Running for Dummies

It took three attempts to get inside the door of the running store. The first time I sat on the bus as it sailed past, too nervous to ring the STOP bell. The second time I stood on the opposite side of the street, looking across, getting myself so worked up that I was in tears.

Why get so stressed about a pair of running shoes? It seems so ridiculous now, but I was a wreck last week. A few months back the lovely Julia from Italy (who you may recall kindly sent me a huge parcel of sporty clothes last year) wrote to me when I mentioned that I’d like to take up running. She trains people for running events and offered her help. Of course I was chuffed but got all caught up with my Russia trip.

When I got back there were no more excuses. But first, running shoes. My four-year-old cross trainers weren’t going to cut it. All I had to go was go to the running store, get my hoofs fitted and I’d be all set. Instead I wasted another week trying to psych myself up for the task. My main points of concern:

1.  I would be laughed out of the shop by skinny salesmen, because why the hell would a fatty fat guts need running shoes?

Well that was really my only point of concern. I just felt I had no right to go in there. You know what it’s like, people. That inferiority complex that comes from being fat. It is a paralysing, paranoid and unfounded fear that so often gets in the way of me achieving anything in life. No matter how much lard I lose, I still cannot shake this idea that there are things I am not allowed to do, places I do not belong, because of my weight.

All this was despite ample reassurance and encouragement from Julia, my sister and my boyfriend; who all insisted running was for everyone. You don’t have to be some freaky athlete to run, said The Boy, They’re a running shop, they’re there to help. Everyone’s gotta start somewhere. My fatty fat gut dollar would be just as welcome in the store as some string bean marathon dude’s dollar.

Annoyed into action by everyone’s logic, I made my third trip to the store last Friday afternoon. My heart was in my mouth. There was a sign on the door, We are closing at the earlier time of 5.30PM today. Sorry for any inconvenience.

It was 5.05PM. "Oh! Well," I thought breezily, my stomach sighing with relief, "May as well head home then. There’s four customers in there, they’ll never have time for me, tra la la la."

I was halfway up the street before I stopped and realised it was pretty dumb to leave work early and come all this way without at least going in the door.

"I’ll just stand here at the back of the shop," I told my fraidy cat self. "And if anyone notices me before the shop closes, we’ll take it from there."

So I slinked in, hiding behind a rack of Very Tiny Shorts while the staff sold some socks to a nubile blonde. Sadly the other people were just browsing, so before I knew it I was spotted.

"Can I help you?" asked the saleswoman.

"Oh, hello," I said meekly,  "I’m looking for some running shoes."

"Excellent," she smiled.

"I’m just starting out, you see," I said in a rush, "Well, obviously."

D’oh! Must stop feeling the need to justify my presence to skinny people. Why must I rush and establish, Yes, I’m Know I’m Fat, Beat Ya To It!

But this woman just focused on the task at hand. She asked me a bazillion questions, got me to take off my shoes and roll up my jeans (hello hairy calves!) and walk up and down the shop. She instantly spotted my wonky right foot that tends to roll inwards. She returned with a mighty stack of shoe boxes and asked even more questions as I tried them on.

All that attention made me squirm. All that attention on my body made me squirm. I am so used to being anonymous with exercise, hiding up the back of the class and muddling my way through. It felt strange to have someone treat my fitness so seriously.

"Okay, just have a wee run up and down the shop so I can see how your feet like those shoes,"

I froze. "What? Me?"

She smiled, "Don’t worry, no one’s looking at you."

"Oh man."

"I’ll just be looking at your feet, not analysing your technique."

"I have no technique."

I remained frozen for another 30 seconds before finally doing a half-hearted little trot up the store. My face was burning red.

I must have tried on ten different pairs. I kept blurting, "These are okay, yeah, I think these’ll do," anything to get her to stop paying so much attention. And wasn’t the store closing soon? But she was in no hurry. I was appreciative of her friendliness and thoroughness, but it made me feel so weird.

Finally at 5.29PM we found the right pair. She wished me luck and gave me an entry form for a Win A Trip To The Chicago Marathon contest.

"Maybe just be a spectator this year," she smiled.

I felt so relieved and so stupid as I walked home. I was so proud of myself for finally making the purchase, yet felt like a dimwit for making such a big production of it. After all, the hardest task was ahead of me – to actually get my arse out there and start running.

Bend It Like

Fish is good for you, omega-3’s and all that. I’m always trying to eat more fish. Sardines, tuna, salmon, unnamed white stuff in crumbs from the depths of the freezer.

But every single time I eat fish, I am always surprised that it tastes… fishy. Like my goldfishesque brain forgets every single time that it’s going to taste like that. I’m expecting a certain flavour, something not as strong, more savoury. More like chicken. Why can’t it taste like chicken?

Every single bloody time it’s a shock to me. Does anyone else have this problem?

So I have started Body Balance classes again. I did one class, back in October 2000 when I first joined the gym. I was around 140 kilos at the time. I toddled up in my too-tight size 26 track pants and a baggy t-shirt. BB is has moves from yoga, tai chi, pilates and other body/mind palaver, set to music and designed for all levels of fitness. But it was too much for me. I just couldn’t do any of the moves. Couldn’t stretch or bend or whatever. I remember looking over at the mirrors at the side of the room. All I could see was me, a beached whale in an ocean of stick insects. I remember looking from my chins to my chest, there was just all this flesh, and whatever happened to my neck? And this great lifesaver of blubber around my middle, the thighs so wide. I stayed for the whole class but just struggled not to cry the whole time.

Afterwards I cried and cried in the car and my sister tried to confort me but I was in this horrible state. I just wanted to tear at my flesh and rip my hair out. Just confronted with my body like that, those mirrors, my inability to move – I couldn’t believe this was me, this is what I had become. It was as if I hadn’t noticed before.

When we got home I stared in the mirror again and I got so angry that I was just pounding my reflection with my fists and swearing and sobbing. Bloody hell. I can feel that anger again so easily, how I felt that day and so many days like it, just blind rage and disappointment and hopelessness.

After that I let my gym membership rot for a good six months, gained almost 20 kilos, before finally getting my arse into gear. It still scares me to think how much hate and anger I had, entirely directed onto myself. Eek.

Three years later back in Body Balance class, I am bloody uncoordinated as ever. But I could do all the moves, more or less. I’ll get better over time. I came from the class feeling so mellow and relaxed, it was that beautiful high like after a dirty big orgasm, or a particularly good dessert. Hehe. This time I am going to stick with it, and will be able to bend like a pretzel if it kills me.

The Fat Came Back

I rocked up to the gym last night for Pump and the gym WAS CLOSED.

Not only was it closed, there was tape across the doors and a big fat security guard.

Apparently there’s been a "misunderstanding" between the building owners and the gym management. From the notice on the door it seemed to me they’d neglected to pay the rent.

Recently a friend of ours was joining the gym and the 12 month membership is now a whopping $695. There’s a bazillion people at that gym, why can’t they play the bloody rent?

Of course my first instinct was to panic and wonder what I’d do without the gym, there’s not one half as close to our house, the rest are yucky, rah rah rah. Worst of all I panicked because I took the week off last week…

(well that is a lie. I only took the week off from weights. I felt I needed a rest after a few months hard slog. So instead I did one class of each fitball, yoga and Body Jam [insane dance class])

… and was so ITCHING to get back into it and the gym was closed and would this mean the fat would come back?

I swear I could feel my body twitching to get in there. I almost cried. Yes, can you believe how things have changed around here, dear reader? I wanted to cry because I couldn’t exercise. Crikey.

Anyway, we’ve been assured the gym will be open on Wednesday. It bloody better be! ROAR!

So what’s new around here? I couldn’t tell you how much I weigh, the gym scales said 112 kg at my fitness assessment last Wednesday, but they always were kinder than the WW scales. I haven’t been back to WW yet. Things to do keep cropping up on Monday nights…

(Funny thing about losing weight, the more you lose the more outgoing you feel, the more you seem to get invited places, therefore the more tempations you are faced with. I had spaghetti bolognaise last night [not bad] with four small pieces of garlic bread [bad] but I can bounce back from that)

… so traipsing to the other side of the city to stand on the scale has not been a priority. But I seem to be doing okay. I had my measurments done during my fitness assessment and I’d lost another 3cm from both my upper arm and my calf. Usually you’re lucky to lose half a cm in those spots, but three! It’s the weights, I tells ya. My shape is changing. Also had good losses from chest, waist, hips and thigh. Woo.

My next gym challenge, should the bloody thing ever re-open, will be to try a Cycle Power class. I think that’s like Spinning or something. I just need to shake things up a little. That’s the key to busting your lard, folks. You have to try new things and surprise your lumpy body.

Things That Piss Me Off #437 – Inconsistent Clothing Sizes.

I found a nice skirt the other day and it was a size 20. It was even a little big around the waist. Woo, I said, woo, I am a size 20 at last! Soon I will be an 18 which sounds SO much better.

Then on Saturday I had a burning desire to have a pair of jeans. Why? Because my jeans are size 24 and huge. Also, I was going out on Saturday evening and was too lazy to shave my legs so I wanted jeans. I went to Grace Bros (a dept. store) and went to the BIB section (apparently stands for Big Is Beautiful… more like Big Is BloodyCrapPolyesterParadise) with my friend Jenny. This was strange for me as before I would never have let a size 8 friend know I was that big. But I don’t care so much now.

Anyway, the jeans were very ordinary but they would do. But they didn’t have any 20s! Bloody hell. I was sad. Jenny suggested we look at Jeans West, a "normal" shop catering mainly for slivers of teenage girls. But they had size 20 jeans. Woo. I went into the change room and went to put them on. Two minutes of intense wrestling and grunting later, they sucked at my legs like leeches. I somehow managed to pull them over my hips, then looked around for the zipper. Oh there it was. One half on one side of my big belly and the other half on the other side. This was not one of those "suck it in" jobs, nor one of those "buy it and fit into it in a month or so". It was simply TOO BLOODY SMALL and would take another year of frantic exercise to fit.

So I slinked out of the change room and felt like shit. Jenny’s all, "How did you go?" and I mutter, "terrible!" and the saleslady appears from nowhere, pencil thin and chirping, "How did you go?"

"No good!" I said quietly.

"Oh that’s a pity! What’s was wrong with them?"

"They didn’t fit!"

"Oh! Would you like to try our men’s jeans? Some ladies prefer those!"

"I have too much hip and gut and butt for men’s jeans."

"Oh are you sure? You’d be surprised!"

"Maybe next time!" I blurt and flee from the shop, shoving on my sunglasses just in time for me to start crying.

I dunno how you can make a tall leggy waif like my mate Jenny understand how that feels. I guess I was kidding myself that I could walk in and fit into something from a "normal" shop.

Once again it’s the feeling of having worked SO HARD for a whole year now, to have changed so much mentally, and feeling like the body should have caught up by now. But it hasn’t. So once again, I have to remind myself to be more patient, and to not give up. I’ll get into those bloody jeans eventually.

Saggy Ass

Hurrah! Week 2 of the 11 Week Challenge is over and I lost 2.2kg, which is 4.8 lb. I have been making a pretty huge effort to be good with the food, and I’ve been walking up a storm. Also headed back to the gym this week, at last. Things are looking good. However I am sure the big losses of the past two weeks can be put down to my body going into shock coz I’d been pretty crap for awhile there. I expect the loss will slow down now, but hopefully I will be on track to be 110 by December 31!

This Saturday I plan to tackle a new challenge, a Body Combat class. The WW weigh-lady goes to my gym and is singing the praises of that class. It’s kind of martial-artsy, taebo-ish, tai-chi-esque type thing. Hehe. I’ve been meaning to start that class for a few weeks now but my Saturday mornings have been consumed by moving and unpacking and cleaning, but this Saturday morning is free so I have no excuse. I always thought I’d had to wait til I was fitter, but the Fit Fairy is not going to come along and sprinkle me with Athlete’s Dust while I sleep. I need to get out there and just have a go at my own slovenly pace, dying quietly up the back of the class.

I also bought a kickboard and some goggles for the pool. Since I seem to have lost the ability to swim properly, I thought I could do some kickin’ laps. I thought kickboards were only for kiddies, but I saw heaps of people at the pool powering up and down with them. Plus the girls had them on The Secret Life Of Us, and I love that show, so if they do it, it must be cool, right? 😛

Speaking of the pool, I realised the other day how bad my self-image and esteem still is. We were all set to go swimming late Sunday afternoon. Last time we went it was 5pm and very quiet. But this weekend my sister had to go out later so we turned up at the pool at 3pm. I got out of the car and saw all these kiddies and families going in, all skinny little things of course. I said to my sister, "I can’t do this." I just froze. I couldn’t walk in there and "swim" with so many people around. I felt physically sick and panicky. So after much apologising and weak explainations to my sister, we went home. Then I went and sat on my bed and had a little cry and felt like the fattest pork in the universe.

This was in spite of a positive thing the day before: I saw a friend of mine who went overseas in March 2000. I was huge then but I think I gained almost another 20 kilos (44lb) or so before I joined WW in January 2001 (yes I ate bigtime in the year 2000). So realistically, from March 2000 to now, I didn’t think I was that much smaller. I didn’t expect much of a reaction. She looked at me twice when we hugged hello. Then a couple of minutes later she said in her usual blunt style, "Fucking hell, you’ve lost a shitload of weight!"

I woo-hooed a bit and hugged her and said thanks because she was one of about 5 people who actually noticed. She said I looked fantastic and couldn’t imagine how people could not possibly notice.

So that was good. Then before we went swimming I got out my new black swimmers that I only have worn once. When I put them on the arse of them was all baggy. It looked like I was a baby with a shitty nappy (diaper to you americans), that’s how low they were hanging round my arse. Big chunks of fabric. They were all loose under the arms too. So either my swimmers got wildly stretched when I handwashed them, or my bod has shrunk a bit in the past 3 weeks since the last swim. I guess all that moving house and lifting stuff has shaped me a bit, but I dunno if it could have made much of a difference. Either way I was a bit annoyed coz the bastards cost me $70 and now they’re unwearable! So I got these other ones mum got me, size 20. They fit! Amazing. Size 20. Then again it’s swimmers and they stretch and they were probably a bit too tight across the arse, but they looked quite good. As good as it gets for 116 kilos in a swimsuit I guess.

Anyway, with all that, you’d THINK I would have been feeling all positive about myself, but nooooo. The sight of all those kids and lovely slim people at the pool made me freak. I felt disgusted for being at all happy with myself. Why? Because I’ve just downgraded from Super Fat Chick to Slightly Less Fat Chick. I am still a fat chick. I am stil miles and miles from ever being able to go swimming and feeling so hideously out of place. I am miles from being able to buy clothes from a "normal" shop. That realisation is hard to handle sometimes.

But I got over it. Kinda. I mean, it’s something that I torture myself with time and time again. But the torture is pointless. I have to stay focuses on the goals and just try and be happy with what I’ve achieved so far. I’ll get there eventually. Won’t I?

In The Beginning

How did I get here?

The thing that I find so sad is, I wasn’t really doing that badly for awhile there. I’d made another attempt at getting healthy last October. I was going to the gym plus walking the dog every second day. I had cut out so much crap from my diet. But I didn’t give myself any credit for any of that. Since the scales were only showing about half kilo losses (2 pounds or so) every week, or no loss at all, I got very angry at myself.

So little by little, the bad foods started creeping back into my diet. The chocolate, the icecream, the chips. Then the trips to the gym tapered off into nothing. Before I knew it, I’d put all the weight back on, and then some.

I think I’ve been waiting for some sort of epiphany. But there’s not been one dramatic moment, just lots of depressing realisations. On Christmas Eve I was slumped in an armchair at my mother’s house. It was a typical Australian summer afternoon, an energy-sapping 38 degrees. The ceiling fan groaned above me as I slurped away at my second bowl of ice cream. I felt listless and cranky. For the second Christmas in a row, I hadn’t called any of my high school friends to catch up while we were all home, because I didn’t want them to know how big I’d become. I knew I was pretty much settled in for the night, not having the energy to move my massive frame. My only plans for that night consisted of dinner, more dessert, then It’s A Wonderful Life on the television.

You know, I don’t think I feel so wonderful, I thought suddenly. I can’t remember the last time I felt wonderful.

I looked down at my bulky frame then looked across to my sister. I pointed to my sprawling stomach and whispered to her, Right after Christmas, I better do something about this.

So tonight we rocked up to Weight Watchers. My sister has a few pounds she’d like to shed, so she kindly tagged along with me.

I am no stranger to WW, having tried it no less than five times before. But that’s a saga I’ll save for another day. This time round I was terrified, because I knew how huge I was. Not just overweight anymore, but seriously obese.

The place was packed tonight. It felt like the whole city had made LOSE WEIGHT their New Years Resolution. And I quickly noticed that I was definitely the heaviest person in the room. I am getting used to that now. Urgh.

I looked at the scale they had and I knew I weighed more than it’s capacity. This was my worst nightmare. I was just like those Super Fat people you see on A Current Affair, and they have to be weighed on super scales they use for cattle, or maybe at a Heavy Vehicle weighing station. I told my sister I was too big for the scale. She suggested we wait til the end to get weighed, until after the meeting was finished.

The leader was really nice. I’ve had my share of dull and uninspiring ones, but this lady seems great. Very motivating. I felt that it would all be okay.

Then the meeting ended and they had to keep weighing the new people, there was that many of us. I waited right til the end after my sister was weighed and I felt my stomach churning with dread. The weighing lady was smiling, told me to hop on, but I told her that I thought I was too big for the scale. She looked surprised, probably because while I look very overweight, my height kinda disguises just how very heavy I am.

So she had to get the leader to come over and they had to add a special weight to the scale to increase its capacity to 160 kilos. My face was burning with shame. I felt so hideous up there. I must have looked like hell, because the weigh lady said, "You look like you’re about to crack up, don’t worry, we’re here to help you!"

Of course their kindness made me feel even worse and I felt the tears start to come. I can’t begin to describe how humiliating it is, being so huge you’re unweighable.

Finally they got it to balance, and the Leader looked at me and I started to cry. I couldn’t help it. I just felt like utter shit. I hated me so much at that moment.

"I’m not going to tell you what the scale read," she said. "I will write it down and we won’t worry about goal weights or anything for now. You made the big step coming here tonight and let’s just take it slowly from here."

She and the weigh-lady and her assistant and my sister were all looking at me with sympathy and pity and I just felt sick inside. I know they were being kind but I didn’t feel like being kind to me at that point. I was so huge she didn’t even want to tell me how much I weighed. I knew I was on the verge of full-on sobbing so I went over into the corner and hid. The leader came over and gave me a hug and told me it would be okay, I would get there, blah blah blah. But all I could think about was how ugly and hideous I am, how much I have to lose, I felt so overwhelmed. I couldn’t speak to her, only to say "sorry" over and over.

They were such lovely people, really. I especially liked the two weigh girls. Laughing all the time, cracking jokes, giving out little pearls of wisdom to the ladies. And young. I’d say late twenties, early thirties at the most. That’s quite a pleasant change from my previous experiences, where all the people were middle-aged housewives who I couldn’t relate to at all.

They kept reminding me that I’m not on my own this time. They are here to help. And I have my sister and we’re going to do it together. She is a legend. Sibling support network!

But still, I cried in the car all the way home. Pretty pathetic huh? My sister kept reminding me that tonight was the toughest night, it would all be much better after this. Must be positive.

Yeah, I knew that. But I saw my weight on that card. 159.2 kilograms. That’s 351 pounds. I need to lose more than half of my body to be considered healthy. I’m scared, I’m disgusted and I can’t believe I let it get this far.

But I am determined not to fail this time. I don’t want to feel as bad as I felt tonight ever again. So here I am telling the world all about it. Wish me luck… please?