Seemed like a good idea at the time…

I've emerged from my Olympics-watching stupor for an update. Aside from cheering on Team GB and Australia in fairly equal measure, I've been absorbed in an Olympic Challenge.

You might remember the awesome Jilanna who I interviewed about her lard busting triumphs last year. She threw out an Olympic Challenge on the Up & Running Forum. Challengers had to come up with a challenge for the duration of the Games:

My hope is that each person’s goal will be specific, measurable and a STRETCH for them. Think of what you are doing (or should be doing :wink2: ) now and then dare to dream a little bigger. 

Initially I thought I'd just sit back and watch the ladies kick arse. But then they came up with so many cool and random ideas, such as:

  • a sugar-free Olympics
  • running 20.12 miles
  • walk 50km in tribute to the 50k Walk event
  • swimming the total distance of the Olympic swimming events
  • running 5k for every Aussie gold
  • cycling one kilometre for every Kiwi athlete in the Games (184!)

And when they started posting spreadsheets and charts… dude, I wanted some of that. I came up with a Podium Challenge:

Week 1 went pretty well – walks and weights done, but only 2 out of 3 morning sessions. That's what happens when you stay up past midnight watching waterpolo and volleyball and highlights of stuff you already saw three times during the day.

The rehab exercises went well (75% compliance) but the bike didn't happen as the sciatic pain was nausea-inducing bad last week so sitting on the bike awful. Back on track now, thank goodness.

What's slayed me is the bloody Dual Citizenship Challenge. Oz and GB are rolling in the Silver! As I write we've won 25 of them!


Tally nicked from Sydney Morning Herald

So that's 500 minutes8.3333333 hours of housework to be done before the torch is snuffed out on Sunday night.

If you're a neat freak like Gareth that may sound totally normal for an Olympic fortnight but it is torture for a grot like me. At least it's meant I finally sorted out my Wardrobe of Doom – that was a good three hours, despite Gareth insisting that "shuffling your claes about" doesn't count as housework. My challenge, my rules!

I'm surprised at how helpful and absorbing the Olympic Challenge has been – in the back of mind I thought I'd written up a recipe for failure. But I'm loving the short-term focus. It's good to be specific and measurable instead of "lose weight" and "heal the knee". There's also the fun of doing it with the other Up & Runners… not to mention not wanting to fail in front of your pals!

Now, back to my dusting…

Trees and cake

A slightly early Monthly Check In: May 2012

image from
I found this tree on my walk in the woods the other day. It’s the kind of tree a kid dreams of, perfect to hide in while reading books and/or plotting the demise of parental overlords. It’s got a touch of Enid Blyton Magic Faraway tree about it, don’t you reckon? We tended to have scrabbly old gum trees that weren’t really made for climbing, let alone housing cake-bearing fairies…

“Silky was pleased. She sat there brushing her beautiful, golden hair and ate sandwiches with them. She brought out a tin of Pop Cakes, which were lovely. As soon as you bit into them they went pop! and you suddenly found your mouth filled with new honey from the middle of the little cakes. Frannie* took seven, one after the other, for she was rather greedy.”

– from The Magic Faraway Tree, as spotted on the sadly defunct Literary Food Porn blog 

Speaking of cake, I reckon I’m getting back at the place where I can have my cake and not go crazy with it. There was that one tasty wedge of Nutella pizza. Then a visit with the Edinburgh Cake Ladies that didn’t result in a week-long a sugar bender. This past weekend there was an outstanding wodge of blueberry and white chocolate cake but I got right back into the healthy groove. Progress at last!

That’s how I used to do it back in the day, before I let it all unravel – being really choosy with the treats, taking a sensible portion, then savouring the heck out of ’em. This is what my maintenance heroes seem to do too. I could cut cake out completely and get things moving faster, but I need to learn from the past and be sensible here and remember what works long term. I am done swinging between denial and deprivation. So here at the end of May, I’m down two pounds and rolling along on the trusty old plan with the occasional bit of cake thrown (mindfully) in. Bring on June.

* The LFP blog had “Frannie” in the quote as per the modern editions of the book but she’ll always be Fanny to me, dagnabbit.

The elephant in the blog

You'd think missing three Monthly Check-Ins in a row meant I was splashing around in a gigantic pile of Twix wrappers. But all is well – I've been busy taking a long hard look at myself.

This past month been incredible and I am so full of the joys I could spew! But before I get to the fun stuff, I wanted to fill in the gaps.

. . .

It's a bizarre thing to write about your weight in a public place for eleven years. Kinda ridiculous, let's be honest. But I love this nerdy habit and have met so many amazing people as a result. The trick is not to let it mess with your head. Unfortunately, I'd begun to do just that.

Despite working on the mindfulness and self-acceptance stuff, the old "You Suck" voice had reared its grotty head these past couple of months. I'd start writing then feel completely bowled over by shame, anxiety and dread, stemming from both the regained weight and my failure thus far to re-lose it.

Sometimes the shame was sparked from within, other times triggered by external stuff. I've developed a tougher skin over the years but when you're already feeling low it's hard not to crumble a little when you receive opinions ranging from friendly curiosity, concern, to apparent disappointment over the size of your body.

Anyway, there I was feeling like a stinking fraud and like nothing I wrote would ever be worthy until the day I could report, Hey folks, you can come back now. I'm normal again! I match the After photo!

Suddenly it was all about the lard again. If I wasn't scheming ways to worm out of all social plans for the rest of the year, I was doing frantic maths to figure out how to lose X kilos in Y weeks by cutting down to Z calories so I'd look halfway "acceptable" again.

But then I had an epiphany in early April, at my friend Sarah's wedding. All night I sat on the sidelines, too self-conscious to get on the dance floor with my friends. Dancing is one of my favourite things in the world, but I was frozen to my chair. I could not stop thinking about how much space I took up. The thoughts came so dark and fast; I felt like I was growing wider by the second.

The déjà vu was a smack in the chops – the last time I'd felt like that was a night out with my friends back in Australia, eleven years earlier.

Shauna, this officially SUCKS, I thought. Are you really going back here again? You know you want more than this.

It was time, as mentioned earlier, to take a looooong hard look at myself. This is what I figured out:

1. Focusing on external stuff doesn't work
It must be the 357th time I've relearned this lesson, ahem. But fear of public events, disappointed strangers, holiday snaps, not being liked and/or increasingly enormous undies are not lasting incentives to get me on the spinning bike. When I'm home alone with the kitchen cupboard doors flung open, they're not compelling enough reasons. Shame only takes me so far forward, then it leads me straight back to the biscuit tin.

2. I need to focus on what I want
… rather than what I think I should want, do or be. I asked the flaming obvious question, "This is your life, what the heck do you want out of it?". I wrote a dorky list of stuff and I've been reading it every morning. It took a few weeks, but now it pops into my mind when I'm working out or staring down a cake. A gazillion times more effective than, "I shouldn't eat that or I'll look crap at Fitbloggin" or "Must do training walk otherwise I'm a shite example for Up & Running."

3. I'm a bloody boring person when I fixate on weight
Dude. There's more to me than my size. I have a wonderful, kickarse life. But for awhile there I couldn't see the forest for the flab. I was hiding away from my friends, being a moody git, not being very present. Which leads me to…

4. Fun first, fat second
Because there's too much good stuff happening! I had to get out of my head and back into the world. First on the agenda was finally going indoor climbing with my friend Tor, the awesome one who persuaded me to do the Santa Run and Loony Dook. She'd asked me yonks ago but I made all sorts of excuses, including "I'm Too Fat for climbing". Yes, I was back there again!

But thankfully I came to my senses and Tor very patiently showed me the ropes, HAW HAW. There was a hilarious moment when I could not let go of the wall… top metaphor! But awhile later I lost my grip and fell off and instead of being shitscared I was just annoyed and wanted to do it over… an even better metaphor. It was an awesome, awesome day (thanks Tor!) and made me feel rebooted and refocused on what's important.

Here I am in my post-climb squinty sweaty glory!

Let's climb

Since then the momentum has been building. And whaddya know… the scale is going down again.

Well, you deserve a medal if you got through this post. Next time I need to tell you all about ITALY and the Up & Running retreat and the big race and the Nutella.

Monthly Check In: January 2012

Each month I’m checking in with my 2012 plans.

A month is a most excellent unit of time. Long enough to make things happen, but short enough to correct your path if necessary. I was trying to convince Gareth of the merits of the Monthly Check In when he said, “I have done feck all this month.”

“Bullshit!” I declared, then rattled off half a dozen things he’d done, including taking his Etape training up a notch, entering his first homebrew competition and going to see the Turner in January exhibition. Sure we just walked into the Gallery, peered at half a dozen paintings before simultaneously freaking out, “Arrgh! Too many people!” then absconded to the pub. But the point was, he had a good January.

Mine was pretty good too:

January highlights

  • Starting a TRX suspension training class – wonderfully tough! The tricep move in particular burns like no other tricep work I’ve ever done. And it seems I can do squats with the TRX without irritating my knee. Lunges are out though.
  • Going back to BodyPump – I can’t do the squat or lunge tracks at all (any substitute ideas?) but the back/hamstring and upper body tracks are bloody awesome
  • Bagpipe yoga – at the end of yoga class, right after the relaxation bit when the lights were off and the mood was mellow and silent, our teacher said her Quote of the Week which was something about the serenity and joy of life when… BURRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRHH! A bloke down the hallway started blasting away on his bagpipes. I love Scotland, I do.
  • Two pounds down on the scale

January lowlight

  • Knee news– I hurt my knee in 2005 and it has been a bastard on and off ever since. Mostly on, but I have tried to spare you from too much of the whining around here. I finally took the osteopath’s advice and got a referral to the orthopedic specialist bloke. After much poking and scanning the verdict was osteoarthritis. Great, my knee has a real age of approximately 85.There is not much to be done for that. All I can do is not make it worse. So the “plan” of the past few years – denying, ignoring, gaining a shitload of weight; doing exercises that make it worse – has been tossed.

    Orthopedic Man said I am a long way from needing surgery, so I need to be sensible and be so very very careful. Kickboxing, running, squatting, lunging and other high impact stuff are out. I am going to skip Zumba for now – the twisting and turning always makes it hurt for days afterward. Spinning is my main cardio. Maybe I’ll get a punch bag. You don’t need good knees to punch, right? And I will keep working on slowly losing this extra weight.

I gotta say I have been really bloody emotional about this knee verdict. It is hard not to beat myself up for all the things I did to get to this point. I am seriously mourning squats and roundhouse kicks.

But I must let go and focus on what I can do. So onward to February! My aims are: kneehab,  continue the astoundingly consistent exercise routine, and be more disciplined with the food diary.

Eleven years + 2012 plans

Today this blog turns the crusty age of eleven!

Huuuuge thanks to everyone who still reads this thing – from 2001 die-hards to kind strangers to family to friends to random googlers to lovely lurkers to bewildered colleagues… you RAWK!

. . .

I haven't made any 2012 resolutions aside from "wear lipstick more often". I'll be 35 this year – any day now my aging kissers will start disappearing into a thin line of disapproval. Gotta make the most of it while I can! 😉

In terms of health and fitness my project is "keep the mind attached to the body".

The plan of action is the same plan as 2011. It's a good, sensible, enjoyable plan, dagnabbit! I just have to stick to it when stressful stuff happens. As I said in September:

"I need to keep working on why my Mega Stress repsonse still seems to be… Stop Doing The Healthy Things."

In times of Mega Stress, that's when you need the Healthy Things the most. But nooo! I tend to abandon the meal planning, stop checking in with hunger levels/feelings before I eat, get slack with exercise. I don't write in the food diary because I don't want to acknowledge what I'm putting away. The mind and body disconnect. Instead of tuning in to the emotions I seem to go out of my way to tune out.

I'm in a stronger place than I was a year ago – when things get crappy I don't tend to slam my fist on the Self-Destruct button anymore… I just kinda tap on the Denial one. Ha ha. I will make progress this year. I seriously want to. My dodgy knee is not doing well with this extra poundage. I know from the first part of 2011 that I have a plan on which I can lose weight slowly, steadily and sanely.

I think it's just going to take practice. Everything I've read about emotional eating – from people as diverse as Geneen Roth to Jillan Michaels – all say in one way or another that eating mindfully is a habit that you have to keep working on. It takes practice to sit with crappy emotions instead of chomping them into oblivion. So I'm going to keep practicing and keep doing the monthly updates here, and let's see if we can keep the mind from wandering away from the ol' body!

Enough of my ramblings… be sure to come back tomorrow when the 11th Birthday Sell-Out begins! There is so much goodness to be won.

2011 Wrap-Up

Final monthly update on the 2011 New Year Goals.

It’s January 6 and already 2011 feels so last year. Well. You know what I mean! Anyway, a quick wrap-up.

December review:

  • “I have something on every day until Christmas, so the aim is to enjoy the remaining festivities but not go crazy with it.” Whoops. I ate quite a lot over the holiday period. I really enjoyed it though. Hehe.

December highlights:

  • Yoga, Meditation & Mulled Apple Juice – our yoga teacher filled the room with candles for a very chillaxed final class of the year. After the stretchy bit we had clementines, mince pies and hot mulled apple juice. Cosy!
  • Boxing Day Jillian Michaels workout – my sister and I bitched and whined our way through Shed & Shred. Combined with walks and Pilates, I finally killed off the Christmas Of Sloth tradition.

2011 highlights:

I wrote a post on my non-fat blog about the non-fat highlights, but here are the health/fitnessy ones:

  • Not gaining any weight! That might sound lame to you but after the large gains of 2009-10 it feels like progress. There were wobbles in the latter part of the year, and thanks to festive over-indulgence I finished 2011 a whooping… one pound lighter than I started it. I reckon the structured mindfulness-style plan I set out last January is still sound, and with a few tweaks my 2012 task will be to apply it consistently. More on that next time.
  • Cycletta – still can’t believe I road a bike on a road.
  • Pilates – I started class in January, attended consistently all year long and I’m so much stronger in the abba dabba region. Underneath the belly rolls, it’s pure power I tells ya! Now to apply Pilates consistency to other areas of life.
  • Feeling groovy. I feel like I’ve had a brain swap. 2011 was a year of contrasts – zingy highs with some scary lows – and I’ve become much better at dealing with things. It was a good year.

New Years Goals Check-in: November

I'm doing monthly updates on my New Year Goals.

Here we go with the 11th installment for 2011. I hope you guys don't mind these monthly posts, but it helps keep me from wandering off!

November review:

  • Get through the month without stabbing anyone. Check. I ended up getting a sunrise alarm clock! Will report back on its effectiveness soon.
  • Be consistent with my food tracking. I'm using Weight Loss Resources this month, at slowest rate of weight loss (½ pound per week).  Check. Kinda. 50% success: I'd track Monday – Thursday then fizzle out over the weekend. But I lost 2 pounds so I met the weight loss target and though slow, it felt sustainable.

Other November highlights:

December plans:

  • I have something on every day until Christmas, so the aim is to enjoy the remaining festivities but not go crazy with it. The first 10 days of December have been overly indulgent (why did my boss have to make the world's most delicious stollen? I normally hate anything marzipanish but this was bloody amazing). I want to finish 2011 feeling positive, dagnabbit, rather than being a sugar zombie. Woohoo!

December highlight so far: Edinburgh Santa Run (Walk :))

345. Edinburgh Santa Run

New Years Goals Check-in: October

I'm doing monthly updates on my New Year Goals.

Late again! I could almost write you a Quarter of November review. Highlight of November thus far: seeing an episode of The Simpsons I'd never seen before! It was Homer of Seville, in which Homer develops the ability to sing opera after falling into an open grave, with sexy results.

October review

  • Kick butt on new post-Cycletta exercise plan (spinning, weights, Pilates) Check!
  • Keep up the exercise during the Royal Mothership Visit Aye!
  • Watch the portion sizes and really pay attention to the hunger signals. Yep! Despite that the scale did not budge. I think it was all the restaurant meals – even eating mindfully it was a lot richer than everday food. Plus there was that giant bag of marshmallows… and the birthday cake(s). Okay. No surprises there.
  • Continue work on Operation Morning Person. Indeedily! Averaging 7.45am, which is an improvement on the old 8.24 panic, but not early enough to do anything productive before I go to work. So this month I am going for 7.30. Don't laugh, all you proper early birds! A gradual approach is needed when trying to reform decades of snooze buttoneering.
  • I also started an awesome new yoga class and roped Gareth into coming with me. We'll teach that bloke to relax if it kills me!

November plans

  • Get through the month without stabbing anyone. Here we go with Scottish Winter Number 9 and the annual "should I get one of those sunrise alarm clock thingies or is it just an overpriced lightbulb" debate.
  • Be consistent with my food tracking. I'm using Weight Loss Resources this month, at slowest rate of weight loss (½ pound per week). We've established I can maintain weight but I'll be honest – I want some proper progress before the year is out. It's vanity and it's belly rolls annoying me at yoga. So time to pay closer attention to what I'm eating but without being crazy dame about it.

New Years Goals Check-in: September

I'm doing monthly updates on my New Year Goals.

The rest of September went well. No more mindless munching and a better handle on the basics. About bloody time! The mission has been, as a friend put it, "keep your head attached to your body"… no more retreating from reality when things are kinda stressful and uncertain. Good food and exercise endorphins go a long way. DERR!

October plans:

  • Kick butt on new post-Cycletta exercise plan (spinning, weights, Pilates)
  • Keep up the exercise during the Royal Mothership Visit (she touches down on Tuesday! Quick, scrub the bathroom!)
  • Watch the portion sizes and really pay attention to the hunger signals. Still overdoing it at times.
  • Continue work on Operation Morning Person. It's about the fifteenth attempt since I started this blog! But this time I've racked up two whole weeks of getting out of my scratcher at a respectable time, i.e. not half an hour before I have to run screaming out the door for work.

In other news: I've been nominated for Shape Magazine’s 2011 Best Blogger Awards in the Favorite Weight Loss Blog category. I'm but one on a long list of kickarse blogs so if you're looking for new reads why not have a gander. If you fancy voting all you have do is click and vote – no pound of flesh or email address required!

Bon weekend, groovers!

Cycletta Report

I woke up Sunday morning feeling ready to spew, the usual nervous routine! I choked down a bowl of porridge while trying not to look at Gareth and Gillian's cooked breakfasts… the sight of scrambled eggs and greasy sausages was totally giving me the boak!

Off to lovely Tatton Park. There were over 800 women taking part in Cycletta on all manner of bikes. We started in waves of ten. I did a cheerful "woohoo!' as we whizzed over a cattle grid then down through the park, sunlight streaming through the tree-lined paths. Then out onto the big bad open road!

First two miles were fast and fun, grinning to myself at the visual of chunky me on clunky mountain bike and tiny Gillian on her tiny Brompton folding bike.

Then Gillian says, "We're going pretty fast, don't overdo it now!". Good advice, whoops! I felt awful during Miles 4-6. My rubbish knee burned on every downstroke, I had that shooting pain in my glute and my stomach felt dodgy. I couldn't take my eyes off the bike computer, doing fractions to figure out how far there was to go.

Then a bunch of speedy women whooshed past in the opposite direction, already on their way back to the finish line (part of the course was a loop). They yelled "KEEP GOING!" in such cheery tones I wanted to slap them. Then I got overtaken by a woman on a poncy bike with a freakin' wicker basket!

"Well isn't that just DANDY!" I sputtered to Gillian, feeling really really cranky and lardy.

Then I remembered that I'd vowed to enjoy the moment as it was happening, instead of having to enjoy it retrospectively as I always do with these things! So I had stern talk with self… Dude… you've travelled a stupid long way for this and you have dragged your friend and husband with you, and you trained for ages and people have sponsored you and do you REALLY want to look like a whiny brat… so SUCK IT UP cupcake! Turn this around!

I made a conscious effort to look at the scenery, feel the air on my skin, notice how strong my legs felt, just really ABSORB everything going on… thinking about how good it felt not to be sitting brooding on the couch wishing life could be different.

We got to Mile 9 and I said to Gillian, "Make a note! Mile 9 and I'm enjoying it!"

Mile 10 was a food stop. I really didn't want to stop but I needed the loo. Admired my beetroot face in the port-a-loo mirror. They had lots of crappy chocolate and sweets which I avoided (memories of dodgy stomach at Moonwalk '08!) and had some orange segments instead… lovely!

The remaining 14 miles were BLOODY FANTASTIC. Sure I was dying on some of the hills, I hesitated too long at an intersection and nearly got barrelled by a car, my chain came off at mile 15, I got stung by a wasp at mile 16…

Wasp Sample only. Not actual wasp.

…but I felt so alive and kept thinking, enjoy this enjoy this enjoy this. We rolled past quaint pubs, cottages with thatched roofs and climbing roses, wholesome people on horses… and a dead badger. Poor bugger. Oooh, and I even overtook a few people!

"Make a note!" I yelled to Gillian, "Mile 22 and still loving it!"

Finally we were back in the Park! There was a sneaky bit where we thought it was over but there was another half mile loop to go… my knee was sore and I felt like I'd been kicked in the lady parts, despite padded saddle and padded shorts and a naturally padded arse. But then I saw the finish line! I was woohooing like a deranged woman. FINISHED!

Dr G was waiting nearby. "Soooo?"


He looked absolutely stunned. "Well! Never thought I would ever hear such a positive statement out of you while straddling a velocipede!" Bwahahaaaaa. Smart arse.

I looked at my bike computer: 02:01:39, average 11.8 mph! Sooo much faster than my training… all thanks to lack of Scottish hills + unbridled enthuasism 😉

Then I got a text with my official time: 40km/24miles in 02:10:24 – of course the bike computer paused while I was on loo break/chain fixing/wasp swatting. Still… SO PLEASED with that as the snaily pace of my training rides indicated a 2.5 – 3 hour finish.

Cycletta was a great event, very well organised. It was heartening to see so many women across a wide range of ages, shapes and cycling experience – it was a very welcoming, non-intimidating atmosphere. I'd been really worried after the event lost its closed roads status, but the marshalls made it feel very safe.

But most of all I owe the feeling of safety to The Amazing Gillian. 24 miles is a warmup for her so she just freakin' rocks for coming along and helping me not get run over. Thank you so much comrade! Also have to say a huge thank you to Gareth, for not stabbing me on the training rides. You rawk!

So, I'm really happy with how it went and glad I got over my internal BS and enjoyed it while it was happening!

Three days later I'm still feeling delirious and so fired up to keep going. I want to keep working on my Fear Of The Road and my inability to do hand signals. I also feel a new sense of purpose for getting back in shape – it's hard work hauling so much booty up the hills, I tell you.

It sounds so cheesy and perhaps quite pathetic, but this experience has reminded me that I am worth taking care of. That life is so much better when you treat your mind and body with kindness and respect, not dulling the edges with rubbish food and inactivity. It takes work to feel good, but I'm feeling like I am worth making that effort.

Why has it taken so long to remember this? To really feel it and believe it deep down? I really don't know. But I'm going to roll with it!

Disclosure: I was offered a "media place" on the Cycletta event thus my entry fee was waived. Click here for full details.

ETA: While I added a cheeky link in the post above, I wanted to shout out properly that I raised a few quid for the MS Society. Huge thanks to my family and pals who sponsored! If anyone out there fancies supporting this great cause, here's my link to donate. You can find out more about the work the Society does to provide information and support as well as funds for multiple sclerosis research on their website,