Happy Snaps

I was thinking about happiness after rediscovering a ranty pants entry from 2006:

For me happiness is sifting through the shitty bits of life and looking for the good things to latch onto. And always making sure you have something to look forward to, whether that's a weekly choccie bar, an episode of The Avengers or an island holiday. Anything will do…

… I have to work as hard at staying happy as I do at getting to the gym or making sure my guts don't explode out of my trousers. It's a habit that I had to learn. You just have to work on it, every single day.

The only thing more annoying than a smug, happy person is when the smug, happy person is yourself.

Begrudgingly I must agree with Me of 2006. My brain finds it hard to hold on to optimism and cheeriness unless I consciously work at 'em.

My personal formula for happiness:

  1. Making time for small, everyday feelgood stuff (e.g.: kickboxing, recent gardening addiction)
  2. Having an overall bigass goal to sink my teeth into. A purpose!

Without the above I get all reclusive and maudlin. I used to blame this tendency on my weight, but now I know that I can be happy or miserable at any size!

While I was back in Oz in April, I found some old photos from 2001 – the first year of lardbusting. I was amazed at how cheery I looked. But I remembered the moments the pics were taken and realised why I felt so bloody brilliant back then and why I hadn't been feeling so good these past few months. Back then I was living the formula, baby… big goals; simple pleasures.

NB: The captions on these pics say 2000 but it should be 2001. I can't find the originals now, d'oh!

In this pic I was dead pleased with myself as I was down 40 pounds and for the first time in years I'd managed to keep up with my friends on a walk to this park. All the leaves were broon and Harry the Dog was being his usual demented self.

April2000

I think I was another ten pounds down here and taking a progress photo. The dopey grin was coz I fitted into a new size 24 jumper. I was pretty freakin' determined.


June2000

And six months later, this is when I got my hair chopped off and felt rather foxy. I'd also been swimming and went to a pub, tackling two big fat girl fears. I'd finally realised that I didn't have to let my weight hold me back. That was a gobsmacking revelation. I was pretty much delirious back then!

December2000

It's now actually a month since I started this entry and I can't really remember why I started it and now it's nearly midnight (curfew fail!). Sorry this is not much of a weight loss blog in the traditional sense these days; it's more about happiness gain. I'm latching on to the good things and trying to savour them right as they're happening. Yeehah.

Friday Link Feast #4 – Active Recovery Edition

Mornings are brilliant, if you can get past that having to wake up and get out of your scratcher thing. Mornings mean you get a fresh start every twenty-four hours.

This is painfully bloody obvious now that I think about it, but nevertheless an opportunity I'd been ignoring. Recently I gawked up the ceiling the morning after a particularly rubbish day and thought, I could do something differently today. Doesn't have to be important or perfect or loud or dazzling, but it could be different. It could be better than yesterday. Why the hell why not?

Anyway. Here are some links to things that have lit up my world lately.

  • Keri Smith's Wreck This Journal
    The title is self-explanatory. It's a journal that you systematically dismantle. Every page has a simple instruction – punch holes in this page, set fire to this page, rub dirt on this page, sew this page, scribble on this page, chop out this page and mail it to a friend, etc etc etc. I bought it back in 2007 but was too scared to mark it; I couldn't decide which pen to use, for goodness' sake! But now the time for mindless destruction. It's great.
  • Jazz Apples.
    Not to be confused with jazz mags. I bought a bagful just for the amusing name but they are sweet and crunchy. Normally I fall asleep halfway through eating an apple because they are so bloody boring, but not so the Jazz Apple.
  • The Black Dog Books
    Kylie May, are you out there? I've been trying to hunt you down to say a huge thanks for sending two wonderful books – I Had A Black Dog and Living With A Black Dog.

    They are both picture books, the first about depression and the latter designed for someone who knows a depressed person. If you struggle with depression and can't put the fuzzy bleakness into words, these are the books to shove into a loved ones arms. They take all of ten minutes to read but are funny, insightful, helpful and full of hope.

  • 8 Steps To Conquer The Beast Within
    This Martha Beck article about tackling your demons was in an Oprah magazine I'd bought for purely the cupcake recipes. But months later I felt compelled to read the non-cupcake pages, as I feel the same guilt for an unread magazine that I do for a shriveled carrot in the bottom of the fridge – the object has not fulfilled its destiny because of my laziness and neglect. Turns out every article resonated, and this Beck one mega useful, particularly the Lifeline Graph exercise.
  • My Tiny Plot
    It's been eight whole days and my brand new herb garden is not yet dead! I'm devouring all things gardening and Gillian's blog about her Bath garden is the dogs' bollocks. That's Bath as in the City Of, by the way; not a garden full of bath tubs. Although that could look very cool.

Note: I didn't end up finishing this until Monday, but let's not spoil the alliteration!

Rip it up and start again

Do you ever go through a phase were everything suddenly feels old or stale or just plain wrong? Your favourite foods give you no joy,  your favourite exercise class holds no appeal, not even a Grand Designs marathon on the telly gets your heart racing. You're twitchy and cranky and toying with the urge to stand up in a middle of an important meeting and bellow Homer Simpson style, BORRRRRRRING! before stalking off into the sunset?

There's been a stinky little pot of discontent brewing on my stove for a long while, but I don't think I really acknowledged it until I was away in Australia. The distance from the everyday grind helped me look back with more clarity. Spending time with lovely friends old and new and hearing them talk so passionately about their work and lives made me see that things aren't quite right.

I need new purpose and meaning and direction. I had some big ass dreams this last almost-decade – lose a little lard, go overseas, write a book that I felt such urgency to write. I never thought I'd actually do any of those things so it's bewildering to be here. It often feels like an accident, a series of fortunate coincidences that I didn't really deserve and after that really cool diversion I'm back with the real me, the same confused twerp of my teens and twenties.

Then there is a small and hopeful part that believes I must have more to offer to the world, that I can feel alive and engaged and passionate again instead of barely there with the annoying black dog humping my leg and licking my face.

I don't have the answers yet so can't tie this entry up in a neat little package but I do feel hopeful after my trip Down Under. I'm ready to do stuff to help clear my mind and move forward, instead of just dozing on the train to Tedium Town.

Right now I am shaking things up in small ways; throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks. I am going out into the (limited) sunshine. I am reading a book called I Could Do Anything If I Only Knew What It Was, how sad does that sound? (Thanks LBTEPA 🙂 I'm looking at my neglected 43 Things list to remember things I want to do and reflect on things I've done to remind me I am capable of being bold and digging myself out of holes.

Just wanted to say again, thank you everyone for reading and writing all these years. It means an awful lot.

Five Years of Dietgirl – Part III

2003

At the start of 2003 I was still wearing my Lard-Coloured Glasses. My self-perception, and the way I imagined people perceived me, still revolved around my size. I was a size 20, hovering close to the "normal sizes" but still rather hefty. So I was prone to paranoia, with a bizarre need to explain myself to people: "Yes, I know, I am fat! But hey, I used to be fatter — I AM IN TRANSITION, GODDAMMIT!".

The stupidest example of this was when I had my wisdom teeth removed in February. They were severely impacted, crowding my mouth at crazy angles, so the bastards needed surgery to get out. I was to be put under IV sedation, and the doctors warned me that when I came out of it I might start talking a lot of shit. This terrified me more than any concerns about pain, blood or swollen chipmunk cheeks. Sure, they said it was a routine dental procedure, but I had seen too many A Current Affair horror stories. My paranoid fears included:

  • I was so fat that they wouldn’t be able to knock me out. My fat was more powerful than their chemicals!
  • If they DID manage to sedate me, I would wake up halfway through and hear them laughing at my thunder thighs or measuring my tummy rolls with steel instruments

But they had no troubles sending me off to loopy land. I remember someone saying, "Righto, we’re done", just as I was drifting back to earth.

And that’s when I started babbling.

"Hey you people," I mumbled, "You’re probably thinking, whoa this chick is fat, but let me tell you I have lost 50 kilos. That’s right 50 kilos."

"Is that so, dear?" asked the nurse, "That’s fantastic! How did you do it?"

"Well I started out with Weight Watchers but then I got into the gym…."

It was mortifying. My mouth was out of control. I could hear a voice rambling about exercise regimes and healthy breakfasts and faintly realised that it was me. The lights were all fuzzy, the room came in and out of focus, my brain screamed WHAT ARE YOU DOING MOUTH, SHUT UP YOU IDIOT! But I was all drugged up and powerless to stop it.

They left me in a chair to recover for half an hour, then my sister arrived to take me home. The nurse handed her my bloody teeth in a jar and said, "She’s done well, hasn’t she?"

Embarrassing at the time but makes me laugh now to see just how much I was still obsessed with my blubber.

But that started to change later that year when we moved to Edinburgh.

My sister had first raised the idea of us doing a stint in the UK in 2000, but I had said I wasn’t interested, in other words, "I’m too fat". But a couple of my good friends had gone over there and loved it, and after a couple of years of Lard Busting I was feeling more adventurous. We’d set a departure date of 25 March 2003 and had been saving like mad for about a year beforehand.

A few weeks before we left I freaked out. Firstly I wondered just WHY the bloody hell we were leaving? Things were going great! Not only did I love my job and living arrangements, all of my bestest friends now lived in my town. I was happy and content, so why mess that up?

Secondly, I was cranky with myself for not having reached a "normal size" before I left Australia. After a good start to the year I’d gained a few kilos between the high-calorie mush I’d eaten while recovering from the wisdom teeth, and the fifty bazillion restaurant meals I’d eaten farewelling friends and family.

But the wheels were in motion and before I knew it, my sister and I were standing in the middle of Edinburgh with our suitcases, watching the sun setting over the castle and wondering what the hell to do next.

Moving overseas was nothing like I expected it would be. It’s such a well-worn path, Aussies doing a couple of years in Britain; so I expected any easy transition. Instead we were completely thrown out of our comfort zone. My sister and I had enjoyed such cozy, middle class lifestyles in Canberra, and suddenly we found ourselves in grubby hostels, our savings rapidly dwindling.

We found somewhere to live very quickly, but it took far longer than we’d budgeted for to open bank accounts and find work. I’d left a cushy Government marketing/web job in Oz, and had naively hoped to find something vaguely similar in Edinburgh. But there was sweet bugger all available. With my limited Visa, I wasn’t suitable for permanent roles so it pretty much came down to temping agencies. My degree and experience went out the window and instead I was dumbing down my resume, taking typing tests and trying to prove my competency in Word and Excel.

I look back now and just have to laugh at myself. I used to be so proud and snobby! A few crap secretarial jobs soon knocked that out of me. I was taking home half the amount of money I’d earned in Australia, while living in a city that was twice as expensive. In a perverse way I am glad it turned out that way. I learned so bloody much that year! I lost the luxury of fretting about my weight and wondering if I should buy that lipstick in my lunch hour. Now life was rather elemental – work, shelter, food. We wanted to travel so we quickly learned how to keep to a very strict budget.

I was too preoccupied to worry about my weight for the first wee while. We’d looked at joining the gym but it was £50 per month – $120 AU. I used to bitch about paying $50 AU per month!

But by May I was feeling miserable. I missed my friends and family. The shitty jobs were making me cranky. The lack of exercise made me feel like a slug. My diet was shoddy as I struggled to adjust to a smaller budget and higher prices, not to mention the delicate Scottish Cuisine.

I’d gotten into the bad habit of grazing on junk food at work out of sheer boredom, then coming home from work and flopping on the bed and sleeping. Or crying. Crying because I felt like a big fat loser and I’d come such a long and expensive way to feel like a big fat loser.

One Saturday night I was plonked in front of the BBC eating Twix bars, when I suddenly thought, "This cannae go on". I recognised these shitty feelings, and knew where they would lead if I didn’t stop now. I refused to go down Depression Road again, especially when I knew I felt crap purely because of these strange new circumstances. For once, I wanted to learn from past behaviour. So stomped upstairs to my sisters room, declared that I was miserable, sobbed for awhile then made room in the budget for the gym. And it was worth every penny:

It is the Holy Grail of gyms. This gym is the luscious Godiva chocolate of gyms, whereas my old aussie gym was a half-eaten packet of stale Home Brand jelly beans.

The gym scales revealed the results of the Chocolate Bar and Lard Diet – I was back up to a hefty 105 kilos. D’oh! But once I was back on track with exercise, the crap eating stopped and the self-esteem inched higher. Which brings me to:

TRIUMPH OF THE YEAR: The long-await Scale Milestone – getting under 100kg!

FEARS OF THE YEAR: Nothing specific, just the ongoing Sporadic Episodes of Fat Girl Paranoia.

Which brings me to…

June! I was enjoying life in Scotland. There was something so liberating about living in a city where noone knew a thing about you or your past.

We were at a pub quiz with some new friends. I had lost a couple of kilos, but wasn’t looking particularly sexy that day. My jeans were too big, I had on this awful purple top that had started to pill from wearing it so bloody much. But I remember feeling calm and happy, like I was finally adjusting to my new life. And for once I wasn’t thinking about the goddamn fat.

And in walks the Scottish Companion. He was running late, as I would later discover was his habit. He was introduced as a friend of my friends. I was I knew instantly that there was something about the boy. Sometimes the cliches are true. He had the loveliest accent, so quiet that I’d have to get him to repeat things (whereas I was loud and competitive as is my way at pub quizzes). He was so unassuming, genuine and quietly witty. I instantly took a liking to him when he knew the answer to an obscure question. Then when my sister and I mentioned we were off to Paris for the weekend, he said he’d been to Paris not too long ago. I asked what he’d seen and he replied that he’d been to EuroDisney and went on all the rollercoasters, and had taken a bus from Edinburgh to Paris because he didn’t have a lot of money and it had taken like three freaking days to get there. I thought that was so hilarious and charming.

But it took another few months before I realised I like liked him, and apparently he felt the same way. The romance spewed up a dazzling array of new insecurities and freakouts:

He may just well be the most sweet and gorgeous guy I’ve ever met, who could possibly be very understanding about my Issues. But you know, if it ever comes to me taking off gear, there will be soft lighting, and I will be rambling on. I will be feeling the need to EXPLAIN why my body is such a wreck and REASSURE that efforts are being made to rectify that. Then I will probably feel the need to outline my gym timetable, nutritionally-sound eating habits and highest squat weight, just so he knows I am aware of the problem!

Even when the gear did come off, there were still some bizarre episodes:

The other night I crashed at his place after we’d been out to see some bands. My top was reeking of smoke, and I’d forgotten my PJs. We’re laying there in the dark and he says, "Man, the smoke from the club is really clinging to me tonight!" and I piped up that it was actually my stinky clothes.

He offered to go get me t-shirt to sleep in. I quickly refused.

"But why?" he said. "It’s no trouble really, you shouldn’t have to sleep in your nice clothes."

"It’s fine, don’t worry. I’ll just sleep without my top on."

"Well that I don’t mind, but it’s freezing."

"It’s okay, honest."

I could see him half-smiling half-puzzled frowning in the dark. "I demand to know why you’re refusing to wear my crappy clothes!"

But of course I just laughed and took my top off and told him not to worry about it. This is how ridiculous I am – I would rather sleep and freeze with no top on… than risk him getting me one of his t-shirts and not being able to fit into it.

. . .

I finished the year at about 95 kilos, so 10 kilos lost for 2002. I went from an Aussie size 20 to a UK 18. Not too shabby!

Five Years of Dietgirl – Part II

2002

It’s no coincidence that "2002" sort of rhymes with "poo", because 2002 pretty much stank.

While 2001 was a golden uneventful year that allowed me to focus entirely on losing weight, 2002 was all about reality rearing its ugly head. Everything seemed to turn to shit all at once.

There’s not many posts in the 2002 Archives. There was a major Movable Type glitch and I lost six months of entries, never to be seen again. Not that I had been updating much. Now’s my chance to fill in the gaps.

First there was very traumatic family upheaval. I won’t rehash the Jerry Springer-esque details, but it was a shitty time, and I just fell in a heap. I cannot remember ever feeling so utterly drained, angry, hopeless, hurt and lost.

While all that craziness was going on, my sister and I made the ill-considered decision to move house, to share a place with a friend of ours who’d been looking for somewhere to live. Both of us knew at the time that it was bad, bad idea; but we were in such a zombie state of numbness that we were just not our usual rational selves. We left a perfectly cosy home for a bloody nightmare.

It’s a convoluted story, but basically the landlords sent me a letter stating that I wasn’t allowed to have a dog on the premises and he was to be removed immediately, depsite being assured by the estate agents that managed the property that this was okay when we signed the lease.

And thus began a three-month saga, complete with furtive letter writing, legal advice and courtroom dramas. We won our little case in the end, and had our lease to be terminated just so we could get away from the Evil Dodgy Landlords. We were even awarded some minor compensation so we could pay to move house yet again. But in the end we couldn’t find anywhere with a yard so I had to find a new home for my wee dog, and it was a bloody miserable day when I said bye to him.

Meanwhile, things had gone pear-shaped at work. I had been working as a Content Manager since 1999, one of those beautiful dot-com era jobs that don’t exist today thanks to software like Blogger and MT. By mid-2002 the work had dried up and the company had decided to "redeploy" me. Instead of a fun, varied job with heaps of responsibility, I’d been lumped with data entry and sticking barcodes on computers all day long. A few weeks of that really kills off the old self esteem.

I began a desperate search for a new job. But my desperation and complete lack of confidence and direction must have come through in every interview, because I soon had a hefty stack of rejection letters.

And what of the lard busting during all this?

I gained back over 20 kilos. I stopped going to the gym and got reaccquainted with my old friend the chocolate bar. By July my nice new Skinny Jeans had become the Jeans That Spontaneously Unzip Themselves In Public. I was completely out of control again. And not just with the eating. Every aspect of my life felt out of control. I dragged myself through each day, numb and bleak. I started calling in sick to work, then hiding under the covers and crying. Then the faux-sick became proper sick because I’d let my health slide. So it was back under the covers and crying, with extra snotty tissues.

I felt like such a stinking failure for not summoning the strength to pick myself up again. What happened to the Invincible Dietgirl of 2001? At the first sight of trouble I had turned back to my old ways. Had I learned nothing at all?

In the end out of sheer desperation, I went to see a doctor and came out with my old friend Zoloft. The doc had been reluctant, saying diet and exercise would be much more beneficial. I bawled in her office and pleaded my case. I hated the idea of taking anti-depressants again, but I needed some help to just get out of bed, before I could tackle the diet and exercise.

Things picked up very quickly after that. Maybe it was the drugs kicking in, or maybe it was just me feeling relieved that I had put a name to months of shitty feelings. There was something comforting about declaring myself depressed. Not that I told anyone – I’d gone back on the pills in secret – but it was a comfort to admit to myself, Yes I’m Down Here Again. Somehow it made me feel more sane. I could put a name to it, draw a line under it, put all the crap in a box and move on. As soon as I admitted that I wasn’t coping, I started to cope again. Does that make any sense?

A few weeks later I started exercising again, then made the very expensive decision to join SureSlim. I was still feeling rather fragile and pathetic and wanted my hand held. I didn’t really follow their diet as it was too restricted for my style, but thrived on the individual weigh-ins and having a good fifteen minute chat to someone each week. None of the cattle truck feeling of Weight Watchers. It was then I realised how complex this weight loss journey was going to be, how life was going to keep getting in the way. I would have to learn to quickly adapt my methods to whatever was going on in my life at the time.

By September I’d lost ten kilos of the regain and made my Dietgirl comeback, slinking back online after months of silence. Then finally I scored a fantastic new job.

Then in October my beloved grandfather died after a long battle with Parkinson’s Disease. I had never lost anyone before. Since he had been suffering so long I had expected to feel relieved, instead it was a crazy rollercoaster ride of grief. My sister and I gave his eulogy, which was difficult and uplifting all at the same time. At one point as I stood there at the pulpit, I am ashamed to say I thought, I wonder if anyone can tell I’ve lost weight, coz I look great in this new skirt! Oh dear.

But I do remember suddenly realising that life was so much bigger than what you weighed. I never felt so close to my family as those few weeks, and so protective of them. My sister and I bought a giant passionfruit cheesecake the afternoon Poppy died, and I remember our wistful giggles as we ate it, Poppy would want us to have another slice, I’m sure of it.

FEARS OF THE YEAR:

That I would never find anything decent to wear in the midst of the puffy peasant shirt revival of summer 2002.

And this:

There comes a day when you just look in the mirror and realise that no matter how many times you haul your ass to the gym, no matter how many mountains you climb, no matter how many bars of chocolate you decline to eat; you are never, ever going to want someone to see you naked.

TRIUMPH OF THE YEAR:

After all that regaining, I got busy losing again and finally reached the elusive 100lb lost mark.

ANTI-CLIMAX OF THE YEAR:

My 25th Birthday came and went and obviously I did not reach my goal, but vowed to do it by my 26th. HA HA HA!

After starting the year at 115 kilos, I finished the year at about 105. So 20 kilos gained, but 30 kilos lost again.

Blessed Are The Listmakers

Righto. Let’s get on with it.

As always I’m squirming after writing such an emotive entry. Do you people realise how lucky you are? (Insert smirk here.) Because year after year I keep letting it all hang out for the masses, documenting every bad mood, every tantrum and ill-considered rant despite the fact so many people are watching, many of whom I know.

It’s a love/hate relationship with blogging. Each entry is a snapshot of a sliver of time in which you might not necessarily be at your most articulate. You put it out there then leave yourself vulnerable to all sorts of feedback. And quite often by the time you hit the Publish button, you’ve written yourself out of the crappy mood anyway.

Nevertheless, it’s invaluable to have a record of a rollercoaster journey. You can see the patterns of behaviour. For example, you can see parallels in my recent behaviour to how I felt two months after I moved to Scotland – bleak thoughts, overwhelmed, unmotivated, hopeless, teary, excessive self-pity… excessive self-deprecation to disguise the self-pity. Back then I quickly identified this as potential depression, going on my previous episodes. But because I caught it so early on, I kicked into preventative action right away.

The night I posted the last entry, I couldn’t sleep and was just lay there doing that crying-quietly-in-the-dark thing and wondered what the hell to do. I felt the fog was rolling in and I didn’t have control of my life or emotions. I considered going to the doctor and asking for anti-depressants. I wanted to wave the white flag and cry, Yep, I’m back down here again. Someone please help me back up!

But then I realised why I felt so goddamn awful. I simply stopped looking after myself. I’d let a few weeks of holiday indulgence drag on for another three weeks once I got back home. After that one jetlagged Body Pump class, I’d only done two more classes in three weeks. I ate a tonne of chocolate and toast and cheese and assorted crap. Yes, I was feeling so miserable to be back in Scotland and all the issues in the last entry — but I had exacerbated and prolonged the problem by letting my physical health slip.

That may sound simplistic to you, but this is how it works for me. My mental and physical health go hand in hand. After much trial and error I finally figured out that regular exercise and healthy eating were just as effective for me as the loony pills. Actually, more so. As soon as I am looking after my body and getting the happy chemicals flowing, I am able to cope with challenges. It clears the fog, instantly boosts my self esteem, helps me see solutions to problems, and gives me the energy to take action.

So I wasn’t going to surrender. I’d caught it early again and I knew what I had to do. The more you know yourself, the quicker you can fix yourself.

Sunday afternoon I went for a run with the Scottish Companion. Good lord, I was shite! I’ve barely run at all since the Race of Life 5k in June because of my knee injury. At 4.30pm it was already dark and freezing and they hadn’t turned the lights on in the park. But we walk/ran for fifty minutes, me huffing and puffing and trying to find the light button on my stopwatch. After awhile I was so hot, my skin burned and I had to take my gloves off. But it was fucking brilliant! Aside from an occasional dog walker, the park was quiet and empty. I just lost myself in the sensation of making my body do what it’s meant to do. Running is such a sensual experience compared to being in the gym with a squawky instructor. It’s all fresh air, trees, icy wind blasting your face, screaming muscles, and the amazing feeling and rhythm of your legs just striding out over and over.

And it totally worked. Fifty minutes and I felt like my mojo was back.

I’m determined to get things in order. For the past three years I’ve used small Moleskine journals as an organiser, writing down all my lists of things to do, goals, recipes, story ideas, overhead conversations, travel details, important numbers in one handy place. I’d just filled my third up last week, so I’ve got a brand new empty one. It’s all rather symbolic, yo. The last one covers August 2004 til now, including trips to the Baltic States, Spain, USA, Australia, plus 5k training notes, journalist’s phone numbers and three weddings worth of To Do lists. Looking back through my scribbles I know it was the most incredible year-and-a-bit of my life. As many of you commented, I have had some non-fat achievements. But now I have a new book and all those empty pages to fill with new goals, ideas and adventures.

On the first page I’ve already made a list of all sorts of things I want to do, both specific goals and lofty dreams.

It was an all-action weekend, really. We have been DIY-ing like mofos to turn our spare room into a study. The Scottish Companion works from home, but his office has been the couch. Which means there’s no separation of his home/work lives, leading to major frazzlement. And also, I’ve been longing for a quiet space to shut the door and do some writing when his pals are over. SO, we painted the walls, bought a desk and bookshelves and big leather executive chair that looks like the kind of thing an movie villain would sit in and stroke a fluffy cat.

The transformation wasn’t a quick process, especially when SC forgot the 5-litre paint pot was sitting on top of the step ladder when he moved it, launching Dulux Natural Straw all over the door, wall, ceiling and the one patch of carpet we hadn’t covered. Oh yeah, and on SC’s head and crotch (HILarious!). But the hard graft was deeply satisfying in a nerdly DIY sort of way. It’s finally starting to feel more like our home, instead of me just visiting SC’s Grotty Student Digs. Now I can’t to settle down and get on with my writing goals.

So things are looking up, huzzah!

Minor Identity Crisis

Dietgirl visitors were curious about the reactions I got back in Australia. I was approximately 20 kilos lighter and three sizes smaller than when I left in 2003, so it was a decent difference. Everyone was really sweet about it. I got a few "Oh my god look at YOU, you're so SKINNY!" kind of reactions which are always fun. I also got a lot of incredulous shaking of the heads and little smiles, "You're looking great, you know. Really really really great!" Which is a really polite way of saying, "Holy CRAP you were fat before. I didn't want to say anything at the time but I was worried you might explode! So what a relief to see you somewhat deflated!"

I was reunited with my precious gang of high school buddies at the Aussie wedding. It's now ten years since we left school, and we're scattered all over the countryside. It was incredible to hear what everyone's been up to, some of them have some really interesting careers. I hadn't seen many of them for five years or more so they didn't know what I really did for a living. I just sprouted some self-deprecating jokes about my glittering secretarial career. But then one of my closer friends piped up, "What about your writing? What about the Cosmo story?".

"Oh yeah," I mumbled, "That."

"You wrote a story for Cosmo?" said one of my mates, "Wow!"

"Yeah…"

"So what was it about?"

"Umm…"

Here's the thing. In the first five years after I left high school, I soared from a sturdy size 18 to bursting out of a size 26. During those five years I was one depressed/ depressing anti-social mofo, outwardly happy and jolly for awhile but then descending into full hermit-mode. I kept in touch via email and phone, but for the most part managed to physically avoid my old friends during my very fattest days. I hid away until a wedding in 2002, and by then I'd shrunk back into a size 18/20, was off my pills and was once again a functioning member of society. It was like the Dark Days™ never happened!

"Welllllll, this will be news to you all, but after we left school I got really honking hugely overweight!" I blurted. "And then I lost a shitload of it, wrote about it for a book, then Cosmo picked it up and asked me to write an article, and that's about it really!"

"Cool! That's fantastic!"

"Ah! Yeah."

That little incident has been stuck in my mind ever since. I can't stop thinking about the past ten years – all the things my friends and I had done, and the fact that my decade was dominated by my goddamn fat. I spent the first five years accumulating ridiculous amounts of it, then the next five obsessed with making it go away. Sure I had some interesting travels, and even had a decent career back in Australia — but when it came time to summarise a decade of achievements, the overwhelming theme was my bloody weight.

Then there's the writing thing. I've know since I was in kindergarten that all I wanted to do was write. And this year I amazingly got paid to write and saw my name in print a few times – the most incredible rush you can imagine. But again, it was about the fat. I am proud as punch to be published, but there's part of me that is both amused, frustrated and embarrassed that I had to become obese in order to find something to write about. That I had to lose half my body weight in order to write something publishable.

It feels so awkward when old pals ask, "Are you still writing? Have you got anything published yet?" and I have to explain this whole stupid saga about how I got fat and blogged ("What's a blog?") and blah blah blah. It doesn't feel like a legitimate achievement. I mean, I've always been uncomfortable to class losing weight as one of my "achievements". It only reminds me that as a pampered Westerner I had the luxury of being able to "achieve" obesity in the first place. And to earn some cash by writing about it somehow feels even more ridiculous.

Most of all it just makes me think, what the hell have I been doing for ten years? And all the years before that, even when I was six years old, when everything I said or did I was tainted by my weight.

All these questions are churning in my head.

What do I want to write about besides fat?
What are my hobbies aside from losing weight?
What do I want to do with my life?
What do I want to be able to say I've achieved when my friends meet up in another ten years?

Even though I moved to Scotland and had adventures, I still feel like my life has been too much about my weight. I must have buried my personality in the food I binged on, but I don't seem to have found it again as I've lost weight. While my husband is madly into his music and motorbikes and whatnot, I struggle to list any true hobbies of my own. Blogging? Body Pump?

What's most annoying is that while I am so fucking sick of my life being about my fat, I am still overweight and my jeans may just slice me in half  today. Almost five years and I've not finished the job.

The glaring absence of Dietgirl entries since I returned from Oz is due to me wallowing in this minor identity crisis; and generally being a sullen, dejected and apathetic little shite. Homesickness hasn't helped either. But I've realised I need to find a balance between getting to a healthy size and GETTING A LIFE. I need to figure out who I am and who I want to be apart from That Chick That Lost Heaps Of Weight. There is so much more to me than that, and it'll be fun trying to work out what that is.

Okay, enough of this navel-gazing wankery. Someone from work could be reading.

The Comeback

Can you believe it, guys? It’s yer old pal Dietgirl, finally updating after being incredibly slack-arsed about it for over six months.

Where to begin? This year has been just plain crazy. It was one crippling event after another, and I thought I had the skills and knowledge to not turn to food for comfort.

But I didn’t, folks. It’s taken me a few months to get up the nerve and come back here and admit that. I knew all the platitudes and catchphrases. I knew you’re sposed to set goals and go forth and throw out that junk! I knew what to do to get back on track. But for awhile there, I was completely lost and could not pull myself out of that hole.

Not only was I back on the loony pills again for my depression, I stopped exercising, I started hating myself again, and I got physically sick. In the past two months I’ve been totalled by severe flu three times, too weak to eat or move from bed for up to a week at a time. It scared me, as I’ve never had more than a day off work from the flu, and I’d always had enough energy to watch me some TV! But this time I just slept and slept.

Maybe it was because of the craziness with my job or the other things, I’m not sure. I think I had just worn myself out, pure and simple. My body just could not cope.

Before I got all sick and depressed, I had become a lot more social. While still heaps bigger than my friends, I felt damn good about my body and people were encouraging me to come out and have fun. So I did! But I ate too much and I certainly drank too much. Funny how you lose weight and feel like a "normal" person, you start acting like one and forget  that you’re not quite there yet.

So what happened? Did I have some sort of epiphany to get me back on track? Not really, unless you count not being able to fit into a single pair of my pants. And my sexy jeans I got back in February, remember? They were cutting me in two. As soon as I’d eat my lunch, I’d hear the quiet little ssssssshloop of the zipper unzipping itself!

I had been in serious denial that I’d done any damage. Then I noticed all my fitted tops were become quite snug again. And I was struggling up the stairs to our apartment.

I panicked. I couldn’t believe I’d let this happen. I looked at my behaviour and the steady increase of weight and decided what was missing: accountability.

I’d stopped going to Weight Watchers coz the whiny women just piss me off so much. And I’d stopped having my regular weigh/measurement sessions at the gym coz my favourite Gym Chick Cathy left. Without anyone watching over me, I sneakily started eating again, thinking noone would ever notice! Not until my bloody clothes didn’t fit.

A colleague of mine at work has joined this weight-loss organisation and was having good results. I wasn’t so much interested in the diet as in the fact you have one-on-one consultations. None of this standing-in-a-queue WW crap. And it’s not just about the scale, they take your measurements as well. So three weeks ago I signed up.

As you can see from the sidebar, I gained over 10 kilos back. So far I have lost 5 of those, and already I am back into my jeans and all of my pants and my tops are wearable again. All because I now know I have to front up to this place each week and it’s totally individual, just me and the weigh-lady, and I am totally accountable. I gotta say I like that feeling.

More importantly, I’m right back into my exercise! I even walked up a little mountain last weekend! It took an hour to get up there and it was so bloody steep I thought I’d keel over, but I kept going. I could barely walk the next day my arse was so bloody sore, but it was worth it.

Finally I am feeling positive, like I am back in control of my life. Getting my website back together is the next step of my accountability process. I don’t know if anyone is still out there or still remembers, but if you are, glad you stuck around. I am gonna get there.

Only The Lonely

I had the most pathetic weekend. The only word for it is "wallowed". I wallowed. My sister was working nights so I spent most of the time on my own, alone with my brain that never stops thinking. If I happen to get into a good mood my brain goes, "Well this is no fun for me. How bout I kick off a bunch of crap thoughts and watch her spiral into a miserable mood?"

All I could think about was how long it had been since I’ve been out on the town on a Friday or Saturday night. It’s well over a year. The bigger I got the more reclusive I got. The bigger I got the less worthy I felt. Why should I go out? Who the hell would want to spend time with me? I feel like I am an embarrassment to those around me, and to myself.

Two years ago I graduated from university, and we had the formal ball thing. I went along and had a good time for awhile but then all of a sudden I sobered up, and my friends said we were moving on to a club. I suddenly felt I had to escape. That I shouldn’t be there at all. So I told them I would meet them at the club, but I just had to go home for a minute (I lived right by). So I went home. But I didn’t go back out. I locked the doors and turned out all the lights. I looked at myself in the mirror, how I’d tried to pretty myself up for the night but it just didn’t work. Then I just cried and cried.

That sparked off a year of extreme depression and bad shit in my life, that I always attributed to my post-uni uncertainty and stress about finding a job. But now I can admit much of it stemmed from my weight. Everything does, really. There’s no escaping that. Everything I do in life (and mostly, what I *don’t* do) is impacted by how I feel about my weight. I can’t walk to a little meeting at work without feeling the panic that everyone will look at me and write me off as incapable and/or stupid because of my weight.

Getting back to Saturday night… I was feeling lonely. I feel lonely a lot. It’s not that I don’t have friends, I do, and often I am my own worst enemy. I go into recluse mode and shut people out coz I don’t feel I am worth the effort.

It’s the romance thing that gets me lonely. It’s been so long since I’ve been kissed. Since someone looked at me like they cared. That they wanted me. I crave for someone to just look my way and smile.

Bah.

Now I’ve started this weight loss caper, I feel better about myself everyday. But deep down I still feel so pathetic. And I worry about when it comes off, will anyone like what’s underneath? I am still gonna be plain ol me. Just a bit smaller. Is it going to make me more confident or will I still be the same social doofus that I am now? I guess it’s now if noone wants me I can put it down to "ugly fat chick", but if I was no longer ugly fat chick, what happens if noone still wants me then?

Bah. I dunno why I even think about these things. It’s not something I need to consider for awhile yet. I am still a whale.

* * * * *

I am so nervous about my weigh-in tonight I feel like I am going to vomit.

Urgh.

It’s like this every week. Panic and fear mixed with the teeniest bit of hope and excitment that I might just do okay.

Cross your fingers for pathetic ol’ me, eh?