comprised: one year of Weight Watchers, four months of Sure Slim… and 5 years 8 months of my own hard work and bumbling trial and error 🙂