Death of a Malteser

Today someone typed in the search box: danger in eating mars bar choc.

How dangerous could it be? According to this Chowhound debate, you can it eat after the expiry date if you store it well. One time in the days of yore I was so gagging for a choccie fix that I ate an expired block of Home Brand cooking chocolate. I don’t think it would matter if you ate it fresh from the factory or seventeen years later, it still would have been vile.

What makes me sad is when you see a squashed Mars Bar lying on the ground, dropped by some careless fool. No matter how much of a chocolate snob I become, it still upsets me to see chocolate on a footpath, squashed by shoes or covered in vomit; never fulfilling its destiny. One time I saw some Maltesers, trampled and dissolving in the rain. It was just such a tragic waste.

Abandoned ice cream cones in the summertime, they make my heart sink too.

. . .

I’m in a world of pain today – a severe case of Fighter’s Back! I was punching like a madwoman at kickboxing on Monday night and three days later my back and shoulders are still aflame.

Like most things in life, you get what you put in with kickboxing. Remember that ill-advised Advanced class I took recently? My punches were pathetic and my kicks wouldn’t have harmed a flea – all due to terror and feelings of inferiority. I like to think I’m completely comfy in my skin these days, but I went all body-conscious when faced with those svelte assassins. Instead of trying to impress with my skills I held back – worried that they’d see my upper arms wobbling if I punched too hard, fretting that my t-shirt was exposing belly during burpees.

But back in my comfy Beginners group, I unleashed my inner Rocky. Not Rocky at his Apollo Creed-clobbering peak, mind you. More like Rocky before the montage with the carcasses: doughy but determined. I disappeared into this zone of intense concentration, it was just my fists and the glowing red target of the focus pads. Pow pow pow! I didn’t give a shit if anything was jiggling. Sometimes I forget that most basic law of the gym: everyone is there for themselves. Exercise is a deliciously selfish pursuit. So forget about the flab and let fly.

Minty Fresh

Hello groovers. Did you enjoy your festivities? Are you throwing rocks at your telly at all those Slim Fast commercials?

You know those dreams where you go to school in your pyjamas? That happened to me tonight fer real except it was at kickboxing. That’s what you get for packing your gym bag in the dark. Luckily it was only PJ bottoms, navy blue. But they were too tight and the navy blue t-shirt I’d packed was too short so I looked like a navy blue Tellytubby.

It was a mixed ability class tonight, due to a revised Christmas schedule. And whaddya know, I was the sole representative from the Beginners group. All the rest were Advanced, in their matching official Team Scary satin trousers that they wear when they officially clobber people for trophies.

I nearly ran out the door but I’d paid my 3 quid and didn’t want them to think I was a wimp. Because I’m sure they wouldn’t have figured that out from the way I wobbled with fear and cocked up every move. The indignity of it all. I don’t mind looking stupid in the beginners class, in fact I quite enjoy it. But in front of those feisty scrapping machines was something else altogether. Confidence is entirely contextual, you see; it’s no fun when you can’t share around the ineptitude!

. . .

It’s good to be back in the saddle after Christmas. It was a low key couple of days, and I frolicked in the strange and delicious sensation of not being stressed about whether I was eating too much and if my world would collapse if I ate a dozen After Eight mints. World still seems to be intact and breath is minty fresh!

Gareth the Wholesome went cycling on Christmas Day. Christmas Eve, too. Rhiannon and I sat on the couch a lot, chatting and making plans and setting goals for fancy new exercise regimes and schedules but the closest we got to actual exercise was walking to the shops to buy pedometers then giving up when we saw the queues, so we went back home and resumed our perch.

. . .

Have any of you Scavenger Hunt winners received the goods yet? I sent the Mothership a copy of DG on Friday (December 21), and would you believe she got it yesterday? Five days to Australia, with Christmas and everything!

Mary, my Mothership-in-law, phoned tonight to say she’s about 100 pages in. My guts are churning thinking of all the upcoming swear words and the boom-chicka-wow-wow bits involving her son. Why did this not occur to me before? That people might read it and not just shove it on the shelf between a crumbly pair of Agatha Christies?

Also, many of my kindly work colleagues have copies. So instead of being That Chick That Swears At Her Computer, I will soon be… That Chick Of Whom We Know Far Too Much Information.

But it’s exciting, comrades! I had the first official sighting on December 23, nine days early at our local WH Smith. Then yesterday I saw a dude unpacking copies at Waterstones in Edinburgh, and Rhiannon and I jumped up and down discreetly.

Here it is at WH Smith, snuggled up next to Gordon Ramsay. Woohoo!

True Stories

Scrag Fighter

I’m in loooooooove with the kickboxing. It’s all I can think about lately. And it’s only Friday today, why must Monday be so far away? That’s when I’ll wake up smiling, knowing there’sonly ten hours til I can kick and punch once more.

It usually takes me ages to get in the mood for exercise; I start out praying for power failures, earthquakes or similar catastrophes so I can go home. But at kickboxing class I’m hyper right away, smashing my glove into my fist with gleeful anticipation. The delirium lasts the whole hour, even when we do six kinds of push ups and torturous abdominal exercises. When I’m waiting my turn to mock-clobber somebody, I bounce on the spot impatiently. I look at the clock and ache to slow down time, so it never has to end. Afterwards, I go home and corner Gareth in the kitchen, then slap him around a bit to show him what I’ve learned.

All that said, I’m pretty rubbish at it. I have trouble interpreting instructions, even when the dude demonstrates the moves. We tried spin kicks last week, and I couldn’t grasp the concept AT ALL. Instead of one simple swivel-then-kick, I wheeled around and around like a discus thrower, not knowing when to let go.

There’s an advanced class after our wee beginner’s one, and those chicks look pretty hardcore. They’ve won proper medals and everything. I don’t really fancy getting that serious, but I’m determined to reach a higher level of bumbling incompetence. So please Santa, bring me a punching bag for Christmas!!)

I don’t know why I’m so hooked; I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly aggressive person. Perhaps, subconsciously, I yearned to be a playground scrag fighter and now I’m fulfilling my destiny. Maybe I can persuade the instructor to hold a class on a football field at the local high school. Someone will yell out “SCRAG FIGHT!”, then a big cloud of students will descend, forming a circle around me and a scrawny opponent. Fight fight fight! I’ll draw some tattoos on my arm with a pen; maybe paint my fingernails with Tippex, so I look extra tough.

(I don’t know what you call fighting chicks in your part of the world, but where I come from they were known as Scrag Fighters, which is just a delicious pair of words don’t you think.)

I was gushing about kickboxing to my friend Gillian at the pub the other night and she said how important it is to find the exercise that really floats your boat (she the QUEEN of cycling), then it doesn’t feel like such a chore. It does take a lot of trial and error – some activities are brief and heated flings (running), some become solid and trustworthy (weight training), some you tolerate even though they can bug the shit out of you (hillwalking) and then there’s the ones that make you feel like a silly teenager drowning in hormones. But persist, persist, persist, there’s something out there for everyone!

. . .

Thanks for your kind tolerance of the public panic attack in the last entry. Of course I felt sheepish the minute I hit “Publish”, but I never get to that point unless I do the crazy writing first!

Stayed tuned next week when I shall be announcing a Highly Exciting Contest which contains PRIZES that might happen to be 397 pages in length. Woohoo!

Dear Me

Kickboxing kicked butt last night. I could roundhouse til the cows come home! I looked in the mirrors as someone was clobbering me and realised with alarm that my right thigh (saddlebag, more like) is wider than the left. Gareth verified this later on, and he’s a cool and calculating engineer-type so it’s not body dysmophia on my part. I guess that’s the legacy of 2.5 years of knee injury. Ha!

But the knee is doing pretty well. I still have to modify moves – jump kicks are impossible and knee push-ups still hurt, so I do step kicks and one-knee push ups! It also behaved at Spinning on Saturday. For the first time in so very long, the jumping-out-of-the-saddle bits didn’t hurt. The instructor was bloody brilliant – there were only three of us in the class so there was nowhere to hide and she reduced me to a beetrooty pulp. I think it might have been RPM actually, I recognised some of the songs from my old gym. Whatever it was, it was bloody hard work and a smug start to Saturday!

. . .


The Postcard from New York arrived the other day and I’m bewildered by my nauseating cheerfulness. What was in the air over there? I must have been high on bagels.

Click here to have a gander! Nyc

But still, during this crazy busy wacky week its a very soothing thing to read. I think I will send myself reminder postcards more often. Buy toothpaste. Don’t forget to go to work. Be more brave. Get to bed earlier.

What would you write to you, today?

Chop Chop

On Saturday night I was sitting next to Gareth, poking and prodding my belly and arms with my thumbs.

"I hate being bigger than you," I grumbled.

"Bigger than me?"

"Yeah. I seem bigger today. Taller. Wider. Blobbier all of sudden. Like I am lording over you."

"Like Kermit and Robin?"

"YEAH that’s it. Precisely!"


Then on Sunday I was making excuses.

"Haven’t got time to do weights today" I said to myself, "Gotta watch the New York Marathon."

Yes, too busy to exercise because I’m too busy sitting on my arse watching other people exercise on the telly. Similar to the entire month of June, when I snapped and foamed at anyone suggesting I go out for a walk. "I’m too busy writing a book about how much I love exercise to do actual exercise!"

But that bloody Paula Radcliffe put me to shame. She popped out a baby just six months ago and there she was leading the race. So I scraped myself off the couch around mile ten and went off to do my weights. I arrived back, muscles buzzing, just in time to see her dazzling victory.

Afterwards I was preening in the mirror, flexing biceps and purring, etc etc. How the bloody hell does that work? They were the same arms as the night before, but now they seemed rather svelte and cool.

So personally, skinniness seems to be just a state of mind. Not much to do with actual state of the body, and greatly influenced by endorphins 🙂

. . .

Last night I went back to KICKBOXING! Woohoo! I’d done just one class back in January as part of my New Year’s Resolutions but completely knackered my dodgy knee again. But this time I wore a knee support, modified moves that I knew would hurt instead of charging ahead and pretending otherwise. I had a bloody brilliant time. Oooh the pain! The violence! The good feeling! Rawk.

This time I was much less wimpy while holding the pads, too. I actually held them up steadily instead of throwing my hands over my head and cowering in fear. I was a bit slow due to the usual Left and Right Confusion – I took too long to make the "L" sign behind the pad so I got kicked in the wrist. Hehehe.

Today my back and arms and abs are sooo sore but the knee feels okay! Touch wood. I will need to be careful but hope to carry on. As much as I try to get excited about gym cardio, the kicking and punching REALLY does it for me. It’s something to look forward to and relish, as opposed to merely tolerate.

I also spied some new spinning bikes at the gym, looks like they’ve started spinning classes. WOOHOO! The Great Indoors suddenly looks quite appealing this winter.

Violent Femme

Arrgh! Where did that week go? It was all work work workity work. And sitting on my arse watching the cricket and MotoGP too, must admit.

So! It’s time for another New Years Resolution Update. Imagine that there’s some sort of theme tune to go along with that… doo doo dooooo.

All my goals are ticking along nice and dandy. I think making them specific, realistic and enjoyable has helped. About time I learned that lesson!

8. Try three new sporty activities in 2007

Old school folks may recall my first Body Combat class way back in November 2001. I was 117 kilos at the time and my face went redder than my hair. My punches were feeble and my kicks were about as powerful as a chihuahua lifting its leg to pee on a car tyre, but I was an enthusiastic participant and was soon addicted. I was proud of my big red face. I loved throwing punches and kicking and screaming, even though I was only assaulting thin air.

Five-and-a-bit years later my pal V called up and said she was going to try a kickboxing class and did I fancy coming along. Like Body Combat? I asked. Nooo, she said. Like boxing gloves and kicking the crap out of people. AH HA! I said. This could count as a New Sporty Activity for my list! Gloves ahoy!

I hadn’t been to a gym class since May last year, because of the dodgy knee. It was bizarre being back in a mirrored environment. I still did my automatic sweep of the room to see if I was the biggest, and I was. But in height only. Hehehe!

The instructor was a bloke and he was the real kickboxing deal, black belt and everything. I’m so used to techno music and instructors who say "woohoo" and "work it, ladies!" that it was a bit unsettling at first when it was clear this was more sporty than aerobic-y.

First we did drills and circuity things – shadowboxing, then switching rapidly back and forth between kicks, push-ups, sprinting on the spot, star jumps, sit ups. It was rather grueling! But sooo much fun! You have to remember I’d spent the previous eight MONTHS limited to nothing but boring knee exercises and boring stationery bike riding, so it was a real treat. Oddly enough my fitness level hadn’t dropped off; I easily kept up with the class. My face was merely pink instead of the old Call The Ambulance red.

Next up the group was split in two. Half of us got our gloves on and the other took the pad thingies. Us Gloved Ones did a lot of running between the Pad People and punching them in all manner of styles. Holy CRAP, I loved punching people. Really! I just thought of everyone who had even remotely annoyed me over the past 29 years and let fly. POW POW POW! One Pad Girl said to me, "Whoa, that is a scary face!" and her neighbour said, "She is taking it very seriously, isn’t she?". Damn right, girly!

Then we had to kick, which was even better. My favourite was a drill where you just had to do roundhouse kicks over and over for one minute, really fast, then switch to the other leg, then back to the first leg, and so on, until your pins turn to jelly. I love roundhouse kicks. It was amazing after all those years of kicking nothing at Body Combat to actually connect with something, even if it was only a girl with a big cushion! My knee felt good and I loved the sound of my foot smacking the pad, pow pow pow.

But then we had to swap over, and I went from overly-aggressive freak to total WIMPY ARSE. Oh dear. As soon as I had those pads in my hands I wanted to run home to mummy. I didn’t think these nice girls with their pretty ponytails would punch so HARD. I was totally unprepared and compleeeetely useless at holding the pads, and got smacked in the cheek and temple by mistake. So I just sort of floated the pads around my head, cowering beneath as they rained blows down on me. I could dish it out but I sure couldn’t take it! Hehe.

The hour was up by then, and after that was the sparring class, where the pads get put away and you assault people more directly. But since Vicki and I were beginners the dude suggested we wait a few weeks for that. Fair enough! "You’ll be in a world of pain tomorrow," he said, "But don’t let that put you off. You gotta come back next week!"

So that was 8th January and I have not bloody been back. Tis why I hadn’t written about it sooner, I was too busy SULKING. I woke up the next day and my knee was completely cactus. Unable to straighten my leg properly, hurting like a mofo, blah blah blah. It took two long weeks of limping and rest and ice and exercises before I could even get back on the boring stationery bike on the gym. Grrrrrr. It was similar to what happened with the swimming – the knee felt okay at the time, it was only the next day that it was all out of whack. I don’t think it was the kicking that did it, because I’d been really careful with them at the time. I think it was the over-enthusiastic hopping and skipping and springing around; all the short and sudden movements.

So that’s what led me to revising my goals to make sure I was working within my limitations, as opposed to working within my fantasy dream world. At times it’s deathly boring but after almost three months, the knee feels much stronger for sticking to low impact stuff. It still pisses me off that I can’t go back to the kickboxing class yet – One, because it ruled; and Two, because I see the instructor all the time at the gym and I haven’t been back to his stinking class, and I HATE the idea of anyone thinking I didn’t go back because I’m a scared little prissy pants. I am thinking of wrapping a big red bandage around my knee that says "HURTY" on it, so he knows there was a legitimate reason.

I am sure I’ll get back there someday. Anyway, I am going to put that down as a New Sporty Activity, and I don’t care what you say! I had not punched anyone with gloves before so it totally counts. Woohoo!