Into the closet

Last year I hated opening my wardrobe. All those too-tight or just plain too-small clothes seemed to mock me. They were testament to my lack of self-control, my weakness, my laziness; whatever negative phrase you want to put there.

After awhile, when I retreated into all-out denial, I didn't really open it at all. I'd just slide the door a wee bit so I could reach in for my coat and the handful of trousers that still fit.

Something has shifted in the past few weeks. Now I am opening the doors and having a good nosey around. I feel a little rush at the thought of wearing them again. I know it's not going to happen for a long while but I feel it in my bones that it will happen eventually. I no longer feel threatened or overwhelmed. A dress is just a dress again, not failure-on-a-coathanger.

What saddens me is how little I wore these clothes when I actually did fit into them. I've got about five dresses and three skirts and to be honest each has been worn only a few times. I'd think, "I should save this For Good" then went back to my Jeans And Top uniform. I felt like an imposter if I put on girly clothes. It was almost scary. It felt like someone would bust me and say, "Who do you think you are, trying to wear normal clothes?!"

It must sound nutty but I'm not sure I ever believed I was smaller. On some level I don't think I felt I belonged there, or that I deserved it, or that I'd ever be able stay there. I'm only just processing these thoughts so it's not making much sense right now. I just remember that strange feeling when I was in the Green Room, waiting to go on the telly in America. The feeling I was still too fat, that I was in the wrong place, that everything was about to explode. The Applause sign would light up but instead of applause it would say FRAUD!

I know I keep saying it's different this time; I wonder if you're rolling your eyes. But it just does. I see exactly how and why it fell apart. I feel like I have grasped the "what can you sustain for the rest of your life" concept and backing that up with small, calm, consistent actions.

But I tell you what, whenever I do manage to get back into the size 14 frocks, I'm going to wear the buggers out on the town or down to the supermarket. And in the meatime I'll make the effort to actually do my hair, put on some lippie and look after myself where I am, right now.

5K Course – Your questions answered!

image from I've received a lot of new questions via this blog about the Up & Running 5K Beginners Course. We've replied individually but since but many of the questions were so similiar, I thought I'd shout out here that the answers have been posted to the Up & Running blog:

  1. Am I too unfit and/or too heavy to do the 5K Course?
  2. Can I do the workouts on a treadmill?
  3. I’ll be traveling for for a week or two during the Course. Is it okay if I can’t keep up with the course schedule?
  4. I’m a man! Can I sign up for this course?
  5. I’m already cool with the 5K distance. When are your 10K, half marathon or marathon courses starting?

If your question isn't covered there or in the original FAQ page, please give us a shout!

Coach Julia pictured at Starbucks on her recent trip to Edinburgh. Apparently even when you're surrounded by all that fancy Italian coffee, one still needs ones Starbucks hit!

UPDATE: Here's another inspring post by Julia about the story behind four women in a finish-line photo.

Introducing… Up & Running running e-courses!

image from Out of all the bumbling sporty things I've tried over the past ten years, none has given me a greater rush than that 5K running race.

Way back in 2004 I got an email from a woman named Julia, an American in Italy. She was a running coach and said that I sounded like I was in need of a challenge. How would I like her to virtually train me for a 5K?

I told her the idea was bloody ridiculous. Running was for skinny girls with long legs and bouncy ponytails. Not for chunky lassies who got puffed running for the bus!

But Julia had already coached thousands of women who thought they couldn't run, so she'd heard all the excuses before. She urged me give it a go.

So for eight weeks I followed her programme. It was hard. I whined a lot. But it was fun! As each week went by I discovered I was capable of far more than I’d ever thought. I found new endorphin highs, new muscles in my legs and new faith in myself. Even though kickboxing and Zumba are my exercises of choice these days, running was the thing that made me ditch my fears about exercise and the "I could never do that" limiting beliefs.

I'll never forget blubbing my eyes out as I crossed the finish line at my 5K race. I wrote en blog:

"There is no better feeling in the world than to take your mind and body to some place you thought it couldn’t go; a place you thought it didn’t belong. You should all try it some time."

Now six years later, you can try it, if you fancy!

I'm chuffed to bits to let you know that today Julia and I have launched Up & Running: kickass running e-courses for women.

We've taken Julia's tried and true running training programmes online, so no matter where you are in the world you can get running too. Julia is your expert running coach, while I'm the boss of the website!

Up & Running

We're starting with our eight-week 5K Beginners Course, with plans for 10K, half marathon and marathon courses later down the line.

The 5K Course, which kicks off on 21 March, is not the usual boring "walk 5 mins, run 5 minutes" training malarkey. This is a mind and body approach. We'll not only get you running safely, we help you set goals and understand your motivations. We help you get in tune with your body and how to look after it when you run so you stay strong and healthy. We've got video tutorials, inspiring interviews with runners.

And we don't just give you a set of instructions then abandon you – you get unlimited support via our community forums – all your questions answered.

I'm really rambling on now – can you tell I'm excited!? I'm just so passionate about this because Julia is a brilliant coach and I so strongly believe in the power of exercise to change the way we see ourselves. Well. How about I shut up now so you can go check it out?*

(* If you want to. If you do, I will love you for life. Woohoo! 🙂

Tomato soup, unitards and weight loss surgery

  • Unitard Good morning! Do you like Heinz Tomato Soup?
    It’s so comforting, like slippers in a tin! Lately I’ve been guzzling a tasty homemade version: Tomato, Chili and Basil soup from the Cook Yourself Thin cookbook (spawned from a Channel Four series a few years back – I didn’t catch the show but the recipes are ace).

    The soup is easy and zippy to make – sautee some onion and garlic, dump in a tin of tomatoes and some water, simmer, then blitz with a blob of creme fraiche to make it Heinz-like. Even better than the real thing, as Mr Bono might say. I added a tablespoon of vegetable stock powder, used less water to make it more tomato-ey and only had dried Italian herbs instead of fresh basil but it was tasty as heck. Check out the lovely Alyssa’s video tutorial!

  • I woke up laughing today after dreaming I was in an undercover car park filming my very first workout DVD. It was imaginatively entitled Shauna: Workout DVD. I was suddenly six feet tall with a bouncy ponytail and a lurid green unitard. The car park was carpeted in electric blue shag pile. There were a dozen barbells dotted around the place. I started in the back corner and the camera followed me as I skipped over to the first barbell. Skipped, like one would do across a sunny meadow. Then I hoisted the barbell above my head, placed it back down and pranced along to the next one. Repeat. Yeah, righto. Don’t think I’d have knocked 30 Day Shred off the bestseller lists with that one.
  • Yours Questions Answered is the theme of today’s new Two Fit Chicks and a Microphone episode, including one from a listener considering weight loss surgery. I’m often asked what I think about weight loss surgery, usually framed in a “do you think it’s the easy way out” way. In my opinion this is not a bloody competition. We’re all human beings just trying to find a way forward and I don’t believe one M.O. is more worthy than another. We chatted to Jennifer Joyner, author of Designated Fat Girl, about her own gastric bypass experience. She was amazingly candid and it sounded anything but easy. Check it out if you fancy »
  • Here’s to a good week, comrades!

New Year Goals Check-In: January

I thought I'd do a monthly update on my New Year Goals. 1/12 of 2011 is already gone, by crikey! Well, a wee bit more now since it's taken me til February 10 to write the update.

I'll probably be mowed down by a bus for admitting this, but January was great. I can't believe that I'm actually feeling positive, purposeful and full of hope. It's been years since I felt like this. Years since I sincerely cared. Years since I properly wanted to, and believed, that I can make changes and see things through. I dunno why it's happened but I like it!

It feels different this time though, because the motivations are healthier. I'm doing this for me and not fretting about what other people think*. Not like 2001 with the "must lose weight to be a presentable member of society" feeling or the panicky "must lose weight to be bookworthy" angst of the last few years. Every day when I decide how to spend my time it's all, Righto Shaundogg! What do you want to do? What will make you feel best, mind and body?

Well! I don't want to get all woo-woo touchy-feely now, so let's bust out some bullet points.

  • Food Diary – completed 41 days on the trot now!
  • Exercise – focusing on fun rather than punishing regimes. After a year of hiding in the Beginners group or not going at all, I'm back at the "Big Girls' Class" at kickboxing, which is my pal Claire's nickname for the Advanced class. I can't keep up with the prize fighters but huffing along regardless and the old kickboxing love is returning.
  • Meal planning – why the bloody heck did I ever stop doing this? It's ace having all the meals and tasty snacks sorted. Knowing my true love Green & Blacks is waiting in the pantry at home helps me back away from lesser confections.
  • Accountability – I've said to friends and colleagues, "Well, as you know I've stacked on some weight; but now I'm back on track so that's why I'm laying off the cakes". Saying it out loud has been very helpful and refreshing.
  • Mindfulness Stuff – Ace! Recently I had the most ratty rat arse of a day at work. My heart thumped and my cheeks burned with crankiness. Then a thought popped up: "This is the moment when you usually head to the vending machine or go out and buy something decadent for lunch to take the edge off."

    It was gobsmacking to recognise the feeling BEFORE I'd mindlessly munched a chocolate bar. I went outside for some fresh air, pulled cranky faces at a tree (dunno where that came from) and felt a little better. When you've been trapped in a fog of emotional eating for so long, it is amazing to realise you can ride out a shitty feeling; that you don't have to distract yourself from it.

  • Random January Consumption Statistics: 28 tangerines, 16 bowls of porridge, 33 slices of bread, 94 cups of tea!

* There was one January moment of worrying about what other people thought. Surprise surprise, during the throes of PMS. Out came the Ghost of Diets Past: You could do better! You should cut more calories! Bust some serious poundage before Fitbloggin so you're not so lardy in front of the Americans!

But we'll have none of that! The calm and steady approach must continue. The blinkers are off and I'm cool with where I am right now, in a daggy size 20 pair of jeans, and I'll slowly work my way down…

(Yes, size bloody 20. Remember in the Spreadsheets entry where I wrote about my size 18 party dress being too tight? I thought later, "how about I just admit the size 18 jeans are starting to cut off my circulation too?". I bought a bigger pair the next day. It was soul-crushing to see that number on the tag, but much more comfy!)

… So there will be no miracle transformation in time for Fitbloggin. I'm building a good, sustainable set of tools here and I'm not going to muck that up. I did lose a few pounds in January but that's not the focus. It's all about a healthier relationship with food and practicing the mindfulness malarkey. I doooooo not want to get crazy obsessive and make my whole life about weight loss like I did back in 2001. There are more important and fun things to do; more productive uses for my energy.

February has also been good thus far. The plan is to just keep on trucking. I know I'll get back to my happy weight all in good time. GIDDYUP!

Friday Link Feast #12


  • "We have to replace destructive thoughts with tolerant ones. It takes a conscious effort to change our self talk from negative to positive, but being fully aware of what we are saying and how it affects our behavior will turn our weight-loss journey into more than just a 'Get it off me!' race to some goal we think will make us happy. By being happy in the process of losing weight, by being accepting of our bodies and what they do for us, by appreciating that we’re taking good care of ourselves by eating well and exercising, and forgiving ourselves those times when we don’t, we’re learning to love ourselves as we are in the moment."
    » Lynn's Weigh – Hey… Slow It Down
  • "I think it's very easy to get caught up in an external goal ('lose 50 pounds', 'be a size 6') rather than focus on the way you want to feel ('energized and healthy', 'light and free around food',  'strong and powerful in the gym').  When you inevitably have a setback on the way to that goal, you feel like a failure and start up the self-punishment machine…"
    » Perfect In Our Imperfections – A New Way Of Thinking: Energy Management
  • "Exercise has taught me what my body is, what it can do, and where anyone who tells me it's not good enough can go."
    » Finslippy – What Exercise Has Done For Me
  • "I've found that if I concentrate my efforts on this one action, everything else just falls into place.  If I work on eating at five a day, not only do I get all the benefits of those fruits and vegetables, there’s a knock-on effect on everything else that I eat too…"
    » Mostly Eating – How to make healthy eating incredibly easy this year
  • I finally tried steel-cut oatmeal after so many of you lovely folk sang its praises. Alas it was not for me; I found the famously chewy texture rather creepy! I guess I like my porridge smooth, creamy and cosy with no need for teeth. I'm in training for my twilight years, you see. But among the recipes I tried, this one was very easy so I wanted to pass it on for the steel cut fans!
    » The Kitchn – How To Cook Steel-Cut Oats For Breakfast The Night Before

The Winners! – 10th Birthday Sell Out

The Dietgirl 10th Birthday Sell Out The Random Number Generator has spoken. Here are the 10th Birthday Sell Out Winners. I've put the commenter number beside the name as some commenters share the same name and we don't want any fights breaking out 🙂

  1. "Chocolate & Vicodin" memoir by Jennette Fulda
    73 Psychsarah, 116 fd
  2. "The Beauty of Different" book by Karen Walrond
    106 Angela
  3. Cardio Coach audio workouts
    33 Mari, 116 Acacia, 87 Tanya, 4 Nanette, 41 Sarah B, 20 Julie, 122 Amanda, 136 Clare, 123 Karen George, 51 Tuuli.
  4. "Get Lucky" novel by Katherine Center
    45 Elizabeth in Chicago
  5. Beyond Chocolate e-course and books
    Stop Overeating E-Course – 4 Laura I.
    Beyond Chocolate DIY Workbook – 84 Kiwijo, 144 Jen
    Beyond Chocolate book – 68 Narelle, 18 Corrie, 152 Caroline
  6. "The Great Fitness Experiment" book by Charlotte Hilton Anderson
    50 Jo @ Jag's Fitness Blog
  7. Soul Vision three-month life coaching package
    77 Karenne S
  8. Weight Loss Resources three-month membership
    23 Philippa
  9. Less Bounce £45 gift voucher
    63 Debs

Winners have been notified by email. Don't forget if you missed out this time, there are still Less Bounce and Cardio Coach discounts available.

Thank you again lovely prize donors for your generosity and thanks everyone who entered!