The name’s Di. Di Etplan.

There must have been an International Comment Spammers Convention last week because I'm suddenly getting an excruciating amount of comment spam from a new fancy breed of spammer. I can just picture them frantically taking notes during the Advanced Comment Spam presentation: How To Promote Your Dodgy Diet Products On Some Dimwit's Blog And Make Them Think You're A Proper Commenter In Three Easy Steps.

  1. Take the time to write an actual comment, perhaps actually even reading the entry.
  2. Flatter the blogger by saying one or more of the following:
    – I've subscribed to your RSS feed!
    – I'm going to read all your archives!
    – I'm telling my friends and family and the milkman about your blog!
  3. ONLY THEN link to your diet pills or rapid weight loss scheme.

Bonus points if you can cleverly disguise your business name in the Commenter Name field. For example, Di Etplan. Doesn't she sound like a lovely lass?

I know people are trying to make a living. But I am not going to let them litter my personal blog with their dodgy links to improve their search engine ranking.

My apologies to the 99.9% of non-spammers out there in blog land. I know I'm due a new entry but this rant has been boiling all week and to quote the great Alf Stewart, I've had a flamin' gutful. RAH!

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I started blogging in 2000 while working in a dull government department – I discovered that rapid typing made me sound very busy. Ten years on you still can't stop the music:

What's New, Pussycat?

What's New, Pussycat? is full of travel tales and everyday adventures. Back in the day it was featured in The Sydney Morning Herald and won two Bloggie awards. They used to be the Oscars of blogging, don't you know!

The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl

The Amazing Adventures of Dietgirl was started anonymously as I blogged my way to losing half my body weight. Then I unmasked in publications such as Grazia, The Scotsman, The Washington Post and O magazine. Then I wrote a book so there's none of that cloak and dagger stuff now!

I also enjoy guest posting for other blogs and corporate blogging gigs. Let us chat!

Friday Link Feast #9

Calum the Cucumber
Too cool for school.

"Well, a person can cry for only so long. Then she has to find something else to do with her time."
A Tree Grows In Brooklyn, Betty Smith

It's been a quiet but gooooood week. Finished the above book and reluctantly returned to reality, honked into about 40 tissues a day with this endless bloody hayfever, ate raspberries and watched a lot of cycling. Happy days!

Now here's some tasty links from the past wee while.

  • The Onion: Fill Your Own G*ddamn Emotional Void – in which Food speaks up at last: "I hate to say it, but you can't come running to me every time something goes wrong in your life. Not anymore."
    This is The Onion and I know it's meant to be funny but I read it and thought, "Food would totally write the same stuff to me." Mwahaha. [Thanks Molly for sending the link]
  • Frocks & Frou Frou – There are twentytrillion people out there blogging photos of their outfits but Lilli from Melbourne is the only one I've ever stalked all the way through the archives to read more of her thoughts on life and dressing a curvier bod. And to marvel at the clarity of the sunlight in the photies.. it could only be Australia. [via Kathryn]
  • Tavi The Style Rookie: An open letter to Seventeen Magazine, also, WHY ARE YOU UGLY WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU – "I am writing you concerning your headline on your June/July cover, “THE PARTY DRUG THAT CAN MAKE YOU FAT & UGLY.” I hope you keep these problems in mind for your future issues."
  • Derek Powazek: They Don't Complain And They Die Quietly – a very poignant post about growing house plants.
  • Copenhagen's Bike Friendly Streets – when I visited Copenhagen in 2004 I was spewingly jealous of their cycle-friendly streets… cyclists get their own traffic lights and everything! 37% of commuters in the city are cyclists. This video talks about the bicycle culture and makes you wonder how good it would be for the planet if more cities could invest in this infrastructure. [via Faith]

Podcast, comments and yogurt

For your aural pleasure!Running is the subject of today's new episode of Two Fit Chicks and a Microphone! Our American-Italian superstar Julia Jones is back to answer listener queries about stepping up to the 10K distance, stretches for runners, conquering hills, bathroom stops, staying motivated for big races and avoiding skanky black toenails.

» Check out Episode 15 over at the Two Fit Chicks website

I wanted to say a huuuuge thanks for all your incredible comments on the last entry. It really means a lot to read your words and to know you're not alone.

By the way, I've had to enable comment moderation because of increased spam, so your comments are stored and won't appear on the site right away. I usually get to them pretty quickly though!

In other news, here's one's for the UK yogurt nerds out there. I found a quite decent Fage Total 2% Greek Yogurt substitute! Onken Natural Set yogurt. I saw an ad in a foodie magazine which claimed it was "just as creamy" as Greek despite having less fat and calories. Pffft, I said. But beggars can't be choosers – no shops stock Total Greek 2% in my town (they only stock 0% which I don't like as much, and full fat which is a bit too full-on for my breakfast).

Verdict: Surprisingly creamy. And cheaper than Total – £1.08 for 500g of Onken versus £2.20 for 500g of Total. I tried a blob on top of some Red Beans and Rice where I'd gone crazy with the chillies. Also tried it with my pseudo-bircher muesli (fruit, oats and yogurt mixed together and left overnight) and it was a good consistency – thick enough to be creamy but enough "give" to blend with the other ingredients. It doesn't have as much protein as the Total – 3.9g versus 6.8g per 100g. Rock n roll!

Scott the Strawberry

These past few months have been rather batty. Stuff that is too personal or awkward to write about in real time. Also, stuff that is too personal and bloody tedious to subject you to.

Scott the Strawberry
A healthy eating poster at the local primary school

Basically I took myself off to a shrink. After a year or more of saying I should be able to fix this on my own I thought I'd try talking to an objective person about things.

It was very fruitless to begin with, because I was being very half-arsed about it. There were many conflicting voices:

  • Shame and Fraudulent: I'm wasting her time, I should be able to fix things on my own.
  • Denial: There's nothing wrong with you; harden the f*ck up whinge bag!
  • Hopeless: You've cocked up so badly you're beyond help
  • Blogging Out Loud: telling "hilarious" stories and not being honest about how crappy things were, in case she didn't believe me and/or thought I was pathetic.

It was three expensive months of not much progress and soooooo much denial. I bawled and/or binged and binged and binged after every session. I was tempted to churn out a few of my "I'm doing great now!" blog posts even when I wasn't, because I felt like I should have been doing better.

But slowly, slowly… light bulbs started going off. The energy saving kind that take awhile to warm up, but still, progress.

Recently I got home from work and went to get changed for a workout. I saw my favourite winter coat in the wardrobe and for some reason decided to try it on. It was so tight that I couldn't get it over my shoulders. I looked in the mirror and the bullshit and denial just fell away. I plonked on the bedroom floor and had a cry for twenty minutes.

Then I thought, Righto, ENOUGH. I got up, put on my gym clothes and did a Cathe weights DVD. I started sniffling again halfway through because I couldn't lift as heavy as I used to, but it still felt like a minor triumph over the "you suck, you're doomed!" voice.

"What has changed?" the shrink asked in our next session. What's changed is that I finally accept that I have work to do. I accept that I need to change the way I think and I accept that this takes hard work. I accept I need to communicate properly with my loved ones and not hide or deny problems.

I accept that I need to build a healthy relationship with food that will sustain me for the rest of my life. I had to buy size 18 jeans recently. I want to get back into my 14s but my approach is different now. It can't be about losing weight so I'll fit into a wedding dress, or have an ending for a book, or look acceptable to promote a book, or to live up to the expectations of certain people. It will never stick until deep down, I want to live a healthy life just for me.

I finally see how damaging the language of shoulds, musts and have tos has been. I see how needlessly worrying about what other people think has steered my actions. I see how hiding my problems has made them worse. Man, it's really embarrassing to realise how you've let things go to pot. Even more embarrassing to see how powerful the LA LA LA EVERYTHING'S FINE denial has been.

But I am writing this with a dopey grin on my face because I feel alive and clear-headed and unburdened. I've just spewed this entry straight from the guts today and feel like a complete WANKER for all the psychobabbly dullness but thought an update was overdue. It's been a very insular, delicate, roller coaster process that leaves you feeling very raw and haggard at times, so hopefully you can understand why the blogging has been sparse. I hope you're well and dandy and thank you, as always, for sticking around!

Dance Crack

Dance So far this week I've had three hits of Dance Crack, a.k.a Zumba. I'd do it seven days a week if I could. And I'm not alone in my obsession – the town has gone completely bonkers for it.

It seems every week a new class pops up. I mosey along hoping I'll be the only one who's heard about it, so there's enough space to move without getting my eyes gouged by a stranger's flying arms. According to new research 97.5% of Scots are apparently leading wildly unhealthy lives – surely everyone is too busy deep-frying their cigarettes to check out a dance class?

Nooo. The queues are always out the door and they actually have to turn away some booty shaking addicts.

On Wednesday I cheated on kickboxing to try a new class and it was good, aside from the hysterical gigglers. You do laugh a lot at Zumba – it's the best way to cope with the discrepancy between how you feel when you dance and the actual sight of your dancing in the mirror. But these two dames were insane with their constant, high pitched vuvuzela-esque squealing. They did not let up for the whole hour. I cannot salsa under those conditions!

Last night's class was in a primary school sports hall. The laughter levels were ideal and the pace was furious. It took two hours for my face to return to its normal colour. Definitely a keeper.

The only problem I can see with this evening dance frenzy is that it turns you into a zombie. When I got home I flopped on the couch to wait for my heart rate to return to earth. Gareth flopped beside me, equally knackered after doing a Sufferfest on the exercise bike. We were so powerless against our knackeredness that we could not summon the energy to stop watching one of the crappest movies of all time – Cleaner, starring Samuel L Jackson and Eva Mendes.

Samuel is an ex-cop who now cleans crime scenes for a living. He lands in deep poo after realising he's cleaned away evidence of a terrible murder. The suspense builds quite nicely only to have a bucket of cold water chucked over it by a pitifully dull plot "twist" that makes a Law and Order rerun look like Shakespeare. Then there's an awful voiceover at the end about cleaning and carpet stains as metaphors for the human condition that is so lame you will HOWL at the ceiling.

So the moral to the story is, if you get hooked on Zumba stay away from the telly afterwards. Just have a shower and go to bed!