What I Eat

Recently my gurning ginger mug appeared in the Washington Post, along with Deborah of Drop The Fork and Gerry of Disease Proof. Gerry contacted us afterwards asked if we’d fancy tracking our food and exercise for a week, to show what three different weight loss maintainers put away.

I hesitated before accepting his invitation. "What do you eat on a typical day?" is one of my most frequent of FAQs but it’s always made me feel a little uncomfortable, because I don’t really have a typical day and I’d hate for anyone to think it was any sort of blueprint for health. It all depends on what’s in the cupboard, cravings du jour, level of fatigue/crankiness, etc.

I also know what I used to be like – trawling blogs and old copies of Slimming magazine for What Successful Losers Eat, seeking patterns and clues; as if searching for the Da Vinci Menu Plan that would unlock all the diet secrets of the universe. I can imagine me analysing my journal:

ME OF 2001:   She ate all that food?! And salmon two nights in a row? Chinese takeaway!? White basmati rice?

ME OF 2008:  [defensive screech] We’d run out of brown rice! I was desperate! The takeaway was Gareth’s idea!*

[Cat fight]

(* Last Thursday night after measuring a couch at Steve’s house [long story]  Gareth said unto me, "You know how you wrote that blog entry about being tired and hungry and convincing each other to eat dodgy dinners?" then I said, "Chinese takeaway. Woohoo!")

I’d hoped to be healthy and holy all week long, especially knowing there’s at least two nutritionists reading this blog. But the end result was more realistic, honest and typical of how I eat — mostly because I kept forgetting I’d be broadcasting my food intake until  after I’d wedged the spring roll/carrot cake into my mouth.

(I also kept forgetting to photograph my meals until it was too late. My sole contribution was a plate of lentil and tomato goo. Sorry for letting the team down, Gerry!)

So what can you tell from a week’s worth of food? It’s a snapshot in time. You can’t see that the day before we started journaling, I walked up a big hill then scoffed fish, chips and mushy peas afterwards. You can’t see that the day after we finished, I was lazy and ate a dozen shriveled almonds for brekkie.

However, it’s a reasonable picture of how eat so I can feel:

  • satisfied
  • not enslaved to the stove
  • fueled for exercise
  • confident that I’ll keep fitting into my clothes
  • Balanced and SANE!

Other highly scientific conclusions from this experiment:

  • There is tea running through my veins instead of blood
  • If not tea, then plain yogurt
  • Some days I am a beacon of virtue, some days I’m the opposite
  • I eat a helluva lot of beans and lentils
  • I am not bothered by repetition in my diet
  • I am not bothered by repetition in my diet
  • I! Love! Chocolate!

You can check out all three food journals on Disease Proof.

Moonwalk Training – 16 Miles Revisited

3 weeks to go. Arrgh!

Fuel

  • Porridge and
  • Toast
  • Cuppa
  • Litre of water
  • An overwhelming desire to Just Get The Bastard Done ASAP so I could get on with the rest of my thrill-a-minute weekend, ie. paint the living room while listening to the cricket like a middle-aged middle-class fart. Zzzzz.

Route
Continuing the Just Get The Bastard Done theme, I chose the most straightforward route possible. There is a cycle track half a mile from our flat. It's the outdoor equivalent of a treadmill – dull and straight and predictable. There's markers every half mile and every kilometre. So I planned to walk down, crank out 7.5 miles, turn around, 7.5 miles back, plus the half mile back home for a total of 16.

But what I thought would be a chore turned out quite pleasant. I'd never gone further than four miles on the track before, so didn't realise after that it gets all green and leafy and serene…

Leafy
And more importantly, plenty of places to hide if you're bursting on a pee.

Then it opens out into quiet fields with swaying crops. No car fumes, no traffic lights, no noise… just the occasional bit of motivational graffiti!

Suck

Mathematically Challenged
I was really firing along, counting down the half miles. Vun! Vun-Point-Five Miles! Two! Two-Point-Five Miles! AH HA HA! Then the half-mile markers just stopped at mile five for no good reason.

I switched to the kilometre markers. My arithmetic sucks at the best of times, let alone while walking like a demon. But thanks to the restorative powers of a Half A Snickers Bar, I worked out that 7.5 miles is 12-point-something kilometres. So I turned around at 12.

Then I needed to figure out how fast to walk a kilometre in order maintain a 15 minute mile pace. FAIL! I had to call Dr G for that one.

Give That Girl A Kicking
Right at the end I saw two Moonwalkers In Training in their official sexy pink tartan caps. They'd only just started; their water bottles were full and expressions were grim. So I don't know what part of my fatigued brain thought it would be a great idea to yell out, "I'm nearly finished!"

Once off the cycle track I headed for home, hobbling around a few extra blocks in case my calculations were crap. Luckily I did, as turns out 12 kilometres is only 7.45645431 miles so overall I would have been 0.0870914 miles short of the 16 miles. And we can't have that while training for a non-competitive charity event, CAN WE?!

Pain Report

  • Right shin – excruciating for last five miles
  • Feet – on fire for last hour
  • Ears – random small child on tricycle accompanied me for a mile with her REALLY SQUEAKY WHEELS. My womb is so conflicted: one minute I'm all well aren't you a DELIGHT and the next I wanted to slash her pink plastic tyres.

Pace
16.1 miles (25.91km) in 04:01:00. Average pace 14:58 (4.01 mph)

That's more than 20 minutes faster than the previous 16 miler. I put that down to an obscenely huge breakfast and such unfathomable love for painting walls that you want to walk your arse back to the brush as swiftly as possible.

So I felt all speedy, smug and Sporty Spice… until I found out all my team members had done their walks even quicker. Bastards! I know it's not a race, I know it's just for charidee; I know they're not going to leave me behind on the night. But after all these years of sweat and toil I'm still stuck with my high school title of Slowest In The Group? I gotta find me some less speedy comrades. Hehe.

Inbox Update

Uma Just a wee update on the email situation after the Mini Meltdown of March, when I was running round like a headless chook trying to fit in flat painting, book pimping, Moonwalking, bathing, etc.

I’m still bumbling along and still behind with emails. But progress has been made and I’m well down to double digits. As for the flat, there’s just one more stinky little room to go. The whole operation would run more efficiently if I could write and paint at the same time. Or if I had a butler. "JEEVES! Take down this note!"

Thanks a bazillion to everyone who has taken the time to write and/or send photos for the Dietgirl Reader Gallery, you rawk! The Gallery is up to date now – in addition to the cat and assorted humans, we have a literate dog in our ranks! I’m crossing my fingers for a budgie or donkey next.

Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve attempted to collate your most frequently asked questions into one handy spot.

  1. Do you have loose skin after losing your lard?
    I wrote a grand old entry about loose skin after weight loss here that covers the state of my skin and all my experiences and research on the topic.
  2. I want to publish a book too! How did you do it? How can I do it too?
    Here’s a post by author Caitlin Boyle of Healthy Tipping Point in which she shares her publishing experience and interviews some other authors about theirs, including me! I also highly recommend a book called Is There A Book In You? by Alison Baverstock which has some some great advice and information about getting published.
  3. Where can I find the weight tracker spreadsheet that you mention in the Dietgirl book?
    You can find this masterpiece of number crunching on my Resources page. This page contains all of my favourite diet, health and fitness bits and pieces.
  4. Can you suggest a beginners exercise program/ give weight training advice/ recommend a workout DVD?
    I am by no means a fitness professional so I’m really not the best person to advise you! If you’re just starting out and have not exercised in a while, that old cliche of Consulting Your Physician First really holds true. I personally started out with walking as a cheap and easy form of exercise. Since then I’ve tried many kinds of exercise over the years.

    To get started you might like to check out the huge list of all my favourite exercise DVDs, tools and websites over on my Diet, Health & Fitness Resources page. Many are ideal for beginners!

  5. Could you send me the recipe for the curry you made Gareth in the Dietgirl book?
    My pleasure – here it is! There are lots of other recipes on the blog too – check out the Recipes category page.
  6. You’ve mentioned a List of Dinners from which you plan your weekly shopping. Gimme gimme.
    The list is here, but please bear in mind it is literally just a list of meals to jog my memory.
  7. Do you have any weight loss tips?
    You can read my Top 20 Weight Loss Tips right here!
  8. How do you deal with food cravings? How do you resist goodies in the office?
    One day at a time, baby! I wrote an entry about this recently with a few strategies and ideas – How do you fight cravings?
  9. Why did you blog about your weight loss? How did it help you? How can I start a blog?
    Check out my entry Why Blog? for my take on this.
  10. What’s the name of the company that you did your New York City cycling tour with?
    They are called Bike the Big Apple and they are ace!
  11. I’m going on trip to Edinburgh – where’s good to eat and what’s good to do?
    I’ve not lived in Edinburgh for over four years now so sadly I am out of touch as where’s good to go in the capital. But here’s some of my favourites!
    • For the best cakes in town head to Lovecrumbs. The cake wardrobe has to be seen to be believed!
    • Gobsmackingly good bread and cakes at Falko on Bruntsfield Place
    • My old favourite cheap and cheerful haunts include: ChopChop in Haymarket and Monster Mash in Forrest Road
    • The best burgers and amazing chocolate shakes are at The Cambridge Bar
    • Superb coffee and lovely Scandi treats at Peter’s Yard
    • Affordable and delicious food made with fantastic British produce at The Dogs
    • For a posh treat, try afternoon tea at The Balmoral hotel.
    • Places close to Waverley Station for when you’ve just arrived and hank marvin’: The Doric pub does a great burger and I like the Malt Shovel on Cockburn Street mostly because it was the first pub I went to when I arrived in Edinburgh. The Guildford Arms is beautiful pub with nice food and ales a’plenty.
    • Fancier meals: Oloroso or The Witchery.
    • Vegetarian food: You can’t go wrong at the salad bar at Hendersons on Hanover Street, Black Bo’s or David Bann.
    • The List is a great guide to finding things to eat, see and do in Edinburgh. I also love The Edinburgh Blog for local news and reviews.

    In terms of things to do, you can’t go wrong with the Hop On Hop Off bus tour to get you orientated – buses leave from opposite Waverly Station. I also like Mary Kings Close, a walk up Arthur’s Seat, the Saturday farmers market in Castle Terrace, and/or a visit to any of Edinburgh’s fab galleries.

    Also don’t forget the rest of the country – it rules! Undiscovered Scotland is my favourite site for finding places to go and things to see.

If you don’t find the answer you need, you may wish leave a comment below. I can’t respond personally to every message, however if a question keeps coming up I will try to address it in a future blog entry.

I Make Yourself Thin: Dietgirl in Germany

Dgdecover_2 The German translation of Dietgirl is available for pre-order on Amazon.de!

I don't speak German so I first turned to Babelfish, and the result was rather wacky. The title Ich mach mich dünn literally translates as I Make Yourself Thin. Which makes me sound like a magician or something!

So I consulted my pal Caro from Freiburg who was much more helpful – "'Ich mach mich dünn' also means 'I'm taking off', as in starting up or leaving, which is pretty funny with the cover pic, i reckon."

The book will be published on 1 January 2009 by Droemur Knaur.

» Find out more about  Ich mach mich dünn at the Droemur Knaur website

Going Solo

Sting and the Police Do you think it’s easier to stick with healthy eating when you’re on your own, or with a partner?

(or sibling, housemate, etc)

I have pondered this one many times, especially since shacking up with the Scotsman. There are advantages and disadvantages with both…

Group Effort
Pros

  • Somebody to share the cooking and cleaning
    I tend to do most of the cooking and Dr G does the cleaning up. It works for us – he chops vegetables too slowly for my liking; I leave too many "bits" on the dishes for his liking.
  • Not wanting to look like a greedy lard arse
    Gareth doesn’t pass judgement on what I eat, but I still feel less inclined to scarf down a third chocolate biscuit if there’s other people around.

Cons

  • Persuasion
    Despite my diligent menu planning, if either of us is tired or grumpy it can take very little cajoling to ditch the Plan and have cheese on toast or a takeaway.
  • I’ll have what he’s having
    Gareth likes a quiet beer and a bag of crisps some evenings, and even though I’m not a beer and crisp person, I feel compelled to eat something just because he is. So there.
  • Man Portions
    I still struggle with a childish sense of, "But but but! His slice of cake is bigger than MINE!" My body simply does not need as much food as Gareth’s, but I still resent the fact and find it difficult not to dish up the same portions for myself.
Wham

Solo Efforts

Pros

  • Simplicity
    I eat very simply when I’m on my own. Poached egg on toast. Fish or veggie burger with salad. I’ll make a pot of soup and eat it four nights in a row. Mostly because I’m too lazy to make a mess of the kitchen! But also when Dr G is in the house I feel like I should make the meal more exciting and less snacky, despite him being a lot less bothered about what we eat for dinner than I am.
  • Easy routines
    Gareth has been working away for a few days and as usual I’ve slipped into healthy little robot mode – packing my lunch the night before, organising my breakfast, cooking dinners for later in the week, doing all my planned exercise. When he’s here, I can easily use him as an excuse. I often go looking for distractions – yapping away when I get home from work, asking him does he want a cuppa instead of doing my weights DVD… next thing it’s 8PM and we can’t be arsed cooking dinner.

Cons

  • No witnesses
    There are times when I still wrestle with the old "Quick! Eat while noone’s looking" mentality. As I said earlier, Gareth doesn’t give a rats’ what I eat, but there is something about being home alone that makes me look at the Hillwalking Snickers bars in the fridge that I can normally ignore and the wheels start turning… How many were there the other day? Would he notice if I ate one? Would I have time to replace it?!
Genesis_3

Coming Down The Mountain

I bagged my second Munro yesterday! I was due to do another 16 miler for the Moonwalk but could not face plodding around the suburbia for hours. You know Moonwalk Fatigue has set in when you'd rather plod up a hill for hours instead.

Ben Vorlich
3,231 feet of pure pleasure.

Our target was Ben Vorlich. There are two Ben Vorlichs in Scotland – we did the one near Loch Earn, known as The Easy Ben Vorlich. Lots of people scurry up the nearby Stuc a' Chroin afterwards to make a proper day of it, but one munro was day enough for me.

After all my Moonwalking, I'd forgotten what a hard and painful slog the hills are. Instead of chirpy podcasts the only soundtrack was the constant clobber of my heart and the slobber of my breath. I didn't need a heart rate monitor to know this was maximum exertion, baby!

But I felt pretty decent, and much faster than the first one nine months ago. It was actually enjoyable! Much of that was down to cooler weather and not being riddled with hay fever but some of it can be attributed to increased fitness. Yet still I was overtaken by:

  • an old man with a limp
  • an arthritic Labrador
  • two small children
  • petite lady with golfball perm and lurid tartan trousers who was at least seventy years old.
Spotty Dug
And a nutty dalmatian.

Ben Vorlich the Easy was also recommended by reader South American Slimmer last year, who said it was a good beginners munro with a clear path all the way to the top. If you're out there SAS, thank you from me and my Calves o' Fire!

The path was nice because you could always see how far you had to go. But it also sucked because you could always see how far you had to go.

Lunch ahead!

Amazingly, I had a grand total of ZERO Whine Breaks on this walk. I blame the BBC – on Friday I watched a show called Beyond Boundaries: Across The Andes, in which teenagers with all sorts of disabilities trekked across Ecuador in treacherous conditions. They totally ruined my appetite for incessant complaining, what with all their inspiring toughness. 

Here's Doctor G giving a bewildered thumbs up, as it is the first time he's got so close to the top of a hill without being whacked by one of my walking poles.

Dr G

"Wow!" he said when I finally reached the top, "You didn't threaten me with violence once!"

This is the pose I pulled when he said, "Look triumphant!" Part Edmund Hillary, part cheesy menswear catalogue.

Triumph on Ben Vorlich
Windswept with severe case of Beanie Hair.

Two munros down, 282 to go? I don't think so. I love the smugness and serenity of roaming the hills but have no desire to go beyond the novice ones. Going up is okay but I'm still not a fan of the descent. I had a minor freakout as we headed back down Ben Vorlich – it wasn't that steep but the loose rocks made me want to vomit and demand a helicopter rescue. It's completely irrational and I know I should trust gravity but… wah!

MULTIMEDIA BONUS: Gareth has reconstructed my tentative Coming Down The Mountain technique for your viewing pleasure.

Diary of a Deranged Dieter

It's easy to look at the Before and After photos and forget about all the wackiness that happened in between. But whenever I need reminding I look at my trusty Diet Diary of August 2004. Holy analogue angst, Batman.

1

I'd had a brainwave to keep a paper diary of my food-related thoughts and become more conscious of my scoffing. First I wrote down what I'd eaten, then I analysed my daily performance.

2004 was a transition year in the lard-busting process – sometimes I was too busy travelling and swooning over Dr G to care about my weight, but other times I was hitting new heights of scale obsession. It annoyed me that that my social life was slowing down my shrinkage. 

I was convinced the paper diary would be my saviour; The Very Thing to sort myself out Once And For All! It lasted all of two weeks. But it is bloody hilarious to read now; such desperation and bossiness. 26 going on 13. That's the beauty of diaries though – they're the perfect dumping ground for extremes of emotion.

It's a relief to see how my relationship with food and my body has finally mellowed and balanced out. It's sobering to remember how difficult it was to get there.

WARNING: ANGST AHEAD!
Not to mention shitty handwriting.

Exhibit A: Mantras
Don't remember actually chanting out loud, but evidently I was using envy and the snugness of my Enell sports bra as motivation. My sister was on a health kick at the time and I was spewingly jealous.

Diet Mantras
Mantras
– Would Rhiannon be eating that?
– think of yr jeans & yr sports bra


Exhibit B: The Twix

Why the hell was I angry at a supermarket!?

Supermarket
Bought Twix & scoffed even tho didn't really want
– was angry coz of supermarket!


Exhibit C: Hot Love

My job at the time was a hotbed of dietary temptation. Every morning the Hot Roll Man arrived with hot rolls and fresh scones and every morning I'd struggle to resist his siren call.

4_3
Carb craving. Hard to watch ppl eating scones, choccies, bacon rolls.
But I want to be smaller than I want that shite.


Exhibit D: A small victory

5
** RESISTED WORKPLACE CHOC! YAY ME! **


Exhibit E: Message from above?

sold out
Was going to have SCONE but they were sold out
IS THIS A SIGN?


Exhibit F: Longing

I was so obsessed with getting under 90 kilos, and felt like my lardy issues were a dirty secret.

longing
I want to be an 80s girl.
I want to stop secret eating.
I want to be honest w/ G about my issues.

(I'm much more honest with Dr G these days. One of his nicknames for me is "Issues" Reid. Hehe.)


Exhibit G: Great Expectations

This was the last entry in the diary. I didn't realise how early on I'd pondered the Book Thing. And Gareth would have had a coronary had he known how early on I'd pondered the Marriage Thing!

What do I want?
What Do I Want?
– to be able to wear better clothes
– to write a book about my experiences
– to be able to wear something ultra foxy for possible VERY SPECIAL OCCASIONS!!

Dietgirl in The Washington Post

Today my big red mug crosses the Atlantic to land in the Washington Post! Dietgirl is featured in an article called Need Encouragement to Shed Some Pounds? Blogs May Help in  today's Lean Plate Club. Sally Squires' column since it began in 2001, a few months after the Dietgirl blog began, so it was bloody exciting to be in the column after being a fan for so long!

» Read the article at the Washington Post

Moonwalk Training – 16 Miles

5 weeks to go

I was due a crappy training walk; things had been going far too smoothly!

Despite being well-fed and watered, my legs felt weak from mile three. The weather was strange too, humid and sticky like Sydney. Normally I just let my mind wander with the music and almost forget that I'm in motion, but on Saturday I was conscious of every step. I wanted to throw rocks at the runners who breezed past me, with their infuriating ability to run therefore covering distances in far shorter times.

I had to give up my usual obsession with Making Good Time and just plod. At mile eleven my calves seized up, it felt like I had tennis balls trapped under the skin. FLAMING tennis balls. With metal spikes. Mile twelve I considered taking a bus. Mile thirteen saw thunder and lightning. Then it poured rain for the last two. I thought about crawling on my hands and knees. When I finally got home I gingerly lowered myself onto the couch and did not move for three hours. Job done!

LipstickAnother Case for the Time-Traveling Fat Detective
More fodder for my forthcoming blockbuster novels – The Mysterious Case of the Abandoned Lipstick. It was broken and floating in a puddle – L'Oreal Colour Riche in a pale, aloof shade. Probably fell from the handbag of a leggy blonde as she was stuffed into a dark Mercedes. Or some litterbug that needs a smack in the chops.

Pace
Urgh. 16 miles (25.75km) in 04:20:46. Average pace 16:16 (3.38 mph)

Observation
If you decide to empty your bladder in a deserted bit of wilderness, for goodness' sake check for nettles before you crouch down.